This is not what you wanted to read. Normally, you wouldn’t. Most would rally, sweep this under the rug. All the same, for whatever reason, tonight it’s the cutting-room floor, the tail end of a month that demanded that you write three stories, collate a manuscript, apply to a festival, ready for a performance and now this, the dregs of a conversation.
If you were to ask me when I was 16 years old if I would never again want an automobile, I would have told you that you were crazy. Every teenage boy wants his own set of wheels. I was no exception. My first automobile was a 1959 Chevy Biscayne. It’s a bit faded now, but that’s me in the photo with my car.
I liked this young woman cutting my hair. Focused at the task at hand, she wasn’t saying a word to me. She kept her eyes squarely on the top of my head and used those scissors like she knew what she was doing. A friend had driven me around Western Hills last week looking for one of those express haircut places on Glenway Avenue.
Most people would have bought a new basketball or a box of golf balls, but I opted for an Airsoft gun. Having a $25 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods did me little good considering I play zero sports. Yet, in hindsight, I probably should have bought a few baseballs. At least they would’ve kept me out of trouble.
The guy has been eyeballing me for weeks at the bus stop in the mornings and has been chatting with me. Small talk at first — you know, the weather, why are the buses always late, that type of thing — but lately, the conversation has been more personal, wanting to know what I do for a living and where I live.
He will never again disarm us with his smile. Never will wrap a burrito or put another pie in the oven. Nor have me smoke pot with a gas mask, then walk me to my apartment because I forgot where I lived. He won’t again dress as a nun on Halloween and be photographed smoking a cigarette and holding a can of MGD with a life-sized cutout of James Dean in the background. Nor will he ever not leave behind a good-looking corpse.
Getting ready for work, I thought back to that morning when my son was born over 25 years ago. I started to feel sentimental, something I try hard in my life to avoid. Not on that morning. I looked at photos when he was first born and when he was little. I looked at pictures when he played baseball in grade school and pictures when he first entered high school. My mind was on the past. Where did the time go?
When I drive through Mount Adams, there’s only one thing that comes to mind. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the bars, restaurants, real estate, shops or where to find parking, but, damn, I know the perch of that parking lot. “Shout it right now. You’re a 10, Hannah Mae McCartney. We’re not leaving until you do. I swear I will get in my car and leave you here if you don’t.” I remember wondering to myself if this scenario could possibly be any more corny.
I’m looking at an apartment at 10th and Madison in Covington. It’s on the first floor and there’s lots of sunlight. Also, in a roundabout way, I know the landlord. He’s holding the place for me. My son and I looked at it again last week and I’m going to try and make this move happen. Thinking of this move to Covington puts in focus all my years living in Cincinnati.
Anymore, our situation is reminiscent of a mid-90’s Britpop song. It’s become the haves against the have-nots again, with the one caveat being many of the have-nots — perhaps as a result of a perpetuation of ignorance via our dilapidated educational system — have been boondoggled into joining the haves at their own expense with hopes, I guess, that the little money they pocket might be transubstantiated into gold at the local casino or, failing that, there’s always that Good ol’ American work ethic to fall back on.
Finally reaching downtown, I got off the bus on Fifth Street and as quickly as I could went to a hotel and used their restroom. This took a few minutes as I was fully paying the price for eating that oatmeal. Before leaving the restroom, I grabbed a hunk of toilet paper to wipe off my sweating face. I looked at my watch. I had 10 minutes to get to the interview.
Two years ago I was renting a shitty, overpriced, one-bedroom apartment with a hole in the ceiling in the Clifton Heights area. Ever since I had moved out of the dorms, I had been weary of the neighborhood. I heard about my friends getting in fights for no reason while walking home and people getting their cars broken into. I never thought people could be so cruel to one another. I was naive.
In the mail and on the Internet, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is all over my ass. This started about six years ago when they learned that I had turned 50. Since then, their communication has been constant. The AARP wants me to be a member.
When it comes to sex and friendship, I think it’s better not to mix the two. It’s not a good idea to start out as friends with someone and then decide you want to sleep with them. If you want sex, date someone or just have sex with someone else for the sake of having sex. Don’t let it get in the way of real friendships.
There is a responsibility and a joy that comes with living in a place that has a modicum of freedom. At a time in which lines are being drawn in the sand and decades-old regimes are being overturned in pursuit of it, we should perhaps show our solidarity by celebrating ours. This attempt begins in an unfortunate manner years ago: One afternoon I awoke to find an unsealed package addressed to myself sitting on the stoop.