I stepped in for a quick rinse, afterward. I told him this: just a quick rinse. When he stepped into the shower a few minutes later, I said: “Oh. I didn’t think you were coming in.” I said, “Hahaha, I’m actually done. But I’ll stay in with you for a while, if you want.”
“Well, yeah, I had to pee. I went into the other bathroom. After debating about whether we were at the point in our relationship where I could just pee in the same bathroom.”
“Oh, HELL no, I said.” And then, “I mean, for that matter, why wouldn’t you just pee in the shower? Or are you going to claim to be one of those people who has never, ever peed in the shower? Funny enough, a friend of mine was telling me just this week that she found out her fiance has never once peed in the shower. She completely freaked out. She’s going around saying to everyone: ‘What kind of person has never once peed in the shower? What does that SAY!? Am I making a gigantic mistake here?’ So, like I said, are you going to claim to be one of those people?”
“If I answer that,” he said, “then we are mated for life. For. Life.”
A while back my friend Judy said to me – about the restaurant in my cool new neighborhood where we had just been seated: “You realize every place we’ve gone to looks exactly the same, right?” To which I replied, of course: “shut up.”
In fact, I hadn’t realized.
“Yeah,” Judy went on. “Every one of them is medium-size-cozy, has a tin ceiling, at least one brick wall, a beautifully-staged and lit bar, dim-ish lighting, and ample wood somewhere in the decor.
“Shut up,” I said. But then: “You’re totally right.”
These are, in fact, my happy places. Throw in a little bit of industrial chic, or maybe some artfully mismatched furniture (my favorite being what I call Vintage Funeral Parlor), and I walk through those front doors believing with all my heart that a wonderful wonderful experience will be…experienced.
My eyes will drink in the sumptuous visual scene, the place will buzz and hum with all the cacophony of life being enjoyed, and a thoroughly unsullen youngster will ebb and flow from my table with all variety of things to be sipped, nibbled, slurped, tasted, and S A V O R E D.
I will feel warmly enveloped by my fellow humans – a soul among souls – while they maintain a comfortable distance. I will feel the tension slip from my muscles. And I will be filled with an odd sense of hopefulness – as if the fact of people gathering, enjoying cocktails invented and mixed by devoted artisans, breaking break together, laughing heartily, bending their heads closer to share an intimate thought – means that it can all be OK.
He and I had tried to come to this restaurant the previous week, when we left in the disgrace of not knowing that by 6:30 pm, the wait time would be well over two hours. We tried again, slightly smug in our arranging the entire day to get there fifteen minutes after they opened – at 5:15 – to discover the wait time was a manageable 20 minutes.
“Why don’t you wait at the back bar,” they suggested. “We’ll come and find you when your table is ready.” I ordered our drinks from a guy who had two well-inked sleeves and a beard that looked exactly like my son’s did after his 5-month hike of the Appalachian Trail. A woman complimented his hat, which I knew would fill him with pride and delight. In other words, the beginning could not have gone any better.
Sheesh, when did it even start?
Dunno, exactly. Somewhere in my woozy dreamy perusal of the brick wall and candlelit bar, somewhere in the middle of one of his mesmerizingly elongated stories, I slipped into that old Gary Larson cartoon about the dog:
The room slipped sideways. All I heard was: blah blah blah DANGER, blah blah DANGER blah blah blah blah DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER DANGER DANGER.
Something about him bringing a knife to a gun fight. And ending up getting shot. Of course. Trying to be all heroic. But all I could think was: “What kind of a guy carries a KNIFE? What kind of a guy gets involved with people who carry GUNS? [Metaphor alert]
Run, I told myself. Run fast, run far, run now.
With the room all sideways, I could no longer see him as the same man who was in the bathroom, in the shower.
I’m sixty-one years old. My vision has all the wear and tear of those long years.
When did every. Single. Thing. Become . So. Hard.
When did it all start coming so fast that that there’s no chance, no chance at all, to catch up.
How did I get to be this person whose idea of the perfect future is to find a fine front porch with two old rocking chairs, and set about the business of sitting, gazing contentedly into the landscape. Maybe after an hour or so, I would say:
“Mighty fine day.”
And you would say:
Another hour or two later, I might say:
“Don’t get many days this nice.”
And you would say: