This one’s going to the dogs.
People ask how I tolerate the assholes at work? The mouthy tough-guys who run up to you like they’re going to hit you? If they can get you to flinch, they think they can bully you. I stand steely-eyed and ask, “What’s your point?”
See, if you walk a third-of-a-mile in my shoes, you get a lot of practice with sons of bitches giving you a bunch of attitude…
I’ve always been a creature of habit. When I find something that works, I stick with it. This can lead to ruts. I dislike ruts. This year has been a season of change. A LOT has changed. But, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This is the story of my 99-cent Ironman watch, and how it’s on its third life…
I quit updating my social status every time I caught the eye of a new girl, or caught up with an old one, or dumped one forever, because nothing is forever (yet) and I am a pussy when it comes to being firm in my convictions.
Besides, I’m not sure any of us knows what we really want.
Things seemed hot and heavy with Angel, then her boyfriend came back to town. Rain is off heroin, living downtown and doing fine. Meg is having her own unique set of crises, but the Marshal is out of the equation, and I am her go-to guy.
And I am seeing all of them.
“Hey buddy, my phone is turned off. Just got your email. I’m broke as a joke today. If you still need some hair love write me back please? I need ten bucks to turn my phone back on.”
A typical note from Rain? Nope.
It was Clairissa. It just so happened that I had the day off, and I had ten bucks. And then some…
“We need to talk.”
From my tone, I doubted she would show. When she walked in, all smiles, I nodded to her and told her to make a cup of coffee while I cleared out the store. I didn’t want a bunch of witnesses if things turned ugly.
After everyone left, I met with her in front of the porno rack, where we first started conversing five years ago. I gave her a hug, and said, “I’ve got something to tell you. Things have changed, and there’s someone else in the picture now.”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It means that I’m devoting all my energy to chasing her and not going to be seeing anyone else.”
“What does that MEAN?” she asked again, giving me the eye signal that usually has us pantsless within a couple minutes. There was no mischievous smile. Thank god. She’s still just as beautiful, and I am weak.
“It means we won’t be doing it anymore.”
“We still friends?”
“Of course. I still love you, I always will. Three years is a long time to be with someone. I am happy and excited and I hope you understand I’m getting something I’ve been wanting for a long time.”
Rain finally smiled. “You got ya someone, huh? Is it the cute little black girl from work? You guys seem to be hitting it off lately…”
“Yeah…” I didn’t belabor the point. “You and I? We cool.” I smiled. I didn’t need to remind Rain that she once babysat my new love interest.
“Okay, I’ll get my stuff out. Can I come next weekend, after I get paid? I’ll put it in storage, I guess.”
“Thank you. Um, call first?…”
There has been a lot of introspection of late. I’ve spent the past few days, actually weeks now, riding the bus and trying to figure out what I want to do.
I’ve put a lot on Angel’s shoulders. She’s a sweet woman with problems of her own, but she has taken time to ease me down from mine. While sharing horror stories, she gave this analogy: “I feel like a ball of tin foil. If you just throw away the ball of tin foil, how you gonna know if anything good was inside? You peel it back, you might just find something awesome.”
I cook with tin foil all the time. I buy the big roll, and have gotten pretty good at unrolling and unballing. I’m more than happy to search for the prize.
But first I need to put out some small fires. There’s been too much dysfunction, too many half-truths, untruths and downright lies. I want to relax with my partner. I want to tell her all, instead of holding back anything that might be used against me. I need to get away from that.
Angel reminded me what it’s like to be close to someone without the need for emotional body armor. She’s a sweet woman, a smart woman. And she knows we both need a lot of repair.
If we put out the small fires, we might be able to build a huge bonfire.
I’m gonna need some fire-proof underwear…
Nothing right back. She’s at work, but gets a break about 10. She’ll text me then.
When I awoke the second time, at 11:28, still no text message. At 11:30, my wristwatch alarm went off. The gut started to churn, that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach began to grow. Stood up again? Angel isn’t typically like that. She’s not quite as bad at reading a clock as Rain; she will text me if she’s running late, but it’s usually a few minutes, not a few hours. Still, I’m walking on oily glass here. Can a fella get a break?
I showered, got all prettied up. Brushed my teeth twice. Trimmed the odd hairs next to my mouth, made sure sure there were no guitar strings coming out of my nose that could put an eye out. Gave myself the once over twice, took a deep breath, and was ready to go off in search of love.
I checked my phone out of habit.
One new message, from Angel.
Another deep breath.
Canceling? Gonna be late? Her boyfriend’s back and we’re gonna be in trouble?
One last deep breath.
“Hey mister, can’t wait for our date. We so on.”
The pressure in my head deflated like a flappy balloon. Like Popeye with a fistful of spinach, duh-dee-dee-dee-dum-DEE DEE! I walked out of my house like I was swinging the biggest cock in the world.
I have a Valentines Day date with an Angel. Onward to Lovetown…
It started out as a simple plan. Hop the bus twenty blocks to the store, to get chocolate milk while it’s on sale. Monday morning, no problem, right?
Sold out of milk. Really? But, no biggie, I get a raincheck good for sixty days, so I can buy milk without waiting for the magic day. Plus, I still have the coupon, and there’s another Freddy’s fifteen minutes away on my bus line.
As I watched the bus sail past… sigh. I went to the bus stop. All the seats were occupied by teens and old people with walker/chairs. I saw the bus back to my house approaching, and traffic on 82nd & Foster had its twice-yearly-parting-of-the-sea. I jaywalked diagonally and caught the bus. I can take the Green Line to Gateway and get milk there.
As I plugged in the Skullcandy earbuds, I got a call from Meg, begging me to run an important errand. “I’ll pay you!”
The farther I travel, the cheaper the milk gets. I rolled on.
I got downtown, and a connecting train was passing. I could ride two stops and say hi to Dr T. We’re at the bottom of the Master P gossip food-chain; likely one of us has some news.
I rolled in, gave a casual wave to Dr T. Melony was about to start her shift. As I began to speak, someone grabbed my butt.
My first thought? God, I hope it’s not a dude.
I’ve gotten pretty good at gauging my reactions. I held steady, poker-faced.Then the big ol’ twinkly smile from beneath the hoodie gave it away. Any thoughts of homophobic homicidal mayhem flew out the window.
It was Angel grabbing my butt.
I was surprised to hear from her. She said we should talk, but we haven’t. Because she’s nice, she is checking up on me. Aww. “I’m okay. Gearing up to do night lunches.”
I didn’t want to tell her I’d spent the whole weekend riding the bus, getting high as hell and listening to music, all the while thinking, planning, fantasizing about her.
“Thank u for bein u. Ur the sweetest.”
Well, now. All of a sudden Mister Chipper is back in town!
I went forth on my rounds, sending random thoughts and sharing funny moments only a co-worker or co-conspirator would appreciate. Angel hid a bag of hot chocolate in my private locker area months ago, and I’ve joked about it numerous times.
I pulled out my phone and began typing, “I could resist no longer, the temptation was too great. I had to taste your cocoa. Got all into it, in fact. So sorry. But DAMN TASTY!”
“Lolol. Happy sippin, mister.”
“Laying in bed, spending last minutes of my weekend.”
I slept well, awoke early. Smoked the half-joint I’d passed out on, and crawled back into bed. As I lay there, thinking about Angel, I pulled out the phone.
“I wish you were here, with your head on my shoulder. In a way, it feels like you are. Have a great day off, hon. Buzz if you need anything.”
She buzzed right back. “Aww smiles. I sure will. Haven’t moved all day, just watching movies. How r u?”
“Okay. Daughter had tonsils out, on way home already. It took like four hours. Technology. Well, I gotta start moving soon. But hey! I still got some Wednesday with you!” Wednesdays Angel would give me lunch. I wouldn’t go anywhere, just clock out and sit with her. That stopped months ago.
“When & where r u moving?”
“My ass outta bed and to work.” She’s been contemplating a move for months. I can see how it’d be on her mind.
“Oh. LOL. DUD. I mean duh.”
I shot right back, “If I were relocating residence, we might be having a whole other level of discussion. I’m trying not to come on too strong. :) See, I’ve found that I like you a LOT! I ain’t going anywhere. I like being your friend. Use me like Kleenex. I’m okay with that!”
“Well, I like you too. Thousands.”
And that, my friends, is why I have a big dumb grin on my face today.
I’ve been listening to Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album, an album great for late-night bus rides. It opens with a song called Angel. Since I have an Angel in my life, I thought I’d see how the video compared to what I’d imagined.
Okay, nothing like I’d imagined. I figured there would be a hot girl singing, not a bunch of dudes chasing each other. It reminded me of how I feel the last two hours of my work week, when everyone seems to come to collect their pound of flesh. Run away!
The one person who hasn’t had her hand out, who doesn’t want something every time she calls? The one whose smile has my heart breakdancing inside my chest every time she kisses me goodbye?