Love and death. We pursue them both. We flee from them both. In a nutshell, it is the push-pull of these two states of being that sums up human existence.
So, it’s a good thing we can laugh at them, don’t’cha think?
THe AfricaN BrIDGe
About two weeks ago, Love (yes, that’s Love, with a capital L), as it has so often done in the past, hawked a thick, wet loogie on my shoes. Chalk up another one in the Loss column. I wandered around feeling befuzzled for a few days, cogitating on how it had come to pass that, once again, I got the gooey end of the poo-stick. I mean, I realize that I’m something of an acquired taste—like retsina and bagpipes—but come on!
Then I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and take a stab at getting my ass back into the saddle. And since I am new to this city, I reasoned, and know a grand total of three people, why not do the thing up right and register my bona fides with an online dating site. Don’t they run those commercials about their members, who, with little or no effort, always find That Perfect Someone? I know they do, I’ve seen them.
Anyway, long story short and all that, I picked a site (more or less at random, I must admit) slogged through their 9,000 page questionnaire, described to them roughly what I sought in female companionship, uploaded a pic or two, and sat back to see what happened.
Which, for the first two days as a grand total of absolutely nothing. Then I got a few nibbles, from women who obviously hadn’t carefully read the info I’d posted (i.e. the rabid anti-smoking Christian who “winked” at me), and then I got someone who seemed, not only to be able to read, but also to be interested. A couple of vanilla emails lead to an e-date in the cozy environs of Yahoo messenger.
When I logged in at the appointed time, she had selected the “tumbling hearts” background for our chat window, which I thought was sort of endearing. Ten minutes later anything “endearing” about our encounter had dropped from the thing like an engine block at a demolition derby.
What follows is the more disturbing tail end of our interaction, pasted verbatim from the chat window, but with certain portions altered the protect the privacy of the crazy bitch on the other end.
HER: Have you been in the OKCity longer?
HER: Long time?
ME: No, not long. Just a few weeks.
HER: This is imPortant to me. Because.
ME: [After a pause] Bcause why?
HER: Because. wHen I am go with a man. When you are R my man (which I cincerely HOPE!!!) I must look after all of You concerns and needs.
[At this point a needle of trepidation began sliding into my brain.]
ME: OK. I’ll let you know when I have a few needs that need looking after.
HER: Anything you Wish to TaLK about. I am hERe. That is MY job. AnY of Your conCERNS, are now MY concerned.
[Now I was wondering if she was some species of cyber-hooker looking to get me into a naughty dialogue. Christ knows I had better things to do than that…]
ME: That’s nice of you [thinking fast, now], but I have a deadline, so we’ll have to pick this up later.
HER: Your ThouGHhts must are NOw my thoUghts.
ME: Yup. You mentioned that.
HER: Because. I can taLK about anythinG.
ME: Awesome. Like I said, I hate to cut this short, but I have some work to do. Talk to you later.
HER: WHEN? I MEAn that Rickard. WHEN?
[Well, Elvira, I’ll tell ya. Never again in a million, trillion fucking years.]
ME: Day or two. Shoot me an email.
HER: Two weeKs is PERFECT!
HER: I am in Nairobi, NOw build THe AfricaN BrIDGe. In tHE Okcity in two weeks!HE
ME: Great! Email me then. By.
And I X’d out of the chat before she could come up with anything else to say.
The next morning I removed my profile from the website. I can meet crazy people without paying a monthly fee, maybe even some crazy people who have control of their Caps LoCk key. Instead I’m just gonna start hanging around the grocery store on Saturday evenings. Might not meet anyone interesting, but I can buy some soup.
Dead Man Walking!
In only took me a day or two to discover that the apartment complex I’ve moved into doesn’t have the greatest reputation. I was chit-chatting with the liquor-store guy the day I started moving in, and when I mentioned where I was renting, he visibly started, and wanted to know if I’d lost my mind, living in a place like that. I told him the truth, which is that it didn’t seem all that bad to me and that everyone I’d met so far had been very friendly. He didn’t believe me, but so what.
That evening I discovered that my dishwasher was missing the basket thingy you put silverware in, so I wandered over to Wal-Mart, figuring is anyplace sold such an odd replacement part, they would.
I was tromping around the hardware area when the most amazing thing happened. A clerk actually came up to me and asked if I needed assistance. That’s never happened to me in Wally World before. Not once. I told hthe guy what I was after and he shook his head, saying I’d be better off at Lowe's or Home Depot. Then he asked the obvious question: why didn’t I just tell my apartment manager. (I hadn’t because I figured they would shitcan my request three second after hanging up the phone.) The clerk then asked where I lived. I told him the name of the complex.
“Jesus Christ!” he burst. “You have a gun and a flack-vest?”
I laughed good-naturedly. “The gun yes. No vest though.”
And this Wal-Mart clerk with food on his blue shirt threw his head back and howled: “DEAD MAN WALKIN’!” Then he giggled.
I giggled too, hewing to my good-naturedness. The clerk went off to help someone else, or whatever, and I paid for the few items I had collected and went home.
On my way up the walk I passed several of my co-residents. Smiles and “hellos” all the way around, and I entered my apartment content in the belief that opinions are, indeed, like assholes, in that everyone has one, especially the assholes.
Two days later a guy in the building next to mine shot his girlfriend six times in the chest and attempted to hide his crime by lighting her corpse on fire.
I could smell the smoke in my bedroom.
Oh well. Twelve months isn’t that long. Not really.