…there is none. At least not within my grasp on reality. Let’s face it: Reality differs from person to person. Not truth. There’s only one Truth. And fuck if I have a grasp on that either—other than I know I’m part of it and it, me.
Yesterday was the interesting day for the weekend. In fact, the last Saturday of my 39th year. (I’m turning 39, not 40, next week. “Turning” 39? What does it mean to turn a number, an age? More importantly, what was I saying?) Oh, yeah… I ran by my aunt’s house to grab “For Sale” signs she printed up for me. It’s time to say goodbye to the car I drove back to Philly almost five years ago as I broke my I’ll-never-move-back-up-north stance on bodily geography. I pulled a U-Haul trailer with a Honda Accord. Only now is it having transmission issues. Good car. $3500 OBO.
Or best offer… What if other things in life went on such open terms? Anyway, I’ll speculate later. I wanted to get my car clean, cleaned out, and with signs posted in its windows. Screaming to be dealt with, a collection of change—you know, quarters and dimes and whathaveyou’s—spilled from the Accord’s cup holders, door cell-phone-holder thingies, and the cracks in the seat leather… I gathered the coinage and went searching for a free coin-cointing machine.
There are none. Unless you have an account at TD Bank, which I do not, you’re paying a minimum of 8%. The Coinstar at Walmart charges 9.8%. For every dollar counted, those crooked fuckers are taking a dime. And not giving it to their employees.
Quick fact about the East Norriton Walmart: When you enter, the elderly greeter says,
“Welcome to Walmart.” Then he or she whispers “Are you sure you wanna shop at this one? There’s a nicer one just a few miles away on Trooper.”
I finally caved and went to the TD Bank. 8%. Bastards. While I was cashing my ticket, the two ladies behind the counter made small talk.
“Is it nice out?” The cute red-head could clearly see out the window. But she didn’t have a customer at her chair, so she joined in on my transaction.
“Actually, it’s very nice out.” Just because she barged in on my deal, doesn’t mean she deserved no reply.
“And we’re stuck in here,” said the businessy black girl who was helping me. Banks like hiring good-looking women, don’t they? Apparently, TD is big on this…
“You’ve been saving a lot of change, huh?” said Red.
“Eh, I’m getting it out of my car so I can sell it and who has time to roll change?”
“Yeah, tell me about it.”
“What kind of car is it?”
“Hondas are good cars,” said Red, yet again insinuating herself.
“Yeah,” said the other teller. The one who was actually helping me. Business.
“It’s got a hundred and sixty-five on it, but it’ll run past 200 with some tlc.”
“What are you asking?” Business inquired.
“Thirty-five hundred or best offer.”
“Best offer,” said Red from just below her breath.
I turned my chin up and to left.
“Yeah, you know,” I explained. “If you offered me dinner, I’d have to accept it because that’s what the sign on the car says.”
“My boyfriend loves Hondas. He has two of them.”
I felt like saying “You don’t have a boyfriend. You’re saying that because you think I give a shit. If I wanted to ask you out, I would. Boyfriend or not. Relax, Red.” But what I did say was, “Oh, yeah? What year?”
“See. They run forever,” I confirmed. “What’s the other?”
This girl’s full of shit, but it’s fun, I thought. “What kind of Hondas?”
“Civic, I think. Yeah, they’re both Civics. He wants to get them fixed up, but he doesn’t have any money.”
Now I’m just insulted. She invented a broke boyfriend to keep me, a guy with two very fucking real cars, away. That’s a new one. Must be true love. At least in her fantasy, she’s not marrying for money…
I was starting to like Red. Business, however, was showing me pamphlets for accounts so that I didn’t have to pay the 8% next time I cash in my change.
(Real quick: Anyone else over “quirky” comedies starring Zach Braff, Ewen Macgregor, or the guy from the Office? Which guy? I don’t know, pick one. I’m pretty sure Jason Bateman is in all of these movies too.)
I took the brochure from Business, bid she and Red farewell, and went about the rest of my day.
Sitting at the light at the corner of Germantown and Swede, on my way to Metro PCS to pay my phone bill, I grabbed the tape and quickly taped a For Sale jawn on the driver’s-side back window. The light changed and I turned down Swede and into the strip mall parking lot. I parked, picked up my supplies, and went to the passenger side to tape a sign to the back window there. As I opened the back passenger door, a white SUV pulled into the vacant spot on my driver’s side. The gentleman exited and looked at my car.
“You need me to close my door?” I’d left the driver open.
“No,” he said. “Hondas are good cars.”
“Yeah,” here we go. Next he’s gonna tell me about his boyfriend who owns two Hondas. Wawawhatthefuck? all over again…
“Can I have one of those posters?” he asked, referring to my For Sale printouts.
“Sure,” I said. I’ll be shocked as shit I sell this thing right here, right now. I handed it over.
“Oh-too. Not bad condition. I work at Conicelli, my name’s Chris.”
“If I don’t buy it, I can find someone who will. I love Hondas.”
“It needs some work.” I’m not going to lie. The car is what it is and I can’t sell it under false pretenses. “Transmission, some body damages.”
“It’s an oh-too. Whoever buys it knows what they’re getting. You have a bottom line?”
“Well, just think about it. My daughter’s going away to school and she could use a reliable car.”
“Cool.” Don’t mention the body in the trunk, don’t mention the body in the trunk… You know—don’t say anything stupid, Rob. Let someone buy the fucking car. I have a bottom line, but I’m not showing my hand so soon…
“OK, I’ll be in touch.” A fist-bump-in-place-of-a-handshake sealed Chris’s intentions. (I was holding tape and other shit, so he gave my fist a pound. I almost thought he was going to “gimme none” with a stub bump.
Shit, I thought. I just put a sign on it and I’m already getting prospects.
I paid my phone bill without incident, got in the car, and headed home to rest up for Teenage Wasteland 2 down in South Philly.
***** ***** *****
This past Thursday, another baseball season at East Falls Sports Association came to a close with the annual awards picnic and All-Star Games. Except that whore, Mother Nature, had other plans. The group of volunteers who showed up early to set up, myself included, were finishing and also beginning to grill up some burgers in advance of the inevitable onslaught of young ball players, families, and general public who heard there would be “free” food down the field.
Somehow I was volunteered to light and man a grill for burgers. Mrs. Lauer asked me, and me, her son Chris, and Mike McHale ended up taking the duties. (Hehe, taking duties…) The thin, frozen meat patties were easy to cook. The grease dripped down into the flames and caused flare ups, but for the most part, things went smoothly.
Oh, that’s right. I forgot to mention something. It rained. A lot. For a while. We stuck it out for a bit. Eventually, Lauer said “fuck it” and left his post. McHale was already inside. So I stood in several inches of water, opening smokey, grease fire filled grill tops, flipped, then stood back under the gym’s overhang. This blew. But hungry people were already in the gym. Wanting burgers that were cooked.
Bill Hannigan eventually poked his head outside and asked,
“Yo, you coming in? We’re about to give the trophies.”
“Yes. Someone needs to come out here.”
“I’ll do it” McHale volunteered. He and Lauer took second shifts…
Inside the gym, I ducked into the back room and changed into a dry coach’s shirt then hit the floor for the awards presentations. No sooner did I position myself did I hear,
“You should be ashamed of yourself. Playing with eleven year-olds.”
“They’re not eleven, they’re ten.”
“My grandson’s team is all seven. Bullies. They didn’t win one game and he’s crying because of you.”
“When we played them, he seemed to be having a great time. I’m sick of hearing this. Our kids haven’t lost in two years, but they’re all moving up and I’m gonna be the one with all sixes and sevens. Three years ago, no one cared that we were losing 20-2. Get over it.”
“You should be ashamed. That’s ok, my grandson batted a thousand.”
I used to drink in the afternoon, I reminded myself as I offered my back for her to yell at.
Long story slightly longer, after the picnic—which saw long lines for burgers and stragglers brandishing foil and ziplocs and packing doggie bags—the rains came and postponed the all-star games until Tuesday. When surely more rain will fall…
Board members, coaches, and volunteers hung out when the families had gone. It was hilarious. Fifteen people, many enjoying a beverage, were sitting around the folding table in the gym’s kitchen, talking and having a good time congratulating themselves and each other on another season completed. What made this hilarious, and what Bobby pointed out but I’m sure we all noticed, was that everyone was talking, loudly, at the same time—essentially yelling into the center of the room.
“This is nuts,” Bobby said. “It’s so loud in here!”
Sitting next to him, Jess just made a face, laughing and acknowledging the chaos. Everyone laughed and continued the celebratory free-for-all. Jeff and I, not drinking, stood somewhat off “to the side” and talked about back-in-the-day shit. And about the neighborhood. The state of education, etc.
Me, Jeff, and Smith were talking about this and that. I was telling a story about a fight from my college days. Somehow, the topic of going to a regular party came up.
“What’s it like, going to a party and knowing you’re not gonna get into a fight?” Jeff asked.
We all just laughed, because for the most part, none of us really ever knew that feeling. For the past seven years—for me—I’ve gotten more familiar with the concept. It’s a lot easier to walk away from an asshole, including yourself, when you ain’t drinking!
Eventually, we were all getting ready to leave and I mentioned that I was going to Teenage Wasteland on Saturday. Jeff, not having much of anything to do, asked if it was cool.
“Yeah,” I said. “Last time I went it was a good time. Why, you wanna go?”
“Yeah, I’ll go. What time?”
“Starts at nine, I’ll grab you at eight.”
***** ***** *****
We got to the dive at around 9:15 and no one was there yet. The sexy, tattooed emcee chick, Jenny, explained that her friends suck and always show up late. We decided to hit up the spot across the street for mediocre cheesesteaks to kill time. When we got back, a few people’d trickled in; by 10:30, it was on.
Sexy Jenny brought me to the mic third and I began with the same depressing poems I read last time. My teenage years only lasted 6 years, so I don’t have a whole lot more angsty poems to bring in. While I read the first, 12 of the sixteen people at the event huddled by the bar, talking and not exactly listening. I resisted the urge to say shut the fuck up.
My three poems read, I took a seat and said to Jeff,
“Nobody was really listening, huh?”
“I know,” he said as his right leg bounced on the ball of his right foot. “I wanted to sock someone. Your stuff’s good.”
“Thanks. I just wish they were listening.”
After the last reader read, I said goodbye to Jenny, her friend Martha, and headed out. Before leaving, though, I asked Jenny to let me know the next time they hold this. Only,
“I’m kinda running out of high school, teenage shit. Maybe we can do an open mic or comedy night deal.”
“Your stuff is so good. Maybe we can collaborate on something.”
“I’m with it,” I replied. Because I am. With it. Jenny’s hot and covered in ink. She’s also engaged, which means I should stay away. Should…
Nah, I will. This guy [one thumb and a stub pointed at my chest] doesn’t need to complicate an already-complex track record. Where are all the single, thirty-something hot tattooed virgin ladies? Jeez… So much baggage out there.
***** ***** *****
So, the real reason I’m writing this is because I can’t let myself run out of stuff to write, stuff to read. Also, because when that guy asked about my car, I thought, watch me sell this jawn in like ten minutes flat. This, I gotta write.
So there it is. My latest blog post about nothing really. Still, it’s good to be posting. Thanks for stopping by.
Read. Comment. Subscribe.
***Yes, I even think the word “jawn.”