I am not, as I’ve stated numerous times, a friendly person. That doesn’t mean I’m not a great friend (I’m stupid, can lift heavy things, and quickly forget where we’ve hidden the ‘items’) but, if you’re not a friend of mine I’m not much of a ‘chat it up’ kind of guy. I’m definitely a ‘don’t, just don’t’ kind of guy.
But does that stop people from trying? Does it stop them from telling me I’m not what I damn straight know I am? Does it stop them from doing things that, as hard as I try, I find I just cannot ignore? Hell no, it doesn’t.
It doesn’t just happen once or twice. It seems as if all I have to do is be somewhere with my eyes open and someone has to try to make a new friend. I don’t think I’d mind if the people who ignored my usual expression (eyes staring straight ahead, speaking to no one, sometimes drooling and growling) had something to say. I’m not even saying something useful. Just not stupid or annoying.
But I’ve never been lucky in this life. So the next one better be one rip-roaring, hum-dinger!
The part that sets me off quickly is when I’m asked personal questions. Maybe you think you know me because you know a guy who knows me who you were kicked out of reform school with but, trust me, you don’t. So that doesn’t bode well when you show your inquisitive nature and ask things about my personal life. I live by a simple creed when it comes to imparting parts of my life to people,
“That’s why they call it a personal life. It’s personal therefore none of your business.”
Trust me when I say that doesn’t often lead to gracious exits but, happily, it leads to exits. And, really, isn’t that all I’m looking for?
Just the other day someone who knows someone I know tangentially asked me how long I’ve been with my girlfriend. I never know why they care. Is there a pool I’m not privy to? If so, let me know what it’s up to and maybe I’ll cash in my chips.
But this person felt that, because they have some proximity to someone I barely know, this is a perfectly acceptable question. Being a simple one I tell them. I know it’s a mistake but I try not to be rude right away. I give it some time. It’s my version of the five second rule.
Then they ask about kids. I mention there may be a sixteen year old somewhere in the vicinity but, being sixteen, they’re pretty much invisible to adults so I’m not sure of the veracity of my statement.
The guy looks very confused by this. Accustomed to that reaction I begin to disengage. He stops and asks how it is possible that, within a seven year relationship, there could be a sixteen year old involved.
Now do you understand? Do you see why I walk the world with a furrowed brow? It’s not that I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s not that I give a whit about most things. It’s just that I’m always on idiotic question alert. And, let me tell you, that takes a toll on a man.
I look at the guy for a moment, expecting a friendly joshing to come my way. But all I see back at me is a dumbstruck expression that makes me want to stick funnels in his ears and fill his head with cement to complete the procedure.
“She has that disease where you age in double time.” I say and walk away. I don’t like to have to walk away but it’s like a vacuum to a cat. I feel it’s best I skitter away.
I will admit to putting myself in harms way from time to time. Sometimes my aforementioned girlfriend and I go out to grab a drink. There’s always a possibility no one will bother us but that’s few and far between. Sometimes it’s not even my fault. I’m just sitting there, watching the ball game, enjoying my frosty, adult beverage when things just barge right up.
Now my girlfriend can more than handle herself. She has quite a vocabulary, a larger attitude and is more than capable of offering pieces of her mind. And that’s just what happened the other day.
She talking to some people while I’m enjoying the aforementioned game and frosty when a guy, someone we’ve seen around from time to time but now new to the AA program, begins to proselytize his viewpoint. I find it odd that he should be keeping company with us lowly bar folk but that’s none of my concern. He’s not, as of yet, a blip on my radar.
“You should go back to drinking,” Terry says. “You were much less annoying.”
Sip. Ball game. Ahhhhhhh! I’m having a fine time.
“You should start douching.” Comes his retort.
Sip. Ball game. Ahhhhhhh! I’m having a fine time.
Then the guy has to get me involved. Hey! I agree with her. He was a lot more fun hitting the bottle than hitting the program but if it agrees with him that’s great. But, going to a place where people visit specifically to imbibe may not be the best place to bring his game.
“What?” I say knowing I’m on the way to missing another inning.
“Did you hear what she said to me?” Let me stop here and ask, did anyone see anything in that sentence that specifically pertained to me? No? I didn’t think so. Moving on.
“Yeah, and I heard your lame retort. If you’re going to insult, you really should learn to do it better.”
He puffs up his bloated chest and challenges me to come up with something better. I smile and nod. I spin my chair to face him and say,
“You see, you’re really limited with the douche comment. It’s not as if she has stink lines floating from her crotch. No, to be an effective snap you’ve got to interject yourself into it. Truly insult her. Something along the lines of, ‘Why? Do you want me to fuck you again?’”
It’s always at this moment when all the bravado leaves the room. Too many people are snickering. The posturing of early have vanished. It’s just him and I. And I’m patient enough to wait for his move.
“Fuck you, you wise ass.”
As usual, when people get topped, they don’t like to leave gracefully. It’s nothing personal. I snark for cash. I begin to turn back to the beer and ballgame when he says,
“You think you’re a tough guy?” Well, I see there are some behaviors the program hasn’t taught him yet.
“Well,” I say, once again turning from my ballgame. “Let me ask you, do you want to cry or bleed?”
I like to give options.
I took the reddening of his face as a sign he was thinking. Or about to have a stroke. Either way, I was willing to wait until his formulation was complete.
Before the guy can formulate his response another gentleman chimes in,
“I don’t know how tough he is,” states this gentleman. “But still being alive with a mouth like his makes me not want to try him.”
It was an unlikely source of support. He’s a nice guy but we disagree on many things. Like religion, politics, whether it’s okay to scream ‘Fire!’ in a crowded intensive care burn unit.
So we have a tact silence between us. I wish others took his lead. But, what he said seemed to work. The guy grumbled a few things as he made his way out the door. I turned to my defender but he waved me off.
“Don’t. I still think you’re an asshole but I know he can’t fight his way out of a wind storm and I hate to see grown men cry.”
Later that evening my girlfriend is talking to someone about gardening. This is good. I figure no matter where I go I’m going to have one person feel the need to talk to me. My quota for the evening reached, I take this as a good sign.
But we all know how bad I am at reading.
Unbeknownst to me, the seat next to me opens. I don’t pay attention when someone sits there. I pay even less attention when he begins to talk to the person beside him.
However, I did begin to pay attention when he began to speak directly into my ear. Now why would a rational person do that? Bark unwanted nonsense right into a strangers ear hole? I guess he took my silence and dead stare at the TV as some sort of invitation.
I turned because my ear drum was soloing (I hate ear drum solos) and after listening to this babble for what seemed like an entire beer (oh, wait! It was an entire beer. Thank gawd I drink fast) I said,
“Listen, it’s great that you know all this shit but if I was interested in anything you had to say I’d pull out my own brain and spank it for hanging with a bad crowd.”
He seemed stunned but undeterred, bloodied but unbowed, as it were.
He chuckled and began to talk about the size of Juan Marichal’s hands when I held up my two tiny paws and said,
“No, seriously. If you continue to speak at me I’m going to shoot you in your chest then dig out the bullet with a spork because I’m quite the recycler.”
I stared at him for a moment with a look that often shows people I’m really not the guy you should keep pressing. So he harrumphed and wandered to the other side of the bar to bother those people.
And, yes, I could hear the words, “Juan” “Marichal” and “hands.” He had a story and, damnit, a death threat wasn’t going to stop it! Move it? Sure. Stop it? Not in this lifetime.
Later still another guy started to talk at me (yes, plant talk went on for quite some time. Not that I, for most of the time, considered that a bad thing) and, this time I didn’t have a chance to fathom what the guy was talking about when he said,
“You don’t look like a mason.”
I think about that for a second before I realize I have on a t-shirt from my neighbors masonry company. I look at the guy and say,
“You’re right. As a matter of fact, I’m not an Odd Fellow or an Elk either. But I am a Jehovah’s Witnesses. Can I interest you in a Watchtower?”
I like when they flee quickly.
And a bartender is near.