co-working

"How did you two meet?" someone will ask.

I sigh. It doesn't matter who I'm with. My answer is always the same. "In a bar."

I have made no friends in Cooterville who do not work in the service industry. "You need to meet people someplace other than in bars," Allie chides weekly. She's not wrong. It's a problem. The root issue is that there are precious few professionals in this town. The most educated person I've met, doctors and vets aside, is a 28 year old college sophomore bartender.

Thus did I attempt co-working. I leased some desk space in a facility with shared meeting rooms, wifi, and a kitchen. I set up shop next to a 30 year old guy tapping away on his laptop. We soon hit it off. It turned out he was working on a screenplay. Fantastic. I asked him what he does for a living.

"I'm a bartender."

breakup

It turns out breaking up with a female friend is almost indistinguishable from a romantic breakup. Despite her ethical lapse, she has installed me as the bad guy in the narrative, herself as my victim. With zero context or mention of her, I joked on Facebook about how I'd been called "holier than thou," asking if it was a good thing or a bad thing that it was my first time hearing that. That was the entire post. A Facebook friend (and certified cancer) showed her the post, at which point I was accused of betraying confidence and told "you've hurt me deeply."

I get it. Anger feels better than rejection, than self-reflection, than guilt. But my indulgence has limits. Start the countdown.

I was sitting on my regular barstool, chatting with Porny, when a middle-aged guy sat next to me. We didn't interact much, mostly because there was something offputting about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Eventually he went to the bathroom, and Porny immediately said, "That guy is seriously creeping me out."

"Me too!"

For all our many differences, she and I do tend to be annoyed by the same people. The latest returned to his barstool, and for reasons known only to her, Porny sought to engage him. "Whatcha got going on today?" she said.

He then proceeded to babble about how he'd sued Russell Wilson for $37 million for hitting him in a football game and won, and he was wondering what to spend all that money on. Porny nodded and squirmed, but she could not extricate herself from the conversation. Bug eyed, he started asking her invasive personal questions.

Fuck me, I thought. I am never going to be able to leave. "Hey, look at my hands," I said, trying to bail her out. "See how as soon as I have even one drink, they stop trembling?"

"Good," she replied gravely. "Because you're probably going to need them."

All told, I would remain 2.5 hours longer than I wanted. As soon as he left, she cashed me out. "Thanks for staying," she said.

"I thought he was never going to leave."

"I saw the exact moment you realized you were stuck here," she laughed. "Your expression was like I'd asked you to carry a couch up 10 flights of stairs."

conflicted

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My neighbors, who you will be sad to know are kind people and thoroughly uncomplainableabout (look it up), last month told me they got a puppy. Lovely! A friend for Fredo! "It's a Basset Hound!" they exclaimed excitedly.

Kill. Me. Now. The most vocal breed imaginable. They howl when they're sad or lonely or happy or hungry or bored or playing. He's already begun, but I know how much worse the howling will get. My pleasant life as I all-too-briefly knew it is completely over. And yeah, I hold it against my neighbors. What were they thinking?

Today this neighbor blew my front-yard leaves to the curb for pickup. Didn't say anything. Just quietly did it.

I don't know how to feel.

My last couple months have been dominated by a brewing crisis. One of my best friends, certainly the one in whom I invested the most time and energy, seemed about to do something morally revolting. I tried to right her ship, but I failed. And thus did she wreck the marriage of her newborn godchild's parents. That scenario, if seen on Jerry Springer, would seem implausibly tacky.

"I'm not on board with the whole baby abandonment thing," I told her. And I kicked her out of my life.

The next few days were about how hurtful I was, how unreasonable. She even called me "holier than thou," which, when I realized that was the first time I'd been called that, sent me down a contemplative rathole. Is it a good thing never to have been called that, or had I simply never been moral before?

The headline is one of the texts I got.

and i'm back

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"Don't say that about poor, sweet Fredo!" countless women have scolded me after I've called him a moron. Idiocy and sweetness are not only not mutually exclusive; the former likely results in the latter. Nevertheless, many people have rushed to this simpleton's defense.

Past highlights:

  • He did not know his name until he was three.
  • He once took a dump on a park bench with his front paws on the ground.
  • As evidence of his impairment mounted, I decided to test its depths. I pantomimed opening the tailgate. His sister simply stared at me, wondering why I did that. Fredo impaled his face into the back of the car.

I shall now present his latest exhibit. I was able to get the photo only because he sniffed the statue's butt a second time.

IMG_9880.JPG

i even creep myself out

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Inger brought her three kids over yesterday, and I somehow found myself tugged and pulled in five different directions. No activity, no toy, is worthwhile unless I'm watching. The oldest child had me paint her face like a clown's.

"Can you pull your hair back, sweetheart?" I found myself saying, instantly cringing at having uttered those words to a 10 year old..

Five minutes later, the middle child wanted to see who can drink more water. Naturally, she used my shot glasses. And there I sat, doing shots with a 7 year old.

Why does anyone introduce me to their kids?

snob hill

I live in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Cooterville, which is like saying I'm the smartest resident in my home. As if to demonstrate the simile, Fredo is presently next to me, licking his nonexistent testicles. He does so in our upper-middle class neighborhood, which is about as toney as Cootervile gets.

I've never seen an actual neighbor attend to their own landscaping. The streets are lined with pickup trucks with phone numbers emblazoned on their sides. I recently learned that my neighborhood nickname is "the guy who mows his own lawn." It could just as easily have been "the guy with the butchered lawn," so I suppose I'll take it.