The garbagemen aren’t bad people. Neither are the ones who work behind the pharmacy counter. Nor the guy you said was going too slow on that downtown street where the speed limit’s twenty-five. I think he was going thirty. And watching for pedestrians. Yelling out the window did nothing by the way but it did grate on my nerves. And scare that very clean-cut touristy-looking family waiting in the crosswalk.
Did that make you feel better?
Maybe it did I don’t know. Maybe it’s your way of coping with the angst and frustration we so often feel, particularly when the little things pile up and wind up being disproportionately large. At least in our minds.
Ms. Bridget told you dinner was at seven. I told you doors opened at six-thirty and the suggested donation was five-dollars, which basically meant pay what you want. You harumphed at this, well the part about “suggested donation”, and launched into a good ten minutes about how the organization was bloated and ineffective and they should do this and that and a tie-in about the Virginia gubernatorial election and how the incumbent was somehow in cahoots and you got quite red-faced about it all and your volume loud and your voice a little too high-pitched.
People looked. As far as I knew you didn’t know much about these folks. I was there for the chili. I paid my ten dollars. Pay what you want, right? As far as I see it it’s a “some things go with the territory” kind of thing and we all have our own territory to contend with.
Our own way.
“Are you available for any volunteer activities?” Ms. Bridget asked.
“Thank you but I’m already too busy,” you said. Your eyebrows were raised. “And anyway, isn’t this night a fundraiser?”
Ms. Bridget went through her spiel and talking points while you looked past, hand on hip, apparently already set in your opinion or with other things on your mind. I put my name on the mailing list (why not?) and perused the pamphlets on the table and posters on the wall. I didn’t have much time on my hands either, but figured sometimes I did get a hole in my schedule and could possibly take part. You never know, right?
“You shouldn’t have lent Joey your tools.”
I was at the head of the buffet line and finally had a bowl of chili in my hands, this from the Red Hot Bistro over on Grove Street. The paper’d been talking them up lately, saying their food was “happening”. I guess we’d find out soon enough. “Don’t you worry about it, I’ll take care of it.” I put my nose in my bowl. “Man, this chili smells good.”
“You know he has a reputation and he’ll never return them, never does. You need to work on not trusting people so much. You really oughta watch it. Hey pick up some corn bread- you don’t want to miss it.”
I went silent so not to encourage more. I knew this part of his “your Daddy was distant” lecture and how many times had I heard that? Not responding worked sometimes but mostly didn’t. Of course my own view was diametrically opposed on what had now become the “Joey issue”. I picked up some corn bread, but only because I wanted to.
I did wind up doing some volunteering.
So why write you this missive? Who even sends handwritten letters in this day and age? I could’ve sent an e-mail but God only knows you’d reply immediately and it would never end. Just like that night you got drunk and text messaged me like forty times on a wide range of subjects that had your goat.
And was so caught up.
By the time you get this I’ll be long gone to Buenos Aires. Since I was little I’ve dreamt about it and here I am. And why not? People can do what they want and you can continue poking holes in it and picking and pushing all you want. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the hot Argentine culture and mild southern winter. And maybe even take in a tango.