Practice

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There’s a subway ad campaign that boldly states “only the boring get bored.” It features the most milquetoast models wearing the most nondescript clothing walking down the safest tree-lined streets in the nicest neighborhood in Brooklyn.

I comb the pictures for meaning, looking for engagement, sparkle, intelligence in the model’s eyes. Character, perhaps, a little twist. They couldn’t have conceived of a more blanched, bleached, or withering photo essay on non-boring life.

Is that their point? That even if you look like an expensively dressed well-manicured pop up doll who has never faced adversity or ugliness, even if you look like the most boring person on the planet, it’s all a house of mirrors.

Maybe it means “don’t judge a book by its cover,” even though everyone always does. You never know what happens behind closed doors, I suppose.

***

Tuesday morning, 3 a.m. I’m lying in bed, not sleeping. My dog’s curled in the corner, oblivious. People tell me that animals are empaths. I don’t buy it.

I lay on my back. Side. Stomach. Back. I make a list of what I need to do on Wednesday. I revise it. I wonder why I do anything. I wonder why I’m awake and not asleep. I wonder what will make me happy. And I realize I am happy. So then I wonder why I feel the need to do anything other than what I’m already doing.

So it goes.

It’s like I’ve forgotten how to sleep.

***

Wednesday morning. Nicki’s staring at me across a cafe table. She has a street map of Brooklyn held open by her latte and my cappuccino.

Spring is springing, which means her demented game of “Where’s Waldo When You Don’t Know What he Looks Like,” is about to begin again.

“I thought you gave up on finding Bob,” I say.

“Winter was a temporary set-back. I’m biding my time until it’s biking weather.”

“You don’t bike.”

“But he does. I think.”

“I need a practice date before I go to Alaska.”

“What about Jack C.? He’s single.”

Subject change: successful.

“He’s a little creepy.”

“I think he’s cute.”

“Maybe you should date him.”

“I have a steady date.”

“Who has a steady wife.”

“Who has a steady boyfriend. Bob.”

Oh well.

“I’m learning to make cheese.”

“I bet he makes his own beer.”

“I’m being cyber-stalked by some guy in Rhode Island who keeps writing to me.”

“Is he cute?”

“No picture.”

“Is he funny?”

“No.”

“What’s his name?”

“SuburbanDad.”

“Oh. Boring.”

“Anyway, as far as he’s concerned, I live in Fairbanks now.”

“I just thought of something.”

“What?”

“What if Bob’s an accountant?”

***

Thursday night. I step into The Piper’s Kilt. It’s karaoke night and I’m there to find my friend’s friend, Jenny. She dated an Alaskan guy. She’s promised to give me advice.

I’ve never been to the Kilt before, but I hear that new faces are like fresh meat. So, I might kill two birds with one stone.

Jenny’s sitting at the bar with a beer. Her smile pops when she sees me. The place is packed. On a small platform, an expressionless woman warbles, “I just called to say I love you… I just called to say how much I care….”

“I’m doing my research – Alaska,” I yell above the din.

“Oh! I just got a text message!”

She pulls out her phone to show me, but it’s her karaoke turn. Ricki Lee Jones. She’s on fire.

I stand by the bar looking at the crowd. No one is looking at me.

Three minutes later, she’s back on her stool, phone in her hand.

“Yeah. I texted him a month ago. Just got a text yesterday when I was doing my laundry.” She reads. “‘Heyya. Going back to the bush. Keep warm.'” She looks at me. “What does it mean?”

***

Friday. I’m invited to coffee in Fairbanks, by a guy who lives in a log cabin in the woods. He speaks in bad puns and silly jokes and plays the banjo. Half-beard, no hair, hippie hat, and a smile like a scoundrel.

His childhood fascination with Jack London led him to Alaska as an adult, he writes, which brings me to the conclusion that the Alaskan male might, in fact, be an outdoorsy, camping, hunting species closely related to the common indoor sci-fi genus Geek.

***

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Saturday morning. Says a friend’s friend in an email, “Oh my, oh my. She will have no problem in Alaska You know the ratio there is ridiculous, like 5 or 7:1…. Hence, “the odds are good, but the goods are odd…” Seriously, in the 2.5 years I was up there, I never found one man that I enjoyed talking to for more than 10 minutes.”

I read the email to Obidiah, who’s over for breakfast.

“Should I try a practice date?¬†Someone with a beard.”

“You could try Martin. He’s gay. Does that matter?”

“That’s fine.”

“He’s a teddy-bear.”

“You mean a ‘bear.'”

“Yeah. Whatever. Lot’s of bears in Alaska.”

“You think they make martinis there?”

“Or something like it. I’m sure.”

***

“I knew an Alaskan woman who was a rollerskating stripper,” offers my stage manager on Sunday.

That does me no good.

***

Monday, Sadie and I visit Mary and her cats to make cheese. The cat/ dog relationship develops with a tenuous lope as one cat watches my dog dig through her toys and the other hides. My dog wants to play.

Mary lives in Brooklyn, on a not so perfect tree-lined street. Her Jamaican neighbor stands on the stoop next door and watches people come and go. She has a basement apartment with concrete floors, and a labyrinth-like path to the bathroom, but it’s filled with such light, such warmth, that you know, even if she and her husband are bored, they’re never boring.

She has a perfect set of pots and pans in her clean, un-manicured, kitchen. Her husband makes beer.

They don’t know anyone in Alaska, we’ve established that, but, for a split second, while we’re drinking wine and waiting for the milk to curd, I wonder if they know Bob.

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1 thought on “Practice

  1. Haha! I love the ramblings of a week like this. Hope your sleep has improved. The cats were much nicer to Sadie than they are to my nieces… I think Sadie’s chances have actually improved in future.

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