You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Puppy’ category.
Photos from the Summer of ’09 right here. Check ‘em out. You might even see a picture of yourself up there.
Probably not, though.
Work lets out at six o’clock, not a moment too soon.
After a mishap, trying to toss some old newspaper in the recycling bin only to find it completely frozen shut, I somehow find myself back in the library with my co-workers again, getting ready to lock up and leave for the night. The building locked and secured, we make our way to the parking lot, saying our “goodbyes” and “have a nice weekends”. I unlock my car, get in, revving my engine a few times trying to get the car to warm up a bit; the weather outside is in the frigid single digits, so that doesn’t seem like a likely outcome.
I pull out of the parking lot and make my way home. I take side streets the entire way since rush hour on the freeways – on a Friday night, no less – is murder. But that’s okay; I turn on my CD player and Augusten Burroughs tells my about his horrible childhood. I feel a bit better about my own.
I pull into my apartment building’s parking lot a little after six thirty. I stay in my car a few moment longer, to get to the chapter break in the book-on-CD. The CD flips from track 11 to track 12 and I shut off my car, collect my messenger bag, and head towards my apartment.
I unlock the door, step inside and throw my bag onto the dining room table. The puppy whines excitedly and does her little potty dance. I grab her lease and collar and attach it to her as I open the door to her crate. We go for a quick walk outside, so she can empty her bladder, and then it’s back inside so I can empty mine.
I change into some warm pajama pants and a sweatshirt, fill the pups food and water bowls, and sit down in my comfy chair, turning on the last disc of the fourth season of The Office. After an episode or two, I head to the fridge and grab a couple slices of leftover pizza and a can of Kroger-brand lemon lime soda.
If you ever want to make me happy, a slice or two of a good vegetarian pizza is surely the way to go.
I watch another episode before the pup lets me know that she has to go out again. I reattach her to her leash, wrapping the other end around my hand twice, and then we head out the door.
We don’t get too far out before the pup takes care of her business. I pick it up in a little plastic baggy and we set out for the dumpster, where I toss it in. The pup still has quite a bit of energy left so we continue walking.
We walk around the entire building, stopping every so often so the pup can sniff around or stick her face into the snow; looking very much like Tony Montana at the end of Scarface when she pulls out. After another twenty minutes or so, the cold has gotten into my lungs and it burns. The pup is shivering, but she wants to continue on. I persuade her to go back inside instead.
We cross the parking lot, heading back towards our apartment. The parking lot is pretty well plowed, as are the sidewalks, however, the spaces around the cars have drifts of snow upwards of a foot and a half.
We walk through the lot, practically hugging the parked cars, until we get to the shoveled sidewalk. The pup stops to jump through snowdrifts in between two cars on my right.
Out of nowhere, the snow in front of me so illuminated so brightly it’s almost blinded. My shadow is cast across the ground and quickly starts to shrink. I turn my head to the left and a bright light shines in my eyes for the briefest of moments and then I am violently thrown forward and to ground, to the sound of screeching tires, spinning slightly as I go down.
I open my eyes and I realize I’m face down in snow, but I don’t know for how long. Several seconds, I surmise. I plant my hands on the ground and push until my head is out of the snow. Pain shoots through my shoulder and back. My puppy playfully licks snow off of my face.
I’m not sure what exactly just happened.
I look up and see a red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape stopped about twenty feet away. I almost expect the driver to throw it in reverse and finish the job off. Instead, the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape peels out, spraying slush from beneath it’s back tires, thick light grayish exhaust discharges from underneath.
I try to catch even one of the numbers from the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape’s license plate, but my eyes can’t focus. I realize that my glasses have been knocked off and I search the ground, finding them a few feet away. I put them on, hoping to still catch that license plate, but the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape is already long gone and my glasses are too covered in dirty slush to see anyway.
The puppy dances around me happily – “Daddy’s playing in the snow, too!” – as I try to stand up and I count myself lucky at least that I didn’t let go of the leash when I went down; as bad as I feel right now, I don’t think I could have chased after her.
Back on my feet, I look around as we walk back to the apartment – snowdrifts be damned – and, true to form, no one in the area comes out to see if I’m okay.
Ah, life in the ghetto.
I close and lock the door to my apartment, drop the pup’s leash – not even bothering to take it off of her – and collapse onto couch, with my gloves, scarf, hat and shoes still on.
I lay there for several minutes, before reaching over and picking up my cell phone off of the coffee table. I feel a stress and pain as I reach for it. I open the phone and dial the number for the police. The dispatcher tells me that a patrol car should be there within twenty to twenty-five minutes, of course, it doesn’t take nearly that long.
Forty-five minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. I put the pup in her crate and open the door. I explain to the officer what happened and even take him outside to where it happened. He tells me that a red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape isn’t much to go on and, without a license plate number – or even a partial license plate number – there’s little he can do. I told him that I figured as much, but wanted to report it anyway.
The officer gets back in his patrol car and I head back inside myself. The officer sits in his car for about ten more minutes – doing paper work, I suppose — before leaving Tim Horton’s, I think to myself.
I take off my shoes, scarf, gloves, hat, and hoodie and ease myself down into my comfy chair. My warm pajama pants have dried, since falling in the snow, but my knees are still wet. I pull up my pant legs and find my knees scraped and bloodied. I go to the bedroom to change my clothes.
I throw the clothes I was wearing into a laundry basket, then head to the bathroom to clean and dress the wounds on my knees. I turn and look at my back in the bathroom mirror. Already, it is covered in black and blue bruises. I return to the bedroom and pull on another pair of warm pajama pants and a faded old sweatshirt.
It’s after ten o’clock, closer to ten thirty, and I realize that the last two hours have exhausted me. I turn out the lights in the living room. The puppy, who was sleeping on the couch, wakes up, yawns, and follows me – quickly passing me – into the bedroom.
I take off my glasses and place them on the dresser. I plug my cell phone into its charger. I climb into bed. The pup has already curled up underneath the covers. I turn off the light and I sleep.
That night, I dream about fireworks, although, I imagine that’s mostly because of the pain in my back and shoulder.
At 6:02 AM, I roll over – waking briefly to eye the clock – and deciding that it is, in fact, 6:02 AM, my head nestles back down into my pillow again for what seems like seconds, but what is actually fifty-six minutes.
At 6:58, I feel a tongue gently pass through my lips and after a second, I remember that I don’t have a girlfriend and open my eyes, finding my puppy laying down on my chest, her nose to mine.
Almost immediately after, at 7:00 AM my alarm – my annoying little alarm, designed to shriek louder and louder until you either A) wake up and hit the “off” button or B) bash the damned thing against the wall over and over again until it resembles something that could pass more as modern art than as a functioning clock and, then, fall back to sleep – goes off.
This morning, regrettably, I choose option A.
I slowly, ever so slowly, sit up in bed – my head feels as though it were filled with concrete instead of blood and bone and tissue, my back and shoulder stiff and aching – and slump back over, under the tremendous weight of my head, to the opposite side of my bed. The puppy, finding this incredibly amusing, jumped back onto the bed, dancing around me with her little tail wagging.
Placing my hands on the bed, I push myself back into a sitting position and, once I get the hang of that, feel adventurous enough to attempt standing.
Like baby Bambi, it take a few tries to get into a fully vertical stance and, even when I am, my knees shake and my legs felt like jelly, my whole equilibrium off.
Several minutes pass by the time I finally stand up. The pup looks up at me as she finishes peeing on the bedroom carpet. I spray the wet spot with some carpet cleaner and head into the bathroom for a shower.
I feel a lot more stiff and sore today than I did yesterday and the bruises on my back are much more vibrant in color. It hurts when I stand. It hurts when I sit. I hurts when I rotate my shoulder or pick up anything heavier than a pillow.
I stand under the hot shower, letting the streams of water massage my back, until the water runs cold. And then I stand under it for a bit longer.
I dry off and change into fresh, warm clothes. I make my way into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and the dog food from atop the counter, and fill the pup’s food bowls; knowing full well that she won’t eat it until either A) she’s starving, later tonight, or B) I mix in a hot dog or two. Afterwards, I decide on a bowl of oatmeal for myself, strawberries and cream.
I settle into my comfy chair and eat, watching the last episode and some commentary on the fourth season of The Office. I pause only to wash my bowl, when I finish eating, and then I begin to write; nothing much, mind you, a page or two of prose.
Just before eleven, I send a text to a few friends, letting them know of the previous night’s events. “Got hit by a pick-up truck while walking the pup last night. Well, more like clipped. Pup’s fine. I just got some bruises and a little soreness in my back.”
Almost immediately after I send the text, I get a phone call from my friend Tom, who live in DC. He asks if I’m okay and, after a few minutes of questions and answers, he tries to make me feel better by saying whoever hit me likely worked for someone higher up who was trying stop Punch-Up, my book, from ever coming out and, having failed this, ended up falling through a trapdoor into some sort of James Bond-ian deathtrap.
I realize he’s only trying to cheer me up, but laughing – which I’m doing a lot of, as we talk – hurts and a part of me wonders if he’s only trying to finish me off.
We hang up and I call Abby, who called while I was on the phone with Tom.
I repeat much of the same conversation I had with Tom, then, Abby and I talk about her job and how she has the hots for this guy who may be working with her soon. I advise her to – quote – hit that. And, then, somehow, we get on the subject of her parents’ sex lives, both before and after marriage. We make plans to meet up with Michael on Monday – since she usually has Mondays off, I have a three-day weekend due to MLK Day, and Michael is unemployed… I mean, a freelance artist – for a movie day.
I move to the couch, wrap a blanket around myself and the pup, and read a couple chapters of a comic called The Goon. I finish the book and retrieve two volumes of another comic, called Nextwave, a book so ridiculous it never fails to make me feel good.
Around three o’clock I get a text from my friend Nonnie. “Glad to hear you’re not dead. Try to use this as a learning experience. And remember: Batman would’ve jumped on to the truck and jabbed the driver in the throat.”
I laugh until my ribs hurt, wondering if Nonnie is in cahoots with Tom and the driver of the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape.
I suddenly remember that we’re running low on dog food and are completely out of hot dogs and other dog treats and, I think to myself, the pup is probably going to want to eat again before to long. Feeling somewhat adventurous, I put on my hoodie, hat gloves, scarf, and shoes, put the pup in her crate, and leave the apartment. Driving in my conditions is fairly easy, although getting in and out of the car proves to be more than I bargained for.
I arrive at Target within about twenty minutes and, inside the store, make my way to the pet aisle. The particular brand of food that I usually buy for the pup is, of course, on the top shelf and I have to stretch and stand on my toes to reach it. This sends a spasm of pain throughout my body. I reach again, grabbing the dog food bag. One more time and I pull the eight pound bag off the shelf. I lose my grip on it and it falls. I catch it before it even comes close to hitting the ground, but not with out painful consequences. I quickly put the bag in my cart, snag two small packages of dog treats, and exit the pet aisle.
I wander around Target aimlessly for a bit. I look in the sports department, contemplating buying a bike come spring. I make my way towards the audio/visual department and browse through the DVDs, deciding to buy two bargain bin movies: O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Full Monty.
I check out and head back to my car.
While I’m out, I think, I should stop at the grocery store and pick up a few essentials. And fifteen minutes later, I’m entering a Kroger that’s not too far from my apartment. I roam up and down the aisles, lazily picking up various items and putting them in my cart. I check out. Return to my car. Drive home. Put groceries away. I walk the pup.
I place two hot dogs in the microwave and, a minute later, on top of the dog food she didn’t eat this morning. She gobbles down the entire thing, as I refresh her water bowl.
I change back into my warm pajama pants and collapse on the couch. I am exhausted. I feel deflated, like a balloon several days later, hovering only a foot and a half about the ground, waiting to be popped and thrown away.
I decide that A) I’m hungry, B) dinner is a must, and C) pasta sounds good. But, when I get into the kitchen, I decide that D) pasta requires several minutes standing over the stove, stirring, and several more minutes over the sink, washing dishes. Instead, I opt for another bowl of oatmeal, apples and cinnamon, which takes only two minutes on high.
I watch The Full Monty as I eat, remembering how funny this movie is and thinking that this would count as irrefutable proof, to my dad, that I am gay.
When the movie is over, I wash the bowl and put it in the dish drain. I sit back down in my comfy chair, open my iTunes and play Belle & Sebastian’s The BBC Sessions, and continue working on character sheets for my next original graphic novel, I Think I Love My Wife.
Just before six thirty, I get a phone call from Kevin, my old roommate and someone who was one of my closest friends. Kevin got married to my other good friend, Jody, a year and a half ago, and moved over a hundred miles away. We haven’t kept in close contact for about a year, ever since a rather unpleasant incident occurred, so I’m a little surprised when he calls and tell me that he and Jody are in town for the weekend and that they were inviting me out to dinner with them and a few other friends of ours at Thurman’s, a restaurant in the German Village.
I turn down Kevin’s offer, telling him that I had already ate, keeping the information about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape to myself, figuring that he and Jody will learn about it soon enough from Abby or Michael, who will joining them for dinner. Part of me really does want to go to dinner with them, but another part of me is weary of getting both too close and possibly hurt again.
A third part of me is still too sore to move and that’s the part that ultimately wins out. I stay home and continue to write.
At roughly a quarter to eight, I exchange a few text messages with Michael and then get a phone call from Nonnie. We talk about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape and then we talk shop, comparing books that each of us are working on. We talk for a little over an hour before Nonnie tells me that he has to get going.
It’s nine o’clock and I decide that now is as good a time as any to take the pup out one last time before bed.
We come in about ten minutes later and I finish both writing and Belle & Sebastian’s The BBC Sessions. Halfway between a cover of “The Boys Are Back In Town”, I decide that what little I’ve done today has really worn me out and the pup looks like she is about to fall asleep any moment as well, so we turn in for the night.
I double check that I’ve locked the front door and turned off the lamp in the living room, before heading into the bedroom. I charge my phone and take off my glasses, placing them on the dresser, before getting into bed. I can hear a radio commercial coming from my upstairs neighbor’s apartment. He’s listening to “Ohio’s Best Rock”.
After a moment, the ad is over and AC/DC informs me that they can do dirty deeds for me at a surprisingly reasonable rate. Aerosmith comes on next and sings me to sleep.
That night, I have an odd dream.
I enter what looks like a cross between a mall, a movie theater, and an amusement park with my friend Jason. I’m fairly sure we’re there to see a movie, however, the building is vast and palace-like. Outside, there is an amusement park log ride, in which a man-made river starts outside the entrance to the building and travels downhill towards the parking lot.
We walk down a hallway and into a theater. There is no stadium seating, like in most theaters, just rows of seats at a slight incline as it gets further away from the front stage. It looks as if someone with money transformed a high school gymnasium into an auditorium for plays and concerts, where they also sometimes show movies.
We take a seat towards the far right, next to the exit. We sit and talk for a few moments, before the movie starts. There is a couple – what looks like a husband, sitting in front of me, and a wife, in front of Jason – sitting silently in front of us. Every few minutes they turn and whisper to each other. Something bothers me about the woman; she looks familiar.
The couple stands up and starts to turn around, grabbing pamphlets out of her purse. The start to pass out these brochures to people sitting around them – I never do see what the pamphlets are about – and that’s when I figure out where I know this woman from.
Her name – for the purpose of this writing – is Kelly, and she and I used to date, sort of, back in high school. I haven’t seen her or had any sort of communication with her in nearly ten years now, though, I heard secondhand that she did get married a few years back.
She recognizes me right away and we act surprised to see each other and embrace. She introduces me to her husband and I introduce her to my friend. We small talk for a bit, catching up, and then she tells me that she’s glad she ran into me, actually. She has a favor to ask of me. I say, “Sure.” and “What can I do for you?”
Kelly tells me about how she and her husband have been married for close to five years now and how, in those five years, they’ve tried to have children but couldn’t conceive. She tells me that they’ve seen doctors – so many doctors – but they still have problems. She tells me that she wants me to impregnate her so she can have a baby.
I think it over.
“Well,” I say and then immediately bolt towards the exit, running down the hall and outside. I can’t get away fast enough. I run through a line of people, pushing them out of my way as I go, and jump into the next log-shaped car floating up and down in the man-made river. I push the car down the track, slapping away the hands of angry people waiting their turn in line, and plummet down the waterfall, creating an enormous splash as I reach the bottom.
The cart floats lazily along through the river until the bottom catches on something underwater and comes to a complete stop. A log-shaped car goes over the waterfall behind me, creating the same gigantic splash mine did, and rams into the back of my car. Everyone in that car and I are knocked into the water. I feel a little dazed but start swimming for the far end of the pool anyway.
I pull myself out of the pool, my clothes heavy with water. I jog towards the parking lot, dripping the entire way, my shoes making that horrid “squish, squish, squish” sound. I find my car, wring as much water as I can out of my clothes, and drive off as quickly as I can.
As I get onto the highway, I feel relieved and happily assume that Jason probably stayed behind to help Kelly and her husband with their little dilemma.
I wake up early on Sunday morning – for some reason, I have trouble sleeping and end up tossing a turning all night – although, I lay in bed until sometime after seven.
I’m very sore and very stiff. Every move I make hurts. I try stretching, trying to loosen up a little, but it hurts too much and I end up stopping after some fifteen minutes or so.
I try to put on my hoodie, to take the dog outside, but I can’t move in the correct way to do so. I put the leash on the dog and take her outside, wearing only the pajama pants and sweatshirt I wore to bed, a pair of gloves, a scarf and my hat.
It is a quick walk this morning. No time to wander about and smell the roses.
I microwave a couple of hot dogs, when we come back in, and mix it in with the puppy’s food. Then, I make the last pack in a box of oatmeal for myself, blueberries and cream. I put on O Brother, Where Art Thou? – probably my favorite Coen Brothers film – as I eat.
When the film is over, I’m still feeing stiff so I lay down on the couch and pull my laptop – now a gut-top – onto my chest and pick up where I left off last night on my character sheets, while listening to Of Montreal’s The Sundlantic Twins.
Around twelve o’clock, I call my friend Jason. We talk for a bit, about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape, work, and comics.
I try reading for a while – Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave, Vol. 1 – but end up feeling worn out and tired. The puppy is already sleeping at my feet and I figure that she has the right idea. I pull a blanket over the two of us and we nap for about two or three hours.
When I wake up, I decide that I really do need to get some work done and sit down at the computer again. I write but don’t get much accomplished and am somewhat relieved when my phone rings. It’s my friend Steph and we talk for twenty minutes or so, catching up.
I turn on the TV after a while and catch the end of Jackie Chan’s Who Am I? And I wonder the same thing: “Who are you, dude? You used to make good movies.”
Feeling sluggish and achy, I sit through Everybody Hates Chris, and two episode of The Drew Carey Show. At some point during a commercial break, I fix dinner for the pup and, tired of oatmeal, I make myself a bowl of generic Kroger-brand Honey Nut Toasted Oats for dinner.
Abby calls me a little after seven and fills me in on the events of the previous night’s dinner and club-hopping that I missed out on.
As soon as I hang up with Abby, I call my friend Tom, interrupting his studies to get a little perspective on I problem that’s been bugging me.
Tom and I talk until a little after nine-thirty and then I let him get back to his books. I read a couple of more chapters of Nextwave and then the pup and I head off to bed.
That night, I have another odd dream.
In my dream, I get a phone call from my friend and Punch-Up artist, David Brame. He tells me that he, Michael, Abby and a few other friends are meeting up to hang out. He gives me directions and I tell him I’ll meet them there in a bit.
I stop at a corner store, to buy something to drink before meeting up with the others, and, as I leave the store, I notice a police cruiser parked in the lot next to the store. I look at the cruiser and then back at my car and decide that the cruiser is a much better car than my own. So I get in and drive off, leaving my own car in its parking space.
I follow Dave’s directions and they lead me to my grandmother’s old house. I enter the house, but no one is home. I decide to explore the house and find that everything is just as it was before my grandmother had died. As I come down the stairs, another police cruiser pulls up outside of the house, its light’s flashing, siren blaring.
The police officer enters the house, gun drawn and tells me that I’m under arrest for stealing a police vehicle. I tell him that I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me. I’m not lying to the officer. The memory of stealing a police cruiser no longer exists to me. I block it out. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t steal the car. It must have been there before I arrived.
I’m handcuffed anyway and, instead of taking me to prison, the officer takes me to my parents house. It’s late at night and, for some reason, no one is home. We wait in the living room for them, making small talk, I’m still handcuffed, and, sometime around four or five-thirty in the morning, my folks come home. The officer takes them aside and they talk. I can not hear what they are saying, but I know that nothing good can come from this.
I wake up before anything ever happens.
Since winter started, the pup has been letting me sleep in a bit. I think it has something to do with the fact that when she wakes up, it’s still dark, so she goes back to sleep.
And that’s okay with me.
We wake up sometime after eight o’clock which, I know doesn’t sound like sleeping in to most people but, to me, it is quite awesome.
I sit up in bed and a sharp pain shoots through my right shoulder, like someone stuck a knife in and then started to twist. It hurts like hell and I think that it might be an aftereffect of getting hit by the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape. I’ve been in two other car accidents before Friday night, one as a driver and one as a passenger – neither of them my fault – and, in both cases, I felt fine for the most part on the day of the accident; it wasn’t until a few days later that I started to really feel any discomfort and sore.
I throw on my hoodie and gloves, put the pup’s leash on her, and took her for a quick walk.
When we get back, I make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast – strawberries and cream – and put on a French film by Luc Besson that Michael recommended to me, called Angel-A. It takes place in Paris, it’s in black and white, and it’s everything I could ever want in a film. I make a note to add it to my Amazon DVD Wish-List.
After the film is over, I think to myself that I need to buy Michael some Chipotle for recommending it to me. But then I think that he never reads my blog, so he’ll never read this anyway and I’ll never have to pay up.
I wash my breakfast bowl, then turn on Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes, and start to write.
Around one-thirty, I called Michael and made a game plan to meet up at Abby’s later for a movie day. A little while later, I feed the pup, put her in her crate, packed up my computer, and gathered the trash. I’m just getting ready to leave when someone knocks on my door. It’s my neighbor, the Taxi.
Sometimes, I give people nicknames based on what they use me as.
Anyway, the Taxi – who, admittedly, has had her share of health problems lately – tells me that she needs to go to her sister’s house so she could get her medicine. I tell her that I have to go meet friends of mine is a few minutes and she tells me it won’t take long, it’s just around the corner. Honest.
I tell her again that I really can’t, I have to meet friends at three o’clock, and I close the door. A few minutes later, I head out to my car and the Taxi is waiting at my passenger’s side door. I tell her I really have go and she offers me twenty dollars.
Well, I mean, twenty bucks is twenty bucks, right?
We get in the car and pull out onto the road. She tells me her sister’s house is not to far, just a few miles down Livingston. Fifteen minutes later, we turn off of Livingston and travel another ten minutes before we finally get to her sister’s house. As we drive, I get two calls from Michael, wondering where I am, but I silence them.
We pull into the driveway and the Taxi gets out, telling me that I should come in with her. I say that I’d rather just wait in the car, but she says to come in. I tell her that I have to make a phone call and she says just come on in when I’m done.
I call Michael, but he doesn’t answer. I leave a voicemail. I call Abby next, because I figure she and Michael are together. She answers and I fill her in on my current situation. I tell her I should be at her place at four o’clock. She calls me a bitch and then puts Michael on so he can call me a bitch.
I hang up and the Taxi is standing in at the front door, waving at me to come on. I get out of my car and walk towards the house. The Taxi goes inside and, a few moments later, I follow. I open the door and step inside the Taxi’s sister’s house.
Except it’s not the Taxi’s sister’s house.
It’s her drug dealer’s. I look around and there are three angry and dangerous-looking men in the house. There are little bags of marijuana and crack littered all over the living room. There is a small scale on the coffee table, white powder spilled all over and around it.
Of course, this is all kind of hard to see, what with the gun pressed against my face and all.
The Taxi says this isn’t really necessary, she knows me and I’m – quote – “cool”. The man holding the gun to my head tells her that he doesn’t care; she may know me, but he doesn’t. He keeps the gun trained on me for the rest of the business transaction, which – amazingly – takes over twenty minutes!
I mean, it you’re not getting you crack in under twenty minutes, I suggest you talk to your dealers boss.
We leave the house and get back in the car. The Taxi tells me that she needs to make a few other stops, to the corner convenience store, then to her daughter’s house, and so on.
Hey, whatever you want lady. You’re the one with gun-totting drug dealers. And I’m pretty sure they know where you live and you kind of live next door to me, so…
We stop at the corner store, her daughter’s house and wherever else the Taxi wanted to go. Finally, I drop her off at her apartment and she throws a balled up twenty dollar bill at me, as if I am some common whore.
Which I suppose I am.
I drive away as quickly as I can and make it over to Abby’s around four-thirty and tell them of the day’s adventures. The make fun of me for six hours. We put on a couple of films, Phantasm III followed by The Wackness. Michael draws, Abby sews, and I write this.
Long story short: I could think of better ways to have spent my three-day weekend.
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
So the pup and I created this game that’s kind of like tag, except not exactly like tag. It’s called Gas Tag.
THE RULES OF GAS TAG: The game begins — usually after the pup has eaten a meal, although, the game’s play is not limited to just after dinnertime; Gas Tag can be played anywhere, at anytime. — when the pup sits on or near me, whenever she has horrid gas. I move from one couch to the other, to avoid said horrid gas. She, not wanting to sit alone, follows me with her horrid gas. I move to the chair. Again, she follows. Couch to couch, chair to chair, room to room: she follows. When we go for a car ride, we play the travel version; although, that one’s a little harder to play, since there’s nowhere to move away to.
There is no real winner or an end to the game, and the pup is always “it”.
It’s not a good game or even a fun game.
Hell, it isn’t really a game at all. Not really.
But it’s a hell of a lot easier to think of it in those parameters than the reality that I’m trapped in a fairly small apartment — with the windows and door locked up tight, since it’s so cold outside — with a little 24-hour methane gas factory.
Feel free to play Gas Tag with your gaseous pets or friends.
Your friend (and part-time lover)
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
Dear Frank (Me), Age Nine,
My name is Frank. I am you, from eighteen years in the future. I’m sitting in my apartment (Yeah, we have our own apartment! It’s OK, nothing fancy; just a place to keep all of our stuff. But we do own our own car, a kick-ass music collection – Sorry, I’ll put a dollar in the swear jar. – a puppy, AND we live 150 miles away from Mom and Dad!), writing to you today a warning of the utmost urgency, so you’ll excuse me if I dispense with the usual pleasantries.
(By the way, run quickly up to your room and grab your pocket dictionary from the bookshelf. Keep it close by and look up any words you don’t understand.)
God, there are some many things I want to talk to you – warn you – about. Like who will really want to be your friend in life and who just wants to take advantage of your naive, generous demeanor. Who to associate with and who to avoid. Pitfalls of high school. Tell you to stay on a better track in college. I could give you amazing stock tips and financial advice or at least sit you down and have a talk about the whole sweatpants phase in junior high.
But I’m writing to you today about one thing, one very important, crucial moment in your life and you must not ignore me!
A few days before the start of the fourth grade, Dad is going to tussle your hair and call you an “Ishcabibble;” that funny little Jew word from the old country that no one really knows the definition of, but Dad always calls you when your hair is getting a little long and could use a trim. I’m sure, by now, you’re more than familiar with it.
Hearing this, Mom – being Mom – will have that little money-saving light bulb flicker on above her head. What if she were to give you a haircut? And why don’t I let her perform my prostate exams as well, I should have asked, but didn’t, since I was only nine years old at the time and wasn’t entitled to having my own opinions yet or know what a prostate exam was.
Just because she can use a pair of electric clippers well enough to shave Dad’s neck and back doesn’t make Mom a barber, but try telling her that. No, really. Try telling her that. Stand up for yourself, man! Don’t just sit there and take it like I did! This is your future we’re fighting for!
You know what happens if you don’t?
I didn’t want to have to tell you this – I wanted to spare you the gruesome details – but maybe you need to hear it.
Two days before the start of the fourth grade, Mom is going to tell you to take off your shirt, sit you down in the kitchen chair, and then drape a towel over your chest and shoulders. Then, she’ll take out the electric clippers – the same ones she uses to shave Dad’s neck and back! – and actually have the nerve to ask you which kind of hair cut you want, even though you both know she’s just going to use one setting for the entire job.
But it’s your mother, you think. It’s not like she’s going to purposely try and fuck up your head — dollar in the swear jar — and especially not two days before the start of fourth grade. And you know what? You’re right. She won’t purposely try to ruin your hair, but she’s not a real barber and that outcome is just inevitable. You tell her you’d like a trim, anyway, longer on top and shorter along the sides and back.
She flicks the switch on the clippers to ‘on’ and they hum to life. Vvvmmmmmm. You worry as she brings them closer to your head and are somewhat thankful that there isn’t a mirror in the kitchen, so you can’t see the carnage being done. She runs the clippers through your hair in one swipe, two, three. Clumps fall onto the towel draped around your chest and shoulders before they fall to the floor, each cluster landing with a silent explosion of innocence lost.
She finishes all too quickly, quickly enough that you realize she couldn’t have readjusted the attachment sizes. You’ll remind her that you wanted your hair cut shorter along the sides and back and she’ll sigh as she lights up another cigarette. You feel slightly at ease after reminding her and a bit more as you hear her taking off the attachment. She tilts your head to the side and tells you to keep still, lest you want her to take off an ear or something.
The clippers zoom past your left ear, the vibrations tickling as it passes. As quickly as it comes, it goes, leaving behind the two scariest words in the English language.
You ask what’s the matter, but Mom denies anything is wrong. You tell her that people don’t normally say ‘uh oh’ – especially when cutting hair – unless there is something completely, drastically wrong. She tells you not to worry about it, she can fix it, just tilt your head to the other side and hold still this time, God damn it! (Dollar in the swear jar.) You do as you’re told and feel the same sensations as you did a moment ago.
Well, that’s as good as I can get it, Mom says, lifting the towel off of your chest and shoulders, taking one last long drag on her cigarette. You hop out of the kitchen chair and race upstairs. Mom calls after you – No running in the house! — but you ignore her. You leap up the stairs, two at a time, desperately needing to get to the bathroom to see what has become of your once glorious locks. You try to open the door but it won’t budge. Your sister calls out from behind the door – Someone’s in here! — and you plead with her to, please, hurry.
She finishes and, before she can unlock the door, you are already clutching the handle. The door swings open and she starts to yell at you – Wait your turn– but she stops mid-sentence. She looks at you strangely, for a moment, confused, perplexed, and then explodes into a fit of laughter. She starts to make fun of you, but you can’t hear her. You just push past her, towards the mirror. You close your eyes, step up in front of the bathroom sink, and then you open them.
Looking back at you is someone familiar but completely different. This person looks like you, sure — same eyes, same nose, mouth, skin tone, same patch of freckles sprinkled over your chubby cheeks – but something about him is completely wrong. You are so shocked by what you see that it actually takes you a minute to realize what it is that you’re looking at.
Your hair has been mowed down to a one inch length, all around your head. Every hair on your head, in every direction, is exactly one inch long. But that’s not what panics you, no. What has made you so anxious is the fact that there is a two inch C-shaped patch of skin circling both of you ears. There is not a single hair within TWO INCHES of your ears. Your hair looks sort of like a Mohawk that was unhappy with the inch wide strip that ran straight down the center of your head and tried to expand into a larger territory, like Germany did to Poland in WWII.
You have WORLD WAR TWO on top of your head.
You stare into the mirror for what seems like forever, mourning your loss. Your lips tremble, your eyes water. Finally, you let out a primal cry.
You trample down the stairs, back to the kitchen, where Mom is wrapping up the cord to the electric clippers in tight circles and lighting up another cigarette. You tell her that your hair is ruined. She assures you that she’s trying to calm you down when she says that it’s just hair and that it will grow back. It’s not that bad. It’s not the end of the world. No one will even notice.
NO ONE WILL EVEN NOTICE?!?
You mean that no one will notice that your hair looks as if it is completely and utterly terrified of your ears and is trying to get as far away from them as quickly as possible? You won’t even be able to get through dinner without your dad and sister making fun of you, how does she think that an entire school full of nine and ten year olds is going to react?
You find out two days later, on the first day of school.
I won’t going into the gory details of how the other kids laughed at you, teased you, called you names, but it was the first time you ever heard – or were called – the word ‘fag’. You don’t know what it means, when you first hear it, but it still makes you feel bad. You feel even worse when you get home, run quickly up to your room, grab your pocket dictionary from the bookshelf, and look up its meaning.
You’ve never felt as bad about yourself as you did then. Not even when kids teased you about your weight, or called you ugly or dumb. That horrible, hateful three-letter little word made you want hide and never be found.
As bad as it feels, though, it does get worse. Hair grows back and scars do heal, but kids never forget.
YOU will never forget.
The fact that I’m still writing this letter – that I even remember the incident – tells me that my little time-travel experiment has failed. But I hope, for our sake, that this letter finds you, so you can stand up to Mom and tell her to stop being such a cheapskate, spend the five dollars and take you to a real barber, dammit! (Dollar in the swear jar.)
Good luck and Godspeed.
Frank (Me), Age 27
PS – Seven years from now, when you’re sixteen, and Bridgette Owens asks you if you want to touch her bra area, say yes, and you’ll successfully avoid gay accusations for at least a few more years.
(Wednesday started much in the same fashion: I had the day off and it was a beautiful, cool morning so I decided to pack a bag full of the puppy’s toys, her water bowl, a few bottles of water and head to Schiller Park.
After the pup and all of her stuff was successfully loaded into the car, we pulled out of the parking lot just in time for a light on my car’s dashboard to light up — singing ding! ding! ding! as it did – signaling that I was dangerously low on fuel. I pulled into a Speedway station a few block from my apartment and filled my tank up halfway. I got back in my car, put the key in the ignition, and turned it, but instead of my car start, I heard RRRrrrRRRrrrRRRrrr.
After failing to start my car two more times, I opened the hood and started to root around in the engine. As far as I could tell, everything was in working order; all of the cables and hoses and whatnot were still attached, the battery was looking good. I had no idea why it wouldn’t start.
A few minutes went by and a man who did not look completely unlike a pudgy Stone Cold Steve Austin approached the pump in front of me, his red plastic gas can in hand.
You broke down?
Yeah, it would appear so.
He looked through my engine and came to the same conclusion I had.
Man, I don’t know why it won’t start.
My van ran out of gas when I pulled into the drive.
Let me fill ‘er back up and we could try to jump yours.
You got cables?
So Stone Cold walked back to his van, filled it up, and drove over to where my car was parked, stopping just before his front bumper hit my own. His van was old and falling apart, the grill was missing and his front bumper looked like it only had a few days left on this world as well. Where it wasn’t completely covered in rust, the vehicle was painted a light tan. There were no windows, with the obvious exception of the driver’s and passenger’s side and the windshield. I imagined a mattress in place of backseats and lengths of rope, duct tape, candy and video games in the trunk.
Stone Cold opened his hood and we connect jumper cables from his battery to mine. After a few failed tries, we decided that the battery didn’t need to be jumped and that there was nothing else we could do to fix it ourselves at the gas station.
Well, I think we’ve done all we could.
Yeah, same here.
I’ll tell you what; I’ll help you push your car into a parking spot if you want.
Thanks. That’d be great.
So I stood outside the driver’s side and steered while he pushed the car from behind. The puppy hopped excitedly from one side of the car to the other, not understanding what was happening. We finally got the car into an empty parking spot — about twenty feet away from where we started — and I thanked Stone Cold for his help, giving him some extra cash to fill up his gas tank.
I appreciate all of your help, man.
Aw, it was the least I could do. Say, do you need a ride anywhere?
Uh… no… I’m good.
Are you sure? I got some gas in my van now.
I could give you a ride back home, if you want.
I actually, uh, don’t live that far from here. I can walk.
Nothin’ doin’. I have plenty of room in my van for you and your little puppy.
At this point, I was starting to feel a little wary. I realized that I’m not exactly a small person by any means – unless we’re talking height – but I’m not sure what he meant by “plenty of room in my me” and my “little puppy” and I’m not sure I wanted to know.
It’s starting to get hot out. I wouldn’t want you to have to walk all the way back home in this heat.
Really, it’s not that far of a walk.
In fact, if I look really hard, I can probably see my apartment from here.
And both the puppy and I could both probably use the exercise.
Well, I could not, in good conscience, let y’all walk home by yourselves.
Now, come on. I got——-in my van.
An ambulance passed by, deafening the area and cutting off Stone Cold’s sentence for a moment. Even at the time of this writing, I’m still not sure, in the back of my mind, whether I would have liked to have heard him repeat “plenty of room” or venture off into something a bit more risque, like “candy.” Not that he could have gotten me into his van with a promise of video games or candy – A burrito, maybe. A new Blackalicious album, definitely. — I really just wanted to see where his true intentions laid.
I finally convinced Stone Cold that I was fine on my own and didn’t need any man-rape services at that particular moment, when I told him I was just going to call AAA. After all, I told him, if I don’t call them, I’m paying seventy dollars a year for nothing.
You wanna at least wait in the van until the tow truck guy arrives?
I have some kick-ass tunes. You like Dio?
You know, I’ll pass. I wouldn’t want to waste any more of your time.
Aw, yer not wastin’ my time.
I’ll tell you what, I’ll circle back around in half and hour t’check up on ya.
Stone Cold eventually got back into his Rapemobile and drove off in search, I’m sure, of latchkey kids with a sweet tooth. The tow truck guy arrived within about twenty minutes and, as luck would have it, the engine started before he could even check under the hood. Turns out, my car didn’t start due to vapor lock, although, I still had the mechanic at the Monro station across the street test my battery.
The rest of the day consisted of: neighborhood kids knocking on my window trying to communicate with my puppy, who, in turn, became incredibly agitated and howled at them; an unbelievably aggravating phone conversation with my parents; and a reoccurring dream where my teeth continuously fell out.)
So, yeah, Thursday was looking pretty good.
First of all, I work nights on Thursdays, so, even though I was up at the ungodly hour of 5:30AM to let the puppy out, I had nowhere to go further than the couch and nothing to do but nap for the first few hours of the morning.
Second, it was one of my manager’s last day at work and, while that was kind of sad, since she was a great person and great at her job, we were throwing a kick-ass going-away party for her.
It was also the last day that I would have to host the Teen Gaming Program, for about a month. (For those of you who don’t know, the Teen Gaming Program is where, once a week, they lock me in a room with a dozen or so teenagers and give them Wiis and Playstations. It’s kind of like Lord of the Flies, except with more video games and less pig heads on pikes – mind you, I didn’t say no pigs heads on pikes, just less.)
Work ended and I made my way to the Short North, forgetting how difficult finding a parking space can be on High St. at night. I drove around for a few minutes, finally finding a couple walking to their car and, once they pulled out and drove off, I stole their spot. I got out of my car and examined the area; I can be quite cautious about parking on the street. I wasn’t parked next to a hydrant; there was a no parking sign, but it was for the hours between 7:00AM and 6:00PM, and, considering it was around 8:20PM, I thought I was safe; and, after examining half a dozen cars parked around my own, I saw no parking permit stickers or signs.
So I made my way to The Art Exchange, pushing through a mass of people congregated outside of the gallery. I showed my ID to the… bouncer? — I guess — and went inside to find Abby; which wasn’t that hard, since she was at least three feet taller than anyone else in the room.
We talked for a bit, although, it was so loud in there that I could hardly hear what Abby or her friend Jenn said. Hell, I couldn’t even make out which song the DJ was playing. After a few minutes of small talk, I broke away from the two of them to go A) put in my vote for Abby’s quilt, B) snag myself some free beer, and C) look at some of the other “art”.
The subject of the show was Blue Moon Ale, a tasty orange beer. All of the pieces displayed incorporated the beer, the logo, or the drinking of said beer in some way. Sadly, half of the pieces I saw looked rather unintelligible and amateurish the other half looked more like beer commercials rather than art. There were only a few pieces – and I include Abby’s in this statement – that looked like they were actually worth a damn.
And, to my surprise, there was actually a decent spread of food. Most gallery shows will put out cheese and crackers or chips and dip, and, when I heard there was going to be free samples of Blue Moon Ale, I was sure they would be served out of Dixie cups. But, lo! This was not the case. Kegs overflowed with orange ale; tables filled with antipasto skewers, crab cakes, finger sandwiches, and expensive cheese spreads. Half-eaten trays of food were replaced with newer, fuller trays before they had time to sit out for several minutes (reminding me slightly of female newscasters). I only partook in the drinking of a glass of ale, although, I think maybe I should have squeezed a few more orange slices into the beer; Abby liked the antipasto skewers so much she shoved a tray of them under her shirt to take home with her.
I stuck around for about 45 minutes, until the crowd started to get to me and I remembered that I have a puppy at home, in a crate, who will be exploding with urine should I not make it home sometime soon. I said my goodbyes and made my way back to the car, only to find a parking ticket under my windshield wiper. I cursed and examined my surroundings for a reason for the ticket and cursed again. I got in my car and drove to High St and took a right, taking another right onto 5th Ave and yet another onto Summit Rd, eventually turning left onto 670. But before I could even reach the speed limit, I saw flashing police lights in my rear view mirror.
I was getting pulled over.
I stopped my car, turned it off, and waited for the officer – a portly, gray-haired middle-aged man who will hence be known as Officer Dickhead – to approach. He eventually walked up to the driver’s side, taking his time and, even though my window was already rolled down and I was looking directly at him, he knocked on my door anyway.
Evening, son. License and proof of insurance, please.
I produced both and he examined them carefully.
Son, do you know why I pulled you over tonight?
*sigh* No one told me there was going to be a test.
MEHonestly? No, I don’t. I wasn’t speeding and it’s not like I cut someone off or was weaving in and out of lanes. And I just got on the freeway so, no, I honestly have no idea why I got pulled over.
You have a tail light burned out, son.
Oh, thank God!
Nothing. I’m just glad it isn’t anything serious.
Officer Dickhead handed me back my insurance card, but kept my license. Then, he started writing my ticket.
So, um, what are you writing there?
Your tail light is burned out.
Couldn’t you just give me a warning?
I could, but then you wouldn’t learn anything.
But I have learned something. I’ve learned that my tail light has burned out. And, with that knowledge, I can go home and fix the burned out light.
Well, then, consider this extra credit.
Isn’t extra credit usually optional?
Not this extra credit.
MEBut… but that’s… illogical!
That doesn’t make any sense!
What doesn’t make any sense?
This whole thing. It’s… it’s… it’s… illogical!
I was trying very hard not to use the words “fucking stupid” or “re-goddamn-diculous”.
It doesn’t make any sense that you’re giving me a ticket for a burned out tail light. That’s like giving me a ticket because someone’s shoe is untied, or because I missed a button on my shirt or because someone put a “kick me” sign on my back!
My point is that these are things that you’re not going to know about until either you trip over your shoelace, some says “Hey, you misbuttoned your shirt.”, or you start getting kicked!
Where are you going with this?
It’s physically impossible for me to be behind my car, while I’m driving, to see that my tail light has burned out!
Son, please, lower your voice.
I didn’t raise my voice.
And I didn’t. I was talking the the officer with the same even tone that I would use to speak to any of you, although, admittedly, with less cursing. Actually, I was speaking better to the officer that I would to any of you. I was using my white voice; the calm, cool tone of voice and speaking manner that I use when I am at work or talking to mine or anyone else’s parents or family.
Calm down, son.
I… I am calm. I’m just saying, it’s a burned out tail light. Does that really warrant a ticket? I mean, it’s not like I was speeding or ran someone over or was drinking and driving.
OK, that last one may not have exactly been the truth…
You know what? My other tail light burned out, like, a year ago! When I changed it, I bought a two-pack of bulbs! I have a spare bulb in the glove compartment!
Keep your hands where I can see them.
But I have an extra bulb. I can change it, like, right now and then we can pretend that this whole thing didn’t happen! I’ll have two working tail lights and you won’t have to write me that ticket!
I’ve already started writing the ticket.
Well, then, you’ll be able to stop writing the ticket.
Once I start writing a ticket, I cannot stop. By law.
But… but that’s… illogical!
Son, I have asked you to calm down and lower your voice. Am I going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle as well?
No… But… you also don’t have to write me a ticket…
Son, please step out of your vehicle.
I got out of my car.
Step around to the back of your vehicle.
You’re not going ask me to spread ‘em, are you?
You’re not going to give me a reason to, are you?
I just want you to take a look at your car and see that your tail light is burned out.
OK, first of all, I never disbelieved you. I completely believe you when you say that my tail light is burned out. I do. Secondly, my car has been turned off, so even if it is burned out, I won’t be able to see which one was burned out and which one is just turned off.
See? This whole thing has been pointless!
Son, I have asked you plenty of times before to calm down and lower your voice. Do we have to discuss this downtown?
No… But you also don’t have to write me a ticket.
Son… *sigh* Son, just get back in your vehicle…
I got back in my car, Officer Dickhead served me my ticket and made sure to tell me to “have a nice night.” I drove off adding my ticket amounts together and coming to the conclusion that $48 is way too much to pay for one glass of beer, even if it is a tasty orange brew.
I continued down 670 East, eventually turning onto 270 South, exiting onto East main St; the dancing lights of the Hooters electric palm tree telling me that I was almost home.
I dropped my messenger bag onto the dining room table, when I walked in the door, placed my Blue Moon Ale glass in the sink and grabbed the puppy’s leash from the kitchen drawer. We went for a quick walk and then it was dinner time, for both of us.
I poured water and a cup of kibble into her food bowls and then took out some kick-ass leftover chicken salad that I made the day before. I scooped some of it out onto some crusty home-baked bread and carved a thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top.
I ate and eventually I slept, hoping Friday would be a better day, my puppy licking my orange-flavored fingers.
Even though I was completely awake, I began to dread the inevitable call of my alarm as the seven o’clock hour quickly approached. And, surely enough, when seven o’clock came, my alarm woke up, stretched and yawned, and the proceeded to lick the left half of my face.
Months ago, I traded relying on my bedside clock for the internal one of my puppy.
I tried to convince her that it was OK to sleep in every now and then, especially on your day off, but she saw sunlight creeping in through the window blinds and that was all the proof she needed that it was time to wake up and start the day.
I surrendered to her demands, stretched and yawned, and got out of bed myself.
I chased the pup around the living room, finally tackling her into submission and fastened her collar around her neck, then took her outside. She crunched through the thin layer of ice atop the snow, digging and sniffing the fresh powder underneath. She did her business and then we returned to the house.
Inside, she ate her breakfast, while I showered and changed, and then tried to attack my cereal bowl with her face while I tried to eat mine; which I think is rather unfair, seeing as how I never try to steal her meals.
I watched the morning news for a bit, before opening up my laptop and logging on. I decided that now was as good a time as any to start writing again but, after staring at a blank Open Office word document for a few moments, I decided that a quick game of solitaire was called for.
Solitaire has become, over the past month or so, the deciding factor in almost all of my decisions. If I wanted to watch a movie, read a book, go out or even eat dinner, I play a game of solitaire first: if I win, I can go do what I need to do. If I lose, I keep playing until I win or I don’t sketch or listen to my favorite new album. It’s not a point of pride — “Oh, I should at least try to win a game.” — no, I need to win. I need to. It’s the only way I seem to be able to make decisions lately.
Like Two-Face and his scarred coin.
After a seven or eight games, I finally win a match and then sprawl out on the couch with Austin Grossman’s debut novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible — about a super-villain who recently escapes a maximum-security prison and the heroes trying to thwart his latest take-over-the-world scheme — but stopped after only a chapter or two, finding it way to difficult to concentrate.
Seventeen minutes of solitaire wasted on twenty-eight pages.
I turned the television back on but, by this time, there was nothing of interest on; just early morning talk shows, court cases and Dr. Phil. I left the TV on, but turned the volume down low, just audible enough for background noise; the plaintiff yells at the defendant in an angry, muted whisper.
Eventually, the afternoon news comes on, so I turn the volume back up. The news anchor informs the viewing audience of the body count from the past twenty-four hours.
Murderers and Freak Accidents: 17. Innocent Victims: 0. And now on to sports.
We break for station identification and a commercial comes on. A dog sits in a kennel, tongue hanging out of its mouth, panting happily. A pair of legs approach and the dog perks up. The legs walk past and the dog follows them with its eyes, disappointed. The narrator states that not every dog gets adopted and that, should you buy a specific brand of dog food, their company with donate money to make sure that homeless dogs are taken care of.
It isn’t until the commercial ends and the next begins that I realize I’m crying; salty rivers streaking down my cheeks. I close my eyes, little white dots explode like fireworks underneath my eyelids. The puppy jumps on the couch and climbs on top of me, licking away any evidence of my slight emotional breakdown.
I decide that I’ll go stir crazy if I stay at home by myself all day.
I grab a long stick of pup-peroni from the puppy’s treat bag and break off a small piece, offering it to her. Instantaneously, she knows that I am planning on putting her in her crate and leaving her, so she slowly backs up, quietly howling at my attempts to trick and trap her. She is eventually cornered in the bathroom, scooped up and placed in her crate. I turn on a light and leave the TV on, so the puppy doesn’t feel completely alone.
I pack up my laptop and put on my hoodie. Keys in hand, I leave.
I get in my car, back out of my parking space and then turn onto Brice Road, heading north. I stop at a red light and the lead singer of Black Kids tells me that I’m too much sugar for his sweet tooth, which is flattering, I suppose. I cut down a side street and then take a left onto Rosehill, making my way north again towards Broad Street.
I pull into a Panera parking lot, sling my laptop case over my should, as I get out of the car, and head inside.
Without much of an appetite, I order hot chocolate and a small apple pastry, figuring that should cover the cost of an hour or two of nibbling on the deli’s free wi-fi.
I find a small table in the corner and unpack in my computer. I log onto the Internet as I place my headphones over my ears. I don’t play any music, but I have discovered that people with leave you alone if you have your headphones on. That or they’ll at you louder; which is OK, too, since they’ll just end up embarrassing themselves.
I try to write again, but end up downloading some music and some episodes of The Boondocks instead.
At the table next to mine, two girls and their token gay best friend — all roughly in the late twenties/early thirties — sit down; salads, sandwiches and complicated coffee drinks in hand.
It was around the time when they started discussing the validity of Jennifer Lopez’s marriage to Marc Anthony – and how she could have been happy with Ben Affleck had she “just stuck it out a little longer” – that I decided to open my iTunes; the sweet sound of Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks filling my ears. I picture her, in my mind, to be the British bastard lovechild of Lily Allen and Regina Spektor – sweet but acidic – and I fall in love with her all over again.
Four tracks roll past and she calls me a dickhead, but I don’t hold it against her.
I start writing a letter to Logan, when a cute girl sits down a few tables away from my own, reading David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, one of my personal favorites. I flirt with the idea of asking if I could purchase her a cup of coffee, but quickly put the notion out of my mind; I’m sure she’d rather just sit in peace and read her book without being bothered by a fugly fat kid with obvious self-esteem issues.
That and we’re sitting in a coffeehouse; I’m guessing she already has a cup.
I was thinking about why I was thinking about buying that girl a cup of coffee – I haven’t really dated in years and have become quite OK with it – when my Trillian instant messaging application pops up.
It’s David, and we talk briefly about the television show LOST. I had given him the first season the weekend before and he had just come off a fifteen-hour LOST bender and asked me for the second and third seasons. He told me that he was going to be coming up to Columbus this evening and would be staying with our friends, Steph and Abby. We agrees to meet up there later that night to hang out and watch movies; David was going to make gumbo.
After I faked drinking from my empty hot chocolate cup for another hour, I packed up my computer, slung the shoulder strap over my shoulder, and left Panera.
On my way out, I walked past a Giant Eagle and decided that my empty refrigerator could probably use a little food. I made a quick mental list of what I needed to buy I snagged a cart, and then entered the store.
I made my way up and down each isle, eying random items and throwing a few of them in my cart. I was halfway throw the store when I decided that I didn’t really want anything that I saw and ended up putting six of the ten items in my cart back.
That old Clash song, Lost In The Supermarket, popped into my head:
I’m all lost in the supermarket
I left the store with a gallon of milk, a twelve-pack of Sprite, and two frozen meal-in-a-bags; the grocery list of choice for someone who’s going to die alone.
I left the cart in the store and carried my bags to the car, unloading them in the backseat along with my laptop case. I backed out of my parking space, turned left onto Rosehill, cut across a side street to Brice Road, and headed south back towards my apartment.
Along the way, the lead singer of Black Kids made it explicitly clear that he was not, in fact, going to teach my boyfriend how to dance with me, which I thought was fair.
I arrived home, put my groceries away and took my puppy – who was very excited at the opportunity to not only get out of her crate, but get outside for a while as well – out for a quick walk. She happily romped and frolicked through the snow, until she was so cold she shivered.
We went back inside, put my computer back together, and played a game of solitaire to see if I should make myself some dinner and watch The Simpsons. Succeeding, I place turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes between two slices of wheat bread and sat down just in time for the opening theme.
The Simpson family plan some sort of outing; Homer gets drunk and screws it up; Bart makes a sarcastic remark about Homer’s bumbling ways and Homer strangles Bart until the boy’s eye almost pop out of their sockets; Marge yells at Homer, not so much for the attempted murder of their son, but for some lesser misdeed, such as making a scene in a public place; Homer gets drunk and wallows in self-pity until he comes up with a solution to his problem; Home makes everything right and, in the end, Marge takes him back and everyone is happy again.
I wonder, between the time that the episode ends and the next begins, why Marge hasn’t divorced Homer yet and taken the children far away from Springfield. Homer obviously has anger issues and an addiction to alcohol, he beats their child, and oftentimes explodes into a fit of rage at his neighbors and fellow townspeople.
Of course, I’ve known a few girls who stayed with men who beat and abused them, whether it was out of fear or a dependency on the familiar.
Some women are just attracted to assholes, I suppose.
I turn the television off after the second episode, which was amazing similar in plot to the first, and sprawled out on the couch once more with Soon I Will Be Invincible.
I read about a hundred and fifty pages before Dave calls me again and tells me that he’ll be at Steph and Abby’s sometime around nine o’clock.
Sometime around a quarter until nine, I scoop up the sleeping puppy, without giving her any warning, and put her in her crate, along with her blanket and her chew toys. I put on my shoes and hoodie and collect my computer. I turn on the television and a lamp for the puppy and head out the door.
Outside, everything is covered in a fresh layer of snow and ice.
I put my laptop on the passenger’s seat, turn on the car and the front and rear defrosters, and get to work digging out my car. By the time I brush off all of the snow and scrap ice off of my windows, another coat of snow has been put on. I get in the car, turn on the windshield wipers, and back out of my parking space.
I turn off the CD player as I drive; virgin snow drifts silently against the darkened night sky towards the earth and I think, for a moment, that I would like to listen to that for a while.
I turn down the alleyway behind Steph and Abby’s house and park my car about nine-thirty. I collect my things and start to make my way around to the front of the house. Steph calls to me from the back door and tells me that I don’t have to walk all the way to the front door, to come in through the back.
Inside, Abby, Steph, her sister, and Beta – Steph’s dog – greet me; Beta with his usual bark and growl. We smalltalk for a bit in the kitchen before making our way to the living room.
There, I make fun of Abby for owning the first season of Dark Angel, and the first two of Baywatch, on DVD. She tries to justify her purchases with retorts about how relevant the early episodes were, but I think I won with the argument that she actually owns the first season of Dark Angel and the first two of Baywatch on DVD.
David calls me and tells me that he’ll be at Steph and Abby’s momentarily and that I should meet him over there sometime soon. He goes on to say how much he’s looking forward to receiving the second and third seasons of LOST from me. He compares himself to a crack addict and myself to his pusher. I tell him that the first taste is free and he tells me that he doesn’t have any money. I assure him that I accept other methods of payment as well and he tells me that he is wise in the ways of fellatio before we hang up.
David arrives a few moments later and laughs when he sees me sitting on the couch, realizing that I was already there when he called. He gives me his external hard-drive and I begin loading it up with the second season of LOST, then the second, and then about a gig of music.
We settle in and watch The Soup followed by Snoop Doggs’ reality show, as David starts to prepare his gumbo, and watch celebrities do and say stupid things.
Abby hands me a small stack of DVDs and, at eleven o’clock, we watch 3:10 To Yuma, in which an old west version of Batman must escort the old west version of the fugitive gladiator, Maximus, to the train station in Yuma, in order to collect the reward that would save his family farm. Ben Foster stalks them and violence ensues.
When Yuma ends, we pop in Everything Is Illuminated, which is based off of one of my favorite books, about a young Jewish man who travels to the Ukraine — and shown the country by a American culture-obsessed, broken English-speaking local tour guide; the guide’s near-blind, cantankerous grandfather; and the grandfather’s seeing-eye bitch, Sammy Davis, Jr. Jr. — to meet the woman who saved his grandfather’s life in World War II. Despite its holocaust background, hilarity ensues.
My eyelids grow heavy during the second half of the film and I catch myself closing them for a few moments here and there.
Three-thirty comes and goes, so I pack up my gear, say my goodbyes and head out the back door to my car.
As I pull out onto the road, I realize that I never got my blow job from David. I turn my CD player back on and the lead singer of Black Kids cries because it’s Friday night and he ain’t got nobody. Some nights, I know how he feels.
But not tonight.
I arrive home within about twenty minutes; the snow and ice don’t really slow me down much.
I pull into the parking lot, sling my laptop case over my shoulder and trek back indoors. The puppy, while overwhelmed with joy to finally get out of her crate, decides that she is angry with me for leaving her in there all night and, after a brief dance filled with jumping up and down on her hind legs and whining happily, she turns her back on me and heads toward the bedroom.
I leave my laptop in it’s case and on the kitchen table and take off my shoes and hoodie. I double check the front door, to make sure it’s locked, then turn the thermostat down a little, and head to the bedroom myself.
I strip out of my clothes, pull on my pajamas, and slid into bed, next to the puppy, who is already quietly woofing in her sleep. I look at the clock and it is only a few moments before four o’clock as I drift almost immediately to sleep.
I try to soak up as much restful hours as I can, remembering that I have to work in the morning.
(Morning comes and I’m still asleep, but the puppy — who is still feeling resentful and petty for being locked in her crate for seven hours the night before — decides to wake up at six-fifteen and, hence, decides that I must be punished for my occasional social life and proceeds to jump on my stomach, attacking my face with tongue.