She held the door open for us and you looked to me, waiting for my move inside so you could follow. That wasn’t going to happen because I was waiting for you to go and even made the “after you” motion with my hand. You slyly countered with a verbal “no, after you”. I shook my head. I would be going in last at whatever the cost because I was a man full of respect, tact and undying will. The woman holding the door smiled. You smiled. I smiled. None of us moved.
I don’t know why I keep coming back to you. At the end of the night I know you’re there waiting for me–dressed in what I can only describe as taboo and delicious. It’s this desire that holds me by the throat and drags me through your door night after night. I know I shouldn’t. But I do and you don’t even give a fuck about me. Our initial moments are heaven. Rapture. Asylum from all of the feelings swirling and swinging at my insides. Then when I get home you cause havoc. I see what I had, what was always there in my fridge and what I betrayed and a weight pulls me to the floor. The morning after I’m stuck alternating between the couch and bathroom because as delicious as you are, Mac n’ Cheese Meatloaf hoagie, you leave me broken. The side of poutine also doesn’t help.
It took all I could muster to stay awake. I thought your Eastern European accent would liven up the lecture a little. I was wrong. My mind was recognizing that you were saying words but my heart wouldn’t let me listen–a modern evolutionary trait. There came a point when I realized you looked like Edward James Olmos and I sat up straight, a desperate excitement bringing me to attention. It quickly deflated because you weren’t Edward James Olmos. Then for the remainder of the talk I stared straight into the tuft of hair below your bottom lip. I hoped you had a small comb that you used to sort out its wild tendency’s. I hoped you had to use it before you got in front of our class. “Whoa boy, not today. Everything rides on this.” You’d say.
When you unfolded the instruction manual on how to take a stool sample I couldn’t help but take note of how similar it looked to the instructions from my IKEA bookshelf. Instead of an Allen key there was a small container of blue fluid and a stick. I wondered if you ever laughed or cracked jokes while giving this presentation. By the look on your face now you’d either told or heard them all. I asked if the test would work if my turd didn’t look exactly like the one in the picture; its smooth, equidistant curves making bowel movements everywhere look bad. You shook your head.
You’re my friend and I love you but you’re an incredibly loud eater. When you tackle soup it’s like a jetski propeller plowing through shallow waters. The day you ate that banana on the beach was like a 300lbs man slogging through a marsh. One day I hope I can tell you but until then I’ll just listen.
I took a right into the dairy aisle and spent a moment looking at the processed cheese slices. Memories of throwing the soft, yellow squares at school lockers to see if they’d stick surfaced and receded. They weren’t what I was there for. I made my way to the wild berry yogurt. I could see it, its illustrated red and purple berries beckoned to me but I couldn’t reach them. A man whose face was struck with bewilderment and anger stood in the way, a cellphone pressed to his ear. He turned to me, looked right into my eyes and screamed “Motherfucker, I’m a beast, I’ll kick everyone of your fucking asses” then took off down the aisle, a sea of expletives in his wake. I grabbed my wild berry yogurt.
We made our way over to you as bands crashed and roared on the stages set up on the floor. The line for the bar serpentined around the room and past the pool tables so we decided to see you instead of wait. I handed you some change and we began. At first everything was great. We maneuvered through the tight halls at an almost indifferent pace, collecting dots, power pellets and the occasional strawberry or banana. Then we ran into him. You were smitten. Pac-Man began taking us to different, tougher neighbourhoods where the ghosts were faster, meaner and stayed blue for a shorter amount of time. My palms began to sweat. You were putting us in such danger by hanging out with him. Eventually the ghosts overtook us and I stomped the ground in frustration. Now you and my money were gone. I wasn’t even sure why you were so attracted to him. Now that I’ve had time to reflect it must have come from some sort of vain, incestuous place because I’m pretty sure he’s your twin.
Almost every week or week and one-half, depending on how many days in a row I choose to wear a single pair of socks, I come and drop off my clothes. You are always friendly and ask me how I am and we chat about the absurdity of Black Friday or how cute the otters are at the aquarium. It’s a treat to come back a few hours later and pick up my load, carefully folded and smelling fresh. I’ll tell you about the poutine I had or the fender-bender I saw in the time in between. We always leave on a cordial note but sometimes I wonder if it’s all an act, that you’re just being professional, because generally my dirty laundry is pretty fucking terrible.
There was approximately four-feet separating you from her. She was sitting on a stool playing songs for us seated on the floor or in folding chairs in the small, intimate audience. Your legs were crossed and your eyes lay straight ahead, rarely blinking. Then your smile–it seemed positioned there by hypnosis or paralysis. It never quivered, it never faltered, if anything it got wider as she continued to play. You began to sweat profusely as the lone guitar strummed through “Cowgirl in the Sand”. I wanted to take my finger and rub it over your wide, gleaming teeth to see if you’d notice but I was told that probably wasn’t a good idea. When she’d finished we all clapped but you gave a standing ovation, beaming over her like you’d just found the Holy Grail lying on the ground.
The spare helmet was squishing my head and folding my ears closed on themselves. You’d offered me a ride home and as we shot down Main Street I could feel my added weight testing the small motorcycle’s suspension.
At breakfast we’d talked art, bad roommates, what friends Tinder had told us we had in common, theorized what childhood issues had led to our server to being so rude and how relieving it was to originally plan to meet each other through the app in order to sleep together and then go for breakfast instead.
As we bounced back over the bumpy tarmac I realized that this was what I had needed. Human interaction. Thoughtful conversation. Sure, the prospect of some sort of intimacy was nice, but after months of having none it was more than enough to just see your eyes wrinkle behind your glasses as I told a particularly tasteless joke about the late Patrick Swayze.
Portrait by Alex Quicho for #POBEshow 2014