As I approached Bailey’s tonight, I walked through a small park and saw a man sitting outside a bathroom. Two people seemed to emerge from it, a man and a woman. She says with a giggle and a missing tooth to the sitting fellow: “He’s my husband,” (so it’s OK).
The sitting man shrugs: “It’s all the same to me,” he says with a smile. As they cross the street away from me, I see her wrap her arm around his waist.
I leave it to the reader to extrapolate what happened.
Two weeks ago I was on the bus home from work when I noticed a young woman who was obviously upset. Her face as pink as her unicorn shirt, cheeks swollen, she bravely held onto a strap for balance, trying not to explode in public. Crying or nearly crying people have a strange radiance, one that allows for most people to shun them in public. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but society frowns upon strange older men talking to younger women. I took my seat.
Eventually, the bus cleared out and she came to the back where nobody sat but I, and as she passed I asked her if she was alright.
“Yes,” she said with pause to remove her backpack before sitting. “Boys.”
Ah. They can suck, I told her sympathetically. (It is at this point I can only apologize to the lovely women who dated me to whom I was less than stellar.)
(At the memory of this, I take a sip of my Pfriem belgian stout. As a becoming on the road to enlightenment, I can only say that sometimes, my path was less clear than others. I hope that, for the most part, they forgive me, should they think of me at all.)
I go back to reading, despite wanting to know more because, again; I’m unsure how to find the line between kindness and mistakenly creepy. But it rapidly becomes apparent that she is unable to hold it together, wiping her eyes and nose, head down, trying to hide her pain from everyone.
I reach down into my satchel and pull out a gray hanky and pass it to her. “This bullshit will pass,” I say.
She nods and half smiles, watery eyes behind hip glasses. I suddenly get the impression that she doesn’t really need my help at all: she actually seems to be fairly with it, merely overcome by a broken heart and who hasn’t been there?
So I say no more. This thread in my life will remain untied as I approach my stop and ask for my kerchief back. She apologizes for making a mess and I assure her: “It’ll wash.” I leave, not knowing her story, hoping that this small act made her better, in the end.
Who can say?
This beer is excellent. I don’t know that I’d call it a stout, except that it really is working some dense flavors of coffee and maybe something a little treacly? Hint of licorice? Mouthfeel tilts more towards a porter but I believe the ABV heads any notion of being a lighter beer off at the pass.
Not but two days later, standing outside the Horse Brass, a tall, handsome black man approaches our group, asks if he can join us smoking. He can of course, and as he returns the lighter to his pocket he gestures towards the circle, in a scene from a Cameron Crowe movie and asks us:
“How do you get over someone?”
“How do you get over someone? Let’s talk about love.”
Nobody seems to have an answer for him. It’s weird; as though everyone else has been so lucky at love that they have never looked at their lives and thought: I would turn this into a smoking wreckage if only I didn’t have to hurt like this.
I tell him: “At some point, you have to accept that if you loved them, part of them is with you forever. You may do the work of chipping away what you don’t want, so you can keep what you want but you have to accept what you loved.”
He seems doubtful. He wants it to happen now, not later. The conversation drifts, he’s from Detroit, does video work, isn’t interested in not doing things, he wants to be proactive. I try again.
“Ever hear of the MC5?”
Hear of but not heard, he replies. Kids these days! You gotta know “Kick out the jams, motherfucker!”
“The guitarist, Wayne Kramer, became an alcoholic and did a song called ‘Doing The Work’, and it’s about how he deals with his alcoholism; by getting up every day and doing the work to not drink. Which is how you deal with any long term pain,” I say, “because the work doesn’t care if you’re tired or hungry or happy or anything. It just needs you to do it. Even if your work is not doing anything about something.”
He nods. “I like that,” he says, “I think I’m going to start that right now,” and he goes back inside to rejoin his friends.
I’ve finished my beer. It’s got a bit of an acrid bite on the end but it’s not overwhelming so doesn’t bother me much. I like it but I desperately want to try a fresh hop ale, because the shelf life on those is so short.
Last weekend, I ran into a woman who knew an ex-girlfriend. One with whom things did not end well, though we made peace years later.
“I ran into J,” she tells me, a little breathless, as though she can’t wait to tell me this because she doesn’t have any idea of what else to talk to me about.
The ex is doing well, I’m told, has a second kid, is happy. Good for her.
I smile and introduce my girlfriend, who is awesome and is who I am in the present for.