there were signs--some overt, some subtle—that this would be a bad evening. first there was an initial phone call, when you mentioned NPR and he said “what’s that?” then, on the way to the upper east side lounge (oh wait, that’s the second sign right there. UES???), you passed a sort of sad-looking 50 ish nebbishy guy, holding a wrinkled newspaper close to his chest, saliva gathered at the corners of his mouth. as you breezed past him at the curb, he turned slowly and sputtered out “ would you like to have coffee and talk?” you apologized, cruised on, then outside the lounge, saw your p.t., an old flame of sorts, whom you haven’t seen in three years. this too, somehow a bad sign.
you look towards the bar and see him, and he does not look at all like colin firth or clive owen , although in a few minutes he will ask you if he does. it’s a treacherous hour and a half, saved only by the bombay sapphire and tonic. as he waxes rhapsodic about the merits of tailgating, you spy a replay of the yankee/red sox game on the tv behind his head. mariano is pitching, it is a close finish. you picture j. at home, watching with baited breath, the stakes so impossibly and ridiculously high for him. he has his signature bowl of cereal in hand, curled up on the pricey sofa, in green velour pants.
in a moment like this, sitting with an unappealing stranger, who thinks swarthmore is skidmore, who has never heard of the SDS (students for a democratic society), it is hard not to think of j. j., who knows what you know and likes what you like, and more importantly knows you. you are on the verge of tears in the lounge. you get yourself home, and want nothing more than a bowl of cereal.
mother’s brand peanut butter bumpers
a large dash of grape nuts
vanilla soy milk
a big spoon
a riff on j’s favorite.