Sometimes, I am just not in the mood.
Mark just talks through these sometimes as though he does not realize that in my head I am holding up pinchy fingers and crushing him out of my life.
We are driving, alone together in the car, and Mark is talking and I am not listening and he is pointing and I am staring stonily ahead and he is talking and I am wishing a CONE OF SILENCE WOULD DESCEND AROUND ONE OF US and he is gesturing enthusiastically and I am imagining swinging my arms wildly in the car and demanding THIS MUCH PERSONAL SPACE and we pull up to a red light and he says, “Isn’t that interesting?”
I stare out the window as though he has not spoken.
“Kris? Don’t you think that’s interesting?”
I turn my head slowly and look at him as the light turns green and we start through the intersection. He hesitates before speaking again, but then he laughs, “What do you think?”
I turn my head to stare out the window, “I think maybe if I had been paying any attention to what you were saying, I might have knowledge about some random fact that intrigues you, but as I was paying no attention at all, I am going to have to survive without these insights.”
“Huh. Fine. I just won’t talk.”
“That would be good. Thank you.”
“No need to be rude.”
“Weird how we are apparently so connected that I can hear your thoughts even though you are not talking.”
He turns his attention back to the road, “OK, then. Rude it is.”
We travel in silence for perhaps half of a mile, and then he starts talking again. He swings his arm to indicate the smallish houses that line the street on which we travel, and he says, as though he is a tour guide, “If you look at the houses in this neighborhood, you will note that they are all of the same vintage, constructed around the end of WWII. Portland needed lots of housing when the soldiers came home. It’s interesting to look at these houses and imagine what it must have been like for those very first families who came to live in them.”
I stare at Mark and he grows uncomfortable; he gestures again with a less enthusiastic hand, pointing out the window, “Housing. For the soldiers. War.”
“You are so full of shit.”
He snorts, “What, you are doubting me?”
“These might be post-war houses – you don’t know.”
“True, but guess what? Neither do you. You are totally full of shit.”
He protests, “But I spoke with authority!”
I space my words and speak extra slowly and distinctly, “You . . . are . . . full . . . of . . . shit.”
He fake-muses, “But I spoke with great authority! I projected such confidence! Are you suggesting there is a difference between confidence and competence?”
“Please stop talking. Please?”
We drive in silence for a bit, past a homeless man whose only non-clothing possession appears to be a silver aluminum walker on which he is balanced – as though the walker is a chair. I make eye contact with the man as we drive past, and he holds up his cardboard sign, which reads in its entirety: I AM HAVING A BITCH.
Mark starts narrating the parking situation as he circles the block around our destination, “I would park here but these spaces require permits. I would park here but this is a no-parking zone. I would park there but that’s a loading zone. I would park there but all of those spaces are taken. I would park here but this is too far away. Wait, is that a parking space?”
And around the block we go again.
After we have finally parked, we walk through the rain to the restaurant, and Mark is puzzled because the restaurant’s name has changed. He insists on engaging the hostess/waitress in conversation . . . How long has this place been operating under this new name because it can’t have been too long because it used to be this other place and so how long have you been here not that it’s not nice to be here I’m just surprised is all and what happened to the old owners anyway and I’m sure lunch will be terrific it’s just that I’m surprised because it’s an unexpected change and so how long has it been? A few months maybe? It’s nice to see how quickly you’ve made the place your own I remember I ordered pizza here that one time do you still have that pizza it had olives and sausage and onions and some other topping I can’t remember . . . and this whole time I am mentally holding up pinchy fingers and crushing Mark into silence but he continues to talk and then he finally pauses for breath and the hostess/waitress says, “About two and a half years, sir.”
Mark is confused, “What?”
She hands him a menu, “We’ve been here for just a bit over two and a half years.”
Mark buries himself in the menu as he considers this bit of news.
I snicker, “You are just never more sexy than when you channel your father for me, babe.”
He does not respond to my mocking, and instead reads to me from the menu about the lunch selections I might make, “They’ve got a hamburger and they do have pizzas. They’ve also got a few salads and the beer list is on the back of the menu – they have an IPA you might like.”
I flatten my own menu on the table in front of me, close my eyes, and speak loudly as I run my palms and fingertips over the plastic-coated pages, “I am so glad you are here to assist me, because there is no Braille on this menu!”
Mark sighs, “You need a beer. I need a beer.”
He sighs again, “I’m hungry. I don’t know why you wouldn’t let me go to the Hickory Farms store.”
“Because you said, and this is a quote, ‘All I want is a meat-stick.’”
“What, too gay?”
Mark looks at me, “I’m sure I would have managed to gather heterosexual meat-seeking words before making my actual request.”
I raise my eyebrows, “Like those words right there? Yeah, not a chance I was willing to take.”
Our beers arrive and we say nothing for a bit.
A few sips in, I lean forward, “Hey, Mark? If we are ever homeless?”
Mark looks at me curiously, “Yeah?”
“If we are ever homeless, I am going to be of no use at all, given my allergies to cold and poverty.”
He is puzzled, “Okayyyy.”
I reach across the table and take his hand in mine, “But I will make you a sign.”
I AM HAVING A BITCH