I closed the restaurant early during the last heat wave/power outage. Of course, WE still had power. It’s beyond irony: God has a twisted fucking sense of humor. Either that, or he’s gotten different comedy writers.
The thermometer actually is pegged this time, because it’s hotter than what it displays. How do I know this? Just trust me, okay? When the thermometer is at 3:00 (90 degrees is about 2:00), it’s unbearably hot, yeah, but not insanely so. But the thermeter went to 4:00, which in theory is maybe on 5 degrees hotter.
But it was WAY hot. Insanely hot. I know, because I was insane. Muttering to myself. Laughing. Cackling. Muttering again. A driver would ask me a question. My answer? "Dude, I can’t form a coherent thought right now. You’re on your own."
This family of farmers was plump. They worked hard, but they tied on the feebag fairly often. I learned the official designation of meals and their appropriate serving time. Breakfast–breakfast was early, way before we got there, probably 6 am or so. We showed up about 8:30, which was early for us but probably way late for them. Dinner was at noon. That’s right, dinner. Big meal, too. They fed us up pretty damn good. There were about four of us, hungry teenagers, able to put away three times what a normal person could. Then lunch was about 4ish, a sandwich or something like that too hold you over till supper, served at 7, I think. We were never there that long, but we got dinner and lunch.
To walk the bean fields, you needed to wear long pants, and then we wore t-shirts and hats. Always hats. We are out in the sun, you need a hat. Everybody knows this. Always wear a hat.
One day, Jay forgot his.
The morning wasn’t too bad, but this was early July, so he had the afternoon to look forward to. After lunch–I mean dinner–after dinner, we were back in the field. We had our big thermos full of water sitting at one end, and we walked the field. Each one of us took a row, and we kept pace, but slightly staggered in relation to each other, because after all, we were carrying machetes. We walked up and down the rows, in the heat of the sun, chopping weeds in between the rows of beans. We worked basically unsupervised, but the farmer would come to check on us on occasion, and pick us up for lu–dinner.
But this day, the day Jay forgot his hat, it was about 3:00, and he had been out here in the afternoon sun. He started to bitch and mutter to himself, then was actually angry as he cut weeds. He was angry at the weeds! After all, they were the reason he was out here. Goddamn weeds! He was cussing and bitching, and swinging wildly.
We were going to let him continue, because there’s not much that’s funnier than a crazy person swinging a machete–but the farmer showed up with fresh water for us, and saw how he was acting.
He poured water on a towel and put it on Jay’s head and neck, then took him back with him to the farm house, to rest in the AC a bit, and then when he came back, he was wearing borrowed hat. Very nice.
So where is my cold, wet towel, dammit?
Aye, Matey, thar’s the rub. "More or less. . ."
All the problems with my wife, all of the longing, the needing, and the feeling something was missing–I found someone. A special someone. Someone who fulfills my every need, my every desire. Someone who understands me, who knows me intimately, and loves me. Someone who knows my darkest secrets and deepest fantasies. Someone who has seen the worst of me, and still loves me for who I am. His name is Bill–
I never knew I could enjoy the company of a man in this way. The feeling of being fulfilled, and filled up. The taste. The sweaty, hairy back. The tickling of a mustache on the base of my wah-hoo.
Because I don’t want you to be comfortable or complacent. If I have to suffer through this, I am dragging y’all with me. All y’alls. Just for company. I have a few things to tell you, and you may think I’m a son of bitch for what I’ve done.
And I understand, and I’m sorry. I feel like a son of a bitch for what I’ve done, too. If I could do it all again, I might do it differently.
But I would still do it.
Lord help me, I still would.
My friend Kim talked me down from that clock tower, and made me realize that what I needed to do–what was right, what was moral–would be to leave my wife first, dissolve the marriage, then proceed to engage in all the wild monkey sex I could. She is a good friend.
In the meantime, I did meet someone. A woman, okay? We met, of all places, on the freakin Internet. Spare me the lectures, please, about the dangers of meeting someone on-line. Predatorial pedophiles, kidney-stealing, blackmailing, disease-spreading, thieving, murdering, assorted mopery-and-dopery–I have been alternately warned and accused of all of these things.
I didn’t go to Adult Friend-Finder, or any number of other pick-up spots on the web. Booty-call.com. Fuckbuddy.cc. Ineedalover.org. College-babes-in-love.edu/oral. Yahoo personals. We met, actually, on this blog. It’s one of you.
As you all turn and look at yourselves and each other, and point fingers, and ask, "Who? Who?" I have to tell you that she is very much not in favor of this being discussed, so I will not mention any names. Any guesses will be ignored. Until she is ready, not gonna tell ya. Like many of you, we have become friends. Then we sent a personal email. Then we began to flirt a little.
Then the flirting became serious.
At one point, it started to be dangerous to me, and I warned her, and asked, how far do you want to go? As if some simple flirting on the Internet could ever lead to anything.
And then we opened up to each other, about how we felt about different things. We became better friends, sharing more, and deeply, and over time we realized we might be falling in love. I teased her a bit my sending an email from my work, which had my work phone number and extension at the bottom of it.
She answered the challenge, and called me. I remember talking in person to her, for the first time. It was wonderful, scary, heart-pounding, life changing. Since then, we have talked a lot on the phone. Almost every day. Our relationship, and our love, grew. As I look back on our emails, I can see the transition, gradual, from friends, to teasing, to better friends, to maybe we like each other, and then a great leap, where we were in love. Deeply.
It sounds so bizarre, especially to explain to other people. They hear "internet," and smirk loudly. How the fuck can you smirk loudly? And yet they do. I hope that you can at least understand that part of it. It doesn’t matter, the instrument, the means, of how we met. Only that we did. It is more amazing to me, as obsessed as you know I am about sex, that this went on for a few months. What could keep me interested that long? My attention span is about as long as my dick. The hint of the promise of the remote possibility of sex if and when the stars ever aligned properly, and we had a slim chance of a brief liaison? Ha!
But then, as our love grew, we began to make plans to be together. Not for sex. For life. But, yeah, for sex as well. It was alot like an old fashioned courtship, where we talked but no touching. And oh, did we talk. Hours and hours. Emails and phone. Constant communication. Because all we could do was talk, we were hungry to learn more about each other. After a few weeks, I knew more about her than I did about my wife after a year.
We had also shared pictures of each other. Real pictures. Hard to believe, but yeah, these were the real thing. So, we both knew that neither one of us was Hollywood models or porn stars or what-have-you. But I could look at her pictures and say, yeah, I’m attracted to her, physically. And she felt the same way about me, although I have no idea why.
And we were able to talk about what we want in a relationship. Expectations, for instance. What we have been through that we like, and mostly, what we don’t like. And why. And what experiences we’ve had that have led us to where we are. All of the littlest, stupidest things that we agreed on, just made our bond grow stronger. We began to imagine and plan our life together.
Only a few things stood in our way. Spouses. Yeah, plural. She is slightly married as well–but only slightly. She would leave her husband, I would leave my wife, she would move down here so I can remain close to my children. She would give up whatever life she has to come and be with me.
Wrong? Yes. Immoral? Definitely. Would it stop us? Not a chance. We set a date that we would meet; she made hotel reservations, even paid for it–what a gal! The date is July 28th.
I also set a date to leave my wife, too. Aaarrghhh. This makes me sound like a conniving, duplicitous asshole. I leave my wife, and I’m counting down the days. I rationalize that since I have left, I can go and meet the woman with a reasonably clean conscious. That was the plan.
The reason they are called "plans" is because things go wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
My nephew was getting married on the 22nd. Although we were nominally separated, my wife wanted to know if she could still go. The kids wanted to go, and she wanted to see some family that she knew, things like that. I couldn’t think of a good reason for her not to go, which is what I told her. She was looking for reconciliation, I was looking for extrication.
The wedding and reception was fine, blah blah blah. But we went as a family, and the wife was trying extra hard to be nice, accommodating, everything. She wanted me back, badly. Desperation filled her eyes. By morning, I was beginning to think we could work it out, we could make it better, I could forget all the pain from the past, and she would try harder to be a good wife and make it work.
She had to go to work Sunday, in order to be off Monday for something. I left to go to my dad’s and. . … pick up my stuff and bring it back. Just have to tie up some loose ends, though. Need to give this other woman a call. Other woman. I hate the sound of that. She is only the "other woman" to my wife. To me, she is THE woman.
I make the call.
Difficult conversation, but short. She cuts me off, it’s over, she hangs up on me.
I am driving down the road, headed who knows where now. I am screaming, screaming in the car. Wailing. I have never . . .. felt this sense of pain, this sense of loss. Wasn’t it better, though? Wasn’t it better to hurt one person (her) instead of three people (wife and kids)? Wasn’t it better to keep the family together even though I’m not happy? Shouldn’t I make the sacrifice for the family, the house, the everything? I hadn’t known her very long, not really. She would get over me, wouldn’t she? Wasn’t this better?
I felt like my life was over. I didn’t feel this way when I left my wife. Just a sadness for her, and for my children. As for me, I was bone dry by this time.
With the new woman, I thought of all that we had shared, all that we would, all of the promise the future would hold. We were going to be together forever. Forever. For. Ev. Er. We were going to be the couple that irritates everyone because we are so happy. It would be a perpetual honeymoon, filled with love and laughter. It would be perfect, because of what we had been through, and the knowledge that we would be creating together a new life . . .blah, blah, bippity-freakin-blah. Fuck.
She called back. In a matter of minutes, she called back. I had just destroyed her, and she called back. You don’t understand. We had confessed our love, many times over. We had also stated, well, I knew how much she loved me. She knew how much I loved her. I knew how much it hurt her, because it hurt me the same. The exact same way. She called me back.
Our conversation was . . .irreproducible. The gist of it was, we couldn’t leave it like this, it was wrong that our meeting, the highly anticipated union, was less than a week away, and I was doing this. I should at least give us a chance.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I could hardly form the words. "After wh-wha-
what I did . . . . you still want me?"
Could I still make our meeting? I said this: "I am afraid that if we wait until Friday, that something will happen, and we won’t be able to meet. I am prepared, right now, to drive out to see you. Right now."
I called my boss, who is also my friend, and asked her for a few days off, and explained briefly why. I stopped by my second job, grabbed my paycheck, and went to the bank and deposited it. I went to my dad’s house to get my stuff. But not to bring home. To meet her in. . . Oh, wait, if I tell you that, it may give you a clue. We met in a city that is more or less halfway between us. She paid for the hotel room.
She looked it up, booked it, packed a bag, and left. We talked to each other on the cell phone all the way there. Four or five hours later, we were meeting for the first time. I arrived first, and waited for her. When she came in the door, I was stunned. The pictures did not do her justice. She was beautiful. From Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon, we spent practically every minute together.
Yes, of course we had sex. Lots of it. It was good, it was great, it was wonderful. Was it the emotional state? The anticipation? The danger? The excitement of being with someone new? I’m sure all of these factors come into play (tee-hee–"come") but mostly it was love. We held each other and hugged, just hugged, for a long time.
We went out to eat a few times, went for a drive, we sat and talked. We watched some TV together. We had more sex. Morning, noon, and night. Several days’ worth.
But look, I know you all know how I am. I am a hard-on, a perpetual penis, a walking dick. I want you to know it was not all about the sex. Just being with her, seeing her, touching her. Smelling her. Looking into her eyes, seeing them look back at me. My heart would skip, literally skip, as I look at her. Infatuation? You bet. But it’s also love. Real love. I don’t think I ever even felt this way about anyone, even my wife, even in the early days. I don’t think that– –
Compared to how I feel now, I have never been in love before.
And I know I have a terrific mess that I have made, that I must now go about cleaning up. Repairing the relationship with my children, trying to make a civil divorce with my wife, trying to do what I can now, however much too late it is, to do the right thing, and work towards build a life with her, the new woman.
2 "Verily, my children are selfish assholes, and they are loud and disruptive and pissing me off. Whenever this happens, a little fire and brimstone is in order. Thus sayeth I, bitches."
3 And with that, God proceeded to smote everyone that pissed him off. Trouble in the Mid-East? They are pissing Him off royally. It works, too, then that since Americans have lost sight of the precious love of the Lord, therefore God raised the price of gasoline.
4 The Lord saw gas prices go up, and it was good. "Take that, you non-resource-conserving fucks. Hybrids my ass. That won’t save you," spaketh the Lord. "Only I can save you. Or hydrogen."
5 And the Lord looked upon the face of the world, and thought to himself,"With whom have I not fucked lately?"
6 He looked at the Middle-East, and was satisfied with the turmoil there.
7 He looked at Africa, said softly to himself, "Oh, shit, did I do that?" and kind of hid his head and ducked out before anyone saw him.
8 He looked at Indonesia, and viewed the carnage from the tsunami. But he put it on his "to do" list to make them change the name, or at least the spelling, of tsunami.
9 He looked at Australia, and remembered the World Cup.
10 And then he looked at America, at the the heartland, at the Midwest, and a broad smile crept across God’s face. With a sarcastic smirk, God said, "So they think they are going to tear down my stadium and build a new ballpark in it’s place? Ha. Fuck that bullshit."
11 And God pondered what fun to reign down upon them. He remembered the flood of 1993, and it brought a smile to his lips. Slow, creeping, unrelenting. Didn’t seem dangerous, but it was. But God had done that parlor trick already, and didn’t like reruns. He especially didn’t like summer, when all they show is reruns.
12 He has a particular vehemounce for Nick at Night and TV Land, which channels revel in the joy of showing reruns. Those channels shall suffer greatly the wrath of the Lord, sayeth he.
13 But first things first.
14 And the idea was formed.
15 And the Lord spaketh:
16 The midwest, especially St Louis, because that is where my favorite fallen son, Bryan, resides, shall have visited upon its head the extreme of tortures.
17 And God looked through his recipe book. "Plague of puppies and kittens? No, not quite what I’m looking for… .Green grass and high tides forever? Not sure if that’s good or bad. . .Ah! Here we go."
18 And the heat fell heavily upon them, like a retard off a ladder. Loud, clumsily, and with little fanfare. But very funny.
2 He cursed the heat, and the sky, and the Lord his God. And he cursed afternoon television, and extended warrantees.
3 For while those things were not related, they really got his goat.
4 And upon hearing his name being cursed, the Lord God put down the remote and went to investigate.
5 And the Lord God looked upon the face of Bryan, and spaketh unto him, thusly saying, "What gives, Duder?"
6 And Bryan replied, "Oh Lord, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why dost thou rain these plagues upon me?"
7 And the Lord said, "Speak English, retard.
8 "But these visitations of my wrath do not fall soley upon your head, I have wreaked vengeance across the entirety of the land–"
9 And as the Lord spake, Bryan looked at him with the knowing eyes of one who has seen all manner of bullshit.
10 And the Lord laughed heartily and said, "Okay, you got me. It is just you."
11 And Bryan asked, "Why, oh Lord, why?"
12 And the Lord’s face reddened, and he got up in Bryan’s face, and he sayeth unto him: "Because you dissed me, dude. You blame me for all the bad shit, but don’t give me credit for any of the good stuff in your life. You hurt my feelings, goddammit."
13 Bryan looked down, even unto the ground, and kicked at it. He spaketh lowly, "Sorry, God, man. Dude. I just–you know, haven’t had any good shit lately, it’s been all bad."
14 The Lord God Almighty crossed his god-like arms in front of his god-like chest, and held forth in a god-like manner. "Let’s run down the list, then, shall we? Putz."
15 And Bryan recounted his troubles, like Job.
16 "First, the marital thing. Wife is difficult to get along with, problems there, some other personal issues.
17 "Then, I’m broke, never have any money, I pay bills and I never can get ahead.
18 "My phone got stolen, and then a week later I lose a wheel on the interstate, so I have no way of calling anyone. I walk.
19 "I have all of these cars, and all kinds of problems with them, all of which will be expensive to fix.
20 "Then, this heat wave rolls in, I already can’t take the heat, but then you knock out all the power, and I lay in a pool of sweat night after night, because it’s going to be a few days before the power is restored. I work in excessive heat on my night job, I slept in my car last night, if you can call it sleep–"
21 And Bryan wound down, because God was rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, the universal sign of a tiny violin playing. And God spake, saying,
22 "Are you done, Dude? Crybaby. Suck it up, take it like a man." And The Lord thusly counted on his fingers as he ticked off points.
23 "Problems with the wife are in great part your responsibility. You married her. You let her get that way. you accepted it. Dickhead.
24 "Money is a temporal thing, matters of this world only. My early apostles were dirt poor. But happy. Learn to deal with it. Dickhead.
25 "Your phone was stolen because you left the window down. The wheel came off because you tightened the lugs too tight. You have all these cars to work on because you are shitty at regular maintanence.
26 "And you brought this heatwave all on yourself as well. Dickhead."
2 "So, God, let me ask you this, then. You want me to be grateful unto you for all the good in my life, all of the blessings, all things wonderful, but NOT blame you for the bad shit?"
3 Thusly, it was the Lord’s turn to ponder, and he did, for two seconds, that being the right amount of time deemed to get the correct comedic response. "Well, yeah."
4 "Who’s fault is it then?"
5 The Lord spaketh: "I just told you, pay attention. Verily I say unto you, that your problems are your own. You are the master of your destiny, the captain of your tugboat. I set up the game, but I do not play. I referee at the end, and that’s about it."
6 Bryan asked the Lord, "Yeah, but–"
7 And the Lord, infinitely patient, waited.
8 And once more Bryan began to ask of the Almighty, "But doesn’t it–"
9 Still the Lord waited, with one eyebrow now raised, as Bryan began again, "Should I—?"
10 And the Lord of Hosts, the God of Infinite Mercy and Patience, tapped his foot and looked oh so casually at his Rolex. Nothing but the best for The Almighty.
11 Bryan began again, and the Lord corrected him.
12 "Well, what about–"
13 "Listen, my son. Take heed my word. There are many instructions out in the world for living your life, in both written form, and books on tape. Some are good, some are crap.
14 "Follow them, or don’t, it’s up to you. Find a path, or waste your life; again, it’s up to you.
15 "But I say now that there IS an afterlife, there is a judgement, a grading, a divining. The rules are not complex. Try to be a good person, try to do right by people, try to make decisions you can live with. I AM watching. Live with that thought in mind.
16 "And change your oil more regularly. THE ALMIGHTY GOD HAS SPOKEN!"
Either you live an exciting life, or you don’t. Most people don’t. Most people are not super-spies, housewive/prostitutes leading double lives, aliens in human form, or living in a complex web of virtual reality created by our masters called the Matrix.
But if you DO happen to be a housewife-slash-prostitute leading a double life, give me a call, would ya?
Sadly, most people’s lives are incredibly uninteresting. But this is for the best, for the people who live them. What does it mean for your life to be "interesting"? It means that something is going on ALL THE TIME. You don’t really want that. People seek out peace, or quiet, or simple, for the most part. If you have a high-stress, action-packed job, you need some quiet time, some down time, at home. Otherwise, you will never get to watch the game. Ever notice how characters in action movies never go to the bathroom? Do you really want to live like that? Myself, I’d rather be regular.
Whenever a person’s life is "interesting," meaning you have a story to tell, it usually means you are going through some heavy shit. Do you want that all the time? Not if you have any freakin’ sense. I’ve read the blogs, I’ve seen the things, the trials and tribulations, that some of you are going through. Makes for interesting reading. But, yeah, verily, it sucks to be you if your going through it. And I am not making light of it, honestly. The difference between sincere and sarcastic is such fine line. I mean, compared to what many of you go through, I have nothing to complain aobut and in fact should just shut my pie-hole.
This is, in fact, the point of this ancient Chinese proverb, which is actually a curse, now put into context: "May you live in interesting times." Not as biting as "Your mother wears combat boots," or the ever popular, "You suck!" but very telling, in a subtle way.
In my own personal life, of which I have divulged a great deal, I have gone through my own intersting times. But how interesting is it, and how long will you read, how long will you pay attention, how long will you care? You all know what I’m going through, and many of you have generously given heartfelt condolences and understanding, empathy–
But how long can it last?
What I am going through, sadly, I will continue to go through, long after your attention has waned. After I can no longer make it interesting, after I can no longer draw you in with my salient prose–after the crowd clears, and you all go back to leading your own lives–I am still here, living mine.
What you all originally thought was so intriguing, or interesting, will soon turn into the day to day drudgery of yet another man who left his wife and really has no idea what the fuck he is doing, or why. These ideas seem romantic, do they? In the movies, perhaps. An musical montage scene wherein I slowly, day after day, develop confidence, get my shit together, build a healthy relationship with my children, make peace with my ex, or at least gain an understanding, and find new love–
And they all lived happily ever after. . .
Christ, where have all the cowboys gone?
Oh, shit–wrong introspection. Anyway, I already have a pickup truck, which, according to the Cowboy Manual, is mandatory. I already drink a little beer, but I think the index says hard liquor is required. Plus one more thing–
I swagger into a convenience store (Cowboys don’t walk. They don’t stroll, they don’t traipse, and they sure as shit don’t skip. They can saunter, or swagger. That’s it. Two settings), sidle up to the counter (because that is what cowboys do), and say to the clerk, "Say, pardna–I’m lookin to start me a bad habit. Would you recommend Cee-gars, or some chaw?"
He stares blankly at me, then informs me the horse has to stay outside. I stares right back at him, and we have a stand-off. My hand is poised and ready, over my pocket. For what, I don’t know, but it seemed appropriate. Finally, seeing the line form behind me, and the townsfolk gathering to witness, he relented. His shoulders dropped. He reached slowly behind him under the counter, and I watched his hands. You gots to keep an eye on these types, they ain’t trustworthy. He brings up a small package of cigars, and presents them to me, like a prize.
I smile brightly. "Why, shore ‘nuf, padnah, I reckon that’ll do. That’ll do quite nicely."
I tossed some silver on the counter and turned to swagger off. Into the sunset. I hear his throat clear behind me. S-l-o-w-l-y I turn. He says, "Duder, we don’t take video game tokens."
I wanted to write about all the concerts I have attended. Most have been good, many have memorable. In 25 years I’ve been to roughly 30 or so shows, about one a year.
Let me tell you about the one I went to a little over a year ago.
Turns out, the answer to that is: A whole helluva lot. Still like it, still go back to the classics, my favorites from before. I put put more weight on the new stuff. The old stuff plays constantly in my head anyway. By request from the voices in my head. It’s really crowded in here.
So the Dude makes a disc for me, the soundtrack to "Drop Dead Gorgeous," a seriously hilarious movie that I highly recommend, and the soundtrack is pretty bitchen as well. But there is room on the end of the disc, and the Dude doesn’t like to waste disc space, so he added some tracks.
A couple were Replacement tunes, Paul Westerberg’s original band. Very hard punk, and they were hilarious. "I Need a Goddamn Job," and "Fuck My School." Talk about an anthem. And he included some other songs from various artists, and also a Paul Westerberg tune, "Attitude."
Something happened when he recorded the song, and he didn’t realize it, but the disc was funky, so the song was not . ..right. It was’t skipping, but the sound went in and out, like it was on the radio and the signal kept dropping every 2 seconds.
It was hard to listen to. But I listened to it anyway. There was something about it. It was special. It drew me in, and made me mad because I couldn’t hear it right. It was like eating chocolate even though there was some dirt in it, because it’s only a little dirt. And besides, it’s chocolate, and we aren’t going to let it go to waste.
Meanwhile, the Dude heard that Westerberg was coming into concert. He wanted to go. It would be in Columbia, a college town about a hundred miles away.
The Dude. . . has problems. My best friend (that’s not his problem, although sometimes he thinks it is), he has some anxiety issues. It is not easy for him to get on the highway and go somewhere. I was impressed. For someone to make him want to go see them, they had to be pretty good. Plus, I had the one song,and even though it was a bad recording, I was hungry for more.
So I agree to go. He even pays my way. I think I may still owe him for gas, either that, or I should just have sex with him. That’s fair, right? He took me out, he paid the way, we had a good time. I don’t want him to think I’m a tease or anything.
I got permission from the wife (don’t remind me, okay?), but didn’t actually tell her how far away it was, in case that would be something she would freak out about. Whatever.
The Dude drives, and is totally calm in the car. Xanax has that affect. We get to the show, and wait outside the club in line. I don’t remember many lines, but I remember this one. It was almost like a Dead show, or how I imagine one, because I don’t think I’ve been to a Dead show, that I can remember. But I’ve taken acid before, so it is alot like being there.
The comradery was amazing, the feeling of electricity among us. All there to share a common bond–Westerberg. We chatted with people who had come many hundreds of miles away to see the man. It was cool.
We get in, and the show starts. NOrmally, when you go to a concert, you are familiar with the artist’s work, at least somewhat, and know what to expect. Not so with me. With the exception of a cover tune he did (which I’ll get to in a sec), I didn’t know or recognize a single song. Not one.
It was one of the best shows I had ever been to. I became a fan that night, a big one. Every song was great. There were ooh’s and aah’s when he started certain songs, and even the Dude was surprised, when he heard certain songs.
The only songs I actually remember from then, when I was unfamiliar with his work, and now, when I know alot of it, were "Waitress in the Sky," and "SKyway"–which, from the audience reaction, "Skyway" is his "Stairway to Heaven."
And he covered a Bob Dillon tune, which I didn’t recognize. Some one up front booed, and yelled, "Dillon sucks!"
Paul stopped the show, stopped the song, and addressed the guy. He said, "Hey, fuck you, asshole! You gotta respect the man." And then he went on with the show.
He also did a cover, believe it or not, of a Partridge Family song. "I think I love you." Remember it? Remember that song? Remember how it sounded all upbeat and happy, Rated G, pop songish?
When Paul did it, he made it sound dirty. It was completely awesome.
The end of the show, Paul was limping around. He had had some leg trouble earlier, and was now using a cane. He ended up doing the last two songs behind the curtain, on his back, on a stretcher. That’s the rumor, anyway, but he was behind the curtain singing. Unusual. And then the show was over.
I have been a Replacements and Paul Westerberg fan ever since. I recommend you check them out. Right now.
Patti, you have become a dear friend. I wish we were neighbors. You feel like a neighbor. The kind that leaves her back door unlocked so I can come in and sit down, root through your fridge while you are gone. I’ll make you lunch, it’ll be ready when you get back, okay? And I think you are right, and I am .. . .investigating some columnal possibilities. I will keep you posted.
And all of you: I’m a guy, so I’m not going to cry in front of all of you. But you have all touched me, touched my heart. All I can say is, a little lower, and towards the middle….
All of you have–well, Kim hasn’t said anything. Whattsa mattayou, huh? When the going gets tough you just abandon me? Is that how it’s gonna be? I was looking for some sage counsel, or perhaps parsley, or rosemary.
Give it thyme, I’m sure you’ll come up with something.
And I’m just kidding–I don’t want you to feel any pressure to give me solace in my time of need, when I am reaching out like a bloodsucking leech, trying to drain all of the happiness out of the room.
Don’t worry, I am not looking for an emotional tampon. I actually feel pretty good.
The last couple of days have been good.
I get to my dad’s house Sunday night, and despite all of my warnings and his agreement to the same, I guess he didn’t really think I would do it, but there I was, bag in hand, at his doorstep.
I know he was surprised because he didn’t clean out the room I was going to stay in. So…
I ended up sleeping in his room, with him.
It’s not as weird as it sounds, okay? I mean, we don’t fit to well on a twin bed, but we made do.
I’m trying to lighten the mood a bit, okay? Chill. I did sleep with him, in his gi-normous king size bed. Here’s the odd thing: I slept in my underwear, with no blanket, and turned the fan on. He was under several layers of blankets. And he left the light on. All night. I know this because when I woke up approximately every 37 minutes, yup, the light was still on. About 4 am I turned the fan off. But I still wanted it on. I am hot, babies. Hot.
I get up about 5:30, he’s already up. He’s a 70 year old retired guy, so it’s pretty natural for him to be up this freakin early for no apparent reason.
Anyway, I get to work before 6:30 am. Three cars in the parking lot besides mine, some other high-achieving managers long divorced from any personal life. This is just a guess. The first day is hard, actually the first morning. It gets easier as the days and nights go by.
I cried at my desk the first morning. Everything, all at once, and this was the first time I had been alone. But it got better, and I got better. All I do is think now, though, so that can’t be good for me.
The odd thing to me was, that whole first day, Monday, Linda never called. Which was good, because I didn’t need that. Tuesday she called me at work, wanting to make sure we coordinated on my son’s doctor appointment the next day.
The next day, the next morning, I picked up the kids from her, took them to my son’s appointment, took them back home. The kids seemed to be fine. Mitchell was talkative and Miranda was quiet, which was unusual. Mitchell, I think, wanted to fill the silence.
I see a basket of my clothes, clean and folded, I take it. I grab my sisters computer, which I had been building. I get on the internet and take care of a few things, and I delete a bunch of stuff off of the computer. Evidence? Not sayin. I take the mail, the bills, so I can pay them.
I get the kids some lunch, and Miranda rides with me. She is quiet. But she asks me, "Daddy, why can’t you come back and stay with us?"
So I told her it would be a while, but I would work it out because I want to be near her. She seemed to be okay. She seemed to be taking this better than me. Kids are resiliant.
So I go to work. Later in the afternoon, Linda calls me. Twice. To talk. To beg me to come back. She promised to change, to work on it. To try to be better. This is a goddamn bitter pill for me to swallow, and it sticks in my craw e’en now. I had to leave for her to realize that there is, after all, a real problem with how she treats me?
The begging and pleading is hard for me to hear. Desperation. I can hear it in her voice, the terror. To think the unthinkable, that she has lost me, and now will be alone. It hurts. It hurts me to hurt her like this. I want to run to her, to take her in my arms, to kiss her and hold her, and tell her it was a mistake, and I’m sorry too. . .
But I can’t.
Either sex is important to you, or it isn’t. It’s either a part of the relationship, or it isn’t. But just as important as the sex is . . .not having it. Being turned away. Turned down. Rejected. Brushed off. Day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after fucking day after goddamn day after another motherfucking day and again after another day and still one more fucking day of rejection and humiliation and eating crow and being made to feel like crap because I want it, I want it all the time it seems like. Don’t I think about anything else?
Well, I want it less and less as time goes by. She made me lower my standards as to what was acceptible. But not only the no sex but also the no touching, no kissing– I haven’t kissed in I don’t know how long. Is it still done with the lips, with the touching?
How about a hug, or a caress, or touch my hand? How about a greeting when I come IN THE GODDAMN DOOR! Fuck, I’m angry. How about rubbing my back once. Once. Ever. Once. I rub her back nightly, until I have cramps in my hands, they hurt, and I rub still more. She wondered why I went to a chiropractor to get my back taken care of. How about–
Tuesday I work late, cause I have no where else to go. I go to the store to buy a cd I had been wanting. In fact, the cd I was on my way to buy when my wheel fell off. It’s a good thing my life isn’t boring, otherwise I’d have nothing to write about, right? I come home–well, actaully, to my dad’s house; I don’t feel like I have a home right now. I’m just a visitor–eat something, chat with my dad, watch tv waiting for the All-Star game to start.
Just as an aside, totally off-topic: The All-star game has to be the biggest anti-climax in baseball. Did the game ever actually start? Fuck. All the build-up, interviews, special reports, blah-blah-fucking-blah. Throw the goddamn ball already. This may be why I am not a big sports-on-TV watcher.
So I moved the stuff around in the spare bedroom, set up my shit. Home. Not a home, but a cave to crawl into at night. I fell asleep alone, in the dark, naked. No cover. Fan on high. It was the purest moment of bliss in days.
Wednesday I work, feeling better. Talked to the kids the day before, I feel things will work out for me with them. I hope. God, I hope. Linda calls me again that–
Wait. I completely have my days fucked up. I have no — is this Wednesday? Thursday? Thursday.
So I was right. Okay. Nevermind. Except Wednesday was my son’s doctor appointment. Shift that all to the right, okay? Tuesday I went home, moved my stuff around, yadda-yadda. My internal calendar is a little confused.
Last night I had a wedding to go to. A good friend of mine, a girl who had worked for me. I got hugged a few times, it was good. Hope I didn’t come off as needy. I mean, I am needy, I just didn’t want to appear that way.
It was a nice, informal ceremony, and I was good, although people kept shushing me. I guess cat-calling is inappropriate at a wedding?
"Do you, Krystal, take this man–"
"Don’t do it!"
"–to have and to hold–"
"Run now! Get your money back!"
"–from this day forward–"
"–til death do you part?"
I don’t even feel right writing about it. Although there is no money involved in the blog, at least not for me–I feel I am cheapening this by writing about it and posting it. "Cheapening–" Ha. Like this is an experience to be valued, to be treasured. Forgive me if I sound a little off, I just left my goddamn wife.
How do I feel? Don’t know. Numb? No. Perhaps she does, if I got into her mind and . …tried to feel what she is feeling. But if I do that, I will cry some more. Don’t want to right now. When is a good time to cry?
When is a good time to leave?
I need to be reminded again, of how hard she made it on me, how difficult she was to live with, how cold she was to me, how nothing I did was ever right. Because right now, all I can think of is the complete sadness she felt, and the terror in her eyes at the thought of losing me.
The discussion, the arguement, the fight, whatever you want to call it–before I left, I can’t recall all of it verbatim, so it’s not fair to her to repeat it. But the gist of it was, I wasn’t being fair, I need to give us a chance to work on it, and she can change.
I left. Hearing the "I can change" broke my heart. Split the fucker in two. It’s what I told my first girlfriend, and she dumped me anyway. She knew better, I guess. But it was desperation. I can be anything you want me to be, just give me a chance–
I don’t want you to be anything but yourself. If you change for me, you’ll resent me for it. And then change back. I know this now. I know better, how people are. They can evolve, they can grow. Changes are slight, at best. This is why, at a 20 year high school reunion, people are much the same as you would expect, much as they were 20 years ago.
In the end, she let me go. She stopped pleading, stopped crying, stopped trying. She turned and walked away, and let me go.
I call her, and we talk briefly, avoiding the subject. She was worried that I hadn’t shown up yet. Well, I stopped by Scooter’s, and then went to the store to buy some socks. Is this what it takes? Do I have to leave my wife in order to gets socks with no fucking holes in them? Fuck!
She says to me at the end of the phone call, "Can I ask you, do you think we have a chance, at all?"
I said, "I don’t know." I can’t remember if I said, "I don’t think so." But it is what I felt. She hung up.
And then I call my son. Her son. Like I said before, I refuse to predict how people will react. He was way more understanding than I thought. We had a good talk.
Serena, by email, gave me words of comfort. Said I would have doubts and insecurity about my decision, and that’s natural.
Other things I’ve read said this is the age (41) that a man does this. All situations are different, aren’t they? Then why this convergence?
My friend Kim called me, and we talked. It was soothing, and I said to her, I need to be reminded of why I left, and she helped me remember. And so all of this is good. I can get through this, I can. Right now, it’s just a mess, but I can get through this.
Takes a while to get there, we don’t know exactly where it is. It’s a strange city in a strange part of town. But we just kind of drive aroudn till we find it, and only have to ask for directions twice.
We get there, and the first people I see are my cousin Kevin and his wife Susanne. His second marriage, hers too, I think. They met on the internet. Kevin was already single, she was still slightly married. But the funny thing is, they were only 16 miles away, and met on the internet. Isn’t that something.
I didn’t know his first wife, she seemed to keep him from family functions. But Susanne seems very nice. Active, alert, interesting, playful–someone fun for him. I’m happy for him.
I go in and see aunt LaVerne, uncle bobby’s wife. she is old and a little frail, forgetful as hell, but still funny and active, and engaging. She is sweet. I sit and talk with her, introduce myself three or four times, and we chat. People come to see her, so I chat with them as well.
Not going to try to explain the family tree, because I dont get it all. I know they are related, I guess that’s all that matters. Names, lineage, all forgotten.
I talked with Michelle, who is a second cousin to me. For quite a while. Riddle me this: Why are there only two kinds of women on this side of the family: short and fat, and tall, skinny, and hot.
Yes, I said hot. Michelle was smokin. Another second cousin, whose name I didn’t catch but I talked to a little, had fire red hair and could have been a model.
My wife said it was inappropriate for me to call my cousins "hot." Well, they are second cousins, and therefore the degrees of consanguinity are lessened, as well as the ick factor. Plus, I never see these people. Most of them don’t "feel" like family, even though I felt as many as I could, lots of hugging going around.
Michelle told me this story: Her husband, Leroy, is unable to have children (sire them, I think she meant). Aunt Laverne prayed and prayed, and Michelle became pregnant. Cynics in the audience might not believe a miracle happened, that maybe she fooled around. I will uphold the family honor: she said DNA test proved it was his. His family insisted, because while he believed it, they placed sufficient doubt to have the test.
I looked at Michelle and Aunt Laverne, and marveled. Wow. Nice to see a miracle once in a while.
Talked to some other family as well, and really tried to engage them. After the crap at my mom’s funeral two years ago, I wanted to make amends, at least within me, because they didn’t see anything wrong.
I talked to Kevin’s brothers, and they seemed as cold, distant, and uninteresting as ever.
I talked to Susie, one of Laverne’s daughters. One of the fat ones. She is sweet. Been rough for her. She lost a son a few months ago on a boat accident, and last month her boyfriend of ten years, that she was going to marry, died. And now her father. I gave her a hug. "I’m sorry, Susie. That’s so shitty." I was sincere.
I talk to a few cousins about how this side of the family doesn’t get together so much. Someone–I looked at them–should arrange something. ..
I talked to Rich and Rose’s kids. Rich is my mom’s brother, Rose is his wife. they both passed away several years ago. The one son, Tad, is gay and flamboyantly so. He was the best dressed person there. I mean, Christ, you want your son to be gay? Name him Tad. He also, I found out, has AIDS.
Richy was there, his older brother. He is the first man I have ever used this to describe: He looked like he was rode hard and put away wet. He was my age, and looked used up. His other brother, whose name I don’t recall, is in jail.
And then their younger sister Dina. Dina looks alot like her mother. Let’s hope she doesn’t turn out like her. Rose was a cunt. When my mom was in the hospital, my brother told me some stories that I didn’t know. He is older than I. Uncle Rich was married before, to a sweet, beautiful, nice, wonderful woman. Then Rose came along. Rich left his first wife for Rose, but not right away, actaully.
Apparently, they all three lived together for a while.
To which I can only say, "You GO, Uncle Rich! I salute you!"
But then he ended up with Rose. There is balance in the universe, and so, to pay for his year of living dangerously, with two women, Rose made the rest of his life a living hell.
It was so sad when he died, less than six months after her, because he didn’t really get to enjoy his freedom. This is not me talking, this is the consensus of everyone who knew them.
When dad and I were at his house later, having a beer, he filled me in on some of those details. And then he added this story, about him and my mom. This is in his words:
I was working at Gordon’s driving at night, and installing retaining walls with railroad ties during the day. I worked alot at that time. We were living in Pine Lawn. Your mother went through a spell where she was bitching at me constantly. When we first got together, we lived together for two years, and everything was fine. then we got married, and it was like flipping a switch. And that switch stayed on.
So one Friday, I go into work, clock in, get my paycheck, and then half an hour later I’m sick, and I leave. I go to Chicago. I stay with my sister Audrey for about three days. Then I come home. Your mother is right there at the door: "Where the hell have you been?"
"I went up to Chicago, to see my sister. I wanted to be with someone who likes me. You obviously don’t."
She stuttered and sputtered and spouted, and then said, "Well maybe I ought to go to Chicago. Take off and leave for 3 or 4 days. What do you think of that?"
"Go right ahead. Do it. Have fun. But only for 3 days. Don’t be gone for four days."
"And why the hell not?"
I told her, "Because you’ll trip over your replacement coming through the door."
Just in case you had any doubts as to where this all comes from…
Because of this (or, let’s be realistic here, it could also be because of their completely fucked up religion), they all live in a backwards, seventh century culture. They are angry, unreasonable, crazy. They have ridiculous rules for ridiculous things, are offended at the slightest thing, and are basically looking–just looking–for an excuse to kill someone.
They are an inspiration. I have adopted this as my knew customer service attitude.
It was 105 in the store. This restaraunt, this hellhole that I came so close to buying–this place is a nightmare for two solid months. The thermostat is not just pegged–it breaks past the peg trying to go further, in search of water.
It affects everyone’s attitude. I try to be cheery, but I only do it to piss people off even more. I act crazy and irrational and. . .You know what, it might not be an act. The heat just does it to you. I get so angry about it, and there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it, so I take it out on as many people as I can. Employees, customers, random fucks in the parking lot.
For those of you who are new and don’t understand, fuck off. I mean, let me explain. This is my second job, a friend of mine owns this little restaurant. We do delivery and carry out, no dine in. Much like I accused Domino’s Pizza of 10 years earlier and it cost me my job, if we had dine in the place would be cooler for the customers. Since it’s just employees, fuck ’em.
But Scott, the owner, knows it’s hot, and he likes it. He is insane. In the winter, I come in, he has the heat set on 80+. The first time he turns his back, I turn that shit down. I save him money in the winter. This place has an oven–two, actually, a grill, a potato warmer, bun toaster, deep fryer, and a dozen refrigerators, all with heat-producing compressors. I mean, Christ, why not put in a wood burning stove and a fireplace, or add an incinerator? The two A/C units fight a losing battle against all of this heat. Long about April or May, it would start to get really warm, and I would turn the AC on.
Scott would turn it off. It’s 70 degrees outside, therefore it’s not that hot in here. Yeah, like only 85. Scott would say, "What are you going to do in July and August?"
"Well, suffer, obviously. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be comfortable now, does it?" His philosophy is: "It’s going to be shitty later, so don’t try to be happy now." Can’t really argue with compelling logic like that.
One older dude and his son–or maybe it was his young boyfriend, who knows?–came in to order food.
"Hot enough for ya?"
I should have killed them when I had the chance. "I didn’t know I had a choice." They then thought they would be helpful, the fuckin idiots, and they propped my front door open for me. The AC is on, but that doesn’t matter. 105 inside, 98 outside. The laws of thermodynamics related to heat sinks and air flow tell me that it is not going to make the outside or the inside any cooler.
More important is that this is up front, where it is hot. There is a chime on the door that goes off when someone enters. When the door stays open, I don’t know if anyone has come in, since I’m hiding in the back whereits only 85 degrees. So I have to stay up front. After those ass clowns, and a few other incredibly aware stragglers float through ("Wow! Sure is hot in here! Do I get a discount?")
A hot chick comes in–and actually, who knows if she’s really hot. I’m pretty fucking delirous at this point–and says, "Wow, it’s hot in here."
I have sweat dripping everywhere. My forehead is shiny, I can hardly keep my eyes open, the sweat stings that falls into them. My arms are wet and slippery, like I’ve been delivering baby goats all day. Sweat drips down my back, into the the crack of my ass, completing the pleasant feelings I have in my body. My testicles have stretched completely away from me, hanging around near my knees.
I respond in a calm, cool way. "Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed." She thought I was funny, but not funny enough to ice my balls down for me, which is all I want at this point in my life.
Later, an older but attractive and smartly dressed woman entered. Business attire. I never understood this. It’s summer, and she is wearing, like a business jacket. A dress suit, and slacks. The attire of choice for MAUL’s–Middle-aged urban lesbians. She orders and pays, and almost under her breath, she starts to say it, then realizes how ridiculous it sounds, so she stops. Just like someone falling off of a sky scraper, and you say, "Wow, sure is far to the ground." Thanks, Commander Obvious.
But I want to hear her fascinating insight. "I’m sorry?" I inquire politely, in the hopes that she might repeat the very stupid and obvious thing she just said.
She said quietly, "It’s a little warm in here."
I answer, "Hmmm. Hadn’t really noticed. Doesn’t feel like it. Perhaps it’s just you. You might be going through menopause. You look kind of old.
Perhaps–you think–perhaps I am being too hard on them. After all, they are just people, trying to make conversation, plus they are customers, and the customer is always right, right? Don’t I care about the business? Don’t I care about .. ..
Whatever the hell else it is I should care about?
Quite frankly, no. Scott, the owner, and a friend, indicated to me in the only way he knows how, which is passive-aggressively, that there might be some duties in the restaurant which I have neglected, and could I please, from now on, strive to maintain a standard of excellence, blah-blah-blah.
I said, "Dude, when it’s one hundred and fucking five goddamn degrees in here, you’re lucky I keep the place open after you leave."
But they were rude to you. On purpose. Part of the atmosphere, part of the kitsch. I thought it was a great business model, and ten years ago I recommended a friend of mine incorporate it into his business.
He felt that his profession required more dignity than that. I said, "Look, you’re a mortician, not a rodeo clown." Nevertheless, he declined.
But I have clandestinely adopted it as my personal customer service attitude. Especially on the day before the fourth of July, we are completely dead, ready to close, and then, someone gets out of the fireworks display early, and wants to order food. I am 2 minutes from locking the door. We close early many times on Monday anyway, the advantage to working for a small company. I do what I want.
After shutting everything off, it cooled down to 95 degrees.
The phone rings. "Scooters steak express, I’m sorry we’re closed."
"Closed, huh? The menu here says open till ten."
"Sometimes we close a little early on Monday, especially if it’s slow." I can tell they are a little drunk, but they’ve been nice so far, so I answer politely.
I can hear him mutter under his breath, "That’s bullshit." Then he says to me, "Well, hey, if you’re so closed and everything, why’d you even answer the phone?"
I love this question. I don’t get it often, but when I do, I use the answer I developed 15 years ago. Because it’s the truth, it’s even funnier. "To make it stop ringing."
He starts to get pissed now, so I, being the ass I am, relish it. He says, "Listen, you minimum wage fucker, I will talk to th’ owner and get you fired, sumbitch. It ain’t ten yet, you better make me some food."
This is now called "Open Season."
"First of all, dickhead, I make more than minimum wage. You’re the one living in a trailer, not me. Second of all, I’m not your wife, so you can’t talk to me like that. And the owner is a friend of mine, and we’ll both come over and kick your ass." An idle threat, but I had to put it in perspective for him.
He straightened up a bit, tried a new tack. "Well, I think I will just place a few phone calls tomorrow–" he was drunk, tomorrow would be a holiday, he has no idea what he’s talking about "– to the Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General’s office, and Channel 2 news. So you better get on that grill, bitch."
He sounded pretty cocky, pretty sure of himself. And drunk. He wasn’t going to remember this the next day, which was a shame, because I wanted him
I said, "Listen, ass clown. Let me put this into perspective for YOU. So that you understand exactly how this is going to work. We are closed.
This by the way, defines my new customer service philosophy: Make me. I think I’ll put it on a shirt.
In the middle of his stream of drunken cuss words, I hung up the phone gently. I was ready to walk out the door. As I did, the phone begins
Ha! Sucker. Make me.