Friday, September 24, 2010

Are You Asking Me Out?

PM 6:20, Friday night, Peter Beck walks into a hole in the wall called Tweetie's. Being in a reclaimed part of the city, there is a mix of neighborhood types and some newer, gentrified suits here and there. Peter is wearing a suit. And a tie, now pulled down below his Adam's apple. He and Claire Boynes came to the Olde City two years ago to set up shop. Yeah, to live together. They let a nifty townhouse, 3 stories and a garage. A garage in the city! Claire left six months ago saying only that she lost her desire for him. Kinda like your bubblegum, when it loses its flavor.

Peter has taken to drinking Skyy vodka, sometimes straight and sometimes with Red Bull.

The crowd is already filling the small gin mill, so that there are only a few bar spots left. Mary Contravi, Pete's therapist and bartender, beckons the lost soul. She calls out to him, pointing him to a seat near the waitress queu. By the time he gets there, a double vodka and a RB are waiting for him. She smiles the kind of smile reserved for people who are down on their luck. Not pity, but empathy. Mary knows how much bad love can hurt. She, too, has history. As Peter throws his head back, lifting the glass to the ceiling, 10cc sings overhead...

I'm not in love, so don't forget it.
It's just a silly phase I'm going through.
And just because I call you up,
Don't get me wrong, don't think you've got it made.
I'm not in love, no no, it's because...
I like to see you, but then again,
That doesn't mean you mean that much to me.
So if I call you, don't make a fuss -
Don't tell your friends about the two of us.
I'm not in love, no no, it's because...

I keep your picture upon the wall.
It hides a nasty stain that's lying there.
So don't you ask me to give it back.
I know you know it doesn't mean that much to me.
I'm not in love, no no, it's because...

Ooh, you'll wait a long time for me.
Ooh, you'll wait a long time.
I'm not in love, I'm not in love...

Peter always liked "I'm Not in Love". The song was written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, both members of 10cc. It was recorded in 1975. Peter was born in 1980. Although the singer claims not to be in love throughout the song, by the end he realizes he is fooling himself. Since Claire departed, the lyrics have taken on new meaning for Peter. He empties the glass forthwith. Mary is ready with a refill.

"Hey Pete, tough one?"

"Uh, yeah, you know, we closed the deal on that foreclosure."

"The Chevy dealer?"

"Yup, too bad, it was a family business...Cathcart Chevrolet is no more after 47 years."

No doubt, the economy is in the tank. Ever since Bush left Obama with the housing and banking and mortgage collapses, things have been bad. With unemployment trying to break through 10%, not many people can afford new cars. And then with the bankruptcy of General Motors and the failures of Fannie and Freddie, things have only gotten worse.

"So what's your weekend look like?"

"Oh, just gonna hang, maybe watch the Eagles and Michael Vick, they're playing the Jags away at PM 4 Sunday. 'Bout you?"

"Gotta work tomorrow, but I'm off Sunday, ah, no plans, maybe I'll visit my sister, Rose, in Jersey."

Jersey, Claire is from Jersey. Pete thought maybe she moved back there, but when he tried her parents home number, her mother said she wasn't there. It was an odd call. Millie Boynes had always been friendly, but that call was strained. Millie seemed to be hiding something. The idea that Millie treated him that way pissed him off. After all, he was the victim. Claire dumped him! As Pete Beck sat at Tweetie's Bar, he had no way to know that Claire was in Key West, Florida. No, not with Jimmy Buffett. But with Troy Hugnutt. Better that Pete didn't know that he went out of style in favor of Dr. Hugnutt.

Claire is a chiropracter, who had been working in a center city crack-a-back clinic until she left town. She had planned her exit left, well before the time she told Pete he was yesterday's newspaper. Troy is a physiatrist, ten years older than Claire. Almost forty, he keeps himself in good shape. He dyes his hair to look younger. Whether he wanted strange or whether Claire wanted strange or whether they both wanted strange is moot. No matter, the cheaters had heat. Troy walked out on a wife of eleven years and kids, 9 and 6. Both boys. So while Claire and Troy are banging their pots in Florida, Peter Beck, Pamela Hugnutt, Matthew Hugnutt and Luke Hugnutt are plain banged up.

When Peter asked for a third, Mary said, "NO, not unless you eat something!" She continued,

"Tweetie's has a great sausage, pepper and an onion hoagie, what d'ya say?"

"Okay, okay", Pete replied. As he acquiesced, he looked at the barkeep. Maybe it was the two he already had, maybe it was because he was famished, maybe it was the lighting, but he got the feeling that she thought he was worthwhile. He thought Mary looked at him like he was of value. That's the trouble with getting love rejected, you feel worthless. For the last six months, ever since Claire packed up, Peter Beck was worthless.

As Peter eats, David Gray, a songwriter from England sings "Babylon",

Friday night
I'm going nowhere
All the lights are changing green to red
Turning over TV stations
Situations running through my head
Well looking back through time
You know it's clear that I've been blind
I've been a fool
To ever open up my heart
To all that jealousy,
that bitterness,
that ridicule
Saturday I'm running wild
And all the lights are changing red to green
Moving through the crowd I'm pushing
Chemicals all rushing through my bloodstream
Only wish that you were here
You know I'm seeing it so clear
I've been afraid
To tell you how I really feel
Admit to some of those bad mistakes I've made
If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Babylon, Babylon
Sunday all the lights of London Shining ,
Sky is fading red to blue
I'm kicking through the
Autumn leaves
And wondering where it is you might be going to
Turning back for home
You know I'm feeling so alone
I can't believe
Climbing on the stair
I turn around to see you smiling there
In front of me
If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Babylon, Babylon, Babylon


"Yup, Red Bull, neat."

"No vodka?"


Mary smiles. A full smile, a loving smile. No empathy. Somehow she knew.

Peter Beck downs the Red Bull. He is tired, but a good tired. He wants to go home, to shower and to chill.

"Gonna head out."

"Okay, good to see you."

"Yeah, you"


"Ahh." Peter Beck can barely talk. He feels flushed, nervous and excited. "Ahh, probably don't like football, ya know, the Eagles, but if you don't go to Jersey, maybe Sunday, er..."

"Peter Beck, are you asking me out?"

"Well..., er...yeah, YEAH"

Peter thought he was going to die. Mary laughed. She tossed her blond hair back off of her pretty face and she said, "Yes, I accept."

And so it goes.

ADDENDUM: September 27, 2010, Eagles won over Jags 28-3, results of "date" can only be imagined...

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