About a girl (a haiku)

Conveying a new mood,
yet my tempo to unclog
-- Rain on, you damn bitch.


Spring, 2010 (Cassandra and the crown-prince of the Screwups)

It’s a Thursday morning when Dee calls in to tell me he’s got the rest of the day off, then invites me for a luncheon at this real trendy, sort-of exclusive place he knows that only opens on weekdays for lunch.
I’m sitting atop my desk at the office looking past an ocean of cubicles, at the large windows that comprise the entire façade of the building, and the windows don’t open and all ants within are marching downtrodden, gray-faced, beat, and it’s such a lovely day outside with all the hallmarks of the first month of Spring—sunny but cool, with the buds at the trees starting to bloom and blossom—then all of a sudden the entire scene inside starts to seem so sad and forlorn that it ends up calling out for some needed distance from the Machine.
“Whatever, let’s do it” I tell him as I go through my appointments and deliverables for the rest of the day without too much care or regard, to shrug most of them off, then I rush past the doors, right through the elevators taking the stairs down instead, then go outside to finally hop a cab and GO!, man.

The restaurant is a cozy, cute little hallway that sits maybe ten, fifteen and then there’s a large counter with the cashier and the espresso machine, and besides those, two large freezers with take-outs for sale, and past them a large window up on the wall with a large white-tiled kitchen where all the action happens. We get to sit at an adjoining room, really an aisle or a corridor that ends at the restrooms and the funny trash bin that springs open automatically, where maybe five, six tables are lined up under a clear roof and it’s all sunlit inside and plants hang from vases overhead, and when I order the pasta with calamari and lemon, Dee advises me to go for the shrimp stroganoff instead.
“Stroganoff’s, like, too plebeian for an escapade,“ I tell him with a sneer. He says no, that I’m wrong because it’s their best or something, and I so stand corrected. We are served by the owners themselves, a trendy young couple in their mid-30s.

We talk of jobs and money and heartbreaks during lunch, maybe also gossip a little about people we know, then wrap up the conversation with the usual friendly competition of who’s got the darkest circles underneath the eyes. Dee always claims victory over this as usual, but it’s mostly out of sheer ego plus that disheveled widow’s peak thing that makes him look like a leaner, more fashionable Bela Lugosi. I let him be.

The flagship of the house, he explains, is the cheesecake with the homemade raspberry jam so we order two for dessert. The raspberry jam is actually pretty good, in fact probably the best raspberry jam I’ve had yet. Dee says it sells for forty bucks a jar if you want to take it home but I just shrug because I don’t really have anything to put that jam on in my refrigerator back home.

Before we leave I ask Dee if he thinks these days are ever going to end. He asks me what I mean and in return I ask doesn’t he feel there are missing pieces, holes in meaning, an overall lack in purpose? He asks me why would I actually want these days to end and I say nothing for a while. “I guess I don’t want them to end,” I finally respond with a cocky half-smile.

From the other side of the table he scratches the side of his head and instead of the expected dire fatalism out of some Brontë novel he tells he’s pretty sure things are going to turn out all right for me in the end. “Really?,” I ask him and he says yes, absolutely then proceeds to foretell all of our futures: Mine, Johnny’s, Bryce’s, I think Kay’s too, I fact everyone’s, packing some uncharacteristic unbridled optimism. “You’ll find someone cool enough in time, you’ll see.”
When I ask him if he’s just found religion or something he smiles and says no, but resumes the usual programming and says he’s probably dying before everyone else anyway. I decide it sounds far more fun if taken as a joke so I never question that assertion.

We part ways a few blocks from the restaurant—the two of us: Cassandra and the crown-prince of the Screwups—He goes to look up DVDs at the large FNAC nearby, his own fortunes to predict and an entire afternoon to lay waste to, while I walk slowly to a small plaza overhead to get a cab back to the office with either twenty or twenty thousand bucks in my wallet and nothing in particular to think of in the back of my head, as the flower buds and the trees bob and sway under the mild breeze of the early Spring afternoon.


Down to Earth

First orbit:
“Yeah but I sort of already own Kill Bill on disk,” says Dee during lunch and from across the table I’m sitting with the small of my back against the red leather upholstery of the sofa, just watching the conversation in silence, not really participating nor paying much attention.
“But do you have it on Blue Ray or like, regular?,” asks the other guy, Dee’s friend, the lawyer, very casually.
“Regular,” Dee nods then picks up the last fried rice cake from the bowl at the center of the table and pours some ketchup on it. I remain silent, not really bored but obviously more interested in chewing on a fingernail until it stings then bleeds.
“And what kinds of movies do you like?,” the lawyer turns to me and asks but I’m too far away, zoned out, so it takes me about ten seconds to register the question and react.
“I don’t know,” I finally look up from a bleeding cuticle. “Movies in general, I guess.”
“No, really,” Dee explains, scholarly. “He’s like, really into movies and stuff.”
“You’re such a space cadet sometimes,” the lawyer tells me accusingly, “You know that?”

Second orbit:
“You’re not a teenager anymore, you know that?” asks this girl I work with as I’m watching her eat in the cramped office pantry while I sip from a cup of coffee. “Yet you insist on living like one.”
“Because I’m playing hooky from a very dull conference call right now?”
“Not that,” she says, emphasizing all the right words. “It’s just that I just can’t believe you actually think you can keep up with this lifestyle of yours for so much longer.”
“Like… which lifestyle?,” I ask, not understanding the question.
“Like living by yourself, not letting people in, not having anyone to care for,” she says with such gusto you’d swear she’s savoring every word. “That kind of stuff.”
“I don’t know,” I look up from my coffee and stare into empty space for a couple of seconds before continuing. “Maybe it’s just that I haven’t really found anyone to let in yet.”
“And have you been looking for that someone lately?,” she tilts her head to the side with a wry, condescending smile, and then I know I’m beaten.
“I guess I might have been playing hooky from lots of things lately…” I give her a shrug before finally leaving the room, maybe as a sign of things to come.

Third orbit:
“I think Capricorn is an earth sign or something,” she says just before the show starts. “Means you’re supposed to be very pragmatic and everything has got to be either black or white with you, right or wrong, no gray areas in-between.”
“And what sign are you?,” I ask her in return.
“Scorpio,” she says.
“That’s an earth sign too, right?”
“I’m not sure, I don’t think so…”
“Well, I don’t think scorpions are like, supposed to fly like those big mean cockroaches and stuff,” I tell her with a half-smile. “That would be pretty goddamn scary…”
“No, that’s cool, I don’t think scorpions fly, either,” she says and returns the smile but understanding that smile is like divining the future—
—and I can’t—
—so I don’t—
Then the lights go out and the curtains go up, putting the conversation to a halt and leaving me slightly unsure if I have just entered one of those gray areas I’m supposed not to like, because yes, they do suck big time and I’d so rather be treading on surer ground than standing on these still waters.

Final orbit:
“You’re standing on Rio,” says Dee whom coincidently enough has just arrived from Rio. We are both standing in my living room, unrolling the Patrick Nagel print I bought him as a gift on eBay and had just arrived in the mail a few days ago. It’s Sunday evening and we still have some time to kill before picking up Kay’s wife for dinner.
“Actually, I think I’m standing on Texas,” I tell him with my mouth full, chewing from a Toblerone bar as I pin down the remaining loose corner of the poster sheet to the carpet with a plastic water bottle.
“I thought it was called Rio,” he says. “Because of the Duran Duran album, you know?”
“Yep,” I take another bite from the chocolate. “But it’s called Texas anyway.”
He nods, then takes a photograph of the print with his iPhone to post on Facebook.
“You’re not going to the restaurant wearing those, are you?,” he asks me accusingly once he notices the edge of my foot was caught in the picture and I’m wearing cheap rubber flip-flops. “You’re such a space cadet sometimes…”


A transit of Venus

It’s a Monday morning there about eight or eight-thirty and I’m sitting atop an unoccupied desk at the office leaning my head back against the partition separating this cubicle from the next one, as I wait for this girl I work with to wrap up some test run with an ERP application or something, which I’m supposed to oversee but I’m not entirely sure.

“Hung over or still drunk this time around?” she asks once she notices I have my eyes closed as if basking under the fluorescent light above. I’m figuring that can’t be good in any way but to hell with it, really.
“I don’t know,” I shrug without opening my eyes, then pinch the bridge of my nose between thumb and forefinger. “Little bit of both, I guess.”

Last night, see, I was sitting at this plush sofa at the lounge of the nightclub, talking with this really cute girl I’ve been sort of interested in for the past couple of months—we were watching the bartenders work, trying to figure out who’s gay and who’s not—when I dared her to go over and hit on the one who looked like Clark Kent (albeit a very big, built, muscular Clark Kent), just to be sure.
She looked at me and said, absolutely, she’s take up the wager for a ticket to see Cats: She even has student discount and pays half-price (she reasoned).

“You’re on,” I told her, all cool and all that, but somehow it seemed a lot more amusing before she actually went up to the bar and started whispering something in Clark the bartender’s ears and he whispered back in hers, both giggling as they went, then she came back a while later with a big grin on her face:
“Nope,” she said with a sneer, “Definitely not gay”.

She raised her hand as if calling for a high-five then sat down by my side: She said his name was Francisco, then reminded me I owed her the ticket to see the damn show.

Someone took a picture of the group as we’d arrived that night:
The dancefloor was closed and being used as the entrance to the club, so that you’d come in through this large empty room with all the multicolored LED lighting embedded on the wall, blinking, flashing on and off, changing colors—our silhouettes pitted against the concrete columns like tiny Venus blotted out in transit against the glare of the Sun—same thing when we left, the whole thing seasonal, cyclical, purely incidental—the sheer logic or reason of the moment scattered in the night, like buckshot or an archipelago.