By Keith O'Brien
Sandy met Dave and fell in love. She fell in love,
but not the head-over-heels, give up the farm for him love that only
happened to people on failed television shows. She encountered the love
that said, “When we’re old and you smell and have digestive problems,
I won’t mind because it’s you.” That is the only poignant love because
we all get old and that’s when it’s important to have someone. Some
may escape the indignity of offensive odors, but it’s safe to say that
no one escapes the wrath of colon problems. It’s easy to be in love
when we’re young because we’re never more perfect and beautiful then
the day we are born and wondering why everything got so bright all of
a sudden and we are placed in the arms of a woman in bed who looks like
she just woke up after a four-day bender. Take that, original sin.
Sandy met Dave in line in a small supermarket.
In fact, she met him right as she began to think whether or not she
could classify the place as a supermarket. She knew it was wrong to
refer to the place as a market because that connotation implied goats
milling about and haggling for zucchini. If she were to describe the
place to her friends as merely a “market,” they might be deterred because
they did not like haggling. On the other hand, it did not have pre-prepared
meal or store-brand items, so it clearly was not a supermarket. She
settled on calling it a “place where goods were sold to you if you had
the proper amount of money and pants.”
Regardless of its designation, it is the place
where relationships are fated to begin if people paid more attention
to their surrounding environment. Dave first caught her eye when he
asked the cashier if the store had any fresh bread. The cashier gave
a shrug and returned her attention to the customer with seventeen tins
of cat food. What she knew and failed to mention was that the store,
in fact, did sell what they called “fresh bread.” And, they did, in
fact, plan on making it daily and selling that day, but could not due
to the wonderful shop specializing in leavened products two blocks away.
So, the bread that once sat proudly in its plastic abode with steam
escaping the nooks now sat slowly dying as the moisture ascended to
Starch Heaven. The cashier did all of her grain shopping at said bread
shop, but she failed to offer this information. The reason for such
callousness was that she had a boyfriend and did not feel the need to
be nice for no reason. The attractive man looked like he would be up
to the challenge of the bizarre sex acts she preferred, but she was
already attached to a man who did not beat her and took her to moderately-priced
restaurants where the menus did not have a tacky font or mascot. There
usually was a wine list and, though she did not drink wine, made her
feel comfortable in mentioning that her boyfriend took her to that particular
restaurant for their anniversary or birthday or just out of kindness.
Besides, she reasoned that he was probably gay as the monotonous beep
of a bar code hitting laser resounded throughout the store. She did
not have an adequate reason for assuming he was gay, it just made things
a little easier. No need for apologies.
Since the clerk eschewed the opportunity to inform
Dave, Sandy possessed the ability to alter his dining destiny. She also
knew about the bread store down the block, as she was a regular customer.
Most people in the area were regular customers. The cashier shrugged
her shoulders because she had an adequate boyfriend and good men were
hard to find these days. However, more importantly, finding good bread
proved nearly impossible. The man did not pose the question to others
in the line; he merely stood there with his posture a bit crumpled,
dejected at the prospect of a great meal sans the nice Ciabatta. At
the time of the supermarket/market visit, Sandy lay in the middle of
errand mode and even the slightest break could throw the whole routine
off. If she decided to be a Good Samaritan, it wasn’t as simple as just
telling him about the store. She needed to take him to the store herself
due to the misleading storefront and broken door hinge. If she chose
this path, she would fall ten minutes behind in her schedule and have
to cut out the trip to the craft shop. But, then, reality hit her with
its jab, jab, uppercut, roundhouse, jab, jab, jab (bell rings). An attractive
man was asking for her help and she stood there debating the merits
of her new knitting hobby. And, Josie, a likewise despondent single
woman and Sandy’s spinster arch-nemesis, looked like she was willing
to take him there first. No fucking way.
“Actually, there’s a great bread store a couple
blocks down if you don’t mind the walk. I could take you there if you’d
She could not have sounded more desperate if
she was trying to win a prize on said feeling.
The cashier softly whispered, “He’s gay.” Josie
nodded in agreement for the sole purpose that she hoped that their certainty
of his sexual preference would make it so.
Dave agreed without thinking about Sandy’s motivation
– he did not view this friendly gesture as a slick attempt at companionship.
He did not care who brought him to the bread as long as it was there.
Some people are hopeless romantics who do everything based on how close
it will get him/her to Ms. or Mr./Ms. or Mr. Right. Some people just
want a nice French loaf.
He had a cigarette outside while he waited for
Sandy to get her modest collection of produce rung up by the cashier.
It was the cashier’s birthday and she was lost in her attempt to guess
where her boyfriend would take her to eat that night. There was a new
Thai restaurant on Grove Street and, although she did not care for Thai
food, her friends lamented about how difficult it had been to get reservations
since the grand opening. She wondered if he finagled reservations as
a result of careful planning or using a favor he had saved for this
very moment! She could fill up on bread before the dinner and then eat
a small portion, reasoning that she was trying to slim down. He’d love
it. What a perfect evening it would be. “Price check on new potatoes.”
Dave finished his cigarette and began to light
up the next one when Sandy walked out the store sighing all the way.
They exchanged humorous observations on the absent-minded cashier and
the man with the horrible sense of fashion in line. Nothing brings strangers
together better than scorn for their fellow man. Sandy clearly wasn’t
Cosmopolitan material herself, but she dressed conservative enough so
that no one could gain anything from commenting about her style. She
avoided risks with her apparel, but mentioning that served as nothing
but a flippant remark and no one likes flippant people.
Dave, on the other hand, dressed quite formally
for his grocery run, which meant he either just came from an important
job that required pressed suits or he stood before her desperately single.
She would take either.
Today was the one-year anniversary of the latest
installment of Sandy’s single career. We’re not even talking about a
year with nothing more than one-night stands and failed first dates.
We’re talking about a year of society-imposed celibacy; a year plagued
by record battery expenses. She planned her activities for the night
as meticulous as the cashier hoped her boyfriend did (he did not, she
found out later at TGIF’s). She bought ingredients for the amazing meal
she was going to prepare for herself. For some reason, anniversaries
of any kind call for excess. If the people involved resorted to these
excesses during the entire duration of the period responsible for said
celebration, they’d either be broke or in rehab.
She planned on making a gourmet meal for one,
enjoying it while enjoying an engaging dialogue with the chair. She
would follow proper etiquette for such a meal and situation and after
the dishes had been done with care to the stylings of the local soft
rock station (alternatively singing and crying when "After All"
(Peter Cetera and Cher) and "We Belong to the Night" (Pat
Benatar) came on the radio (those songs for no particular reason). After
she surveyed the kitchen to make sure everything was spotless, she would
take out a fresh bottle of tequila, two tubs of ice cream and a porno
movie and attempt to get to the end of them all. If she made it to a
point of intoxicated consciousness, she would eventually wander around
the house to look under the couch and behind the refrigerator for clues
to help her figure out why she was alone when much more putrid, mean
and other negative terms sweated off some stress. She planned this evening
because it mirrored her six-month celebration. Only the fancy dinner
was planned, the rest sort of happened. But now that she was in the
presence of a handsome stranger, she started thinking her evening might
It seemed perfect. She showed him this new place
to buy bread (and since he did not know about it, he must be new in
the area), he sighs and says how hard it has been to find good bread
in the city, she adds 'and good friends,' he agrees, she nods, he invites
her to dinner, she agrees, he cleans up his messy apartment, she unwraps
the ceremonial bra and panties she was saving for such an occasion,
grabs the bottle of tequila and suggests Margaritas, he opens the door
to expose her to the place she would be sleeping on and off until they
moved in together, she smiles, he smiles, his friend smiles, she looks
puzzled, he introduces his boyfriend, she smiles (though we know it’s
not sincere), the door closes.
Before all of that happened, they stood in the
store. Her smitten kitten expression alerted Dave to her affection affliction,
so he dropped hints that should help send her to a disappointing conclusion
prior to the evidence that waited back at his apartment.
She pointed him to the Italian bread section,
brushing her breasts against his arm using perfectly correct form. If
he was not interested, it appears that she just leaned in to tell him
something because the air conditioning was noisy. If he were interested,
he would read into the meaning behind the brush. Sandy could perfect
this move better than most and she was always delighted to give it a
“I’m gay,” Dave said, getting a zero for style.
There is something disturbing about a person who does not trust that
the conversation can be led to whatever subject he or she wants it to.
Lack of patience makes a human lacking.
“I know,” she says, grabbing his arm and interlocking
it with hers.
“Is she a dyke?” he wondered. He was usually
on point with this sort of thing (not Gaydar, just intuition, which
is neither a trait for the straight nor the queers). But, at soon as
he said those two words, he worried that she would wait ten seconds
(so to not seem shady), snap her fingers and remember about some engagement
that was so important she could not get out of it, despite the fact
that it had slipped her mind until a short while after he said he was
gay. Do people think that they’re clever or do they deny the possibility
that others have intelligence? Regardless, she swung her arms around
joyously as if the cares of the world were frightened of her. So, having
found a new friend (it really was tough meeting people in the city),
he swung his around joyously too.
In all honesty, Dave should not feel bad that
things turned out the way they did. The idea for dinner came when she
SHE (not he) mentioned that it was hard to find friends (not bedmates,
lovers or snuggle partners – whatever your personal fancy) in the city.
He agreed and, therefore, invited her to dinner with no vague propositions
or winks. Hell, if you were supposed to have sex with every person you
had dinner with, it would be quite an odd world. What would constitute
“dinner with?” How would a restaurant work? And when you walked out
of the restaurant after paying your bill, would you have to fornicate
with people who had ordered or just sat down without taking a bite yet?
There were too many rules in our society already and besides, even though
Democratics controlled the Senate, I don’t think they would be too keen
to pass something like that after the sex-scandals of the past. Who
would back the bill anyway? That would be career suicide.
The door closed behind her as both men jockeyed
to take her coat, get the blender going and serve up those frothy beverages.
Everyone: gay, straight and in-between love Margaritas. This universal
truth was unfortunately left out of “Everything I Needed To Know I Learned
In Kindergarten” books. She internally laughed that these two men were
dying to get her clothes (jacket) off and imbibe her with alcohol, but
the end result would be a bit different than she was usually accustomed
to. Perhaps a Shirley MacLaine video and grooming tips? They certainly
would not be searching for her underwear amongst nudie magazines and
sports equipment. How she longed for those days.
It took everything within her soul and panty
hose to stop her from concocting a lousy excuse so she go home to salvage
what was left of her night. She gave up the tequila, did not have enough
time to make the dinner and forgot to pick up the ice cream… but porn
The men noticed her discomfort (hard not to when
she did not move from the front door) and Dave’s boyfriend shot Dave
an “I hope you told her – I’m sick of these misguided females” look.
Dave flashed back an “I told you I told her – are we going to start
assuming we’re lying whenever we talk to each other?” look (actually,
there was more to it, but it’s hard to get that all down).
“I’m Ray,” Dave’s boyfriend said (from here on
out, Dave’s boyfriend is Ray).
“How did you know?”
“It’s quite obvious.”
“Are you one of those people who can tell a persons
name by their mannerisms and appearance? I’m fascinated by them.”
“I don’t know. Tell me your name and I’ll guess.”
“I just told you: Ray.”
“No you just told me you were gay.”
“No, I didn’t. I told you I was Ray.”
“I told you I was gay at the bread store today,”
“No you told me you were Dave and I said I knew
because you had already mentioned it to me earlier,” she said somehow
unable to make the connection that was should have become obvious.
“I don’t normally say this to people I’ve just
met, let alone people I have invited to my house, but, do you think
you might need your hearing checked?” Dave said.
“You have to admit, though the fault is all mine,
that Dave, Ray and gay do kind of rhyme,” she said.
“Yeah, I do, but so do emancipation and constipation.
If you were listening to Lincoln’s speech right now, you’d be a bit
“Would you have come if Dave did not have the
annoying habit of talking so soft?” Ray asked.
“Fuck off. She did not understand you either.
Perhaps that’s because you don’t look at people when you talk to them.”
“Oh, stop fighting. I’d probably not be here
if I’d heard that you were gay, not because I disprove. Well, I guess
I disprove because I thought Dave was attractive and I’ve been having
a bit of a dry spell lately, but that’s not important now. What’s important
is that I will not be here if you guys continue to bicker. Dave you
talk too soft and Ray you don’t look at people when you talk to them.
We all have our faults and mine is hitting on gay guys,” Sandy said.
“Has this happened before?” Dave asked, leaving
to answer the ringing phone before waiting for an answer.
“Not really, but when you have not had any action
for a year, you tend to dwell on the situations where something even
slightly romantic occurs.”
“A year? Someone as attractive as you? I’ll tell
you if I were not attached to this old ball and chain, I’d go for you
in a second,” Ray said.
“And don’t forget ‘not gay,’ ” she added.
“I’m bi.” Ray said almost in a whisper as if
he did not want Dave to know. Perhaps Dave did not know.
“How does one become bisexual? How does one turn
the switch the sex switch on and off?”
“It’s nothing different than being in a monogamous
relationship. When you are dating someone, you turn off the switch for
everyone else. Same for me,” his voice had become barely audible, which
made it clear that Dave stood (sometimes kneeling) unaware.
“When you’re not with someone, how do you choose
which sex to go for?”
“It’s the same with everyone. I can’t speak for
the rest of the bi’s, but I shop for the best possible candidate that
will have me – I just have a bigger mall.”
“Dave doesn’t know, does he?”
He began to speak, but Dave stumbled into the
room, attempting to balance three margaritas between his hands and chest.
Ray got up to help him, leaving the answer to float in the air, with
its cousins “will you marry me?” “do I look fat in this?” and “when
was the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series?”
Sandy spent the duration of dinner hypothesizing
the reason for Ray’s covertness. Was there some sort of tension between
the homosexuals and the bisexuals? Did Ray have a shady past that involved
infidelity and multiple partners? Did he want her?
She enjoyed the dinner immensely – due to the
fact that she was not left alone to cry her eyes out. And she loved
her two new friends, even though they were both attractive and only
attracted to each other. It’s one thing to be the third wheel in a heterosexual
relationship; it’s another to be one in a situation where neither would
even consider her (though she was still unsure of Ray’s motives).
The tequila bottle had run dry, which meant two
things. One, they had drank enough to start feeling a bit cheeky. Two,
it was time to get more. Dave volunteered to go out for it, which left
to Ray and Sandy to get back to their original conversation… or so she
thought. Ray started tackling her musical tastes – a surefire uneasy
conversation derailment. Avoiding a conversation can only last minutes,
And, sure enough, they spent the next ten minutes
fumbling, removing clothes and constantly glancing at the door. It’s
not as if they could quickly put their clothes back on before the door
swung open. The romped prove to be disappointing considering the fact
that Ray focused on watching the door and didn’t appreciate Sandy’s
breasts and Sandy paid too much attention to Ray concentrating on the
door to notice her breasts heaving up and down with each pump. Common
sense should have dictated that they give up in the middle to avoid
getting in trouble for an act that wasn’t beneficial to either party.
Despite the sex being pointless, they seemed content in seeing it through.
Ray came with little fanfare and extricated himself from the situation
before she even knew he had finished his business. Once properly attired,
they both sat at the edge of the couch, thinking that Dave’s return
was imminent. Minutes passed, however, and the door stood where it stood.
They resorted to their personal twitches in times of nervous waiting
– leg pumping up and down for the lady; forced coughs for monsieur.
They started edging towards each other, contemplating a second go to
pass the time. Just as he put his hand on her breast, Dave came storming
in the door with bags flying and nonsensical sentences for the masses.
While looking at the two on the couch, he launched into the story that
he must have honed during the last three blocks of his journey home.
Dave could be a raconteur for the evening and the two on the couch would
surely be enthralled with his tale.
A person only has one opportunity to witness
stories this good, so Dave practiced telling it on the way home. Most
people have the tendency to destroy stories by including every minute
detail that occurred. No matter how good a story is, if the listener
realizes that the one regaling doesn’t have the ability to cut out the
menial nonsense, he or she immediately tune out. Like that, the listener
misses out on a great story because he/she tuned out. Like that, the
listener misses out on his boyfriend staring passionately at a woman
with his hand on her breast on the couch you saved up to buy because
he tuned out.
It had been awhile since Ray or Sandy had been
with a member of the opposite sex. Something occurred between the two
of them – causing a huge bond to form. Dave might have been able to
derail the passion, but he remained deep in story-telling mode, slamming
cabinets and waving wooden spoons in their general direction to emphasize
a point. What was the story about? No one knows – he wasn’t making sense.
Dave might have been oblivious to the attraction
between the two because we have the tendency to subconsciously block
out what we don’t want to know. Dave appreciated this considering his
mother did the same thing years ago when he showed signs of homosexuality.
Although he did not paint the picture of a raging queen like the portrayal
of every gay character in movies as a child or Rufus Wainwright, but
he did have little nuances that should have prepared her for the blow
she faced ten years later. He went through the typical pretense of liking
sports – even excelling in soccer. However, manly birthday and Christmas
presents were tossed in a pile while his brother immediately ripped
open his trucks and went off playing until dinner was ready. Anything
that excited his brother depressed him, but they never suspected that
he was different. “Just a moody little shit,” his mother’s repeated
described to tea friends who listened (they all did). One of the tea
brigade mothers also had a gay son who immediately acknowledged and
announced his sexuality (at an age well before the other boy’s discovered
the importance of Playboy. He turned out, as expected, to edit a gay
zine) and exhibited the same behavior traits that Dave’s mother was
describing. Dave’s mother dwelt in denial land (balmy weather 24/7)
at the time and did not notice the similarity. Thusly, Dave’s mother
continued to believe that her son was ungrateful, when, in fact, he
was greatly misunderstood.
The night ended, as nights often do, with hugs
distributed evenly between the three. Again, there was a perfect opportunity
for Dave’s radar to pick up the awkwardness between Ray and Sandy, but
his screen was broken. They agreed to eat on Tuesday, but more importantly,
confirmed that they would eat together.
Sandy left and did the life-is-great-and-funny-and-amazing-and-I’d-add-more-adverbs-if-I-did-not-run-into-that-wall
dance. After checking to make sure her nose wasn’t broken (it might
have been, she’s not a doctor, is it supposed to bend like that?), she
decided to celebrate a bit more calmly. Of course, when she slowed down
her mania, her thought-process sped up. This never proved to be positive.
“How desperate am I that I fall in love with
two men in one day, both gay, both attached… but since I managed to
kiss one, I’m running into walls ecstatically? Could I be more pathetic?”
The answer to her question is “yes, of course
anything is possible.” But, she should have noted that she was already
initially low on the pathetic scale and would have to do great injustice
to her pride to slide further down.
Reflections are important. She found herself
attracted to Ray and did have a great deal of fun with Dave. In a perfect
world, she would be dating Ray and Dave would be their gay friend. However,
the perfect world shuttle will not be completed until 2013 and we can
only use it in hypothetical situations. We’ve already remarked about
her pitiful performance in the dating arena, but she was not a fan of
romantic dramas and did not wish to make her life one. She imagined
she would star in one if salaried, but there would be no reason to waste
60 million dollars on a Hollywood production, when people would opt
to see it for free on “Will and Grace.”
So, she felt her only option was to weasel out
of the pre-arranged Tuesday dinner and go straight to avoid-contact
mode. She had both their numbers programmed into her cell phone, which,
though originally conceived as a device to keep people in touch, is
actually a brilliant instrument for keeping distance. Their numbers
appear; she disappears.
She regretted her decision to show him the way
to the bread shop. Not because it put her in this situation when she
could have continued to thumb through People Magazine, but rather, she
had to make a decision regarding visits to said bakery. She decided,
she would rather have to be cruel and blunt in the store (if she ran
into one of the two) rather than give up her right to fresh cinnamon
and basil bread *despite preconceived notions about said combination,
prognosis: really, really good*.
Of course, this was all moot because we all found
out together that two people paid her a visit the next day. Ray and
Dave? Gasp! Ray’s motivation spoke for itself, but Dave actually suggested
the drop-by. Given some time to reflect, Dave (aided by his mother’s
phone call, during which, the two talked about ignoring signs) realized
the unavoidable attraction between the two. Dave wanted to test Ray’s
loyalty because he had an admirer named Darrell at his PR firm who made
an excellent crab bisque and was reputed to be the best lover in town.
Against his better judgment, Dave won a Golden Globe for his role as
the sentimental type who could not leave his current boyfriend unless
he became a victim of a nasty affair. And, when someone has the reputation
that his co-worker did, someone was bound to snatch him up. So, he needed
to set up the trap.
Ray and Dave show up with brown-bagged vodka.
Dave acts surprised when vodka bottle is nearly
Insists he goes to purchase another one.
Tape recorder sinks into couch cushion.
Now, there was no possibility of anything going
wrong with the tape recorder. With the amount of time and effort he
put into the recorder and its capabilities, he should be able to freelance
for the CIA. The truth would come out.
“What are you guys doing here?
“We’re here to sleep with you,” Dave said, not
waiting to set the bait.
“My bed’s only big enough for two.”
“Oh, well, Ray won’t mind – he has to work tomorrow.”
They all laughed nervously as the gentlemen entered
the apartment. Sandy put on some DiFranco and the play was set in motion.
“Fuck,” Dave said,
“What Dave?” Ray said.
“I got the wrong bottle,” Dave said.
“No matter, as long as there’s alcohol in it,”
“See, that’s the problem – there’s only a drop
in it,” Dave said.
“How could you not notice the lightness of the
bottle?” Ray said, either angry or suspicious
“Look, I’m not going to argue about this with
you. I’ll go get another bottle and we’ll forget your mistake.”
Dave he was becoming more enamored with the idea
of a new love conquest with the co-worker that he began pushing Ray
towards the femme fatale.
Dave’s words shocked Ray because he, in fact,
told Dave to check the bottle before they left. They had been drinking
screwdrivers quite frequently during the month (they had a game where
they went through a bartender’s black book, one of them putting his
finger down randomly on an entry and dubbing that concoction “drink
of the month.” and Ray was pretty sure that they needed a new bottle.
Ray was right and Dave was off before he could retort.
Two separated lovers: finally rejoined for one
last taste of bliss before the evil man returned to separate them forever.
Their bodies became intertwined as he pulled her closer, their lips
meeting in the middle of their embrace. Passionate kisses ensued, as
he tasted her entire body again. He drank her up completely like a fine
cup of wine, pausing ever so slightly to appreciate the taste of her
skin. Lust made the distance seemingly unbearable and they knew they
had no time to spare - the enemy of their love would be returning any
minute to end their union.
They dug their toes in the carpet nervously as
if they were former junkies with an acid-trip flashback involving ubiquitous
smoldering cigarettes. They searched for words to escape the uncomfortable
"Would you like some wine?" she asked.
"Yes. Where is your bathroom?" he asked.
"Over there pointing in the direction of
She went into the kitchen and dug through “her
ladles and more” drawer for a corkscrew. She already had a few bottles
uncorked, but she tried to make the time she needed to spend alone with
Ray as scant as possible.
"Red or white?" she yelled, attempting
to penetrate the walls separating the two.
"Red or white," he said.
That conversation, though brief, meaningless
and incredibly annoying, made Ray understand and appreciate the situation.
We already knew that Sandy made her decision. If you forget, we'll recap.
Reflections are important.
She found herself attracted to Ray and did have a great deal of fun
with Dave. In a perfect world, she would be dating Ray and Dave would
be their gay friend. However, the perfect world shuttle will not be
completed until 2013 and we can only use it in hypothetical situations.
We’ve already remarked about her pitiful performance in the dating arena,
but she was not a fan of romantic dramas and did not wish to make her
Ray, on the other hand, did not enter her apartment
Whenever Dave asked Ray what type of wine he
wanted (Red or White), he responded "Red or White," which
obviously meant that he would be satisfied with either of the two. Whenever
that happened, they usually burst into raucous laughter and settled
into a "You're kooky, but I think I'll keep you around" kiss.
Ray and his endless parade of former boyfriends
never shared a moment like that. They were more interested in his manhood
and how quickly they could handle it. While that settled for love in
our reckless abandon youth, it is merely a shallow, inconsequential
offering later. Love is not about pumping and thumping, it is about
the whole picture. Whoever wrote the traditional vows of marriage had
it all figured out. "In sickness and in health." We cannot
determine love at an early age, we just have to guess our best and hope
that, when we're older, the one who we picked will kiss us on the forehead
when we are having gas pains.
So, Ray wanted to stick with Dave because he
was familiar. Normally, that line of reasoning is scoffed at because
it makes it seem like Ray is just doing what's easiest. But, he figured,
Dave already started to unmask his faults (less than pinpoint accuracy
with the toilet bowl, unkempt toenails, horrible movie rental choices)
and still embraced him with embraces. This is love and though a different
part of him tingled when he kissed Sandy, Dave had control of the other
Dave, however, was starting to lease Ray’s places
on his body to the co-worker. He called Darrel and set up a coffee
date on a TBA date. He felt he understood human nature enough to know
that, when two people with an attraction towards each other are left
alone, sparks will fly.
While he took his time getting home, Sandy and
Ray were sitting on the couch (as far away as couchingly possible) while
staring at the television, which was not on. It was clear that Dave
and Sandy would make the better pair of friends, so conversation was
hampered on many fronts.
“So, I never found out what you do.”
“I’m an art critic,” he said dryly, trying to
restrict any follow up questions about his profession. Not gonna happen.
“So, what do you think about my modest collection,”
she asked, pointing to the three construction paper drawings of a beach
done by a cousin.
“Fraught with sand-froid and political importance.”
He hated being an art critic because no one he
encountered outside of work knew another art critic, so he they called
upon him to be their personal art guru at any and all social gatherings
he attended. People, who probably had no interest in their collections
prior to his occupation announcement, suddenly found themselves in need
of am estimation. Everyone always assumes that people in the artistic
world are so enthused about their job that they wait for someone desperately
for someone to for their esteemed opinion. Did Kurt Cobain seem happy
all the time? He worked forty hours a week and did not want to put some
free overtime in. It would be quasi-upsetting if someone asked him to
do him/her a favor by discussing art because “he/she really wanted to
get some culture in his/her life.” This would not be as distressing
if the person involved apologized for making him put on his work overalls
when he just wanted to stroll through martini-land. Individuals who
thought that they were doing him a favor by letting him go on about
paintings whenever he wanted infuriated him. A doctor does not dance
in the aisles when a page for an emergency nose surgery takes them away
from a “Lethal Weapon” movie. Carpenters are not invited to look at
shingles when they go to get-togethers. Ray promised himself that he
would be extremely cold to whoever had the misfortune of bringing up
his work outside of business hours. He decided to answer questions about
art as if he were a plumber.
“Whom is your favorite artist?”
“PVC piping.” It made sense because not many
people expect a plumber to love what he does. Ray knew this because
he grew up surrounded by generations of craftsmen who urged their kin
to do anything other than the work they did. Although, there was a deep
pleasure in creating things (even those who created shit-disappearing
receptacles) and an almost religious devotion to working with ones hands,
it is a toilsome job and, to them, not the ideal occupation. To them,
a cold beer, pat on their wives’ ass and new releases on HBO was job
amnesia and they did not want to regain their memory until the following
Monday. He secretly dreamed of a career such as this and even went to
the lengths of purchasing a few DIY books.
His blue-collar background made his current occupation
seem alien. Nothing from his childhood would have pointed him in the
direction he found himself. He did not listen to NPR with his family.
He did not excel at finger painting fame at age four. There were no
coffee table books (nor coffee table) on Van Gogh (nor coffee). He contracted
art criticism like a disease and, recently, he wished he contracted
You cut through the man who was hired to cut
through the tension with a knife because he has his back turned to you.
Go on and do it. He was never nice to you in chorus class.
Sandy could have apologized for bringing up his
work when his tone of voice clearly implied that he was not willing
to discuss it. She didn’t. Ray could have explained that he found his
work a bit annoying recently and wanted to leave all memory of it at
the gallery. He didn’t.
Both cursed the god of time for being so slow.
The god in charge of god-human liaisons was on his lunch break and could
not inform them that the god of time was sick today.
Unaware of the temperature at the house, Dave
rocked to “I Believe…” by Stevie Wonder in his truck. A gay man was
driving a truck? Wow. Yeah. What are there frilly curtain in the bed?
He pulled into the driveway and allowed a few
more seconds of passion to stir in the room. In addition to not making
eye contact during conversation, Ray was also guilty of taking incredibly
too long to remove his wardrobe before sex. Dave wanted to be sure because
Ray was also well adept at creating plausible solutions for any guilty
He snuck into the house and could not hide his
dismay in finding the two of them sitting on the couch – Ray: LA, Sandy:
“Sorry I took so long.”
“Yeah you did.”
Even more dismaying was Ray’s location on the
couch was directly on top of the recorder. Dave was not taking any chances,
so he immediately instructed Ray and Sandy to dance.
“But I don’t have any danceable music in here,”
Sandy said because it would be odd if Ray said it considering that it
was not his house.
“No matter – I’ll provide the music. Dum Dum
Dum Da Da Da Da Da Dum Dum Dum….”
Dave, insisting on making everything seem normal,
engaged Ray in speculation for next months drink.
“I hope it will have Brandy in it,” Dave said.
“I hope you will be able to keep quiet for more
than thirty-seconds,” Ray countered.
Ray, desperate to get out of there and, perhaps
a bit interested in expressing his renewed faith in their union, told
Dave that he received a phone call from his mother asking if he could
come over and put in the air conditioner. Dave, desperate to investigate
the tape, went into the kitchen to offer their apologies for leaving
so quickly. He ignored a) that Ray did not have a cellular phone, b)
that his mother lived hours away in Pittsburgh and, c) that it was October.
Ray ignored the ignorance.
After the short ride home, Dave went into his
room to check the tape while Ray sat in the lounge, making no attempts
to explain his explanation for the premature departure. Ray let himself
get caught up in the happiness of the situation. For the first time
in his life, he was truly, madly in love and did not ruin his one chance
for eternal love with a random woman. He could sit back contently in
silence before Dave reentered the room to discuss what they should have
for dinner for that night and, ultimately, forever. The wonderful silence
of love echoed in his head. Wait, silence doesn’t have an echo. But
the sound coming from Dave’s room certainly did.
So, I never found out what
It always seems like, when this sort of thing
happens in the movies, the spied upon immediately knows the reason for
said transgression and confronts the intruder for violating his privacy.
Ray’s first reaction, which does not befit his intelligence at all,
was 1) “Who is Dave talking to?” 2) “Why does he sound like me?”
Upon entering the room, Ray looked around curiously,
which made Dave all the more positive that Ray knew exactly what he
had done. Dave loved movies and remembered how they all ended with the
trust being broken and mended only by pure honesty. So he spoke the
The dialogue really isn’t necessary because we
all know what Dave will say because we know what Dave did. We know what
Ray will be say because he is a) most importantly, outraged that his
partner did not trust him b) guilt-ridden because he did cheat on him.
A three-hour conversation ensues with breaks for cigarettes and reflection,
but nothing has been solved. Nothing ever gets solved. This one, unfortunately,
would not make past the Hollywood cutting floor in its current incarnation.
Ray left the house, returning a week later to
pack up his belongings at a time that was convenient for him when he
was sure that Dave would not be there. He moved to another state without
leaving a forwarding address to either Dave or Sandy, so they did not
hear that he died a month later. It was just a freak accident that happened
to happen to one of the story’s central characters. While any death
is a sad occasion, he started a new relationship at the time of his
death and felt genuinely happy. Dave went on to lead a normal life,
except for being plagued by his one quirk. Every now and then, he would
retire to his room to play back the tape one more time to find evidence
that Ray actually did cheat on him. Not that he wanted Ray back (or
could). Rather, he was just one of those egotistical pricks that always
had to be right. Sandy and Dave lost touch eventually, but he thought
that she lived in Arizona.
If it were possible to ask all three if the situation
was worth it, they would all unanimously agree “yes.” For as hard as
it is to find a good boyfriend, heterosexual man or tape recorder, it
is a thousand times harder to find a good loaf of bread.
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