Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Ninety-eight

Posted by ilbebe on March 8, 2012

This was getting to be one of those arguments. A whole evening of shouting had led us to this point, as it often did, the point where Mark’s head hurt from the noise and strain. His pain often affected the both of us, or really, anyone within his emotional orbit or even earshot . Shouting back at him over the clamor of the bar, I suggested acetaminophen.

“I don’t need a minivan of any kind. Are you implying I’m getting old and soft? What the fuck?”

Mark was quick to get defensive. He was also deft at flitting mosquito-like around the conventions of linear thought the way many young drunks are.

“What the fuck is a seated minivan anyway? Don’t all minivans come with seats? Seriously, why the fuck would I want a minivan with gas being the price it is?”

“I wasn’t saying you needed a seated minivan, I was saying you need acetaminophen, like Tylenol or something.”

“Why do I need Tylenol?

“For the headache you said I was giving you.”

Mark made a sour face, and it sunk in. He held the look for a moment, then took a sip of his gin, and the grimace broke. It never failed to intrigue me that gin, for Mark, took anguished looks off of his face.

“Yeah, fuck. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go to Sheesh’s place.”

Sheesh’s place was special. It was many things to me, and to Mark, and to many people; grocery, deli, coffee shop, asylum.  Sheesh had been running the place for about twelve years when I first moved to the neighborhood five years ago, so at this point, he’d been running it for about three months longer than his oldest child, his son Ram, had been alive. I went there almost every day for coffee, and therapy, and sometimes I went more than once a day. This visit with Mark would be the fourth time I’d been in today, but then again, it was the twelfth of April. My Uncle Stan’s birthday, one of my least favorite days of the year. Mark and I had been at the bar earlier because we knew it didn’t have cell reception for some odd reason, and I wanted desperately to avoid the inevitable phonecalls that would start coming from Uncle Stan once he got into the second pint of Colonel Bennett’s. My relationship with Uncle Stan was living proof that being the kind of fucking person who actually listens to people when they’re upset can be a damn near intolerable way of life.

Highlights from years past included 2005, when he called from home to say he had jut remembered where he buried his child baseball cards, 2005 again when he called back to say he had just realized there was a freeway over the lot where his childhood home had stood, so ix nay on the baseball cards, and most recently 2009, when he said he was talking to Winona Ryder through Facebook and so to get ready to have a new Aunt. It was sort of funny once you got some distance from the calls themselves, but while I was on the line with him, I wanted lightning to strike him, anything; anything to give me back my normal April Twelfths.

Such had it come to pass that April 12 had come to be the central boogeyday of my year, but so far this one was going well. Mark found a quarter on the walk between Smaller’s and Sheesh’s (“Connecticut! I love this one!”), which was promising. And luckily, Sheesh was still open when we strolled in at ten-ten. Sometimes he closed up early on Fridays to get home and shoot a solitary game of nine-ball before going to sleep in the backyard.

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