How do you make pickle bread?
You start with a dill dough…
“Yes, and I didn’t snap or anything. I just asked her to keep the cap on it when she wasn’t using it. She denied uncapping it, SWEARS she didn’t uncap it. Which pissed me off, because it’s just me and her there at 5 AM, and the pen has a habit of uncapping itself in the middle of the night…”
Mizelle and I were talking about stupid domestic squabbles, and the stupid things that cause them. She and the Frenchman have reconciled after a time apart, and she called to say hi the other day. We soon knew we’d need more than a phone call to get all the juicy details, so we made a lunch date. In the meantime, I might as well document the occasion…
I took the train downtown to the Psycho Safeway. I’d asked Clairissa if she wanted a beer? “Nah, bring me a candy bar. You choose.” I found a Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar, stashing it in a black plastic beer bag. I waited for the Union Avenue bus, listening to Steely Dan and reminiscing about all the times I used to invade my barber. There was a time when I would see her every two weeks. There was the summer of my 50th birthday, when we shared truly magical times. I missed my friend, my hair was a mess, and I was having girlfriend issues.
It was time for Hairapy.
It’s business as usual. Kinda.
Rain showed up after four days, looking haggard. I’d called her, but no answer. Her throwaway phone may have run out of minutes, or she’s holed up somewhere, either in a dope haze or withdrawing from one. I tried not to care, but I worry.
She smiled at me. “Babe, I been so sick. I got a bed at the shelter, so I’ve been staying in there, away from everybody.”
“Everybody has been looking for you, asking. My co-workers see you, say you look like shit, no disrespect.”
“None taken. I feel like shit. This has got to end.” She rested her head on my chest. “The others don’t care about me. They just know I’ll share if they’re sick. Motherfuckers. I lost that phone I found.”
“That explains you not taking my calls.”
“Oh yeah, don’t leave a message. It’s the phone I found, and I don’t know how to unlock the messages.”
“I know. I’ve learned.” I smiled, weakly.
So… She’s okay, doing pretty much exactly what she was doing a year ago. So am I. I love her for who she is, and without the drug habit I never would have met her, so how can I complain too much? When you get a snake for a pet, you risk being bitten. Not saying Rain is a snake, but I do see occasional snaky behavior. It comes with the package.
I go on about my business. She comes by work once or twice a night, for a kiss, a hug and a cup or two of coffee. When she’s on a dope run it’s a 24/7 job, and I come secondary. I’ve adapted to that, and when dope is #1 in her life I don’t take it (too) personal. I understand the Nature of the Beast. I’ll be there when she’s done with him.
I hope she doesn’t take too long. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. In the meantime, I will have a pint of this and be happy for my slightly dysfunctional love life.
I still got it goin’ on.
I’ve been going through relationship heck the past couple weeks. Debating whether the woman I love is worth it. Deciding if I want to keep trying to fix what may be forever broken, or if it just needs a ton of emotional super-glue. In the meantime, I have been living and sleeping alone, with all that entails. (Translation: Climbing-the-walls horny.) So I’ve been spending a lot of time riding the bus with the headphones on, sorting shit out.
Meg has been a sport through all this. She’s mourning the loss of The Marshal, who will talk to her on the phone but is otherwise ignoring her. She hates Rain deep down, but is nice about her when I am present. I see the eyeroll every time Rain’s name is mentioned, and I get snark almost daily for something, but I give her equal shit about The Marshal’s verbally abusive ways, so it balances out.
Meg has been loaning me her food stamp card for survival purposes. I took it to the Freddy’s on Hawthorne and made it there right at closing.
I bought food for one, junky stuff. (NOT junkie stuff. No needles, cotton or caps. Just chips and frozen pizza, bachelor stuff, mmmkay?) I walked to the bus stop a couple blocks away so I could puff some weed while awaiting my ride.
Hawthorne on a Monday is typically quiet. I saw a busker hustling down the street. He heard the flick of my lighter and looked my way. I scowled. No, I don’t have a cigarette, I don’t have a light, I don’t have any spare change, I don’t even have ANY change. Fuck off. I am happy to report he understands body language.
I took a couple small hits on the smokeless, tapped the ashes and stashed away my cosmic utensil. I stared at the pizza joint across the way, hoping the frozen one I was going to try would be anywhere near as good, when a large WHAP! hit the back of the bus shelter. I looked over my shoulder, expecting to see a Dirt Urchin with his hand out. Instead I saw a tipsy couple walking quickly away. The lady’s purse must have hit the back of the shelter. Oh well, now I’m awake…
After a minute, the lady whose purse hit the shelter walked up. She smiled and sat down on the bench next to me. “My boyfriend thinks I’m an asshole.”
“I’m sorry for hitting the shelter like that. That was a dick move, even though I don’t have a dick…” She giggled. I could smell something distilled.
She had short blonde hair, dressed expensively. About thirty, I’d guess. Her leg brushed against mine.
“I just figured it was an accident. No biggie,” I said.
“No, I was trying to provoke a fight. I saw your hair and I got mad.” She reached up and touched my hair. “It’s very nice, by the way.”
“Thank you. I figured I’d grow it out one more time while I still can.”
She asked if I was homeless. “Nah, just shopping late. Borrowed my friend’s food stamp card, so I’m not starving.” I figured I’d throw a little poverty into the conversation, in case her guilt could be assuaged by handing me some cash…
We talked about age, and death. She was intrigued when I told her how old I was, and how old my dad would be. She quizzed about my health in a roundabout way, and I let her know as gently as possible that things still worked down there. The way her knee was rubbing against mine, things were already starting to pay attention…
“So, you are happy with life? I’ve been getting depressed.” She pouts nicely.
“I have a good life. I’m healthy, everything works, I am happy for the most part. I mean, I’ve got beautiful women coming up to me at bus stops in the middle of the night, chatting me up. I don’t know a lot of guys going through that right now…”
“Well, looks like I’ve lost my date. He thinks I’m an asshole anyway.”
“Too bad… for him.” I kept the eye contact going full-tilt. I could see the bus about ten blocks away. Now comes decision time: Do I let the groceries sit and thaw for another half-hour (or more) on the off-chance that dream-catch here has an apartment nearby and I could get invited? Or is her boyfriend who thinks she’s an asshole standing in a dark doorway, seething because his hottie girlfriend is flirting with a homeless-looking guy on a dark street just before midnight?
I’m betting it was a dick move to make her boyfriend jealous. I would happily enable.
I stood up from the bench. “Damn it, my bus is here, I could talk to you all night. I’m on Hawthorne all the time. I’m Charlie, by the way. What’s your name?”
She appreciated my name-pun. She shook my outstretched hand, seeming a bit confused by the gesture. My hands were full with two bags of groceries, or I would have offered a hug. Then my balls got as big as my head, and I made my move.
I kissed her full on the lips.
She was surprised, then responsive. I wish I’d started about five minutes previous. I managed to keep my tongue in my mouth, but her soft full lips, just slightly parted, sent a spark from the tip of my head to the base of my heels. I pulled back and boarded the bus without a look, but there was no denying the Cheshire grin painted wide on my face. I was dizzy from desire, and on fire inside.
Dan, my bus driver, said hello. “Having fun, are we?”
“Dammit, why do I have perishable groceries at the most inopportune times?!”
“What?” asked Dan.
“Did you see that tall blonde I was talking to? Oh Jesus marryin’ Joseph, I wanna go back. Turn this bus around, please?’
“What?” Dan is gay. If I’d been kissing a tall blonde dude, he’d be all questions.
So, for the rest of the night and all of the day my mind has been on fire. Will I ever see the sweet-lipped Dolce again? Will she be hammered enough to share a bus stop with me again? Will her boyfriend who thinks she’s an asshole have called it right? I know I’m in a vulnerable spot emotionally right now, and crawling all over a supermodel-lookalike might make me feel better. Just sayin’.
I can scratch one thing off my bucket list. It came up in conversation a while back. If I stand up straight and comb my hair back I can pass for six feet tall. To the best of my recollection, I have never kissed (romantically) a woman taller than me. While it didn’t become my mission in life, I became aware and decided to do what I can to correct the matter. If memory serves, it took me about two months.
Dolce, you were my first. If you catch me before I go back to being the faithful, long-suffering boyfriend I seem doomed to be? You could be *that* first as well. I know I’ll be all eyes in a certain neighborhood for the rest of my days.
Or until the next supermodel comes along.
It took two weeks, but we finally had The Talk.
After the initial blow-up and subsequent eviction of my sorta-live-in girlfriend, I’d wondered if we’d be apart for a long time, if I’d see her again, or I’d be weak in the knees (or a couple feet higher, to be exact) and welcome her back with no consequence. It took several days for her to get up the nerve to visit me at work, and she stayed close to the door in case I blew up at her. She knows I have a temper, and would never hit her, but I don’t think she was ready for the verbal onslaught I am capable of when righteously pissed. She made sure there was someone around, just in case.
On the two-week anniversary of me putting her out, she showed up at the store…
That doesn’t mean I don’t check up on her. I could cyber-snoop, I have all her internet info. I only did that once, and felt like the lowliest of shitweasels. I trust her more than that now. I’m referring to knowing where she might be, and gazing from a block away to make sure she’s up and around, doing all right. My hard line toward her has softened, though I know things won’t be the same. They might get back to close, but that’s going to take a while.
Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
I joke a lot about getting high, and it’s no secret that I have a medical marijuana card, but I haven’t used hard drugs in years. I haven’t done white powders (meth or cocaine) since 1996. The last time I took psychedelics (LSD or mushrooms) was at a Kid Rock concert in 2004. I haven’t drank alcohol in over two years, and tobacco irritates me. I take pain meds when available, and imbibe freely on top-grade herb. I’m in a good place.Lately, however, I have been running with fast company. Someone who shoots heroin and smokes crack when she feels like it. Lately she’s been feeling like it a lot, and it’s gotten to the point where I can no longer be around it.
To rate the chances of our relationship repairing? For once, I am pessimistic. I have been cautious, but as trust grew I let my guard down, and things began disappearing. I had to know for sure, so I started paying attention to the little things…
This has been quite a summer. Despite a couple medical setbacks, (which turned out to work in my favor) I have been having the time of my life. I’d document more, but there just hasn’t been time.
Rain is still living with me. The “breakup” lasted about a day and a half, in which time instead of going off to live with the ex like she’d said, she went and slept “under the bridge”. (That is a euphemism for where she sleeps when she’s outside at night. You’re not getting the real location.) After texting and reassuring me that “everything is like it was” and “you need to quit worrying so much”? I did…
Management knows I’m a night-owl. When I saw myself scheduled at 10 AM on a Tuesday, for a four-hour shift, I smelled some sort of payback for an unknown transgression. What did I do to deserve this? I pointed out to both Uncle Cliffy and Grinder that it was akin to scheduling them from 1 AM to 5 AM on a Sunday. “So, when I show up, hair all fucked up, scowling and needing coffee, that’ll be why.” I don’t do mornings. I hate sales reps, and office workers are often cranky. Give me happy crackheads and wandering lost souls any day.
My first lost soul lost out on breakfast. I took away his pilfered candy bar and harangued him out the door. Uncle Cliffy belly-bumped him to the sidewalk. Two co-workers looked on and took turns shouting him down while I “called the police.” I went inside, put on my work shirt, took a deep breath and went back outside. “I called the ‘real’ police. Fuck Clean & Safe.”
Lost Soul started walking. The Real Police could mess up his day.
Uncle Cliffy commented, “You’re awfully chipper considering the hour?”
“Meth is a hell of a drug,” I muttered. “Just kidding!” I said as I saw his brow furrow. “My nose has been powder-free since 1996.”
His brow had only begun to furrow, because just as calm was restoring, in walked Angel. The bosses have yet to figure out that we only behave when unsupervised. The two of us, with authority figures present and co-workers to witness?
Holy poop on a stick…