Okay. We’re going back to ten poems in twenty minutes, because I can’t get anything out, and I need a structure. I’ll tell you what happened as it happened to me, as best I can, and do better tomorrow.
We drove up an old logging road in her maroon, beat-up, ‘97 Jeep Grand Cherokee she’s named Gerdie.
I think she’s named it because she’s heard of other people naming their cars, not because the car has a name.
It’s the same with her kindness,
She’s nice because she’s supposed to be nice,
There is no goodness there.
That’s my least favorite kind of disingenuousness.
It might be because I’m from the Midwest, and that’s how I was raised,
I’m contrary on purpose, and stubborn and hospitable, and upfront.
So, for me, character flaws are cause enough to distrust someone.
They’re harder to change.
And I dislike her. She’ll only say thank you because it’s what’s expected.
I have not come right out and asked her to drive me,
My pride wouldn’t allow it.
So, on her birthday, she asks if I want to go take pictures.
“Yes.” I say. “Always.” I say.
We drive up to a scenic overlook spot.
It’s almost like senior pictures, she says.
She brought a change of clothes.
She’s driving in her fancy new blue high heels.
She blow dried her hair.
I didn’t get asked to take her picture. I need prep time for portraits.
I do this for a living. I get paid for this. I don’t offer me for free.
If I give me and my camera, that’s one thing, if I take your picture because I want to, that’s one thing.
Why didn’t I bring it up?
I don’t stand for crap like this.
I don’t owe her.
But I do, because she drives me around, because I have no car.
And in her mind, I live in her house.
So I take bad photographs, because I’m blindsided, and didn’t have prep time.
And I’ll take the blame for that too.
We could do something for your birthday tonight. It’s still early.
I suggest from the corner, hiding from the angry lady complaining about cramps and her friends.
“It’s 8:30.” That’s all the response I get from her.
How could I ever think of doing something so late.
There must be something wrong with me, like she’s always thought.
Oh for goodness sake. Make a decision.
Both have good and bad sides, but are roughly equal.
Do one or the other and stop complaining.
Quit talking work with me.
And I know when my supervisor leaves, you’ll be my new boss.
But I don’t want you to be.
You like being in power, and that scares the hell out of me.
You’ll make a terrible leader.
But I can’t say that.
I’m going to go eat more asparagus from the grill over there.
And walk away from my future boss on a beach chair.
What did you do for your twenty-first?
She doesn’t have many birthday parties.
Then laugh some more.
Good or bad, she asks.
I take another laugh.
Oh, it was bad.
I don’t even say, I’ll tell you about it when I’m very drunk.
Because I don’t think I will.
That terrible, awful, hell of a night.
She doesn’t do black hair ties.
Who says that out loud?
I mean I can see someone saying it knowing they’re being ridiculous,
But to be so silly on purpose?
I’m an asshole.
The maintenance lady’s son, wait they call them custodians,
The custodian’s son, who I think is not right in the head, helped me move boxes of books and shelves for the library.
The nicest anyone here has been to me is the mostly mute, slightly brain-damaged, ex-fisherman who didn’t have his overalls zipped up all the way.
But we got a lot done.
And I feel nervous around him.
And he walked me home, without permission.
I’m just making a face and wanting him to go away.
See line 1.
If I say I’m an asshole, it covers my sins, and I don’t have to work on fixing me.
By the time I’m comfortable at a party,
By the time I like someone,
I don’t have attachment issues,
Stop telling me that textbook from my early childhood psychology class.
Just because my parents divorced when I was a baby,
I don’t have abandonment issues. I’m perfectly fine.
It’s just that no one will ever love me.
He’s coming over to make us fish.
He was supposed to come earlier last week. He kept forgetting.
The guy who made moves on me (and I let him)
Still “talks” to my roommate,
And didn’t respond to my last text.
This is gonna be great.
I think once you tell yourself to be cool, play it cool,
You’ve lost all your nerve.