Matters Of Little Consequence

By the time spring started tickling the air with a dusty fever, the eight hundred pound gorilla had lost most of its weight. Dan was writing sporadically, leaving me to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, me and the Dame were figuring it out. And, because there is no such thing as simple math, a great big matzoh ball of a mystery was being played out, the results of which I wouldn’t learn until the blog was six feet under.

Me and the boys convened at McCleary’s Public House- a river town pub whose patrons were a funky soup of factory workers, college peeps and small business owners. It was the weekend and some cover band was pissing on the platinum sage lyrics of Cobain. When you make Lake of Fire sound like a boy band ballad, you should be brought up on charges.

It was my first and only time meeting Richie, and all those first impressions I’d collected were proving correct. He talked higher than his ass, about everything. When Chris and me started riffing about our ideas for the podcast, Richie had to interject his thoughts on the blog. The dude was floating more bells and whistles than a degenerate gambler on safari in Vegas. So far, he’d delivered shit.

We let him go on for a while since he’d sprung for the first round, but things were getting nowhere at the speed of light. It devolved into him talking about some chick from Jersey, and his businesses and his brilliant mind. His hairline was receding faster than the arctic glaciers, his paunch had more keep than a Rockefeller trust fund and his personality was a flailing strike. And somehow, Dan thought this asshole was a good idea for us.

Speaking of Dan, I couldn’t shake the feeling something was going on, to which Dan and Chris were holding tight. It wasn’t unusual to feel like the third wheel around those two, but this was different and I was pretty certain it had to do with the blog. It was doing nothing to assuage my suspicions that Chris and Dan were planning a mutiny. It didn’t matter that I was the only erstwhile scribe the fucking thing had going. By this point, nothing about the blog was making any sense. 

“So what’s this about you writing on that chick’s blog?” Richie asked me out of the blue.

The question felt like a punch to the face once I realized what he was talking about. It took a few moments to put together where this line of questioning could have come from. Dan.

“What in the blessed fuck does that have to do with getting us a website?” I asked.

“She hot?”

“She’s not pregnant or your cousin, so you wouldn’t be interested,” I said. The guys all cracked up after which Dan changed the subject quickly.

I was devoting more of my time to the Dame, sure. But that was because she’d stopped writing on the regular and without that steam vent, things could get menacingly perpendicular for us. My involvement in her writing life was equal parts wondrous fascination and self preservation. And it was nobody’s business but our own. 

At this point, I knew I had to take a breather from this catastrophe of a get together or there was going to be a scene. So I told Dan I was going out to call the Dame and gave him a look as if to say If your asshole friend has any inkling to join me, Imma need bail money. 

I called Dame, who cut our chat short because her oldest daughter was visiting, so I delayed my return inside by talking with Till Tuesday and her new friend- a construction worker who’d done work on Lincoln Financial Field. I was starting to feel the buzz of the shots, the Guinness and the smokes. It’s that peaceful, easy feeling when a certain time of the evening goes plush to necessary solutions. I was having such a good time chatting it up, I almost forgot about the miserable shit that awaited me when I went back inside. And then Dan made the scene.

“What’s wrong with you tonight dude?”

“Me? I’m listening to Richie sell us on ground floor real estate to a blog we built, and that you couldn’t care less about writing on now that we have a podcast with Chris. Never mind that it came about only because of the blog,”

“Sorry . . . It’s just, I’ve been going through it and my mind has been shit for,” Dan confessed.

“What’s going on?”

“Me and Em are fighting. I know it’s not fair to you or the blog . . . and maybe that’s what I need to do, you know? Just fucking write again . . take my mind off everything else?”

I almost felt badly for suspecting him of mutiny. Almost. But the more questions I threw his way, the more he ducked and ran. And while I knew this wasn’t about the blog, I also knew it was adversely affecting it.  So I got to pressing before . . .

“You fellas going to Haydn Zugs?”

Standing directly in front of us was a breathalyzer test’s wet dream and this asshole wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“Sorry man, but if we were going there . . why would we be here?” I asked with a straight face. The irony was lost on him.

“I need a ride there! I got a date!”

“So . . what was the plan exactly? Get drunk here, with no ride to the place where you have a date . . . ” I smiled.

“It’s not your fucking business,” He slurred.

“Incorrect. Because you made it my business when you asked for a ride, Sparky,”

“Fuck you then . . I’ll just slash your tires!”

“Hey fuckhead, get a cab!” Dan bellowed, stepping forward and opening his jacket to reveal his revolver. He had a permit to carry, but I’m pretty sure he still would’ve carried it even without one.

“I’m calling my brother, man . . . he’s a state cop!”

“Call him and tell him you’re drunk and you’re gonna slash some tires . . and then tell him to bring donuts. Chocolate glazed . . .” I laughed.

“I should fucking call him right now . . .”

“Call him . . . ” I said calmly. “Tell him that I prevented you from slashing some tires by kicking your ass. After which my friend here put you down after you reached for his gun when he was trying to pull me off you before I put you in a coma,”

“You guys are fucking nuts!” He shouted as he walked off into the night as me and Dan laughed our asses off whilst popping the top on another pack of smokes.

The episode was a microcosm of the blog: An accident of misbegotten times and places that was blatantly offensive and downright stupid. A bat-shit crazy run on sentence that was destined for nothing good.

Full of bluster and fire until it stumbled off into the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matters Of Little Consequence

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, and you don’t rekindle a spark that led to a five alarm fire that burned down your whole fucking house. But hey, morbid curiosity happens to be my weakness, and I have a closet full of chips to prove it. It’s not like I can help it. Besides, I had to experience what a second act was going to feel like. I imagined Beethoven coming back to finish his unfinished business. With lots of acrimony, ill gotten meds, screaming passion and obscenely constructed adult beverages tossed into the mix. 

I missed her over those forty six days, yes. But I missed the craziness of it all just as much. When you suffer from depression and you ride up on something that makes you feel differently, you crave more of that drug, because you need to keep that high going.

It wasn’t about being happy inside our time together, because for me it never is. But with her, I was bending the edges of the milky way and cunning the logic out of madness in a plush Al Green spill of narratives and events and twists and turns that perplexed and sometimes even confounded me. When you ain’t gonna find happiness, you become expert at finding an even more potent secondary market fix. And she was it.

I had lied to her in the early going of our first go round. Silly little fabrications that were polymer laden cliches from dollar bin romance novels that would’ve made Hemingway shoot himself in the head all over again. And yet, it felt appropriate to do so for the purpose of our inevitable expedition.

I’d say stuff like how I wanted to sleep in the same bed with someone for more than a night or two. And how I liked Dave Matthews, and movies with sub titles. And gin. These were not awful lies. Let’s just say they were renderings of negligible parody; symmetrical flourishes that helped fortify our connection, and whose obsequious nature would make me seem less contented with bachelorhood than I really was.

Truth is, I loved sleeping alone and I hated Dave Matthews and movies with sub titles. And I wasn’t all that crazy about gin either. But if love teaches you anything, it is to lie with prudence. Never, ever lie about fidelity. But stupid shit? Have at it.

See, searching for the truth and telling the truth are mutually exclusive concepts. We tend to the former as if a prized topiary; we devour self help books and then crash diet on the tenets of stoicism whilst strengthening our unsteady legs with Zen exercises compiled by people with thousand dollar tan lines. It numbs us to any kind of honest perspective to such an extent that telling the truth is forced to take the bus.

I never lied to the Dame about another woman, because fidelity has always been my genuine kitsch. I have done some extraordinarily fucked up shit in my life, but I’ve also never cheated inside of a committed relationship. Even made up committed relationships with married women. Even those. I blame the fact that I was raised on sitcoms with thirty second lead in tunes. And Barbara Streisand.

Our breakup in November was opera, but it was her opera. She was stranded on an island of infidelities forged by her caveman of an ex husband. And so when I came along, of course she filled in those gaps as if she were the post mistress of Tombstone. After which came the accusations she threw at my head like an Aroldis Chapman fastball that was double dating with the grim reaper. She accused me of messing around and she had a laundry list of license plates. And I didn’t take too kindly to being accused of something I wasn’t enjoying, so we had our what’s what moment. And it ended rather abruptly.

So this second time around thing was, to put it mildly, dubious. But so everlastingly worth figuring out just the same. Just because it was so much more worth it than pulling some cheery high note from a website clearinghouse of feel good quotes in order to make Mondays go down a little smoother.

Never mind there was a good chance she was gonna kill me for real the second time around.

I wasn’t holding it against her.

 

 

 

 

 

Matters Of Little Consequence

Sunday August 5, 2007: The plane banked hard as it took its slot inside a gaggle of interloping tin birds looking to scavenge solid ground for a spell. My window seat provided me a dashboard view of a town whose skyline was a soothing weep of mayhem and mystery, built on hard promises, like a dice game that never gets finished.

Chicago is a stylized ritual of muck and mortar neighborhoods wrestling the waist of high spire glass totems whose fire spills out genius dreamers hopped up on caffeine and anti-depressants. From the sky, none of that matters because it’s a seductive postcard whose come hither purrs love songs from a time so lost to present day, you wouldn’t even bother pasting it to a milk carton.

It had been more than a decade since I’d been to Chi town, and lots had changed. Harry Caray had gone to that big ballpark in the sky and Michael Jordan had retired for good. On the positive side of the ledger, the White Sox had broken a billy goat curse which allowed Shoeless Joe to finally rest in peace. And a Senator named Barack was making big noise on the national level, threatening to make Chicago politics something much more relevant than a punchline reserved for happy hour.

The truth is, the nostalgia didn’t mean a thing to me. I would have been plenty fine meeting her at an Applebee’s in Fargo, North Dakota. Because from the get, it really felt like the moon was throwing us a ladder and the stars were giving us a chance and Al Green was cleaning his soulful pipes for us as if we were close personal friends. And when nothing else matters the way nothing else was mattering to me right then? Well . . I knew I was fucked.

Yes, I should have been a touch spooked by her Shakespearean tragedy of a family history, but I wasn’t cutting or running. It was as if I was provoking the damnedest parts of me into turning another page of this mystery novel called Her. Because she was my favorite Elvis Costello song without even trying.

I stepped off the plane and began reacquainting myself with O’Hare, which always reminded me of a movie set, replete with a full-throated cast of characters bustling around as if there were medals in the offing. I made my way upstairs and then out into the street where I began looking for my ride. I scanned left to right and back again. Nothing. And then a thought rushed up on me before I could stop it. What if she had second thoughts about this meeting?

And then I turned to find her standing by the side of her car looking right at me. She was double take beautiful, with crazy blonde hair that rained down her shoulders. And I was going to be the guy every other guy would envy as soon as I swooped her up.

When I turned and began walking in her direction, she loosed a shy girl smile in my direction as her eyes turned away from mine before they could give too much away. I walked up to her and lifted her into an embrace to make it real. Her response let me know what the rest of our afternoon was going to look like.

I had made reservations at a DoubleTree near her place. As far as her kids were concerned, she had decided against introductions on my initial trip out to see her. We had agreed that it was important to see what our dynamic was going to feel like once we were in the same place at the same time.

It didn’t take long to figure us out, though. As we knocked back a couple of lagers, we talked and laughed and finished each other’s sentences as if we’d been doing it for a lifetime. It felt so much more relevant than a simple connection to another individual. And while I had never really believed in soul mates, she was changing my mind with every spell binding turn.

We went for a walk afterwards, to spin away any of the residual anxiety we might have been holding onto. And that’s when I brought her into me for our first real kiss; a kiss that crushed time into a velvety plush. It wasn’t simply a kiss. No. From that moment on, we would refer to the moment when clarity knocked on our door as The Kiss.

It was the end of the world as we knew it.

Matters Of Little Consequence

One of the most magical events in a person’s life is when you bring a puppy home for the first time. The moments brimming with hope and joy and a feeling that centers you as if a marigold on spring’s first day. You paint countless scenarios in your brain, each one more optimistic than the last. And nowhere inside all those many scenarios do you even remotely imagine the reality of the situation.

You never think about the fact that your little puppy is gonna die one day.

Of course you don’t, because who in their right mind would take into consideration such a tragic circumstance? I mean, those kinds of thought processes are reserved for flaming anarchists, Scientologists and actuaries. Heartless actuaries.

Love is the very same thing.

When you lock eyes with a stranger across a crowded floor, or go out on a first date or have a three and a half hour phone conversation with a perfect stranger. And know. You just know. As if the universe went through all the trouble of being born, coming of age and growing old . . . for you.  So that you could arrive at that moment when you figured out the ending you didn’t even know you were looking for.

You never once think about forever having an end.

I woke up on Friday, June 8th 2007 and felt more charmed than the lovechild of Brad Pitt and Vera Farmiga. It didn’t matter in the least that it was too early to be wearing a smile. I woke up thinking it had to be the middle of the afternoon before my alarm clock corrected me with half past six. Less than six hours prior, I’d been pinballing through the witching hours with a voice that left me wanting more of that good thing.

The Dame was every bit of that beautiful storm that I’d been keeping track of for most of the last couple months. Hers was a mystic thrown down from that fateful moment when Eve told Adam that she might want to marry him one day if he watched his weight and kept that firm body.

The Dame was crazy, but a crazy borne of hard wrought places that belied her silver spoon existence. She was a rich man’s daughter but she wasn’t spoiled. She was a looker but she wasn’t conceited in the least. She possessed as brilliant a pen as I’d ever had the privilege of knowing on a first name basis. And she never once talked about it inside the three and a half hours that catapulted us from strangers into something more than friends.

And her timing was madly provocative, as if her words danced inside the language of honeybees. Her smoking gun was left on my doorstep with a Pinot fueled come hither that left me stranded in the middle of dry land. She stapled three little words to every lonely part of me before hanging up.

“Just get here,” 

It wasn’t fair, which had been her intention. The merry bachelor who played single dad with french toast and long hikes and playboy chef when I had the weekends to myself, had been harpooned like a fucking Marlin. I just didn’t know it yet.

I put a second pot of coffee on before settling down to check my comments on the Gorilla when Dan finally decided to return my call.

“Yo!” Dan bellowed, his voice thick with exhaustion and nicotine.

“About time man, I called you after hanging up with the Dame last night,” I said with mock exasperation.

“Sorry honey, but I was busy working while you were drinking martinis and talking to a hot chick from Chicago,” Dan laughed.

“Don’t be jealous,”

“Hey dude, I’m married, jealousy’s all I got left. So how did it go?”

“Without sounding too excitable . . . fucking amazing! She’s smarter than she writes, she’s funnier than she writes and if her voice could get me pregnant, I’d be shopping for cribs right about now,”

“So . . that’s good, right?” Dan laughed whilst scarfing down a breakfast sandwich and chasing it with a couple smokes on his back porch.

“That’s great, except for the fact that she’s got three kids, and she’s having issues with them because of her neanderthal husband who won’t cut her any slack, and she lives in Chicago, and she’s given up on dating or ever being happy again,”

Granted, there were more exemptions inside that statement than you’ll find on a billionaire’s tax returns, but I was smitten. Me . . smitten. What in the blessed fuck was the world coming to?

“But you guys hit it off?”

“We hit it out of the fucking park is what we did, Tonto. And now I have to slow things down because my mind is gonna jump out of my skull if I don’t,”

“There’s time. And oh hey! I read that Rabbit Hole chick, fantastic shit man!”

“I told you! Now see . . she is crazy. But I mean, how can you not be crazy when you write stuff like that. I’m glad you liked,”

“Loved it. Hey, I’m gonna crash but I’ll call you on my way into work tonight. You gonna be around?”

“I’ll be here,” I said.

“Whoa, this girl really did a number on you,” Dan laughed before hanging up.

I thought about what Dan had said before the gurgling noise snapped me back. I ran into the kitchen to find my dime on the dollar coffee maker dying. I’d been separated for almost two years and had already gone through half a dozen coffee makers since I couldn’t bring myself to buy another Bunn. Never mind that I had the thing for ten years without a hitch, I wasn’t shelling out a couple hundred dollars without a mortgage and joint back accounts to hide it inside of.

I was able to rescue a cup of Joe from the devastation, after which I placed the carafe on the counter and escorted the scrapheap out. I’d scored a writers pad rental less than two miles from my old house and I loved the quirks included at no extra charge. Like the fire escape stairwell that was the only way up or down. It hadn’t affected my business, as evidenced by the many high heeled visitors I’d entertained, so that was good enough for me. And besides, it was the perfect way to bury my hard luck coffee makers. It had become sort of a tradition that I toss the latest coffee machine done wrong down the long set of stairs to commemorate it’s untimely demise.

I went in to grab my smokes and the cup of Joe and I turned on some Talking Heads before returning to the proceedings. I sipped and tugged and then I let go of the piece of shit coffee maker, watching it tumble to its death for a second time inside the early morning.

There was symbolism happening loudly inside that moment, but I was too high to notice.

 

 

 

Matters of Little Consequence

I think God created blogging when he had nothing else to talk about.

I had to admit Dan had gone bulls-eye with his little idea. The 800lb Gorilla was chugging along on nicotine, friendly drinks and unsympathetic satire that offered no quarter for sacred cows. The blogosphere had plugged me into a tantric remedy in which I was writing practically every day. Shop hours would vary depending on the day ahead. Sometimes I would go for an early morning run and then post something before heading out. On other days I would regale in the simple comfit fixtures of a laptop and a well armed Martini after hours. It was Zen capture inside the tear drops of a clock whose purpose now seemed to dovetail its method into my madness.

I was enjoying myself immensely, in spite of the detours that would crop up now that our elbow bending riffs were being held in a virtual forum. Like the time Dan called to tell me Google had taken a shit on our Blogger platform and he had moved us over to a place called WordPress. But just like all the other bumps in the road, this one proved to be quite fortuitous. Because whereas our former website behaved like a rural dirt road, the new digs were akin to an eight lane highway.

Everything was coming back peach as summer moved into fall. My kids were feeling good about how life was looking on the other side of the split. My soon to be ex-wife had met a man on a dating site and things were promising. And I had met a nice girl inside the same week, on the same site as the ex-wife and things were promising as well. For a couple months. After which I got back to dating and black book research.

As far as writing was concerned, I had unlocked a parallel of myself to which had always been a mystery before this time. It was a quicksilver reckoning in which my creative bones were shaking loose, as if pole vaulting over thunderheads.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

December 12th, 2006 is when push came to shove. It was some time in the middle of the night when Dan posted what would launch the Gorilla from obscurity into a grass roots movement that would end up getting play in a couple online magazines and local radio shows.

It was later that morning, I was doing a supply run when my phone came to life. It was Dan.

“Dude, you checking this shit out?”

“What shit?”

“The blog!”

“Oh, yeah . . the shot of Britney’s front yard. You know what you sonofabitch, next time give me a heads up when you post some shit like that,”

“Sorry to offend your delicate senses,”

“Dan, my daughter listens to Britney, okay? I don’t need to see her business is all I’m saying. I prefer to keep her in my sexy little Smurf collection where anatomy doesn’t exist. And where did you find that pic?”

“I hit on a website when I was surfing around last night for something to write about. We were one of the first sites to put it up,”

“Wow, I always wanted to run a porn site. I guess the degenerate blue ribbon goes to us, huh?”

“Marc, you see the hits?”

“I don’t look at hits, I look at writing. I’m the insufferable artist and you’re the soulless networking prick, remember?”

“We’re at 2,900 hits so far . . . I think we could hit 10 grand,”

“Jesus Christ, that Federline douchebag was right! She does have a magical vagina!” I exclaimed before I realized I was talking out loud in the middle of Staples.

“This is our hanging curve ball, it’s how we’re gonna get known for all the writing we’ve been doing in the dark,”

“As if Hemingway isn’t dead enough,” I whined.

“We have the eyeballs now is how I look at it. And I’ll tell you what man, we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Dan said before we hung up.

This should have been cause for celebration. But whereas Dan was sewing this latest turn of events into a Matterhorn applique, I was dubious. For fuck’s sake, we’d been writing our asses to the tune of a couple stray comments here and there; so stray were these comments that we should’ve tested them for rabies. It was that kind of virtual desert island shit. And that was fine by me, because the writing was keeping me upright.

If writing truly mattered, how was it that I could write madly for a year and elicit nothing more than a yawn? Meanwhile, Britney simply had to play 21 Jump Street with a mini-skirt to clobber the fuck out of me. I was thinking too hard, and I knew this. Dan was right. Eyeballs were the bottom line to any kind of future for the site, and now we had them. It was time to put on my big boy swimming trunks and pray at the altar of Mary Shelly.

We were looking straight into the eye of a storm, even if we didn’t know it yet.

The Spam Files (Case #4,217)

Spam

Attn:

The sum of $4.5 million. out of your over due total sum has been approved for payment through ATM cash card system after all attempts to pay you through bank, and diplomatic courier failed. The approved sum has been programmed into the ATM cash card which will be dispatched to you through your address upon reconfirmation. I have made several attempts to contact you and this is the 3rd and perhaps the last email to you in respect to this matter. Meanwhile, I received a power of attorney from one SUSAN GERRAD from USA purportedly issued by you asking us to change the fund beneficiary to his name hence we are seeking for your confirmation as soon as possible. to this end, you should Kindly Re-confirm these information to me.

(1) Your Full Names:-

(2) Address:-

(3) Your Phone Numbers:

NOTE: The actual fees for shipping your ATM card is just $105 nothing more and no hidden fees of any sort! Upon receipt of payment the delivery officer will ensure that your package is sent within 24 working hours. Because I am very sure of everything I am giving you a 100% money back guarantee if you do not receive payment/package within the next 24hrs after you have made the payment for shipping.

Regards,

Mr. Dave West

Dear Mr. West,

Where have you been all my life?

Firstly, I must apologize for not getting back to you guys sooner. Yeah . . I received your email about the 4.5 million and then promptly forgot all about it. It’s not that I couldn’t use the ching. It’s just that, I was in the middle of a YouTube marathon of worst skateboard accidents and you know how addictive that shit gets. I’m curious, by ‘diplomatic courier’ do you mean my UPS driver, who parks wherever the fuck he feels like parking without any concern for parking tickets?

Hold up, a 4.5 million dollar cash card? That sounds really fucking stressful. I mean, I freak out when I misplace my Whole Foods club card! How’s about you send me forty five hundred cash cards loaded at 100 k each? Or better yet, forty five thousand cash cards at 100 bucks each? I mean . . once I’m a millionaire, losing a hundred bucks will be like the Kardashians losing a husband, no big whoop.

As for your attempts to reach me? Have you tried calling me? Because to paraphrase my Queen Bee highness, the great Beyonce, if you got millions for me you better put a ring on it.

Let the record state that I have never met Susan Gerrad. Girl sounds very take charge though, so feel free to shave a hundy off my tote board for her, coo?

Imma hold off on giving you certain particulars- such as name and address- because I don’t know that I can trust you just yet. Nothing personal, you understand . . it’s strictly business. If you want said information, you’re gonna have to gain my trust. Like, send me your silliest pic. Share your favorite Waffle House story. And perhaps most importantly, how did you get into this line of work? Was it family? A need to give back? Did you aspire to be on a future episode of Dateline?

Now . . . as far as your Note. I happen to think $105 is an outrageous ATM fee. What are we, in Vegas? I mean . . of course there are no hidden fees. They’re pimping their propers for everyone to see, all brazen like. And again, it’s nothing personal . . but I ain’t down with the whole pay to play scene. Matter of fact, Imma let the late, great Michael Corleone sum it up . . in case you ain’t catching my wave.

 

Do me a solid and send me a month’s worth of Hello Fresh grub. I’m partial to the balsamic pork and the peppercorn steak, but if you go heavy on the carnitas I ain’t gonna protest. I anxiously await your response to my retrofitted arrangement. And thanks for trusting me with such a large sum of money. It means the world to me.

Best wishes,

Pierce Inverarity

John the Baptist

The memories are sketchy. I was maybe seven years old and the teachers had arranged an Easter egg hunt for the class. We filed down the stairs to the yard in the back of the school, lined up against a wall that was bleeding paint chips. The structural integrity of the school left a lot to be desired. It was decades removed from any kind of worthwhile maintenance. The yards however, they were quite lovely from what I remember. We were told it was because the yard was tended to by local parishioners of the church that bordered us, not that we really cared.

All that mattered were the monkey bars, the swings and the see saw which sat in a lonely corner of the yard, away from the plush gardens; almost as if an afterthought in spite of the utility of recess.

The only part of the hunt I remember was finding an Easter egg tucked at the base of a tree. I pretended I didn’t see it, in spite of the bright infusion it threw inside the pale dirt. I was waiting for Patty, who in spite of my best judgment, had become my school girlfriend. Truth be told, outside of the thunder claps of blonde hair that sprouted from her pigtails, we shared no kismet. She thought me a ‘bad boy’ for cursing all the time, and I found it repugnant that she couldn’t do a better job of wiping her nose. Yet somehow, we had forged a strange alliance. We looked out for each other, as if we knew there were struggles we had endured far beyond the walls of a school.

So when I found that Easter egg nestled inside the veins of a big old tree, I waited for her. She hadn’t found an egg to that point, and I felt badly for my gal pal. I remember just standing guard, waiting for her to arrive when a teacher came up to me, bent down and picked up the egg and said something to the effect of,

“Oh for God’s sakes! It’s right here!”

I don’t remember the teacher, but I do remember hating her for killing my moment. And I remember carrying that hate with me for the rest of the day. The world was full of adults who wanted to steal your dreams before they got started.

After school, I was ushered back to the yard with the other kids whose parents schedules conflicted with the end of the school day. For the span of an hour or more, we would entertain ourselves with war games and marbles and school gossip.

Me? I usually just wanted to run, until I got to anywhere else. This entailed scaling a tall, chain link fence that surrounded the yard. After which one of the Baptist kids who volunteered to watch us would have to give chase. My legs were filled with rocket fuel on this particular day, and if memory serves me right, I made it a couple city blocks before being caught.

The kid’s name was John. A tall and lanky, clean cut high school student who never lost his cool. No matter how hard I tried. He must’ve chased me down dozens of times, and never once did he utter a bad word or flash me a disjointed look. He would simply walk me back to the school yard, every single time.

There we were, sitting in exhausted heaps on the cool concrete sidewalk, not saying a word to each other; simply trying to get back to even before returning to the yard. I was a kid who hated adults and Jesus and anything that ever tried to tell me the what’s what, but try as I might? I couldn’t hate John. We walked back to the school in silence as I tried to find a reason to believe in the world.

It was years before I realized I’d already found one.