society, I hope you’re not lonely without me.
30 May 2011 § Leave a comment
I meant to do this earlier. Why didn’t I?
Because salesmen are foolish and loafy, what with their stories of shitboxes and mouths of bad teeth, and tend to smell up the back seat. They get whiplash easily, so when they tell you on the test drive ‘the ticket’s yours,’ you might listen next time. What can I say, when I was taught in the same trade to tell customers to drive the car like it was theirs. It was supposed to make them more comfortable with driving, to lessen the anxiety of going eighty miles an hour in a machine they’ve spent exactly two minutes sitting in and are probably being asked consistently subtle questions about their work and financial situation.
A sweating customer is an awful thing: if the salesman gets his way, the two will be spending the next couple of hours together, and who wants to hang out in a cubicle with an Iraq vet recovering from foot rot on an otherwise glorious afternoon, signing their name and the date on a hundred and six sheets of responsibility and parchment?
Because I’d rather have been racing that Mini Cooper S with the burnt orange interior and six gears of unshakable freedom down Rabbit Creek Road, toward the sea and straight into the sun’s thousand square miles of aquatorial reflection. It drove like a go-kart on acid, and I felt like a child with the grandfather clockface-size speedometer up front and center on the dash. Even the CD player took refuge under the monstrous face. We determined, as I hit ninety in third (and still only halfway up the meter), that if I were to be pulled over, there would be no excuse for not knowing how fast I was going. I’d have no chance in court. But if the cop didn’t show up, we’d be in business.
A fellow student of mine at the prestigious SAE Miami once mentioned that he’d been issued seventeen tickets in the space of three months, and hadn’t paid one of them: he went to court, and because the wanna-be Vice squad hopefully has better things to do than ensure some gangster pays his parking ticket, he doesn’t show up, and my friend’s problems were tossed out. He had gotten his gold teeth, he said on another occasion, before it was cool for rappers to do it. I wondered if he thought he started the trend.
It happened so suddenly, I didn’t have time to comprehend it until hours later. Two words, casually announced after she had asked me to take her arm. I led her away, into the depths of the same grocery store parking lot I once scoured for stray carts and labored my own over ice potholes only to be required to turn down the tip someone offered me for taking their stupid gallons of milk and hamburger meat and sugary cereals to their cars. I always took the money, after I had put up enough of a modest front – I’d say I wasn’t supposed to take it, and they’d give me their reason for offering it, as if to justify breaking the rules, as if it wasn’t just a part of my job. Their reasons were often compliments to me or gratitude, and accepting the flattery, I’d take the single dollar bill as a gesture of good faith in that they’d offer it also to the next courtesy clerk, as we troopers were called, and later, long after I’d watched Reservoir Dogs and decided that Mr. Pink actually did get away (and therefore was smart enough for me to emulate him) I’d refuse to tip servers on principle. Soon, under pressure from my ex-girlfriend, I started to give in, but exclusively for stellar service. Only after I became a server and got gypped a couple of times from rambunctious, buxom, blonde Sarah Palin supporters and their ilk did I feel any amount of guilt for what I had done (and then I paid back my karma, or so I’d like to think). The world is full of hypocrites. I’m one of them.
Like I was saying, about the tardiness thing. It’s just a thing of mine. If you know me, you know that I’m late – compulsively, consistently, voluntarily. I like those five extra minutes before departing to put myself under the stress of time, to push the limits a little, to play guitar for an extra few minutes even though I didn’t pick it up until a moment before I had to leave. I’m easily distracted by colorful things and pretty-sounding things, and I want to spend my life appreciating the things I have in the present, instead of in the distant abstract. Am I making excuses? Of course. But I’ll try not to make them to your face. I hate excuses, and refuse to offer my professors them in school. Unless they tell me that if it’s good enough, they’ll forgive me the attendance points. Either way, I’ll be late to my own funeral, so don’t rush.
I simply don’t see the world being any less good if we all took an extra few moments to do something random, like pick up you instrument of choice, when usually at this point in your routine you might be making toast or brushing your teeth. Listen to a song or eat a delicious snack on the way out the door.
The point is, if you want me to be somewhere at a given time, tell me to be there half an hour before (if in another country, a week is better), and I’ll be there when you need me to. Don’t take it personally; there are probably a few things about you I tolerate because being acquainted with you is worth more to me than pointing out your character flaws. I understand that some people don’t feel the same way.
His heart was the size of a basketball, they said. There had been a steady flow of adrenalin running through his blood for two or three years (we usually feel it for just minutes or seconds at a time), and the once fist-sized organ of muscle inside his chest looked like a Valentine’s day card on so many steroids, Cupid couldn’t have pierced its iron with all of his flaming arrows.