Standing at the bus stop at Dixie Highway and Commonwealth in Erlanger to get back to Cincinnati was becoming torturous. It was mid-afternoon, hot as hell and the bus was late. When it finally arrived, it was crowded. In fact, standing room only. When I put my change in the slot, the bus driver noticed my walking cane.
Dearest Cincinnati, After nearly eight years, I'm afraid our relationship just isn't working out. I'm sorry, it's not you. It's me. I like you and all. You're fun, unique and quirky. How can I put this? I just don’t love you. I think I should start seeing other cities. You really deserve better — someone who's charmed by your quirks and appreciates the real you.
There's this gas station at the corner of Werk Road and Glenmore Avenue I walk up to sometimes to purchase my cigarettes. I told the girl behind the counter what brand I wanted, and she pointed to the rack behind her. "This one?" she asked. "No," I said. "Go to your left." She went to her right instead. "No, to your left, the other way."
I shuffled the deck, and the psychic told me to ask two questions. "Will boyfriend and I end up together?" I asked. She looked at the cards. "Does his name start with an S?" "No." "An M?" "J," I offered to save time. She asked if he had green eyes. He didn't.
Outside of the words I'd prepared, I remember very little of what I said on stage at York Street Cafe in Newport last month. I do remember, after realizing I was totally screwed, saying, "I'm totally screwed," but that's about it. I thought I more or less knew what I was getting into that night. I thought I was prepared. I can be pretty stupid at times.
When the sound of "The Chicken Dance" being played on mechanical bells struck our ears, all the boys dropped their tools and ran outside to stop the truck and get an afternoon treat. It was the Gold Star Chilimobile coming down the street. So rare is the sight of a delivery truck, we barely know how to react to one.
I have a few stories I'd like to tell about some of these friends of mine. There's the man in the minivan, the treasure seeker, the bartender, the closeted lesbian, the chronic dater, the asshole and even an volunteer for Stop AIDS. Despite their quirks, I think I'll keep this bunch.
"I mean, I have to buy all my gas at BP now." "What?" I said. "Yeah, it's costing them a fortune to clean that mess up," Andrea says. "I gotta do my part to help them out." My mouth is hanging open now, but the good news is that our food has finally arrived.
I met Kate at a poetry slam at Casa Cantina in Athens, when we were undergraduates at Ohio University. We were the kind of people you’d find at a poetry slam in an Athens hippie co-op bar. We became instant friends as we breathlessly confessed every book we both loved, every CD we both owned, every crunchy-crafty hobby we shared.
My daughter had a birthday last week and my son last month. With both firmly now in their twenties and lives of their own, I don't see them together that much anymore. That's why I like it when those birthdays roll around. It means we'll do dinner somewhere. It means we'll be together.
I've never considered myself much of a pack rat. Furniture, clothes, dishes, books — I've never had any trouble selling, throwing out or giving away things I don't want or no longer need. They're just material processions. Most of it isn’t important to me. There are some exceptions, however. If you would walk through my living space, you'd probably notice a few things that wouldn’t appear to have much material value at all. Some would call it just stuff that needs to be tossed out, but it's stuff I can't bring myself to part with.
A few weeks ago I struck out on a random road trip, heading for quiet roads and woods. After a few miles, I started thinking about James, a gentle man, a lanky cat who rode with me out West in 1996. Long story short, a friend mentioned that James needed a ride to California. Without even knowing him, I drove to Ithaca, N.Y., to pick him up. Strange, maybe, but I was fresh out of college and ready to experience anything shocking.
Last week I wrote about how The Most Miserable Man in Cincinnati has moved from downtown to my neck of the woods in Westwood. After our bus ride together, it got me thinking it’s time to move. Bus rides with Lee are something I don’t want to make a habit of. Thinking about moving got me thinking of Clifton.
I’m not in the mood to deal with Lee. I haven’t seen him in almost a year. He lives in an apartment building downtown close to the CityBeat offices. I and other CityBeaters who smoke are more or less forced to listen to his ignorant, often racist remarks as we puff on our cigarettes outside on the sidewalk. I’ve often referred to him as “The most miserable man in Cincinnati.”
“Chicken! Fingers!” Jen exclaims loudly, her finger jabbing the menu, as she glares up at our server. This is America, we speak American? No, this is Moscow, 1998. We speak … whatever the hell we want, apparently. We’re in the center of the city in a café so accommodating that each menu item is printed in Russian, German and English.