It was late December when I came home wearing a kilt and ceremoniously
threw all my pants in the dumpster, declaring, “I’m never wearing pants
again!” By New Year’s Eve, my wife of ten years decided to leave me.
I had argued against a divorce initially because we got along so great
and I was unprepared to cook for myself. But ten years was a long time
to be married, so we split amicably. We got her an apartment in the
building we were already in so we could share custody of our dog,
Chloe, and she was out within two weeks. We agreed that I would help
her set up her new place and she would make sure I was eating properly.
And we’d get together for regular sex, at least until one of us started
We spent most of a Sunday moving her stuff (or half of our stuff) into
her new apartment. Our neighbor across the hall was in and out all day,
and knew what was going on. She made an effort to talk to both me and
‘Vanessa’ (not her real name, she asked me to change it), being all Sad
and There For Us. Rachael’s cute and she’d always been a little flirty
with me. At one point when Vanessa wasn’t around, Rachael told me that
she was going in for breast reduction surgery in a couple of months. I
said, “Oh, really? I’m thinking of getting penis reduction surgery.
Maybe we should get together for a little ‘before and after’.”
She looked down and I really thought she was gonna lift up my kilt to
check for herself, but she just smiled at me and I said that she should
come over later and have a glass of wine on the porch (she was always
envious of our porch). She said, “Maybe” and went back into her
apartment. I hadn’t been with anybody but Vanessa since we got married,
and I wasn’t necessarily thinking I was gonna get Rachael into bed that
night, but I thought it would be good to have somebody cute to talk to.
Maybe have her over a couple times next week and see what happens.
We moved up all of Vanessa’s stuff and she had the last bag of books.
She set it down and gave me a hug. “I know this is the right thing to
do. We’ll be fine”, she said. “Who knows? Maybe we just need some time
As she was hugging me, I could tell she was crying. She later told me
that she’d spent the night up in her new place going through all our
pictures, listening to the music we both liked, and wondering if this
was all a mistake.
So she’s hugging me, and it was a pretty long hug. Long enough for me
to realize that I was just about to spend my first night alone. Ten
years of marriage; over and done. I didn’t really want to be alone.
I’ve always preferred having a partner; I function better that way. And
now I have to start dating again. Well, I thought, there’s no shortage
of cute girls in this town, that’s for sure. There’s the cutie who
serves me coffee in the morning, of course, and the blonde teller at my
bank, Sara. There was Amy who worked at the marina, and Lisa who worked
at the boat brokerage I sometimes did jobs for. There was Theresa who
lived in Boston. Maybe I could fly her out for a weekend. There was the
waitress at the Hilltop, the chick over at Ken’s Market, and that other
waitress at the Hilltop, the one with the short blonde hair and green
eyes. Goddamn, I’d LOVE to fuck that one. And Rachael. Maybe I WILL try
to do her tonight, I thought.
Vanessa let go of me, gave me a kiss good-bye, grabbed her books, and
she and Chloe were gone. I closed the door, had a beer and wondered
what the hell I was going to do with the rest of my life. Vanessa and I
were very close and we loved each other. Still do. We just wanted
different things out of life and she was having a hard time dealing
with my bipolar disorder. So she left. And here I was, alone.
But it was still early on a Sunday afternoon and I had a couple hours
before I was gonna invite Rachael over for drinks and hopefully some
naked time, so naturally, I went out for a beer.
I decided to go to a place up on Phinney Ridge that I had been to a
week before. I had gone there for several years for my friend Dave’s
annual birthday party, and this was the first one we had had after he
died, a few months earlier. And it was also the first time I’d worn my
new kilt out to a bar. I went without Vanessa, as she was protesting
the kilt. The cute waitress, however, was drawn to it immediately and
couldn’t keep her fingers off of it. Being married, I didn’t really
flirt back, but I relished the positive reinforcement that you need
when you first start wearing a skirt out in public.
I had a beer, but the cute waitress wasn’t there. I wrote a note on the
back of my business card, something to the effect of- ‘Hey! remember
me? I’m the guy in the kilt from last week. I was married then, but now
I’m not! Wanna get together?’. I gave it to the bartender and asked her
to ‘Give it to the girl who was working last Saturday night- dark hair,
cute, I think she said she likes to paint...?’ (She never did call.)
I finished my beer, and I was pretty low. For some reason I thought I’d
run into this waitress and she’d be so happy that I was now single,
she’d invite me back to her place. We would get some red wine, paint
each others naked bodies, and fuck all night. It seemed reasonable
enough, but it wasn’t happening.
I got in the truck and drove back to Queen Anne Hill. Basically to
park, because I was gonna go get smashed at one of the bars within
stumbling distance to home. If I was going to spend the night alone, I
wasn’t gonna do it sober, that was for damn sure.
I went to Hoyt’s and had a few beers and shots of scotch up at the bar.
At some point I saw a group of four college-aged girls playing pool, so
I ordered up a pitcher, got four more glasses and sat down at their
table. Before I could think of something witty to say (I should have
thought of something before I went over), they grabbed their drinks and
moved everything to a new table. Fine. More beer for me.
Sometime after that I felt somebody sit down on the bench next to me
and was relieved to find that it was an attractive woman. “Hi! I’m Maggie!” she said, with this adorable English accent. My spirits rose.
We drank beer and scotch and she seemed to actually care about this
drunk, pathetic guy who’s wife just left him. She told me I didn’t have
to spend the night alone, and came back to my place.
We went to my apartment and drank and smoked her cigarettes and blasted
music and fucked. I don’t remember thinking anything about it. I don’t
recall any feelings of animosity towards Vanessa while I was boning Maggie.
I don’t even think I felt relief that I could still get laid after all
those years of monogamy. I just needed some human contact.
At seven in the morning my alarm went off, and although I’d barely even
closed my eyes and was still kind of drunk, I knew I had to get to work
by eight otherwise my guys would stand around doing nothing, or worse,
do something stupid.
My head was killing me, there was a naked chick next to me who was not
my wife, and I had to take a dump. I drank some water and went and sat
on the toilet. I had my head in my hands, and was trying to get a grasp
on what had happened in the last twenty-four hours when the naked chick
comes bouncing into the bathroom and jumps in the shower. I started to
point out that I was sitting on the toilet over here, and she said,
“Oh, just strike a match, love.” It was the English chick.
So I’m sitting there knowing that something was very wrong, but I
couldn’t quite figure out exactly what it was. My mind was a blur, and
I tried to methodically recreate the events of the last several hours.
It was very difficult and I couldn’t quite get clarity.
Until I hear the unmistakable jingle of Chloe’s collar as she comes
bounding up the stairs outside the apartment and I remember that I’m
taking her for the day so she doesn’t have to spend it in Vanessa’s new
apartment all alone. Seconds later I hear keys opening the front door
and it’s much too late (and quite inconvenient) for me to try and close
the bathroom door.
My now-very-certainly-ex-wife-to-be pauses outside the
bathroom and sees me on the crapper. She notices the shower running and
gives me a puzzled look. Before she has a chance to ask me why the hell
I have the shower going, the curtain swings open and the naked English
chick says, “Hi! I’m Maggie!”
Vanessa turned and left. Which was a very good thing, ‘cause I got the impression that Maggie was all up for a dripping wet conversation with the woman she’d heard so much about the night before.
A couple of weeks later, when Vanessa was talking to me again, she admitted that Maggie had given her the closure that years of therapy might not have provided, and she thanked me.
I first met Sean online.
We were both regular visitors to the Seattle Seahawks website, and posted on
their message boards. He had entered the discussion group in the most obnoxious
way possible. If you’re unfamiliar with message boards, here’s how it works-
when you stumble across a discussion group online, you read what people are
saying, look back to what has already been discussed, and try to get a sense of
the place. And you understand that people have been talking for a while and
have developed relationships.
What you don’t do, is read one or two posts, decide
everybody on the site is a total fucking idiot, and make a long, condescending
argument as to why everybody should shut the hell up and just ask you directly
if they have any questions about the topic at hand. And then, you don’t sign
This was, of course,
exactly what Sean did. We jumped all over him, and he eventually changed his
sign off to Pops and became a favorite of the hundreds of visitors to the site.
What he never lost, god bless him, was his sense of contribution to the future
Super Bowl successes of the Seahawks.
“Don’t you think Paul (Allen, the owner) and Holmgren
(Mike, the coach) read these posts every day? Don’t you think that if I walked
up to Matt (Hasselbeck, the quarterback) and said, ‘Hi, I’m Pops!’, he’d thank
me for my tips on avoiding the pass rush? Dude! They read what we write! You
don’t think Paul Allen, one of the richest men in the world, doesn’t know
everything about me?! What if he thinks
I may become a threat to him someday? You don’t think he’d have me taken out?
Come on!! You don’t get THAT rich by not being paranoid! But I could walk up to
his house right now and his security guards would recognize me, tell Paul Allen
I’m there, and I’m in! That ain’t no shit, Bubba! I was there when they were
practicing on a field behind a school before the Kingdome was even built! He
After several months of talking about the Seahawks,
football, religion, Seattle, boats, etc., Sean asked me where I worked and
showed up one day at my shop.
He amused me immediately. He was a character out of an
Elmore Leonard novel. I had been under the impression that he was a master
machinist, so I was a little surprised at what he drove up in- an old black
stinky noisy dying mini-van with no windows in the back.
It didn’t take long before he was telling me stories
about strong-arming his way into a Mafia family in Miami, smuggling cocaine in
from Columbia, blackmailing a female FBI agent (they’re still fuming about that
one, believe you me, Bub!), and armed bank robbery against a bank that screwed
him out of some money in a house deal. They were all great stories, and the
level of truth didn’t matter to me at all. And he gave me some pot that he grew
in his supposed vast underground grow room.
He reminded me of my grandfather, Papa. Not everybody
liked Papa, but I did. I know he was an obnoxious pain in the ass, but I
thought he was funny. I used to visit him at the nursing home every Sunday with
a contraband Mars Bar and we’d watch a football game or a movie on TV. I’d
wheel him out for a smoke and he’d tell me stories about World War Two and
airplanes and ships.
When Papa was being admitted into the nursing home, he
underwent a mental evaluation and made a big impression on the resident
psychiatrist. This doctor later told my parents that Papa was an amazing man.
“It was an honor to meet him,” he said. “I
love WWII history and to hear his experience on the battlefield was
fascinating! He described the feeling of being there so well, I felt like I was
right next to him, under fire!”
My mother laughed. “He blew his knee out playing football
in high school. They wouldn’t let him in the Army. He stayed here and built
airplane propellers. He just reads a lot.”
I know Sean doesn’t read books (he’s too lazy) but I do
know he watches a lot of movies. And this doesn’t mean I doubt the legitimacy
of what he’s ever told me, because I know that he’s capable of anything.
Besides, I saw his underground grow room. I just never cared if the stories he
told me were true or not.
When Sean was evicted from his house, I let him take up
residence in a back office of my shop. He did a couple of mechanical jobs for
me, but it was immediately apparent why he couldn’t hold a job as a machinist.
He was much too intelligent to work for idiots.
I had little work for him, so his day consisted mostly of
waking up around eleven, hitting me up for a couple bucks (it cost me between
five and $20/day to know him then), going to the food bank, and getting online
on my shop computer to dispense his football wisdom.
And then one night I was having dinner with my ex-wife
and we were talking about a girl I had started seeing. It was soon after we had
broken up, and the divorce was still months away from being finalized, so it
was no surprise that she was a little brutal to Theresa. Vanessa had always had
a disdain to women who have stuffed dolls, and when I mentioned that she was a
Christian, Vanessa said, “I bet she has a stuffed Jesus doll.”
A lightbulb exploded above my head! A stuffed Goddamn
Jesus Doll! Brilliant! What could be better than selling Jesus to the
Christians? There’s millions of them, and there’s been two thousand years of
pre-publicity! Everybody’s heard of Jesus! This would be way easier than
selling those stupid Cabbage Patch dolls or those crappy Beanie Babies!
I remembered Sean telling me that he’d made a full size
shark costume for Halloween once (from the Land Shark skit on Saturday Night
Live), and him telling me that his mother used to make dolls. And he’d be the
perfect frontman for it. A homeless guy who finds Jesus and wants to spread His
love. This was gonna be great!
When Sean came into the shop the next day, I told him
about it. He was all over it. We immediately set to work sewing up some
prototypes. I came up with Super Jesus, complete with a cape and a big JC on
His chest and capable of leaping off His cuddly soft cross in a single bound.
And Sean came up with the model that we would use. His version won mostly
because it looked like a little Charles Manson with freaky blue eyes and a
bunny nose, and I almost peed myself every time I looked at it. Huggy Jesus was
We had somebody make a bunch of dolls for us, and we came
up with a story about how Sean had found Jesus one day when he was at the
lowest point in his life. We decided that he had gotten to the food bank after
they had closed and, dejected, wandered around Ballard in the rain. He came
upon a church and, to his surprise, the door was unlocked. (At this point I
wanted to say that he went in to steal something, but Sean rejected that.) He
walked toward the alter and fell to his knees. He began crying uncontrollably,
and begged God for help. After a couple of minutes, he looked up and saw a
vision of Jesus. Sean said, “Hi”, but Jesus said nothing, for he had no mouth.
I had insisted from the start that Huggy Jesus would be
mute. I did not want Him to come with a message. I knew that some people would
take it serious, and I did not want to send any messages about what Jesus would
have to say to children. In part because I didn’t think we should preach
Christianity, but mostly because I knew that I could not be trusted to do it
right without having a lot of fun with it and ruining any chances of actually
making any money off this.
Next came marketing. A friend of mine did a website, and
I remember being a little surprised at the time that huggyjesus.com was still
available. How could nobody else have thought of this? It was so obvious!
The billboards were great. Five of them around Seattle,
with Huggy Jesus rising out of the clouds, declaring HE IS COMING! Cost me five
thousand dollars, but it was worth it. We got an 800 number, and for every
person who had to have one of these dolls there were two who thought we were
gonna burn in hell for trying to profit off the Lord. It was great! The
messages left on our answering machine were the best. Me and a couple friends
would drink beer and sit around the answering machine laughing our asses off.
Some people get very pissed off when you have a little fun with their savior,
We sold some dolls, got
some press, and went through a few potential investors; all of whom tried to
screw us. We finally got the owner of a pizza franchise (Sean’s new boss; he
was now delivering pizzas part time) to buy the licensing rights to Huggy
Jesus. He’s spent over $70,000, and to this point sold only a handful of dolls.
Five thousand of them sit in a warehouse in Minnesota, despite his feeble and
hapless attempts at marketing an established icon that’s been around for two
whole millennia. He spent twenty thousand trying to spam Christians, but that
didn’t work. He paid $13,000 for a TV commercial (one of the funniest things I
have ever seen), but ran it locally and was put off when nobody in Seattle
bought any. Several Christmas seasons have since passed with no action, and it
all became just a bad joke that was no longer funny.
But at about the time we were negotiating the final
details of this licensing deal, tragedy struck. Sean lost his cell phone. He
was beside himself. Suddenly, the world ground to a halt and nobody could do
anything until he either found his phone or got it replaced. For about two
days, he was unbearable. Things were starting to happen, and the loss of his
phone had rendered him impotent to utilize his superior business sense and
negotiating tactics to finesse the remaining details to his benefit.
Sean had been the face of and fake story behind Huggy
Jesus, and just as we were finalizing the biggest contract of his life, he had
I first heard of this Idea that Saturday morning. He
called me at home from the shop. “Jay! Get down here! I have something for you!
It’s very important! I know you’re probably hung over, so I waited till 7 to
call you. Now get down here!”
He called me several more times, until I finally arrived
at about 10 to find him sitting outside, waiting.
“God damn it! I told you this was important!”
“Shut up and listen. I don’t know why I’m even gonna
offer this to you now, but I like you so I’m gonna let this go. But never do
He felt he could trust me (“Though I don’t know why,
after you made me sit here for three fucking hours when I have shit to do!”)
with his new Idea, but first there had to be some ground rules. “This Idea is
gonna require your full attention. No more of this half-assed shit!”
“Shut up. You’re gonna come work for me...”
“Will you please just shut up and listen?!?! I’m gonna
make you rich, but you’ll have to work for it. You will be my West Coast rep,
and I’ll give you a portion of every unit you place. Are you ready to hear my
Idea, or not?”
“Cell Phone Vending Machines!!”
It was beautiful and so simple! He’d get a couple million
dollars and set up all these vending machines around the world (starting in
Hawaii) so people could have a cell phone for a couple of days until the
battery ran out, when they could either re-up, or drop it back in the machine
for their deposit. AND, he would install surveillance cameras in the machines
and sell all the information and video to the FBI, because so many of his
customers would obviously be using his phones for illegal purposes.
He laid out the Plan in detail. Investment opportunity,
employee benefits and profit sharing, even the huge cylindrical building with
thousands of video monitors and a guy sitting in a chair on the end of a long
arm that he controls to zip around and watch all the people buying phones and
walking past his machines. This man would be wired in to the FBI, of course.
And he told me everything he was going to do with his new found wealth.
“The first thing I’m gonna do is buy the Seahawks. Paul’s
a great owner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m gonna be more active. I’m gonna buy
all the players beach houses in the Bahamas as incentives to play better; maybe
then Springs will hold on to the fucking ball. I’m gonna rearrange the entire
Secondary, bring in some new blood. And Special Teams! The coach, what’s his
name? He’s gotta go.”
“Rodriguez. They fired him. It was in the paper this
He swept his arms out and had a very self-satisfied look,
as if he had orchestrated the entire event without even trying.
He basked in his glory for a moment and then asked me,
“How much do you think it’ll cost to put tinting on the Owners box?” He grabbed
the phone book and looked up window tinters. “This one looks good.”
“When you’re the owner of the Seahawks, I don’t think
you’ll have to shop around for tinting. I think all you’ll have to do is tell
somebody you want it and that’s it.”
“You’re probably right.” He sat down for the first time
and was quiet. He looked at the clock and jumped up. “Shit, I’m late. I have to
go deliver pizzas!”
He was very busy for the
next two weeks, putting his Plan into action. His unsubmitted proposal to the
director of the FBI and a copy of his sent letter to Ted Turner (the obvious
choice for funding such a project) are two of my prized possessions.
He somehow talked a friend of his who owned a restaurant
to give him $20,000. He leveraged his future earnings to Huggy Jesus, which in
retrospect wasn’t such a bad idea; unless you were his restaurant owning friend,
Sean now had twenty grand at his disposal, and he was
gonna do this right! He already had everything written down and drawn up, and
he carried his Plan and schematics with him wherever he went. He told every
person he met (“You can never tell who’s got money just by looking at them!
Ever see a picture of Howard Hughes before he died?”) that he had something in
his briefcase that was gonna make him rich beyond words, and if they wanted in
they better get together as much money as possible, and get it quick. Sell
their house if they had to, just get it together before somebody else does, or
they’re gonna hate themselves for the rest of their life. He couldn’t divulge
what the Idea was, of course, they would just have to trust him.
It was suddenly very important that Sean carry himself
with a new air of dignity. Nobody was going to throw hundreds of thousands of
dollars at him if he looked like just another worker bee. And to watch Sean go
through this total and complete reformation was a fascinating thing to behold.
In addition to dying his hair black and getting a
professional to clean his nails, he invested in a new wardrobe. Namely, an
official Seattle Seahawks football jersey (number 8, with ‘Hasselbeck’ on the
back), a matching nylon windbreaker/pants ensemble, and of course, a golf cap.
A quick look at him will tell any investor with half a brain what Sean’s noble,
yet simple intentions are- to own the Seahawks and craft multi-million dollar
deals over a leisurely eighteen holes.
The next problem to address was his car. A stinky noisy
unreliable old black mini-van with no windows in the back was certainly not
befitting to his new image. About six months previous I traded my shop van for
a BMW 528I that needed a new motor. Sean took the job of swapping out the
motor, but never quite got around to finishing it, so there it sat. I couldn’t
sell it until it was running so I resigned myself to bringing it to somebody
else to finish it up when he came out to the boat I was working on and threw me
“Jay, I’m gonna do you a favor, even though you’ve been a
real dick lately,” he told me in front of a customer. “I’m gonna buy the Beamer
from you for $2,000, but you gotta paint it black with NO RUNS! I want your
best paint job or it’s no deal! I’ll pay for the paint and labor it takes one
of your guys to prep it out, you just spray it.”
He gave me a deadline to have it done (“One week!” “No
way.” “Okay, two weeks!” “Maybe.” “Deal!”) and then spent the next two weeks
looking at the car, no doubt imagining himself driving around in it with its
bitching new paint job (black with gold metallic, of course. “I saw that color
once on a car in Miami. Very classy!”).
It had been less than a week since he got the money, but
he’d been working very hard. Or at least Thinking very hard. It was time for a
Fortunately, it was
the time of year the NFL held it’s Pro Bowl. In Hawaii, no less! He could take
a break AND do some work. He would scout out their international airport
(“Lot’s of Asians go through there. Asians LOVE cellphones!”), get in some golf
(“Bet you a thousand dollars I get my big investor before the ninth hole!”),
and introduce himself to his future employees, the Seattle Seahawks. “Bet you
another thousand me and Paul (Allen) figure out a deal that gives me the Hawks
in trade for a little bit of SellFonz (or whatever he called it). It’s
just gotta be done in a way that he doesn’t lose face.”
When he got back from Hawaii, he didn’t offer too many
details. No, there were no Big Deals struck on the golf course, but he did sit
next to a very attractive black tennis player on the shuttle back to the
airport. He showed me the picture he took of her with his new fancy cell phone,
and it was, indeed, Serena Williams. “Is she any good?”, he asked me.
About a week later, he was
at the boatyard with his new personal assistant, Jessica. This was his third
personal assistant since he got back. The first was his sister, who he had to
fire ‘cause she was a stupid bitch. The second couldn’t keep up with him as he
dictated his thoughts on the golf course. And now, Jessica. She is surprisingly
hot. Whatever he said to her while she was dying his hair a couple weeks
earlier, she obviously bought.
Seven years ago Sean had
acquired an old wooden boat at auction for $5. When he got evicted from his
house he had the boat, which was in his driveway, moved over to the boatyard
where I did most of my work.
“There’s my boat I was telling you about! A ‘59 Chris
Craft Constellation! She’s a classic! I’m living on it to save money. I’m
trying to spend my resources wisely. That’s what you do.”
Jessica looked confused, “Where?”
“Right there!” Sean said, pointing to several different
colored tarps, weather-worn and covering what could have been a boat. Or a bus. Or several cords of firewood. “I’m
restoring it! I’m gonna bring it down to Mexico and charter it out for fishing
trips! I’ve got it all set up! They’re waiting for me down in Xiajuatinau!
The Long Flight
and I had just said goodbye to my father and we sat at a bar in Providence’s TF
Greene airport. A storm was coming in, and my Dad dropped us off early so we
could catch an earlier flight and make the connection in Newark to get back to
had some mediocre lobster bisque and an over-priced beer. There were about six
or eight other people there, among them a cute girl sitting across the bar from
me who I would have guessed to be about eighteen, except that she was drinking
a beer so she was at least twenty one. It was a large beer, the same kind I was
drinking, so maybe she was twenty two. Still, she was too young so I tried to
avoid eye contact.
announced something about my flight being canceled and said everybody had to
get up to the counter and get rescheduled. I stood in line and the cute girl
queued up behind me.
you think we’ll make the 5:30?”, she asked me. She was asking about the
connection in Newark to Seattle. It had to be the Utilikilt that told her I was
going to Seattle and not, say, Cleveland or Kansas City.
you’re a guy in your forties you automatically suss out younger women as soon
as you meet them. If they’re cute and within range, then, of course, you make
every attempt to get them into bed. But if they’re too young, you put them into
a different category. You become a Protector against all those other old
dirtbag predators who are all over the place and want nothing else but to take
advantage of all the pretty young things you can’t have.
had about twenty minutes in line, and then an hour together in the bar before
our plane took off. We hit it off immediately and I could easily picture her as
a younger friend. Just a cool girl who, no matter how cute, I
would never get to see naked.
each had a book to read and we talked about our favorite writers. She said she
liked to write poetry and I told her I could only write non-fiction. And
mentioned the cookbook, of course, and how I was hoping to get it properly
published. She told me she had a friend who was an editor of some sort so I
gave her a copy that I had in my backpack to give to him. But I told her, “It’s
really more of a guy’s book...”, hoping she wouldn’t bother to open it.
seat on the plane to Newark was in the back and I was more in the middle. I did
the Sunday crossword puzzle and wondered what she was reading. The book she
brought or my stories of casual sex and manic depression?
got off the plane first and waited for her. The storm stayed East of New York
and we had almost two hours before our next flight. We found a Mexican
restaurant that claimed to have the Best Guacamole In The Entire United States.
Imagine our luck! Right here in Newark International Airport!
we talked and ate and drank, I started to see her a little differently. Turns
out she was actually thirty-two and an engineer at Boeing. We talked about
religion, relationships, and the hypocrisy of most of the people who go to
Burning Man. She had a smile and a laugh that somehow felt very familiar to me.
We talked like we’d known each other for years.
then she asked me if I was really married for ten years, and if I was still
friends with Sean. So she HAD pulled out my book and read at least the first
two stories. If she stopped there, I felt I might have a chance with her. You
know, I thought of saying, I don’t think I want it to be edited after all. And
it’s really not ready to be read by anybody... But then I figured, fuck it.
Either she’s accepts me or not. No point in postponing the inevitable, if
that’s what it was.
it was time to board for home, we walked over to our gate. We passed an
international flight that made a last call for Charles DeGaulle and she asked,
“Whaddaya say? Wanna switch flights?”
seriously thought about it for a second and realized that if it weren’t for all
the practical reasons like money and the fact that I had a dog that might have
to be quarantined or something, I would have gone. And I felt like, had she
been serious, we would have had a great time in Paris and something to tell our
as we got to gate C-25, she said, “Hey! That’s you. They just paged you.”
didn’t hear it and I wondered how she knew my last name. And then I remembered
the book, which had it right on the front cover. That book which might possibly
guarantee I will never get laid again by any English speaking woman who was not
in full control of her faculties. Ironic to the extreme, since one of the
reasons I wanted to be a writer in the first place was ‘cause I thought chicks
dig writers. And because if you’re a writer it’s almost expected that you’re a
drunk and it’s kind of endearing when you make an ass of yourself and have to
be wheeled back to your boat in a dock cart. If you’ve never been published and
you act like that, you’re just a drunk.
woman at the gate said that since I was traveling with a pet, I shouldn’t be
sitting by the emergency door over the wing. Normally, I would have insisted
that Kenny and I were more than ready to help evacuate the plane if we had to
make a water landing in South Dakota, but since I was traveling with my new
girlfriend, I just asked if we could sit together.
had a row of three seats to ourselves, with Kenny in the middle. We both passed
on the headphones, preferring rather to talk than watch the movies. It was
nice. For a while, anyway.
then she started asking me questions about the book, and I confessed that I
wished I hadn’t given it to her. She looked surprised and asked me why. I told
her I was embarrassed about it and I’d kind of like it if she gave it back to
me. Maybe after we got to know each other better she could read it. Meaning,
but not saying, that she could have it back after we’d slept together. It’s
much easier to be open and honest with somebody once you’ve exchanged bodily
fluids with them.
dismissed that immediately. “I can take it,” she said, almost a little
defensively. We were both quiet for a little while and then she looked at me as
if she was going to say something, and pulled my book out of her bag.
opened it to where she must have left off and started reading the third story,
about the time I fucked a nineteen year old in a hot tub after her uncle had
expressly forbidden me not to. It made me very uncomfortable, but all I could
do was read along with her and hope it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. When she
was done with the story, she put the book on her lap and stared at the back
cover for a few minutes. I almost told her I was thinking about leaving that
story out of the next edition, but realized it would be best if I just kept my
goddam mouth shut from now on.
picked the book up again and read and read and read. Some more crockpot
recipes, and the Twelve Step Program for Christians. I felt like telling her
that the Twelve Step Program wasn’t my idea. It came from Thom, who I worked
with briefly at Utilikilts who suggested I do a Twelve Step Program and make
the last step ‘Go Get Drunk’. And as far as the girl in the hot tub goes, well,
you know, she had her frigging hand on my pecker the whole time her uncle was
in the tub and it was out of respect for him that we waited until everybody
else left and what was I supposed to do anyway? NOT fuck her?!? Be reasonable,
for Christ’s sake!
know, I almost said, it’s pretty easy to judge people just by reading their
book. Why don’t YOU write a goddam book and let ME read it?
of course, I said nothing and pretended to read a book. Next was a story called
‘Look Alive, Leonard’. All of the stuff in this story are the kinds of things
that one would probably not reveal to a potential partner in the first few
weeks, or months even, of a new relationship. And of all the stories in the
cookbook, this was the one I most wanted back.
put my book away and pretended to take a nap. I positioned my head in a way
that allowed my protruding Cro Magnon brow to obscure the direction of my left
eye. Me sleep now. Me no care what you read.
really, of course, I was reading along with her about my almost identical
cousin who killed himself, the deep depression after my buddy died and the full
manic pendulum swing that made my wife leave me. Bar fights, more drunken sex,
and the general instability that would send any sane woman walking quickly and
quietly in the other direction.
finished the story and put the book back in her bag. And before I could think
of a proper explanation, she turned and raised the visor to look out the
was getting the silent treatment! Sweet! Our first fight! I couldn’t wait to
tell the kids!
we landed, I told her my friend Valerie was waiting for me and that I
absolutely insisted that we would give her a ride home, even though she said
she should take a taxi.
You will come with me and meet the female friend who would do an airport run
for me at midnight on a Monday thereby proving that I must be an upstanding
the drive from Sea Tac to Capital Hill, where she lived, we all made small
talk. After we dropped her off, Valerie grilled me about every detail, but I
wasn’t sure what had just happened. Either I ‘met cute’ my second wife, or
learned a valuable lesson about discretion. I had no way of knowing, and
wouldn’t likely know for at least a couple of days.
gave her my business card, which was for custom-made bagpipes that said
‘Putting the “FUN” Back in FUNERAL’ on the back and told her that “This was
nice”, in the offhanded way that implies, ‘Well, I guess I’ll talk to you
never did call me. We exchanged a couple of emails and she even sent me a book
by a woman author called Cowboys Are My Weakness with an inscription that said,
‘Maybe this will help you understand women a little better.’