Friday, December 23, 2011

He Was Born With a Heart Two Sizes Too Small

It's damned near Christmas, and - give or take a little misplaced optimism - I am a tad shy of Christmas spirit. I am light of merry, and bereft of cheer. I am, however, Southern and thus possessed of a certain natural grace and wit, capable of making even my most bitter moments into a source of mirth and good humor.

Vodka helps.

So, I put on my best Southern the other day when one of my father's exes, a woman for whom I never particularly cared, and who at one time scandalized even me, called to say hello. My father dated her aunt, who I adored - until she suffered a  stroke, at which time the Old Black Man moved on to Mel. He also briefly dated Mel's mother - once Mel's father died, or at least when he was real sickly.

In any event, I was wandering in and out of the kitchen, frying bacon-wrapped egg rolls, and doing laundry - so I only caught snippets of the conversation. There was definitely flirting going on. I recognized the signs - the Old Black Man was sitting up, something he seldom does these days. He was smiling, and he was laughing with that hyperbolic 'hee-hee-hee' Morgan Freeman used in "Driving Miss Daisy," the one that's halfway between a guffaw and a donkey getting branded.

I recognized it as flirting, and yet the words were coming out all wrong - which is not to suggest he was slurring, though at nearly 90, with a regular supply of Vicodin, and a sharecropper's drawl, who could discern a slur from a Sunday morning come-to-Jesus? My father was somehow turning a conversation about sons in prisons, arthritis, and dementia into a grand ol' time.

Perhaps it was that that conversation went so swimmingly that has me twisting a lemon in the sweet tea of life. The next night, Sunday, I begged out of a family function to go tie one on with my plus one - a sweet, dapper man of a certain age (50-something, since you asked nicely) with whom I've been keeping company since before I went to rehab - either time.

We met his friends - all younger, thinner, and more gainfully employed than either of us. Hipsters are always good for a laugh, and a cheap thrill - which is how I wound up seeing the penis, and prodigious bush, of a recent college grad who, I'm fairly sure, had been drunk since Spring Break. And my plus one tried to fix me up with the only other gay guy in the room, a pale and bird-like fellow with a Jew-fro.

That Jew-fro and my plus one nearly dated sometime ago, but for mixed signals - not lack of trying - put a mild damper on things. Things were downright moist when, after Jew-fro and I exchanged numbers, my plus one voiced his thoughts on trying to make something happen with Jew-fro. And they went to monsoon when Jew-fro returned neither my text, that evening, or my call - two days later. We haven't spoken since we met.

And maybe I was thinking about that lack of attention when I gave my number to a Polish fellow from group therapy. He does have the general appearance of someone who used to have a twitch, and possibly a nervous tic - and yet he has the pale, half-dead look that sets my heart to beating. At this point, a person who twitches and has not one but two fast-food jobs seems less like an ill fit and more like a damned good Thursday evening.

The holidays make me all misty. Bah humbug.

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