“You look good, honey,” my wife said to me yesterday morning with a smile. “You’ve really slimmed down before our big trip.” Although I had lost weight and girth (and doing so before our anniversary trip to a far away beach was a motivator), the comment didn’t feel right.
“Oh no. No, no, no,” I refused. “The pants are big. Biggest pants I have. And the shirt is baggy. Fashion slimming technology.” She turned away with a whatever look.
Apparently, I’m just as averse to having my goodness pointed out as I am the badness. And as I stroll back through some painful memories, I can see this is nothing new.
On my very first weekend at college, a market of sorts was held in the main campus hall. They sold t-shirts and cassette tapes, including bootlegs of Jimmy Page experimenting with Zeppelin’s sound quality. On this one he’d placed a microphone deep inside a toilet, and on that one inside a heap of tomato aspic, etc. I bought those tapes by the dozen.
And, of course, there were posters of all kinds – black lights, Ansel Adams, sports, babes, metal bands – anything to fill the empty spaces on dorm room walls.
I was looking at an M.C. Escher print, probably the now-ubiquitous sketch of the staircases or the globe-reflected self-portrait. And a girl, very cute, more than cute in my memory, walked up behind me and leaned around my shoulder. “I like that one too,” she said. “Wanna see what I really like?’ She pulled me by the arm over to another table. What is she doing? I thought. I don’t even know who this girl is!
She picked up a glossy print of two kittens and said “I like this one. What do you think? Do you like cute, little, kittens?” I remember her lips were like those of Marilyn Monroe, sparkly and full. And the words cute, little, and kittens were exhaled more than spoken and seemed to take minutes to float from her mouth.
I said nothing, simply because I didn’t know what to say. And this is remarkable because the arc of my life since has been distinctly plotted by a series of failures to keep my damn mouth shut despite my complete ignorance.
And I swear to whatever god you worship that she rephrased her question and asked it yet again: “Would you like to see this poster on my wall?” Again with the lips and breath and Whoosh!
Then something somewhere in that mass of grey pudding in my head squirmed. I knew this was friendly contact, but did that mean there was an implication that she was compli…? Did she….?
“Oh, no,” I said.
“Are you sure, cuz I kinda like it?” she said.
“No way,” I said.
And as she turned away, she had that look. The whatever look that I’ve gotten a thousand times since.
So, even if only in the fantasy reel that plays and replays in my head, I will have a do-over, please, and return to that lovely girl who threw me a pitch so fat that I might still learn the joy of swinging.
“Would you like to see this poster on my wall?” she asks.
“Yes. Yes I would,” I respond without hesitation. POW!
Now, does anyone know how to get to first base?