She had a way with words.
“Uh, hi,” she said, and it wasn’t anything like when other people greeted you. No, she spoke with feeling, with meaning, with—let’s be a smartypants here—gravitas.
So I decided to seize this opening—how often do people say “uh, hi” to you like that, you know?—and stick two fingers in it, work them around, gradually expanding it, until I had a doorway big enough to walk through. “You want to hang out later?”
“Not really,” she demurred, and once again: she meant it.
But I was a determined hunter, and determined hunters don’t pursue their quarry with mere bowie knives; they use elephant guns. So I loaded a 900-grain (58g) bullet and let ‘er rip. “C’mon, we can watch some pro hoops. And maybe order a pizza—although we’d have to go dutch on that one ‘cause I’m short right now—and play a little Madden 2004,” I said.
“I don’t know about that,” she replied, checking her watch and looking around. What was she so anxious about? Well, maybe that was just how she was—a busy person who viewed that “time (t) = money ($)” equation as an immutable law of nature.
And yes, I know this is 2009, but give me some credit: the reviewers at IGN believe that Madden ’04 was the best version ever. Vick on the cover, All-Madden insignia up in the right-hand corner of the game box–totally badass, IMHO. Besides, I haven’t worked a job in five years, so how could I afford a PS3? Dude, don’t cast aspersions on me. Who could get a job with the way this economy’s been in the shitter? “I mean, if you’re also a little short, maybe my moms could order the pizza,” I persisted, because I was persistent like that and also because, according to what I’ve been reading lately on some dating weblogs, persistence pays off in a big way.
She shook her head. “Listen, I’m running late for something.”
When she said it, I knew she was being straight up with me, because that’s the kind of girl she was. She had somewhere to be, and as much as she’d like to eat pizza pie and throw “hail Mary” passes at the porous secondary of the 2003 Detroit Lions, it simply wasn’t possible. There was enough sadness and regret in her voice to allow her to deliver a convincing eulogy at a 9/11 first responder’s funeral (FDNY never forget!). I wanted to reach out and touch her, take her in my arms, tell her that everything would be copacetic—that one day we’d have our fun sex romps, our gaggle of snot-nosed children with shitty bowl cuts, our room in my mom’s house (but hopefully only after I got around to cleaning up the pile of filthy “jizz rags” that had been building up in there (lol!)). “Well, maybe another time, huh?” I asked, trying to cheer her.
“Yeah, whatever,” she said. “Hey, is my take-out meal ready or not?” she asked the person in front of me, who happened to be a cashier at the Boston Market restaurant where I’d met her about five minutes ago.
The cashier gave a weak nod and then pushed a clear package containing a rotisserie chicken across the counter toward her. She took it in her arms—one part of me wants to say that she “cradled it like a baby,” or maybe even “cradled it like the Christ-child,” but the other part of me that isn’t such a pussy knows better—and walked out the door and out of my life.
No, hold up. Not out of my life. Not a chance. She’ll come back. I fidgeted with the flat brim of my backwards ball cap, rubbing at the “officially licensed merchandise” hologram that gave notice to the whole world that I was one cool motherfucker.
“Can I help you?” drawled the cotton-mouthed cashier. “You been standing there a long time, dude.”
I stepped forward and took a deep breath. Here was yet another moment of truth. Weren’t they all? “Bro, I’m out of minutes on my celly, and I need to call my moms and get a ride. Can I use the phone?”
He deliberated for what seemed like hours, weighing the costs and benefits of my proposal, before reaching a decision. “Nah, man, it’s for employees only,” he informed me.
Anyways, I wound up taking the bus home, so it was all good.