I used to cry, but that was before I learned how to choke.
Ten minutes to put a leaf bag in some hot water, give people three dollars and an empty store and they gift you your due at the end of a lifetime. Yet, I still wait like I do every other day. I don’t own a kettle at home, wouldn’t need it for anything else. I pray every night that this lesbian barista goes straight for me, she’s got an emo movie tattoo and a wry little smile, I want to swaddle her like she knows she wants to be. I make sure my BlueTooth is blinking every time I hand her the cash.
Last night was the Belting ceremony — I made my next stripe. Night after weeknight of getting my ass fucked into the mat by every flexing bicep was meant to lead somewhere, so i’ve been told. Nobody asks for my origin story, i’m no Superman, but if they’re sitting next to me when they’re putting their shoes back on I can’t help but share. The tale down to a science — sitting in traffic, normal day coming home from my office estate. There’s a left turn coming up, figured I’d make the shortcut. I admit, i’m a fallible human being, I cut off the hunk of shit Sentra that was speeding to make the yellow light. They stopped. They honked. The bald coke fiend driver smacked his horn like his wife and ran screaming out of his car. Punching my hood and calling me fag, telling me that he’ll find where I live and burn my house down. Scared shitless, i’ve never been in a fight before. Every time I got close, the other guy usually realized I was 5’2 and cut me a break. But this is Adult World now, I can’t afford to replace these braces that I was barely able to afford in my middle age.
Signed up for Aikido immediately after the scuffle. All cash upfront, I didn’t ask any questions. I was a man with nothing to lose, and clearly everybody else in the class felt the same way. Almost autistically obsessed the many were, young guys with shaved heads white bandages on their knuckles, death in their eyes with fierce grunts when they punch. It’s hard to make friends when you’re this old if i’m honest, I thought my story would be a lot more relatable.
I’ve got a step-stool resting in my truck bed so that it’s easier for me to get in, i’ve stopped having shame about this years ago. I’m a realtor, and a good one at that, that’s something noone could ever take away from you. I sold houses during the recession, I fought my own war on the shores of Corpus. I had to build a personality from scratch being this small, a sense of humor goes a long way when a pregnant couple is fighting over granite countertops. My face is where I make my money, I tell every guy I spar with so that they don’t scuff my cheeks when they got something to prove.
I’m on every bus bench in the upper West end, I practiced smiling until I felt my gums bleed.