“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Five Brief Observations” Chapter 62
By Bruce Williams
My dry cleaner’s beige Honda Odyssey van has two bullet holes on one side. I know it’s his because it’s always parked right out front when I go to exchange my clothes. The holes have been poorly puttied. The first time I saw them, I sat there in the lot and pondered them for some time—who would be shooting at the kind little immigrant man making a go of it with his own business in a new country? A rival dry cleaner? Someone who hates Martinizing? Then I figured that he probably bought the van second hand…but then what kind of person gets involved in a shootout while navigating a beige Honda Odyssey? It’s slow, a huge target, and notorious for being piloted by awful drivers. At some point I had to shake off the deep, foggy abyss my mind had wandered down and head on in to drop off my dirty shirts.
Have you ever noticed that when one woman posts a Happy Birthday pic of herself and one of her best friends on Facebook, the picture is inevitably a glamour shot of the poster and a less than stellar photo of the celebrated recipient? “Here’s a picture of the two of us, lovingly sharing cocktails at your last birthday get-together right after I got my hair and makeup done and you just gave birth. Cheers!” Also—I don’t really know what to do with the pictures of you or your college-aged daughter at the beach in your bikinis…other than just scroll past slowly like I’m tip-toeing around a land mine. If I “like” it, it just seems a little bit skeevy. “Loving” it is out of the question. Better to just keep moving along—nothing to see here…
Look-alike couples—they’re everywhere. Obviously it’s more common in same-sex couples because of the gender parallels, but if I was gay would I want to find someone that looked exactly like me? I’d end up looking like half of a twin set—especially if we began dressing alike, too. Older couples tend to grow in similarities as they age as well, until they have that sister-brother thing going on…same laugh lines, same bottle of hair dye, same satin jackets. Then, when the sex dries up they become more like sibling roommates, passing the dehydrated fruit bag back and forth while flipping between Matlock and Murder, She Wrote because neither one of them can figure out how to properly work the DVR.
Whether it’s a text or a post, nothing baits your anticipation like the dancing ellipsis at the bottom of your phone screen: “Oooo…somebody’s about to comment or say something!” Especially if the text was controversial or the post was provocative. The worst thing, though, is when the dancing ellipsis appears and then disappears. “Heyyy…where’d it go…?” If it goes on, blinking at length, you know you’re in for a big, fat paragraph of commentary—you just hope it’s cogent and uninflammatory; enlightening and not shoulder drooping. I should care a lot less about what people think, I guess. Sometimes you just have to put it out there to stir the broth, though.
There’s an extended-stay hotel in downtown Auburn that’s a study in dysfunctional living. Whether it’s the tin foil covering the windows in the upper left unit of the walk-up two-story (I’m guessing drugs versus a graveyard shift day-sleeper), or the bevy of rusty murder vans stationed menacingly in the parking lot. On several occasions I’ve witnessed tenants with garbage sack suitcases entering their domiciles or toothless smokers hovering idly on the balcony, gazing vacantly at the sculpture of a giant crow snacking on two-by-four sized McDonald’s French fries in the adjacent park. There’s an unappetizing noodle restaurant across the busy street sadly coined “Thong Thai” that looks exceptionally dirty, not to mention several obvious tug joints masquerading as massage parlors up and down the strip. Home sweet home!