Friday, October 22, 2010

conversations are easier when you control both sides

this is a true story and im only slightly ashamed to tell it. here is a little insight into one neurotic writer's mind:
so a couple weeks ago i noticed this cute boy hanging out at my favorite coffee shop, joe bar, and i couldnt stop looking. but this sort of thing happens to people: they see someone who hangs out where they like to hang out and they take notice of him cuz they find him attractive. now, a normal person (if those exist) would most likely say, 'wow, hes cute. maybe i should talk to him.' or 'gosh, hes good looking but im here to do some writing and hes with a friend so ill leave it at that.'
i, on the other hand, find myself totally fascinated with him and let my concentration on my work go slack because im (only somewhat surreptitiously) watching him, without any thought of caring if im noticed or of introducing myself. three times on three different days, always in the evening, this happens. it takes me a while to realize why i cant stop looking over at him, like worrying a loose tooth. its because he looks like a grown-up peter pan. i mean, its also because of the fact that he decides to sit directly in my line of vision every time. hes an artist of some kind (im almost positive he goes to cornish), in all likelihood an actor or musician, (which i 'know' cuz i can see the performative aspect of his interactions with people and his reaction to my gaze), and i think he kinda likes it. of course, because he notices me noticing him, he looks over more frequently than he otherwise would, checking to see if im still checking him out, as if compelled to scratch an itch. im amused by this, but not necessarily encouraged to make his acquaintance. i feel like i already know him at this point. i have made a study of his clothes, his movements, and his manner with people. i feel like i can tell if he likes someone he runs into by his body language. note: im never close enough to hear his voice, but i feel id almost recognize it.
and then this week i see him at the wildrose (it was taco tuesday and i was meeting a bunch of friends who live on the hill) and it changes everything. okay not everything. but it ups the ante. cuz now i wonder if hes queer. before he just looked like someone i should know somehow. now he looks like someone i could potentially date. and thats when i start mentioning him to the friends im drinking with and blowing this thing way out of proportion. before he was just an interesting study, pulling at my imagination like a child pulls on your pant leg for attention. now its a full blown crush. and it gets out of hand enough that he prolly hears me talking about him (hes at the next table for christs sake) and i keep joking about going up to talk to him. he even gives me a perfect opportunity to do so, he takes his time getting his bag from under the table and putting it on right in front of me at the moment that all of our friends have left the vicinity. but he has his back to me and i cant muster the desire to break the fourth wall. cuz right now he is a character in my head. once i speak with him he gets a life of his own. and im not actually ready for that. and thats when i realize its not just that he looks like peter pan, he looks remarkably similar to the vision i have in my head of one of the main characters in a story im writing. this boy could be my robin. ive created a folder on my hard drive of downloaded photos of celebrities that approximate my image of this character, but i havent found an exact likeness that fits right. this boy is extremely close. not quite genderqueer enough in outward presentation, but seeing him here in this queer context, i realize he is one of the closest things ive found. put him in a fishermans sweater instead of a lumberjack shirt, and he would be spitting distance from my robin. its a bit hard to take.
so the next afternoon i happen to be in the neighborhood of joe bar and decide to go sit for a while and write before taking myself out to a movie (nowhere boy, see previous post) and i start mulling over this boy being my main character and how to handle it. and how i really need to introduce myself when i see him next, cuz otherwise im bordering on creepy. but how would i introduce myself to my own creation? so i do that thing where i start thinking up what i would say to him and then i wonder how he would react, so i start to write a scene between the two of us as if i did walk up and say something like, 'you look like this character in my story'. and of course it feels perfectly normal to be putting words into this real live persons mouth because its so like putting words into my characters mouth, and also, a lot easier than actually interacting with him. note: im high on caffeine at this point. im also feeling a little dirty cuz this is basically fantasizing about this person, and amused at myself because the interaction on paper doesnt go particularly well, just as it wouldnt in real life. and at some point i have to stop writing to go to the movie, annoyed that ive completely ruined any chance of ever being able to step up to this real live person and naturally introduce myself. not that knowing him was ever really the goal, its just once you give yourself lines for real life you either deliver them like they were rehearsed, or veer from the script so widely you sound like a moron. (and by 'you' i of course mean me.)
i watch the movie and am inspired by john lennon as a teenager and need to write some stuff down, so i walk back over to joe bar, buy a beer and sit in a corner. and i cant find my fountain pen. its the only thing i write with anymore and i used it in the movie theatre and im afraid i lost it there. so i rush back over, borrow an ushers flashlight, despair, leave my email address with the attendant in case it turns up, and go back to search my bag again, hoping i overlooked it. i had. im so relieved my hands are shaking slightly. ive had this pen since i graduated high school and have logged hours upon hours of writing with it in the last fourteen years. i just got it back into working order two months ago, at the same time my writers block dissolved, and i would prolly have a breakdown if i lost it.
however, crisis averted and boy sighted. had to walk past him on my wild goose chase and now the adrenaline over the pen is spiked with seeing this person i was intentionally writing myself into contact with a couple hours ago. but i go to calm down, drink my beer and write about john lennon reminding me of my thirteen year old self and how neglectful of that young person ive been. i decide on paper to start being more willing to express myself, (ready or not) to be more impulsive and just do things, not merely think about them. and now im high on purpose and passion and living life (not just watching it) and being a writer (not just talking about it) and now i have to leave to walk home and eat something before having drinks with friends in the cd.
at this point i have caffeine, adrenaline, and alcohol, john lennon and my 13 yr old self, robin and my made-up version of this boy all creating a bit of chaos in my head. so before i walk out of joe bar, knowing this is a bad idea and the exact worst moment to do it, with my pulse hard and flushing my cheeks, i stop just behind the boy and tap him on the forearm. he interrupts his conversation, turns around and i look him in the eye and say, 'hi, my name is ray.' i extend my right hand to shake his, which he gives in a somewhat limp-wristed manner just like robin would do and says 'im murmhumurner' in a voice i very decidedly do *not* recognize. and i say, 'trevor?' and he says, only the slightest bit louder and more distinctly, 'charlie.'
and whatever i was holding together, falls apart. 'charlie,' i say, 'its nice to meet you.' and i nod to his friend, adjust my satchel on my shoulder and walk away. not 'you look like someone i should have known once,' not even 'i feel like ive made enough eye contact with you now that you should at least know my name,' not what i actually wrote in my notebook, just 'nice to meet you.' i prolly had a scowl on my face, even. the scene had ended before it began. i am simultaneously proud and disgusted with myself for this. i went right over to the smoke shop nearby, bought myself a zippo and a pack of cigarettes and walked home while smoking a nat sherman. note: im not a smoker. and then i drank enough whiskey at the twilight to feel the need to check my jeans pocket upon waking the next morning for the credit card id used to start a tab. and now im blogging like a maniac.
and this, my friends, i call a success. and none of it has anything to do with that person named charlie. never did.

1 comment:

Ellen G said...

You are such a f--ing talented writer. Completely engaged, couldn't wait to hear what happened and now desperately waiting for the next installment.

Yay for introducing yourself.