Monthly Archives: December 2011

Photo Source: Joel Meyerowitz

Rick fell back into the couch, greatly enjoying the all-over buzzing and exhausted feeling that comes from a great lay. Being a conscientious renter, he had thrown a towel down on the velour couch before christening it. Afterward, he pulled the bottom of the towel between his legs, forming a hybrid diaper toga. He would get up, but not for a few minutes.

The windows were cracked, just enough to let in a slight breeze that flitted over Rick’s naked body. The smell of sand and fried seafood drifted in, along with the sound of a game show from a few doors away. And the sound of the breakers, rhythmic, mechanical, perpetual, filled the cottage.

It was the beginning. Beginning of the long weekend, beginning of a relationship, beginning of a whole new outlook. Brand new day. Rick was loving the solitude of the cottage, the white noise of the surf, the feel of the world ahead in infinite possibility, starting with the weekend. Relaxed, calm, untroubled. He lit a roach, took a deep pull, laid back and enjoyed the spreading warmth, from the beginning.

Daniel emerged from the bedroom, freshly showered and dressed for dinner. He shook his head at Rick in a tisk-tisk schoolmarm act, and said, “Well, look at this scene of degradation we have here! You’d better clean yourself up, boy. I believe our reservation was for Daniel and Rick, not Daniel and Dick.”

Rick stood up, let the towel drop, then picked it up and started an exaggerated wind-up and pitch. Daniel ducked out of the path of the towel – a curveball, low and outside – and got Rick in a bear hug.

They kissed again, and then just stood there in the living room, lingering for a few minutes, holding hands, enjoying the beginnings of it all together. No words, no sounds, no offices or deadlines or traffic or psychodrama, no appointments, no scrambling through take-out menus, no landlord pounding on the doors. No end to this beginning. Nobody else around, nothing but the gulls and the pounding surf and whatever was to come, that weekend and beyond.

Finally Daniel gave Rick a pat on the ass and said, “Better get to. Don’t want to be late.” As Rick slinked off toward the shower, Daniel picked up the towel, yelled, “And fachrissakes, will you cover yourself, you heathen?!?” and hurled the towel at his new friend. Rick stood there grinning for a nanosecond, thinking of all the possible comebacks he could unleash. But they both knew, without words, that Daniel had just won the first of many snark wars to come.

Rick picked up the pace on his shower in order to make their dinner reservation. That was the only bit of urgency to the long weekend away.

Photo Source: Meredith Kleiber

“Cold one today, ain’t it, Dolly!”

Buddy came in at the same time with the same greeting every day, except in the summer, when he changed it to “Hot one today, ain’t it, Dolly!” He always got the same table, back to the wall, facing the door, and settled in, paper spread out in front of him like the morning. Dolly always teased Buddy to take off his coat and stay a while, but Buddy always kept it on, even during the hottest summer days. “Don’t want to catch cold!” he would laugh and wink as he settled into the booth.

Dolly always had a hot cup and a paper ready. She mostly let him be, coming over just often enough to pour a top-off and ask, “So what do you know today?” But she always came over to Buddy’s table during her fifteen-minute break, and they exchanged small talk. Or sometimes they just sat there. Buddy wasn’t much for talking. Even still, he loved having a pretty lady to sit with.

It was the same routine daily, predictable as the clock on the wall. They never saw each other outside the coffee shop, and never on weekends. But they knew each other, just the same.

Dolly knew that Buddy was out of work, that he got lost in the numbers after twenty years when they brought the big machines in on the line. He was too ashamed to tell his wife, but Dolly knew that.

And Buddy knew every time Dolly’s husband went off and hit her or stepped off on her. He didn’t like that, not one bit. But her secret was as shameful as his, so there wasn’t anything they could do.

They both hurt, but for fifteen minutes now and then, they both hurt together and a little less.

They probably both noticed the sadness just below the surface. Maybe that’s what drew Buddy into the coffee shop in the first place, and what let him feel he could linger there a little bit. And maybe that’s why Dolly felt like she could talk a little extra to Buddy, even though he never said much. They were both married, mostly happily. But they hadn’t found their kindred spirits, or didn’t realize that they hadn’t. Maybe that’s what it was…

It wasn’t much, what they had. Just an hour or so daily at a coffee shop, customer and waitress. But for Buddy and Dolly, it was the best part of their days of silent hurt. And that was more than enough to let a little light through and carry a little bit of hope into the next day.