Hot Date with a Blue-Hair

March 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm (Clairissa, Sweet sticky things)

I imagine you’re getting a picture here. Running my fingers through her thinning hair, gently stroking her varicose veins, bending her over the walker and doing it ’til the bones crack…

It wasn’t like that at all.

My weekends haven’t exactly been jam-packed with extracurricular activities. I keep things open in case something comes up; a spontaneous beach trip, or a late night invitation to dinner and a movie perhaps. Since I’m right up there with Tom Arnold on the ‘Hot Date’ list, lack of availability hasn’t been a problem. That doesn’t stop me from trying.

I had errands to run Friday afternoon, and since Clairissa often has down-time then, I decided to give her a call. I wasn’t quite due for a haircut, but figured I could hang out and chat. I could be the Goober to her Floyd until Barney Fife comes and tells me to move along. “I’ll block out between 3:30 and 5:00. I could use a break.”

I showed up on time. The shop has been a beehive of activity. She’s brought in two more barbers, remodeling the former massage area and storage spaces into barber stands. Clairissa gave me a big hug and took me aside. “I have something for you.”

She slipped a small pill into my hand. “It’s like a really strong Vicodin. It’s time release, so you can bite it in half for a big bang or you can cruise on mellow for several hours. One of the local guys who raids my ashtray outside for cigarette butts gave ’em to me. I yelled at him, and he probably figured I needed mellowing out. I ate two and got sick, so they’re pretty strong.” She popped one.

Mine was already down the hatch. A perfect recipe for the endless bus ride ahead.

“So, you hungry?” she asked. “I want to put something on top of this.”

“I’ll watch you eat. All of a sudden an empty stomach is a bonus!”

We adjourned to the pizza place next door. A couple were canoodling in a corner booth, and the bartender was trying to ignore them. Clairissa introduced me, and we went into the back of the bar. Soon she was nibbling on spinach salad and I was nursing a Diet Pepsi. Wild times.

Clairissa has been going through an emotional rough patch. She’s ending a long-term relationship, and while it’s what they both want, there’s a lot of sadness mixed in with the ensuing freedom. Life zings along at a happy pace, then something reminds you and the blues set in again. A scene I’m most acquainted with.

“Do you realize,” I asked, “that a year ago at this time things were reversed? You were dancing on air and I was the sad-sack?”

“I’m hardly a sad-sack! I’ve been making up for lost time.” She pulled her shirt open, revealing a tennis ball-sized bite mark on her breast. “And that’s the one I can show you in public.”

“Been busy, huh?”

“Not slutty busy, but I’m having fun. I made a list for the next time I became single, and I’m working my way down it.”

“What’s on your list?” Inquiring minds…

“Oh, the usual. I wanted to do an Asian girl. A stripper. A couple, but not the guy. I want to do the wife while he watches…”

“You sound like a typical twentysomething male, my dear.”

“And I’m going to behave like one for a while,” she replied.

I pointed out that we both have an anniversary coming up. She opened her salon the same day I started this blog, so what was going on last year at this time is still fresh in the memory. “Last year at this time, I was moping from a break-up, and you were there to listen and encourage me. You kept me from getting down on myself, and were the smile and hug I needed. I hope you know you can call any time, if you need a shoulder, bail money, etc…”

“So what’s on your list? You must have worked out a few kinks since the break-up?” She put her elbows on the table, chin in hands. “Dirt, please?”

I laughed. “Must be a sign of getting older. When my break-up happened, I indulged in alcohol. I had a list of things I wanted to drink, and places I wanted to get drunk at, or experience with a glass in hand. I did some of that, but it didn’t end well. Come to think of it, it’s been a year this week since I’ve had a drink. No wonder it’s been sounding good.”

“You haven’t fooled around with anyone?”

“For the last three years, my conquest list has been resting at one.”

“Wow. I figured you’d be working your game, being down in the nightclub district and all.”

“Well, I’m at work when all the drunk ‘n hornies are out, and since I don’t hang out in bars on the weekend I don’t have a lot of opportunity to meet women out looking to hook up. I suppose if I put some energy into it, but you know? I’m just not ready for a lot of emotional grief right now.”

“How’s your drinking?”

“It’s been a year-”

“How’s your urge to drink?”

“It’s sounded good once or twice, but loved ones have taken care of that for me. A couple of close ones have fallen off the wagon, and it reminds me of what a buffoon I turn into. Then there’s the health thing. The last few times I’ve drank, I’ve gotten chest pains. The scary ones. They go away when the fifth-a-day does, so abstinence has made the heart grow stronger. Doesn’t mean the thought of escape doesn’t cross my mind, though. But when I need chemical help, I usually find some opiate-based happy pills, get a bit mellow, and it’s all good by morning. I don’t eat them as much, either. I like my dopamine output the way it is. Sleep and dreams are my one reliable natural outlet; I don’t want to have to score pills to maintain that.”

By then she had finished her salad, and I’d babbled enough for both of us. Or so I’d thought. The pill was kicking in, so I told her about recent work events; Shaq, Laura Bush, the skinhead/Tazer incident. She rarely gets online, and has only read my blog once or twice. So I regaled her with tales of nonsense from the Avenue, and invited her to come down and visit for an hour or so. Nothing confirms the wackiness of my job like witnessing it first-hand.

I paid for lunch over her protests, and we moseyed back to the shop. One of her regulars had dropped by, looking to tidy up before a hot date, and was wondering if she could squeeze him in? Clairissa gave me an ‘It’s up to you’ look. I nodded, silently giving up my last half-hour of face-time with my ‘The rapist-Miracle Worker-Friend.’ She gave me a quick kiss on the lips, and a hug I felt all the way to my toes. A check of the watch showed I had exactly four minutes until the bus was due. I dashed for the door.

“Run, Forrest! Run!” She waved as I stomped off into the rainy evening.

The happy pill was doing its job. I probably could have ran. Instead I hopped the bus and went to my work to pick up some paperwork. Master P spotted me, and invited me up to the office for a chat. Gulp! Why does this always happen when I’m hopped up on goofballs? What kind of trouble was I in?

None at all. He wanted to show me some remodeling plans, and run some work changes past me. I followed the conversation, but his office sure was warm. When I escaped, I went for a long walk around downtown. Sufficiently spent, I boarded the bus back to my house.

And that was the excitement for my weekend. The rest of the time? Except for a couple trips to the market, and a long walk for health reasons, I hibernated. I found relief that this year’s Spring Break is so much better that the last. I’m not fighting a battle with a bottle. I’m not dealing with the spirit-crushing anguish of a broken relationship. I have friends who care, who love me and listen to me. A friend who looks delicious enough to eat, but is not on the menu.

So my date with the blue hair? Clairissa’s ‘do is the color of a Crown Royal bag. We supped on salad and diet pop, after properly medicating, and the date was over by 4:30 PM.

No walkers or wheelchairs were involved.

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