Gracie’s step dad normally gives her a ride to work on the back of his motorcycle, but today he dropped her off in the R.V. She crawled out of the front seat, threw her cigarette on the ground, and then waved good bye. He was too busy lighting his own cigarette to notice that she had crossed in front of him. She jumped to reach the top of the hood and smacked the shit out of it. He slammed on the brakes and unrolled his window.
“Sorry baby,” he yelled as smoke billowed from his mouth.
Unfazed that Step Daddy almost killed her, she smiled and zipped across the parking lot and inside to start doing her opening side work.
“I got my braces tightened yesterday and these rubber bands can suck my dick,” she said while wrapping a napkin around the block of parmesan cheese. Different shades of brown crisscrossed inside her mouth making it look like she had baleen. She’s smart and smiles even more now that she’s got braces. “My fucking dog chewed all my heels last night and ripped apart my futon,” she said and showed me a picture of her studio apartment. She giggled then said, “He’s an idiot.”
I admire her work ethic. She started as a host and put in a lot of time off the clock to become a server. I’ve seen her crawl in the cubby and spend hours taking inventory and rearranging boxes of glassware. She’d come out every once and awhile for a smoke break, inhale, and then crawl back in. She’s got the strength of a dozen oxen. She’ll carry boxes of wine up flights of stairs with a bundle of napkins thrown over her shoulder. One time she ripped a part a cardboard box so easily that it made me embarrassed.
“Do you want children?” I asked.
“Yeah. A lot of them,” she said.
She went on to tell me how she already takes care of her mom who is constantly in and out of trouble with the law. That’s a pretty selfless act for any 22 year-old which makes me think she’ll make a great mother. She’s the type who’ll wake up at 4 a.m. to drive her children around town for their paper route. She’ll drop them off at school and pick them up after practice. She’ll make dinner and eat only after they’ve started. She’ll do all this while smoking a cigarette and smiling. She’ll be the genuine type who isn’t interested in keeping appearance as long as her kids are happy.
“I design boots and high heels,” Luis said. “I’m wearing a pair of my boots now.” He kicked his foot out from under the table to show me.
“How often do you try on a pair of your heels?” I asked while pouring him a second glass of Sherry.
He made a yuck face.
“What?! Never. That’s weird.”
“Oh dear,” I said.
Luis comes from a strict Catholic family with 8 brothers. He told me several times that he drives a truck, likes to skateboard, and avoids feminine acting guys. The conversation was never dull. It peaked around the 4th glass of Sherry when I had him define “things” after he said, “I do things in Mexico.” Did you know that a coyote can make anywhere from 1,200 to 5,000 a night depending on how big their trunk is?
It was a good date but I was honest at the end and told him that we probably weren’t compatible. I let him know that I wanted to date someone who was out to their parents, and he was not. I can tolerate a lot of stuff but that’s a deal breaker. So we made out in his car and then went our separate ways.
Sweet D is making bourbon glazed pork chops with roasted acorn squash. We’re talking about her new job. She’s almost done with training and in a few short days she’ll be on the floor making her own money.
Sweet D: We don’t call them busboys. We have to call them S.A.’s.
Me: Ese?! Wow, that’s pretty progressive.
Sweet D: No, not (in a chola accent) ese. The letters S and A. It stands for server’s assistant.
Me: Oh… I wonder if the bussers know you’re calling them an acronym.
I asked Mario why he was carrying 500 dollars on him when he got jumped. He told me it was gas money and then shot me a look that suggested I stop asking questions. I stopped.
The city has been fixin’ somethin’ outside my apartment for the last two weeks. Mr. Prinz called the other day to ask if everything was alright with my water pressure.
“As a matter of fact, the kitchen faucet has no pressure,” I said. “And the tub is dripping.” I don’t know why I never bother to call a landlord when something is wrong. It’s not that I’m lazy or forgetful; it’s just that I adapt to change easily even if it doesn’t better me. So anyway, he arranges for two of his workers to come over the next day and fix it. I told Sweet D about it and she said, “Thank God because it’s been taking me a fucking hour to wash one god damn saucer.”
The next day I came home and there were two Latinos crouched in the bathtub. I said hello and then went to my room to change. I didn’t know that Sweet D was sitting on the other side using the mirror to apply her eye liner. When I opened the door she yelled out, “Jesus Christ,” and dove on the bed. She about lost an eye.
As we laughed about it, the plumber boys walked by the room and said, “Bye.” Sweet D wanted to make sure that they didn’t forget about the kitchen sink. She leaned off the side of the bed and threw her voice to the living room.
“La cochina. Don’t forget to check la cohina,” she said as she pointed to the kitchen. She loves practicing her Spanish. Unfortunately, she had mixed a little Italian in there and instead of saying “la cocina” (kitchen) she said cochina which is Mexican slang for “dirty girl.”
Don’t forget to check the dirty girl.
They chuckled but understood what she was trying to say. “Oh yeaaaah, we already fix that,” they said as they scurried towards the door.
“You did? Wow, I’ll be darned. You guys work fast,” she said and then whispered to me to go check the faucet to make sure they understood her. I went in the kitchen and turned it on. The pressure was nice and strong just like the thighs of a dirty girl.
I got a text at 4:47 p.m. from Luis apologizing for having to cancel on me last minute. He wrote, “something came up. ” I wrote back, “No worries.” My friends felt bad for me and invited me to join them on their double date. Straight couples my age love to visit San Diego. They also love Kanye West and Jay Z. I asked each of them what would be their #1 reason for canceling a date like this:
Husband 1: Diarrhea.
Wife 1: It’d have to be work related. Like something really important came up.
Girlfriend 2: I’m with her. Something serious had to be covered.
Boyfriend 2: I don’t know. There could be many. I do know that I would have called and not texted.
I left them after dinner so they could go see the The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo. I already went to one movie this weekend, Young Adult, and that was enough for the month. The good news is I still have my tickler!
So I finally called Luis. I’ve never officially been on a blind date before. The closest was when I apparently gave my number to some guy when I was blackout drunk one night and he called me the next day to set up a date. Technically it wasn’t a blind date because I had already met him, I just couldn’t remember it. This time is for real.
I was nervous when I called him. I spent 45 minutes with the phone in my hand planning out exactly what I was going to say, something cool and smooth. Of course the minute I heard him say “hello” everything I had rehearsed seeped out my ear and I turned into a mechanical idiot.
“Good evening. This is Jim Marti calling. I’m looking for a Mr. Luis.”
“Uh, yes…” he said and then paused as though he was expecting some government official to tell him that his Mom was in the hospital.
“I’m friends with Rosie and she gave me your number so that we could meet up,” I said and then curled into a ball on the side of the street.
“Oh! Yes, yes, yes,” he said.
We went back and forth trying to find a day that worked. I couldn’t do it tonight because I promised a friend I’d accompany her to the David Archuleta concert. He couldn’t do it tomorrow because that’s his one day of the week when he meets with friends for dinner, “Unless you want to join us,” he said. As much fun as that sounded, I had to decline. Can you imagine how uncomfortable it’d be going on a first date with a dude and his 5 best friends? We finally set up a date for next Tuesday when we’re both free. Great, that’ll give me at least a week to worry about all the possible ways I’ll embarrass myself at dinner.
“He had the softest lips. I always remember that. We dated a few times in New York. He invited me to Key West but I didn’t go because when you go on a yacht with a gentleman… You know… I don’t know if I was ready for that right away.”—Pin-Up Queen Vikki Dougan talking about her brief encounter with Frank Sinatra. Never trust a guy who wants you to go on his yacht…
I just picked Shawn up from the airport after his weekend in Houston with The Norwegian.
“He asked me to move in with him. He said he’d pay my rent in L.A. and let me have his Porsche,” he said as he played with the $2,600 personalized David Yurman dog tags he received as a gift. “Eh, I think I’m gonna end it.”
I almost side swiped a car as I pulled out of the terminal.
“Why would you do that?” I said as I blew a kiss to the driver of the car I almost hit.
“It’s just too much too fast,” he said.
The Norwegian is at an age where he’s ready to settle down and have children so he’s really laying it on thick with Shawn, who’s at an age where he just wants to have fun and explore his sexuality. When will older guys learn that courting a younger, inexperienced dude just isn’t worth it? You have to be on the same page, or at least in the same chapter. Now if it were me, I’d already be in Houston vacuuming his apartment.
“Well, just play it by ear and have fun in the meantime,” I said as I adjusted the rear view mirror.
“I know and I will… Oh, look at that guy,” he said as he pointed to a thick-legged jogger crossing the street.
My friend left a message saying, “I found a guy for you. Call me back.” After a load of laundry, a turkey sandwich, an episode of ‘Parks and Rec,’ wiping the butt cheek marks off the mirror left behind from Ronnie on his birthday when we came back to my place for after hours, and paying the electrical bill, I called her back.
He’s Latino and travels for business and doesn’t really go out a lot because he’s “a romantic.”
“You mean he’s shy?” I said as I searched the drawer for a stamp.
“I think you’ll like him. Oh, he’s also married,” she said.
“Simple detail… This is why I don’t do set-ups,” I said.
She explained that his marriage was Kardashian. He’s from South America and got married only for the papers. At first I was like, “Why would I want to get involved with someone, fall in love, and run the risk of having him shipped back to Columbia?” Then I thought about how I’ve never been to Columbia before and Shakira is from there and God knows I love her.
While I stayed in Madrid my two favorite girls traveled up north to embark on a 2 month pilgrimage across Spain called The Camino De Santiago. On their journey they met a 50 year-old single mother of two from Atlanta named Leslie. I had the pleasure of meeting her when my boyfriend and I drove up one weekend while they were resting in Leon. She recently wrote a book about her experience and I’m mentioned.
“So how has it been going for you, Jim? Do you mind if I ask.”
“Not at all. I come from a large Catholic family, Leslie, and I’m one of the younger ones. I wanted to get married and have kids like I saw my older brothers and sisters doing. I didn’t want to be different. I didn’t want to be gay. Given a choice, I wouldn’t be gay. But I think this is how I was born and I don’t think I can be happy unless I accept myself for who I am. And I have to believe that God made me this way. So I have to believe that I’m OK just the way I am.”
“So is this why you came to Spain? To come out?”
“Well, it’s part of the reason.”
“Is this going to be a big problem for your family?”
Jim started laughing.
“One Christmas, my Dad gave my brothers Swiss Army Knives but I got a beautiful leather nail care kit instead! I think my parents have always known I was different.”
As someone who writes about others, it’s interesting when the role is reversed and I’m the subject. I’m not the type of person who would say, “I have to believe that God made me this way,” but it’s not my story, it’s hers and this is how she interpreted my voice. It reminds me to be grateful for all the people in my life that allow me to write my version of their voice. I love you all, especially the dishwashers at work who smack my ass and call me puto. XOXO
“You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.”—
I don’t have a 401K. I’m not exactly sure how I get one but I know that people my age have them. In fact, people younger than me have them. I’m just no good at getting that stuff together. I should have gotten one a few years ago but I was busy being young and dumb and lookin’ for fun… Well, if I don’t get on top of it soon I’ll be old and dumb and lookin’ for a gun.
As much fun as it was discovering new things about each other that we had never known, I got bored and decided to roam the house. I took one of the long candles that sat in a coffee mug and walked through the house. I ended up in the kitchen, alone. I blew out the candle and stood there. It was completely dark. I was silent. I thought of how great it was to be invisible. In such a tiny house with so many people, the feeling of being invisible was nice.