A Total Non-Crisis in Exactly So Many Parts


I. Your dog snores your lover snores and you snore. Not all at the same time. First it’s your lover. It’s weird how she’s first to start, how you don’t have to touch her, let alone make her come, and she’s first every time. She might have spent the entire day studying for the LSAT or packing up Christmas or obsessing over the budget that you have no idea is an actual budget. You have no idea because it’s not a budget for money. It’s a budget for time. Time that isn’t yours, doesn’t belong to anyone but her, time that arrives in little blocks when she checks her email or plays an extra round of Candy Crush or borrows the car to swing through McDonald’s for a dollar Coke and small order of French fries. What’s not so weird, though, is how closer to the budget your dog is than you, which is almost certainly why you usually fall asleep last.


II. The Pizza Hut up the hill won’t deliver to your apartment because the last time your neighbors ordered the Big Box Meal, your neighbors in 3C, the high school dropout and his couch surfing uncle, they wouldn’t turn their porch light on no matter how many times the driver called them looking for directions, which was exactly six times. Your other neighbors, the rodeo queens in 3A, though, they have no trouble getting delivery service, but you don’t know that and you certainly didn’t hear it from me.


III. Your mother and your ex-wife, they finally have a legitimate relationship with genuine communication and for-real appreciation for one another that could have only happened with your moving out that Easter Sunday a few years ago and discovering that central Illinois takes shit like that totally to heart and completely personal. That’s why you couldn’t find a single movie theater open for business anywhere between Normal and Naperville that day, and you considered driving all the way to Canada and never coming back because you can be such a fucking drama queen sometimes. Which, of course, is the same reason why you can’t be happy for either woman over the holidays anymore, but, honestly, it was pretty much always going to be that way no matter what.


IV. Safari, on your Mac, it won’t load that one bit of code on your bank’s website that shows your available balance. Safari, on your iPhone, it won’t do it either. Safari, on your iPod, won’t do it either. Your bank, it has an 800 number that you can call toll-free, though, and an automated system will tell you your available balance. An automated system, I said. Not an actual human being.


V. On the short hop to Milwaukee, the man sitting on the window seat is reading a novel by Jonathan Franzen. It’s the one Oprah chose for her book club and then unchose it. That one. You know the story about Franzen saying something smarmy about Oprah choosing his book, and you know this story better than you know anything else about anything else Franzen has written or will likely ever write. You make this more than obvious to the man sitting on the window, so much even that he asks the attendant to reassign him to an aisle seat at the back of the plane, even though the plane will be landing in less than 30 minutes. The man, he is insistent upon this. After he takes his new seat at the back of the plane, the attendant doesn’t let you move to the window even though you’re alone now on the row. The attendant also doesn’t offer you a second cup of coffee before she comes through with the trash bag and plastic gloves on her hands to confiscate your first. Later, when you’re off the plane and waiting curbside for your dad to pick you up, the man sitting on the window, the man who was reading that one Franzen book, the man who sat on the aisle in the back for the remaining 26 minutes of the flight, he sees you standing there and he walks up to you and he says to have a nice rest of your day and he uses the word asshole, says this right as your dad pulls up in your mom’s Tercel. The man, he walks off and then onto a hotel shuttle bus. You notice it’s the same hotel where you and your ex-wife stayed on your wedding night all those years back. Your dad, he pops the trunk and doesn’t get out of the car, leaves it in gear, foot on the brake, other foot on the clutch, leans over to roll down the passenger window by hand, and says, your dad actually says this, “Are you getting in the goddamn car already or what?”


VI. Your vet tells you your dog has developed a food allergy and needs to go totally gluten-free. Your dog, a humane society adoptee, a border collie named Sparrow, is more attached to you than you could ever possibly know. And a big reason why he’s so attached to you is because you feed him every scrap of pizza crust when you and your lover carry out two large peps and a double order of crazy bread from Little Caesar’s. Sparrow, he is crazy for that shit, but it is killing him. It is fucking killing him. Your vet tells you this, and uses the curse words and everything, tells you this on the phone when you return his call. The voicemail he left, he made it sound like Sparrow had cancer. He cursed on the voicemail, too. You thought you might have heard that wrong, right? You didn’t.


VII. The daughter you have with your ex-wife, she gets easily upset. But then again, doesn’t everyone? You can understand this, probably. Worst job economy for college grads in at least two generations and all. When you named your daughter, you chose the name. Your ex-wife, your wife then, she let you. She said she wanted you to. You chose to give her your mother’s name. Bernice. After you made your choice, you weren’t so sure your wife wanted you to anymore. You felt almost immediately that your wife, if she could, she would take that choice away from you. Your wife, if she could, she would hop in the DeLorean and skip over the whole choice thing entirely. Your wife, she would rather have fucked Marty McFly than you. But then again, wouldn’t everyone?


VIII. Bernice lives in Chicago and interns for Teach For America. Your lover, she hasn’t met Bernice, and you won’t let her. No one knows your lover’s name in your entire circle of family and close friends. Your lover, she hates Obama. Your lover, she is constantly complaining about The Affordable Health Care Act. Your lover, she used Google Chrome to sign up and got right through on the first try, and you had an epic fight about it and didn’t get to make up for almost two weeks. Your lover, you stalked her on Facebook and almost gave it all away when Bernice posted on your wall to say hi but you were logged in as your lover and responded as your lover and then had to scramble to delete your likes and responses and that caused yet another, even more epic fight, the end of which you’re pretty sure you have yet to see. Bernice knows who you are fucking, by the way. And she’s already told your mom.


IX. You reconciled with your ex-wife briefly over 4th of July, that same year as the Easter Sunday Massacre. Bernice was there. The three of you went to Michael’s and bought make-your-own jewelry box kits to build together at the lakehouse. You even bought a woodburning iron and an extension cord. The three of you built your jewelry boxes on the patio with the breeze in your faces. You used the woodburning iron to scratch sayings from The Bible underneath the lids, so when you opened each box a saying was there. Like a gift. You didn’t choose a Bible saying, though. You scratched FAMILIES R 4EVER into yours and scrawled a mostly symmetrical heart around the R. Bernice fell asleep after the big fireworks show on Lake Michigan, and your ex-wife asked you to make love to her, and you did as she asked and then a few hours later she asked you to do it again but she didn’t ask so much as tell you, and she didn’t use the phrase “make love” at all, and you did as she asked/told you in pretty much the exact intensity and fury in which she’d demanded it. That was the last time for a lot of things like that, and the next time you saw your jewelry box was in a padded envelope, just splinters and singes and screws.


X. Bernice is pretty much invisible on Facebook anymore and hasn’t updated anything there for the better part of a year. She still texts, though, and you do the same. You have your iPhone set to make a special sound when she texts you, and you get to hear it a couple of times a month most months. It’s the sound of a clown honking a horn. Most months you hear it a couple of times. But there are a couple of months you don’t hear it at all. Your lover texts you all the time, hundreds of times a day, so much that you’ve disabled a tone for her entirely. These days, you find yourself contemplating blocking her altogether, and you consider this way more than you used to. Way more than you ever imagined you could. The only number you’ve ever blocked is your ex-wife’s. When you were still married, neither of you texted and only your wife carried a cell phone at all. Your wife, she called you at lunch and on her way home from work, and you stayed on the phone with her as she rode the train to the bus to the car, and you talked about her day and you told her about Bernice’s day and a lot of nights she brought home Kentucky Fried Chicken or cheeseburgers from Wendy’s and you watched Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune and then put Bernice to bed. There was never a ringtone for her, for your ex-wife, until after the divorce. And there was never her asking you to love her, either. Those were the days when your statuses were never in need of updating, never in danger, never in question.  

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