I feel good today. I'm rested. Fresh. My clothes are clean. I mean just dried. People have left me alone. Even my excretions have been crisp and lightening with minimal wiping. Yes, sir, I'm sitting a couple inches taller. It's like that gordian knot at the base of my neck done slipped loose and lassoed some other steer.
This is nice, Snotty, she says. It's just that everything's a catastrophe with you. You have so many issues. What do you like?
Like? I like a lot of things, I say. I like movies, you see, but I hate sitting through a 25-minute preamble of advertisements.
Right about now the guy behind me tuts his stuff for his snow-booted beauty, and she giggles out a soggy Malteaser. She likes the new Mini ads. It would be wicked to have one. And my voice is like an Orange mobile phone I forgot to turn off at the door. The Inuit princess can't fathom that this projected corporate vomit is just as offensive to me as ol' Snotty's hems and stammers are to her wounded hipster psyche. Oh Jesus, now I got an issue. Go tell it on the mountain, sister. Or better yet, Parliament Hill, where in winter a low-lying cloud might sneeze a light dust of snow and your ridiculous boots might begin to make a modicum of sense.
I'm standing now. And here come those crazy Swedes in Part II of their Mini Adventure.
Movies are an escape, I say. We're not meant to see this. Oops! This time the jogger has a bigger fish and slaps those mischievous Swedes first. Doesn't this make you feel like crap, I say? Omigod, you can see that Swede's bum! But I have a point! I have a point!
The guy behind me no longer tuts. He looks away nervously like I just asked him for money or the time.
Now Patrick Swayze has an idea for a film. He pitches it to the Orange brass. Asses line up like Normandy invaders on the edges of seats. They are ruining your experience, I say. She pulls at my sleeve. They are insulting you, I say. She tugs. The actor opens his gob. Here comes that pop reference. They change the premise of his film to include mobile phones. They always change the premise to include mobile phones.
She wants to leave, and I get my coat and hers. She hurries to the lobby while I meld the teeth on various zippers and turn on my phone. I could try for another excretion, but I walk right past that toilet with the gangway with the door that opens inward and the other door that opens outward, those doors that clash and trap and crush you like those sewer walls in the first Star Wars, god they make me so fuckin' mad.
I don't say I'm sorry. I'm not wrong. She chose to leave, not me.
She can choose the bar, I say. Anywhere.
Now I regret the inch given.
We find a place called Sodium Chloride, or something like it. They serve olives. Not chips, not crisps, not a peanut in the fuckin' house. It's lit like a seance, and there are snowboots under every table. I sigh for my pint and her wine.
We don't do pints.
They don't do pints. Only halves. A spit's worth of corporate lager in glasses too small for a urine sample. Why not insult me further and serve me Stella in a pointy, paper sno-cone cup they give children at the dentist. As long as we're being trendy. I mean, no one does that!
I look over at her. In the early 1900s a prominent New England physician was hanged because he went nuts and killed a portion of people, believing his eyes could capture the moment a person's soul leaves the body. They were already dying, was his rationale. They were of no social import. At his trial our doctor spread out his cache of photos, one after the other, gaping mouth and bare torso. It didn't take the jury long.
My evening could go either way at this moment. I can let this one go. I can swallow my pride, and maybe she'll talk to me again once she finishes her wine and gets that rush of head running to her blood. I could do this, and this is why I hate relationships of any kind. Her face spasms and quivers between disenchantment and relief. Our evening could go either way.
On the bus home I look at her face in the window. She's sitting two rows in front of me. I try to pinpoint the moment her patience escapes her body, but it probably fled while I was laughing at that barmaid. So it goes. A fat man splays his legs next to me. I adjust and hang off my seat. I slouch. I have no height. The way I'm sitting you will never see me.