I walk back into Sharkeys.
There are more girls near the jukebox singing “No Scrubs.” The Japanese
man, now so drunk he has transcended regular human consciousness to a Buddha-like state of being, sings back-up to their main voices. An example:
GIRLS: A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly…
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: He fly!
GIRLS: …also known as a busta!
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: Busta!
And two minutes later:
GIRLS: I don’t want no scrubs…
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: NO SCRUBS!
GIRLS: A scrub is a guy who can’t get no love from me…
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: FROM ME!
GIRLS:…hanging out the passenger’s side…
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: SIIIIIDE!
GIRLS:…of his best friend’s ride…
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: FRIEND!
GIRLS: … trying to HOLLER AT ME!
DRUNK JAPANESE MAN: ………SCRUBS!
Selfie sticks are abundant. There are bearded elders frowning. The cultural clash is physically eminent.
I go to where my seat and see if it’s taken. The bank guy has not arrived yet. Neither do I see the bartender. I walk to the corner of the bar and sip by the wall.
A few thoughts: who set up this operation? Was it N? Or the bartender? And kidnapping? Seems a bit extreme, even for the cause. Also, the bartender may be the first woman I’ve found physically attractive since the divorce. It’s different than finding someone attractive merely for not being your ex. Meaning, one is a positive based on contained attributes, the other is merely an absence of something.
I didn’t want other women because they were different than Her, but because they helped me forget Her altogether, because thinking about Her wasn’t thinking at all, but slight variations in a mass symphony of grief, those movements of regret and guilt swirling like a dark jazz dream. I missed her enough to know the best course of action was pretending to not miss her at all. You promised till death do you part, but if she leaves beforehand you must kill the ideal and contract while still forgiving Her. It’s the only way to survive.
Right, I know, kid’s stuff. But nobody tells you couples still fight even after one of them gets sick. That’s not in the movie handbook. Nor that the sick person, when confronted with their diagnosis, will decide to stagnate and hurt those around them. They’re supposed to become Mormon, right? I saw the movie Stepmom way back as a VHS rental. She gets cancer and starts to eat and love and pray. Sorry to ruin it.
Warning: do not watch if diabetic
Sometimes people get close to death and start an orphanage, or climb a mountain and we make a movie out of them. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they watch a lot of TV, then leave their husband, then everything altogether.
I mourned in a state of complication resistant to future peace. My solution was to get close to death too. Not to get close to her, but just death itself, because whiskey is cheaper than therapy. Skip that, whiskey is cheaper therapy.
“No Scrubs” is over. Now cometh a stout, pale, balding older man with too many glints in his blue eye. This is not going to go well.
Familiar chugging chords.
He is visibly sweating already. His face should be featured in an indigestion print ad. This will, I repeat, not go well at all.
But then the voice.
“Hey hey mama said the way you mooove, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groooooove.”
Crowd starts hollering. His voice is like an angel crying through a canyon.
I scan the scene. Leather, leather, everywhere and not a myth left from the ghetto.
“Hey hey baby when you shake that thaaaaang…”
I don’t see the bartender. Ciggy smoke rises from tables like each group is part of a cancer production factory, like with each furious puff the threat of global warming will be abated for just one more day.
Then I see him.
I knock back my drink, make the sign of the cross, and stumble forward into a new chapter.