I Asked Nicely

We walked into an establishment and it’s crowded. We see that there are two seats but they’re on either side of a woman who is seated alone nursing a drink. I’ll just ask her to move over one. That shouldn’t be a problem. People move all the time.

I walk up to her and politely ask if she’d mind moving to one of the vacant chairs beside her so my girlfriend and I could sit together. She said no. Can you believe that shit? She fucking said no. That’s never happened in the history of the world. My girlfriend is pissed but I tell her to chill and sit down in the empty seat on one side of the woman. I’ll occupy the other. My girlfriend fights it but sits down.

Begrudgingly.

The woman is sitting between us as we calmly order our drinks and are given menus. I’m looking at the menu and, after I made my choice, a poached salmon that sounded very good, I started to converse with my girlfriend.

“So, did you hear about June?” A non-existent person. It took her a second but she finally said no. “She told me she’s getting one of those labia tucks because she told me it looks like raw roast beef down there. As a matter of fact, she said that when she and her husband do it the sounds down there are like. . .”

“. . .Would you like to swap seats?” I smile at the kind woman’s offer.

“No, that’s okay. I’m fine.”

“No, no. I insist.”

“Oh, but it was such an imposition mere minutes ago.” She’s standing up with her drink in her hand.

“I insist. I’ll even get your first round.”

“Gee,” I say sliding my drink over and standing up. “That’s very kind of you.” I hop into the seat and turn my back on my benefactor.

The moral of the story is that it’s safer to be polite first because you’ll only have to pay for it later. Sometimes with visions you’ll never be able to get out of your head.

American Super Bowl

My girlfriend and I watched the Super Bowl at a Chinese restaurant in a rather beat down city. It’s my girlfriends favorite so we’ve been there many times. We get there and are quite surprised to be able to get a seat not only at the bar but directly in front of a TV. Sweet.

We order food and, as expected, the bar begins to slowly fill up. My girlfriend is to my left with five empty seats to my right. I’m in a perfect position on the corner. I know I’ll not be so fortunate to have them remain so for the entire game so I can only hope the person or people are not pains in the ass.

I do not get my wish.

Seated to my immediate right is a woman. A talkative woman. A talkative woman who knows nothing about foot ball yet refuses to let that limitation dissuade her for commenting on every play. Then asking her pretty much equally uninformed, bandwagon jumping husband a question he can’t answer so that leaves her to find her answer somewhere else. That somewhere else would be directly into my ear hole. There were countless times I had my right ear hole being over modulated a question into at the exact same time my left ear hole was being over modulated into with a question I knew inevitably my girlfriend would have.

But all that would come later. During the pre-game it was just your average pre-game chatter. By that I mean meaningless and unnecessary. I sit in the middle of this wondering what I have done to allow this to be part of my Super Bowl enjoyment. I was well prepared for any and all of my girlfriends questions, that comes with the territory, but to have a double barrel assault, I don’t remember signing up for that. But, I must have because that’s what’s happening.

A Hispanic guy sits at the furthest chair at the bar. It is the worst chair at the bar if your intention is to actually watch the game because that seat is behind the television. But he doesn’t seem fazed by this. He’s just sitting there ignoring the goings on sipping his beer. He seems happy so I don’t give him another thought.

That is until the national anthem is being sung.

“Oh say can you. . .”

And the Hispanic guy starts balling. I mean wailing. He buries his face in his hands and just sobs. I’m watching him because it overwhelms me. Here is a man, an immigrant with English as a second language, becoming so emotional over the theme song of his adopted nation that he’s moved to tears. At that moment I’m pretty sure he is the most patriotic person in America. His love for his adopted country runs so deeply the first few words of the song associated with it causes a joyous eruption of emotion. And it doesn’t stop when the song finishes. He wipes his eyes and thrusts his moist hands in the air in celebration of the life he’s allowed to lead.

That’s an American regardless of where he was born.

The game begins and, true to his seating position, he doesn’t seem to care much about the game. Maybe because he’s still trying to compose himself. Maybe it’s because he’s already received exactly what he came for. Whatever it is he’s satiated.

I wish I could say the same for the woman to my right. Not only did she talk all the way through the anthem she even talked through every motion of the game. The bar was subdued during the first half because, as things go with sports fans, when the team they’re rooting for isn’t doing well, there’s not a ton to discuss.

Fortunately for me the woman to my right and her husband left at half time. The Senegalese couple to their right moved over to better seats and they were very nice. Every once in a while they would politely ask me a question which I would answer to their overly effusive thanks. As the halftime festivities continued the bar started to fill up. An Asian guy and some friends took over a couple of tables. A Brazilian trio sat behind me. Some black guys stood behind me keeping up running and entertaining chatter as the game progressed.

At first there was a group of Hispanics who were happy and trash talking because, at the time, their team was ahead. Then an amazing thing happened, the tide, as they say, began to turn. Slowly people started to get more excited while the loud people from earlier seemed to lose their elation.

During a commercial break I got up to take a piss. When I came back I noticed an amazing thing. There were only four white people in the room. That never bothers me. I’ve been the only white guy in my own house. But it was just amazing to see people from all over the place enjoying themselves with such abandon. I sat down and thought about the long gone crying Hispanic guy. He’s the one, he started this day.

I won’t bore you with the outcome of the game but I will say that I was high fived and shook hands and was embraced by nary a white hand. It was a truly American moment. I had a hoodrat happily yell in my face while hugging me,

“I told you! I told you to never lose faith!” As an aside, we ran into him the next day and, let me tell you, he was still in a hugging mood.

I had an Asian guy jump up and down in font of me pounding me on the shoulders with a great big American smile on his face. The Senegalese woman kept patting my hand and laughing. Her husband kept high fiving everyone around him. They both kept thanking me.

It was probably the most American moment I’ve had in a very long time.

Married

I’m with a group of people and one woman is a social pariah. . .butterfly, social butterfly. Words and phrases have the ability to confuse me.

I’m sitting far enough away that I can only hear what she says in a low roar. Like the slow, rolling sound your stomach makes just before diarrhea explodes. Except, by the expression of the listeners, she was much more discomforting.

I know sooner or later she’s going to make her way to me. So I start to think about the conversations she’s having as she flits her way around the room as if it was a human maze.

Maybe she’s telling them humorous stories from her day as third trombonist in the philharmonic of Schenectady.  Maybe tales from her challenging days as the travel agent for Doctors Without Borders. Maybe chilling yarns from her time spent doing battle in the pie fight club circuit.

I can see the number of people she hasn’t spoken to dwindle. I also watch as a couple near me grabs their gear to leave.

“Gutless twits.” I mutter under my breath. “You ate the meal but now you’re afraid to pay for it.” I’ll see them again. And I’ll tell them a story. Maybe the one where I had to cut a piece of glass out of my own face. Yeah, that one always makes people shudder. I make a note.

“Hi, how’s your evening going?”

“No. . .

“. . .Great.”

And then she’s off.

Her words to me covered a few areas but, after a time, began to clearly focus on one specific area.

“I’d really love to get married.”

I know that because I know know 1) exactly how her wedding will look, feel, and taste. I came away from this with a warning to weather.

“Hey, Weather! Your old pal, Chris, here. Listen, buddy, see this woman? If she ever gets married DO NOT fuck up her day. 75, 78 degrees. Light cool breeze. Bright sunny day with a few fluffy clouds so the outdoor pictures come out perfect. And I’m not joking. You fuck up her day it’s the last time Doppler will see you alive.”

After hearing about the wedding, the location of the honeymoon, and what the husband to be will (not might or would be nice SHALL) look like she says,

“So, you can see I’d really like to be married.”

She stops for a second, I think to tighten the screws in her jaw for the next person, so I jump in with,

“You’ll never get married.”

I know! Am I crazy? Brave? Or finished my beer, want another one so need to come up with something that will cause her so much internal, how shall we say, melting that the unspoken to party guests will lift me and carry me around the entire party on their shoulders while the rest will rain cocktail wieners down upon me as offerings for silencing the beast.

After my momentary revelry I come back to shark black eyes glaring at me.

“Why would you say such a thing?”

“Because you’d never shut the fuck up enough to let him get the ‘I do’ in.”

And with that I rejoin my people so they can worship me in their respective manners.

Art House

Years ago I went to a little art house theater to see a movie. Yes, that’s right, it was not my choice. I was forced to go. I was dating this woman who would make me do things like that ‘for my own good’. I’m sure that plus factors in this story are some of the reasons we didn’t last.

I’m being told about this movie as we’re going there. If you’re going to tell me everything about a movie before I get to the movie isn’t that defeating the reason I’m going to that movie? Well before I get there I’m pretty much up on the story line. It’s the story of a female necrophiliac who works in a funeral parlor. Okay now, I pretty much know where this is going. Can I save the fifty bucks and go grab a beer?

I don’t remember the name of the movie and I’m too lazy to look it up or call my friends over at reelingreviews.com. They’d know in a heartbeat but I guess I just don’t care enough to find out. I mean, how much more do you have to know other than ‘a woman likes guys but only if they’re very, very, very cold to her’?

So we get to this majestic old theater (I don’t remember if it actually was those things, it could have been creaky and smelly, but, by law, that’s how you have to describe arty theaters) and grab our seats. They’re in the front row of the balcony. It reminds me of my youth when I’d be up there finger blasting a date. But there will be none of that tonight. Because my date is alive.

The movie plays and it was good. I must say that the director had to love the female lead (you know, the corpse fucker) because when she was shot it was as beautiful as any cinematic frame you’ve ever seen. I also remember thinking, “Damn, I wouldn’t want to be a twenty to thirty year old guy living in that city because they seem to die in droves.” I don’t remember one ‘age appropriate’ dead guy. But the youths of that fine city were ripe of the picking.

The movie ends and I’m starting to leave when the manager comes in. Being an ‘art house’ the assemblage sits back down. I don’t know what’s happening. Maybe there’s going to be a raffle. Or maybe she’s going to announce the sequel set in a cryogenic lab called ‘Fifty Ways To Freeze Your Lover.’ I don’t know but we’re all going to have to listen.

“As stated we do have some food and drink in the lobby. But, and I know how disappointing this is, the films director was detained so will not be able to be here for the scheduled Q and A.” As people react to this unfortunate news I whisper to my date,

“Why can’t she be here? Is she fucking a corpse?”

At least I thought it was a whisper. By the looks I received from the, now angry, manager and others it wasn’t as whispery as I thought. I looked at the glowering manager, shrugged my shoulders and said,

“Valid question.”

By her swift exit I saw that she didn’t see the validity. My date punches me on my arm and we start to exit. But first she has to pee. All the way to the rest rooms I’m being told what kind of classless buffoon I am. Having heard that many times before it hardly registers. We arrive at the rest room and there is a line for the ladies room. Not for the mens so, to avoid listening to how much of a jackass I am, I go in.

It’s quiet in there. No one is at the urinals but I can hear someone mucking about in the stall. I pay no mind and go about my business. I hear the toilet flush and the stall door unlock. I didn’t see the person passing me until they went to the sink and said hi.

I turned and said hi to her.

While still pissing I started to chuckle. I told her she was the smartest woman in the place. She laughed and we had a little conversation while I finished up. After mere seconds of polite talk she takes a step back, points at me and says,

“You’re the guy who asked if the director was fucking a corpse.”

“I am. I didn’t think anyone would hear me.”

“Oh, everyone did.”

“Damn fine acoustics.”

Laughing, we finish drying our hands and begin to exit. We’re laughing and chatting while I hold the door open for her. We exit and standing directly in front of the door is my date.

She looks at me, at the woman, sees that we’re both laughing and, shaking her head in despair or disgust (they’re so close in my life I can’t tell the difference) and says,

“You’re the only person who could go into a men’s room alone and come out with a laughing woman.”

It is one of my skills.

The woman asks me if I’m going to get shit and I tell her yes but that it’s not her fault. Shit was in the pipeline long before she arrived. She shakes my hand, tells me it’s been fun and exits. My date glares at me for a few seconds before telling me, once again, what a terrible person I am. Not wanting to put up with that and having the mobility of legs I turn to leave.

“That may be true but at least I’m not a corpse fucker.” I exit under those words. A few women in line turn. Some laugh remembering my earlier performance. “I’ll be in the lobby.”

I’m leaning on a wall in the lobby as people munch cheese and talk about things I, being such a classless oaf, would not understand. Suddenly the manager looks over between bites of brie and sees me. She starts to glower. Doesn’t she know glowering only increases my superpowers?

I smile at her and say,

“Well? You never answered my question.”

She gets all red faced and bumbles her way into her office. My date arrives in the middle of this, makes a ‘you’re an idiot’ face and hustles out. I slowly walk out, grabbing a piece of cheese on the way, when I have a moment of melancholy. I mean, now I’m never going to know if this movie was autobiographical.

“You don’t drink coffee?”

I was asked. “No.” I responded.

“Then how do you stay up?”

“By not going to sleep.”

Why do I have to have these conversations?

Cats Meow

I was at a place where people had unfettered rights to speak. I agree, I should have known better. But I have a good excuse. I was forced to go. I can’t say it was all bad. 99.999% of the people were pleasant. Enough. But isn’t there always one? One person who’ll spoil our non-asshole having fun?

It could be the pontificator. The person who considers himself an expert on one subject so tries to inject himself into you like Bill Cosby. Totally unexpected and unwanted. It never matters if this person is right or not. They’ve spent their valuable time learning something so they feel it is your duty to be there as they unload. Again, much like Bill Cosby.

It could be the passive aggressive whisperer. This person may actually have nothing to say but that won’t stop them. And, because they know, as a human, it’s a natural response to try and listen when others speak, you’ll strain to hear their barely audible murmuring so they’ll have your complete attention.

But usually it’s the loud person. No matter what this person says they feel it’s so important it must be bellowed as loudly as an air raid siren. I’ve had the misfortune of being around many of these people and, in my experience, what they are screaming is never important.

But boy do they say it! And they never stop. I think that’s what’s so amazing. It’s the verbal equivalent of a runaway freight train. Oh sure, it’s going to stop eventually, but you’re never sure where or when. And, when it does, the aftermath is devastating. Because you know, once they catch their breath, they’ll have another train with a newly packed load ready to go.

I’m standing there having what could be described (by others) as a pleasant conversation. A person is telling me about something they did, had done to them, was thinking of doing or had to postpone from doing. As I said, others may have found it pleasant but, to me, it was a series of minor inconveniences that was partially to mostly their fault that they wanted me to agree it was not anywhere near their fault. Some people like that kind of conversation. I muddle through. I give them my divided attention and they seem fulfilled when they inevitably see someone who hasn’t heard this tale and leaves.

I like to be there for these people for as long as they want to speak. Not because of any true desire to hear how Janine at work is a total bitch who has the boss wrapped around her press on nail fingers so never has to do any work. But because I know the alternative is worse.

Case in point, after the person I was just talking about left she was replace by a guy who has a revolutionary, life altering diet he wanted to tell me about. Which made me want to tell him about my life altering diet which is not to eat everything in the fucking building. But his was much more, as he said, revolutionary so had to tell me all about it. For forty-five minutes. I shit you not. Do you want to know what his diet was?

No?

Please, let me. I need to get it out of my head some way. Thank you. And I promise I’ll sum the forty-five minutes I’ll never get back in three to four seconds (depending on how slow a reader you are). And here it goes:

His diet was totally designed around your blood type.

I wish I was joking.

But even a tale that ludicrous wasn’t holding my attention. He was being overpowered by a hurricane called The Bloviator. She was holding fort directly to three people who were shoulders against the wall trapped. The force of her windy speech was keeping them from unpinning themselves. Her physicality was making it impossible for anyone to have their legs go limp and snake out of there. They were trapped but everyone else in the building was, to a lesser extent, engulfed by this beast.

Another person, who had his eyes locked onto this beast, walked up to us and said,

“Man, is she loud or what?” The person who was talking to me knew this woman and said,

“She’s always like that. She thinks she’s the cats meow.” I watched as those who could covered their ears and move to a, hopefully, safer distance. Feeling pity for those trapped in her verbal vortex I responded,

“Isn’t it amazing that those who feel they’re the cats meow are actually what comes out of a cats ass?”

Curse

I pissed of my sixth person today. Relax! Relax! It’ll rise. I’ve only been at work for two hours.

The sixth person was extremely pissed because I would not do to the letter what she wanted. I did do A through W but X, Y and Z was pushing too far.

She pleaded, growled, tried to get in touch with my humanity (ha! Stupid stranger), attempted to intimidate until she finally figured out she dealing with, to her, nothing but a cold-hearted, dead eyed stone wall so she said,

“You will not do this for me?”

“I would not do this for anyone.”

“Have it your way.” Just like I’d planned to. “You’re forcing me to do this.” What this? Report me to the authorities? Punch me? Storm off never to be seen again? Guess which of those three I’d prefer?

What she does is grab the pen out of my hand and, as if she were a magician, had her ‘TA DA’ expression on.

“The pens are free.” I say pointing to a display filled with free pens.

“No, because of the way you have treated me I am going to put a curse on you.” And you had to take the pen to write yourself a note? I attempt to stifle a chuckle but I guess I failed because her ‘TA DA’ face vanished and became a ‘no you didn’t’ face. “You should not take me lightly. I am very powerful.”

Knowing me as you do you have to realize at that moment I’m wondering how I’m going to get you to believe this is what she said. I thought for a while before figuring it out.

She really fucking said that.

Now that you believe me I’ll carry on.

“Listen lady, I’ve had two Italian curses, one Haitian and one African. On top of that I now have whatever juju you do and look at that, I’m still here.” I pause here while she stews thinking that, because another curse is involved, my boss won’t be too upset with what I’m about to say next. “So, fuck yourself right off.”

I turn and go back to my desk. I do not think I was being impolite. How would you continue a conversation after having a curse cast? I’m sure if Dear Abby was still kicking she’d say,

“Dear Cursed,
This is an extremely charged situation and one that must be dealt with seriously. I would suggest that you take the high road and politely say to her, “Fuck yourself  right off.”

So the lady does as Abby requested and I sit down to write this. I had to get it out of the way quickly, I figured just in case. It would be hard to write at all if, overnight, some of my appendages fell off.