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Hey kids,

So I meant to post this a few weeks ago but I forgot, I’m lazy, I was abducted by Colombians, excuses excuses excuses.

Anyway, here are the journal entries from my recent trip to Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Enjoy.

08MAY2009
Left Columbus at 4:30 this morning with my friends Michael, Abby, and Cortlin. Only got maybe an hour and a half to two hours of sleep last night, but I was still awake for the entire drive. Cortlin — who slept like ALL DAY yesterday — drove most of the way and then Abby took over once we reached Buffalo, NY. Breakfast at Panera in Erie, PA (Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich w/ OJ.).

Got into Toronto — and over to Dave’s place — around 12:30-1:00 this afternoon. We hung out there for a while and then walked around downtown for a few hours – My legs are KILLING me! – and stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch (Wasn’t hungry. Skipped lunch. Just drank water. A lot of water.).

Thought the convention started today. Found out it didn’t when we got there. Went for Vietnamese for lunch. Bought tickets for Star Trek but returned them twenty minutes later when we got a phone call from my old roommate — Kev — saying that he, his wife Jody, and their baby, Connor, were going to be getting into town tonight and wanted to see it with us tomorrow. Walked around downtown by myself for a while and people-watched while Michael, David, and Cortlin did their thing. iPods are amazing.

Went back to Dave’s place for a while. Went over the book for a bit.

We went to this Mexican restaurant close to Dave’s place for dinner (Chicken quesadilla, rice, and a side salad w/Sprite.). The food here is so amazing!

Currently at Dave’s. Abby’s sleeping and Michael, David, and Cortlin are over at Dave’s neighbor’s place.

They’re going to head into town this evening for bar-hopping and dancing. I’m so tired right now I think I’m going to stay at Dave’s place and pass out. Not that I’m really into bar-hopping and dancing anyway…

Tomorrow we go hang out with comic pros and pitch our book. Hoping to trade our 8-page preview for free sketches and whatnot from the pros. Hee hee hee. Also, hoping that — you know — we sell our book and whatnot. Then, Star Trek tomorrow night.

Convention: Day 2 on Sunday. More of the same. Hoping to leave Toronto by 4-ish and get back to Columbus by midnight. I really want to sleep in and wake up in my own bed on Monday.

09MAY2009
Ugh.

Didn’t sleep that well last night. Rolled out my sleeping bag on Dave’s office floor. The floor was waaay to hard to sleep on, so I moved to his nice comfy chair which, as it turned out, wasn’t that comfy to sleep in. Dozed off here and there for a bit, but I doubt I got more than an hour or two total.

Everyone else got up around nine or ten o’clock. After showers and whatnot, David, Michael, Abby, and Cortlin left to go get breakfast. Not hungry, I stayed behind to send out a few email, and write in my journal a bit.

When everyone got back from breakfast, around noon-ish, we walked down to the subway station and hopped a train downtown.

We arrived at the Toronto Reference Library sometime around one. Dave, Michael, and I walked around a bit, taking in the scene. We talked with Steve Rolston and Faith Erin Hicks for a while, while Cortlin ogled Tara MacPhearson.

Then, Dave and I talked with Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions. I gave a copy of our Punch-Up ashcans to Oni, who told us that they wouldn’t be able to get back to us until con season was over, sometime in the fall. Top Shelf told us that they couldn’t accept any sort of submission until the book was close to completion, they wanted to see how the book ended.

After a while, we split up and went our separate ways; Dave, Michael, Abby, and Cortlin went out to lunch and I went on to talk with some of my favorite artists and pass out our ashcans.

I talked with Cameron Stewart for a while, about Grant Morrison and their book, Seaguy, and Ramon Perez about his webcomics, Butternut Squash and Kukuburi. I also met Jamie McKelvie, Ray Fawkes, Stuart Immonen, and. I found Jim Rugg and Nate Powell’s tables and chatted with them for a while. I had met each of them before and they both – surprisingly — remembered me and my work.

I eventually bumped into Kev, Jody, and Connor. We walked around a bit and then found a quiet corner to settle in and catch up.

Kev spied Bryan Lee O’Malley in a back hallway so we went to go stalk him. He was talking to a small group of Anime-loving teenage Asian girls, who were fawning over his every word. Not wanting to look like we were with a group of teenage fangirls, we hung back until some other dude approached him for an autograph. Then, we said “Eff it.” and went in for the kill.

O’Malley was a pretty cool guy. He talked with us for a while about his books and our book. We got autographs and took pictures. Dave caught up with us and we chatted some more.

We left O’Malley and started to make our way towards the exit. We stopped for a moment so Kev and Jody could buy a book for Logan and then left the festival.

We ended up talking the subway across town to the movie theater and saw Star Trek.

Wow!! OMFG!! It was such a good movie!!

And that’s all I’ll say about that.

After the movie, we hung around the theater for a while and geeked out. We put heel to pavement and walked over to Ryerson University, where Dave works. Then, we took a trolley car across town and walked around the arts district, stopping at a few galleries and bookstores.

We walked for what felt like forever before we finally stopped in at a little Chinese diner. They advertised “breakfast all-day” but, somehow, the idea of a cook at a Chinese restaurant cooking greasy spoon breakfasts didn’t seem safe. I ordered the chicken friend rice.

Apparently, stereotypes be damned. Everyone who ordered the breakfast or American food had a pretty decent meal. Those of us who ordered off of the Chinese side of the menu didn’t.

It was after eight o’clock when we left the diner. We caught a couple of trolley cars to the subway, where we left Kev and Jody to go to their hotel and the rest of us took a train back to Dave’s place.

There, Abby passed out on Dave’s bed as soon as we walked in the door and everyone else took a quick nap before they got up again, changed – some of them *cough*Cortlin*coughcough* a few times – and left for the clubs again.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Dave’s office, at his computer, watching the streets, listening to the sound of the city… and Abby sleeping. I can hear her snoring from two – TWO! – rooms over.

I’m thinking about taking the only futon in the apartment tonight, since I haven’t slept in two nights and could use a somewhat comfortable bed for the night, and letting Michael and Cortlin share the floor.

I’m feeling kind of like a bastard like that.

10MAY2009
For the third night in a row, I slept like… something that doesn’t sleep very well.

Sorry. I’m sleep deprived and not feeling very clever.

So, um, that futon was amazingly horrible to sleep on. It was lumpy and lopsided and I’m pretty sure there was a screw sticking out of it that poked me in my back no matter where I positioned myself.

Now, not only am I sleep deprived, I’m also sore and cranky.

Today was kind of a lazy day. Everyone slept in – you know, except me – and hung out at Dave’s once they woke. Michael told me an amazing story about how he, Dave and Cortlin went out to a bar and had an awesome time until Cortlin heard of a supposedly even more awesome party and forced Michael and David to leave the bar. Turns out that the party was a dud and, by they time they got there, they realized that they wouldn’t be able to make it back to the bar before it closed so they went home. Dave confirmed this story by grumbling about how he had to pay for two very expensive cab rides to and from the “awesome” party.

And that’s the story of how Cortlin ruined Toronto.

Anyway, Michael, Dave, Abby, and Cortlin decided that they didn’t want to go back to the festival and went out to meet Kev and Jody for breakfast instead. I stayed behind to pack my bags, a little disappointed that we weren’t going to be going back to the festival; I was so busy trying to get our book into the people’s hands that I had only bought two books while I was there: Ramon Perez’s Butternut Squash and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim 2008 Color Special.

They came back to the apartment a little while later, with Kev and Jody, and we just hung out for a while and talked until Kev and Jody left to go back home. Abby and Michael left to go back to the arts district to do a little shopping before we left. Cortlin slept and Dave and I talked for a bit before I left to walk around Dave’s neighborhood for a while.

Michael and Abby got back around six o’clock – two hours after we were supposed to leave – and we left Dave’s place about half an hour later.

For some reason, Canada thought it would be an awesome idea to shut down all the freeways leading out of Toronto, so we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main roads for close to an hour and a half.

We arrived at the border around nine o’clock and, as we had predicted, the border guard getting back into the states was so much more of a dick than the border guard getting into Canada.

See for yourself:

CANADIAN BORDER GUARD
Hey there. How you doin’, eh?

ABBY
Pretty good. Yourself?

CANADIAN BORDER GUARD
Welcome to Canada. Have some Canadian bacon.

Versus:

AMERICAN BORDER GUARD
So how do you all know each other?

ABBY
We’re all friends.

AMERICAN BORDER GUARD
Friends don’t grow on trees, ma’am.

That’s a direct quote, by the way.

We started to run out of gas so Cortlin tried to ask the GPS god how to get to a gas station. Abby just asked the toll booth guy. After we filled up the gas station on the amazing Hybrid that Abby’s awesome landlady lent us, we stopped at Burger King for dinner (Chicken sandwich, fries, w/ a Sprite.).

Instead of listening to Cortlin ramble on about whatever it is that goes on in Corlin’s head, I heeded Michael’s advice and plugged into my iPod.

We arrived back in Columbus a few hours later and I was dropped off at my apartment at three-thirty in the morning, exactly three days after I was picked up.

It’s four o’clock in the morning as I write this. I just got in, called my dad – who wakes up at three in the morning everyday for work – to let him know we got home OK, and finished writing this journal entry.

I’m going to bed now. I can’t wait to go to sleep in my own bed again.

‘Night.

So, yeah, that was my trip. I ended up sleeping from four in the morning until noon, the day we got back, then I ran some quick errands and, at six, o’clock I decided to take a two-hour nap that turned into a thirteen-hour nap.

And, more recently, Dave and I – a little disappointed by the lack of positive response to our ashcans – have decided to cancel our trip to Charlotte, NC next month for Heroes Con. Instead, we’re going to hold off on attending any more conventions until September/October when the book is a little closer to completion.

Well, as I write this, it’s twelve-thirty in the morning the day after Memorial Day and I have to go to work in the morning, so I’m going to wrap this up.

Keep your eyes here for further updates and all kinds of other eye candy and, as always, remember:

Friends don’t grow on trees.

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Hey Kids,

I know I’ve been teasing you over the past few days with the who “T-minus however many days” thing.

Well, here’s the deal: as of right now, we are two days away from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

What does that mean for you? Probably not much.

What does it mean for me? Quite a bit, actually.

Tomorrow morning, my good friends Abby, Michael, and Cortlin will be leaving Columbus, OH for Toronto, Ontario, CA to visit our friend – and Punch-Up artist – Amazing David Brame and attend the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

This is cool for so many reasons.

First of all, there are going to be so many of amazing comic book writers and artists at TCAF, including: Bryan Lee O’MAlley (Scott Pilgrim), Paul Pope (100%), Becky Cloonan (Demo), Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings), Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference And Other Stories), Faith Erin Hicks (Zombie Calling), Stuart Immonen (Nextwave), Ramon Perez (Butternut Squash), Steve Rolston (One Bad Day), Cameron Stewart (Seaguy), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), and Jim Rugg (Street Angel). I LOVE each and every one of these people and am completely envious of their abilities to tell good stories. I actually met Nate Powell at this year’s Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo and sat literally right next door to Jim Rugg at last year’s S.P.A.C.E. These guys are two of the nicest guys in the comics community; I can’t wait to meet the other ten!

Second, there will be several comic book publishing companies attending TCAF, as well, including: Adhouse Books, First Second, Drawn & Quarterly, Oni Press, and Top Shelf. We have finally reached the critical point in the Punch-Up timeline where we’re ready to pitch the book for publication. I don’t expect much to happen with Adhouse, First Second, or Drawn & Quarterly. They are all fine companies — companies whose books I enjoy greatly – I just don’t think Punch-Up necessarily fits within their respected catalogs. I think our best chances lay with Oni Press and Top Shelf, Oni specifically. Oni Press is probably my favorite comic book publishing company. I love just about every book that they print and I think the Punch-Up would fit perfectly within their comics library.

We’ll pitch to these companies this weekend — and give away FREE Punch-Up Ashcans — but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in, if they like us. If they like us, that’s great, but it also means we’ll have to then send in a formal proposal, which could be rejected. A ‘yes’ this weekend is only half of the battle. We’ll still need a ‘yes’ two or three months down the road, once they review the formal proposal.

But, instead of sitting around waiting for an answer, we’ll also be traveling down to Charlotte, NC, the third weekend in June, to pitch Punch-Up to several other publishing companies at Heroes Con. One way or another, this book is getting published.

The third reason this weekend will be so cool is that, while we’re in Toronto, we’re going to go see Star Trek!

But, you know, mostly because of the whole pitching our book thing.

We’re going to get Punch-Up published at warp speed!

Don’t listen to the naysayers; they think we dinnae have the powah to do it!

But, I assure you, we will make it so!

Because the force is wi– Wait. That’s Star Wars.

Anyway.

Wish us luck.


(Hopefully) Future Published Author,
Frank Cvetkovic


PS — My next blog post will be my 50th. Let’s hope I have some good news to share in celebration of the big 5-0.

Hey kids,

So, a while ago, I posted this comic I wrote a looong time ago, that was based upon a true event. It’s called The Last Time I Rode A Greyhound Bus and it sat on my harddrive for YEARS until I gave this script to the talented Mr. Michael Harris to illustrate. We ended up printed it up for The Comictron 2.0 — a book we made for the Wizard World 2008 Chicago Comic Convention, along with two stories by David Brame.

I took another look at it recently and was horrified by the lettering. True, this was the first comic I’ve ever lettered — and for a first-timer, it wasn’t that bad. I’m still not an expert, but I think I have definitely grown leaps and bounds in the lettering field.

Anyway, I went ahead and relettered the story for your reading pleasure.

So enjoy. Or don’t. Whatever. I already gots my money, so your enjoyment doesn’t mean that much to me anymore.

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.

“Uh oh.”

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.

“Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!”

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?

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.

Yours,
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.

Hey kids,

OK.

Here is a comic I wrote a long time ago, that was based upon a true event. It’s called The Last Time I Rode A Greyhound Bus. It sat on my harddrive for YEARS. Recently, I gave this script to the talented Mr. Michael Harris to draw and we printed it up for The Comictron 2.0; a book we made for the Wizard World 2008 Chicago Comic Convention, along with two stories by David Brame.

Unfortunately, I ended up giving away more than we sold. (We ended up selling an embarrassing two copies of the book.) This comic was the first comic script I’ve ever written that has actually been illustrated (other than by myself) and printed. I’m very proud of this work and I would hate if only a handful of people ever got to see it.

So I’m posting it here for all (ten of you who will actually read this blog) to see. The Comictron 2.0 is still for sale so, if you would like a copy, let Michael or I know. It contains this story, as well as an amazingly hilarious Pirates vs Ninjas story (and one more that’s extremely hard to read — well, it is, Dave!) by Mr. Brame.

Either way, enjoy.


Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud


Another fantastic fucking Ohio winter, I thought, as I trudged through the sleet and ice and snow towards the corner of Washington and Long St., where I was to meet my bus.

Great time for my car to break down, I cursed over and over.

In good weather, it was only a ten-minute walk from my job to the bus stop. This, as earlier stated, was not good weather.

After twenty-five minutes of plodding a trail across unplowed sidewalks and parking lots, I reached the corner, only to see the number sixteen bus, my bus, fly by.

Fuck.

I raced around the bend, furiously trying to grab the driver’s attention, but it was no use. It was already long past.

I wanted nothing now but to stand and wait for the next bus, alone and angry, cursing the fates, but the fates never did like me.

Sitting at my bus stop was a cute caramel-colored girl — cute in a way that all girls are cute when all you can see are their eyes and just the bridge of their nose — bundled up in more clothes than I even own.

After a not-quite-bad-but-not-quite-good day at work, the horrific slushy dirty weather, and the fact that I would have to stand out in the cold for at least another half hour waiting for the next bus, only one thought crossed my mind.

Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. I’m not a good person to talk to right now. I will hurt you feelings. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.

Again, with the fates thing.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, the girl, whose name I later learned to be Amber, unwrapped herself from the scarves and woolen hat like a present on Christmas morning. Then, she pointed, with ungloved hands, at her wrist, and asked, “Do you know the time?” and then quickly replaced her hands in her pockets.

I told her it was about a quarter after one, and then resumed my silent waiting.

Amber stood up abruptly, walked through the ten or so feet between us, and sat down again, right next to me.

“Did you say a quarter past one?”

Yeah.

“Wow. The number six is really late. Which bus are you waiting for?”

The sixteen.

“You just missed it.”

I know.

“Fucking weather, huh?”

Well, that’s Ohio for ya.

“Yeah, I know. It gets worse in northern Ohio.”

Yeah, I said. I’m from Cleveland.

“Medina,” she said.

A few minutes of silence passed.

“My boyfriend, well, my ex-boyfriend, was supposed to pick me up from class today, but I guess he just didn’t feel like it. What about you?”

No, I don’t think your ex-boyfriend is going to pick me up, either, I replied.

That earned a little giggle.

“No no no. I meant do you have someone to do stuff like that for you? Pick you up from school? Or work?”

An ex-boyfriend? No. No, I don’t.

Another giggle.

“Ex-boyfriend. Ex-girlfriend. Current boyfriend. Current girlfriend. Whatever.”

No. No ex- or current girlfriend to do that picking up stuff. And no ex- or current boyfriend at all to do those things.

“Aw, buck up. I sure the right guy is out there somewhere for you,” she smiled. Her giggles were becoming addictive.

“So, when was the last time you had one of those ‘significant other’ thingies? Mine broke just before Thanksgiving.”

It’s been almost two years since my last real ‘significant other’ thingy broke.

“Your last real girl? What does that mean? The last real?”

It was a little over a year and a half ago that my last girlfriend and I split. Our schedules didn’t quite fit; there was a slight age difference, and there were kids involved. It was just for the best to split when we did. Wanted to end it before anyone got hurt.

“And…”

And then, a few months later, I met this girl. We became good friends. And I feel in love with her. At least, I think I did. I’ve never been in the ‘L’ word with anyone before, so I couldn’t tell you if it was the real deal or not.

It just felt… complete.

“And how long did you two last?”

We didn’t.

“Why not?”

I never asked her out. We were just friends. I don’t think she even knew that I was in the “L” word with her.

“Why didn’t you ever tell her? You chickenshit!”

No, it’s not that I was scared to tell her… okay, I was terrified to tell her, but it was something more that that.

“What?”

When I looked at her, I saw the whole package: dating, marriage, the house on the hill with the white picket fence. A couple of kids, a couple of dogs. Growing old together. Grandkids.

“And it scared you?”

No, actually it felt great. I knew she was the girl for me. The only girl for me.

“But…”

I knew she was the girl for me, but I knew I wasn’t the guy for her. She deserved better. So I never told her that I loved her.

“That is so… heartbreaking.

It hurt like hell.

“How did you ever get over it?”

I don’t know if I ever did. I just gently pushed it to the side and tried to quietly sneak around it.

“Man, I’m sorry.” After a pause, she shivered, “Well, here comes your bus. It was nice having someone to talk to.”

It’s no problem, I said, waving the bus on.

“That was your bus, the sixteen,” she said.

I know, I said, handing her my gloves. Another one will be by in a while.

Besides, it’s such a beautiful day.