May 16, 2011

On the North Sea, Riding Your Bike

You’re here, on the island, riding your bike. Your hair has wings here. Your face some color, finally.

“You don’t speak German, do you?” said the African in German.

David rides his bike on an island in the North Sea

“A little,” you said. “English?”

“No. Englander?

“No, American.”

He laughed. “Amerikanisch.”

For some reason, people laugh when you tell them you’re American.

You rented the bike from him anyway. Seven speeds. You wondered if seven-speed bikes exist in America. You rode it up the length of the island. At the tip you stopped at one of the harbor pubs and ordered a Bitburger. You do this every day. After a week you see the wings, the hair jutting out. Your hair’s getting blonder, too. You look 12, but like one of those 12-year-olds who ages quickly and is dead by 20. What’s that disease called? You like the wings, though. It must be the salty air. You pretend that it represents a you that’s utterly carefree and driven by a life of eternal summers. Continue reading

May 13, 2011

The Neighbor, the Chihuahuas, and the Massage Oil

She comes downstairs with her two Chihuahuas and a bottle of massage oil. I supply the weed. I light up the weed. We watch vulgar comedy like Sarah Silverman. At some point, Heather delivers the order. “Massage.” Without hesitating, I unscrew the oil. Heather swivels her back towards me. Up goes the shirt. I begin my work.

David gets complicated with his upstairs neighbor. It involves massages.

“Ahhh,” she goes. “Ahhhhhhhh.”

Nothing further transpires between us. I swear to myself that I’ll withhold, but then when the time comes, without thinking, I pour the oil and put my hands on Heather’s back. I know every inch of it. Like the rest of her, it’s all muscle, sinew, and bone.  Her spine protrudes and curves as it works its way down, as though she were some kind of swamp reptile.

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May 9, 2011

The Twenty-Somethings

“David!”

“Hi, Carey! Hi, Marie!”

“Come sit down!”

This was at a bistro in my neighborhood. The décor favored floorboards of uneven slats of aged wood, long communal tables, and huge windows. The bar offered dozens of microbrews and fancy saloon food. Sliders, of course, but Kobi ones. Mac and cheese, but with Gruyère. Duck confit salad. Pork belly sandwiches. French fries salted with paprika. It was that kind of place, responding to the meat renaissance, to the boutiquing of bar food.

David’s perennial loneliness finds solace in the company of women twenty years younger

I had become friends with the bartenders, Carey and Marie. Every Sunday after the gym I came in for brunch. Since it was after the gym, I’d sit there sweating in my workout clothes, hair plastered to skull, a music player dangling by the strap that Clarissa had made for me out of colored string. It was the only thing I had left of her that was always with me.

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