I decided it was a good time to do my taxes. The country is getting more of my money than I thought. I don't mind paying taxes. They are necessary. I just wish the rich would pick up their share of the responsibility. That will never happen here, though. Taxes are for poor people. My (moderately) well-off friends do not agree. They like to show that they and their ilk contribute more to the national coffers than anyone. They all think they are Sam Walton.
Not really. Walton thinks the rich should be paying higher taxes.
When I finished up, even though it was not a gym day, I decided to go to the gym. I am fat. I need to burn off calories. Q is trying to get down to his original weight, and after two months of deprivation. . . well, I will not tell his tale in fear of not representing him as he would like. But the amount of weight he has lost is significant and makes me envious. He is, I think, trying for the record.
So I went to the gym to ride the exercise bike. I may have burned up an ounce.
After that, I took a hot Epsom salts bath and showered and dressed. Mid-afternoon. I decided on an early trip to mother's.
She was not there. O.K. A trip to the grocery store. Home, a glass of wine and a cheroot. I was trying to wait until five o'clock. I wanted to eat dinner at the bar of one of my favorite Italian places. Waiting was agony. I had only eaten a yogurt all day. I was hungry, and I was bored.
I got to the bar around 4:40. The inside bar was full. There is another side to that bar, though. It is outside. I prefer sitting at the inside bar looking out, but I wasn't going to wait. I asked the shiny new barmaid if she would serve me dinner at the outside bar. She had yet to open the giant rollup window. "Sure," she smiled. I went out and took a seat.
Chianti Classico, fresco salad, chicken piccata. Bing, bang, bong. As the dinner serving had just begun, it all came out quickly. As I was finishing my salad, people began to find seats around me. Being a nice, congenial, empathetic fellow, I asked a couple if they would like me to move down. Oh, no, they said and took the seats on the other side of me.
The brand new shiny barmaid handed the food across the counter, two hammered chicken breasts over spinach and capers covered in a lemon cream sauce.
It was the woman beside me. And that was it. I had dinner companions. . . and beyond. You know me. O.K. Maybe you don't. But you know my persona, shy, quiet, a homeboy by-and-large, isolated for years, socially withered, taking first new steps back into the world, a congenial rebel, beneficent to stray cats and kind to his mother. A unique type. A slightly handsomer version of Quasimodo, educated, funny. . . potentially charming. A tender-hearted man, lonesome, sad and blue.
My new friends were from Raleigh. They moved into one of the luxury apartments on this street that rivals the Boulevard. They didn't really "move." They still own their house. They commute. But they love it here. He, a C.O.O. of a large international architectural firm, she. . . many things.
And so. . . you know what will keep you talking? Someone who finds (or even pretends to find) you fascinating. They were a very attentive couple, and so I obliged them with stories and tales of town history, the Who's Who of the old hamlet, so to speak. But I am a good listener. I can tell you all about their three daughters, what they majored in, how the couple met, what their first date was like, where they've been in China. . . .
My dinner was long gone when they finished their drinks, ordered food, and got another round just before their food arrived. I was ready to go, but. . .
"You need to give us your number. You are fascinating. We need to get together. . . go out."
What can you say? No? I could give them a fake number, but I knew she would put it in her phone and dial me while I was sitting there to make sure. So I gave her my number, spelled my name, got hers and put it into my contacts because she, having the same phone as I, knew that mine wouldn't ring otherwise.
And then we all went back to their place and had sex.
I'm kidding, but that is kind of what it felt like. I don't know what the deal was, really. They were a little hoity-toity in dress and demeanor. I, in my black v-neck Hanes t-shirt, baggy, budget shorts, and flip flops, long bleach blond hair. . . it just really didn't make sense.
But. . . I was feeling like Peter Beard, you know, a man of the world capable of courting a wealthy woman, able to leap tall buildings, etc. When I'm feeling cocky, I think, "Who wouldn't fall for you?"
That is not very often, though.
When I got home, I was feeling very different than I was when I was communing with the tax gods. But that can be the benefit of leaving the house, can't it? I need to do it more, perhaps, in some form or fashion. I am much better in motion than in stills. I've been told my movements are distinct. I can be seen, they say, in a crowd.
Yea. . . let me privilege myself today, o.k. fucker? I'll be down again tomorrow, a monstrous zombie unfit for human companionship. Let me be cool today like the Cooler Kid, Steve McQueen. I wasn't really enamored of McQueen, but you know what I mean. That same couple could turn on me like panicked vipers in a Sonora Second. I, truly, can have a polarizing effect.
I will end it there. I don't have it in me to narrate my inability to walk right now. But it has been months, and everything from my hips down feels weak. It is as if my body has forgotten the walking motion, the way the muscles should respond to propel me. I have tremendous fears, but I will save them for now. Tomorrow I get the gel injection in my knee. I am nervous. I am worried.
But more on that later. For now, I will be the Golden Boy, the fellow you hope to sit next to at an elegant restaurant bar.