Thursday, October 09, 2003

Finally--a story that doesn't involve work

I was meeting Tso at the diner last night. It was late, I was tired, and I wanted to drink. In the midst of all this, one of the waitresses walks over (a mid-twenties hefty-looking girl) and asked me what my name was. I'm very blase about giving my name to women, so I told her...and slapped myself on the forehead about ten seconds later. Turns out this broad is Hacker's daughter.

Hacker was a guy (and still is, come to think of it) who lived above me in my old building. I call him Hacker because every morning, he'd go out on to the balcony to clear the snuff and crap from his lungs. The guy probably has ten months to live or something. I asked him once to give my house key to whoever was watching the cat for me that weekend, and he even managed to fuck that up. He's a retired air conditioner repairman. I guess you can figure what sort of pension these guys have if he's living his retirement large in good ole Hangover Park.

I remember he used to bitch and moan about his daughter shacking up with some loser. Well, this daughter spent about ten minutes telling me the joys of dumping the loser and moving back home with Daddy. Then she asked me how old I thought she was.

Then Tso arrived. I immediately made out like I was grateful to see him (a tough job, under any circumstances), and she eventually left. Later on, she came by and told us she remembered us always hanging out there. "Time to find a new restaurant," I muttered to him.

Five minutes after that (I was on my third beer of the evening by then, and it was probably pushing ten o'clock), our waitress comes over (our real waitress, that is, the one who was actually serving us food) and told us Hacker's daughter wanted to know if we were gay "because she thinks you're cute." Oh dear God, I think, immediately reaching for my wallet to pay the bill and get the fuck out of there. No need to worry, as it turned out--she'd already left for the evening. Probably to go back to Hacker's apartment and regale him with tales of the gay guy she had a crush on at the diner. I'm not worried about Hacker remembering who I am. I doubt the guy even knows enough to pull his pants up after taking a crap.

(Tso told me not to blog about that. Tough.)

Then, this afternoon, I managed to get out the door at 3:15. My original plan was to have a few more beers (what better way to wake yourself up?) when I noticed I was sitting on a flat tire. I spent a good thirty minutes cursing the tire, my car, the suburbs in general and anyone and everyone I could think of. Windows started to open. Babies started to cry. So I calmed myself down and set about getting the spare tire from my trunk, only to find that it was buried underneath a year and a half of old clothes, magazines, books, boxes and other assorted crap. Once I cleared all that away, I found that the tire's central nut (or whatever the hell you call it) had rusted enough to weld it to the trunk floor. I cursed some more, got my Motor Club card and got them to send over this neo-hippie looking guy over to tow me to the nearest Good Year.

It's about three miles from school to this place, and this guy managed to make the trip last thirty minutes. First he yakked on his cell phone. Then his boss called to ask him where the hell he was. Then he went back to the cell phone. All the while, he was giving me a look of contempt I am only too accustomed to from anyone remotely qualified to tinker with an automobile. Dumb bastard can't even get a spare tire on, he was probably thinking. No wonder he works in an office. I myself felt no particular urge to defend my behavior--hell, it's all too true. If Dad were to see the shape that car is in, he'd remind me of all the neglected advice he's given me over the years: Get a haircut. Get up earlier. Be responsible. Don't eat lead paint. And always make sure you've got a spare tire, a jack, and road flares. Because once you need them, you won't have time to check.

My response? "Yeah, sure, I'll do it tomorrow."

Dad, one; me, nothing.

After mile one and a half had passed, however, Tow Truck Guy clued me in on how lucky I really am:
Guy: So how long you been teaching?
Me: About six years, I guess. Hold the applause.
Guy: You ever get a high school girl to sit on your face?
Me: You must be fucking joking...(guy just looks expectantly at me) I mean, uh, sure lots of times. I just, you know, had to make sure you weren't wearing a wire.
Guy: They drug test teachers?
Me: Only when we come to pick up our paycheck.
Guy: Just curious. I never did like school much.
Me: I never could have told. (I hide my copy of NEA Today) So what's your story?
Guy: I'm living with a bitchy-ass girlfriend. I can't stand it any more and I'm getting the fuck out of there.
Me: How long you been living with her? (Note my clever vernacular form of the verb "to be")
Guy: About three years.
Me: You must have some clever plan in mind. You must be biding your time.
Guy: No, we have a ten-month-old daughter.
Me: Oh.
Guy: I got her pregnant, and we moved in together. Whaddya gonna do?
Me: Obviously move in with her, become a tow truck operator, and work on a three-year plan to move away and ditch your daughter.
I know, I know. I shouldn't be poking fun. As a matter of fact, all the times I do poke fun, I really shouldn't. If those idiots ever drop that bomb, they sure as hell won't be needing any English teachers to jump start society. They'll need guys like this guy, who can fix things, work with things, and still have enough energy to drink all night.

Still, I look at a life like that, and I have to wonder...exactly how lucky have I had it all these years, while being too stupid to even notice it?

Okay, great pep talk. Now I have to grade sonnet analyses. My first one is a deft piece of analysis that begins: "The sonnet I'm writing about was written by a poet."

Beer. I need beer.