Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Party Girl Who Hid My Shoe

I am not so deceitful in my serious habits. It was a brown September day, beforehand, and the night’s speckled frown had been sizing up the situation for quite a while. The party was moseying on to the next level. I had cauliflower in my teeth, and so had retreated to the bathroom in search for floss. With the lights off it seemed cooler, and more livable to be doing what I was doing. There were no ants on hand to witness the events. Perhaps I was a cricket anyway, for the time. It seemed likely.

Causes? They were out of my realm. I couldn’t influence a thing. My famous socks were showing a bit too much. I wanted slow trickling grounders to third and merchant-marine wholesalers on my doorstep. What I was getting was a room filled with floating gesticulations of un-showered weatherman. What I was getting was retaliation’s boom mic crushed to the carpet. A few horrible grinding thoughts escaped into the fuzzy blankness of the TV screen. I was suddenly okay.

“You’re nothing more than somebody else’s dream.”

Right near being good at nothing, in a role-playing disgust, I was in the midst of scrambling around for a cigarette. I thought, ‘Suddenly this is all not so smart.’ The mirror agreed with me. I said to it, “Concur, ass. Just concur already.” 

“Once is as close to never as you’ll ever get.”

And then there she was: 23 chromosomes and a bottle of cheap perfume. She marched decorously through the sludge of me. Swerved and somehow inclined to be alive with moss-and-gin breath. I took some steps, but they were just of the fungo sort. Sleepy legs. Slipper eyes. I couldn’t fathom why a doorknob might exist. I forgot doors could close. In the slap dancing I realized I couldn’t listen to music at all. I could be prepared and wink out in a fit of panic anyway. Shinier and funnier things were happening. I stowed a bit of regret in my armpit and ambled away.     

Somebody was giving a speech to some folks squashed together on the couch. “He’d stopped a few with his hard heart and all. It was the running from whatever it was he’d been artfully dodging that got him into trouble. There was a cat. There was a man with his feet up. Nobody moved when the cops splashed in like blue ruin and took control of the situation.”

To get away I smiled my way through and out to the street, a place where I knew a bus would be coming along soon.

While I was waiting for the bus I looked up and saw a plane scratch some smoke into the pale sky. The limits of being outside didn’t seem like much. ‘Surmountable,’ I thought. ‘This is just a hobby. Really. Really. Really. This is just of use, or it is chemical-- on the outside, that is.’ A Sikh man was smoking a cigar, toeing the curb slyly a few yards away. This Sikh man was holding a wilted daffodil in his left hand. It was just dangling there from his hand. There was no reason to smile, at him or anything.

I don’t want to die like Sherwood Anderson, choking on a toothpick after a party; or have my dead body transported in a rail car marked “Fresh Oysters” like Anton Chekhov. These were the things I was contemplating.    

“Have a drink with your executioner. You know, a little St. John’s Blessing for you. You are a member of the Drink Yourself To Sleep Club, correct? Well, there you stop, and there you take it. Just not so much that it keeps you up, okay?”

“The objective of this correlation with madness is two-timing what you know with what you won’t. Me? I keep death close by. Not like any enemy, mind you. But more like a half-eaten piece of toast, or the crumbs from a jelly donut smashed into the carpet. I know its odor, its casual graces by heart. I can tell its creep and sudden shiver. I listen to it rattle in the drainpipes, or when the refrigerator squeals. Night is run by death’s machines. I hold it close and hum.”

It was apparent to me that speaking out loud was no longer an option. There were so many stops that weren’t mine, and the bothersome aspects of sitting either facing a stranger or standing with my lower half in a stranger’s line of sight were becoming more than a bit too much for me to handle. I caved. I cowered. I licked my lips and made a dash for the sidewalk at a stop that was not my own. It was shower time in dirty town, and I was the mayor’s ugly cousin.

Some lousy things to do with air. I pushed my way through. Crowds that wouldn’t amass to a crowd. Leaves that forever fell. Slips were silver-laced. The gutter summoned the wounded to perish from the earth. The archangels perhaps sang, but not to me.

Foreboding mourning, as it were, I’d clipped my toenails recently, and to be sure of it I rubbed a dull thumb over them. They were behaving decently. Inventory: two socks, one shoe. This was bad. I should’ve been hobbling. Instead one of my socks was in worse shape than ever. Holes and damp. I needed help. I began to trod and heave my way back from where I’d came. I thought about how Mary Shelley kept P.B.’s heart, that for some reason didn’t burn in his funeral pyre, and she wrapped it in his poem Adonais, and buried it with their only son Percy in 1889. My toes hurt on the foot with no shoe.

On arrival in the kitchen I cornered a suspect. My eyes drew battle lines in the wainscoting. Soon I was alert with begging, and then I was just plain mean about it.

“Notice. Notice. Notice. Damn it. Notice. Will you?”
“Cruel? No. No. Wait. Cool. Real cool.”
“I do not want to feel the earth against my feet. I do not want to have wet socks to deal with tomorrow. I could get a splinter. I might be able to see all of this from outer space with a good enough telescope. Would that matter, or make any of this matter more? All there is is hate.”
“Chance it.”
“I’m telling.”
“I’m not.”
“Where, for the like of hats and glasses and all that is wilderness, is my…?” 
“I knew it!”

It turns out a party girl had taken my shoe. She had hid it in the kitchen. I told her that I do not like wet socks. I made up some things about purpose and the conniving nature of reality. She grit her teeth during the exchange. She gave my shoe back. I put it on over my wet sock. I was happier than I’d been for quite some time.

Now? It’s being frugal with allowing my personality to be rented out that keeps me well shod. And then, possibly, some happiness follows. But there are just different ways of knowing here, and one can never be sure, now can one?