This week I met:
A military man from Sandusky named Josh. Late 20s – early 30s with a young family, he agrees that Apple store products are overpriced, that the Mantice is worse for guys than girls (his wife explained it to his four year old daughter as “it hurts their wee-wee!” We both laughed at that), and he wants to start his own business. I could tell he was military because he said “sir” to all the employees and people older than him, and I thought how certain things stick with you after certain experiences, and how sometimes they’re not what you expect them to be. I wondered what else had stuck with him. I wonder how long that conversation will stick with me.
An Apple employee named Georges, who was incredibly helpful, who wanted me to learn what he was doing so I could do it myself next time and not have to wait an hour for an Apple Genius, and joked that there was more than one of him (Georges).
A Slavic man at Big Met who was practicing his golf swing away from the masses in a grassy knoll. I asked him where the trailhead was, and with a heavy accent he asked, “Where are you walking to?” I said nowhere, just walking, so he said the paved trail next to the road was a waste of my time and pointed me to the wilder trail that I don’t think was actually a trail, but was certainly walked on.
A lady who let me go in front of her at Target because I only had one item, whose daughter went to CWRU, lived in Little Italy then, and now has a good job in Chicago. The mother liked Presti’s and Corbo’s, which I said was quite forward thinking on her part. Most people I know pick sides.
I saw a trucker blow a flat tire and slow down and throw on his hazards and almost immediately the truck next to him, from a different company, threw on his hazards and helped guide him to the side of the road and stayed to fix the problem. Camaraderie. The car behind me honked at me for slowing down slightly to watch the previous proceedings. I tried not to get angry at that, but sped up quickly and remembered the kindness of truckers.
I went to Denny’s in suburban Cleveland and a waitress (about 56, graying, out of shape, trying her best) saw me reading Walden and said she had read it when she was pregnant and that it helped. She said being depressed when you’re pregnant is the worst feeling a person could have. But she had to read it again to understand it. We all should. She said she still didn’t really understand it. None of us do, at least not quite like Thoreau did. And then I thought maybe, just maybe, that would be me in 40 years, old and graying and out of shape and working at Denny’s, talking with some kid happily eating alone at Denny’s reading literature, and I would reminisce back to when I had read that book, wherever that may have been, and how it affected me, and what it got me through. And maybe I’ll be reading this post in 40 years thinking I was Nostradamus. You never know. It wouldn’t be that bad of a life.
A rec softball ump who did it for the fun of it and an ump who did it to be important. I guess I can’t know that for certain, but one was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a white t-shirt and stood behind the plate with his arms crossed and the other had on an official looking jacket and nice blue pants and wore sports sunglasses and stood behind the plate hunched over and made us all sign waivers. They both gave advice to the batters though, so they’re probably both just in it for the love of seeing 20-somethings and adults alike play their favorite sport.
A trivia host who I played in volleyball the previous day at Whiskey Island; who took both recreational volleyball and Wednesday night trivia as seriously as a mom takes the ramblings of her four year old. That’s pretty damn serious.
A bartender named Mike who bought me a shot for a cigarette then bought me a shot after we talked for fifteen minutes for being “a good kid” then bought me a shot because a girl with beautiful blonde hair joined us. He bought her a shot too. We talked about death and who will remember and judge us. The conversation found its way back to life and love, as it always seems to do.
A tiny dog in Flying Monkey who went to bars with her owner because she was a dog and wanted the companionship and because the owner wanted someone to go to the bars with. True love.
A girl named Felicity with hair that rolled in rivulets of gold past soft shoulders hunched with what I assumed was the pain and exhaustion of a long day at work, and whose eyes shined with blue so that I thought I was looking in a mirror, so I smiled so she would smile back; who works with mentally handicapped kids in some capacity. She didn’t think they’d ever grow up to be anything. I tried to explain to her how none of us grow to be anything, we just are, and that those kids’ thoughts, Mike’s thoughts, her thoughts, were so beautiful that it didn’t matter what we were, just that we keep on chugging. She turned to Mike and said he was the sexiest bartender at the restaurant then left with him shortly after. I shrugged my shoulders and thought ah well, at least I tried.
A gay guy named Adam and his gay friend Ralph (they weren’t dating, they assured me. Adam, big and black and sassy, would never be caught dead dating Ralph, that skinny ass hipster white boy with a lisp from New York); who wanted me to read them my story (The Moon Wins) and thought it was poetry. I laughed and said it was technically prose. They continued to disagree. They told me to keep writing, that I could make it work and really had something, and they’ll never know how much I needed to hear that. They were probably just drunks, but drunk people need stories to read too.