Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Gender Study

I wrote a bit of today's post, then I got interrupted by texts from my conservative buddy.  Now I am glad.  I deleted what I had written.  I was on a rampage.  Political.  Sort of.  The sort of thing I am swearing off of in print.  Let me begin again,  

It was another lovely day in a string of lovely days.  When I went to the gym, everyone was there for the first time in a month.  It was supposed to be one of my "strong" days, but when I lay down on the bench and hoisted the bar, I knew it wasn't going to be.  I am smart enough now not to try to fight nature.  I went through the motions and took it easy on myself.  I wasn't up for it.  I was off.  

As the boys at the gym like to say, "his ovaries are bothering him."  Yes, sexist, but they are essentially correct if you don't take it as a lesson in gender studies.  I wasn't in the mood for outright banter.  But I didn't mind when people interrupted my workout to chat.  I chatted as much as I exercised.  I was fine with that.  People were glad to see one another again.  There was a feeling of bonhomie.  

"The band is back together," someone said.

"Yea. . . a boy band."

And we were.  More "boy-like" than "man-like" I mean.  

"You want to get lunch?" Tennessee asked.  

"Sure," I said.  

"Bolle or the Peach?"

"The Peach?"


"What's the Peach?"

"Peach Valley, that. . . ."

"Oh, oh. . . yea.  Let's go there." 

"Follow me to my house.  I just saw on the Ring camera that the lawn guys are there.  I have to put the dogs up.  They run from window to window barking and tearing the place up."

The waitress was one of those twenty-two going on thirty-three types, already getting worn down, but there was still a spark of life deep down inside. . . somewhere.  She came to the table with the downturned mouth and scowl of "her type" and asked coldly, "Can I get you started with something to drink?"

"Coffee and a water," I said.  

"Same for me, but I'll have a lemon in my water."

"It helps him cut the bitter taste of his meds," I said with one raised eyebrow.  That made her grin.  

When she came back to take our order, I got the Western omelette with grits and toast.  Tennessee said, "I'll have the same but with a biscuit and a little gravy for it."

"Sausage?" the waitress asked.

"No. . . my friend likes the sausage."  

She looked at me and laughed.  I hadn't been paying attention and it took a minute for me to catch up, but by then she was gone.  

Like I said. . . we were being boys.  Gender specific.  

When the waitress brought us our food, she was all smiles.  Both Tennessee and I are like that.  Friendly.  Funny.  Interactive.  I think neither of us can stand to be ignored.  Something wrong with us, probably.  Something broken somewhere inside.  

It was two by the time I got home.  I was tired.  Maybe I had something.  I decided to lie down.  When I rolled over and opened my eyes, it was four.  Shit!  I needed to get to my mother's.  A quick shower, then a stop at the liquor store.  I was later than usual.  

My mother has not been feeling well much of the time.  She just gets exhausted.  She had had a "bad day," she said.  

"When do you go to the doctor?"

"I need to make an appointment soon."

"You need to tell her about this."

"Yes. . . I will."  She sounded despondent.  I had that helpless feeling one has when there is nothing one can do.  All I can do is be around.

About the time I was ready to go home, the neighbor's came across the street with a bottle of wine.  The wife comes over every day, but they hardly ever come together.  They wanted company, it was clear.  They had been to the vet with their dog who has a broken tooth.  They were told it would cost $3,000 to extract it.  

"Sure," I said.  "When I was a kid and a dog went lame, blind, or otherwise infirmed, they would just put the dog down.  Now people spend thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on removing cataracts, replacing hips. . . ."  The dog is twelve and not in good shape.  It doesn't look like it has much longer before its time is up.  

"Well. . . it isn't hurting her, so she's just going to have to live with it."

They were not going to pay the $3,000.

As we sat outside drinking wine, the pretty woman from down the street came by with her two big dogs.  I grabbed the leashes of the two little ones belonging to the neighbors.  I had seen the shit show that happened before.  She is a forty-some year old banker who looks like a million bucks, always walking the dogs in shorts or leggings that reveal her very good figure.  My mother and cousin think I should go out with her.  I laugh.  

"I don't think she is going to ask me out.  I'm assuming she has no shortage of male attention."

"You should ask her out."

"I don't do that.  I can't stand rejection."

"You'd rather sit around the house alone?"

"No.  I'd rather be asked out.  But, you know. . . ."

But she is always friendly, always stops to talk, waves big when she sees me in my car.  We talk about food and hair. . . all the important things.  She has a gorgeous smile.  

"I've got these beasts, Stacy. . . you're safe."  

She smiled that big smile and waved.  One of the little dogs started barking.  

"Shut up," I said in a low voice.  "Don't chase away my new girlfriend."

"You wish," said the husband.  

That sort of riled me.  I wanted to say, "You dumb fuck. . . she is JUST the sort of woman I go out with.  Just because YOU. . ." but of course I stopped myself.  Go ahead and underestimate me, you dumb rube.  

But, you know. . . it is not a competition.  Moreover, he was probably right.  I'm beginning to think so.  


We chatted about the wife's visit to various doctors.  She was once a beauty herself, you can tell, and she loves to talk about it, her crazy life, going out, what she wore and where.  The husband, her second, came later.  She has two daughters by her first husband.  I've eaten Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners with both of them.  They are knockouts, each, so it is not hard to imagine their mom at a certain age.  But now she is sick quite often, has stints in her heart, and it has recently been suggested that she make an appointment with a psychiatrist.  

"Well. . . that's a hell of a lot better than seeing a psychologist," I said.  

"Why's that?"

"All you are going to do with a psychologist is talk.  Real shrinks can give you drugs."

She lit up at that.  

"Oh. . . good!"

By then I had stayed for much longer than I had intended.  The sun would be setting soon and I wanted to get home to make dinner.  I stood up, kissed my mother, and bid them all a good evening.  

When I got home, the cat was waiting.  

"Yea, yea, yea," I said.  "You're the only girl who loves me, and even you never ask me out.  But no, you don't love me, either.  Still. . . you're my gal."


"O.K.  O.K.  Let me get the food."

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