Mirror Match (Part II): A Crack in the Mirror

Mirror Match Part I: You Handsome Devil

Her place is furnished in shades of gray: black and white shoji screen doors, battle-ship iron curtains and sheets, and hand towels and pillow cases cloned  from my linen closet.   Even her pile of clothes on the floor, the exact same tangle of muted earth-tones that adorn my body.  We are two souls cut from the same colour palette.  Where her world ends my world quickly begins.

We spend our nights drinking whiskey and wine, out and about so much so we start to know Uber drivers on a first-name basis.   We spend our mornings in her bed hiding from the sunlight, our bodies tangled and curled around each other.  As the sun creeps higher in the sky we’re propped up on pillows our fingers mashing our phones as we Clash our Clans side by side.  She paints my toenails bright ruby red while we’re sitting on her couch watching House of Cards, branding me as off limits to any other woman who might see me barefooted and toes-curling.  And I’m okay with it.  I’ve all but resigned myself to this lifestyle, and the slowly blurring lines between me and her.

Everything is going great.  Until that fateful night we hung out with her friends.  I’d heard stories about most of them, the flamboyant best friend, the supporting cast of kooky co-workers, and that one guy who likes her.

– – – –

Her friends were friendly and forthcoming, with quickly lubricated first impressions within a few rounds.  I start to imagine a future with these people: beach days and barbecues, surprise birthdays and that one big celebration where she wears the white dress and I dress up like a James Bond penguin… but I digress.  I am ready and willing to assimilate fully into her world.  We wandered, quick-comrades from one bar to the next, and that’s when I met–  him.

He was a cro-magnon of a man, someone who might’ve been able to brute force his way into girl’s panties in grade school, but now as adults, his kind were quickly going extinct; hunted to the ends of the earth and replaced by men of words and thought, ambitions and dreams beyond “gym and drugs” and “pose in selfies trying to look, thug”  and you could tell he liked her– a lot.

Cromagnon

Somehow this Cro-magnon managed to pull her away from me.   The second they made eye contact she strolled right up to him and smacked him right across the face, then proceeded to argue like a pair of over-emoting Sims:

sims
(come to think of it, this picture is pretty accurate)

I was left to make small talk with her clique of friends I just met less than a half-hour ago.  Granted, and I’m a moderately proficient conversationalist given the right dosage of alcohol and necessity, but it was unnerving to abandoned so quickly into the night.

She and Cro-magnon come back to the table after what seems an eternity of being left adrift.  I’m curious, who is this man that is able to draw so much of her scorn?  I get my answer right away.  He’s a one-upper and a boaster.  Any story told, somehow he’s got to tell a bigger one, in a way that makes him sound amazing, usually at the expense of someone else.  He also calls women, “feee-males”   as in “I was talking to this feee-male…” or “I was getting freeaky with this feee-male”  or “This feee-male was super into me…” (and yes unfortunately, those three stories happened, consecutively)

She smiles over at me and holds my hand, as if to say, ‘yeah I get it, this guy is scum but he’s my friend so we need to put up with him’.  We’re on the same page and our lines blur again.  It’s not just me seeing this.  But in a few minutes he has her pulled off to the side again, and they argue for another half an hour.  And I am left to fend for myself again.

This is weird.  Very weird,  fuckin’ weird.
(Aaand that’s my second Rent quote in the Mirror Match Saga)

Her best friend ends up apologizing to me.  Not ‘I’m sorry this doesn’t normally happen’, or ‘I’m sorry something big just came up which is why they are arguing’  it’s more like… ‘I’m sorry this is how our world is’

– – – –

The night is coming to a close, and I’ve been stuck amongst her friends for most of the evening.  She and Cro-magnon resurface again.  Good, we’re getting the hell out of here.   As we’re walking out of the bar through the parking structure, Cro-Magnon is telling her to punch him, which she does with great satisfaction.  Can I get in on that action?

She and I are ready to take our Uber home, when Cro-Magnon insists we all pile into his little Nissan.  Under the guise of a chivalrous gentleman, and he wants to give us a ride home.  I’m too tired to argue at this point.  We all pile in, she on my lap, and his punky friends.  And we get out at her place, and they all pile out.  I guess we’re all going in.

I get up to use her restroom, and I can hear his muffled voices:

“What a scrub.  You think I should give him cracks?”  I hear Cro-Magnon through the bathroom door.  “Just my left hand, 50% powah.”

“Stop…”  I hear her giggle.

“Wat?  I won’t hurt him… that much.”

You’re going to let him talk about me like that?  

I wash my hands and exit the bathroom.  He is still sprawled out across her couch, with her sitting about five feet away, cross legged in the middle of the floor.  I wrap my body around her and give her a solid kiss on the cheek before lowering myself to the ground with my head in her lap and the rest of me curled around her like a snake on the branch.

“How long have you guys been friends?”  I ask him, trying my best to sound innocuous and friendly.

“A couple years.” he mutters.

“That’s a long time.”  Do I like her?  Or do I want to beat  him?  I can’t tell the difference anymore.

“We just met, what… three weeks ago, babe?” I’ve never called her babe before.  “…and we just hit it off so well.” I give her bottom a playful slap.  I watch him shift uncomfortably.  Babe.  I used it with her for the first time as a weapon.  Something about this feels unhealthy. “We were just strangers, and now look at us.”  I give her a gentle kiss.

“It’s funny you guys never dated.”  I turn my head up to look at him.  I watch his face darken, his eyebrows furrowing downwards like two clenched monkey fists.   The implication of course, is she never wanted to date you.   She glares at me. It’s too late.  I’ve endured him too much.  All night of his sorry ass kidnapping my date, and story after self-aggrandizing story inflating his ego like a balloon, and I am ready to be the sharp prick.  My mouth is already on this unstoppable trajectory of attack.  “I suppose once a girl decides you’re just a friend there’s really no escaping that.”

balloonpop

“What do they call it babe?”  I poke her playfully.  She wants no part.  She ignores me and focuses on the soft glow of the television.  “Y’know where you’re in that zone of just being friends….”  I tap my chin in mock contemplation.

“Ah, friend zoned.”

He rises from his sitting position.  I think he might strike me, while I’m lying here sprawled in her lap.  If he hits me, he kills the snake and snaps the branch in one fell swoop.

“Goin’ out to smoke.”  He says.  And leaves.

“You shouldn’t antagonize him.”  she scolds me.

“You should stick up for me.”   This is our first fight.

She’s quiet.

Which means she won’t.

Mirror Match Part III: Broken Glass and Sturdy Roots

Bump it with:

Mirror Match (Part I): You Handsome Devil

I’ve often wondered what would ever happen if I encountered myself on the dating scene.  I mean not me exactly, but a female version of me, without the mustache, preferably.  Because I am a self-loathing narcissist, just as likely to curl my nose in contempt at the sight and sound of me, as pat myself on the back for being absolutely amazing’ in every possible way.

Mirror Match
Round one, Fight!

Our first date was not going well.  She had this lack-luster lackadaisical expression on her face as our conversation lulled and lagged un-customarily.  I found myself struggling for material as each avenue of exposition in my dating expedition was summarily cut short.  She was efficient, rounding her words into concise blocks rather than that sprawling-drawling mass of conversation I’d become so used to on first dates.  Most girls love talking about themselves–  she didn’t.   And all my best bouncing questions and spinning anecdotes fell skittering, scattering, clattering to the floor.   Like the prelude to a good boss fight with no save point in sight.

So I poured more shochu into her glass to cover the vast expanse of silence, and I began to think, maybe she thought trying to get her drunk (which I was), so I just kept pouring for myself.  And when I ran out of things to say I would drink, and then pour and pour again to negate the empty space between her ice cubes.  And soon I was unexpectedly and unequivocally– drunk on a first date.

There are two things I never talk about on a first date: Politics and the second amendment. Women go into a first date with a sense of fear and trepidation; meeting up with a stranger is everything Mom n’ Dad warned us not to do as kids.   Tell that same frightened girl who is forming her very first impressions of me, I own firearms and shoot as a hobby, and I  might as well tell her I have a pit in my basement where I keep my victims before skinning them and wearing their flesh.

It rubs the lotion
it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again…

I avoid that conversation for as long as possible, so she has as much time to see how even-keeled and non-murdering I am.  Shooting guns is usually fun fourth or fifth date, just the right amount of excitement and “oh he’s teaching me new things”  I put my arms around her and fix her form, like we’re Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, but instead of molding clay we’re slinging molten lead at three thousand feet per second.  It’s a rush.  And four dates gives me enough time to weed out the crazies so I know she’s not going to go all Eddie Ray Routh on me.  But I digress.

– – – –

So this date is sinking as I’m already clinging to the last big piece of door in the middle of the freezing Atlantic.  I know at any moment this chick’ is going to kick’ me off and find some reason to go home.  We’re talking about her hobbies and then it happens, almost as an afterthought squeezed between a bunch of gray-colored platitudes:

“I like hiking, and hanging out with friends, going to the shooting range every once in a while…”

My ears instantly perk up, like a dog hearing that magic four letter word: W-A-L-K.

“Wait, you shoot?”

“I shoot.”

(computer age, philosophy)

The best way I can describe this moment is this: Imagine it’s Halloween, and you decide to dress up as your favorite character. Now this is not some off-the-rack store bought piece of crap you can just go out and buy; no, this is something you actually put some time and effort into making.  Now imagine you’re out and about at whatever party or public gathering you decide to go to, and you see somebody dressed as one of the characters in that same obscure show.  Barnacle Boy meets his Mermaid Man, Jay finds his Silent Bob. You don’t know them; they don’t know you.  But in that moment you are kindred spirits joined across the vast sea of humanity in your mutual affinity and love for the canon of your show.  Entire squads of storm troopers are assembled at Comicon based on this phenomenon.

It’s being a minority in a sea of majorities and despite all odds encountering someone like yourself:
Black Hockey Player
“Is that my reflection… or is that really another black hockey player?”

Our date revitalizes with new energy and vigor.  Her voice raises and  her eyes sparkle as we talk:

“What do you shoot?”

“I’ve got an AR-22; I can get quarter sized groupings at 50 yards.”

“That’s awesome.  I’ve got a Ruger 10/22 with a couple BX 25 rounder mags.  Not quite zeroed in but I’m working on it”

As far as the world around us is concerned we could’ve been speaking Dothraki.  We’re in our own little bubble,with our own language.  The bar around us fades into nothingness.  This one common cord has lowered countless other walls, like all the fences in Jurassic Park suddenly lost power, allowing our primal emotions to spill out and devour Newman and that shitty lawyer guy.  Our conversation becomes unfettered and free, countless-confessions followed by her shrill and excited:

“Oh my God, me too!”

Or my equally excited, but slightly lower timbre’d:

“Oh damn, I totally do that too!”

The shochu disappears, no longer down awkwardly closed gullets, but because we’re talking so fast and laughing so hard and the moisture from our lips needs to be constantly replenished.  I have found my Fish, my complimentary piece.  At thirty, I have found my peace.

…or so I thought.
Mirror Match Part II: A Crack in the Mirror

Bump it with:

post

The Whiskey Runner

runner

“Hey… *huff* how are *gasp*  you?”  I wheezed.

The beachfront passed us lazily on the left.  A motley mix of tourists and locals wrapping up their afternoon of leisure under the slowly setting sun.  Cyclists and other joggers shared the sidewalk, a tireless serpent of concrete that seemed to stretch for forever.

“I’m good” she breathed without missing a step, her perfect stride a constant rhythm of grace and poise.  Garbed in black spandex with her brunette ponytail swaying from shoulder to shoulder, I could set a metronome to her even steps; my heart tried but failed repeatedly, instead opting to pump blood to the rest of me to keep me alive.

“That’s *gasp…  good.” I managed after a few heavy footfalls and a weak smile.

She looked over at me, with a knowing smile on her lips.  I stood erect, puffing out my chest and attempting to keep the same vigor in my step to match hers.  But my legs were already on fire, my lungs imploding under the effort.  Talking, was a luxury my body simply couldn’t afford.

Her laughter was musical, and she did it with such ease.  I felt like a caveman being shown fire for the first time, struck by both intrigue and fear of this perfect human being able to do so much with the same oxygen and sidewalk we shared.   I watched as she began pulling away.   But in truth it was me, slowing, sputtering, stopping, until I was walking with the same unremarkable speed as the towel-toting beach goers who populated the sidewalk.  I watched her perfectly curved haunches, rounded hips and slender arms still methodically pumping as she grew smaller in the distance.

I had been weighed and measured, and in her arena I had been found so far wanting, I couldn’t keep up.  It was in essence the perfect rejection.  The one thing I knew about her, “She likes to run” was trumped by the one thing I had shown her, “I really suck at running”   There was no question as to the incongruence of our souls.

– – – –

So I ran and I ran, determined to mold my soul into something better than squishy playdough.  My ratty sneakers gave way to sporty running shoes.  I bought shorts that didn’t chafe my inner thighs after the first thirty feet.  And I got one of those little ipod bicep bands on the wings of Amazon.  I did my stretches on the benches in view of all the other runners, and in lieu of any running talent or physical ability… at least now I looked the part.

I caught up with her again in the weeks to follow.  Pink tracksuit, moving in a blur of energy and motion, her golden blond hair pulled into two pigtails, and flecks of gold reflecting off her freckled cheeks as the sun cast its final rays of the day.

“Run here often?” Bad pun, I know.

She cocked a curious eyebrow at me.

“Y’know this could be more fun if we play tag.  *huff* Y’know I’ll chase you and you chase me?”

She quickened her pace and then she was gone, a slender golden glimmering figure on the horizon.  Was that my cue to give pursuit?  Try as I may, I simply couldn’t keep up.  And I soon I was coughing and sputtering on the grass.

“Okay… I’ll chase you.”  I wheezed weakly, my hands finding my knees and my lungs seeking the ground as she grew smaller in the distance.

– – – –

My new shoes became old shoes, and the elastic on my ipod case began to lose’ it’s hold.  But still I ran.  It was months later when I saw her again.  Gray yoga pants and a fitted line green top, with her raven black hair pulled taught in a braid.

“Y’know all these people running in the other direction… they could be running from a fire and we would never know.”

“If there was a fire, they’d be running faster.  More screaming too.”

“Maybe they don’t want to cause a panic?”

“Jokes on them, I set my fire back there.”  She flicked her thumb playfully over her shoulder in one fluid motion”They’re running right to it.” she smiled, never breaking strike.

“I like you.  You’re funny.”  I blurted out.  Surprised I have enough oxygen and energy to carry on a conversation.

“You’re… interesting.”  Not quite the compliment I was looking for, but close enough.

“Do you want to get coffee?”  I ask her.

“I don’t drink coffee.”

“Me neither!”  I exclaim.  “But when I ask people if they want to get whiskey, they look at me funny.”

“I like whiskey.”

“Well then, do you want to get whiskey?”

“Well that depends.  What would you have done if I said yes to coffee?”

“Drink hot cocoa in a big boy cup and call it a double-frap-mariachi-blended-mocca-pikachu.”

She laughed, a rich and musical sound.

“Yes, to whiskey.”

And there was just enough oxygen left in me– to smile.

Bump it with:

Zipper Questions

I met her while walking around the busy tourist ladened sidewalks of Waikiki.  She, in a floppy over-sized sunhat and large Breakfast-At-Tiffany’s sunglasses that covered her eyes like some sort of rhinestone encrusted insect.  Strappy stiletto heels; pink and white sundress; shopping bags in one hand; gelato in the other.  Everything about her screamed Korean tourist, but when she opened her mouth, the most beautiful sound came out:


…Hot Damn!

No, she wasn’t singing, but she had the same voice of an angel. I learned over the course of the evening they’re called “Kowis”, (Korean + Kiwi = Kowi) ethnic Koreans raised in New Zealand and there is a sizable population of them– and they like coming to Hawaii.  She pulled down her glasses to give me a quick once-over with piercing brown eyes.

I know what I look like in my tattered boots, bluejeans, skulls, bracers, and V-neck in the 90* weather– I am clearly not a tourist.  We stood there, polar opposites from worlds away.  Like those American tourists who go to another country and all they eat is McDonalds, I was something familiar and digestible in a foreign place, but different enough to still be exotic.

“Hi.”

I ask her some innocuous question.  She replies, and I realize I want to hear her voice as much as I can, for hours on end.  We’re standing there in the sun and the heat, talking about shopping and gelato and the beach and people are just walking past us, and it isn’t until her bags are at her feet and her gelato is all melted that I realize we’ve been one of those asshole couples that just stands in a major thoroughfare and holds a conversation oblivious to everyone around them.  She’s not making any excuses to walk away, no artificial deadline or destination.  No, she’s genuinely interested in the words coming out of my mouth for some reason.

“I want to eat that.”  I point to her empty gelato cup.  “Where did you get that?”

Her second scoop of gelato becomes walking around taking in the sights, becomes drinks, becomes dinner at the cusp of the beach with the sunset glowing over the sun-baked sand ocean lapping it’s gentle waves upon the shore.  She’s a lawyers, successful and ambitious, with a musical laugh and a wit as sharp as a tack, and I am all the more, enamored and enthralled.  We spend the evening celebrating and exploring our differences.

“Why do you call them capsicum?”  I  point to her salad garnished with onions and red peppers.  She ordered a salad because she’s watching her figure, but still manages to keep pace with me at three beers with dinner.  The perfect paradox.

“What do you call them here?”

Royale’ with cheese.”

“Wait, what?”

“Haha it’s a Pulp Fiction reference.   We call them peppers.”

“Peppers?” She tries it out, unfamiliar in her mouth.  “Then what do you call that?” She points to the black pepper shaker on the table.

“Also pepper.”

“Isn’t that confusing?”

“Not really.”

“Capsicum sounds better.” she concludes.

“Only when you say it.”

– – – –

We stumble into her hotel room, my hands caressing the supple curves of her body, hot steam radiating off our meshing flesh like… well like a radiator I suppose.  She peels my shirt off and flings it into a corner of the room.  We stumble out of shoes and heels, tripping over them our faces and hands unable to separate or even look down for the briefest of moments.  I fling her onto the bed.   She fumbles at the skull-and-crossbones of my belt buckle.

My thumb and forefinger find the zipper to the back of her pink and white sundress dress.  I give it a tug; The zipper sings as it rides down the small of her back, each unfettered tooth widening the maw of fabric, and bringing me one step closer to that beautiful moment where our genitals will high-five.   I run my fingernails playfully over her bare skin from her slender shoulders down to her well toned buttocks.

zipper

“Do you have a girlfriend?”  She asks me between hot mouthy kisses.

“Of course not.”  I reply, gasping for air.  My hands working their way up the sides of her ribs, opening up the back of her dress ready to pull it off, her soft flesh dancing under my fingertips.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

– – – –

Doctors call them “door knob questions“.  The patient goes in, has a routine checkup and says everything is fine.  The moment the doctor is about to leave the examining room, with his hand (or her hand I suppose, because women can be doctors too) on the door knob the patient spits it out– the real reason for their visit.

Doctor-walking-away-from-patient
“I’ve got this growth on my testicle and I think it might be cancer… and I’ve been coughing up blood all morning…”
(I originally got the concept from an episode of [H]ouse.  But I tried googling “House door knob questions” and all I got are home remodeling videos. )

She had deftly avoided the question all evening, and now right when we were at the cusp of coitus, standing at the doorstep of my ding-dong’s-destiny, with her hands at my waist kissing me like she means it… There’s this awkward.  Halting.  Pause.

“…I have a boyfriend.”

I laugh, because I think she’s being cute.  It sounded so good coming out of her mouth, it took a second to register in my brain.

“Wait, say that again?”

“He’s back in New Zealand.  We’re on a break.”

“Does he know that?” She shrugs.  That’s a ‘No’.  

“I mean, I’m going to break up with him when I get home.”

The room gets very cold and quiet.  Something in the light changes: Her pink dress shifts, to salmon, and then the slightest hues of Orange begin to creep up through the fabric.  I pull my face away from hers, first by inches and then by miles.  Something in me shifts.  I no longer want to do this.  I stand up.

– – – –

I gather up my clothes.   They were flung so casually all over her hotel room in a passionate whirlwind… and now i’m participating in the world’s most depressing scavenger hunt, where the prize at the end for collecting it all is a night of self-loathing and solitary contemplation about my life’s choices.

Even once I Caught em’ All, my clothes instinctively fight me.  It’s like being a toddler again; all motor-skills flying out the window in my fevered panic to escape.  my head wants to go through the arm hole, both feet in one pant leg.  I don’t even bother to try tying my laces; I just tuck them into the sides of my shoes.  She’s just sitting there on her hotel room bed, her mouth slightly agape and her eyes narrowed into slits, just watching me stumble into my clothes.   The back zipper of her dress is still splayed wide open, the material folded over her shoulders as if she were some life-sized-zip-up-costume just waiting for someone with character to step into her skin.

“Thank you for a wonderful night” I say to her as I exit her hotel room.  I wish I had a hat.  Like a bowler, or a fedora, or even a cowboy hat because at that exact moment I would’ve raised it an inch over my head and tipped it to her.  I saunter off, my imaginary spurs jingling with each step.

Out in the long empty corridor, lined with perfectly cloned hotel doors end to end, I pause for a moment uncertain of what to do.  “I’m doing the right thing.”  I said it aloud to myself in the empty hallway.  And then again.  “I’m doing the right thing.  I’m doing the right thing.”  I repeat it over and over like a mantra  I am Bart Simpson begrudgingly writing sentences on that chalkboard at the start of every episode:

bart-simpson-generator

For some reason, I start running.  Running… from a mostly naked woman who wants me for purely superficial reasons, a goal I’ve spent most of my life running towards.   Hotel California begins playing in my head as I barrel my way down the empty hallway and through the fire exit and down the stairwell making a mad dash in concentric circles as I descend further and further away from her hotel room to the ground floor.  I imagine her giving one final piercing cackle before her hotel room bursts into unholy purple and green flames.  Because in Disney Movies, the bad guys always have purple and green flames.  I fling open the doors and spill out onto some discrete side exit flanked by concrete plant potters and shoulder high-hedges.  I hear the door lock behind me with a resounding *thud*.  It’s in that moment I allow myself to slow the perpetual motion of my fleeing body.  I turn around and try the handle.  Yep, no turning back now.  I tie my shoelaces and walk the rest of the way to my car.

I did the right thing.  God Damn.  I hate the right thing.  

Things that Keep me up at Night (besides Netflix)

What if… I never settle down because I am constantly in search of “the one”?  This mystical un-catchable unicorn of a woman that’s always just on the horizon?  And “The One” was actually that girl five girls ago, but I passed on her because I kept thinking “The One” is still just around the bend?

Unicorn babe
(I would… but she’d probably wanna do horn stuff.)

What if… I’ve been with too many girls with nice bodies, and dated too many girls with nice personalities, that I am forever searching for some impossible cross-pollinated hybrid of the two?  Like hotness is the Y axis and not being a crazy bitch is the X axis, and what if what I’m looking for is some impossible plot point where X and Y will never meet?

What if… I’ve already spent too much time at the buffet of dating, that I can never go back to just being with one woman again?  Like I was a one woman guy for nine years, but I just feel so flaky now that I’m”dating”.  Every relationship has an escape hatch and a fire axe built in, just in case the whole thing goes up in flames.

On my rare days off, I’ve already got plans and backup plans lined up.  Sometimes I’m even texting girls the exact same message because I know someone is going to disappear or bail, and heaven forbid I spend and evening to myself in quiet contemplation.  Because Voldemort had the right idea, to never invest too much of yourself in any one place.  Because nobody is ever vulnerable at my age.  We’re all bristles and scars, and every inch of intimacy is conditional and met with so many safeguards.  Because hearts don’t get stolen anymore… they get usurped through wars of attrition.

I’m actually an advocate of arranged marriages.  Because, dating is hard, and dating is stupid. Like the old adage, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”; it is absolutely true.  What they fail to mention, is the vast majority of those fish are inedible, poisonous, predators, have daddy issues, or they live in some deep dark pressurized water that only Ed Harris can reach while breathing pink juice (haha I hope someone catches this reference)   Most of the fish in the sea, are not the fish you want.

Date FIsh
“Why can’t you just love me baaack…?”

So maybe it would be cool if everyone started out with one good fish that their parents picked out specifically for them.  I trust my parents.  Every girl I ever brought home that they weren’t 100% on, turned out to be a special form of messed up eventually.  Which in turn, messed me up exponentially.  Because my parents could see beyond the low cut bodices and mini-skirts; they could see long term and down the line.  And if I just listened to them, I’d have been just fine.  Because my parents were the ones making me eat broccoli instead of skittles, making me go to college instead of trying to tour with my band in a van on an Island. Haha yeah an Island.  They always had the right idea.

Mitsuko Suicide Girl
“..but Mooom!  I love her because of reasons.”
(and yes that is a Suicide Girl logo in the corner)

Maybe it would be better if people married based on family approval and social-economic comparability, rather than trying to blindly rush into the ocean with a scoop net and genitals swollen full of hormones hoping to find “the one” by dangling their bits and flailing aimlessly in the water.   Because that’s what it feels like I’m doing sometimes.  And the sand and salt is starting to chafe in the most uncomfortable of places.

And maybe people wouldn’t be so quick to discard their partners, knowing they only get one.

Lockboxes and hand picked fish.  It’s five am.   Writing books is hard.  I’m going to sleep.

Bump it with:

A Lofty Sound

Another Flashback story.  This happened about six months ago:

I love where I live.  Everybody comes to Hawaii because it’s a dream vacation destination.  The landscape is pristine and picturesque.  People who live in Hawaii, come up to a particular scenic point to admire the view– this is where people in paradise, come to view paradise.  And my apartment is smack dab at the top of what could arguably be the best view of the island.  So the drive up to my place is its own natural aphrodisiac of sorts.

My apartment itself is not particularly big.  It’s a single bedroom studio with a full bathroom and kitchen, and a loft storage area that can be reached by a ladder.  My apartment is joined by one wall to a larger central house where my landlord and his family live; a father and two teenage sons.  In addition to being tied into the same electrical and water lines, my apartment shares central AC with the rest of the house.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Well any storyteller worth his salt knows it’s important to create a sense of place and setting before telling his story.  It’s rude to just dump an audience in the middle of things.  And a couple of these facts will come into play in just a minute or two depending on how fast you read.

So, anytime I bring a new friend to my apartment, the first thing she wants to do is climb the ladder and look around the loft.   Not sure what it is, but that space up there seems to convert everyone to a simpler time of playing pillow-fort as a kid.    When I first moved in I lugged my 30 gallon aquarium up there, along with most of my diving and shooting gear, so there is a lot of cool stuff to poke around at.  I also tossed a sleeping bag and an extra pillow up in my loft to add to the whole, secret-grown-up-fort element.

Loft

So I have a friend up in my loft, and she’s cooing at my fish, and looking out the skylight, and she sprawls across the sleeping bag and decides this would be a great place for an impromptu game of Backgammon.   Awesome.  That’s what the sleeping bag is there for, that’s the whole point of bringing a friend back to my place.  The problem is, I’ve never played backgammon against this particular opponent.

And.  She. Was.  Loud.

Every time I would advance my pieces she would grunt and moan.  When she made her moves, she was equally as audible. Now I like enthusiasm, and I like encouragement during a rousing game of backgammon, but this was something new entirely.  I had unlocked a wailing banshee who puts the pipes of Axel Rose to shame.  When the game reached its inevitable conclusion, her voice arose in a cacophony of screams and wails, so much so that I think even my fish were scared.   We finished,  laying there panting and laughing on my sleeping bag.

And that’s when I started to hear voices.   Clear as a bell:

“Did you hear that?”  

“Yeah I think they’re done.”

“She must’ve enjoyed it.”

I look above me, and less than a foot above our laying heads is the vent for the central air.  Normally these vents are well above any normal activity going on in a room, but with the height of my loft… it put us right at face level to the vents.  In fact at one point she was mashed up right against the vent, her fingers interlocking into the grate.   I can hear voices, their laughter clear as day, as if they were sitting right across from us.  Obviously if we could hear them… they could hear us.

Drunk Dial

There are these funny stories in my head of happenstance encounters and stupid things I’ve done, that I probably should put down to the page before they get lost in the tumbling shuffle of my mind.  Flashback to about four months ago:

So  it’s two o’clock in the morning, and the bar is closing.  I’m that perfect amount of intoxicated where I still want to go out and hang out, but I’m not entirely, absolutely, one-hundred-percent in control of all my faculties.  There’s this girl that I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and every once in a while I give her a call and we hang out.  Sometimes we play backgammon, sometimes we just stare out at the stars and have deep introspective conversations.

Tonight feels like a backgammon kind of night.  So I scroll through my phone and give her a ring.

“Hullo…?” I can hear her hoarse voice through the speaker as she rubs the sleep from her eyes.

“Hey there, beautiful.”  I purr.

“Haha what?  I think you have the wrong number.”   Her voice sounds familiar.  But something is… not quite right.

“What are you wearing?”  I slur.

“None of your business.  You’ve got the wrong number.” the voice on the other line crackles like tinfoil in the microwave.  Yep something is definitely wrong here.  I feel a momentary sense of dread, akin to what a Meerkat must feel moments before it is snapped up by the hungry maw of an apex predator.

“Kira?”  It’s a question shot into the black expanses of space.  A life preserver cast into the ever growing void of my own confusion.

“Yes.”  she answers impatiently.

I know this voice, but something just… isn’t meshing.  And I am either too drunk or too stupid to figure it out.  Like when you’re having an amazing dream where you’re fighting off the bad guys and saving the princess and right when you’re about to kiss her she turns into your Great Aunt Gertrude.

And suddenly it all clicks.

I peel my phone away from my burning cheek and stare down at the screen.  Y’know how they say a cold shower or a hot cup of coffee is a good way to sober up after a night of drinking?  I’ve found a better solution.

This was not the girl I play backgammon with at two o’clock in the morning.    No no no, this was my old Bosses wife; a kindly middle-aged woman who I worked with at my old restaurant job. The woman who was always making sure I ate enough vegetables with  my employee meal.  The woman who constantly gave  me relationship advice on how to find a “nice girl” instead of a “crazy one”.  The woman whose kids I helped with their homework during downtime,  and helped unsnarl their bike chains so they could ride around in endless looping circles in the parking lot behind the building.  She was part Mother figure, part mentor, part all around nice lady.  And I…

(in all my infinite wisdom and clarity)

… just drunk dialed her at 2am.

She and the other “Kira” both had the same first name, and their last names were almost identical save for two letters.  Easy to notice sober, especially easy to miss drunk.

*Click*  I hang up as fast as I can.  Maybe she’ll think this was all a dream. Any alcohol left in my system has been quickly purged and replaced by the swift flow of embarrassment coursing through my veins, side effects including a painful awareness of each agonizing second and syllable I spent on the phone making an ass of myself.   Even if she doesn’t remember it, my name and number will still show up in her caller ID log.  Gah.

– – – –

It’s eleven o’clock in the morning the next day when my phone rings.  Mother-Hen-Kira is calling.

“Hey Kira, I’m so sorry…”  I stammer, even though she is miles away my hands shield my face in shame.

“It was very nice hearing from you last night.”  She begins.  “How have you been?”

She asks me about work. She asks me if I’ve been eating my vegetables.  She tells me about how before there were cell phones, boys would actually have to call a girl at her house, so when a boy drunk-dialed, usually it was a pissed off father answering the phone instead.  And suddenly, all my face-palming-shame is washed away.

“Next time, maybe don’t call so late.  Be a good boy.”  The conversation ends.

I am an idiot.  But at least I’m an idiot with good people in my life.

Bump it with:

There’s a funny story behind that… let me explain

There has come a point in a few promising potential relationships, where it just fizzles.  The lines of communication twist and tangle in the unspoken wind; either I’ve run out of interesting things to say, or I’ve ceased to be interesting.  But my imaginary friends keep telling me I am, interesting I mean.  But somehow, the conversation languishes, lacking meaningful context and she just disappears.

The one reoccurring thought I have:  She knows.

There’s no one incriminating tragic event, of inadvertently murdering a hitchhiker with a group of friends, because that’s so last summer.  No instead it’s a collection of “shouldn’t have done that… shouldn’t have done that. ” Hagrid Moments, that could possibly come back to haunt me.

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It’s six-degrees-of-separation; it’s six friends between Her and that stupid thing I did– or her stupid friend that I did it with.  And even though it didn’t mean anything… it’s permanent.  Because  dating on an island is like painting with watercolors in the rain– everything bleeds over into everything.  And thirty seconds of “There’s a funny story behind that, let me explain…”  could be the difference between dead ansibles and ignored texts of indifference and happily ever laughter.

And that’s what I’m after.

So there’s probably a funny story behind that, let me explain…
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(That dance intermission doe…)

The Fire Starting-Pencil-Fighting-Super-Saiyan

pencil fight
(Best stock photo, ever)

Every relationship lately feels like a game of emotional-pencil-fight.  I take what I fundamentally am’ and hold it between my hands.  *whack* you take a nice hearty swing.  Then you do the same, grasping your smooth polished veneer, pulled taught’ over your tender timber and graphite bones. I lean in close and I take a big overhead chop.  *whack*  I just can’t settle without testing your mettle.

Because I’m terrified that I’ll lash my hobbled-heart to you, and somewhere down the line you’ll need to shoulder some of my burden I’ll discover you crumble under the weight of my uneasy gait.  So instead I instigate– I set a fire to see how quickly you immolate.  Wait!  stop drop and roll, and soldier-crawl to the nearest exits.  Do you touch the handles for heat, or do you kick down doors and hopefully… escape?  How long can you hold your breath?  How well do you perform under duress?  These are things I need to know.

I am the Fire-Starting-Pencil-fighting-Super-Saiyan.  Each encounter leaving me a little more battered, but a little more true.  A little less prim-and-polish-“yellow #2” and a bit more wood and grit.   But if you get to the core of things, I promise you’ll see what makes me write.  And I’ll scribble both our names and circle them a thousand times.  I am the Fire-Starting-Pencil-fighting-Super-Saiyan.  But clearly there’s nothing super about me.

Except maybe my hair.

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Dating at the Speed of Life

I’ve decided to exhaust every possibility of finding”the one”.  To say yes to more things, to take more risks and to be open minded, knowing that finding You, may no longer be the strait and narrow path I imagined as a boy, but some per-chance-happenstance unexpected twist of date.

So… I signed up for an evening of speed dating.  All I’ve known of speed dating, is what I’ve seen in the movies and on television.  It’s always some comical plot point:


So in truth I had no idea what to expect.  I get to Bar 35, and the back area is partitioned off for a private event.  The place is beautiful, the right mix of dimly lit atmosphere and interesting architecture.  A tiki-styled bar with pseudo-thatch roofing.  A raised area with low booths and chic’ glass tables, counters and high stools lining all the walls and bamboo.   High surfaces and low tables, open spaces and closeness, organic expansiveness and solid brick and mortar.  I make a mental note to add this to my list of places to bring a date… assuming it’s not a girl I meet here.

bar35

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The hostess greets me warmly.  I give her my name and she gives me a name tag.  She asks me if I have a preferred nickname, and I wisely decide against “Optimis Prime” for the evening.   I look around and  I notice there is just one other guy standing there holding a beer awkwardly.  Yikes, I’m too early.  Should’ve hung out in my car and sung more karaoke.    But I’m already here.  At least it gives me more time to acclimate to the situation.  So I start chatting up lone-guy-with-a-beer.

“What’s your name?”

He hesitates.

“JP.”

“It say’s Patrick on your name tag.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Where does the J come from?”

“Umm…

“So what do you do? ”  I ask him.

“I work at a hotel. ”

“What do you do there. ”

“Just… hotel stuff.”

I hope you’re slightly more forthcoming when ladies talk to you. I suspect he is some sort of janitor.

More people begin to trickle in.  Guys, one by one, looking frightened and overwhelmed, and girls in pairs or trios clinging to each other for safety like gazelles entering the lion’s den.  I introduce myself to everyone.  People start forming into protective huddles of conversation.  I  wander aimlessly, never staying one spot for too long.  Like oil separating from water, the crowd inevitably shifts with all the guys panning to one side, and all the girls to another.  It’s beginning to look like a freshman dance.  I point this out to the guys, and they chuckle nervously.

Finally everyone arrives.  Thirteen girls and thirteen guys, and lucky me I’m starting on table thirteen.  I love it.  The hostess explains the rules of speed dating: each person has seven minutes with their date, at the sound of the bell it means there is one minute left.  Each person has a card; if you like the person you’re chatting with check yes, and if they check yes for you then your contact info will be exchanged the next day.  So paper-and-pencil-Tinder.  Got it.

And we’re off!

It’s funny, how you can boil down what a person is, into five short minutes.  It’s funnier still, how after saying this abridged version of who I am over and over I begin to question what it is exactly I’m doing with my life.

“I’m a manager/server at a restaurant.  Kinda fancy-ish… steaks, pork chops, beef cheeks.  Have you ever had beef cheeks before?  It helps if the cow smiles a lot…”

“I’m writing a Vampire novel.  It’s about how being 200 years old and hanging out at a high school makes you a pedophile, not a teen heart-throb…”

Everybody is extremely nice and polite.  No weirdos, no psychopaths, no crazy cat lady like on TV.  Everybody is strangely normal.  As I’m on my third or fourth “date”, I begin to get the sneaking suspicion that I’m the weirdo, the hyperbolic characterization of comical-crude and intrusive-incarnate: I’m the one asking the workplace safety inspector what’s the most horrific injury she’s ever seen.  Limbs?  Toes?  Noses?   I’m the one asking the civil engineer is there some conspiratory plot to keep the roads in disrepair so the people who repair roads are forever employed?  And I’m the one starting the date with, “Hey let’s do shots!”  Well I did that one time, as she recoiled in horror, clutching her water to her chest, and squeaking out a tepid, “No thank you”, as if I had offered her rat poison.

And the I met The Ringer.

What happens if somebody has zero matches?  Thirteen new potential loves-of-your-life in the span of two hours and nobody likes you back.   That must be a soul-crushing realization: out of all these strangers– nobody likes you.  Nanny nanny boo boo.  But it must happen, I’m sure.  There must be a way to give each person at least one “match” so they can walk away from the experience with positive feelings and a sense of hope.

This girl was gorgeous.  Prettier and more put together than most of the other girls at the event.  She sat with an air of confidence, with her back leaning against the wall and her chin tilted in the air.  Why didn’t I see her earlier?   She had spent most of her time chatting with the hostess of the event.  That was my first clue.

We start chatting and she’s friendly and charismatic.  I ask her questions about herself, and she keeps giving me short, concise responses before turning the questions back on to me.  I can’t really figure out too much about her, but she seems interested in me.  Like really interested.  I feel the spark of hope ignite in my stomach.  I begin to imagine standing at the end of a long aisle as she slowly approaches me in a white dress with her face veiled and our friends and family on either side.  I imagine how our children would look.  I imagine her naked.  Okay, maybe I imagined that first.  But still.

The Long Aisle
(Funny how in my own imagination I still create the girliest of weddings)

 

I start talking about vampires, and she doesn’t recoil in horror.  She doesn’t burst into peals of laughter either.  She just says, in a very soothing and encouraging voice “Oh that’s very nice.  I think you’ll do very well”  Or something to that effect.  It’s reminiscent of  being in pre-school and showing the teacher my finger paintings, and she ooh’s and aah’s over how good it is.  Up until this point I was lapping up all the good feeling and encouragement, but this sits funny with me.

I start giving her all the gory details of my writing.

“He doesn’t survive by biting people on the neck, no instead he tricks high school girls into letting him go down on them on their period…”

“Oh and there’s another vampire, she looks twelve and all she does is spend all day masturbating and luring men to the house to eat– Chris Hansen style…”

She doesn’t flinch.  She’s not grossed out.  But she doesn’t get excited the way fans of my work do either.  She just endures it, like a power point presentation on the migratory habits of the red breasted finch.   At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve tanked any chance of getting a second date with this girl.  My mouth has a way of doing that.  I’m trying to come up with more ways to weird her out when the bell rings, and I’m off to the next table.

– – – –

I go through more people.  I’ve got my canned questions down now, and I’m hitting a cadence and a stride with these dates.  Ask her about that thing she just said.  Okay laugh now at her joke.  Okay now a funny anecdote.  What does she do again?  Oh crap.  Ask her about hiking, and waterfalls…

Everybody is polite.  Everybody is nice.   But nobody is that right mix of proverbial freaky-fuzzy to stick to my wall of emotional Velcro.  They just roll down the side and are soon forgotten as soon as that bell rings.

– – – –

Finally  I’m at my last table.    I’ve had three beers so I’m at that right mix of honest and brave, but with no bathroom break, so I’m just waiting to make a mad dash to the restroom.  This girl is cute, with an easygoing smile.

“Drinking Guinness?”  She asks me as I sit next to her.

“Yeah how’d you know?”

“I’m a bartender.”

“I’m an alcoholic.”

“We’re going to get along great.”

What unfolds is perhaps my most genuine conversation of the evening.  No canned material.  No pre-conceived questions.  We just talked about beer, and the service industry.  Heck, I didn’t even ask her who her favorite Disney princess was.  Maybe it’s because I had to pee so badly, but time has snarled to a slow crawl.  I’m literally hanging on her every word, each syllable one second that separates me from that blissful stream of urine exiting my body in a torrential hiss.  I’m torn between my urge to soak her up like a sponge, and my urge to unload like said sponge twisted and wrung dry.

The bell rings.  I thank her for a lovely evening and make a mad dash from my seat.  When I return the hostess is giving everyone directions on how to fill out their cards.  Check anyone you want to talk to again.  At the end of the night I checked three yes boxes.  The Ringer, The Bartender, and one engineering girl who was mousy and boring, but had really nice big pair of… eyes.

I hang out for a bit.  So does the Bartender.  We sit we talk and we laugh.  I offer to buy her a drink.  She says she’s got a long drive home, but she hopes to see me again soon.  That’s got to be a good sign, right?

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– – – –

I got my emailed results the next day:

The Bartender and the Ringer would like to hear from you again.

I’ve yet to reply to either.

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