Oh yeah, That One Night

This town is a multi-lake, family oriented place where every home owner seems to be an adult couple who throws their children lavish parties with bouncy castles and graduation tents while looking forward to their cute homes becoming empty nests. I particularly appreciate the mutual understanding when a gathering runs a bit loud, a bit late. You can hear live music and laughter on any given night and the noise is a respectful recognition of everything being in the right place. The local taverns are filled with older people most of the time; I once saw a farmer bring the bartendress crops in exchange for a drink.

Something strange happened earlier this year that I never wrote about. It occurred very close to home and I avoided telling it because I never understood it.

While sitting at a bar just up the road, I spotted a unique couple amongst the old men in flannel. They looked like me – younger, current – curious. The girl, Caucasian, taller than me with bigger boobs, had thick brown hair pouring all over a low-neck Detroit Tigers shirt. She would diddle on her smart phone and drink shots of tequila. Her boyfriend had a Detroit cap on and was asking questions about the menu.

She had me guess his age. I said, 32. She laughed and made him tell me the truth – 48. Nearly twenty years older, almost fifty and rocking tennis shoes with carpenter jeans. Coulda fooled me.

“It’s because he’s black,” she said. I had never seen any sort of diversity in one of those rinky-dink places before. Just as well, the staff says that me and my boyfriend initially caught their attention for being different from the regulars.

"Whenever you guys come in I go into the kitchen and I tell Barb, 'Barb, The Kids are here'."

After talking to them for a while I learned that they had just moved from Las Vegas where they’d stayed for years. The slower pace was killing them, the lack of nightlife, blah blah blah – digging deeper I learned that they were staying at her parents’ place and closing on a house in Warren. Warren, or ‘Wasteland’ as my peers call it, is a place I’ve only been to once. I remember seeing billboards for Vicodin addiction and going, “What the fuck?”

Anyway, she looked pretty. And interesting. And I had downed an entire pitcher of beer because Brad was unable to meet me there.  I watched them look at their bill, checking it over and over, like it was higher than they’d expected. She asked me if I smoked and I said ‘no’. Then she asked if there were any places with pool tables or dart boards.

I ended up leading them to the next closest bar which had a live band. It was like drinking from scratch. As we made our way around the place, oogling photos on each other’s phones, talking about bullshit that didn’t matter, I wondered if they thought it was weird that some girl had suddenly buddied up to them. All alone, dressed in black, like I didn’t have a care in the world, I started buying them rounds. She decided to teach me how to play darts. They loved darts, they said.

The bar had one of those electronic dart boards that does all of the math. I just had to stand behind a line on the floor and throw the dart. It reminded me of my county fair, when I’d pop balloons for mirrored squares in cardboard frames.

As often as they claimed to have played, they sucked at it. Turns out, I do not. I was landing them dead center where I aimed to throw them – and we were all shocked.

“Are you hustlin’ us?!?!” she asked. Try explaining, as you’re watching your darts share the same tiny bullseye with each other, that you have never played, before.

When I throw a dart, I copy  a motion I’ve always seen my dad do. He aims it and then quickly faux-throws it about six inches in a straight line, one, two times, then lets it go on the third. After he throws it, he’s sort of pointing straight ahead with his long index finger. It’s like imagining you’ve already thrown it twice, instantly reloaded, and been able to adjust the result.

She mimicked my throw, pursing her lips, like I couldn’t possibly be instantly good and have something signature like that.

Each time I had to run to the bathroom, I took my phone and my wallet with me. No purse, no pockets – I was always holding on to the two. Had been all day, occasionally setting them down on the bar. But always in sight.

Then I kinda screwed myself because, apparently, you have to get down to a 0 score in darts and I was at 1. I either had to hit the slice of ‘1’ in the right spot or lose the game. Great. At least the beer was good. And at least I was meeting new people.

I stood up there, took a buzzed moment to find where the 1 was, and wished that I could actually do it. One, two,  – I threw my dart – and it soared right up there and landed on the 1. The game started playing a digital song in celebration.

Quitting while I was the winner, I left them to their own game and concentrated more on my beer and the band. We met back up at the bar and I had a new field ready on my phone. I handed it to her and she didn’t seem to hesitate at all. She put ‘Jamie’ in and added her number. I tested it by texting her. It worked. They were working on their own tab and I offered to buy them another round.

Jamie said, “We haven’t even bought you one, yet! Don’t worry about it!”

Then I saw my neighbors on the other side of the horseshoe, rocking out to a cover of ‘This Is How We Do It’. I said, loud enough so Jamie could hear, “I’m gonna go say hi to my neighbors!” and took off.

While we talked about tree removals and other domestic things, I noticed Jamie and her boyfriend looking on their phones as if they were comparing bank statements. I’d seen something like that going on the entire time. It wasn’t long before they came over to my side.

“We’re gonna step outside for a smoke!” I gave a big thumbs up.

I also never saw them again.

They ditched their tab, empty shot glasses stacked in towers. Some girls watching the band pulled me close and insisted that they made better company. I smiled sadly and thanked them.

They also ditched me.

Sometimes I think back to that night, and all of the odd things that happened. Them, from nowhere, me, kicking their asses at their favorite bar game, their obvious financial troubles, and our instant friendliness.  I wonder if they had planned to take advantage of me. My wallet, being all alone, or where I lived…then suddenly seeing that people who knew me were there…and that I wasn’t getting drunk enough to make any poor decisions… Had I turned out to be too damn nice? Did they never like me one bit?

Could it be, that they were wondering the same about me?

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Of Battles and Plans

Today I went out to do a little watering and general surveying for good measure, and I’m sure glad I did…As I watered several plants, they just sort of toppled over like the roots had been severed. The soil seemed to shift and cave. Moles were back. I flooded some of the holes and actually saw a baby mole scurry across the garden!

Frustrated with the lack of lazy in my Sunday, I grabbed my wallet and took off for Home Depot. We were all out of bait so I dropped another thirty bucks on death worms and pellets. Brad helped locate the tunnels and we set the bait.

I pulled all of the spent stems from the day lilies that now looked like tall, brown sticks sticking straight up. Anything sort of yellowed or browned was plucked and pulled, returning the display to that fresh green impression.

My neighbors to one side have obvious mole tunnels all the way around their house and they don’t seem to care. That is some Boooolshit.

How Zombies Are Really Made

The last few weeks have felt incredibly unfair. I was hunting online for jobs with other companies while trying to find the energy to perform at work despite the public announcement that my position was eliminated. Talk about feeling irrelevant. The only good was that, in addition to the severance papers many of us received, we were told that we were “free to apply for any newly created positions”.

No one feels like a potential candidate with a “the more, the merrier” atmosphere. At least, I didn’t. I was in a group of people – some of them downright goofballs – who suddenly had one week to secure a position that was available for everyone, company-wide. Who was I, anymore?

The managers were discussing the deconstruction of my public view monitors and record retention desk while I was standing at it. I pretended like it was not hard to breathe. They were talking about repositioning our community display that I have worked so hard to remodel in order to reflect our city. Big, strong men – real security looking dudes – would come walking in from other stores, their little printed application in hand, and ask me to get my manager for them.

One time I was doing a friendly touch-and-go with one of the young, entry level associates, just briefing him on our company safety and shrink plans, when he mentioned that he had an interview scheduled for the position I wanted that I was currently performing. It’s like having someone say, “I’m gonna try to be you because I think that’s possible.” And that’s just fucking insulting. But I smiled and gave him advice, anyway, followed by one of those pretentious fist bumps for good measure.

I felt acidic. I couldn’t distract myself. I wasn’t enjoying the fun, simple things in everyday life. It was very hard to get to sleep and nearly impossible to get out of bed. At the same time my hours were practically doubled as I went the extra mile to fit my development courses in with actual shifts, occasionally putting in twelve hour days. I couldn’t even write. If I was in front of this laptop, I was working on my resume or drawing up a three month plan to deliver at my interview.

“Oh, I guess it was my job to tell you: your interview is tomorrow morning. Ooh, it’s early, too.”

That’s when I spent all of the strength I had left. I used it to not bitch someone out about courtesy and professionalism. On a positive note, a lot of my dread and anxiety went away – but it was because I had somehow run out. I was tired of it. I was done fighting for the most basic thing. Besides, I had all of my materials in order and I couldn’t be any more prepared.

The bizarre treatment had numbed me, somehow, and actually relaxed me by the time I walked in to the board of interviewers. I made a joke about one third of the way through, while discussing crisis situations, that I’d spent plenty of time looking out at the sort of dense fog in our parking lot that is perfect pretense for a horror movie.

I said, in addition to the tornado and fire emergency, that I was prepared for a zombie apocalypse. That it was all “up here,” and pointed to my brain.

“Step number one, no matter what: get those metal doors down and locked.”

“BOOM!” the head manager replied, her hand motioning straight down as if she could see it playing out. Everyone was smiling.

Then it was a few more days of waiting. Some of the nervousness flooded back into my system. For good measure I focused on sales and did good things in front of the right people. I couldn’t have told you at this point, if getting the job was good or bad. It wasn’t really a matter of preference. It was a game I’d played for so long that I instinctively aimed to stay in it.

Yesterday morning the head manager called me from her personal cell phone. She started in on a positive note, which I have come to recognize as strategy for setting the tone for bad news. It was like listening with the phone to my ear but being a mile from the receiver. Like I’m always holding onto those separation papers.

“You interviewed really well; you gave a very strong presentation. Thank you for coming prepared. We all think that you will be excellent for this new role and I would like to officially offer you the job.”

Later on that day someone in the know approached me and asked, “Aren’t you excited?”

I’m tired. The process was very draining but I didn’t know how to express that so I just said, “Yeah, it’s just that no one is supposed to know, yet, so.”

I found out later from someone else, “Congrats on your promotion! You were the first to interview for that position and I went in there after you just to see how things were going. They were like, soon as the doors were closed, ‘well, we know who has THAT role’.”

Great. I have a lot of work to do. I close tonight, and reasoned Sunday off.

Tonight the sleep will be sound and tomorrow, I will reconnect.

Happy Mistake

When I was watering this week, I accidentally lopped off this stalk with my hose. At the time it had only one flower – and I was so upset! Then I realized I had an excuse to bring this lily inside. I put it in a vase and the other buds bloomed!

chillin in a rum bottle

I can actually take the polleny-lookin parts from these blooms and pollenate other lilies outside.

Multiplying

These white/pink things are really interesting because I didn’t plant them. They’re what happened when a white lily cross-pollenated with a dark purple lily, meaning more for my money and more awesomeness.

Making Due


We went treasure hunting yesterday. Everyone was selling crap from out of their garage for way too much. Brad found a large mug for a dollar and I was amused by the monarch hanging out in someone’s driveway, on fake plants!

Oh-range.

 


Simple ditch lily. I call them that because they’re common and people like to grow them around their mailboxes. Don’t they ever think about the poor mail guy who has to reach around all of the bees?

 


More complex version of the ditch lily.