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2004-11-12 @ 12:33 a.m.
Brits, parked cars, surreptitious yentas


Itís always a great way to start out a day by turning on my bathroom light and having a dramatic blue white spark fly out. I have one of those cheesy 1950ís plastic panel lights with four light bulbs behind it. What I didnít realize was that with the extinguishing of that one bulb, I was now down to a single 40 watt bulb, so I could either pretend that I was slowly going blind and not do anything, or take down the dust challenged panel and replace all the burned out bulbs. Yet when youíre 46, dark, dim rooms are kind of a good thing early in the morning, especially when you look like this:




but I knew I had to do something, and fortunately I had a new package of bulbs from the Dollar Store, so I changed the bulbs. But I guess its been a while since Iíve had all four bulbs powered up at the same time, because now everytime I turn on the lights, I suddenly feel like Iím in a mega watt South Beach Tanning Booth.

After mega light bulbdom was achieved I called the woman down at the Crazy Crazy place. I needed to tell her that I would be coming down to get my check for the painting I sold. I told her I thought she had been playing an ďApril FoolísĒ joke on me, telling me that I had sold my painting at the art show. She assured me it was the real deal, so I told her I would be down after a training session at work. So what do you think she yelled out when I walked into the Crazy Crazy place around 2:30?

Aprilís Fools!!!!


Donít even!! I told her. And then she burst out laughing. They do like to tease, those Aries-types. But then everyone sitting around started applauding as she handed me the check for $75. I wasnít sure if I was going to get a check from the individual who bought the piece or from the gallery, but it was from the gallery and there was no commission taken out of it. ďBĒ also insisted that I had to buy at least one frivolous thing with the money. (Iím thinkiní diamond tiara) but Iím still pretty poor, so I just told her "sure, definitely". I also thanked her for letting me do art at her place all summer. It was there where I had done the painting with their free art supplies back in June.

Afterwards I headed straight for the bank, because I have to pay my car insurance by the 13th, and just as the bank teller was getting ready to put the check and deposit slip into her drawer, I asked if she could make a xerox of it. I wanted to have a copy of my first and possibly only check for a piece of artwork Iíve sold. She said ďNo ProblemĒ so now I have a silly xeroxed check from the ******* Center Art Gallery. Whee! :-)

My job training session was very easy. It was just me and the other new hire talking with someone who has been doing our job for many years. She told us the doís and donít of dealing with our clients. Emotional issues. Legal issues, like if you go to their house and see drug paraphernalia on their table, do you do anything?...NO. But if you go to their house and see a child or person getting abused?......YES. And then she asked us if either of us had ever stolen anything, even as a small child. The other guy said, yes, as a child he had stolen some candy and his mother had brought him back to the store and talk to the manager. Me? I have never stolen anything in my entire life. And the woman was really surprised. She even came back to me a second time and said, ďAre you sure?Ē Nope. I had a scary mother to contend with. No way.

Unfortunately after work, since I was so tired, I didnít get my usual freak-on before my art class. Iíve actually been having a lot of trouble with anxiety the last few days. Iíve been tired but also way hyper. I had a really bad panic attack Monday night. Its probably the first real panic attack Iíve had in about 2 years. I used to get them on a regular basis when I worked, and I think, on Monday, when I was at my new job for about 5 hours, even though there wasnít anything overtly stressful, I started to feel totally overwhelmed emotionally. I was suddenly interacting with a large number of people I didnít know. I was giving out my phone number to strangers. I was trying to be cool to my new co-workers. I was getting nervous about when I'll eventually have to go out alone with mentally ill people in my car. And, as usual, Iím scared about failing.

So I was laying on the couch with Guardcat Monday night watching ďFear FactorĒ of all shows. I actually like the show, because Iím scared of virtually everything, and I like to watch other people being scared from the safety of my couch and scoff at them for being such whimps even though if I were in their situations, I wouldnít even BE in their situations. Also, Joe Rogan the host, is such a jerk, that probably most of the food stunts are based on things he did in college while drunk.

But I was laying on the couch, and my breathing started getting more and more shallow and then I started to freak out. I quickly knocked the cat off my chest and sat up and tried to take some deep breaths. It was prime panic attack stuff. So I got up and started walking around my apartment, trying to remember what I used to do when I got a panic attack. My best strategy had always been to talk to somebody...as in to divert my attention away from what seemed to be my seemingly collapsing lungs, and get things back under control. But I knew my mother was at the store. And I couldnít call Married Guy. And it was after 8 p.m. so I knew that I couldnít call ďAĒs answering service. So I continued to pace, trying to take a deep breath and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I then went into the kitchen and stuck my hands under a stream of water. That helped a little bit. Anything to take my attention away from the anxiety that was coursing through my body. Finally after about 10 minutes and the popping of a clonopin, I got it under control.

Unfortunately I didnít get to see ďAĒ this week, because he had other commitments, although I did send him a brief e-mail about my painting deal, and that I was having panic attacks, but they arenít really anything you can deal with in an e-mail, so I guess itíll have to wait until next week. He did, however, congratulate me on the painting sale.

But my art class was fairly mundane.


I had taken some drugs before I went, because I was nervous about possibly having another panic attack in public. Unfortunately none of the ďusual suspectsĒ were there. No Charlemagne the Obnoxious French Guy, or J, my first potential art class husband who turned out to be married, or K, my second potential art class husband, who reminds me of Woody Allen, but dresses like a hippie. I did talk to ďLĒ the hippie chick though. She is so fucking cool and nice. I really, really like her. Sheís very funny and interested in what you are saying and does not have a mean bone in her body. And she likes Broadway musicals. I told her about selling my painting and she threw up her hands and screamed and made a big fuss.

During the break, at the snack table, I was gobbling down the one junk food I eat every week at my art class, but never buy at home, because I know they are evil cholesterol-wise, tortilla chips. Damn I love them. I was talking to this boring guy who is 60. He is nice, so it was just small talk stuff. And then this British guy comes up. Now he hasnít been there for quite a while. He used to be a regular last Spring. Heís around 40, brilliant blue eyes, and always wears a cap, so I donít know what his hair situation is. But heís the kind of chap you might find either in a pub, or shodding horses down at the stables or possibly an architect. And he really has a Russell Crowe vibe going for him. And he always wears the same clothes: Khaki pants and a blue denim shirt. Not a bad combo, especially since the shirt accentuates his piercing blue eyes, which Iím sure he knows.

Anyways, he stood there for the longest time not saying anything while me and the boring guy were chatting. He was standing in such a way, that I was pinned between the snack table and the wall, blocking me from the rest of the room. Finally out of desperation, I guess, I turned to him and said, ďWell, I havenít seen you for a while.Ē He seemed pleased that I noticed that he had been MIA. We had talked once last spring and I had reported it in my weekly art class report to ďAĒ. ďAĒ likes to hear about all my desperate, feeble, humiliating attempts at human interaction in public locations. At the time, when I had described the Brit, he sort of nodded his head knowingly. He knew him as someone from the **** Nation, a neighborhood in my town, where most of the tree-hugging, Kerry voting, artsy, hippy liberal types live. ďAĒ used to live there, before he became a respectable husband/daddy type. Unfortunately though, I couldnít remember if he had given the guy a thumbs up or down. And I can always trust ďAĒ to give me his blunt and brutal opinion on ALL matters, right ďAĒ?

So when the Brit started talking to me, the boring 60 year old guy just sort of blurred out of the picture, because I was, after all, practically pinned up against the wall by a British guy with piercing blue eyes. And somewhere between me eating my 4th and 14th tortilla chip the Brit managed to convey the fact that he was divorced (thus available...and my wasnít it funny how quickly that was established?) and then he went onto a conversation about his three kids, ages 4,5,6 (I think those were the ages, but I didnít take notes), and how they come to his house several times a week, and how this last week he had sat down and made some snowglobes from scratch for them (thus establishing him as a caring parent who does things with his kids and not just a weekend Dad). He even managed to slip his age in there by telling me he was 36 when his middle kid was born, which I guess would make him 41. All this between my 4th and 14th tortilla chip. How clever of him.

I did act fascinated during the snow globe making conversation, asking him if he was scared putting something with glitter into a microwave since glitter is metal and it might blow up. I think he was somewhat befuddled by my fear (as nearly everyone is), but went on to explain, it was just for 30 seconds or so, so he didnít think it was dangerous.

Now for my suspicions. So ďAĒ. Hi! Ya there? So, you guys knew each other in years gone by, right? And you probably knew that he was single now, huh? And you definitely know that Iím supposedly ďsingleĒ now that Married Guy is slowly heading back into Happy Marriageland. And you do like to play Yenta donít you? I know you do. Youíve been doing it all summer.

First it was the Eight is Enough Dad guy from group. But eeww! He was just too nervous and jittery and religious for my taste. And then the nanny guy. We wonít even go into that. And then Charlemagne the Obnoxious French Guy, who you also knew from the **** Nation. He sure seemed to come on strong to me, right after I mentioned him to you during a session. None of them have especially worked out because I was still so attached to Married Guy. But now things are changing. Or at least trying to change, and even though shrinks arenít supposed to be yentas, there are people like you. You donít do anything obvious like actually introduce people. Youíre a very behind the scenes guy. And I understand your motivation. You want me to be happy. And that really touches my heart. I mean, it also pisses me off sometimes, especially in the case of the nanny guy, but by and large, its a good thing youíre doing. Really. And I really need somebody in my corner. I really need somebody rooting for my emotional happiness. I only wish you knew my taste a little better though. Because thus far youíve been striking out. But at least you're trying.

Now I suppose youíre wondering how I know youíre behind some of these potential couplings. Its because these guys are starting out by pushing the very buttons that you know will work on me. You have Insiderís Information, so to speak. The Nanny guy kept telling me on the phone, ďYouíll be one of our familyĒ, which I had told you many times as something that is really important to me. Being part of a family. And then suddenly it was coming out of his mouth. Verbatim. He didnít even bother to change any of the words. And yet after I got to his house, nothing could have been further from the truth. That house HAD no family. But it wasnít entirely your fault, "A". You can only know what people tell you.

And then last night, some guy I donít even know, is suddenly trying to prove what a good dad he is to a single woman in an art class. And you know how important that is to me. Getting hooked up with a guy who is good Dad or has the potential to be a good Dad. In fact, I had just written you an e-mail recently about Married Guy and all the things he had done as a single Dad with his kids and all the things he still does now, separate from wifie, to make his kids feel like a family. Something that is really important to me.

So was that part of your conversation with the Brit? Donít impress her with your chest hair, just tell her about building snowglobes with your kids and sheíll be yours in a New York minute. Well, maybe. I donít know. Unfortunately, I didnít say goodbye to him. I didn't even see where he went. Did he hook up with one of the cute college girls in the class? Did he go home to his room full of snowglobe building materials? I don't know. I guess I was a little distracted. Why?

Because when I had pulled into the community center earlier in the evening for my art class, Married Guyís SUV had been parked over across the street with its headlights on. Or maybe that was just my imagination. Yeah, maybe....



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