The Sidney Sendoff

You were half sitting, half laying on your old futon sofa with your bodies mangled together like a newspaper in the rain. You remember your hand finding its way to hers, and when your fingers laced you felt a light squeeze. It was a silent admission: the only way she could ask ‘what took you so long’ without having to. Her hair was a frizzy and a mess, makeup faded and runny, nails uneven with the dull remnants of last weeks violet pink.

She was radiant. You felt your eyes linger, wanting to tell her all about the quiet storm brewing inside of you. You cleared your throat.

“That nose piercing looks ridiculous.” Was what you said, reaping your reward: a hard-ish slap across the face. But she was smiling, though. You always made her smile.

“Well I don’t care. I’ve always wanted one but I was afraid of how I’d look, or what people would think. I finally decided to get it just for me, just because I like it.”

You were never really a romantic, never saw the point in things like marriage or family, relationships or even friends. You figured them distractions, momentary lapses we make to forget one cold and lonely truth. Life never made much sense to somebody like you, but when you watched her name a falling leaf Al-fall-fa, or count the tiles on your bedroom floor, somehow it kind of did.

“In that case, I guess I like it too.” You said. She tilted her head and flashed a wide grin, one of her favorite movements. It was her special grin. Her ‘You-think-I’m-so-amazing-and-I-know-it’ grin.

“Because now it has personality?” she asked, and you nodded slightly. When you do, something makes her eyes go soft.

“Let’s kiss.” You start to say. “Let’s kiss, but not right now. Let’s kiss right at midnight. What? Stop laughing, it’s romantic. Isn’t this what romantic people do?” She’s half amused, with a wonder in her smile that has holds you like a fire, and you are Joan of Arc.

She shifts her gaze to the clock. It responds 11:58PM.

“Why wait so long?

There’s No Such Thing As Grown Up Goths or Hipsters (Only Adults Who Can’t Afford Nice Clothes)

Whenever a job begins to harp about how well they treat their employees, my first recommendation is to check and see if they’ve bolted shut the door. If not, then turn around immediately and run.

But if it is, because of some misplaced hope or your own financial obligations, then absolutely leap through the nearest open window as soon as you get the chance- regardless of what floor you were on. Any company that needs take the time and explain why it’s such a benefit to work there is because it isn’t, and you should be obvious to such a glaring and immediate red flag. Like a stranger you’ve only just met, who won’t shut up about what a good person they are. 

Although such a hyperbole should be taken with a grain of discount salt. I’ve never given that thought much weight and never follow it anyhow. To me a job is just a job- a place to go and waste some odd 10 or 11 hours if the traffic is good. Shoot the shit with Bill or Karen every time you pass by them to use the bathroom, cash a paycheck every other week and call it a day. And Who says something so immaterial as money has to be derived by what you think is meaningful or fulfilling? Maybe the reason they’re paying you is to do a thing nobody else wants to do? 

That kind of philosophy sounds more like a modern way of coping, a self-bargaining to not feel trapped by the lives we know we have to lead. It’s no coal mine or shoe shop in an unnamed third world country, but if you don’t justify it by the time you’re thirty, that nine-to-five will kill ya. 

And I’m no communist, so pour another spoon of salt if you have any left. Because a man’s got to make a living, the Dark Ages had God, and now Karen in accounting’s got a sense of accomplishment.

Please Guide Me Joe Exotic

Life is a series of constant nuisances for the type of person who only likes to do everything once.

The simplest habit, regiment or routine is a repeated agony and practice in self flagellation. A daily masochism where the tools of torture are by means of showers, dress, dinner and breakfast. Relentless punishments in exercise, texting to friends, grooming or washing hands. Having to talk to strangers on the subway is the new solitary confinement, and the very basic comforts of modern living, designed to ease the grim and harsher realities of life, become the guillotine by which the human spirit is executed every day.      

So it doesn’t bother me that I know my baby’s leaving me. She took me to her room where there were mason jars lined along her window sill and dresser, fig leaves and lean stems lovingly decorating each wide glass about the size of a basketball. A closer look and I saw petite cocoons and moths encased in every falsetto museum, sitting still as the hot Summer day. Or maybe they were just still like death. When I asked if it was true that they only lived for a few months she said yes, and suddenly hobbies were the most depressing thing in the world. I got to thinking about my own, how maybe everything was so short and fleeting, stuck in glass jars for the majority of the time and when you’re finally let free it’s all over before you know it. 

What is the difference between a hundred days or years anyway? Perspective, mostly. Mayfly’s are born, grow, mate and die in under forty-eight hours. A full life; bred, sewn, and unmade by Tuesday, before I can even get started on yesterday, or wrap my head around what to do with myself  for all the years yawning ahead of me.

Then I felt better about myself when the inevitable arrived. She said she wasn’t ready for something so serious, and that it wasn’t someone else when I didn’t ask, so I knew it was someone else. And I could tell she thought it through, what to say, because there was something rehearsed in how her tongue massaged the words out so flawlessly.  

I gave her a hug and the No-Hard-Feelings riff. Dropped off the birthday gift I was saving and wished her the best with a smile, and as I walked out the door I could tell she was bothered by how well I took it. It’s selfish, I suppose, to break a persons heart and expect the pieces to still be yours. But I can understand, loving it when people leave but hating to watch them walk away so casually.

And I would probably miss her more down the line, maybe, but at that moment I simply didn’t. The only feeling that I could register was autonomy, freedom. Not having to listen about her dads problems or pretending to be interested in political science ever-a-fucking-gain. No more death by routine, the suicide of increments. It was finally just me and my whims again. 

The prospect of being an individual again felt exciting but a corner of my heart would not succumb, a tiny portion of my soul winced and braced for impact. At the time this felt right, but a part of me knew that I always confuse what feels right with what feels familiar.

Keep The Lights Off In Chicago (aka I Ain’t Coming Home)

January brings out the optimist in me. As the trees ash and turn pale I always get a little giddy. The dead of Winter is a vibrant reminder of how beautiful the death of things can be, that life is only an episode in a cosmic comedy with an indifference to both. The syndication is a good one, but always on the brink of being cancelled. Its hard to think that now, someday, something could ever grow. But Spring is coming, like it or not.

Spring, when the air is thick and always wet, loaded as a sentence and on the verge of tears (or rain.) Where my nostalgia goes into overdrive and I’m overrun in moments that are bulging like clouds; thoughts that are full yet empty and easy to navigate. Standing near the bus stop the first day of school with an over-sized hoodie. Kissing Tiffany in Bryant Park while something under our feet crunched loudly and made the world smell like skin and an end to childhood.

The experience is a winter wonderland of wondering where all that time has gone, but I don’t want to come off as a nihilist. To be honest as I get older, I no longer look to the past as often. But when I do, I look back at it all much more fondly. I want to reach out and call someone I haven’t spoken to or of in years, just to remind Tiffany, Kevin, Jimmy, Corina, or hell, even my father, that at some point I loved them dearly, and I might still.

The Cassandra Complex

You can’t honestly love a dishonest thing, and the loneliest women always find a way to me. With their steel eyes and emptied hands, pockets full of lint and wedding rings. SoCal socio-megalomaniacs; idle, only innit for the lol’s and cheap thrills. Desperate, for attention maybe, often restless and occasionally cold feet. Melancholy misfits and Tinder-ed housewives, specifically of the military variety (Here’s Looking At You, Kid) curious to see beyond the veil and iron curtain of their staled lives of routine.

“Little young for jazz, aren’t you?” Says Marianne.

Everybody’s got an audience, my uncle used to say, and I happen to know mine very intimately. I provide risk with a bit of comfort, I suppose; the safety of A hedged bet when the thought that There-Could -Be-Something-Better-Than-This creeps into your bed sheets and makes a home inside your head. Because nobody puts baby in a corner or ever really bets it all on black, that stuffs for the movies, so the easiest way to steal second base is by keeping a foot on first.

“I won’t card you if you don’t card me,” I replied.

Friday’s are dry, dull, and take forever to get you anywhere like a NY taxi. When the office population is sparse and I can’t bare the sound of another fax or thunk of the copy machine, I like to throw on Spotify to help fill the empty hours in anything work appropriate. Personal playlist are a hard pass and immediate negative; there’s far too many expletives and small tragedies behind those lyrics for me to care about e-mails, when Arctic Monkeys are asking the only two questions I give a damn about. Whatever’s on top of the charts sounds so recycled I can’t tell one song from the other, and is usually popular for the kind of people who still laugh at the word faggot or don’t shut the fuck up about Beyonce.

And I honestly don’t really need that kind of noise in my life. So Jazz stations are the safest bet, not necessarily out of choice, but a process of elimination. Much like Marianne.

“It’s not polite to ask a woman her age,”

“I never said I cared.”

She was pretty. Not hot, beautiful, stunning, breath-taking or amazing. Pretty, like a painting or very well kept apartment. She had a fading glow of gorgeous, the makeup, accent nail and deep-vee blouses stressing just the right amount of collar bone and decolletage to make her desirable. But there was a hunger about her, a poverty of touch, expressive gestures of the mouth, hands, and tongue. Eyes that said yes to questions I hadn’t been asking.

When she talked she had a habit of putting a hand against my arm or chest, remarking casually about receptionist schedules or what Debra said to her last week. Let it rest and linger for just enough time for it to be considered suggestive, although not entirely inappropriate. While I go by on empty head nods, trying hard not to smile in a way that’s too obvious or says Hi-My-Eyes-Are-Up-Here.

“Have you had lunch yet? I’d kill for some eggplant. Doesn’t some eggplant sound so good right now?” She asks. A loaded question as far as emojis were concerned.

“The killing or the eggplant?” I say. And she smiles, not answering.

Honesty is the best policy and I am a liar of the worst degree. But God is good and prone to favoring symmetry, so She evened me with a horrible poker face, so bad the only way I could be any more obvious would be a tail wagging between my legs. Which, in a sense, there actually is.

“How’s Richard?” I ask. A Self sabotage, because I love to ruin things for myself.

Poor Richard, off on a different kind of fishing. I’d heard his legend, the atypical over protective and underwhelming handsome- pale, blue eyed and red tan lines notorious in men of adventure. Likely under the impression that golden ticket of appearance and arm candy doesn’t start to fade after six years of a flat-lined marriage, hadn’t seen the signs in the sand of Marianne building castles elsewhere.

“Around. Visiting his brothers.” She says, her thoughts elsewhere.

I couldn’t blame her. Emotional ransom is a dick move and there’s nothing worst than feeling indebted to someone. Infidelity is a sin big as littering, in my humble opinion, especially if the alternative is a long conversation on what’s wrong that is on its fifth resurgence. Nut up or shut up, I guess, but that’s much easier to say without a mortgage and your entire life nailed down to another person.

“You should call him,” I say, and quite honestly. She scoffs like I’d ask her for ID and takes her hand from my arm, collects herself in a physical retreat.

Un chiodo fuori un chiodo,” She says.

“What?”

“It’s Italian. It means, a nail takes out a nail. Or, you need a nail to forget a nail. Something like that.”

I understood, I think, how much cheaper it is to add another coat of paint than go all in on another lease. How we bury uncomfortable in other things, money, people, sex, memes.

“Sounds like a painful way to solve a problem.” I say.

“I’m going downstairs to close up. Keep your phone on in case I get stuck,” She says, dismissively, turning away from me and the suggestion down the hall.

Leaving me to wonder why do I not lose my voice when the moments are so critical? Why do I see a light at the end of tunnels and look for shadows? I’m terrified of not standing in my truth, of growing younger, because regression is a form of death and I’m proud of the monster I’ve worked so hard to become. Was it desperation? A hunger and poverty of the soul? Unexpressed gestures of the mind, heart, and tongue. Sometimes, above all else, I wish I knew how to just shut the fuck up and enjoy a bad thing well.

A while passes and my phone screen lights up, with a message from Marianne.

“Deb leave yet”

The worse weight a man can carry is a conscience, and a best practice among sex and love addicts anonymous is to pack light.

“Negative.”

Because the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, especially when it comes to orgasms.

“Come to elevator rm when she does”

It’s heaven on the way down but one hell of a climb up. Which may make me a hypocrite, but only on a technicality.

“Are you trapped again?”

Like atheist who moan about God during sex.

“No. Bring 🍆”

Un chiodo fuori un chiodo.