April 21, 2009

a rooster knows best

I was really late. The good thing about being late sometimes is that if you're really late, the way I was really late, you come to accept this fact of your inevitable tardiness so that by the time you get to your destination you are calm and ready and no longer as pissed as you were when you were waiting for that bus.

Except that if your tardiness affects somebody else, there is a pretty good chance that they will be pissed at you. And then you will have to deal with that. Everything I do, I am always having to "deal" with it.

For instance, I don't know how to deal with you when you are angry with me in the middle of Grand Central Station. It's such an elegant station, a library of a station. It keeps time to your every move and sends you along your way. Your anger contradicts everything Grand Central station stands for. 

"I'm sorry," I said when I saw your face. I could tell before I said it that you already predicted I would say that and have a ready response. You did. I winced. 

"Let's just go. We can still catch the express." 
I followed you down the marble staircase to the platform. You walked really quickly and don't check to see if I'm still behind you. You sat down on a crowded train and I sat near you but not next to you because there were too many people for us to be able to sit next to each other. You pretended you don't know me and it didn't really bother me. There was an obese 10 year old sitting next to me.

The kid's legs didn't touch the floor. He had one of those gummy string toys from a 25 cent machine and he's swinging it around on his pointer finger and watching it stick to whatever it hits and yanking it back again. He's breathing kind of loudly and I figure the poor kid's got asthma probably. How unfortunate for him. He looks at me and we make eye contact. I don't like it and look away quickly. He looks at me with big watery brown eyes and I feel like I've been caught.

"What." He says. 
"Nothing, man." I shrug. 

Children are just short adults with sticky hands, I think to myself. I have the urge to ask him where his mom is but I don't want to appear patronizing. 

"Where are you going?" He asks me. 
"I'm going home." I say. "Where are you going?"
"My mom's house." 
"Aren't those like the same thing?"
"No, I live with my grandma and grandpa."
"Oh okay," I say quietly. 

He's still looking at me. I don't like the way he's looking at me, like he can't quite figure out what's wrong with me. 

"Wanna know a secret?" he asks me. 
"Sure, why not."
"I gave someone the middle finger today." 
"Why did you do that?"
"This kid was riding his bike and looking at me and I didn't like it so I gave him the middle finger." 
"It's good that you did that. Do it again." 

He does it again, timidly and to the ground. I nod in approval. 

I suddenly want to unlearn this kid every moral polite lesson he's probably grown up with, fearing the unknown Otherwise that would happen if he didn't comply. The only thing I remember is that when you rebel too many times, people stop giving a shit. They sort of just start thinking you're a douche bag. There is little consequence for offenses like giving the middle finger to some kid who's looking at you funny. I explain this to him and he looks confused. 

"You're cool," he decides finally.

The train took an eternity and the kid and I ran out of things to talk about. I think he might have been afraid of me, some lunatic telling him to flip the bird to bullies and stuff. He didn't look at me again. I looked over and you were asleep, or at least your eyes were closed and your head back.

It was getting dark by the time we resurfaced. I ran out by myself, didn't wait for you. I ran past blurs of concrete and headlights and pedestrians with pedestrian expressions on their faces. I ran all the way there. I ran until I thought it would kill me, knowing that I'd die anyway if I stopped. Until breathing hurt more than not breathing. Maybe you were shouting my name, but I ran from that too. 

I unlocked the door quickly and shut it and sat down at the kitchen table, sweating and heaving. I concentrated very hard on being alone for the next few minutes and what I should do in that time, how I could preserve that feeling. I hid in the closet and waited for you. The cool darkness felt good and my breathing didn't hurt so much anymore. 

Your key turned in the lock, the door opened and shut and your shoes clacked around until you took them off. One clunk. Two clunk. I felt the TV blink on. A professional sounding voice. You sighed. I heard that. 

The television shut off momentarily and you sighed again. You filled a glass of water for yourself from the faucet and went to your room and never came to find me. I was okay with that. I sat down in the closet and fell asleep.  

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