Me: My uncle passed away. Her: (puts arms around me) I’m so sorry to hear that. Me: You’re choking me… Her: I’m giving you a hug!
The picture below’s of a Montblanc Meisterstuck 925 Sterling Silver and 18K Gold fountain pen. My uncle Jay gave it to me when I got into law school way back in 1995.
My dad got me something similar when I graduated college. I never thanked either of them for either gift.
I was upset and petty, you see. A pen? Who gets someone a pen? A computer, a TV, cash – that kinda stuff I understood as a fella in his 20s, but a pen?
I tossed both into a drawer and forgot about them. Found them earlier this year – a quarter of a century later.
I’d meant to say thanks to my dad for his pen, but I always forgot to. And when I found the pen from my uncle, I asked my mom if I should call.
Mom: He’s sick. He won’t understand.
Uncle Jay never had any sons. Only daughters. He was always kind to me. I was too young to know what to do with kindness from relatives.
There’s this saying that I’ve always liked that goes, Youth is wasted on the young.
I was so arrogant and immature for so long. I made so many mistakes. It always feels like it’s too late. But maybe, with the boy, he’ll be better. Nuthin would make me happier than if he was better than me.
Thanks for the pen, Uncle Jay. I didn’t deserve it and I wish I said thanks when I had the chance.
Sister: Are you ok? You were close to him. Me: I am. He got to live a long life and watch his kids grow up. Meet his grandchildren. What was he, 86? I would take 86 right now. I wish Alison got half that. He lived a good long life where he was loved and respected. We should all be so lucky. He’s no longer suffering. He earned his rest. Her: You’re right, he did. Thanks. Me: No, thank you for calling. I’ll give mom a call now.
Chuck, Cho, Chad, and Mouse came by on Friday to wish Chuck a safe trip back home.
Me: Well, I already spent thousands this month on my apartment and health so I figured, “Why not blow another $150 on a smokeless grill? What difference’s 150 bucks at this point?” Chad: Makes sense. Me: We should invite Chuck over for a last BBQ in NYC. Him: Let’s do it.
For anyone that’s been to my pad before, they know that the air circulation is low-to-nonexistent. No matter what I try to pan-grill, my smoke alarm goes off and it’s a sauna most days of the year.
I’d gotten the grill a while ago and decided to christen it and wish Chuck a farewell at the same time.
We picked up burgers, kielbasa, kraut, cole slaw, roasted veggies, potato pancakes, and drinks around the way, bringing them back and grilling everything up. We were supposed to start around 5:30.
Mouse: (walking in at 7PM) Wait, you haven’t started eating yet? Me: We started a bit late. Her: I can see that.
After we were done eating, we watched an episode of a food channel, an episode of hot ones, and then got down to serious matters, like board games.
Note that we were all two-sheets-to-the-wind – except for Cho – because he was the only one driving. Which is why I found the following exchange so amusing:
Mouse: (drawing) Cho: What is that? An eye? Her: (nods) Him: Eye circle? Her: (shakes head) Him: Eye globe? Her: (eyes wild and wide, stabs picture) Him: Eyeball? Her: YES! It’s an eyeball! EYE GLOBE?! EYE CIRCLE?! WTF is an EYE GLOBE, CHO?!
Chad was laughing hysterically when he glanced at his phone and suddenly turned sober. “Oh, no!” he said.
Him: Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer. He was 43. Me: What? (taking out phone, reading) Um, I need a second, fellas.
I went into the back room, sat down, and just cried. That’s how it works, you see. That’s how grief works.
One minute with you’re with your fave girlie and good friends, and the next minute you’re in the back pulling up pictures of people you know you love and that you’ll never see again and an actor that you never knew.
You never know when life’s gonna hit that grief button. But when it does, holy shit…
I always knew the word, “grief-stricken,” but I never truly appreciated the etymological brilliance of the word until that moment.
It’s actually so perfect with how it works as a word, you are literally stricken – hit, bludgeoned, injured, wounded, struck – with grief.
That’s what grief-stricken means. Grief hits you like a fucking baseball bat, and you’re left gasping for air.
I was literally laughing one moment and trying to cry as quietly as I could the next. That’s what grief-stricken means.
As for Chadwick, that’s a whole different matter that I need to work through.
Chad: (leaning in) I’m sorry, brother, I wasn’t thinking. Me: (shaking head) Why are you sorry? It wasn’t you that took her from me.
Luciano’s mom reached out to me over the weekend and filled me in on some more information.
I didn’t know what to say. What does one say, but, “I’m sorry?”
The truth is, you want to say, “I’m sorry that the world is so fucked up and people like Luciano and Alison are gone but shit-heads like Trump and his progeny still exist. There’s no God and if there is one, he’s a giant asshole and he can go fuck himself.”
But in the end, all you can ever say is, “I’m sorry,” and hope it’s enough.
Speaking of which…
Me: I guess I should take these letters off. Chad: Do you want me to help? Me: No. I’ll do it myself. Just…distract me will you? Him: Sure, I’ll do a dance. (thinking) You should take a picture. Me: (starting the process) I already did, but thanks. Him: I’m sorry, Logan. Me: (nodding)
When Alison moved in, she wanted to paint the boy’s room but I convinced her not to. It was too much trouble, I said. We had already agreed on painting the master bedroom and living room so she relented on what was the guest room.
I kept the paint cans for those two rooms, 11 years after Alison and I got them.
It’s hard letting things go.
The boy’s room, though, was painted by a lovely girl name Abbie in September of 2004, almost exactly 16 years ago. That was the last time it was painted. Abbie painted it when patterns were all the rage but it now made the room look dated.
To the point that, when Mouse lived here, she also asked to paint it, and I said no again. This time for a slightly different reason.
You see, Alison and I put up these stickers that read, “Sweet Dreams.” It was just a random idea that Alison had and she surprised me with the lettering. I still remember her, pregnant and carefully measuring and adjusting the words so that they would be perfect. Which they were – perfectly balanced and exactly in the center of the crib.
Last week was weird, but not terrible. First of all, there was a new contestant that I’ve been putting off for a while.
Me: I’m sorry, I can’t make this week either. Too much happening. Her: If you don’t want to meet up with me, just say so. Me: I think what’s more accurate is that, I want to meet up with you; just not enough to break the inertia. Her: You’re an asshole. Me: So, I’ve been told.
Because of everything going on, I also didn’t get a chance to meet up with ML but we did speak on the phone.
Me: You shouldn’t trust anyone, including me. Her: Why? Me: For me? Because I use bodies to get over bodies. It’s not a good thing. But, it is what I do. Her: What if a body doesn’t want to be just a body? Me: This is America; everyone has the right to say “no.” But you won’t. Cause I’m the best you have. Her: You’re so arrogant. Me: To be precise, I’m awful. But, I’m honestly awful, because I’ll tell you the truth, even if you don’t wanna hear it.
She insisted on coming by for a “talk” afterward.
Me: You really don’t need to come here. Her: It’s fine. (later) I’m guessing you know what I’m going to say but…I don’t think we’re right for each other. Me: OK, I can see that. Her: Wait, that’s it? You don’t want to know why? Me: If you want to tell me, that’s fine. I’ll listen. But, either way, I understand. Her: (leaning forward) Are you sure, Logan? You understand? (kisses me) Me: (pulling back) Wait, what just happened here?
I suppose we woulda spoken more except that’s when the cable guy finally showed up and so she left. I think she exited my Venn Diagram or I exited hers.
Although, I suppose, that’s a distinction without a difference.
The following day, Lviv came by with sushi, which we had to eat in the kid’s room because it was the only one with a working air conditioner.
She grossly underestimated how much I eat but that’s neither here nor there.
Her: I don’t think we’re right for each other. Me: (nodding) I’m hearing that a lot. I understand.
We ended up taking a walk afterward and came back to mine, when she got a phone call.
Her: (The other guy I like) is in the neighborhood. Me: You should go with him. Or go home. But, you can’t stay here. Her: Why not? Me: It’s for the best. He’s more your fella than me. It’s fine. I use people to pass the time, and people use me to pass the time. That’s the deal.
I suppose I’m ok with everyone exiting my Venn Diagram because they were all non-starters for one reason or another.
The next day, I was in a car with a female friend, who ran a red light and almost killed me.
Me: Red light, RED LIGHT, REDLIGHT!!!! Her: OMG, sorry! Me: Well, I’m awake now.
After all that, I did end the week with one really sweet conversation, though. You see, I made a last-minute trip to see the boy and we spent the day together before I tucked him into bed.
Him: Be safe, papa. (starting to cry) I’m free tomorrow morning. If you’re free tomorrow morning too, you can call me. Me: (smiling) I think I’ll be free. Him: Good night. I love you. Me: Mommy and I both love you so much, kiddo. Get some sleep.
Me: I wanted to tell you to your face, but the weather’s conspiring against us. Her: Can I ask why? Me: I don’t wanna waste your time – anyone’s really. I’m not your person and everyone should be with their person. Her: Is it the other girl? Or your ex? Me: That’s a distinction without a difference. Her: I always did like how you talked. (later) Goodbye, Logan.
I hate being single.
On the plus side, Chad came by to coach Mouse and me on some new stuff that he’s been working on. They both said hi to the boy via FaceTime.
This is us listening to him sing the Rolling Stones.
She and I took Chad out to eat as part of thanking him for the training.
We also chipped in to get him a nice automatic watch.
Him: Wow, thanks you two. Me: We wanted to give it to you after COVID for always helping us but who knows when that will ever be?
Afterward, she stuck around for a bit to catch up. In a weird but kinda cool nexus, Lviv wrote me about another guy she was seeing.
Mouse, upon hearing some of it, took my phone and gave her her opinion via text.
Mouse: You don’t need that in your life. You can find something better.
If there’s any commonality to the women I’m attracted to, it’s that they’re all universally kind. That’s a baseline requirement for me.
And all – very coincidentally – seem to come from the same European country.
Him: Wait, this is a new person? Me: Yes. From the same town as one of them. Him: Wha…how…are you finding them on purpose? Me: How do you think I’m accomplishing that? Him: I dunno, Logan. I feel if there’s someone that can figure something like that out, it’d be you.
Me: What’s your name, darling? Random woman: I’m not your darling. Me: Not with that attitude, you’re not. Her: (laughs)
Speaking of attitudes, I just need to keep this up until the kid’s ready to be in the world alone. Figure trees have been able to do this for eons, I just have make about 5,000 days.
Piece of cake.
Him: I wish I met her. Me: Sorry, man. I’m not the best company these days. Him: Actually, I enjoy your company. Me: I always wonder if there was anything else I coulda done. Him: I don’t think so. (thinking) You loved her. In that sense, she was lucky. You both were. Me: (nodding) Yeah.
Decades ago, my mom was gardening in front of our apartment when a woman came out and started talking to her about plants.
She was Greek and spoke with a crazy thick Greek accent; my mom was Chinese and spoke with a crazy thick Chinese accent. Somehow, though, they connected – probably because both saw the world the same way,
They became best friends, to this day. Everyone finds it ridic cute, that these two lovely women found each other in this sad little world of ours.
When my dad died, it was this friend that called my mom constantly, just to make sure my mom was ok. That’s what friends do.
My mom wasn’t, of course, but her friend made it a little better, I think.
In any case, that woman’s husband, Nick, died earlier this week. I wasn’t super close with him, but he was in the fabric of my life since my earliest memories of the world.
Nick died this week right before his birthday, which bothers me greatly because Alison died just right after hers. And like Alison, and my dad, Nick suffered before he died. That makes me irrationally angry for reasons I can’t properly express.
Like Fouad and Kirk, he too died of pancreatic cancer. Three people I’ve known in less than a year. It boggles the mind and breaks the heart.
That pic above was taken almost 12 years to the day by my brother. Nick had come by for my sister’s birthday. They did things like that.
Their family has never shown us anything but kindness. When money, beauty, and possessions go away, kindness stays. That’s why I’m a sucker for kindness; it’s the only thing really worth anything in this shitty world.
It’s my mom’s turn to support her friend now. It’s hard; my mom just had surgery and this damn pandemic hangs over us all. But she does what she can.
Goodnight, Nick. Your family misses you very much. We all do.
All this death around me wears on my psyche, I think. I’ve been talking to other people that, like me, have dealt with depression in the past.
Buddy: I haven’t hugged anyone in over a month! Me: Dude, me neither. I don’t think I’ve touched another human being in over a month. I’ve also not hugged my son in this time, which is excruciating. Him: Man, that must suck. Me: So much. So much.
I miss my son terribly. When this is over, I’m gonna hug the crap outta him.
He’s gonna complain the entire time and I’m not gonna care, I’m just gonna do it. I’m bigger than he is and there won’t be anything he’ll be able to do about it.
Two buddies from college have birthdays around the same time and we all use these birthdays as an excuse to get together. I’ve been MIA for the past several years: Before Alison got sick with cancer, we kept losing babies and we both didn’t want to be social at all.
The very last time I attended one of these, Alison had recently lost another one but she insisted I go out and have a good time. I tried. She was diagnosed later that year.
Fuck. This is why I drink.
My college friends were some of the first people I called when I re-entered the world. Every single one of them came out.
In any case, I actually couldn’t make dinner because of a prior engagement but I showed up afterward for drinks. Walked into the middle of a funny debate:
Her: …I think most of the cool kids dated in high school. Did any of you not? Me: Do you know the nerds that the jocks and cool kids beat up? Well, I was the guy that those nerds beat up.
I actually did date two girls in high school. Both ended disastrously, as most high school things go, although I do have fond memories of one of them. But that’s besides the point.
On the topic of dating, one of the guys, Anthony, recently became single.
Me: It’s tough for me to do something like online dating because (a) I’m older and (b) I have a kid, so I kinda have to do real life pickup. Luckily, I have little to no shame. Her: What do you say to people? Me: “My name’s Logan. I’m looking to make some friends. You look nice.” Her: (laughs) Does that work? Me: (shrugging) The truth is a powerful thing.
Ended up buying Anthony some bourbon and he bought the table some shots. Tequila shots.
We all ended leaving east of midnight and Anthony and I were headed the same way. We kept chatting about dating and being single.
As we approached 14th Street, I looked up and locked eyes with a beautiful girl.
Me: Hello, darling. You look nice. How’s your evening been? Her: (laughs) Good. (pause) That’s a cool jacket. Me: Thank you. So, what’s your name? Her: (smiles) Serena. Me: How very nice to meet you, Serena. My name’s Logan. Now, have you met my friend, Anthony yet? (turning to Anthony) Anthony, this is Serena. (turning to Serena) Serena, this is Anthony. You two should talk. This is my stop. Have a lovely evening.
Now, I actually had two more adventures that night that I’ll keep to myself for the time being, but ended up drunkenly calling someone after 2AM, which is yet another story in and of itself.
Her: Are you…are you drunk dialing me? I think this is my first drunk dial. Me: What luck. Mine as well. It’s good to be first.
I woke up late the next day when I got a buzz on my phone.
Life is nothing if not entertaining.
Location: the basement of my brain, again
Music: Say something
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Random Girl: You threw her a birthday party? You’re such a good guy! Me: (shaking head) Nah, it’s a less the quality of my character, and much more the quality of hers. Anywho, that’s her story, not yours. What’s your name again?
We all stayed for a bit longer but I ended up trying to avoid several people that night, for various reasons.
Which, let’s be honest, sounds about right.
Him: Logan! You gotta stop drinking, or you’re going to do something you’re going to regret. Me: With them? (shaking head) They’re not the women you should be worried about with me. Him: All the more reason to stop. (stepping away) I’m getting you some water. Me: Yeah. (nodding, sliding into seat) That’s probably a good idea. Yeah…
There was one woman I spoke to that night who wasn’t a rando, though, and it was the most interesting conversation I had that night.
She was actually the wife of a friend and she asked me some questions about my past; turns out that she (kinda) knew me before I became the me you know
You see, she knew me when I drank with the Devil. But that’s a story for another time.
Her: Holy s__t! I was there that night! I must have met you! Me: (laughing) I was the grey man. Very few people actually knew or met me, which is how I liked it. Her: (later) Do you remember B? And C? Man, I had such a crush on B! Me: (laughing) Haven’t heard that name in decades. C called his group, Jade after a chick – well, Jade was my girlfriend. But she was a lifetime ago. It was all a lifetime ago. (shaking head) I’m not that person anymore. Not even a little bit. (looking around club) OK, maybe a little bit…
That couple went home – but not before handing me some red envelopes – and I sat down at our tables with my thoughts about all my possible pasts.
Shoot, I also need to thank my cousin Ras and her husband Kit – they gave me a red envelope for my son as well. More on that in a future entry.
Anywho, everyone slowly left, one-by-one.
Him: I gotta go. You should go home, too. Me: Can’t. Him: Why not? Me: (shrugging) Because I won’t leave Mouse alone on her birthday if she wants to keep hanging out. Him: We’re all too old for this. She’stoo old for this, now. Me: (laughing) Well, me for sure. Look, I gotta make sure she gets home ok. Him: She’s not your responsibility. Me: (shrugging) She is tonight.
Afterward, Mouse and a handful of friends went to the hookah bar next door. The one with the weird bathrooms.
Her: We are at hooks place.
Hadn’t done anything like that since my dad passed of lung cancer, but I knew she enjoyed it so I went.
I made the waiter laugh and told him it was her birthday so he comped us a plate of fries.
Him: You’re funny. Me: My life’s nuthin if not one tremendous f_____g joke, man. I’m gonna need some water. And some complex carbohydrates.
It was well past 2AM when we finally left. It was just Mouse and me at the end.
Mouse: Thanks for doing that. Everything. Even the hooka bar; I know how against that you are what with your dad and all. Me: Of course. It was your night. You get anything you want, if it’s in my ability. You deserve it. Her: My friends were impressed. Me: Well, win for me, then. So, what now?
There’s more but that’s between her and me.
I did everything I intended to do and more – both for her and Chad. That felt good.
The night went exactly as I had hoped it would. Better even, actually. They both left for home with huge smiles on their faces.
Like I said, if anyone deserved it, it was the two of them. Each for their own special reasons. We pick the people we choose to care about, for reasons none of us can fully articulate, but that we all innately understand.
Chad and I spoke the next day.
Him: I just wanted to say thanks for doing that. I had a great time. Me: Good. That’s all I wanted.
My reward for alla this? Slept like the dead for 13 glorious, uninterrupted hours.