Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Clutch





A friend of mine owns a rental house and I’ve been known to help him out when I can. I went to reset the alarm code in it a few months ago and the wife half of the marriage promptly send me down in flames by telling me I reminded me of her grandfather, who had died of old age. It wasn’t like I was hitting on her but I must admit to enjoying the view because she was wearing almost enough cloth on her body to cover a Chihuahua with an eating disorder. Clearly, she enjoyed letting me know while she might have been uncovered she certainly wasn’t unarmed, at least cerebrally, and she has a wicked sense of humor. I like that in a woman, even when it hurts.

I’m fifty-six. The number of women under the age of thirty who are attracted to me can be counted on my thumbs, on my right hand, minus three. Moreover, I know women who have daughters that age and they pretty much think a man my age hitting on a woman that age is made entirely of the truly creepy. Or as one woman put it, “At that age they’re going to let you know if there are interested and if they aren’t they likely see you as someone about to slip into the grave.” So I know better. It’s also getting the point where any woman under thirty looks nineteen and anyone under nineteen looks twelve.

Still, when my friend asked me to go see what the hell was going on with the alarm I went, half hoping she would be there and mostly wishing she wouldn’t. She is pretty, very, yet she is still married. She and her husband are both under twenty and they have a baby less than a year old. He asked me if I knew where he could get a job the last time I spoke with him and when I mentioned I have a friend in construction he seemed interested until I mentioned the urinalysis test. That’s another problem on top of being unemployed. No one is going to support your pot habit and it’s hard to get weed and a paycheck and keep a baby happy.
I pull up and see the guy under their car, jacked up into the air and sitting on cinder blocks. Dude, no.  It’s the clutch, he tells me and he asks if I ever worked on a clutch before. He hasn’t. He’s playing it by ear by looking at the old one and seeing how it went on and then he’s going to put the new one in. I tell him I think there’s a little bit more to it than that and he allows that he may have overestimated his ability with a wrench. Do I know anyone who could help? For free? I tell him I’m there to reset the alarm and that’s when he tells me that she threw his X box through the window last night. Okay. No resetting the alarm until the window is fixed.
Then the story comes out. He tells me they took the money she saved up for college to find a place of their own after the baby was born and he was supposed to get a job but it has been six months since his father-in-law fired him and nothing has come up. The car broke down and when she got home last night she threw a fit and a game system. He had some friends over and he forgot about the dishes, the clothes, the floor, but dammit, it’s not like any of that stuff is going anywhere, right, I mean, it will get done, there’s plenty of time. He’s looking at me and I can see he’s just a tall kid, old enough to vote. His eyes seem innocent of the magnitude of what’s happening but there are signs.
I can hear it in his voice. I can feel it in the way it talks and his body language. This is more than just making a fifty on a test in high school or backing into the neighbor’s truck with the lawn mower. This isn’t the same as calling in sick when you stayed out all night drinking. This isn’t like losing a hundred dollars in a poker game when you just got paid. This is a very young man who is beginning to understand what it’s like to fail at something important, really important.  He’s disappointed her and now he’s trying to bring it all back by attempting something he can’t do on his own and can’t find help for. It was all so nice, the plans they had, but now this. He pulls himself out from under the car and he’s sweating buckets. He didn’t have the sense to push the car under the tree in the yard. I can see it in his eyes now, clearly; fear. He tells me she took the baby and walked off. He fumbles with the idea that she might have just left him. She left, I mean, I didn’t mean she left me, nothing like that, she’s just not here, you know, gone. But last night’s screaming match and shattered window is something he’s never seen at ground zero.

I know someone who works on cars and I call him as I leave. What? A clutch? Gee, Mike, are you serious? I don’t have the time for it and you know that. Yeah, okay. And two or three miles down the road I pass her, baby strapped to her back, phone out in front of her, talking to someone, and she is a woman, still beautiful, but what she’s doing is more than just a metaphor, even if she doesn’t realize it yet. She’s got on jeans now, and a long sleeved shirt, the baby is wearing an oversized hat and this is a woman putting some distance between her and the man who has failed her. She’s calling her father, likely, or a friend, or maybe she’s burning a bridge right now, putting this thing out of reach and calling an old boyfriend. She may be about to put a bullet in it. She might just be willing to end it all, with a finality as certain as death, and even at my age I do realize there is an irrevocable amount of damage that can be done to any heart, to any faith, to any love, and age doesn’t matter when that point has passed.

Left in her wake is a very young man who is trying to figure out a problem that’s too complex for a set of open end wrenches and a hammer. The idea that he has failed as a husband might be sinking in but the fact he’s failed as a father is coming home to him soon, too. Good pot and some beer one night led to this point in living but it can’t make it go forward. There’s a metaphor to be had in the actions of two people in this, and I cannot help but wonder how it will end, or if it has already.
Take Care,
Mike

Clutch





A friend of mine owns a rental house and I’ve been known to help him out when I can. I went to reset the alarm code in it a few months ago and the wife half of the marriage promptly send me down in flames by telling me I reminded me of her grandfather, who had died of old age. It wasn’t like I was hitting on her but I must admit to enjoying the view because she was wearing almost enough cloth on her body to cover a Chihuahua with an eating disorder. Clearly, she enjoyed letting me know while she might have been uncovered she certainly wasn’t unarmed, at least cerebrally, and she has a wicked sense of humor. I like that in a woman, even when it hurts.

I’m fifty-six. The number of women under the age of thirty who are attracted to me can be counted on my thumbs, on my right hand, minus three. Moreover, I know women who have daughters that age and they pretty much think a man my age hitting on a woman that age is made entirely of the truly creepy. Or as one woman put it, “At that age they’re going to let you know if there are interested and if they aren’t they likely see you as someone about to slip into the grave.” So I know better. It’s also getting the point where any woman under thirty looks nineteen and anyone under nineteen looks twelve.

Still, when my friend asked me to go see what the hell was going on with the alarm I went, half hoping she would be there and mostly wishing she wouldn’t. She is pretty, very, yet she is still married. She and her husband are both under twenty and they have a baby less than a year old. He asked me if I knew where he could get a job the last time I spoke with him and when I mentioned I have a friend in construction he seemed interested until I mentioned the urinalysis test. That’s another problem on top of being unemployed. No one is going to support your pot habit and it’s hard to get weed and a paycheck and keep a baby happy.
I pull up and see the guy under their car, jacked up into the air and sitting on cinder blocks. Dude, no.  It’s the clutch, he tells me and he asks if I ever worked on a clutch before. He hasn’t. He’s playing it by ear by looking at the old one and seeing how it went on and then he’s going to put the new one in. I tell him I think there’s a little bit more to it than that and he allows that he may have overestimated his ability with a wrench. Do I know anyone who could help? For free? I tell him I’m there to reset the alarm and that’s when he tells me that she threw his X box through the window last night. Okay. No resetting the alarm until the window is fixed.
Then the story comes out. He tells me they took the money she saved up for college to find a place of their own after the baby was born and he was supposed to get a job but it has been six months since his father-in-law fired him and nothing has come up. The car broke down and when she got home last night she threw a fit and a game system. He had some friends over and he forgot about the dishes, the clothes, the floor, but dammit, it’s not like any of that stuff is going anywhere, right, I mean, it will get done, there’s plenty of time. He’s looking at me and I can see he’s just a tall kid, old enough to vote. His eyes seem innocent of the magnitude of what’s happening but there are signs.
I can hear it in his voice. I can feel it in the way it talks and his body language. This is more than just making a fifty on a test in high school or backing into the neighbor’s truck with the lawn mower. This isn’t the same as calling in sick when you stayed out all night drinking. This isn’t like losing a hundred dollars in a poker game when you just got paid. This is a very young man who is beginning to understand what it’s like to fail at something important, really important.  He’s disappointed her and now he’s trying to bring it all back by attempting something he can’t do on his own and can’t find help for. It was all so nice, the plans they had, but now this. He pulls himself out from under the car and he’s sweating buckets. He didn’t have the sense to push the car under the tree in the yard. I can see it in his eyes now, clearly; fear. He tells me she took the baby and walked off. He fumbles with the idea that she might have just left him. She left, I mean, I didn’t mean she left me, nothing like that, she’s just not here, you know, gone. But last night’s screaming match and shattered window is something he’s never seen at ground zero.

I know someone who works on cars and I call him as I leave. What? A clutch? Gee, Mike, are you serious? I don’t have the time for it and you know that. Yeah, okay. And two or three miles down the road I pass her, baby strapped to her back, phone out in front of her, talking to someone, and she is a woman, still beautiful, but what she’s doing is more than just a metaphor, even if she doesn’t realize it yet. She’s got on jeans now, and a long sleeved shirt, the baby is wear an oversized hat and this is a woman putting some distance between her and the man who has failed her. She’s calling her father, likely, or a friend, or maybe she’s burning a bridge right now, putting this thing out of reach and calling an old boyfriend. She may be about to put a bullet in it. She might just be willing to end it all, with a finality as certain as death, and even at my age I do realize there is an irrevocable amount of damage that can be done to any heart, to any faith, to any love, and age doesn’t matter when that point has passed.

Left in her wake is a very young man who is trying to figure out a problem that’s too complex for a set of open end wrenches and a hammer. The idea that he has failed as a husband might be sinking in but the fact he’s failed as a father is coming home to him soon, too. Good pot and some beer one night led to this point in living but it can’t make it go forward. There’s a metaphor to be had in the actions of two people in this, and I cannot help but wonder how it will end, or if it has already.
Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Wife Beater, Hand Holders, and the Porn Guy

Who names their hotspot this? WHY?




The upside to seeing a lot of people in a coffee place is it means it’s a good place to drink coffee, unless the downside shows up and that many people means the staff is shuffling around like zombies in knee deep molasses while popping valium. And because people there’s an unsettling feeling right now that I’m in a room filled with people who haven’t had their fix yet and those who had were dosed only after having to wait an ungodly amount of time for something that should happen quickly. Of course, we live in world where coffee is considered a necessity when the reality of the situation is coffee is not indigenous to this region. Zombies, in point of fact, are.

There’s one guy behind me that has a patch of phlegm the size of a kitten caught in his throat. He’s struggling to keep it down or bring it up, whatever the hell he’s trying to do it isn’t working for any of us. I keep feeling as if I’m going to feel something warm and slimy on the back of my bald head at any second. I’ll have to go to the ER and have them remove that part of my scalp and live with the idea that a loogy that could cover the better part of a Boston Terrier once resided on the back of my head.

I’m sitting behind two women engaged in a quiet but lively conversation about the guy at a table across from us, and about ten feet from me. He has a cell phone and he’s looking at photos of naked women on it. No, not super X rated photos, just T&A but he seems totally oblivious to the fact people can see what he’s seeing. The two women are debating as to whether they should confront him or call management from their table and get something done.

The guy I knew thirty years ago is at the next table up from the two women, and he was arrested and convicted for beating his wife and two small children back in the 80’s. His wife took everything he owned which caused him to sell me a handgun very cheap. I still have the gun and it makes me feel better than he doesn’t. True, he could have gotten another one, but at the time he was not armed and everyone felt better for it.

To my left and slightly behind me is a couple sharing a computer and their body friction. I get the feeling they’re exploring options right now and both are enjoying this. This is fun to watch because both are acting a little giddy and whatever project they are supposed to be working on is suffering from inattention but they don’t care. They are very young, and he seems to be a little awkward at all of this but she’s feeding the fire slowly by laughing at anything he says and leaning into him when he puts his arm around her. I have to stop watching before they catch me looking, but I think they’re zoned out. The place would have to be ablaze before the spell was broken.

One of the women at the table in front of me goes up to the counter and the one facing me is stealing a glance at Porn Boy. Her companion is ratting him out. She meets the manager at the end of the counter and his eyes lock onto Porn Boy with a look that suggests that he’s going to do something sooner than later. The manager waits until the woman is sitting down again and he pretends to wipe the counter where the milk and sugar is stored, and then walks behind Porn Boy from his blind side.

The manager leans over while Porn Boy is looking at some blonde with very obvious enhancements to her body and suddenly Porn Boy puts the phone down as the Manager speaks to him. Time for you to take your show on the road, dude, and Porn Boy gathers his cup of coffee and heads for the door at a near trot.


The manager waits until the scene has been secured and speaks to the two women who thank him for his prompt action. I give him a thumbs up and he smiles at this. The woman who is facing at me suddenly realizes that I’ve been watching this too and she waves from five feet away. “Oh hi!” and I wonder how these two feel about a guy who would look at this sort of thing in public and not realize how weird it is?

That’s the thing that escape too large a percentage of the male population in America; they have no idea how uncomfortable women feel about some of the things men do in public. This is the reason women go to the bathroom together; there’s safety in numbers. Take a small coffee joint that maybe seats twenty-five people when it’s filled. In this small population of people, and this point in time there’s fewer than fifteen people in the building, there is one guy out of about seven who is looking at soft core porn on his phone in clear view of two people within spitting distance of him. Oh, there is nothing like public sexual arousal to turn women on, now is there? Perhaps a blonde with dark eyebrows and ten grand worth of cosmetic surgery will come in and remark that it’s incredibly sexy for a man to look at naked women on his phone in public.

Either that or maybe two women in the room will wonder what the fuck is wrong with his guy.


Yes, suddenly, it is clear as to which one of these is most probable.

The couple behind me have stopped pretending to work on the computer and they’re holding hands under the table. Hand holding is the first step in a physical relationship and there’s a lot   to be said for it. It’s a form of intimacy that transcends the action itself for two people can hold hands in public and no one knows how this feels to the two who are doing it for the first time, that first step into deeper water together, the squeeze and counter squeeze that says, “Yes, I have been waiting for this moment, too”

There’s a world of separation between the thoughts of a man holding the hand of a woman and the other who is look at porn on his phone in public.

Take Care,
Mike