boys

What Not To Say To Me On A First Date

Duseks

I don’t really drink caffeine.

My doctor said it’s probably low testosterone.

I’m more of a cat person.

My favorite band is Coheed and Cambria.

I’m scared of air travel.

Lew Rockwell had a really good point when he said…

I’ve lived in this city for years but haven’t explored much.

I don’t ‘get’ Wes Anderson.

I’m from L.A. It’s sooo much better than Chicago.

The band is playing at this venue that doesn’t have a name so you probably haven’t heard of it, let alone been there.

I never drink whiskey. Only Malort.

I’m not a very sexual person.

I don’t know much about politics

I have a great Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. Here, let me show you…

What’s your favorite Pokemon?

I actually live in the suburbs.

You look like my sister.

I’m sort of a musician. Here’s a copy of my EP.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is Taco Bell.

Nazism was essentially about efficiency.

There’s not much point to learning a foreign language.

I believe in love at first sight.

What’s New Order?

What Winning The Breakup Sounds Like

Lake Shore Path evening

You did it. You won. You’ll walk home through the dark like nothing happened, like you’re the same person you were twenty minutes ago, like you didn’t just leave someone standing in a doorway with the shreds of what used to be. This had been coming for some time now and it was right. Right? If only there were more cars going by or more people on the streets or anything to listen to instead of your own affirmations. Shake the old sounds from your head and find some new ones. Take firmer steps so your shoes collide with the sidewalk in a rhythm you can get lost in. Now there’s only soft breezes and streets bathed in moonlight. Such a beautiful night for a heartbreak.

You thought winning would be applause. You imagined congratulations and Beyonce belting out anthems to the masses, but instead it sounds like those desperate railroad bells that won’t stop clanging from somewhere out the window. It sounds like gates opening and closing with no visitors. It sounds like text messages not sent and not received. All the feel-good nineties songs on the planet won’t take the hollow ringing from your ears. All the you-did-the-right-thing’s from your friends’ lips won’t drown out the it’ll-never-be-the-same’s from your own.

Because maybe he didn’t deserve it. Maybe you were too harsh on him. Maybe it could have been something if you’d given it a chance instead of ending it before it took its first breath because you were scared and stuck and selfish. But now he’s gone, and you’re here, and he’s hurt, and you’re sorry, and it’s too late, and it’s all different. Why is that track on repeat? It’s the train roaring into the empty subway station. It’s the bartender pouring another whiskey and coke. It’s the alarm waking you to start another gray morning. One of these days you’ll sleep without dreaming of him. One of these days.

But how many? Two? Twenty? Two-hundred-and-twenty? Winning sounds like numbers, too, and you hear them all the time: 8, 12, 3, 14. Eight hours since you sent that drunk message that you wish you hadn’t sent and haven’t gotten a reply to. Eight. Twelve days since he held you in the doorway. Twelve. Three weeks since you were dancing together on a rooftop. Three. Fourteen months since you met.

So you make things as loud as possible. Turn the speakers up as far as you can and only hang out with the friends that don’t stop talking. Make sure the T.V. stays on and the talk radio program doesn’t time out. Don’t ever let the quiet get you, especially at night because the nights used to sound like bikes and wind and inside jokes. They used to sound like phones buzzing and doors opening and hands touching. They used to sound like him. The ceiling fan still spins lazily above your head, but he can’t hear it and won’t tell you it helps him fall asleep. The door still creaks in the middle of the night, but he doesn’t know it and won’t complain to you anymore. The neighbor still comes down the stairs loudly, the train still rumbles in the distance, and people’s voices still float through the window indistinguishable. So this is what winning sounds like.

To Ride Home On His Handlebars

Bike

Once again I’ve gotten myself mixed up and met you at that Mexican place we both love. Who says I can’t have huevos rancheros for dinner? And coffee to wash it down? And a pitcher of horchata? And a boy to grin golden grins at me from across the table? No one. No one says that. And that is what this neighborhood is. They don’t look twice, and they don’t think I’m wearing the wrong shoes with these pants, and they don’t forget to smile when they recognize me on the sidewalk. They’ve got kids and they know what it is to work and to be happy and to be exhausted all at the same time. Kids with blue shoes kick their legs back and forth at the table next to us. Kids with brown eyes as big as the moon. Kids with their bikes whirring past us on the sidewalk.

I’ve forgotten my bike again. This always happens because I’m forever coming from here or from there—places where my bike never is. It’s blue and old and has yellow tape that I liked once, but it’s not here so we decide to go on foot. You walk your bike even though I know you’re aching to ride it because it’s new and fast and you know you look good on it. We named it once, do you remember? It was cold that day, but we rode along the lake anyway, far from our neighborhood, our Southwest Side. But now we’re home, more or less, walking down 18th Street, turning down side roads when it comes time, and debating politics while the sun slides down our backs. The tops of pale green reeds are poking through the chain link fence, and I just want to run my fingers through them. I’m not really listening to what you’re saying, but I like the way it sounds.

As the hours slip by unnoticed, the reds, yellows, and oranges turn gray and green, but we can’t see it from our place inside under the window. The first thing we sense is the breeze because it suddenly smells of impending rain. A storm is coming, we both know it, and I should probably get home so I won’t get caught like last time, the time when we got your bike and named it and rode along the lake. Do you remember? This time it will be different, and I’ll go before the rain starts. It will be different because this time when you say “Trust me!” and ask me to ride on your handlebars I’ll say yes. Finally, I’ll say yes. I don’t know if I trust you or if I just don’t want to get wet, but here we go. Shaky at first, and I’ve torn my jacket jumping up on the metal bars (are they metal?), but it gets easier. I lean back against you, and your head rests near my shoulder as you pedal, finding your rhythm. Onward we go through tiny back streets flanked with murals both grotesque and wonderful with colors still visible in the waning daylight.

It’s getting darker now, and the quiet desolation of 16th Street breaks only at the incessant chiming of those railway bells, the ones I’ve never seen, only heard, like legends told before campfires. They sound so hollow and lonely, yet there are many of them. I think I’d like to find them with you sometime. What do you think? Maybe some time when the rain isn’t threatening. Maybe some time when I remember to bring my bike. Maybe then. But for now I’ll just have to ride home on your handlebars, down Wolcott and back to 18th where we meet once again with the rest of the world, the rest of the buzzing, singing world.