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Too easy to be forgotten (hey hey)



900 days without a drink today. It's 6:30. I've been up for about an hour. I'm tired. I shouldn't be, because I went to bed early. Had a date with a comely thirty-two-year-old. It was horrible. I didn't last long. Vapid, insufferable, beyond rude, all about money--it's amazing how shallow people can reveal themselves as in like thirty seconds--and from whose company I extricated myself quickly.


She was angry that I didn't think present day Elton John was a musical master. She had seen him the night before. "So you have all of his records, then?" "No, I don't have any of them, but my parents liked him, and anyone who says anything negative about someone else has problems with themselves." Oh. So much for critical thinking. You get that with people now, right? They are so wildly insecure about what they do not know, all of the areas they have no knowledge in, that what they basically seek to do is pad the walls of life, child-proof the room, so that they never can feel a hard surface. They use rosy pink padding, by which I mean, they don't call this what I'm calling this, they turn the need for that padding into a virtue, a symbol of tolerance. Which is a lie. You just know nothing and you want that to be a good thing, not something to be embarrassed by or have to work on or, God forbid, actually learn something. Can't have that. She didn't really know what I did--she was busy talking about herself, which would have been one thing if you were like Mozart or Stendahl--not that they'd do this--another if you were this perpetual surface dweller--and talking to the bartender about all of the other times she'd been at this bar.


Which is several times a week. The bartender wanted to fuck her bad. He made no bones about this. What a tool he was. And they'd talk for five minutes. He'd come over and start referencing some conversation--one of which was about Skittles--they had had the week before, and how he had experimented with making drinks out of Skittles at home, and the purple one was the worst--and it was like, "Shut up you fucking div. Are you fucking serious? Grow the motherfuck up." Largely empty bar. He does over and gets himself a thimble of the cider she was drinking, so that they could do the "cheers" thing. Meanwhile, she couldn't work her mailbox, had lost her key while traveling in Europe--of course--and had returned and broken the mailbox, so she was also fielding mailbox-related phone calls, which involved her saying "I'm not paying for that" a lot.


Meanwhile, while this is happening, I texted my sister and said I was in the middle of a horrible date with a rude, not-very-bright person, and it'd have to wait until I called my nephew Charlie to wish him a happy fifth birthday. Kara offered to phone, citing an emergency, but at that point I just said, nah, fuck it, I'll just leave, which I did by thanking this person for coming out--always very polite when I depart--and I could not have hit the pavement fast enough. I get that part of the reason she was going on about herself so much was that she was nervous. Ever since I was five, I've intimidated people. I talk how I write, which you know if you listen to the radio clips. And my mind goes very fast. But it's much easier when people just say this upfront, as some do, to their credit, and then that's out of the way and they see I'm nice and we can settle in. I understand where they are coming from. People like this woman also are working so hard on what they're going to say next, trying to find something clever, that they're not hearing anything going on. They're not present. I'm very disarming. People feel denuded around me. Some will share things that they do not share with anyone else, and quickly. They'll express surprise over this, even embarrassment, but I am not surprised.


(Sidenote: She was friends with someone in my building, and this is not one of my favorite people. One morning, before dawn, I took some recyclables downstairs. I didn't want to throw them in the bin the back, because it was very early and I thought it'd be loud and didn't wish to wake anyone up. So I set them in the back hall, thinking I'd be back in a bit to tend to this, and went off on my morning run. Well, I forgot about them for the rest of the day, and this guy downstairs--this woman's friend--decides to send an email to everyone in the building about my transgression. That's how you handle that? Really? He's large, his wife is large, their dog is large, and they all look like each other, and their thing when they enter the building is to try to slam their door as loudly as possible, in an apparent attempt to get the building to fall down. Not a fan of this dude.)


When she asked if I liked going to concerts--and I tend not to like people who cite the general attending of concerts as a prime interest, as if anyone bashing away in front of your person makes for a great old time, just because there's an instrument in the room--after the Elton John thing, I said, well, not in and of itself, as an ends, but yes, I see a bunch of performers, I've seen four since Halloween. She didn't ask who these people were. She wasn't the kind of person who could ask about another person. And I didn't offer. I was at Symphony Hall for the BSO's performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations--pretty sure we weren't going to have an exciting back and forth on that--and also at the venue on Halloween for the Pops' live accompaniment to Psycho. Now, I'm not normally a Pops kind of guy, but for something like this, sure. And then there were two Lucinda Williams shows--in which she performed all of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road--at the Paradise. I'm pretty sure she would not have known who Lucinda Williams was and also might not have known Psycho. Her texts were full of "Lols." I normally have a hard rule--I cannot be around the "Lol" people. I just can't do it. It's what people put when they try to be funny, failed of course, and wish you to know their intentions. Maybe just be funny? No? No one can actually be funny? And if you're using it to let me know that I've been funny, gee, no shit, like I don't know that.


She was also bothered by the fact that I walk everywhere. This is a bad thing. Almost like it's something that makes me Hobo Joe. I work in my head, right? I have a lot of stress, right? So you know how I get to the MFA or to the Brattle? I walk. That helps with my stress, gives me good health, and I get work done. She was all about the Uber. Upon learning that I don't have this service, she asked if I was curious about how Uber worked. If I ever wondered about it. Not if I'm curious as to what Dickens was thinking when he wrote A Christmas Carol, or if I'm curious how Van Gogh fought to keep going, or if I'm curious how a star dies and if moons do too, or if Babe Ruth knew how historically great he was, or if Billie Holiday wished she made more music with Lester Young, or if the Red Sox can repeat. But if I'm curious about how Uber works. Bloody hell. I told her that I understood the Uber concept. (Can you not? Is there someone out there who needs to be walked through it multiple times? Actually, that person would probably be rather interesting.)


I've been on three dates now in like three years, so you have to be smarter than most for me to bother going out, and this is someone who qualified for that. This is what we're dealing with as society continues its race to the bottom. So much money talk from this woman. Lots of make up as well. Which is fine, but it's not something I like. She lived near a supermarket--actually, she lived at Downtown Crossing, which basically no one does, and I thought no one did--and she said she couldn't drink coffee without milk, and would pop in in the morning in her pajamas and sneakers sometimes, and would be mortified if anyone saw her whom she knew. She wasn't just saying this. There were stress lines around her eyes as she did so.


And you know what? You know who'd be for me? It'd be some woman I ran into somewhere early in the morning--the store, the Starbucks--in pajamas and sneakers, who caught me looking at her, who smiled, made a joke, who looked all the more beautiful because of how comfortable she was with herself, and who asked me on our first date, when the very idea of clocks and time had disappeared, what concerts I had gone to recently, and when I said Lucinda Williams, she would say, "can you play something by her, I don't know her." Boom. That's who I'm looking for. I hope you're out there. And if you are capable of being part of history, too, that'd be great.