Earlier last week Malyss reached out to me, “The Beard and Moustache contest has been cancelled in Smithville this Saturday.”
Leading up to the event, I kept saying how I’m going to attend and win. After allowing my beard to grow out and become feral for more than two months, I felt I was a shoo-in but now part of my Saturday was flushed down the proverbial toilet. Bad enough my friend Sarah already bailed on “cheering me on” at the beard contest, but she had to teach a class on emergency structures.
I was relieved since after the beard contest, I was going to head up to Laurita Winery in New Egypt, NJ to meet with former co-workers. After the winery, I was going to drive to New Brunswick to see Edna for the first time in nearly a year and a half. She texted me on Friday how she was staying there and I figured I’d invite myself.
After completing my weekend writing obligations, I headed to Laurita. Saturday was warm, and I was already feeling a bit cranky from the heat. Saw one or two people I like from my old job, but the rest I couldn’t really give a crap about. Two of the older co-workers started talking about, “We need to throw out the old guard and elect new politicians to get things done.” In short, “drain the swamp” without explicitly saying “drain the swamp”. It was four o’clock, nobody else was arriving, and I realized it was high time to get the fuck out of Dodge. Worse, I wasn’t able to find a comfortable place to sit in the shade and still be social.
An hour later I was pulling up to Edna’s parents’s house, and I phoned her from outside to surprise her that I was there. To say I missed her would be an understatement. Edna feels like an essential part of my life. I was invited in to join in dinner, which was some Indian chickpea dish with breaded chicken cutlets and raisinbread biscuits. Joining us were Edna’s father’s theology friends. Reckon I did converse and contribute a few things, but stayed clear of the theology. Not that I felt they’d jump down my throat or correct me in a disparaging manner, but it felt wiser to sit and listen.
An hour or so later, Edna brought me downstairs to chat away from her folks. To my recollection, I monopolized the conversation. A voice in the back of my head said I was being cringey, and Edna was being way too kind, but if there’s anyone I can talk to and be completely honest with in this life: It’s Edna.
Not my biological sister.
Not even my therapist. Mostly because things need to be kept professional, and I’ve already set limitations on what I will share with her. Mind you, when I have been seeing my therapist it’s usually the aftermath of a personal crisis situation, or I wind up having a “happy chat” and realize life isn’t so bad.
Since I hadn’t spoken with Edna in any substantial sense in half a year I was trying to get my thoughts together, like a herd of elephants, then guide them through a drinking straw. The only thing I could convey to her is how I need her presence in my life. I kept bringing up memories of how we compliment each other’s strengths.
To my credit, I didn’t cry. Yet she was exceptionally kind to me.
I can make all kinds of assumptions, and they’ve gone through my head, but I’m not going to write them down anywhere since it’d be unfair to her.
Let’s just say when I left, I felt even more conflicted and strange. I already knew Leah was going out on Sunday and she was going to hook up with some other woman. I had begun texting this one woman, but I haven’t the foggiest if she’s interested or whatnot. The only thing I tell myself is to not be ashamed of myself, what I feel, nor how I feel about other people. If I’m confident, I will be beyond reproach.
Yet deep down, I don’t know.
I decided I was going to try and meet Leah in Asbury Park, but that was a complete shitshow. No parking anywhere, unless I wanted to pay fifty bucks. I called Leah, but she didn’t pick up, and I was going to head home and get stoned.
I did stop at Arby’s for a late dinner. The store was open, rather than simply being a drive-through, and I ordered a classic half pounder combo with onion rings. The kid ringing me up asked me if I wanted the onion rings instead of the fries, “Nah, I’m easy. I want both.”
Before he rung me up, he asked me if I was over the age of 50.
“Yes” which is a lie, but I figured close enough. Turns out he was giving me a senior discount for not being a dick. He then explained that the beard makes me look a lot older but the rest of me looks around 30 years or thereabouts.
So hey, I saved 10% on my late dinner.
At home I smoked, holding in the smoke for a long time to maximize the effect. Once my neck started relaxing, and I could roll my head around on my shoulders, I unsteadily stood up then went in for the night.
Overall Saturday was a good day. And there will be more to come.