By Anthony Paull
I don’t know if I like my 30s. I’ve been told I’ve become too put together, too flashy to piss on my shoes at a rock show, and that upsets me because I enjoy pissing on my shoes, at least if they’re cheap.
The problem is they’re not anymore. I have this sick obsession with Vans and Pumas, and lately I’m broke because I’ll only purchase the kind you find in Japan. It’s sad. I don’t know how or when I became this person. While most of my friends are purchasing houses, I’m basically charring my checking account in order to travel in shoes with cargo pockets.
I guess that’s why I’m having problems relating to friends. I feel like we’re all heading in opposite directions, establishing different priorities. A few have kids. A few have houses. And a few have relationships that they won’t talk about because they don’t want me to know they’re just as screwed up as I am.
I swear, sometimes I feel like the dirty wig store at the mall, like I serve some sort of purpose but nobody ever wants to get too close. Or maybe I don’t want to get too close and that’s why I entertain random conversations, just to keep people away. For example, is it OK to talk about shoving markers up your ass during an otherwise uneventful public dining experience? I don’t know. According to my friend Max, he thoroughly lubes the markers so it’s hygienic. But I can’t tell if it’s politically correct to discuss the matter in public. Therefore tonight, I try to make the conversation “P.C.,” environmentally friendly, and “green” just in case anyone is listening.
“Markers, you say? Are they organic?” I ask.
“Organic? They make organic markers now?”
I blink twice for theatrics. “I just think you should try something less toxic. Like cucumbers. But again, organic.”
He warily eyes me as his phone lights with a text. “Damn, another cockroach,” he groans. “If I get one more in my collection, I’ll have enough occupants to open a roach motel.”
“Cockroach?” I question. “Explain.”
Max says that the term stems from the type of guys he’s been dating. To Max, they’re all the same. When he ignores them, they run toward him due to being left in the dark, but when he shines a light on them, via texts or phone calls, they scatter from the attention. “Just like a fucking cockroach,” he gripes. Therefore, tonight, he’s on a mission: he’s going to spread roach traps, but he’s going to disguise them in the fuzziest way possible. Like he’s going to text some roaches, but he’s not going to ask for anything, per se. He’s just going to flick on the lights when we’re drunk at three in the morning, just to see if they’re crawling about.
“Sooooooo,” he texts, spread on the red Asian carpet in his living room. Then we hoot and holler, downing a few drams of Irish whisky ’til the replies arrive. A few moments later, they trickle in, taking on the form of question marks, winks and one angry emoticon face. The good thing: there is curiosity attached. “Sooooooo what?” one fellow replies.
“I just wanted to say hi,” Max returns.
To which, the guy replies, “Hi.”
Simple enough. Well, except now this guy, along with the rest of the roaches, has taken this late-night ambiguous text message as a calling card for an open-ended booty call. Suddenly, Max is Mr. Social because he’s not asking for anything. He’s just making his presence known. “It beats shoving markers up my ass,” he says, when we meet for coffee days later. “I think I’ve figured it out. You can shine a light on a guy. You just need a dimmer switch.”
Therefore, Max no longer engages in intimate talks, texts or online chats with men. Instead, he opens with vague statements like “and” and “huh” before ending the conversation without anything truly being said. Of course, none of it makes sense but Max considers it a reputable talent. “Particularly if the guy has no self-worth,” he explains, as I drink my espresso in quiet disbelief. “You know, maybe if I start talking in symbols, I’ll finally land a boyfriend.”
Unfortunately, I think he may be right. Lately, it seems people don’t have time to utter a complete sentence. Or has it always been this way and technology has just advanced enough to allow us such a luxury? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people confess their undying love for text messages because they no longer have to talk to their friends. Each of us, we’re coming closer and closer to an alien race able to communicate with our minds, or limited speech. Perhaps one day when they start injecting us with nanobots we’ll simply chat through a series of beeps and blips like robotic roadrunners, forever on the go. Maybe then we’ll let our lovers spend the night so we don’t have to worry about what to talk about in the morning. For me, I hope this isn’t so. I crave conversation, particularly with boy in the bed. But maybe I’m wrong. After all, my priorities are messed up. I don’t have kids or a house. All I have is a boyfriend and a closet of shoes.