Last Minute Xmas Present

December 27, 2016 at 5:49 am (Sweet sticky things)

"Thank you come again!"

“Thank you come again!”

“Payday’s not until Friday. I’m sorry.” I handed Mizelle a Skittles bag containing $5 in nickels. I put another $4 in singles on top of that. “To save embarrassment at the cash register.” Mizelle and I were on our way to buffet, and it was just like old times.

I wasn’t quite that broke, but I had just finished getting all my bills current. Mortgage, credit card, bro-in-law/weed-card loan, etc… I had about ten bucks left, in the aforementioned configurements. It would be enough to get me dinner and a ride.

She got off work at 6:30. Knowing I would go insane and smoke waaay too much weed while waiting, I chose to meet her at the airport. “How about we meet where we used to play Scrabble. Security gate D?”

“Sweet!”

I rode the MAX out to the airport. The wilderness I used to visit, the long stretches of marsh and berry fields, were slowly transforming into high-end strip malls. Ikea. Best Buy. There were lots of national fast food chains I’d never tried. Maybe someday when I’m independently wealthy. Right now I am en route to the only dining experience I can afford of late, the all-you-can-eat buffet.

It’s always so nostalgic, yet so comfortable, when we go to dinner at Namaste, the Indian restaurant on 82nd and Sandy. Before its current incarnation it was Steamers Lounge, where in the early ’90s I would drink non-flaming Spanish coffees with the likes of Tonya Harding and the strippers from the Viewpoint. (“Fabio” was a regular; this guy was spot-on.) I had worked at the National Convenience store on the corner where Mizelle and I met, and we spent many a night with me getting drunk at Steamers. Some years back the bar closed, and Namaste opened. After all these years we are back to our original stomping grounds. It was like the gods gave us our own spot.

Our favorite spot used to be Grand Buffet, on 82nd and Holgate at Eastport Plaza. We joke that we ate them out of business. We could have. We averaged 2-3 times a week, rarely missing a week. We were crushed when it closed, but it was understandable. They put out a lot of expensive quality food for $6.95. I’ve fallen in love with Mizelle many times over the years, but this was the big one. Our time there was some of the sweetest, darkest, most soul-crushingly wonderful love I have ever felt for anyone, and I doubt it will ever happen again. It’s probably good it closed. There’s no way it could live up to the memory.

She was standing there waiting at Checkpoint D when I walked up fifteen minutes early. “Oh.. my… god. Look at you! You’re…bony!” She rubbed my shoulder. Mizelle had put on a couple pounds; she had the thickness. Instead of the previous Sharon Stone skinniness, she had the body of a healthy, normal-eating farm girl. It suits her. But then, everything does. “How are you?” she asked.

“I’m doing all right. I’ve been kinda down but I don’t want to bring you down, so let’s talk about you!” I volleyed the ball back into her court. I was prioritizing. I know how we are. The conversations ramble off course and important stuff gets overlooked.

“Well, I’ve been having a mostly shitty time,” she said. “I’m afraid I’m going to bring you down.”

We hadn’t seen each other in at least a year. Did I know that she’d broken her foot? “I became a pothead for about a month. I was stuck in a cast and TV sucks. You know how I am, it was like being in jail. So my sister and her partner came over and gave me a pipe and a baggie. I tried, god I tried, but it’s just not for me.” Mizelle has always been well-controlled when it comes to drugs and moderation. We’ve smoked pot together maybe 2-3 times total, and drank together less than a dozen times. (There have been hundreds of times when one of us has been drinking or partying, but never at the same time. It’s like we’re automatically each others’ designated driver.) I took a pull on my steel vapor pen. I will smoke for both of us, and it was time to get my hungry on!

We took the airport shuttle to a parking lot way out east. “I’m making good enough money that I had to get a reliable vehicle.” We were standing in front of a red hybrid SUV that resembled a space age Ford Bronco.

“Really? This is you?” I looked around. It had microbrew labels decorating the tailgate. (At least I can find it in parking lots.) We got in and cruised. As we rolled down 82nd we got the necessary stuff out of the way. Marital status, kid’s well-being, our well-being. I won’t share details out of respect, but we’ve both been going through some shit.

I couldn’t resist showing off. I stripped down to a form-fitting white tee shirt for dinner. (I am happy to report no spills! There’s almost always some take-out on my eatin’ shirt! Not this time. I tol’ you I was hungry!) She did three rounds of entrees, I did two entrees and two desserts. Their mango and coconut ice creams are one of three reasons that make this my favorite Indian restaurant. We’d been dining for two hours, the restaurant was about to close. What would we like to do?

Usually we would go to a movie, but after two years there’s no way we could keep quiet for two hours. However…

I am still waiting to see Inglorious Basterds. I had promised to wait and watch it with her, but time passed and she saw it and I still haven’t. But… I also had The Hateful Eight from the library, and I needed to get it watched. Off to my room for Monday Night Cinema.

Luna sat bolt upright when we came through the door, and growled the whole time Mizelle was in the living room. (Seriously jealous.) Mizelle has known my niece since birth, and was marveling at her nineteen years of growth. She tickled the cat’s ears and met the guinea pigs before we disappeared into my room.

She was still in her work clothes, which were even tighter after dinner. “Would you like to slip into something more comfortable? I’ve got a long tee shirt here…” I pulled out one of my fatty shirts from the old days, it hung to about mid-thigh. “I think I would enjoy watching you wear this too much.” I tossed it back onto the pile.

“I have the perfect idea!” She went to her vehicle and returned with a leopard-print fabric. I gave her a couple minutes alone in my room, then knocked on the door.

“Come in!”

Hot bikini panties and see-through negligee? Nope. Granny-style flannel nightgown? Nope. My dear friend, with the bootylicious body and soft blonde hair and light freckles, was dressed in a leopard-print FURRY outfit. It was like coveralls, with a hood and tiny pointy ears. Of course she brought a hotness to it, but it made focusing on the movie a lot easier. She stretched out on my bed, and I took the chair. We did what I haven’t been able to do for months. We sat through a three-hour movie without interruption. I smoked a joint, which gave her another comfort-trigger. “That smell reminds me of watching TV with my dad, when I was little.” There was a time I would have done anything to have her not find me dad-like. We are now both old enough that I have grown to appreciate it.

The movie? It was pretty good. I’m going to watch it again, to pick up the dozen or so subtle things that QT puts in his movies you miss the first time. I will watch Inglorious Basterds some other time. I have waited long enough. Sorry, hon.

So yeah, Mizelle saved Xmas. I got to bare my soul for a minute, a steam-release allowing me room to move. I helped unburden my friend, even if it’s ever so slight. Misery loves company, and we were good company for each other. I’d hoped she would stay, but in the small hours she decided to go sleep in her van at the airport.

She didn’t bother changing. That’ll give the neighbors something to talk about…

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