Friday, October 24, 2003

The guy Mark who runs the little ad agency we sublet part of our office to, I never really met him officially so the first time he called my name I was startled.

"Bye Pat!" on the way out.

He's frequently on the phone, schmoozing in his blustery adman's voice, sometimes saying fuck.

He's noticed I'm into the baseball playoffs so he has fixated on this as a subject of small talk but I can't for the life of me figure out where he's coming from. I think I heard him on the phone tell someone go Red Sox. And before Game 3 against the Marlins he wandered over and said, "Do you think they can come back tonight?" even though it was 1-1 so his question made no sense whatsoever.

"I… Do I? Yes!" I found myself saying idiotically.

I suppose good salesmen do this, they get you to say shit you have no idea what it is you're saying. Or why.

49 Russian miners trapped as water enters mine.b

Could there conceivably be a more ominous headline? It's worse than Asteroid races toward earth for crying out loud.

First, the number: 49. So sinister. Not prime but odd and angly, as though it were chosen by some cruel consciousness. And what a great number of people to be suddenly shut out of the world: we imagine a cooped-up, agitated gaggle of men, hardworking men, vodka-drinking Russian toughs breaking down. There are 49 of them. Any lower number would somehow seem much more tolerable – and seven or eight, well, if they were lost their number would at least suggest a noble band of brothers, a family. We might fantasize that their last hours were dignified and we'd elevate them each in grief. But 49!

Second: water enters mine. Has nature ever sounded so malevolent? It's like monster enters bedroom. Water enters mine and does what it will, and we all know what it will do. Water! The situation is utterly, irretrievably dire.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Why'd I have to go and pick the Chiefs and the over. The over?! Players crossed the line like yuppie mountaineers popping Mt. Everest in a hailstorm. And by that I mean few. And far between.

The over!

The cabbie fucked up and didn't cut across the avenue to turn left on 105th so he left me off on the far side of Mad and I grumbled and he apologized. On my short walk home I came upon a driver, drunker than me, staggering out of his town car toward his door. His uneasy gait, expensive shoes padding on the pavement out of time, betrayed his inebriation.

Once inside my building I charged down the hall like a toy soldier, I don't know why. Chin up, barrel chest, arms swinging. I checked the mailbox for no particular reason at all, with complete conviction that it would be empty. And it was. I closed it swiftly yet methodically, making a game of formalized gestures. I stomped up the stairs full of conviction but by my landing I was panting and frail, all too human.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Went to the Yankees-Red Sox playoff game, the stadium packed and a lone helmeted sniper visible above the lip of the roof, perched in some forbidding place beside a row of lights.

Foul balls arced swiftly into the soft fleshy surface of the crowd, to be absorbed like grains of salt on a thirsty tongue.

Friday, October 10, 2003

The tattoo between her milky shoulder blades said "passion." In some archaic font, which was all italics, where the esses looked like efs. Paffion. I looked down from the Yankee game on TV and there she was backlit in its glow, limbs akimbo, her tank top hanging just below: paf…?!


Thursday, October 09, 2003

A very tall man cut into the bar, his profile regal, elevated. He was thin, oblivious. Then gone.

We were watching Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Shouts and taunts, bordering on the cruel. The Yankees lost a hopeless charge, down five-nothing then up to five to two when they ran out of outs.

C. and I walked east and ducked into a wine bar off Sixth Avenue and shared a bottle of Spanish wine, talking about failed relationships. I told her about B. from Milford or was it Guilford, the all-American blonde daughter of the airline pilot and the alcoholic wife. I went there for dinner and her mother got so hammered she slurred the word goodnight.

Then me and B., we fucked on her daddy's chair. His precious TV chair no one else was permitted to so much as sit on. This I didn't tell Christina but I'm saying it now. We fucked on his big black leather armchair in front of the TV. He'd be stricken with horror if he knew – and anger, God knows – so this lent the circumstance a particularly erotic charge. She faced me, kneeling uneasily between the arms, and we had at it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

A smell like Ovaltine filled my nostrils on the train. It warmed the air around us in its cocoa glow. And I became aware of a faintly sticky sloshiness at my feet; I lifted my shoe and let it drop again and sure enough it splatted in something: a shallow river of milky hot chocolate. The source was an overturned Starbucks cup – a young woman was fussily, pointlessly righting it after spilling its entire contents at her feet. A short, stout Columbian man with a hoop earring stood nearby, acting like he didn't notice. The Red Sox won the American League Division Series tonight and are due to play the Yankees on Wednesday. I watched the game at a bar with Christina and she was delirious with excitement, nervousness, alcohol, finally joy. "The Red Sox won! The Red Sox won!" she screamed, punching me in the ribs, jostling drink all over my shirt. "Easy." "The Red Sox won the championship I mean the division series!" The moment of the final strikeout, Boston up 4-3, Oakland batting, men on second and third. Christina leapt to her feet screaming and yelling and Jason and I exchanged a rueful little Yankee-fan toast: here's to our friend, her team. After I dropped her off in the cab I was listening to the Kinks' "Victoria": from the West to the East; let her sun never set on croquet lawns, village greens; sex is bad and obscene; Though I am poor I am free, land of hope and gloria, ‘toria fucked them all.