Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I find myself doing the same thing over and over, day after day. Like most people, it’s just something that happens in life. Work, tv, getting drunk on a Trader Joe’s two-dollar bottle of wine by yourself behind the doughnut shop. It’s the circle of mediocre life. What’s different about my rut is that part of the boring quilt that is my life now contains a new baby blue patch, the likes of which has never dared mingle on the cornucopia of off-whites and beige’s (*which were added for flare*). I find that more and more often, I find myself doing more and more things that I don’t normally do.
“Pedro, you blithering twat!” you are no doubt remarking to yourself, “Are you so blind as to not see that doing ‘more and more things you don’t normally associate yourself’ with is the very definition of acting against the forces you say are dragging your life into a rut?!?!”
No, my quite observant and needlessly rude reader, I am not. I know all about that thing I said that you said, and in most situations you, or every other person on this planet would be right. Depending on some of my newly attempted actions, one could say they were “deadly” right.
What in the holy hell would make any onlookers of the obviously captivating events that collectively make my life so wrong about what they see when I’m even admitting to taking steps to add a bit of spice in my life? Well, it’s simple. Though I’ve been putting more efforts into trying new things, doing so has the effect of somehow blowing up in my face and leaving me in a place where I just might have been better off by shutting the hell up and getting sloshed on cheap beer, like usual.
Maybe the set back is financial. Yeah, I’ve tried a few things that set me back a couple bucks. Bucks that I can’t really afford to be set back by because I am at a point that economist refer to as “Hella Broke.”
But the real zingers are the ones that hit right below the belt that my ego wears. When I put myself out in places that I don’t normally find myself in, and wish to God that I had just spent my time reading novels at Barnes and Noble that I don’t intend on buying.
I’ve been trying to strike up decent conversations with strangers lately. My mother is a wiz at this. She can start talking to almost anyone about anything where ever she goes. I remember as a kid, when I would go with her to the supermarket, she would be chatting up the folks in line with her, while I pretended to be invisible. I always envied how she could be so personable.
I decided to do the same!
Some of the events have gone well. I had quick, interesting conversations with folks. Nothing Earth-shattering, but nice. A bunch of the times, when I try and reach out, I often end up with the torrid face of “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” That kinda fucking sucks. But that is nothing compared to the infinitely worse outcome: I realize that I over-glorified my place in the world and give end up giving my own ego a cold, hard, well earned smack down.
A bit back, I was driving after work. I was heading to a store with some shitty errand I had to run, but was feeling okay. Nice day at work, the weather was getting nice and cool, and the radio was playing stuff that didn’t completely suck. As far as four in the afternoon goes, it could have gone a lot worse.
So I’m contently driving down the Parkway, and get to a red light. I stop, glance quickly to my right, and see that an angel in the form of a woman was sitting in the car next to me.
This. Woman. Was. Gorgeous.¹
I’ve listened to The Beatles sing over and over again about aching for a woman that stuck out them. I always just imagine some pointedly beautiful face in an unfairly good-looking crowd. I realize now that I was thinking too small. They were probably singing about this woman.
And sitting behind this goddess was a small boy. Maybe about five. He looked older than a toddler, and like he probably went to school, but was caught is some weird-ass safety bureaucracy and was awkwardly tied to a child seat. So this goddess was (*probably*) a mom.
Upon realizing the maternal status of this enchantress, I thought to myself “STOP STARING AT THE FUCKING CAR, YOU WEIRD BASTARD!” but it was too late. When my gaze flowed back to the front of the car, her eyes that acted as windows to a never-ending well of goodness and joy inside of her locked on to the dopey stare that gave introduction to the daffy creep sitting in my seat. I swear to Christ, I think I was literally slack-jawed.
I panicked, and did the only thing I could do. I stared straight ahead down the road. I thought to myself, “Maybe if I stared at the street light really hard, she wouldn’t judge the shit out of me, and do so being completely in the right.” But I couldn’t forget the face of an angel. How could I? I am only a man. What else is there for God’s glory but to be marveled upon?² I had to look again.
I looked back slowly, assuming that I would get back an eye full of “FUCK YOU!!”, but no. That’s not what I got. I got back … a smile.
EH. MEH. GERD!!!!
She saw me, realized I was gawking and thought it was funny. In my head, I squealed like a schoolgirl. On the outside, I looked like a I was squealing like a schoolgirl, but just wasn’t making any audible noise.
Fuck! … Did … did she see that face? I look over at her. She is looking at me and laughing as hard as a polite wood nymph would laugh at a stranger.
I completely, and rather characteristically, lost my cool in this situation, in what I believe is record time. She saw my “Golly! You look awful purdy!” face and thought me quite the fool. Rightly so. Any grief she had to give to me I deserved. I just smiled and shook my head at myself before looking back at her to receive whatever crap was coming my way. I look at her, and she has a giant smile on her face. I half expected that. You don’t accidentally stumble upon a moron and get complimented, all non-verbally, all the time. She had reason to enjoy the moment. But what I didn’t expect was the smile that lingered, looked right at me, and mouthed, “Hi.”
Holy shit. She wants to start a dialogue. Albeit, a quick, auto-a-auto dialogue, but a back and forth none the less.
I DIDN’T TOTALLY FUCK THIS UP!!!
She mouths her name at me. I don’t quite catch it. Catalina, or something Latina-ish like that. Her mouth pulled back a lot and her tongue flapped between her teeth. Definitely ended in a vowel. That was my best guess. I said my name back out-loud to her, not realizing that between my radio (*which I never turned down*), traffic, and the fact that I never actually rolled down my passenger-side window, she was never going to hear it. But just like me, she gathered my name based on the mouth contortions. She nodded in approval. Beautiful and smart.
Then, she winked at me. She winked and had the most unbelievable “This shit just got real” smile I’d ever seen. I’m not super great at it, but I read in a book once that this is called “flirting”.
And just like that, it was on. At least it was in my head. My consciousness split into half a dozen voices, all giving me advice on how to not fuck this up, and I was to dumb-founded to listen to anyone. I was like a punch-drunk Rocky Balboa trying to listen to six Mickey’s tell me how to seal the deal with Adriane immediately after we had just gotten married.
“SHUT THE HELL UP!” I said to me. This was no time to formulate advice for me to ignore or fuck up. I needed to think quick.
The light turned green, and we were both on our way. She pulled up a bit ahead of me, which was good. That space would allow me to fully express my panic that proved beyond the sexy shadow of doubt that I had no idea what to do.
And right then, as if the universe could feel the lonely, confused soul that was having a panic attack in my chest, my ears tune onto the radio to hear my ultimate salvation.
Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s get it on” just started playing.
I then began to question the gall I apparently had to suggest to myself that this song of all songs, quite possibly the universally sexiest song in existence, was playing just now for my use and that I would be a goddamn fool to ignore this opportunity. That train of thought lasted one and a half seconds before I decided, “Bust this shit out!”
I turned the volume of the song way up, lowered all my windows to ensure that she could hear it, and spent the remaining 300 yards before the next traffic light practicing my seduction face. I couldn’t tell, but I’m pretty sure it was glorious.³ I was going for broke. God bless the beautiful bastard that lays it all down.
I see that she takes her spot at the stop light up ahead. I give myself one last “ATTABOY!” and start slowing down. I keep slowing down, and hold my breath, hoping for the best of the situation, slowing down, slowing down… slowing down far too quickly.
“What the fuck?!” I thought. I was coming to the intersection realizing that something about my plan was going horribly awry. I didn’t know what, but I refused, absolutely REFUSED, to let what seemed like a setback ruin my plan. I have let small deviations ruin plans for me before in the past. It was time to step away from that. I needed to assert to myself that even though the plan wasn’t perfect, I could still pull off my goal of apparently seducing a stranger in a car in front of her child.
But I was still slowing down too fast. I don’t remember the point at which I realized that I wasn’t going to reach her window with mine. Disappointment wanted to set in, and I would have welcomed it, gladly, had I known that complete and utter embarrassment was going to come and take it’s place, like an all emotions game of “Four Corners”.
My window wasn’t going to reach the window of the parkway peach I had spent eighty-seven second now obsessing over. I did reach her car, but just barely. The car’s in front of me waiting at the light didn’t allow for me to make it all the way.
Instead, I was window-to-window with the small boy in her backseat. He was staring at me, and I at him. With the windows down. Blaring the sexiest song ever.
I sat there, just looking at this kid, feeling like an idiot. It’s something to fail at picking up a woman, but to fail in front of their kid? That’s a different kind of sting. That kid will never see you as his new daddy. Ever. Even if you do get the woman to be your one and only. It’s losing at natural selection in reverse.
He doesn’t greet me in anyway. I hoped for an acknowledgment of some sort. I mostly expected for him to reveal some disgust or pity as a reaction to my half-assed attempt to woe his mom. I got nothing.
I fucking lost.
The light turns. As all the cars make room ahead of me, I veer into the left turn lane and follow it down a street that I had no need to go down. I really did need to continue straight on, but I couldn’t bring myself to face the angel whom I failed at trying to make mine. I created a motorized scenario where if I had played my cards right, maybe, maybe, a beautiful stranger might of seen the boldness and blatant whimsy of a stranger as charming mixture.
What might it have led to? Nothing physical, that’s just about for certain. That was okay.
More than likely, if my plan had worked at all, that stellar specimen who could have been chosen to represent the entirety of the female gender would have laughed, maybe winked at me again, and gone about her day with a good feeling in her chest that I would have put there.
Instead, traffic contorted itself so that I and a small boy bore into each others helpless souls. We just sat there. Me blankly staring at him, and he just staring back. Just a vague acknowledgement of existence while my radio messenger’s a soulful black man’s demand that sex happen. Preferably immediately.
I never put much stock in the idea of fate when I was younger. But the older I get, the less sure I am about that position. I’ve made honest attempts to change things in my life for the better, but to no avail. Nothing. After all the efforts, I can’t help but to believe that maybe I’m not supposed to achieve the crap I am going for now because maybe there is such a thing as fate, and it has something pretty fucking spectacular lined up for me.
The universe is my mother at a wedding reception, and I am a child. I want to munch on all the Hors d’oeuvres because I’m hungry, goddamn it! But Mother Universe smacks my hands anytime I reach for a woman-shaped crab cake or little sandwiches filled with a job. She doesn’t want me filling up on the little stuff right away. She knows I’m hungry. She also knows that the main course is coming, and that it is going to be nothing short of amazing. Last thing she wants is for me to not to be able to enjoy it because I’m already full up on the little stuff. She knows I got the real deal coming to me. All I have to do is try a little harder and wait.
Either that, or I just suck.
So long, my beautiful car maiden. Wherever you are, know that you have a small piece of my heart. Also, your son has a giant chunk of my ego.