Monday, December 01, 2003
Have I mentioned that I hate November? I'm pretty sure that I have, but still it bears repeating. Only half an hour left in this wretched month and I'm still wondering what else it might be able to sneak in...

Oh, this promises to be another long one... so get comfortable and cuddle up to your pillows, or whatever else makes life bearable where you are...

So I had Thanksgiving off work. Not bad really, hung with some friends and ate tofurkey. I'd been warned so many times against ever eating tofurkey that I was actually surprised by how good it was. Expectations are everything. But somebody took my hat. I know who it is, and she has promised to return it, but I am hatless. This is nothing compared to what is to come.

Friday night I had to work. I think it was Friday that I first noticed a bit of coughing... that's what we in the writing biz call foreshadowing.

Work was insanely slow. All night we sat around doing nothing in particular. My feet were killing me, because I'd been visiting friends overnight and hadn't had time to stop at home and grab a more comfortable pair of shoes.

And, as I learned toward closing time, these shoes also didn't have the greatest traction-- I was hustling downstairs to grab a broom and *voot!* right out from under me they slipped and *bam!* down the stairs on my ass I went. Wrenched my left shoulder, scraped my right elbow, landed hard on my left buttock.

This was just the warmup.

But first a bit of farce (a French word that translates roughly as "a lot of running around.") Remember how I hadn't been home? This also meant that I hadn't grabbed the keys for the cafe. So midway through closing I had to run to my car, drive home, and grab them. I was met at the door by my housemate's very angry cat. I quickly realized that with everything else I hadn't had the chance to feed her for the previous two days. I apologized profusely, gave her an extra-heaping bowl, grabbed the keys, and went back to the cafe to complete the closing.

Which brings us to Saturday. I wake up coughing and sore-throated. I hop on my bike to go to work, only to find it chilly and windy outside with the wind right in my face the whole way. So in a flurry of downshifting, I manage to knock the chain right off the gears somewhere around 7th street. Sudden loss of forward thrust, I coast over to the side of the road to avoid cars, get off the bike, manage to get the chain back on, feel quite good about myself, and proceed on my way.

A few blocks later I feel an insistent tugging at my right shoe. Glance down, see my shoelace has come untied and is caught on something. So I stop pedaling. Once again I lose forward thrust, coast over to the side of the road.

In hindsight, I should have tipped over to the left to let my free foot arrest my fall. At the time, my instinct was to tip right, away from any traffic. This was unwise. With my foot stuck (the shoelace, it turned out, was wrapped around the pedal) I just went crashing to the pavement. Landed on my right hip. (So now both sides of my ass are banged up)

On my fall, everything goes predictably slo-mo. I see, at the base of the stop sign, a big ol' honkin' rock and think to myself, "Man, good thing I have my arm out to arrest my fall, or I might have hit my head on that"

Moments later I smack my right cheek on that very rock. I scrape a layer of skin off the outside of my right cheek and drive three teeth halfway through the inside. On the bright side, my teeth are all intact.

I shake myself, check my teeth, unwrap and retie my shoelace, and proceed to work, pausing every other block to spit blood. I have just enough time to wash my cheek and slap a bandaid on before my shift starts and suddenly I'm in the middle of it... busy afternoon, people in my way, people yelling at me, me wondering if I should cough on them or spit blood at them.

A bit of background: one of my coworkers has taken to refering to the regulars she flirts with as her horses, in terms (I imagine) of trying to figure out where to lay her bets. It's caught on. To stretch the metaphor (as we always do): On saturday night, the cafe looked like a goddamn stable. One after another after another, and a few newish regulars suddenly starting to flirt with me. One of them asked if I was doing a Nelly impression with the bandaid on my face... if the bandaid look works that well, Nelly really must be a hit with the ladies.

Everybody starts leaving around midnight. A half hour before closing we're empty. Ten minutes before closing The Girl comes in... odds on favorite, where I've been laying my bets, some of my coworkers already consider us an item... she usually comes in during the afternoon, this is actually the first time she's come by after dark. She's with two friends who want iced tea, one of whom is the barrel-chested Neil Young looking guy she sometimes comes in with. I've been assuming he was a coworker.

They ask if we're open. I glance at the clock and say, "For another ten minutes yeah."

"Oh baby," she says in a concerned voice, and for a moment I think she's going to ask about the bandaid... "they're trying to close!" And I wish I had a picture of the expression on my face when I realized she was talking to the Neil Young looking guy. Oddly enough, I notice he has a bullwhip coiled up in his pocket.

Somewhat like the 2002 Illinois Derby-- the odds-on favorite has turned up lame.

So I go from feeling bad enough that I think I'm just going straight home after work to bad enough that I really need a few drinks. Therefore, after we finish closing my coworker and I go to the Red Room and he buys me a gin and tonic, "To not falling off your bike again" he toasts.

So I hang out, have a few drinks, and as closing time draws near the three of them suddenly appear again. She's holding the bullwhip. I don't think we need to page Sigmund Freud for the difficult analysis here.

I pretend not to see her.

So I'm torn between feeling silly for letting myself feel this way about a girl I've had two, at the most three full conversations with and feeling angry at myself for missing my opportunity-- assuming that this is a recent thing. So, I'm all wondering who this guy is, how they met, when they met, whether I blew an opportunity at some point or another... then I just feel silly again.

In truth, imaginary or potential relationships are better than real ones, if only because they don't take quite so long to get over...

Sunday was just being bored and tired and feeling sick and explaining to everyone why I have this mark on my right cheek. Then admitting that it hurts less than my sore hip and sore throat. This includes the artist formerly known as The Girl, who came in at about 7 (after dark again) and alone this time. I think I was pretty natural... played it cool... but I could still feel my ears burning the whole time we talked.

She asked if I'd been at the Red Room the night before, she thought she'd seen me there. (Just how obvious is it when you see someone and pretend not to?)

"Yeah, I figured I needed to self-anesthetize a bit before I headed home..."

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