It just occurred to me that I have been a pushmipullyu to my readers for the past year or so: No sooner have I reeled you in, than I’ve decided to go on another hiatus. I’m sure it’s annoying, or frustrating, or some adjective stronger than those. Or maybe you don’t even care. But whatever it is, forget what I said in the last post — I will keep on keeping on.
Life takes interesting turns every now and then, and one came along recently when I decided to confide in my mother again. Not just asking her what she thought about a book or a movie, or getting her opinion about the quality of a certain floor lamp, but real advice about my life. It had been a while, and it shames me that I had forgotten how wonderful and funny and practical she can be.
This Mother’s Day message was brought to you by the makers of Namby-Pamby.
And now, something that made me question human decency. On Friday a few errands needed to be run, including submitting for the first time in eight months to a professional haircut, because the periodic shearings I’d been giving myself had finally reached the point of diminishing returns. (Yes, I’m a shorn monkey now.) I left my apartment and headed up the avenue toward the subway; just as I had entered my preferred gait, I spotted a fairly attractive lady heading right at me, maybe twenty feet away. One thing you can always count on AJS doing is checking out an attractive lady heading right at me — I’m sort of a wolf that way. As the subject got nearer, I realized, maybe seven feet away, that I knew who she was, and that furthermore she was a person who about eight years ago I had a monumental crush on. In nanoseconds — six feet, five feet — I recognized the moment as one of those situations in life where it’s better to do nothing, to just see what happens. If she stopped me, it would have been her prerogative, and I would have played along, and possibly done quite well. But from my perspective, when I balanced the risk versus the reward, the risk won out by a fair margin. I was having a crushingly bad hair day, and just wasn’t feeling like myself, or at least the sort of self I would have had to be to pull off that chat — “the stop and chat” that Larry David so loathes. And that chat, with a pretty girl armed with a nice smile who I hadn’t talked to for at least three years, would have had to serve dual purposes: to leave her wanting to know more about me, and to buckle her knees with a flirtatious corker. Anything else would have been a failure. I simply was not up to the task.
Two feet from me, almost at the point where it would have been too late for her to act surprised about having recognized me — “Is that John?! John Sellers?! It’s been a few years, hasn’t it? You’ve certainly aged well!” (sad, fanciful delusion mine) — she did something that was unparalleled in its shallowness: She raised the cell phone she had been carrying to her ear and feigned a conversation. “Hello?” she said, so obviously to know one. “Oh, hi! How are you?!” In this really fake voice and with a false smile on her face. Because the whole thing had happened so quickly, it barely registered what had transpired. Here I was, a guy out for some errands, just doing my thing, expecting nothing whatsoever from anyone I might have met on the street; here she was, a girl — one who had lost a little bit of the sheen she used to have; you know, seriously, just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have to spend it on hair products and hair services, at least in my humble opinion, because you used to look much, much better when you were a real person — who clearly had an agenda, and that agenda stated quite plainly that it’s better to pretend than to interact. So she pretended, and we didn’t interact.
Now, I’ve faked phone calls as I’ve walked by homeless people in order to displace the guilt for not wanting to give them money. But this girl on the street was someone who, just three years ago, I had had a nice dinner with, and was someone who had attended my 30th birthday party as a favored member, and who I’ve thought of for the past few years in a positive way. So it is hard for me to understand the snub. The weird thing about all of this is that I didn’t want to talk to her, either. In fact, it would have upset me if, instead of the cell-phone gambit, she had stopped and said, “John! How are you?! You are so incredibly hot, and I want to talk to you, and if I can’t talk to you, then let’s just go to your place, speak no words, and, well, you know.” (Again, sad, fanciful delusion my own.) Because, as I said, it was a bad hair day.
I guess my suggestion here is that if you see someone on the street that you don’t want to talk to, just put your head down and keep walking. Outfoxing someone who used to be your friend is a loser move, because you’d hope that someone who used to be your friend would be smart enough to deduce when he’s being foxed out.
WHY I’M ANGRY TODAY
There are jackhammers outside my apartment at 2:55am, negating any hope of sleeping. Con Edison owes me. Big time.