Monday, August 30, 2010

Here's Hoping

There's a gas station a few blocks from my apartment. It's called The Quick And Save. It's not my favorite gas station, but it is the closest. The people who own it drive very nice cars and are Pakistani. This is the extent of my knowledge of them. Mostly when I go in now I see a nice West African couple and we talk about work or why Americans must put sugar in all their vegetables, or the lady and I compliment each other on our hair-dos. A few years ago there was no West African couple, there was only the Pakistani family. Sometimes the grown son, (who I still see on occasion) sometimes his wife (who is tiny and beautiful and had a baby), and sometimes the parents, especially the older gentleman.
For some reason, the older gentleman took a shine to me and started holding my hand when I would go in to buy cigarettes. Just across the counter, as you would take the hand of someone dear to you. One time I went in and he was out in the store proper and he gave me a hug. This became our thing for a while, he would come out from behind the counter and hug me and then go back and hand me my cigarettes and I would hand him the money and that was that. Then one day, he came out from behind the counter, took my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and said, "My Darling, my darling!" Then he kissed me on the lips, hugged me vigorously, and sold me my cigarettes. I stopped going in for about a year.
To try to explain this, something gets lost in the translation. It wasn't frightening or creepy. It was wrong, no question, but there was something in his foreignness, or in his propriety, or his age... Or something in how old fashioned he dressed and spoke, that made it almost okay. I didn't feel that slimy uncomfortable feeling in my gut when he did this. I felt truly loved. It was utterly absurd, and that absurdity charmed me and charms me still. Regardless, I knew it wasn't right and I did take my business elsewhere for a while. Now when I go in he is never there and I don't ask about him. I don't want to hear that the grown son had to fire him for kissing the customers, or that he has dementia. I like the absurd to remain the absurd.
A few weeks ago a coworker walked me to my car after work. We park in the lot of the bank next door at night because our restaurant has very limited parking, and to get there we cut through this little muddy wooded area behind the dumpster and under a giant mulberry tree. This night in particular we were walking and talking and we came upon a man supine behind the dumpster. He was very fat and hairy and dirty and not wearing a shirt and he couldn't've been comfortable because he was half on and half off the concrete slab that was there to support the dumpster. He said, "Hey!" and my coworker, nice man that he is said Hey back, and as we kept walking I was thinking "Great, here we go.." because I just knew he was going to ask for money and I do generally give people money if I have cash in my pocket but that night I was just not in the mood, and I was having that internal struggle of whether I wanted to be a miserly bitch or if I was going to give the man a dollar. Then the man goes, "Hey! Do either of you guys.... want to arm wrestle?"
Again, do you see the absurdity? The beauty of this? He was so big and strong and dirty! He was laying in the mud! Even if we HAD wanted to arm wrestle, what? Would we have gotten down on the muddy slope and somehow leaned our bodies so that our elbows were braced on the dumpster slab, taken his meathook mitt in hand and counted three?
We told him No Thank You and as we turned the corner to our cars we saw a group of young, well dressed people walking up to go the way we had just come. "I'm not going to warn them," my friend whispered to me as they passed by. I got the giggles and had to stuff my hands in my face.
I love the absurd, I dearly do. I love it when people act in ways that are completely unexpected and marvelously strange. It makes me feel more right and more human. Lately I've been depressed, unhappy with work, unhappy with my performance at work and how ill-defined my job is, and how much time I spend there and how it wears me out. I haven't been feeling well and it seems I get every cold that passes through town, though I do wash my hands a million times a day and I eat my vegetables. I have mold in my apartment and that depresses me. People die, people get sick, people we love. I don't know what I'm doing with my life, I feel like I'm wasting it. A friend of mine finally got all this out of me recently and told me in no uncertain terms that I am not alone in feeling this and that we all go through this, and basically Buck Up, Buttercup, but you know? Knowing that everyone feels lonely and depressed does not make me feel more one with the human race, it makes me feel more hopeless. What hope do I have, what about me is so special that I might somehow find the way out of what I understand to be a very human condition? Yes, every body cries. That is just depressing. REM can go suck it.
You can't connect with sad people. Sadness is selfish and I don't want to share my sadness or anger or frustration with anyone, and I really don't want anyone to try to share theirs with me. To say how you're feeling and be honest about it is fine, but to dwell and divulge and struggle- it's all too personal to feel one with. I feel the pain of others but I can't do anything about it, and all I want is to be useful.
Which is why I so adore when people are strange. Truly absurd experiences (even the word absurd is absurd! D's and B's in the same word! Hilarious!) remind me that we are all different, and if we are all different it follows that maybe there is something in me that will spark and grow and change and find joy! Isn't that a great idea? That none of us are the same? That we will be surprised all the time, by everyone we meet? By ourselves?
There's a dollar bill that's been going around work and keeps showing up like a bad penny. It's a perfectly good dollar bill, only someone felt the need to add extra zeros to the 1, so it reads "10,000". They didn't try to make it look real or anything, they just used a black marker and the zeros aren't even the same size. But still, a 10,000 dollar bill! Ka-zam! No one wants it. We try to give it to people in their change and it keeps coming back. The other day I even held it out to my boss and said, "Um, Kim? I'm going to need change for this 10,000 dollar bill." He wasn't fooled. (Yes, he is a man named Kim. He's not even Asian! Ka-zam!)
I need 10,000 dollar bills. I need arm wrestling homeless men and to be called Darling every once in a while. Even if all I do is tuck these things away inside to pull out and think about sometimes. What is in these people that make them do these things as part of their every day lives? What is in me that startles people out of their normal? When have I been that person? When have you? What will happen next? I hope it is something beautiful. I hope it is truly marvelous.

Don't go looking for pictures of hairy homeless men online. Unless what you really want to look at are penises and butts.


downtown guy said...

May said...

That's all you say? Not even one comment on the cool spider monkey ad I found? Is that something you made? Is that our new ad?

downtown guy said...

I swear I saw that monkey ad somewhere else this week. Where was it? because that shit is cute.

Also, I like this entry. Although it incorporates sadness and depression, it's funny and has homeless arm wrestling.

Also, how cute is that gas station gal's hair? She and I got into a long talk about fishing one time - she wanted to go with us.

But no, that is just a sign for you from the gods. That you should throw in your lot with me, and we should start the pie cart. In September, we will start working on our pies, and I will find out what all fees we have to pay and licenses to get. Pie!

All This Trouble... said...

Yes! Sell pie! I've been eyeing a particular ice cream bike myself. Last time I arm wrestled, my opponent was an 80 yr old nursing home patient who was soft in the head but oh so very strong! I will also take this opportunity to tell you I very much like penises. Butts, less so because they don't do anything cool.

Side note: I find myself thinking of you and Hank when I watch and listen to my son and daughter play together. They are so close right now. How did the two of you relate back then? Were you always close?

All This Trouble... said...

OMG! I just followed the Pie link. Ingenious!

I'd totally buy your pie. Or that poster. Whichever.

downtown guy said...

May and I were very close, with occasional dips into violently opposed.

May said...

All This Trouble- Yes! Pie! Pie is always a good idea. We were very close as kids. I pretty much thought Hank hung the moon. Still do.

DTG- Okay, okay! Pie! I like my sign from God. I got a sign from God the other day that told me to eat Cracklin' Oat Bran. I pretty much do whatever God tells me.

RiotGrrlCynic said...

Wonderful post. Absurd is one of the best words ever.

You are one of the few people that can make me grin even when I don't want to. It gives you a special place in my heart.

Oh, and yay pie!!

Ms. Moon said...

Oh May. Whenever I am feeling the what-have-I-done-with-my-life's? I only have to think about you and your brother and sisters and Owen and it's all okay. I somehow managed to bring these flames which are all of you, into being. And I know that I have done my job.
And I am so glad that one absurd thing led to another and here you are in all of your glory and so are Hank and Lily and Jessie.
Yeah. That's all.
Oh. I love you. That too.

Elizabeth said...

I live my life by the rule of absurdity. Honestly, if I wasn't graced with the gift of recognizing the absurd, I would have killed myself. Hang in there -- I'm a bit older than you, and there's so much absurdity coming.

May said...

RiotGrrlCynic- Thank you, Lovely! How are you doing these days?

Mama- I always know you love me, and that always makes me feel better. I am thankful for all these lives you've made.

Elizabeth- So much absurdity coming? That is a relief! Thank you, dear Lady for coming by, as always.

Petit fleur said...

I love the monkey and the muddy nekkid homeless arm wrestler. I love that you love the absurd. Are you a David Lynch fan? He likes it too!

Sending waves of absurd relief you way.
xo pf

Steph(anie) said...

My stepdad's name is Kim. He's from Kansas.

"Live delivery guaranteed" sort of freaked me out.

I've missed you.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Yes, every body cries. That is just depressing. REM can go suck it.

I love that shit. Made me laugh. And yes, I love the absurd too, and I want a damn dwarf monkey pet to love!

I love you May May,


May said...

Petit Fleur- I am wary of the David Lynch. Perhaps I find his movies a little too real. I am feeling your waves of absurd relief! Ah, refreshing!

Steph- Sweetness. I have missed you too. I'm glad to know there's another Man Kim out there, mine is the first I've met. He looks like he could be from Kansas. He wears plaid shirts and suspenders. Does your step-dad dress like that?

SB! I love you. I want that monkey SO BAD. You know they sold a shit-ton from that ad before they were shut down. Oh man. HE LIKES LOLLIPOPS!!! LOADS OF FUN!!!! He does not come with the little cunning outfit though, that is a disappointment. If I had that monkey he would have a little outfit with his name bedazzled right on that shit. On his little pants and his little shirt, so the other monkeys would know whose was whose. Ain't nobody stealing my monkey's clothes.

Django said...

There is a huge homeless guy in my town. Hel maybe 400 pounds with long hair and a couple of tattoos on his face. He gets around with crutches and has a tiny backpack, longish hair in a ponytail and a scraggly beard.

One day I saw a gallon of milk on the ground about 15 feet from where this giant bum was laying on the ground. As I watched, horrified, he rolled over to the milk (2 full rotations) and took a swig. Then he rolled back to his initial position.

Also, there is a new restaurant here called ManPies. I know you already love them based on the name alone, but the food is great too. They serve pies to the late-night bar-goers. Good damn pies!

I'm glad you're writing again. I miss your words.

Django said...

And this morning, I walked past another downtown denizen hiding under the cushions of a soggy free couch on the curb. All I could see were his crazy eyes and his blonde curly hair. I think he might have thought that nobody could see him under there.

I wanted to take a picture, but he scares me.

Mwa said...

May, I know this may come across as creepy, but seriously - I wish you lived over here or I over there and we should be friend-sisters. I find it freaky to feel love for someone so far away that I only know through words. Ah well, there it is.

I hope the sadness passes. I had it for years, and it was horrible. I just did my studies or my work, and slept too much. It passed. Remember that. It passed.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!

Jo said...

Hey May. I hope something comes for you, something new. I know this feeling so well, and I know the only way to do anything about it is to ... do something about it - but it's very hard to know how.

There's a pie company here called PieMinster I think, that are v cute and seem to be doing well. Savoury, mostly. I wish you and Hank had bought that house near your mom's and made it a pie restaurant. That would have been cool.

You'd make a beautiful teacher too, you know - any interest?

The thing is, it doesn't sound like your job IS going to provide any more satisfaction - so you have to find something different.

But I still hope something new and shiny finds you.

Hope you're feeling better by now. Did you get my message about Danielle? It be his birthday today!

Jo said...

PS YES I want a Spider Monkey. A friend of my mother's used to have a marmoset.

SJ said...

I haven't even read this yet, but I've been thinking of you Maybelle -- glad you wrote. Off to read....

SJ said...

After reading comment: I am hit up for money approx five-ten times per day. While walking to and from the US Capitol. Which is timely and strange and fitting all at the same time.

And btw....I have fucking mold in my apt, too.

Anonymous said...

That story? Of the man kissing you? Made my morning and afternoon. Your writing is concise and it tugs and it is hopeful. I'll be reading you all the time now. xoxo

All This Trouble... said...

Just so you know, I've met TWO Man-Kims since this post.


All This Trouble... said...

One more Man-Kim today!!! Oh my GOD, MAY! Do you know what this means? No, really. What does it mean?

Miss Ash said...

I was just telling my partner how I love the absurd.

It seems the general public likes comedies to be... things that are unfunny to me.

But absurd? I LOVE.

Also, I want you to be my pen pal.
As if I don't already have too many obligations to write long letters. Typing is better. But you? Your letters would be ones I would curl up with on a rainy drizzle day like today. Mmm. And with tea and blankets. Doesn't that sound good?

Bethany said...

that is crazy absurd and wonderful, arm wrestling with a hairy homeless man.

the monkey pic just makes me horribly sad, is it really legal to sell and keep such creatures? but i know you didn't mean it that way and don't need my crazy animal sensitivity nonsense here.

i loved this meandering along. the darling, the kiss, the homeless man, the 10,000 bill. how you pull it all together.

i feel the same about work right now, the way you explained it hit exactly right.

i'm sorry things are feeling so ugh and that i'm too lazy to capitilize in my comment.