“Lust not after her beauty in your heart, neither let her capture you with her eyelids.” – Proverbs 6:25
I had grown restless, escaping silently from my dogmatic slumber. My senses were growing hungry for some mental nourishment and I sought out my intellectual stimulus through my girlfriend Kate. Kate, vibrant and spunky, suggested I come down to Perkins and share in some discussions with herself, her beau Patterson and their eccentric friend Gavin, whom I had not yet had the pleasure to meet.
I walked up to the restaurant doors and felt a premonition: something big was going to happen this night. I could not place what this monumental occurence would be, but soon enough it would be upon me. Through the windows, I spotted Patterson and Kate engaging in what I could only assume was intelligent discourse, while another guy was reading some book and drinking from a coffee mug. This shabby-looking, unshaven and unkempt character must have been the Gavin I had been warned about from Kate.
I walked through the door and suddenly got the eerie feeling as if a bright beacon were shown upon me and I had become as light as air. I half expected unicorns and Pegasus to come floating through the ether. The room was silent, and the radio played Lumidee’s infectious tune, “Never Leave You”. The timing was so oddly coincidental with my entrance, I wondered if this was a secret casting call for Mean Girls 2: Ain’t Easy Being Mean.
I attempted to enter with as much grace and dignity as possible, my flower print skirt blowing in an immaterial, transcendental breeze. My cropped hair bobbed subtly as it often does, and I was under the suspicion of being studied by all eyes, like the main character in a poorly written short story. I wasn’t sure if this was the time to give off my welcoming demeanor or my antiauthoritarian vibe for those watchful eyes, so I went for both simultaneously… which resulted in a walking contradiction that exuded raw, pure sensuality.
Gavin, who was paying no attention to me whatsoever, muttered to Patterson and Kate, “I suppose now I’ll have to move over,” obviously not in a mood to be courteous or respectful to a lady of my caliber. Kate nodded in the affirmative to him, and my rude new acquaintance slid a few inches to his left, boxing himself into the corner, hopefully not needing to use the bathroom. I figured he knew whom I was, so I didn’t bother to mention “hey, I’m Shannon”, and took my seat. I removed my jacket, which served more as a statement of fashion than as protection from the harsh winter winds.
I spotted the coffee pot and began to caress the metallic sides, hoping to warm my hands after the brief stint of being in the frozen tundra of Appleton in December. I figured this pot was probably empty and cold by now, so I asked Kate for some coffee, and she was eager to oblige. Besides, one table can never have too much coffee.
Up to this point, I had been clutching a weathered, rolled-up magazine in my fist, but set the issue down beside myself now for a moment. The bearded man next to me, this being Gavin, spied the magazine and its fingerprinted cover, which I might mention was a copy of the Saturday Evening Post. Articles this month included Mike Wallace talking about depression, tips on how to beat prostate cancer and my favorite piece — the paintings of Sir Winston Churchill. I would have set the magazine down sooner, but I was still recuperating from my initial confusion of my sitcomesque entrance. Luckily, my trepidations concerning the unicorns was utterly unfounded.
My interest in the Saturday Evening Post, to be fair, was more in the writing and less in the topics. Seriously, my chances of getting prostate cancer are quite slim, I’d wager. I’m considering an English major, as writing has been and continues to be something of a passion of mine. I recalled a lyric from the Broadway production, Avenue Q:
What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.
But who takes anything they see on Broadway seriously? Would T. S. Eliot be happy to know his poetry has been bastardized into some homoerotic musical about garbage-picking felines? And what sort of literary travesty is Rent? Perhaps the original opera, Puccini’s La Boheme, would be worth seeing. But who cares that a bunch of homeless junkies are dying of AIDS in the streets of New York? Fuck Adam Pascal and the horse he rode in on.
While Gavin returned to reading G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, I spoke with Kate and Patterson about current events at school, Kate’s final paper dealing with the issue of trans fat and final term papers in general that had yet to begin (namely, my own). I mentioned I had a paper due regarding Oliver Twist, and I noticed Gavin fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat beside me.
“Oh Gavin, you love Oliver Twist!” Kate gleefully exclaimed sarcastically; a type of sarcasm that one might term “venom-tongued” or “ass-lancing” if one was so inclined. I was not. Gavin muttered something under his breath, which sounded like either “horrible shit”, “mammoth turd” or “fraggle stick car” — I really couldn’t say for certain. At least he finally seemed to be giving his full attention, although I don’t believe he once attempted to make eye contact. Was he shy or just that fucking pretentious?
Patterson continued to doodle in his notebook, penning lyrics for a future hit song. Someday he would probably be a famous lyricist, constructing disposable pop songs for flamboyant boy bands or maybe even his own post-punk band, Ivan and the Terribles. But I wasn’t concerned with music right now and spoke again, “I can write about anything I wish, so long as it relates to Oliver Twist. Anything.”
“What about how awful orphans are treated?” suggested Kate. Patterson piped up some smartass commentary about the cartoon Oliver and Comapny but was quickly stifled by the dynamic feminine duo that is Kate and myself. If I wanted to talk about animated dogs, I’d rent old VHS tapes of Huckleberry Hound and Hong Kong Phooey. But nobody watches that anymore, just like no one can recall ever watching The Toxic Crusaders or Mr. Belvedere. You’re all in denial.
“Well,” I said, hoping to prompt some input, “I was thinking something more like prostitution.” To which Kate answered, “What?” After a short exchange, I was able to convince my waitress friend that the Dickens classic did, in fact, have at least one sexually-oriented independent businesswoman featured within that 19th century tome.
Apparently still thinking about the earlier trans fat conversation, Gavin could not help but insert, “What about the nutritional value of gruel?” which I found favorable but somewhat unfeasible, vapid and unrealistic. I countered with the idea of the Industrial Revolution, which in all honesty was even more interesting than gruel and indubitably more worthy of a paper than some story with the names “Twist” and “Fagin” involved.
“What’s the Industrial Revolution?” inquired Kate, which caused at least two people around her (Gavin and myself) to groan in what was for me pity, and with Gavin either pity or sympathy. The topic was effectively dropped.
Perhaps my seat-sharing compatriot was just about ready to set aside his English literature and discuss some history, but this was not in the cards. I put on my jacket again and rose from the table after staying less than an hour. I would have stayed longer, but my my restless spirit was gnawing at my insides, scratching for a way to get out. “I want to dance,” said the demon inside me, “and if I don’t get to dance I will give you the nastiest ulcers and excessive rectal hemorrhaging.” You just don’t argue when you’re possessed with a creature that threatens you with blood of a butt.
I went over to my friend Kate and hugged her head passionately from behind, burying the crown of her skull between my modest but adequate lady lumps. I casually strolled towards the door and waved indiscriminately, not paying much attention to those who I left in my wake.
Later that evening, after I finished dancing, I took a seat by my computer. I was exhausted from gyrating to “Fergalicious” and convulsing like an epileptic, inebriated midget to some of the worst bands the 80s had to offer (Aminotion, Yaz, The Human League) and Young MC’s “Bust a Move”. I reflected on my evening, feeling unfulfilled and inquisitive.
Who was this enigmatic Gavin and what secrets lurk behind his silent reservations? Maybe he was a jerk-off, a loser or something worse. Maybe an evening with him is worse than listening to every Rush album back to back. And maybe, just maybe, he suffers from pinkeye, mono and herpes — all combined.
But something told me this was a unique soul, an individual worth knowing and maybe even being seen in public with him. An intelligent, thoughtful bloke, who just needs to be in his element to properly shine. A diamond in the rough. I made the decision right then and there that tomorrow I would get his number from Kate and schedule a future meeting.
Surely he had already forgotten about me, dismissing me out of hand almost at once. But life is for taking risks. And now you, my interlocutor, know my plan… may lady luck smile upon me.