Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Shaky Falldown

Friday, August 19, 2011: 8:42 pm, U Street, Washington D.C.

It’d been a long week. I’ve never been a fan of 9–5 jobs, they seem like they rob the best part of the day from you and you have to be satisfied with the scraps of morning and evening. This had been a particularly annoying week; my boss had been riding my ass for some bullshit assignment that only made sense to him.

“Joshua?” He asked, taking two steps into my office. He never liked to walk entirely into my office and normally I wouldn’t mind, because I’m always quick to get annoyed by visitors when I work and the less time they spend in my designated work-space, the better. But his annoying ass grated on me any time he opened his mouth in my breathing area. “Hey, have you gotten around to pulling those numbers I asked for the other day?”

Have I gotten around to pulling the goddamn numbers he asked for? Of course not. I had actual work to do and he wanted me to pull the stats for each player on the retarded Dallas Cowboys for the last five seasons. It’s not my job to do his bitch work for his fantasy football team. As far as I was concerned, he could take his “numbers” and…

“Because I’m really trying to get that info before ‘C.O.B.’ today,” he said in that high, nasally voice of his that always reminded me of Pee-Wee Herman, for some reason. The worst part? The dick actually did air-quotes when saying C.O.B.

“Listen Mr. Loomis,” I said with a barely-contained sigh. “It’s 15 minutes until the day is over, do you really need the stats by then?

“To be honest, no. But I do need you to finish that task before you leave today. No matter how long it takes.” And with that he took two steps out of my office, without even looking backward, like he was on some sort of Evil Jerk conveyer belt.

God, I said to myself, I deserve every alcohol in the world for this bullshit.

Fast-forward to now. Sitting in one of those pretentious bars on U street, Northwest. They’re each about the size of a Japanese apartment, with drink prices that require you to take out a mortgage. I’ve been pounding down drinks for the last 90 minutes or so. Not entirely sure. You know how it goes when you’re three-sheets-to-the-wind on a Friday night: time is for other people, for people who cared and who had places to go. I was already where I was supposed to be, with my two friends, Marcus and Arthur. Marcus was my friend from college, Arthur was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brand gin, it made me feel smart. We’d also been friends since college.

“Alright Josh, I’ve got to get going, I’m meeting Trish for a jumbo slice in Adams Morgan in about 20 minutes, and it’s gonna take all my focus to walk there in a straight line. I got to get going now or else I won’t get to enjoy a nice greasy slice…or any pizza!” he said with the guffaws that only an inebriated person has the ability to make. It sounds incredibly fake, but at the same time garners your pity, because you know it’s real.

“Yesh, shounds good. Lemme jhust crush one more quick gin an tonic and I’ll join yoush. I could totesh kill a shlishe of pizzzza the shize of my head,” I responded, sounded incredibly sober and functional. “Bartender, one more pleash?”

“Ummm, I’m sorry to say this sir, but that was the last bottle Of ACD gin. May I recommend something else? Howard, perhaps? Hemingway?”

“Whaaz? Arsh you trying to appeal to my shense of great writersh/drinkersh? How dare you shir!” I suddenly sprung from my barstool and reached over the bar to grab the bartender by his shirt, in an act that was strangely agile for a person in my present state. “Whush your namez?...Dick!”

“Yes sir, my name is Dick. How did you know?” he managed to stammer.

“Beacush if I were your parentsh, I woulda had that tattooed on your shtupid jerk facesh!” I bellowed an inch from his stupid jerk face. “ Are you telling me you’re outta my gin? Caush I don’t believe a word your…shtupid jerk facesh saysh!”

At that point Marcus reached over and liberated Dick from my grasp (a sentence I had hoped to never say). “Dude, relax. If’s he out of that label, he’s out of that label. Why would he lie?”

Why would he lie indeed, I asked myself. It seemed pretty innocuous, and perhaps I was blowing things out of proportion. This could just be the alcohol talking, and I wasn’t being rational.

But if that was the case, then why, when we were stumbling out of the bar, (making it down the flight of steps with only two trip ups) I was so sure I saw Dick winking and offering the crooked smile of a guy who enjoyed the fact that his name was also his personality characteristic? That guy was hiding something from me. And I vowed to come back the next day to find out what it was.

To be continued…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


You do not exist. And for that, I am sorry, but accepting.

It’s nobody’s fault. Regardless of what Disney movies will tell you, happiness isn’t just hanging around, waiting for you to tap it on the shoulder and make yourself known.

I’ve been on this planet for 30 years, and I’ve seen a couple of things. I can’t say I’ve seen a lot, because who is the judge of that? An astronaut has seen everything the human eye could ever gaze upon. A biologist has seen things that most of us will never see. An artist sees things that only exist in the imagination. Doctors and priests have seen miracles.

I’ve seen a couple of things.

I like to think of myself as observant. I used to think of myself as an impartial observer, but that’s never the case. It’s impossible. The more you observe the world around you, the more it changes you. And the more it changes you, the more it changes the way you observe things. Some people choose to only see good, some, only the bad. But I think that most of us fall in the middle: we want to believe in good, but the world makes it a full time job to try and prove us wrong.

I say all that because there’s one area in which I’ve always tried to be a wide-eyed, na├»ve believer: soul mates and the fact that there’s somebody out there for everybody. It’s an easy and satisfying thing to believe in. No matter what you look like, no matter how you act, what you believe in, how you smell, the amount of body hair, religious beliefs or Angry Birds score, there’s something out there who will always say “yes” when it comes to you.

Of course, the easy counter to that, which I’ve always used to temper my optimism, is that while it’s possible for that perfect person to be out there for you, statistically, your chances of meeting them are about as likely as…well, your chance of meeting your soul mate. And how often does that happen?

And now, we come to You. You are an ideal. A hope and a dream. You are what people strive and yearn for. And that makes You powerful. Very powerful. So much so in fact, that people refuse to give You up, or even the idea of You. So instead of just being happy with the concept of You, they pervert it, subjugate it. They try to take pure happiness and turn it into something they can control and own. They warp their own thoughts and desires. They’d rather think that You aren’t metaphorical. They want You to be real, to be there to comfort them after a hard day, take care of them when they’re sick, suck their toes when in a nasty mood. Basically all the stuff in wedding vows, (the toe-sucking is in the vows, right?)

But You can’t do any of that stuff, because regardless of all of Your power, You’re not tangible. And I think that deep in the minds and hearts of people, they may have an inkling about that. And they are not happy campers. If you rob hope from people, it makes them crazy. So, instead, they choose to see You in others. They’re willing to compromise in the name of love, and to convince themselves that they have met You. Time, age, experience, these are the teachers that weigh heavy on people, causing some of them to compromise, to settle.

I thought I met You 15 years ago. I blinded myself to any other truth. Much like those who choose to see the world through rose-colored glasses, I felt that I had made my choice. And even better: You chose me to be Your soul mate.

Too bad that’s not how it works.

Years of fighting. So much anger and revenge and drama and games. But mostly sadness and wasted emotions. Obviously, she couldn’t be You. If she were You, there would only be happiness and running through meadows, and my heart warming up enough to find puppies cute, instead of seeing them as soccer balls. So, I lied to myself. I convinced myself of something that I knew wasn’t true.

The worst part? I tried to see You as much as I could in her. I honestly did. Even past the point of everybody else giving up.

But that wasn’t enough. I started to see You in most of the women I dated. I took the concept of the “one” and I spread it across all the women I knew, the women I met and ones I just happened to see. I could see You in a smile, a stance, a smell, the eyes, hair, height, weight. I realized that I was trying to put You together like a puzzle from all the women I knew. Each woman I have ever dated, kissed or even longed for, held at least a piece of the truth that I sought from You.

But I know better now. I’m only 30 of course; I’m no sage, or even a wise man (I’m barely even an adult). But I’ve seen a couple of things in my life, and while I’m pretty sure You aren’t going to pop into my life any time soon, I’m happy that You’ve been able to convince my friends of happiness. Because, while I think You’re an evil trickster and imaginary, I also know that They need You to make the world turn.

So…keep up the good work, You. And take care of Them.