Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Gentleman Caller

Good morning K,
So I liked how you sounded on the phone. I liked it that you laughed. I actually like when a woman just talks to me. My daughter doesn't have this habit, and I wondered if she could babble to me a bit more, or so I asked her. I'm sure she keeps up a steady stream of language for her friends. I thought, though, all the phone factors made some discomfort for you. Maybe we do better in text. We'll see. Dancing with the conversation is what we do.
I had an interesting day along my walk. I love the Health Hutt on Henry, and I sat down to read the healthy magazines in the cafe, where people pop in and chat all day long. I seem to know a lot of the earthy-crunchy types in Muskegon. Today, a huge man, muscular, came in out of the cold in a parka that made him look like Matthew Henson, the first African American explorer of the Artic. His hands had a dryness that had to be the result of hours of exposure to cold. He turned to me and asked very respectfully, "Sir, is this your store"? I confirmed that I was merely, like him, a customer.
He sat down at my table, and inquired, "Are you a vegetarian"? I replied that I was munching on two Cliff Bars, and they contained no meat at all. He asked after the contents, and I regaled him with the high protein, the high calcium, the potency of the B-vitamins. He was impressed, and I was happy to point out that four of those bars could keep a man going for an entire day, and Walmart sold them for ninety cents a piece, ten cents off the Health Hutt price. Through out this conversation, he never took down his parka hood. I recalled the scent of my students in Hamtramck, many of whom lived through the winter without water or heat, and after I factored this redolent unwashed cent, we continued our conversation. I told myself I was practicing being present.
He talked about practicing his vegetarianism while "Doing time up north". He would give away his, "flesh" and trade it for vegetables and grains and potatoes. He said it made him feel great all day long, a big source of optimism as he "did time". I felt fear because the man was big enough to kill me easily and I had no idea for what he had been incarcerated.
I must look like a Health Hutt store clerk. A young woman came in and asked for suggestions picking out a mix and match six pack of microbrews. I guided her to the Ace Hard Cider and away from Redd's Apple Ale. I suggested all of the bottles of Shorts, which up in Bellaire her new husband and she had missed during a honeymoon tour of Traverse City microbreweries. I told her "Big error, and now the two of you have to repeat honeymoon all over again". Her new husbanding sat in an idling SUV outside, a cute Honda Pilot with the name of a dog bakery across its hood. My new friend dropped into the conversation, asking why she picked each bottle as she set a choice into the carton. She thanked us for our help and left for the check out.
A stock of wholesome, non-GMO Christmas treats awaited January customers, marked down. He said to me, "Can they sell me just one of those candy canes"?  I looked at the price, ten of them for 1.99. I reported this fact. He said, "I ain't got no money". I said, "Well, don't spend this on candy canes!" I flipped two dollars on the table. Felt bad. It would only buy two value meal hamburgers at McDonalds or two Cliff Bars, and four are needed to get through the day. There's three shelters in town, and the stay is limited to two months at each, and so these men mostly stay on the beach in the summer and bank the two months for the cold weather. Mornings, the shelters clear out the places to clean and air out the place. Many of the men are older and have incontinence and gastrointenstinal difficulties. I have to admit, the fellow had panhandling to a science because he never asked for a dime directly.
After our call, I was drawn into conversation with one of the town's undertakers on a night when Hank's Tavern was purveying their bottles of wine for half off. So he had two and asked for my help finishing the second. He's sixty, married a woman who has turned fifty three, and they had two children together after a marriage of thirteen years. He is still very much in love with his wife, and yet he cannot turn to her for the sexual intimacy he wishes to share with her. Therapy was pursued two years ago. He showed me, proudly, how good she looked in a bikini on the thirty-foot sail boat this summer. And then a picture of their two children on the stern of this whaler, both sailed out of the Muskegon Yacht Club. He said, liking the phrase, "She was like being married to a Penthouse model". I agreed. I had a bladder full of water from the wine, and when I returned from the loo, he was gone. I liked him and thought of calling him at the funeral home, which pretty much specializes in cremations now.
A woman was leaving and she was leaving with an admittedly beautiful man, totally suitable for her. She stopped and asked me, "Do you teach at MCC"? I answered, "Nope, I have taught at OCC, Oakland Community College". [By the wee, my former wife is a "knowledge utilization" consultant at OCC, teaching professors how to transition courses to online media and course rooms, such as Blackboard. This is a burgeoning field, especially with MIT and Harvard beginning to offer open to all, massive enrollment classes online. She mentioned she had taken a degree in Crimonology and Psychology. "That's a powerful combination". Jessica had served as a Federal Marshall, and now had mustered out on a medial retirement, at age 32. She was working an easy job and taking classes, looking for her next career. I looked at the man, who was wearing a sharp top that had a military cut to it, designer and civilian though it was. I remarked upon that. "He's Army". She moved closer to him, saying that phrase with more than a little pleasure. The pleasure of the phrase animated her body with a slight wave that passed from hair to hip. I wished them a good evening knowing it was going to be a really good evening.
This morning, I thought about the lucky blighter, probably rocked to the core by the lovemaking of a fantastic woman whose body was trained to a military discipline. I remembered seeing all the men at Dominion Enterprise in Norfolk, Virgina, bearded men with trim facial hair, taller than me and more wiry than me. "The South should have won the war. The Confederate Soliders were too beautiful to point a musket at and fire".

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