Last night after coming home from class Charlie and I decided to go out and get something to eat. My period had started and I was craving either pizza or nachos or both. I needed junk to put in my trunk that night.
It was the first time we’d been there since this time.
“Come on, lets shoot some pool.”
“Ok, you’re on.”
I got the balls for the table in the front and we started to play. Adjacent to the pool tables were shuffleboard tables that were quite crowded. There were tons of couples playing with kids running around.
“Why are kids in the bar?”
“Because this is Decatur and kids are allowed in the bars since there’s no smoking.”
“That’s so strange.”
“You’ll get used to it.”
We were intermittently shooting in between kisses. I looked over and saw this guy and girl doing the same at the shuffleboard table. They reminded me of a straight version of Charlie and me. He had on a motorcycle shirt and a baseball cap and she a tank top – very similar to how we were dressed, too. They seemed to be as equally in to each other as Charlie and I. I thought about how nice it was that no one batted an eye at the two lesbians playing pool and kissing. A little boy came over and wanted to play. He grabbed a cue stick and I showed him how to hold it. After a couple shots he lost interest and ran off. I looked up and the couple from before were snugged up at the bar. Just then another guy came over – obviously, he knew them but then he put a proprietary arm across the woman’s chair. I frowned thinking, “It would have to be a very good friend of mine – probably only Ellen – to keep me from slapping their hand off and saying ‘Keep your hands to yourself.”
Then, I thought, “Was I wrong about them?” the couple. I love people watching and reading people and situations. I often make up fictional characters when I observe. Which, I did earlier when Charlie and I were sitting at the bar.
“See that guy over there?”
“His name is Wade and he’s an accountant.”
“Wait. He has a polo on and a trucker cap.”
“Yes, but he wears shirts and ties during the day. Has a desk job – see how he’s all soft like he’s never worked out a day in his life? He trying to look all bro-man cool but he just can’t quite pull it off.”
“Yeah, I see it.”
“That woman there he’s with – he really likes her. See how he just put his arm down next to hers hoping to grab and hold her hand?”
“She just put her arm up and is gesturing with it.”
“Yes, her name is Claudia. She’s hoping to get out of here soon. The only reason she showed up was because she was hoping Wade would bring his roommate, Dave, that she’s interested in. But, Dave had an unexpected internet date come up and just Wade showed.”
“Her beer is almost gone.”
“Yes, and his is full and he’s nursing it.”
“I love coming home to you or seeing you when I come home.”
“I do, too, honey. I feel like I could have the crappiest job in the world but I don’t care because I know I’m coming home to you every day.”
“Me too, babe.”
“And, maybe that’s another character in a book. The guy that had been stepped on his whole life. The guy who missed college because he had to take care of his mom who had cancer. Who got a job dumping garbage because it had great benefits and allowed him to work swing shift and overtime so he could take care of his mom. The whole town knew him, felt sorry for him and treated him like an imbecile. He works a 12 hour shift and every once in a while he’d put on his only pair of good jeans and polo shirt – the ones he wears to church – and go out to a club to meet hopefully the woman of his dreams. He’s a nice looking guy, too. He’s rugged and what he doesn’t have in the brains department he makes up with having a big heart. Despite that, every time he’s out the same scenario happens.”
“A woman comes up, he buys her a drink and they start to talk then she asks him what he does and he says he’s a garbage-man. Then, she leaves because women in those clubs always are looking for upwardly mobile men who have money. It’s always like this until one day he’s driving into town to drop off the recycling and he sees this woman on the side of the road with the hood of her car up. As he slows he sees her leaning on the side of the car with her head in her hands, her shoulders shaking. She’s crying. He pulls over and stops and gets out. The sound of his truck door closing causes the woman to jump and she suddenly has a look of panic.
“Hey, it’s ok – I just want to help.”
“She had had a bad day. She had just been laid off from her job and been rejected from the medical school she was trying to get in to. Now her car was overheating and she needed to get to an interview with the dean of her second choice school. He introduced himself, told her to go sit in the shade while he looked at the car. Used to dating douchy doctors who screwed around on their wives she thought he was the nicest man she’d ever met. After wrenching the steaming cap off the radiator and pouring in fluid he asked her if she’s like to grab a cup of coffee later. She did. Their love blossomed after that and they eventually got married.”
“The first time anyone in town saw her on his arm they couldn’t believe it. Every man envied him, every woman took a second look at him and wondered why she never noticed him before. Despite having the worst job in the world he got to come home to the most beautiful woman in the world. She eventually graduated with honors from medical school and told him to quit that garbage job that’d put her through med school– that he was going to become a kept man. As he drove by in his new pickup truck that she had gotten him for his birthday the people in the town would wave – no longer seeing him as an imbecile. He waved back, remembering their patronizing looks from before. He knew it was because of his wife, status and money they thought different of him. He didn’t care – all the money in the world didn’t matter as long as he had her. He was still the hard working garbage man in his own mind – and, the luckiest man alive as long as she was by his side.”
“That’s a nice story, baby.”
I am that garbage man.