Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gimme the Car, Come on Boy, Give Me Your . . .

Come on dad gimme the car tonight
Come on dad gimme the car tonight
I got this girl I wanna....
Come on dad gimme the car

My parents tried as best they could, I will start with that.

They asked me to watch Roman Holiday, so I joined them in the living room for a night, watched the film and then retreated back to my room. I just didn't know how to talk to them anymore.

My mother and I were friends growing up. She would take me shopping sometimes, we would get our hair cut and then she would buy me an ice cream cone. None of those things interest me anymore. I am an adult who hates shopping, but we both love reading, and I thought with my heavy reading in the writing program and her hobby of avid reading we could talk.

"I am reading 'Down and Out in Paris and London' by George Orwell, it's very good. Have you read it? Do you know George Orwell?" I asked.

"I know George Orwell but I haven't read that," she grumbled. Then she would walk away and turn on the TV, which was unusual, since she usually didn't watch a lot of TV.

"I don't think he cares for women too much," I said, again.

"That's not hard to believe," she mumbled again, before walking away.

She was passive aggressive, even while growing up, she disciplined using the silent treatment, which probably contributes to my poor/comedic habit of constantly expressing everything unsaid. As a child, when she grew quiet, I would interrogate her about what, if anything, I did wrong. My favorite little phrase was, "Do you still love me?" Annoyed or amused, she would say, "Of course."

Now, when she was quiet, she waited for me to push and prod, for me to question her, circle her, stare at the back of her head like I did as a child and beg for her attention. I just didn't see the point anymore. So she walked away, and so did I.

When she picked me up from work once, and I was always grateful for the ride, I climbed in and fiddled with my phone, "I am having trouble with my phone, I think its broken," I said.

"All you do is complain!" she shouted. There was an awkward few minutes of silence before I asked her to drop me off at the store. She did, pulling up parallel to the store windows, staring out the window until I got out of the car and then peeling out of the parking lot. I really don't know what she was so upset about. I just knew I needed more wine, more cigarettes and Cap'n Crunch.

My Father was more easy going, but his mood swings were more unpredictable. When he drove me to work one morning, the Hotel guests were straying off their pathway and into the road. My father slowed down from 10 miles an hour to nearly a standstill. "People are like zombies, have you noticed that? Just walking around in a daze. WAKE UP!" I said.

"Zombies are better than vampires. Vampires will suck your blood," he said.

"Well, I have plenty of that gushing out of me at the moment," I said, before sipping the last of my coffee.

"HAHAHA," he broke out laughing. I loved his laugh. "You never miss an opportunity for a joke! I will give you that," he said.

My Father did little things that got on my nerves. He would insist on using the bathroom two feet across the hall from my bedroom door to shit in everyday, instead of using his own bathroom in his bedroom, on his side of the house. The smell of his shit combined with a lit match was always so stifling I had to close my bedroom door and open the window for half an hour. I was trying to keep my bedroom door open for my dogs, so they could easily wander from them to me, but between the periodic blasts of sound from the television and the smell of my father's asshole, I kept the door closed.

Also, one morning, I was masturbating in my bed first thing in the morning and he opened my door, looked around and walked away, leaving the door wide open.

Finally, the moment that annoyed me the most was when he came home from Vancouver (the nearest metro-city) with dog food that was not up to my standards. I am a bit of a dog food snob, I need to make sure there is plenty of protein, no wheat and no corn by-products. I told them what was acceptable and always paid them back. The last time they bought dog food, it was filled with wheat and soy. "This isn't acceptable," I said, "You have to return it."

"You said you didn't know if it was good enough or not, so we got it," he dismissed, walking past me. He had suggested a brand to me a few days earlier, but the ingredients were not on-line.

"I said no wheat, corn or soy. This has all of those as fillers."

"You said you didn't know," he said, filling the Vittle Vault full of bad kibble. That drove me crazy. Two things I insist on for my dogs, in poverty and homelessness, is premium food and walks everyday. He just took one of those away from me.

Time goes by I can feel myself growing old
Burning inside makin' this boy turn out cold
What's wrong, What's right
I don't care when I hate my life
What's wrong, What's right
Y'know people don't care when they hate their life
 But how can I explain personal pain

During our heart to heart in his study the week before, he said, "You were the perfect child. You were easy. Then you turned 14 and everything changed." I didn't say anything at the time. Later, I reflected and thought about my childhood. Most of the time I was anxious, worried, miserable and scared of him. I was a stressed out kid with major stomach problems. I remember having anxiety attacks about learning cursive in the 3rd grade, or dosing on Pepto-Bismol over Bs on math quizzes. My father's temper was unpredictable and I would deliberately avoid him.

When I was 14, my menstrual cycle became heavy and painful, my body shaped into a woman, and my temper grew equally intense. This time, when he stormed into my room to stomp on my boombox because he hated the music, I walked out into the living room and kicked a hole in the wall, or smashed a dish. He would destroy my things, but in turn, I would destroy his. It became a war. So, yes, I was no longer the "perfect child" but I was standing up for myself the only way I knew how.

Come on dad gimme the car tonight

Eventually, on the day shifts, Martin started picking me up and driving me home. Martin is my 58-yr-old friend from work, has a great sense of humor and is always dispensing advice, which gets on everyone's nerves. It is actually incredibly helpful and I find his diligence amusing. I call him my "Sensei."

After a morning shift, covering a breakfast and lunch for Banquets at the Hotel, sometimes we would stop for a beer on the way home. A new brewery opened up nearby and we would sit outside, sipping homemade beer. My eyes warmed and leaked saltwater one afternoon when I opened up about Huck, "I said awful things to him, really bad things."

"I say awful things to my wife sometimes, but I don't mean them," he said, softly.

"I meant them. I meant to hurt him. I just hope he forgives me," I said, with a cracking throat.

"You have to forgive yourself. I am sorry, but listening to your problems, they sound mundane compared to everyone else's. You have to be easier on yourself. And I think its that last beer's fault. One beer too many," he said, gently.

"No, it has nothing to do with the beer. I always cry in public," I said, laughing, wiping the tear away.

As he dropped me off, he complained about the heat and turned the a/c on higher, "It is hot in here."

"I thought that is just because we were sitting next to each other," I said, hiding behind my sunglasses, smiling. He always punctuated my jokes with a high pitched cackle, looking away at the console or his phone. I love that laugh. Even writing "Martin's high pitched cackle" has me smiling, alone at this kitchen table on a Saturday night.

On the night shifts, it was QB, my High School Quarterback, who drove me home. We became comfortable bantering with each other, though the flirtation that took root felt incestuous at first. He grew up working at the Hotel so he would inevitably be the Go-To Guy for anyone training on those evening shifts. Walking with me, we would carry dirty linens to the laundry room or drag carts of food and plates out to a Banquet hall.

When we walked together, he would walk backwards, to ask me questions while looking me in the eye.
"Why are you walking backwards to talk to me? It's hard to take your eyes off this, isn't it?" I asked, making big, awkward circles with my hands over my body.

"No. Gross. I just don't want you to be tempted to touch my butt."

"That's right, that's the part of you I am most tempted to touch."

"Shut up!" he said, turning pink and then spinning around.

Another thing he does, because as I write this we still work together, he checks his fly when ever we chat. I ask him about it, and he always blushes.

"Jesus, don't turn pink on me," I say.

"I always check my fly," he says.

"Only around me. I know, I know, new and wonderful things are happening to your body when you see me. It is called puberty."

"Please. Your head is too big for me," he says. It is stupid and immature, but I laugh and I laugh hard. It was such a relief to laugh again, feeling it heavy and sloppy spilling out of my chest. Whenever I laughed, he would squint at me like he couldn't see me very well and then relent to a big smile, his ears would spread out even further from his red head, and I could see the boy, but I could also see the man.

What complicates our flirtation breaks in two parts: A) He lives next door, and we have known his family since my parents moved in. He is one of four children, and is the youngest boy. Christ. He is the youngest boy. I have known him since he was 6 years of age. B) His mother is ten years older than me, always kind and was the one who got me the job at the Hotel. She was promoted to Manager of Banquets while I was in residency at writing school and hired me without an interview. She manages most of the day shifts. QB works mostly the night shifts.

Come on dad gimme the car tonight

QB would drive me home when we closed Banquets at night, often around 1 or 2am. I would climb into his jeep with the broken passenger door and no working windows, and we would fly down the windy, mountain highway bickering about whether or not I should buy him alcohol.

"Buy me a 40! Come on!"

"I got carded last time, and I didn't bring my purse today," I said.

"Try. So what? Just try!"

"God, peer pressure."

He kept looking over at me, his smile was big but he insisted on hiding his teeth. His teeth were straight, so I don't know why every smile was concealed with a closed mouth. Maybe we do that when we feel insecure.
"Fine," I said, "I will try."

We pulled over into the one gas station open after midnight on the way to our houses. He stayed in the jeep outside in the parking lot. I got out and picked up one 40 of Olde English for him, and as I approached the front counter, I ran into our Banquets Manager for that night, Chastity. She looked down at the bottle and her eyes grew wide.

"I never thought you would be that kind of girl," she said.

"Um, rough night," I said, then shrugged my shoulders and brought it to the counter as QB walked in. My eyes widened with him, and he smiled. "Just stopping by for a soda," he clucked to Chastity.

"Oh, are you driving her home?" she asked, innocently.

"Yeah," I said, slugging a low-key smile over the 40.

We all left the market, first me, then Chastity and then QB, all with our own beverages. She climbed in her car, "That better not be for you, [QB]!" she shouted. We laughed, I shook my head and I climbed over the passenger door to slide into my seat.

"Oh fuck, oh fuck! She knows," I said.

"Calm down, no she doesn't," he said. He pulled us out of the market and onto the windy, mountain road. The wind slammed against us like waves, looking for the ocean. With no car windows and a teenager's heavy foot, we fought through it like our lives depended on it.

"I respect your mother and I would hate to lose that if she were to find out about this," I said.

"God, don't worry so much."

"I am keeping the 40 and your change," I said.

"No, you're not. Keep buying me 40s or I will say you made me drink and you tried to touch my weiner."

"In your wildest dreams."

"Yeah right, you're like 50. You are 50!" he said, looking over at me, grinning with a big smile kept taut behind his lips.

"I am in my sexual prime, ripe for the plucking. Actually, so are you at this age. Weird," I said, immediately regretful for saying everything unsaid out loud. Then there was that silence. Oh dear, God, why did I say that?

I tell'ya what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna pick her up
I'm gonna get her drunk
I'm gonna make her cry
I'm gonna get her high
I'm gonna make her laugh
I'm gonna make her...shh
Woman, woman, woman

We pulled into his driveway, both our houses were still in the middle of the night.

"Thanks for not freaking out," he said, sarcastically. I laughed but capped it off with, "Your mom better not find out. I will kill myself."

"She won't," he mumbled. And we both drifted apart, making the gravel crackle under our feet as we sauntered back to our separate doorways.

When coming home, I usually stripped off my uniform and stuck it in the washer, showered, microwaved food and hid in my room with a bottle of wine. That was my ritual. I never drank more than half a bottle after work, because the truth is, I am a light weight. Can you be a light weight, heavy drinker?

On this night, I sat still at my computer, with wet hair, listening to QB's feet on the gravel outside, wondering if he knew it was my bedroom light that was on. Then I thought better of it, closed my blinds, turned on music and sucked down a glass of wine. His Mom is my peer in age, and he is my peer at work. That is already a tricky beam to cross. Now, there was flirtation. That would be . . . bad. I used to hate older men who flirted with younger women, it was a big pet peeve a few years ago. Now I see the appeal. The flirtation lacks that dirty grime that comes with manipulation, distrust and experience. That grime slowly collects when young people end up fucking emotionally troubled people  . . . like me.

She gotta knows she's it
Cause I'm gonna touch her
All over her body
Gonna touch her
All over her body

It was about that time I started wearing eye liner to work. God, I can't believe I am writing this. I stopped wearing glasses to hide bags under my eyes and religiously wore my contacts to work, trimmed my bangs and wore eye liner so I would be more attractive. I wanted to be pretty for them.

That weekend, the weekend when I remember my depression finally lifting, I was working a Mormon wedding set for the back lawn behind the Hotel. The back lawn is on a slope, which forces you to tread carefully back and forth from the bar and buffet table but it overlooks the Columbia River and the canyons. It  is truly breathtaking. I was assigned the job of handing out hors d'oeuvres. QB was not assigned that job, but was still hanging around me, grinning. He had started mooning over me, which is exactly what I needed. My ego was shattered and my confidence choked. Looking up to his smile all day put me back on my feet.

A new waitress asked what we were serving, while unsteadily holding up a silver platter. "These are mushrooms stuffed with an artichoke red pepper mousse, and this is a cherry tomato and mozzarella skewer with raspberry vinaigrette," I explained. The red hair and green eyes were looming over me from the corner of my eye. I turned to QB, "Would you control yourself!" I whispered dramatically. That grin spread out over his closed mouth, the ears reached, he leaned back and coolly walked away.

How can I explain personal pain
How can I explain my voice is in vain
How can I explain the deep down
Driving, driving, driving,

This wedding was different than the other weddings. The Hotel attracted a lot of upper-middle class people, mostly couples who were just a bit older than me, making a last ditch effort at storybook happiness. I thought I would enjoy working weddings, but grew bored with the long, disingenuous toasts, the same playlist of songs over and over, the fake compliments and the complete disregard for the servants waiting around them. The Mormon wedding was filled with people who were genuinely happy to be there. Young people were dressed in vintage tuxedo vests and dresses you would only find at a thrift store one lucky afternoon. They were kind and insisted on learning my name when I circled around with the food. The actress in me learned to make an act out of the tray, if I saw someone eyeing my tray I pretended I was fighting a gravitational pull towards them, making it look like the food wanted them. They laughed and helped themselves to more and more food. They loved that act. The Beatles and Frank Sinatra played on speakers over the lawn. I was happy. I was really happy.

On my breaks, I would sneak off to the Employee Lounge, a hole next to the laundry room, cluttered with flies and dirty dishes, to quickly chug a Pepsi and wolf down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I hated the Lounge because they never restocked it with clean glasses, coffee was never made and fruit flies or black flies were always swarming. It used to piss me off, but I have learned to just grab the rich people's food and coffee instead.

There I was, standing with my sandwich, watching the Olympics on the big screen TV gifted to us in this sewer of a room, and QB walked in. "What a coincidence! Look who's here!" I said, with a mouth full of bread and strawberry jelly.

"Just here for my glass of milk," he said. When I started that job, he insisted on drinking half and half in the Back Hall like it was milk. Now, with my periodic visits to the employee lounge, he switched over to milk entirely. We sat down across from each other at a table. "So are you going to college or what?" I asked.

"Um, I was looking at a college in Arizona, but I was going to go with my brother. He knows this coach out there that wants us. Now my brother is having health problems, so we might not go," he said, licking the milk off his upper lip.

"Why don't you just go by yourself?" I asked.

"Um, I don't know," he said.

"Are you scared? Its scary doing something by yourself," I said, taking a bite out of my bread. "That's what the Native Americans do, they send their young out to an adventure alone so they can become men."

"No. I don't know," he said, thoughtfully. Then, after a good silence, "I guess I am scared, a little," he said.

"Its ok to be scared, just don't get stuck," I said. "Are you going to get a girl pregnant and get stuck in this town for the rest of your life like the others?"

He smiled, "No . . . you remind me of your mother."

"Eugh, please. I am eating."

"She is the biggest sweetheart in the world, why don't you like her?" he asked.

"She is a sweetheart to you because she prefers boys. That is what she always says, she prefers boys to girls. She wishes she had boys," I said. In truth, my mother recently confided that she was glad she didn't have boys because my Father would have been a lot rougher on them.

"She is so nice, always coming over to talk. She is the nicest person in the world," he said, smiling.

"Ha! You don't know her," I said, picking up my dirty plate and glass.

"You looked just like her when you said that," he said, still sitting down, grinning with those devilish green eyes. He found my nerve.

We're driving, we're driving, we're driving
Ahhhhhhhh ...
Hey dad speaking of driving
 Come on dad gimme the car tonight

"Thanks. She looks like a crumpled up witch!" I threw my dirties in the plastic bin and walked out, but I looked back to see QB's face just before the door closed behind me, and he was smiling down at his milk. I felt my face aching like I was smiling. My breasts were sensitive. My body ached. I needed to stay away from that child and get laid, ASAP.

Come on girl gimme your...

Cause I ain't had much to live for
I ain't had much to live for
Y'know I ain't had much to live for
Y'know I ain't had much to live for

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