A brisk walk is my daily mid morning ritual, when I can swing it. Bonus round comes when I dovetail a cup of my favorite local Joe into it. The simple things are Zen.
I kick my walk into fifth gear since the voice sounds familiar and I refuse to be denied my Zen. “Hey!” At this point, I can launch into ghost protocol mode, but I haven’t seen the flick yet so I’m not down on that education. I choose instead to stop and turn (the conversational equivalent of stop, drop and roll).
Hey guy is my first thing in the morning baseball chat. I like hey guy. But the sovereignty of those exchanges are welcomed. This traffic stop is most definitely not. Time and place, yanno?
“I have some of that Coquito back at the house for you.”
“Very cool.” I’m really not excited in the least by this news, but for social graces. “Bring it in, man.” Translation: More social graces.
“Well, I’m going away for a week and I want you to get some of this stuff. Come by my place after work . . .”
I nod. It’s not a social or graceful nod.
“Okay,.” Evidently, my brain is on auto-pilot.
Hey guy gives me his address and I put it in my phone. It’s a thoughtful gesture but I’m already planning some heretofore unimagined event which will explain my absence later on.
“Take my number while you’re at it so I can be there.” He says. Breaking out the phone killed my Zen and my exit strategy. Evidently, I learned nothing from Kwai Chang Caine. I’m firing my auto-pilot.
No coffee. No walk. We talk Phillies and Yankees and death. Actually, I simply think about the latter and the pass it grants you from such interpersonal exchanges.
Fast forward to my double parking job in a neighborhood I had to GPS in a part of town I normally wouldn’t find myself in thanks to a situation which is self inflicted. I call hey guy, praying he won’t answer so I can flee the scene. Nope. He answers, telling me he’s a couple minutes away.
A couple minutes away could mean three minutes, it could mean ten minutes. It could mean tomorrow. I hang up and call my girlfriend.
“Babe, I need you to cover me.” I explain the situation and it meets with a giggle. I would threaten to withhold sex, but for the Y chromosome. As a man, sex is the only thing I cannot withhold. “I need you to call me ten minutes after this guy shows up . . .”
“I have a conference call in a few minutes . . .” She says.
Crap if I’m not committed now, and my three minutes are up as hey guy rolls to the curb.
“My man! You’re double parked, find a space and come on in!” He exclaims. It’s a party now. And the worst part is he’s expecting me to toss back with him. Despite the fact Puerto Rican egg nog is full of more rum than Hunter S. Thompson on a bender, this breaks my dairy rule.
My Dairy Rule: Never consume a dairy product outside of the safety of my place. The lack of carbonation means it doesn’t stand a chance against foreign contaminants (namely spittle).
My neurosis, my rules.
I park my car and proceed to help hey guy and the hey missus inside with their haul of groceries. That’s it, I’m in. Once you assist people with their groceries, you’re basically family.
A quick introduction to my new family and we’re in the kitchen. His son makes the scene, rocked out to Roca and sporting a stiff billed Pirates cap. I abhor the stiff bill look, but decide to keep this to myself since he appears to make a recession proof living, if you follow.
“‘Sup.” He says. I’m shaking enough bling to cover a New Years Eve with the Kardashians. Should I tell him I was in a gang once? Okay, we were blood brothers in the second grade and we used ketchup since Bobby Coulter threw up at the sight of blood. But these are technicalities . . . You know what? I’m not sharing my gang experience.
It’s hey guy and his brother. It’s a stare down that would send Clint Eastwood off looking for his safety blanket. It’s me, and it’s the dairy. And I notice the women and children are conspicuously absent from the scene now. I’m starring in my own personal Training Day, and despite the fact Ethan Hawke came out of that bathroom alive . . I’d like to pass on a reboot.
No troubles, cause before I know it I’m swigging. We’re tossing back and talking up what the Phillies need and what the Yankees have and the Caribbean Classic and Opening Day. My dairy rule has been defeated by the spirit of hey guy’s season.
I almost wish they were gonna be around for New Years. Almost . . .