JOY part 35

t was in said room that the following exchange took place. Don’t forget the dramatic imagery of the two romantic (well, unfortunately, not at all romantic) leads against the drama of the lake behind them. One might use a word like “filmic” to describe it. Filmic…

INT. STYLISHLY COOL, HIP HOTEL ROOM, CHICAGO – DAY

ME
I apologize again, for being late.

ANN
The muffins weren’t getting cold or
anything. Don’t worry about it.

ME
I know. I just really needed a hot shower.

To which Ann starts grinning. Almost laughing.

ME
What?

ANN
Nothing.

ME
That’s not fair. What?

ANN
So, what were you doing in there
for so long?

ME
Getting warm.

ANN
OK.

ME
What’s wrong with you?

ANN
Nothing. How’s your croissant?

She keeps grinning.

ME
I wasn’t jerking off in there, if
that’s what you’re getting at?

To which she almost choked on her muffin (so to speak).

ANN
Excuse me? I wasn’t even remotely
thinking that. Is that something you
normally do in the shower?

ME
Only when really sexy women toy with
me. Make me really horny. And then slam
the door on my balls.

(No, I didn’t do it. I was THIS close but somehow saved myself from words which, I just know, would have led to a very bad start to the day.)

ME
No, actually. I generally find that water
and sex aren’t a very good combination.

ANN
Oh, I don’t know about that. Sometimes,
I kind of like taking a shower with
someone. And “no” that wasn’t an offer.

ME
Tease. So, what the hell were you getting
at, then?

ANN
Nothing. I just think it’s funny how men
always complain about having to wait for women.
Yet, they’re the ones that are so slow.

ME
Oh, I thought maybe you just saw “American
Beauty” again recently and figured we all
started our days like that.

ANN
I love that movie…

And so it went. We talked for a while about our favorite movies (Many of which of Ann’s favorites I hated. Many of which of mine she had never heard of). I also told her all about my walk in the morning. My high-fat food festival. And how the architecture in the city was really impressive. I did NOT tell her that I was thinking a lot about death. Wasting what there was of my life. Being shut out by Nancy. And how her rejection of my advances had launched all of it. What would be the point? Besides, I didn’t want to do anything to ruin it. To destroy that moment of just me and her. In a room with a view of Lake Michigan. Just talking.

For a tiny moment, I even let myself wonder, again, what it would be like to spend every day like that. Just me and Ann sitting there talking. Arguing about which movies we thought were crap. Telling her about my favorite architects. Listening to her tell me about science. And what your brain does when you sleep (If you sleep. Which I rarely did). Listening to her tell me about trips she had taken when she was a kid. Looking at that face.

All of which was destroyed by one single thing she said. She told me she didn’t think she could ever live in Chicago because she found it too busy and hectic. Chicago? CHICAGO??? Chicago was as sluggish, lethargic, and slow in every meaning of the word as the rest of the vast space of cow fields between the two coasts. Hectic? You’ve got to be kidding? But she meant it. She really meant it. Madison and Ann Arbor were about as big-city life as she ever wanted to get. Once again, just say “Moo.”

I didn’t argue about it with her. Anyone that far gone was beyond hope. I did tell her that I found Chicago very “calm,” which was rather considerate of me considering the words I wanted to use. When I described life in New York to her, she said she would probably hate it and have a nervous breakdown. Better a nervous breakdown than a slow-decaying brain death from lack of stimulus and boredom. Whatever. I was too tired to get into it much. Besides, what was the point? Tell me, what was the point to any of it? It’s not like I could ask Ann to marry me and to grow old with me or anything, even if I wanted to. The Freaky Man Killer Gene had taken care of that.

The show at the Art Museum was very cool. “Splendid Trains and Modern Stations.” Splendid, indeed. I loved trains. I always had. I think most kids, boy kids, anyway, like trains. Unless they’re gay or something. Too bad rail travel in the U.S. just sucked. Something the show actually talked about quite a bit.

For such an advanced nation, we sure had a seriously fucked-up and backward government policy when it came to transportation. Only in America could congress bitch that it was spending too much propping up Amtrak when the total budget of it was less than one more stupid highway expansion or runway addition. Not only that, but Congress had mandated that Amtrak make a profit but also mandated that it served every God Damn hick town across the entire nation. No matter how little economic sense it made. Not only would high-speed rail between many major cities be incredibly cool. It could make money. If you did it right. Which they weren’t. Not even close. Fucking Congress. And the SUV-Driving Assholes that supported them.

Anyway, the show was great. They even had a display of a station by Santiago Calatrava (kal-a-trava. Very good.). A perfect touch to tie in the Milwaukee leg to the Chicago leg, thematically. Not that Ann really cared about themes, I would guess. And if she did, it would be about the color blue (Think about it, You’ll get it. Eventually).

Yup, all of which lasted about forty minutes. At which point my joyous mood was once again crushed by the following exchange with Ann.

INT. HIGHLY VISUAL FILM LOCATION (ART MUSEUM) – DAY

ANN
You know, you’re not as smart as you
think you are?

ME
What?

ANN
All day long you’ve been going on and on
about how terrible the Midwest is and how
stupid all the people here are and I’m
just getting really sick of it.

(Ooops. I thought I was censoring myself better than that to her. You, I don’t care about. Her…)

ME
You don’t think I have a right to my
opinion?

ANN
Not if you’re going to make me listen to
it all the time. I live here. I’m one
of those people you keep putting down.

ME
No, you’re not. You’re different.

ANN
No, I’m not, actually. I grew up here.
I went to school here. I LIKE it here. So,
that must mean that you think I’m stupid
and uncultured like everyone else not
living in New York or Los Angeles. Which
reminds me…You told me you HATED
Los Angeles. So, why do you keep telling
me it’s so great now, then?

ME
Because it is, compared to here.

ANN
You don’t know anything about here. So,
how would you know? Tell me. How would
you even know?

I had noticed that more and more people were staring at us as we argued. I hated that. I really hated that. If there’s one thing I can’t stand (well, actually there’s lots of things I can’t stand but just let it go) it’s having an argument in public. And before you even smugly point out that I have, previously, inferred that I don’t care about making impressions or what other people will think, it’s not about that. It’s simply none of their damn business and makes me want to kill them. Now, where were we. Yes…

ANN
…How would you even know?

ME
It’s not like I’ve never been here
before. I grew up in Madison, remember?

ANN
And left as soon as you could. And have
complained about it ever since. So, would
that make you one of the stupid people
you’re putting down? Or someone who just
really doesn’t know what they’re talking
about?

ME
Those are my choices? What about someone
who knows enough about it to know, for a
fact, that it’s a wretched place and an
awful place to have to grow up. Yet, alone,
waste almost half of your very short life.

I saw a guy in his forties with a baseball cap on watching us. A guy who looked like he drove a pick-up. And had a shot gun handy. A shot gun which he planned to use to blow my head off. To kill me for putting down his beloved Chicago.

And then I noticed that Ann wasn’t saying anything anymore. She was just looking at me.

ME
What’s wrong?

ANN
I’m just trying to figure out what you
meant by very short life. Just the way
you said it.

ME
Nothing. It’s just a phrase.

ANN
Oh. In any case, I think it’s really
funny how you can play both sides of
things and claim to know things you
don’t know but still be so judgmental…

Dodged that bullet. I had to calm down. I was tired and making mistakes. Saying way too many things. Not only had I pretty much guaranteed that Ann and I would never happen. I had almost told her. I wouldn’t do that. I mean to anyone. That thing with Meagan was terrible. But especially not Ann. Smart. Feisty. Incredibly sexy Ann.

And then I looked at Ann as she kept yelling at me and I kissed her. And she kissed me back. And I felt her body against mine. Her lips against my own. Her tongue twirling about happily with mine. And it was incredible. And I never wanted it to end. I just wanted to stay there with crowds of stupid people staring at us. With Shot-gun Willy glaring at us. Underneath the vaulted ceiling of The Art Institute of Chicago. Forever and ever making out.

And then I snapped out of it. It never happened. I was still standing there being called a hypocritical, judgmental asshole by this really hot looking woman I was never, ever, ever going to have the chance to sleep with. Ever. Once again, I was “Just A Friend.” “Just”…meaning no naked debauchery in the hotel this afternoon. “Just” being this whole thing was just really starting to depress me.

Yeah, I’m sure you’re real sympathetic. Don’t even bother to pretend. To you it’s just a guy not getting his rocks off when he wants. To me. It’s ME not getting my rocks off when I want! Actually, I wish it were just that. I wish I could take rejection that well. This sucked. Have I told you it sucks to be me, lately?

THE JOY OF SUICIDE ON WWW.FIRST100BOOKS.COM

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