Friday, I was driving sick, south to work at highway speed plus, crack of noon impending. A one hour job .. one hour for one man, and I even had an assistant, so it couldn't be an easier little cash gig, replacing a cedar deck post.
Been desperately trying to quit smoking once and for all, so a potent 21mg nicpatch was affixed left-near-nipple, for power absorption. I had eaten red grapes and drank strong coffee, then hustled around because pre-lunch arrival had been promised, and you know, the stress.
I surmised all of this was why I was sick as my eyeballs broke into a sweat and my head started to swim, knowing there was only one decision that needed made then.. . . exactly where I was going to ralph, blow, hurl .. eject--in the vehicle, or not in the vehicle. We were at the foot of the 155 ramp when I informed my passenger, my helper, my pal, at exactly the moment I knew. He took it in stride, or rather, spoke naught, for what good can possibly come from glib commentary at such a juncture anyway?
Was a left turn I needed at the top, towards the little job, but I rolled right instead, onto the soft shoulder and deftly undid the door with my left hand as I levered into park with my right, jumping out onto my knees with the momentum and trajectory afforded by such an abrupt maneuver, landing nonetoosoftly, red grapeskins and brown coffee and bile a blasting, the first volley of which hit the swiftly opening door upon clumsy exit. Still, it could have been far worse. I was fairly proud.
It was just then, as I dried the trauma tears from all over my face with a used nasty napkin, that my phone rang. Oh no, not a text ring, a ring ring!
I knew from the picture and name that it was my girlfriend, and this must be big, because for the small shit, we text.
"Baby" she said sweetly "what are you doing tomorrow at 2pm? Because Sandy can't use her Phantom of the Opera tickets and needs to sell them, for cheap, and you know, it's Valentines' Day and that would get you off the hook, and oh I can tell you, chills will be up and down your spine and all over, really. It's amazing."
I was speechless. Not because I thought this such good news, although it was, more that my mouth was still recovering, and I was feeling conspicuous, standing beside the interstate off-ramp over the steaming remnants of my morning, rubbernecking lunch rush traffic and GOD witnessing.
"Baby" she said again, then "BABY! What the fuck, are you in shock?"
"Yes, incredible, so, I caught most of that. Sorry, I was puking by the 71. When you say cheap, what are we talking?
"She paid 300 for both, pit right, but maybe she'll take less." [(she wouldn't)]
"FABULOUS! Make it happen sweetheart. Odd you know, coincidentally, that's the amount I am making today, and well, I'd just blow it on stupid stuff so this comes as rather a relief."
In second grade we had a Valentine's mailbox made of cardboard, dressed in crepe paper. I remember distinctly this day then, that box of tiny envelopes, our young lady teacher that seemed so old, passing them out to us little shriekers. My Valentine was Kimla Rainey. She wore horned rim glasses, a nerd before the word was ever heard. Just my type, and she loved me, too. By high school though, Kimla was smoking hot and had forgotten our love, and my name.
Now, Valentine's day without a lover can be a torturous affair, can't it. Many a year in my life I've been without (before the internet that is), and so, duly suffered. But worse yet is Valentine's day in a bad marriage. V-day when stuck in the ever-spinning circle of hate is a wicked reminder of how cruel the fates can be. Without a lover is a much more kind situation in my view.
Asia had mentioned something about dressing up for the musical about an opera, and me, well, I have a history as a bad dresser, a condition inherited from my father who practically never failed to look awkward in a suit, even though his work dictated that he wear one daily. Me, I don't even own one, not a real one. This and that bad fitting and looking thrift store suit coat hang in my closet .. but nothing I'd wear in public to anything but a Halloween party.
What got into me, I'm still not certain, but Saturday, day of the show, my love had to run out for work in the morning, so I took the opportunity to stealth down to Macy's and attempt to buy clothes. Let me just say this; it was a struggle, but in only a little over an hours' time I managed to put together a suit coat and slacks ... not actually matching mind you, but close enough that the old lady (my age) clerk couldn't tell. Turns out I wear a "42R" and that size fits just perfectly in the shoulders and sleeves. Also, scored a rather coral solid colored shirt, 16.5 neck and 33 sleeves, a substantial black belt, 2 great ties, and even eight pairs of formal underpants. I actually already had good black leather shoes. Woohoo.
The show really was all that. Really, chills. And I did my very best to comport myself with casual-formal elegance, proud to be with such a woman as was my date, is my lifemate.
Afterwards, no previous plan in mind, we stopped at a trendy Bohemian type bar and restaurant/live music venue in the Crossroads art district east of downtown, called "The Brick" .. it was only 4:30. So cool what that old warehouse district is becoming. I found myself wishing I was young again, involved in that happening renaissance, that scene.
I asked the pretty, young, and impossibly hip server when the bands came on ... she said right around nine o'clock. I told her to keep the drinks coming, that we'd most definitely be staying to the very end. For the shortest moment she believed me I think, that micro-second before the obvious absurdity of that statement hit her like ... a brick. Then, a clever smile and not so involuntary eyeroll as she said "you want dessert don't you" while resisting the impulse to pat me on the head. She was awesome.
No ... we would be creeping it classy I said in apology. YES, to warm brownies and ice cream, NO to staying for the whole evening, drunk, old, and irascible. The brick in the wall next to our table had reminded us to be ...
... classy, not crassy ...