Closer than this.
The night has me in it in some black slacks and a black poly-blend short sleeve polo. The night and me, we match usually. It’s cliché and annoying and makes me happy.
The streets are sparse and it’s ten before ten on a Thursday.
It’s the kind of feeling of nothing right before something a story will be written about happens is.
But it doesn’t. Not tonight.
I walked by the club.
The purple neon meant there was something fun happening there. The only time you see purple neon lights, something fun is happening. Or supposed to be happening there. Cards or craps or shots. I have comet tails of purple haze blur trails of all kinds of places that were supposed to be fun, and probably were until my lack of discipline or lack of some brain chemical got in the way.
The parking lot is half filled with tinted ’96 Grand Ams and 2006 Civics with big mufflers. Three men stand outside that look like me with a select few different life choices would look. Three women stand along the back smoking- Smoking whatever.
It’s all so calm and tense.
The feeling of normalcy makes me antsy for a second until I feel my car key in my pocket. There’s always freedom not terribly far away.
So I’m walking.
And I walk by. I don’t go in. I don’t pay ten bucks and tip girls and have a detached fun mediocre time. I think, for a moment, “Oh so you’re scared?” and no. That’s not it. I’m afraid of a lot of things, but feeling socially awkward is among the least.
A thirty-three year old man on a business trip goes to a moderately classy strip joint, has a few beers, drops a couple twenty’s and goes back to his hotel. It sounds almost comforting and warm it’s so routine and expected.
I think “Oh. So you’re too cool for strip clubs, then?”
And no. No I’m not. I like the idea of strip clubs. I like the idea of the empowering of women to become predatory sales professionals. I love titties. I even kind of like people getting generally drunk and rowdy. I even sometimes like shitty house music. I love strippers- now that I think of it as many of my girlfriends have been strippers as not.
But no, not tonight. There’s no story to tell tomorrow. There’s no tale to embellish and details obscured in vodka tonic brush strokes. I’ve got enough stories. I’ve got lives of tall tales that are true and lies about little things. I’ve done it. And it was fun. And it was shitty. And it was life.
“Oh so you’ve just experienced so much you’re fucking enlightened and shit?”
Well. Yea. Kind of.
I’ve experienced every single corner of what my emotions can handle. I’ve pushed boundaries and made mistakes and made legendary stories people will tell to listeners in disbelief. I’ve hurt and raged and laughed and fucked. And it sucked and it was incredible.
So the strippers, the smoke and talk and I know the conversation because it’s happened in my living room a dozen times. I know the complaints about house fee’s and tip outs and the exhilaration of finding a mark, especially if he’s under forty and under three hundred pounds. I envy them, in a way, because they have years of fucking up still left to do. The men out front with their blue thirties in their pockets and nasal cavities don’t get aroused by naked flesh, but do by the idea of rending some.
Fighting and fucking and forgetting can become an entire life if you want. If you let it. Hell, it’s not even that bad and a perfectly respectable life choice for people unfortunate enough to have been raised by the kind of people who were unfortunate enough to be raised by that kind of people. In its gorgeous animal simplicity, sex and violence and dreams are enough. If you can manage to stay fed and not sick, it’s a nearly admirable life.
It wasn’t, however, for me.
I stopped drinking three years ago and I almost wish it was because I hit rock bottom or found Christ or found Step Twelve. It wasn’t nearly that cathartic. One day I just… Stopped.
Time creeps and it’s slow and I enjoy being bored. The night is quiet and loaded with pretense and potential energy and I am happy to feel the breeze as a pickup drives by and wafts the scent of what I’m guessing is some kind of grilled-onion based interrogation torture from the Waffle House.
And the freeway is not crowded and the freeway isn’t empty and the freeway doesn’t stop.
Through the closed curtain of my west wall, the shaft of neon light bisects my bed, right at the waist. Cut me right in two at the navel- separating the dick and the head….