I wanted to shout out, “I love you!” to the bald man crossing the street.
He thought he looked silly wearing a suit with sneakers, but I thought it was smart to wear sneakers, especially when you were walking long distances. His face was sad and friendly. I wanted to follow him around in my car and watch him read the newspaper. He felt like he had to read the newspaper to compensate for his sneakers, but he secretly wanted to read comic books and make pirate hats out of the paper.
I thought of us eating tomato soup on the porch and the wind blowing our napkins off the table. He would chase the napkins and I would want to laugh, but then I wouldn’t. I wasn’t trying to be polite; it just wouldn’t come out. Sometimes we would read books out loud to each other that we didn’t understand and then we would paint the table and chairs different colors. Blue on Tuesdays. Green on Fridays. Yellow Sundays - always yellow Sundays.
When we only had an hour together because of work or plans with other people, we almost always wanted to watch television, so we took the television to a thrift shop, where a couple who hated each other could watch it whenever they got into arguments. They could sit across the room from one another and cry while watching old episodes of Happy Days to make sense of their crying.
We, on the other hand, would put creamy spoonfuls of peanut butter on pine cones and then dip them in bird seed. I always wanted to dip mine in rainbow sprinkles, but he insisted that birds could get sick from eating sprinkles. Looking out the window, I would watch as he hung them in the trees. I stayed inside because I hated birds, but I loved eating peanut butter off the knife while he cut long strands of yarn and tied them around each cone.
“We really should’ve tied the yarn on before covering them in peanut butter,” he would say quietly, seemingly to no one at all, as he walked out the door.
And sometimes we even go out! We stand in the back of dark, divey bars and he always holds my hand because he’s scared that I’ll get lost - not that he thinks I’m an idiot, but he just doesn’t want to lose me. We sing only loud enough for each other to hear.
“Hey, you should know that I feel so lucky to hold your hand, not because of how handsome you are,” or because of how safe I feel falling asleep next to him, while he writes stories on my body with his fingertips, “but, well, because I really just do.”
The only thing I hate about him is how much he loves me. When I tell him this, he doesn’t want to talk and he threatens to buy back the TV. I try to say, “I’m sorry,” and rub his bald head, but he leaves for work early and I am left crying, irritated with images of Henry Winkler in my head.
“Whatever you think I am doing, I am not doing.”
I know he is comfortable with his bald head, but the way he feels about his dirty old sneakers is sometimes the way I feel about my sneakers too. And my legs and arms and the way my pants fit all weird around my knees.
“Do you want to be this way forever?” is what he finally says when he gets home. I don’t exactly know what he means, but he is right. I keep starting over the same way and getting confused when I have to start again. I’m too embarrassed to wear sneakers with a suit; that’s what he’s saying, isn’t it?
All I hear is, “I want you to be something better than you are capable of being,” when all he’s trying to say is: “You are greater than you think you are.”
I have no answer. He accuses me of loving loud rooms and restaurants because it means I don’t have to say anything or express what I’m feeling and thinking. I try to argue that that is like me accusing him of not wanting to grow hair on his head.
This makes him cry and he only cries when he watches the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, when the cat runs away, and he hasn’t had enough sleep.
He mutters under his breath that I never want to have sex or touch him while we’re in bed together. This makes me cry and think about a record spinning with Tom Bosley’s head in the middle, which makes me feel uncomfortable and cry even harder. Before I can grab him and say, “I’m sorry! It’s not just you! It’s every man I meet,” he leaves.
Days go by.
One day, I hear a knock at the door. All I can see are two legs dressed in suit pants, and a pair of brand new, bright white sneakers, staring me down, pleading, “Can I please come home?”
But all I can hear is the television blaring in the background and another knock, knock, knock.
Katie McMahon is a worker among workers, a writer, a student, and a lady. She has a Bachelors Degree that sits on her bookcase and is studying for a Masters Degree in English Lit to put on her bedside table. She just started running this blog and hopes you enjoy it and she also takes some pretty pictures, which you can look at here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katiemcmahon/sets, if you're not too busy right now.