Reading at the Numi Tea House with the folks at Pirate Pig Press. Here's what I read. It went strangely. Readings are weird.
“COINTREAU! That’s it! I bet it’s - hey, do you know what they put in these things. NO! You’re wrong! That’s what I thought but they can’t sell tequila anymore because they gave a glass of whiskey to a child. It was in the newspapers so they had to give everybody coupons and that’s why the food got terrible. But I drank when I was a kid and I’m fine! My mom used to give us little bits of whiskey whenever we wanted and we turned out fine. You know? I did. We all turned out fine. The last I heard, anyway. Nobody’s heard from Stephen in years, and I could sleep with the ringer on, but it’s just so hard to keep in touch! You’d think with these gadgets, it’d be a lot easier for people to get a hold of me. But you know, it’s fine. It’s ok. I don’t mind.”
She is a stranger, seated two tables over from us, and she’s not really talking as much as she’s shouting. She’s got a margarita in a martini glass and she’s nervously spinning it by the stem while she’s shouting. There’s a spot of lipstick smudged where she drinks from the glass but all the salt is gone from the rim. We’re letting her shout at us because we weren’t saying much anyway.
“But anyway, these damn drinks I can’t get --- MARTA -- Uno mas! Anyway, how are you guys, good? No drinks? You couldn't both be driving? Unless you’re on a date ooooooh are you on a date! Aren’t dates just the worst? I’m just too shy and you have to say what your favorite color is and all that sillyness like you’re still a kid but you’re both fifty years old already and he said brown. Brown can’t be your favorite color. Brown? God. You guys didn’t meet online did you? I keep meeting weirdos on there. So many weirdos. He doesn’t look like a weirdo! But, in fairness to the weirdos, a lot of these weirdos are sneaky. That’s a big weirdo part of it. Anyway, just in case, I took safety classes at the Y and you listen to me - you keep your eyes on this weirdo. Run backwards to your car if you have to, and never go on the internet ever again. I don’t think they said that in the classes, but they should have. That’s good advice. I give good advice.”
She refuses to look across her own table at the empty chair across from her, and instead has been rolling her head in a high ark to keep from looking at it, while capturing everything that moves in conversation. We’re allowing it, it’s not a good night. We’re tense. Things have been tense.
“If you want, when you ditch this weirdo, we could double date and then it’d be the two of us girls, but then I guess it’d be two weirdos too, then we’re right back where we started unless you have mace or a taser or something?- . ooh really, you two have been together a while then oh ok – that explains why you seem so agitated.”
When I’m tense tuck my thumbs into my palms and squeeze to try to crack the knuckle and even though it never cracks, I keep squeezing. It’s a bad habit and lately I’ve been doing it so much that my hands ache but I can’t seem to stop doing it. It feels like it hurts because it wont crack, that it’s almost about to give, but wont, so I squeeze harder and nothing happens.
“You guys mind if I scooch closer? Oh no don’t worry about it, it’s no bother for me, I don’t bite. So how long have you guys been together, a while? Is it serious? Are you going to get married? Everyone I know ran off and got married when they were young and now everyone is divorced or gay or in prison, but as a rule, miserable, everyone is miserable, regardless. I never got married and I turned out just fine. Look at how much fun we’re having.”
It’s getting more difficult to ignore my hands, I couldn’t pull open my front door the other day. It’s a big, heavy, wooden, door with an off-center knob and pulling it open brought tears to my eyes. I should go to the doctor but I can’t, not yet. He’d only tell me that I’m dying. It’ll work itself out in time. I can’t tell her about this, about my hands, but something will crack. Even if it’s my own thumbs, even if I break my own thumbs.
“So this margarita, I think, has five ingredients in it, I think. I’ve asked everyone in here for months but nobody will talk to me. I’ve come up with three, but I can’t even think of a fourth thing to say. I keep wanting to say carbon because everything has carbon in it, but it’s not like you put a pinch of carbon into cupcakes. I mean I suppose you could, right! San Francisco!”
Tuck your thumb in your palm like a little kid makes a fist, before someone explained that you’d break your thumbs if you punched someone like that. Ignore them. There is something wrong there, deep in your bones, and you can squeeze it to death if you keep quiet and keep squeezing, keep everything below the table and keep squeezing. Don’t cry. If you can’t ignore the lump in your throat, push against it with your red hands until you black out. When you wake up, roll your head in a high ark so you don’t see your life walk out the door, so you can stay here, trapped in this horrible place alone.
“After this, you guys should come hang out at my place. I just got a new cat. I found her outside and we instantly had a very deep spiritual connection. I think that can happen. I think it’s possible something like that could happen. She seems to think so too. Her name is Susan. She’s very important to me. You guys should meet her, but either way we really should spend more time together. I left my wallet in my other pants, but I’ll get my things so we can go.”