Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Dude mutters something in his sleep.
Me, quietly: What did you say?
Him, quietly: I'm really into scat.
His eyes pop open.
Dude: Skippity bop bop bop bop sha wow wow yeaahhhhhhhh.
Dude closes his eyes and rolls over.
Me: I. Love. You.
Dude: Boop boop ba ba bop zooooooooooom.
I saw my coworker make a face at a couple who walked into the store. He's not prone to making faces, so I decided to follow them around while I took inventory.
For a few minutes they just made smoochy faces and said dumb things about comics, but then they struck gold.
Half Couple #1: "Woah, this wall is a door. What's...I mean...what's behind it?"
Half Couple #2: "Don't go in there! It's probably a bathroom."
It's not a bathroom.
HC #1: "It's too dark to be a bathroom."
HC #2: "Now I have to make a poopy."
Not what you expect to hear a 40-something year old say to another 40-something year old.
HC #1: "You are so sweet like candy."
HC #2: "Do you mean me or my poopy?"
Me: "Oh, come on."
HC #1: "My sweet poopy."
Coworker took out his cell phone and made a phone call to avoid listening to them.
They left. Without buying anything. But also not making "sweet poopy" on our floor, sooooo...that's a plus?
When a friend has a bad breakup, and mistakenly turns to me for comfort, I always remind them "There are plenty of more worms in the graveyard. Maybe you could use one of those worms to go fishing, but most of the sea is pumped with trash and poison. Better to just stick with the worms."
After watching a romantic comedy where two people in love who don't communicate well eventually get their act together and fall in love, I think "It's been a while since I've talked to--" and the lamp over my bed fell on my head, so, message received, I guess I won't be awkward calling anyone in the near future.
How The Conversation Would Have Gone If Either Of Us Ever Actually Spoke About Anything In Our Lives Worth Mentioning
Him: What was the fight about?
Me: Which one?
Him: The one you were just talking about?
Me: It's not important.
Him: So. Me, then. It was about me.
Him: Was it about 18th century agrarian business practices?
Me: No. It was stupid.
Me: No. Fine. I called him by your name.
Him: So you do still have feelings for me?
Me: "Feelings for you?" Apparently.
Him: And you think about me during sexy times.
Me: No. You know I don't take attendance during sex. I called him by your name when we were arguing about something that was only slightly less stupid than arguing about the fact that when I'm frustrated about something stupid, I think of you. Because you're incredibly annoying.
Him: And you still liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike me.
Me: Your name is a curse word to me.
Him: And curse words are named after the things we most enjoy doing. Nobody says "Holy Appendectomy" or shouts "Taxes!" when they drop something on their toes. No, they yell the things that release tension and bring them fleeting moments of serenity.
Me: If only my moments with you were more fleeting.
Eyes: This person looks familiar.
Ears: His voice is really familiar, too.
Eyes: And he's cute.
Brain: It's not someone I know. It's someone from a TV show.
Eyes: He has great eyes.
Brain: Oh! Oh, he looks like one of the characters from Please Like Me.
Heart: He's kind of flirting with us.
Brain: Which character, though?
Eyes: Arnold, duh.
Heart: Arnold is great! He's so sweet.
Brain: Arnold keeps having to be institutionalized because he can't handle romantic relationships.
Eyes: He's so cute, though.
Brain: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE REST OF YOU? THIS IS A BAD IDEA.
Penis: You kno --
Brain: YOUR INPUT IS NOT APPRECIATED.
Mouth: "I"m sorry, the store is about to close. If you want to get anything here you can---"
Brain: Watch your word choices, Mouth.
Mouth: "--buy it now but otherwise, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to head out."
Man smiles and starts to walk out of store. "See you, tomorrow."
Mouth: "I don't work tomorrow."
Random Dude leaves.
Brain: Seriously, Heart, how is it that every time The Eyes say "This person looks like they might be insane." you decide they're attractive?
Penis: Well, act--
Brain: I SAID, SHUT UP.
Going out to dinner with Jackie is like sex with your average Boston Gaysian She never knows what she wants and she's always really afuckenpologetic about it.
"I'm sorry." She says for the dozenth time. "I just don't know...well, you know. I don't know."
"Yea. Yea. Yea." We're in Moogy's, a local stoner deli that I used to hang out at with my roommates before Sora and the Slut Across The Street stuttered everything up. We would sit in the corner booth having Connect Four tournaments while the same dozen or so Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, and Dave Matthews Bands would play on repeat. What would I say Mr. Matthews? I don't know, I can't concentrate until you shut your stupid goose hole!
Tonight, instead of my roommates and neighbors I'm about to play Sorry with Jackie and Jim.
"This ought to be fun." Oh, and Paul. Paul is one of my favorite awkward straight guys (and between poetry and comics, I know more awkward straight guys than there are atoms in your average White Dwarf Star). But he's so quiet, I some times forget he's there.
We decide instead of saying "Sorry" when we we're going to send someone back to the beginning of the game, we're going to say "Jim Silverman", in honor of Jim who can't finish a sentence without apologizing.
"I'm sorry. Do I really apologize all the time?"
"Drink!" Jackie says. In addition to changing the name of Sorry, we've also turned Jim into a drinking game. Anytime he apologizes, we drink. Any time he asks for a favor, we drink. Any time he says "Hear me out on this." we drink. Any time he pauses for more than ten seconds, mid-word, we drink. We do a lot of drinking.
We are here under the guise of hanging out and writing. The truth is I've been a bit withdrawn since the whole Sora thing. And my past being a public blog, I'm pretty sure my friends are spending time with me to keep me from regretfully sleeping with half the population of Boston...again.
"Ok." Jim says. "Hear me out on this." drink "Ok? So... Sorry" drink "Adam. Adam. Are you. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, really. Getting better every time you start talking."
"I'm sorry," drink "what? Oh. Because I know a bunch of gay dudes that would totally let you bone them." He takes a sip of Miller High Life to hide his smirk.
"Jim. I'm fine. Really. Thanks, though. Dick."
"I feel like we haven't gone out together in ages." Jackie says.
"That's because every time we make plans together one of us ends up breaking up. Or getting bones broken. Or killing a kitten."
Jackie's face goes all smeary. "Fair enough."
"So...Adam. I...sorry" drink "I've got to take this." Jim says, putting his phone to his ear and walking outside.
Jackie stands up, sits down in the seat next to me and then punches me while no one is looki...
"Why'd you hit him?" Paul asks.
"Broken bones? Really? Had to go there?" Jackie asks. "Asshole."
"Well, it's true. And you were the only one who went with me to Tuatara's to celebrate Sora's twenty-first birthday, and now we're both single. Every time we get together bad things happen. Now that you live a block away from me, I fear for my life."
"What about Writers' Group nights?" she asks. "Apart from that one time we had to put your kitten to sleep, there hasn't been any drama."
"Are you kidding?" I ask. "The last time you came to Writers' Group, you ended up spending forty-five minutes sitting on a couch next to Deborah crying about your mutual ex-not-quite-boyfriend. It got so estrogenny in the room that Wiz and I started talking about Nascar just to keep our penises from inverting."
"Nascar?" Jim says, sitting in Jackie's former spot.
"Cars." Jackie says. "Driving in circles. It's all a big metaphor for Adam's sex life."
I'd punch her but she's goddamned right, and everybody at the table knows it.
Food comes, and the playlist loops, and we laugh on repeat and say "Jim Silverman" a lot, as we eat our food. And, ultimately, I win both the board game and the drinking game, and Jim, who is the only one of us not drunk, ends up driving us all home, He drops Jackie off on the way. And Paul, right. He also drops off Paul.
"So...Are you sure you're ok?" Jim asks, as we pull up in front of my house.
"Yes. Mr. Skipping CD, I'm sure I'm fine."
"Sorry" dri...right, I'm outside my house without alcohol "I'm just. Hear me out on this. If it were me..." and he, like Jackie, and my roommates, and over-the-phone Celeste, Emily, and even goddamned Ben have their stories about why they hated Sora, and why us breaking up is so friggen great for me and how now blah blah blah.
I won't be lonely over this.
Jim drives off, and I go inside and turn on my computer. Four years ago, when I was desperate to get over Ben, I'd joined an online dating service, and met a really sweet guy who, of course, disappeared into the ether after our third date. Gone so far as to move out of his apartment, stiffing his roommates, and leaving no forwarding address. I'd stayed clear of the site since.
But tonight I don't care about love. it is too early for romance. Too sex o'clock for feelings. I open my profile, update my stats, pictures, and bio, and start cruising around the Boston pages. There are so many pots of brass at the end of The Internet.
I end up mailing four guys, hoping that one of them will e-mail me back soon.
"All of them?" Jackie asks. "You're going to date all four of them?"
"Sure." I say. I have already gone out to dinner with a hot theater twink, and have plans to hang out with an exotic dancer who lives in my neighborhood. There's also a tiny dancer, and a hotel manager.
"All of them?"
"Look." I say. "Between Sora, and Ben, and David, I've spent the last five years pining over exactly the wrong guys. I don't know what I want anymore. So instead of waiting for the same type of guy to drop into my life, I'm going to start sampling a bunch of different guys until I find a new kind of guy. Someone I can be in a healthy, symbiotic relationship with."
"There's a pu pu platter joke in there somewhere."
"Jackie, there's always a pu pu platter joke, if you look hard enough."
"How exactly do you plan on keeping track of who's who? You know you're going to call one of them by the wrong name, right. And I'm not going to be there to wipe their fruity cocktail off your face."
And just like that I get the most wonderful idea.
July 2006: He crashes a car again and again into a van. Low speeds. No injuries. Slight damage. He has no insurance. Back at the house, a kiss, an argument, his body, a slammed door.
August 2006: A vacation. A lie about his father's health.
January 2007: He picks up the belongings he left behind. A kiss on the forehead. Never coming back.
April 2007: An apology. His body. A war with a horrid roommate. His body, loud.
October 2008: Sora calls with the same as usual story. His father and he blah blah blah fight and out of the house and what to do. I offer him a chance to stay with me, no strings, no implied relationship. He does not take it.
After a couple of months of me offering over and over a place, he comes up to visit. I ask my roommates if they mind if Sora stays with us. As long as he helps pay some bills, they don't mind.
Just before he moves up, I offer to do deliveries for the company I work for while the usual driver was on vacation. The usual driver never comes back from that vacation. And so, for the winter of 2009, I spend a few days a week driving a giant maroon van with a cartoon on the side. I drive blocks out of my way to avoid playgrounds and schools.
I am working while he moves up. He calls to let me know there is a party going on across the street, and that I should come.
"A party?" Manny says. "So there."
So Manny and Jim hop in the back of my cartoony van, and we drive to the party across the street from my house. We are barely parked when someone is bouncing drunkily toward the van, befreckled of smile and hugs. And it is not Sora.
"Hi!" The Slut Across The Street swoons. "Who is Sora?"
Here's how it ends: Over a table mugged up for beer pong, The Slut Across The Street asks me if Sora and I are dating. We aren't. We are most specifically not dating to the point where I even said that just because he needed to live with me, didn't mean he was beholden to a relationship with me. But we are sleeping together. And he does kiss me before I leave for work. And while it wouldn't kill me if he dated someone else, it would deeply wound me if he chose this drunk, worthless slut over me. So I lie. "Yes. He's my boyfriend. Don't."
Here's how it ends: Sora and I head back home together and make out. But he has left his iPod in his car, and goes out to get it. The Slut Across The Street intercepts him with his face. His fucken tongue. His bloodshot eyes.
Here's how it ends: For once, Sora is honest. He tells me about the kiss, prepared for my anger. Is surprised when I say "Look, the guy's a total slutbag. You're hot. He kissed you. Are you going to start dating him?"
"No. I don't even really like him."
"Then we're fine." Right?
Here's how it ends: I still love him. I know he spends time with The Slut Across The Street when I'm at work. I know something is happening. I don't like it, but it's not how we are supposed to end. So I try and pretend everything is fine. And it would be except there's another party across the street and no one invites me. I call Sora, and when he does not pick up, I call one of my roommates. And there is planned karaoking, but Sora doesn't want to go and The Slut Across The Street doesn't want to go, so they come to the house, and everyone else leaves. We play Mario Kart, and The Slut keeps looking at me with more desire than guilt.
I am not drinking. His face is a plaster bust of plaster. Sora is prickly at both of us.
It is the next day when my roommate tells me that eveyone went to karaoke because The Slut Across The Street told everyone that me, him, and Sora were going to have a threesome.
Here's how it ends: An ultimatum. "Sora. Please. You don't owe me anything" but money "but not him. It's making things....difficult."
My roommate is friends with The Slut Across The Street, but he doesn't like his ethics. Doesn't like the potential drama always brewing in his always beered up brain. "It needs to stop."
Here's how it ends: My roommate gets him a job so he can contribute to bills. He spends his money on I don't know but not me or bills.
"Adam, it needs to stop. You need to talk to him."
Here's how it ends: We talk. Via Instant Messanger. I come up with an arrangement. A terrible terrible arrangement. Our relationship will be purely sexual. He can fall in love with whoever he wants, safely fuck whoever he wants, but as long as he lives with me....
"Your life." JBoB says, when I explain the arrangement to him, "is not real. Relationships like that don't happen. They don't work. They destroy everything."
But it's so much worse than that.
Here's how it ends: Sora comes home from work and says the arrangement is fine.
But I couldn't really treat a stranger like this for sex. Certainly not him.
Here's how it ends: A drifting. Sora passing out on the couch.
One night he insists on playing a video game to the end. And when the credits roll he starts calling out for his mother and then blacks out.
Here's how it ends: Slumped over my shoulder for the third night in a row. I carry him to a bed we share nonsexually. I can't keep doing this. I can't keep doing this.
"He can't keep doing this." My roommate says. "He just sits at home all day when he doesn't work, playing video games on my TV. He doesn't pay any bills. He just...It's not that I don't like him. He's a good kid." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "I just don't know how much longer I can put up with him."
Here's how it ends: My roommates throw a fake prom at a local bar. The Slut's favorite bar. And we all go. And we're all excruciatingly nice to each other. But it's actual niceness. We all appear to be okay. And there is dancing. And Sora is drunk, but not horribly so. And he says something funny, and I lean in and kiss him. And I say "I love you."
And he says. "I know."
Here's how it ends: In the living room. We are talking about whether or not we're in a relationship. I make some throwaway joke about how he moved out of our last apartment while I was in Texas to take care of his father.
And he finally says it. "My father never had a heart attack."
"I know. I've always known."
"I just didn't love you. I don't love you."
Here's how it ends. A fucken cliche. I am for the first time I can remember crying, actually crying. In the shower so no one will hear me. This is entirely my everything fault. I told him I wouldn't do this. I told him we'd be fine as just friends. Why do we keep lying to each other?
Here's how it ends. A party at our house. Everyone from our house and the house across the street except the slut. A cook out. Beer pong. Promise of dinner and karaoke. When no one invites me, I invite myself.
Sora follows me into the house when I go to get changed. "Adam, we shouldn't go." He says. "This is a bad idea. Let's just stay home. You and me."
The Slut will be there. So my roommates don't want me there. They are afraid of drama. Which hightens the drama, because I no longer worry about Sora and The Slut, but I worry that The Slut and Sora's non-relationship is hurting my living situation, my friendship with all the people we mutually know.
Here's how it ends: We go out to dinner. And when I announce I am going, several people decide not to go. It is me, Sora, one roommate, one of the guys who lives upstairs, and his girlfriend, who lives with The Slut. We are to meet The Slut for Mexican food, and then go to karaoke.
The Slut is there before we are. He is smoking and not very much talking, so Sora goes gattling tongue. "Mexican food poop is the worst." kid kid kid kid kid kid kid "....poop....poop...."
My roommate laughs uncomfortably. "You know, every time we end up going out you always end up talking shit. It's like you do actually know shit, but nothing else."
Here's how it ends: I left my wallet in my other pants when I got changed, and I need to go back and get it. I tell everyone not to wait up. I'll be back. And I run full-intentioned back home to find my other roommate crying.
"It's over." She says. "He doesn't love me."
And we hug, and we talk, and we play Mario Kart, and I call Sora to tell him I won't be back. And she calls my roommate, to tell him we're not going to meet them there. And we laugh a lot. And things are okay.
Here's how it ends: Things are not ok. The couple fights. Sora and The Slut flirt enough that my roommate decides the night is over, and everyone should go home. So they walk home.
He arrives first. He sits down at the kitchen table and says "Everyone else is about five minutes behind me. Look. Adam. He's got to go. This was a nice drama free house before he got here and now....He's a nice" don't say it "guy" thank you "but I hate all of them right now, and I need a break. And I can't break from him if he's living in the same house with me."
Which is reasonable. And he lived here first. He invited me into this apartment. "Okay."
"It doesn't have to be now. Or tomorrow. Or in a week. Just...he needs to start working on a plan out of here." And my roommate takes out a knife and stabs back and forth between his splayed out fingers. "I'm sorry."
"No." I say. "It's okay."
"We'll all be single!" My just dumped roommate says. And we laugh. And we laugh our way through a full hour with no Sora and no couple and no Slut.
After two hours, the others go to bed.
After three, I am looking out the window, and watching The Slut's house. The guy upstairs and The Slut's roommate, walk across the street and upstairs to his apartment.
"Was Sora with you?" I ask.
Which is worse than a yes.
Here's how it ends: Hour four I pack his belongings under the guise of cleaning the room. I am not kicking him out, I'm just....organizing.
"Hi." says Sora. He is all smiles and drink. "You're cleaning your room!" There is no y in our. "That's...." and the smile fades."that's a box full of my stuff."
Here's how it ends: He won't stay. Not another night. Not another minute. "It's embarrassing." He says. "But I get it. I definitely get it." And he starts carrying boxes out to his car.
"Don't leave." please don't leave please don't leave "I am packing all our stuff while I clean."
"You want me to go."
No. "Eventually. But not tonight."
"We didn't even do anything."
"It's not...look. My roommate got you a job, hoping you'd contribute money to the house, and you haven't paid us a cent. You're always drunk."
"What's so funny?" I ask. Also laughing. Though I don't know why.
"The last time we lived together it was all lies. I lied about my feelings, about my father, about everything. And this time...I like you. I don't love you, but I really like you, so I tried to be honest. But it's the same thing. We just don't...we just don't."
Here's how it ends: We are standing apart on the porch. We are both smiling. "Promise me something."
"When you write about this. Let it end with the word pathetic. Because that's what we are. That's what I am. Pathetic."
"No. No you're not. And we're not. I'm sorry it's over." It's actually, I'm pretty sure over. "But it's not...I'm not sorry we met. I wouldn't give up knowing you. I l...I'm glad for the fun times."
"Pathetic." He says.
But I mean it. I would erase Ryan if I could. I never liked Elvis. David I could go either way with. I wouldn't rid my world of Ben, but I don't even understand how I used to be attracted to him. Everyone inbetween felt like filler. But Sora. I don't think I will ever be able to say I loved Sora. Because I don't think I will ever be out of love with him. I don't always like him very much. I kind of hate what the lies put us through, but you can't really have hate without love. An enormous weight of fucken love. Even if what we had wasn't noble, the fact that we kept trying was. I don't think that or him was a mistake. I will move on. I will find someone else. I will be happy. And I hope he will be too. And I think that's enough. I think we were worth it.
The realization that Elvis was a flat-assed liar didn't ruin my life, or lower my respect for him. I had none. He was just some guy with no ass, bad teeth, and a horrible dye job who had invaded my life to escape...well, I have no idea what he was escaping because he never told me the truth. Finding out he was a lying liar didn't take away from all the happy times we'd shared together. We had no happy times.
Things were different with Sora.
If you read The Insafemode Journals before they were deleted by a Russian hacker, you may remember that Sora and I had lots of happy times. I wrote frequently about the happy things we shared. Easter with Cheerio, Ben, Celeste, and Sir Trick; antagonizing Ben at a house party. There were other times, I know there were. But they disappeared in a whiff of internet hackery.
I didn't write about the lying, because unlike Elvis, I actually love Sora. But our entire relationship was built around a lie. And, no, not the epic He Never Loved Me lie. Though, yes, that, too. The first lie was an innocent one.
We met at one of my shows, I invited him to another competition. He told me he would come up to Boston, we could hang out, we'd go to my show, and then he was going to stay with one of his friends. And then, totally weird, right, his friend never called him back, so he needed a place to stay, and came home with me.
Of course there was no friend.
Two weeks later, he was supposed to meet me and Celeste around noon to go to one of Celeste's shows. At 1:30, Celeste was long gone, and I was thinking I had maybe overjudged our relationship, when he called to apologize for being late, that he was almost to my house. So I walked down in the direction of the T to meet him. I was halfway down the hill when he bounded up, a white rose in his hand. And the kiss. And the kiss. And the wow, okay, kiss. And a white rose. No one I had ever dated had ever given me any sort of flora. And no guy since.
Back at the house, Sir Trick was watching MXC. "Hey guys." He said, flashing a rare smile. He hadn't been smiling at me, partially because he wasn't a full time smiler, and partially because Ben, who I wasn't talking too very often, had borrowed one of his DVDs, and had now had it for several months. And I, being an associate of Ben's, was guilty of overborrowing by association. But, at that very second, Sora had committed no wrong, and was, thereby, smileworthy. "What happened? Thought you were going to be here at noon."
"Oh." Sora said. "I forgot to take my medication, and I passed out on the train, they had to stop it and call an ambulance."
Which was news to me. "You passed out?"
"Yea, it was no big deal."
"What condition do you have?" Sir Trick asked.
"Oh, I don't know."
Because, of course, he had no condition. He was not on medication for a condition that he didn't know about. He did not pass out on the train. He missed a train, because he was completely unreliable. He would miss train after train in the coming months. He would get caught in traffic that didn't exist. I would lose entire days waiting for him because I loved him and knew he was lying and didn't care because I loved him and.
There were many, many little lies littered throughout the happy times. But there were happy times, so why focus on tiny, little harmless lies?
In August 2007, after four months of knowing each other, and three months of dating and living together, I went to Austin for a national poetry slam competition. On my second day in Austin, I got a call from my friend Don, who happened to also be Sora's boss at The Truffle Shuffle chocolate store. "Hey, Adam, tell your boyfriend he's late for work."
"Ugh. Really? Sorry, Don, but I'm in Austin, so I can't exactly dump him off the couch or wherever he fell asleep. I"ll call Celeste, though, and see if she can wake him up."
Well, Celeste said he wasn't home. I told her to call me when she saw him. I told Don to have Sora call me when he got to work. I called Sora's cell a few times.
No one called me back that day.
The next morning I got a call from Sora that his dad had a heart attack, and he had to spend some time helping take care of the house, and he didn't know how long it would be for, but probably not too long, and he missed me, and was really sorry, but "Don't be mad. It's an emergency."
What were the odds of me dating another compulsive liar with a supposedly dead parent who would leave me by telling me a close family member was ill and he had to take care of them?
Apparently, pretty good.
#1 asks:despite the fact that he frustrates, I think that I've fallen for him what defines "fallen" in your opinion?3:23 AM I'm looking for real responses here not something contrived
When it comes to gravity, I'm stupid. I don't know how or why it works. I've heard things about the moon, and Newton's apple. I've even fallen down stairs just to see if I could hit my head just right enough to figure it all out. But I still don't know anything about gravity, other than, it works.
And, of course, I'm going to liken falling in love to gravity. It's an easy analogy. Both can be explained with graphs and equations. Neither make any damned sense to most people. Still, devotees of science and romance claim that they understand them. Both get you through most of your life, while occasionally knocking you on your ass. Both are bitches.
I've never really thought of either one of them having definitions. Gravity is serious. It's something that binds you. Falling is an accident that results in gravity.
Here's something I've never been completely honest about. Sora.
I was turning twenty-nine. I'd been in stupid with Ben for months, and knew that if I didn't get in a relationship soon, I wasn't going to get over him, the way I never really got over Ryan (and I don't mean I was going to kill him, though that thought certainly crossed my mind on a near-daily basis). So all I wanted for my twenty-ninth birthday was to fall in love with someone else.
So when I was asked to do a poetry reading on my birthday, I said sure. Why not? Ben was out of town. Celeste had plans. And I tried not to make big deals out of birthdays, so I invited a few friends to my show in Rhode Island, printed up some books, and grabbed the commuter rail to Providence. There, I met up with my friend Cheerio and blah blah, the show happened. And the show went long. Very long. I'd planned a half hour set, including a reading of my first ever "chapbook", a hand scrawled journal I'd written when I was six. Complete with stick figure drawings, and a count of how many Cherry Cokes I'd had to drink (it's a life long vice). When I realized I'd been going for forty-five minutes, I asked how much longer I had, and the host told me to keep going. SO I went. And, at one hour, I stopped. And the host asked me to do one more piece. So I decided to do my hallucinating while waiting tables poem, which involves me wandering around the venue. And, while wandering, I circled around a pole that had been obstructing my view of a certain section of the audience all night. And on the other side of that pole was Sora. He was staring at me. Like, in a creepy way. STARING.
At the end of the night, I was selling books, and talking with Cheerio and Zouzou (no relation to Zuzu, they just have the same phonetic name), when Sora approached me.
"This was my first ever poetry reading. My friends told me it would be something I would really like, but I didn't think it would be for me, but I thought you were really really good, and I wanted to buy your books and see if maybe you had another show coming up somewhere that I could go to and see you again." And then he just smiled.
"Uhhh. Thanks. Well, I don't have any other show shows for a month or so, but there's a big slam in Boston next Wednesday to decide who will represent Boston at the National Poetry Slam. I'll be in it. And, no matter who wins, it should be a really good show."
"Cool." Stare. Smile. "Here's my Myspace profile, could you send me the info? I'd really like to be there." Stare. Smile.
Stare. Smile. Walk away.
"Wow." Zouzou said.
"Yea." I said. "He was a little intense."
"A little intense?" Cheerio said? "He wants your dick. Often."
And because I am completely oblivious, I said "No. He's just really really into poetry, I guess."
Zouzou laughed. "Hon, no. That intense little drama student is completely besmitten with you."
I shrugged. "I don't know if I could date someone who was majoring in Drama."
"I think you're a little old for college students, anyway," Said Cheerio, who had just cursed me more than either of us could ever possibly know.
My new friend Mike offered to drive me back to Ben's apartment (I was catsitting Rufus while Ben was in Virginia), and on the way we discussed "the intense drama student", whose name I didn't have, but whose myspace profile, I did. While we were talking, I turned my cell on, and noticed I had a message.
"Hey, Adam, it's Ben. I'm still in Virginia. Anyway, I saw this totally awesome pair of shoes down here that would be completely perfect for you. And I know it's your birthday, and all. Happy birthday, by the way. And I was thinking about getting them for you, but they were really expensive, and I didn't know if I could afford them, or if you could afford them, so I decided not to get them, but I wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you. Happy Birthday."
And that's why I needed to not be in love with Ben. A really good friend would have bought me the damned shoes. A moderately good friend would have called, regretted that they couldn't really afford the shoes, but would have bought them, and asked to be reimbursed. A really good friend who was completely broke would have never mentioned the shoes at all, and just called to say Happy Birthday. Ben was none of those things. But I had been in love with him. I didn't really like him very much, but I was in love with him.
It turned out that the message was very old, because Ben was already at home in Allston, when Mike and I arrived. And we drank a little. Shit was shot. Ben sprawled out on his bed, and craned his neck in a way that someone had told him accentuated his jawline. And I packed up my stuff, said goodbye, and Mike prepared to drive me back to the apartment I shared with Celeste and Sir Trick. And it would have been a long night, sure. It was a bit past midnight, but I could get in bed by say, twosih, on this now early morning after my birthday, except...except...except Mike's car was not at all where he parked it a scant half hour ago. But right above where he had parked it was the number of a tow truck company. A number Mike dialed while scowling at his phone.
Now I could tell you that while he dialed, and spoke, I was thinking only of that strange intense little drama student. That my thoughts were pure or dirty or whatever. But I wasn't thinking of the (I still think) hot guy who'd given me his myspace profile because he wanted to come up to Boston and have me do him. I was thinking of Ben, who had been very direct about how he didn't find me attractive, how he didn't love me in any way. I was thinking of him sprawled out on his bed with his head cocked at a funny angle. How he had called to let me know that I wasn't important enough a part of his life for him to get me a birthday present. How much I loved him, and his stupid goddamned chin.