Not Written in Pencil
Arial and I weren’t bad people or nothing, just different spark plugs misfiring under the same hood. It’s like this. Arial lived for now. I lived for tomorrow’s bills.
I‘m not thinking she exemplified a young case of Alzheimer’s or nothing. You might think she slipped to forgetful on her wedding vows, but I say no. No more forgetful than most if the scandal rags are anything to go by. She lived for the tic of every second. So much that she would forget details like coming back home at night. Now that I give it a proper think, Arial was a genuine Buddhist wearing all prayer bells and whistles and surely counting on the champaka incense smoke screen around her. Two times out of three I would find her cross-legged like she was just there contemplating everything and bothered by nothing. Including filling up the fridge and feeding the kiddo.
And me? Like I told Arial the day I married her and the day she gave birth to our kiddo: I don’t write my commitments in pencil. I’m a guy who doesn’t forget things from yesterday, even less from last year, including my free Christmas tune-up offer for the loyal customer at the auto shop which I’d like to forget but had put my word to. I’ll slave through the night if need be until the job is done and the customer is smiling.
I’ve got memory all right, memory so deep in my DNA that I even remember things from the crib. My mother hosing me good with water to cool down my toddler tantrums or biting my wrists to make sun-dial marks with her teeth. Somewhere in her bones she carried the genes of a prankster. Locking me out on the balcony after dark as she laughed with her nose pressed to the window and dry-mouthing for off-season spooky effect that she could smell the bogeyman coming closer and closer to snatch me. All for not thinking to take my rubber boots to school in the storm and muddying up my new sneakers. Don’t worry, I didn’t shed a tear and give her the pleasure. Anyways, the monster that’s gonna scare me at Halloween hasn’t been born yet. I like to know things far down the road, and walk with my high beams on.
It might have worked all right between Arial and me. I mean, maybe I could have been converted to living with other men in the picture if we had a merry-go-round agreement, if she’d kept it quiet and covered her tracks. After all, according to People Magazine, everyone is sleeping with everyone else and it’s been like that since the cave. Or, like Greg at the auto shop says, the snake and apple. I don’t read the Bible, I’m allergic to apostles of any brand, but that’s what Greg told me and I believe that guy. He’s been more strictly married than everyone I know added together and he doesn’t show one white hair for it. He keeps spare parts on the side, of course. “A regular oil change to keep the engine purring smooth,” he says with a wink.
I could even have lived with that “being in the now” creed if she didn’t forget that I could get pretty slivery about other men. I ain’t all crocodile skin. Even though I go to the gym every day after work, under all this brawn I carry a few raw nerves. If folk reckon I’m stupid or a buffoon just ‘cause I don’t use polished Rolls Royce words and could care less for the rules of the grammatical road, hell think again. Anyways, I read between the lines, and that’s where I get the best mileage.
from: The Green and Purple Skin of the World, Freehand Books 2013
Paperback / ebook sold by Broadview Press / Freehand Books