The evening ended with a visit from Mr. Tree. I had just gotten home from the party in Factory City and was making a leftover meal when there was a tap tap tapping at the door. I thought that he would see that I was about to eat and just stay a second, but he was undeterred. I hadn't enough to offer him a serving, but no matter. He said "eat," and he sat down with me at the table. He wanted to know why I don't respond to his texts and calls. I had to think quickly. I told him the truth, that after a certain time, my phone does not ring or ping. It goes into silent mode. And the next day, when I look and see he had called, I just think, nice, he's fine. It wasn't good, but it would have to do. He launched into the story of his life once again much to my dismay. I like him fine, but I had just gotten home, was a little weary, and just wanted to have a drink and sit quietly for awhile. After hours in a bar with a raucous crowd, this intrusion was really climbing up my ass. But he stayed. . . and stayed. . . . He must be on the spectrum, I'd guess, because he wasn't picking up on the social cues I was giving off. I guess I'm not really good at that, though, having been a Servant of the People for a veritable lifetime. When he finally got ready to leave, he made his pitch. He would come by tomorrow and do some tree work. Oh, no, I said. I'm tits up on money. Oh, he said, just give me what you can. No, I said, give me a price. My one day price is $3,500.00, he said. I laughed and shook my head. No, no. . . . Just give me what you can, he said. I need to keep my guys busy. I don't know what I am going to give him, but his crew is coming today to "clean up" some of the bushes and shrubs. No tree work. I may give him so little he never comes back.
So there was that. Finally, long after nine, he was out the door. I still had dishes to do before I could collapse, but it wasn't long before bedtime.
The party in Factory City was kind of paltry. Not so many people showed up for it. There was another, bigger party going on and our group was not consolidated, so I sat down at a table with my old college roommate and one of my former employees who is the best published writer I know. He doesn't write any more, though, which kills me, but he is still clever. And last night, he was far from the despondent character he has over time become. The three of us were joined by my former secretary in a bit. It is always good to have a pretty girl at the table, especially one who is as irreverent as we. With my old college roommate who is not doing so well, we often recall tales of old. And that is what we did. We were heroes, of course, superstars in our own right. Indeed, we had done many outstanding things, won basketball tournaments against college basketball players, played music to crowds of multiple thousands. We had attracted the attention of governors and famous comedians. If we had been girls, god knows.
It was my roommate's wife's party, and from time to time she would float over to the table, each time a bit more inebriated. Toward the end, she wanted to tell me how much she loves me, but I am really uncomfortable with such talk, so I pretty much play it like a Don Rickles character. Then, out of left field, she asked me if I had fucked my secretary. It is not an unreasonable idea. Many people think we were, but they are completely wrong. "She loves you," my roommates wife said, and I acknowledged that it was true, "but it isn't sexual," I said. I was always a pillar she leaned on as I was for many people in the room. As my old factory foreman job is now vacant again, someone asked me what the job was like.
"Oh. . . it is a fine job. You only need to do one thing. Just make people happy."
And that is pretty much true. You can't give everybody everything they want, but you still need to make them happy. I developed a pretty good gift for that. It is well known. People rarely left my office as pissed off as they were when they came in, and most often they were laughing. So I still get invited to the factory outings. I've even been emailing with my old CEO lately. We did not see eye to eye on most things, and I did a lot that she didn't like, but I am no hater.
"And that was my particular charm."
So we drank and talked shit and then it was time for me to use my favorite line--"I've got a train to catch."
My favorite lesbian had been macking on the girl who won't ask me out all night. They have become real pals. Just as I was leaving, the two of them came over. My favorite lesbian gave me hugs and kisses and said we needed to get together for a drink, and I agreed. The girl who won't ask me out was next to her, and as I said goodbye, I tried to give her a fist bump, but shows leaning in for a hug.
"Did you just try to fist bump me?"
"Uh. . . yea. . . ."
She looked nice, but there is ultimately no chemistry. I need to be careful. It would be too easy for me to make an awful mistake.
It was a lonesome train ride home.
Earlier in the day, I had come across a song that struck me. I sent it to Q, and I sent it to my Old New Friend. Q hearted it. My friend wrote back that she was on a trip with her daughter to the cracker state of Georgia, and on the way, she played a lot of her old music mixes from the aughts. "And your influence was all over it," she said. I should have written back that it was probably more that we share a sensibility, but it didn't occur to me until later. But that, I think, is probably the truth.
So when I got home and Mr. Tree had finally vamoosed, and I had poured my first drink, I sat down and listened to the song again, and as often happens to me of late, I was filled with emotion and had to choke back the tears. Why? What?
It's just the inevitabilities of life, I think, and the way some can package it. I don't know. I'll leave it here for you, but I'm pretty sure you will not cry. I'm broken, I think, in ways not even Fitzgerald had thought of in "The Crack-Up." But as always. . . .
Mr. Tree is here. He just took me around the property showing me what needs to be done. It is a mess that I never look at or see. "You're my brother," he said. "I've got to take care of you."
I guess I'll have to take care of him, too.
You know that glow of positivity I woke with?