The Irony of it All
I lived on third avenue, between sixth and seventh streets, for what ended up being the main part of my college career. It was an excellent spot, being only two blocks from campus, and at only $250 a month, it was the cheapest apartment in the city. It faced outward onto third avenue, making it visible to anyone who happened to wonder past. This wouldn't be that bothersome, except for the fact that my apartment was originally a repair shop, complete with a plate-glass window that stretched across the entire front of the apartment.
Felix Drixle was ther owner of the Felix Fix It Shop, and had been since 1954, or so said the neon sign which still hung above the door. He manned it himself until two years ago when he had a massive heart attack that left him unable to work. In a strike of monetary genius, his wife decided to renovate the store into an apartment, mainly due to its location to the college. She split it up into two rooms and a bathroom, three completely symetrical rooms, with an elongated one facing the window. Perhaps it would have been to much to create a new wall, so the glass was left as it was rented. At that time, I had just moved into town for college and noticed the small ad in the paper saying to see the apartment before contacting. I did, and I realized that the glass showed off just a kitchen/dining room combination. So with that, I moved in and stayed there all throughout my college career.
"Hi, Mrs. Drixle?" I began the call that I had been making for the past two years.
"Matthew? Oh hi, Matthew!"
"Hi, I had a quick question."
"Yes, hun?" her job as a waffle waitress for twenty years often bled through her speech.
"I was wondering, could it be possible that you can get a blind for the window?"
"Oh, Mattew, I just keep forgetting. You know I'd do anything for you. Speaking of that, you want some dinner later? I made meatloaf and-"
"No thanks," the hospitality was disturbing in that 'too friendly' kind of way, "I was just wondering about the blind."
"You'll get it, hun, I promise."
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Drixle."
"Of course, Matthew. Have a wonderful night."
"Yes, Mrs. Drixle. You too. Goodbye."
Hanging up, I realized there's not much chance I would end up with a blind anytime before the next semester, especially due to the fact that finals were only two weeks away. While going to the refrigerator to ponder cooking dinner, I noticed the drizzle of earlier had gave way to an all out storm. With that in mind, I closed the freezer door, grabbed my umbrella, and headed to Scaletti's.
Along the walk, I was stopped at a street corner with a girl who I remembered having a philosophy class with last semester who was without protection from the rain, "Would you like under?" I asked, gesturing the umbrella over her.
"Oh, thank you," she said, giving me a quick smile, "but don't I know you?"
"I think. You're Megan, correct?"
"Oh yeah. We had American philosophy together, didn't we?"
"Yeah," the light changed green and we began to cross, "So where are you headed?"
"Well, I was thinking about getting something to eat, but Mcdonalds is so far away and-"
"Fast food is absurd, really. I'm going to Scaletti's, wanna' join me?"
"Sure, but what is that?"
"The place with the greatest manicotti I've ever had."
And within the next five minutes, we were seated and ordering drinks, "So what have you been up to since American philosophy?" she asked me.
"Not really much of anything, I don't have much of a social life."
"I could kind of notice from how you never talked and stayed to yourself."
"It's a good way to keep things."
"Well, it keeps things nice and not complicated. Cole Porter wrote a song once called Don't Fence Me In. I think it-"
"But he wrote that about cowboys,"
"Okay," I paused as the waiter laid down my martini, "How's this? You ever walk down by the movie theater?"
"Not really, unless I'm seeing something."
"Well, I work around it, so I'm down there all the time. And I see all those people who had just seen a movie. Everyone does it in couples, you know, and everyone one of them have a certain readable emotion."
"Well, some. You know those kind. They are all hand-in-hand giggling about the movie, even if it's like Platoon or something. But I'm talking about the other kind. The ones walking hand-in-hand who give you that look like they're trapped. Like the fingers intwined are more like a cage than-"
"Christ, I guess I can call you a bit of a pessimist, then." she giggling, again flashing a quick smile, then sipped her ice water.
"That, or the whole thing collapses before anything great can come out of it,"
"Sometimes, I guess. But don't you think you're looking a little too deep into it?"
"Maybe. I have this bad thing where I overanalyze things."
"Yeah, it happens," she nervously stirred her water with her straw, "So, what's your major?"
"What do you plan to do with that?"
"Hell if I know. I guess either be the next Bergman or be directing straight-to-video porn."
"Again, that's so positive."
"Yeah, it's me. So what are you studying?" I again paused as our plates were brought out, and then covered in cheese with great aplomb.
"And you're asking me what I'm gonna' do with my degree?"
"Well, I dunno'. I've just fallen in love with the irony of it all, especially Christianity."
"All that thou shalt not kill, but then God commands people to kill entire races and tribes."
"Isn't that more just hypocritical?"
"Maybe, but my favorite ironic part of the Bible is Jesus."
"Jesus was ironic?"
"Well, by career, he was a carpenter, right? And he died on a cross. It's so funny how he built the very thing that killed him."
"Hmm, that's really something." the Martini has ended up being a little less dry than I would prefer, "the Last Tempation of Christ went into that a little bit."
"I'm not sure. I'm really only familiar with the movie."
"I've heard only good things about it," she was working her way through the tortelinni much faster than myself.
"It's Scorsese, so it certainly can't be terrible."
The conversation continued for upwards of an hour, moving through three drinks for the each of us. As it turned out, Megan was much more interesting than the slightly shy girl who sat directly behind me and only vocalized when discussing her personal concerns with pragmatism. She had a strong liking for the French New Wave and could talk literature for hours. Her far-to-the-left political views matched up near perfectly with mine and we both shared a strained hostility towards coffeeshops of any kind.
"Oh Christ, I think I've had a little too much red wine," she said, giggling loudly, while still stirring the few remaining ice cubes around in her water.
"Non vintage wine from a box gets you every time," I joked, perhaps having too much myself.
"Hey, you know, I like you."
"Yeah. Have any plans this weekend?"
I paused and, even in my slightly-drunken situation, realized that a date was beginning to take shape, "Not a thing," I stated, whereas I would have probably declined if not for the bubbly personality, as well as the Tiffany's necklace that dangled into her slightly low-cut blouse, sitting across the table from me.
"Yeah. You can come over and I'll fix a little dinner and then we'll watch a movie or something." Quick on my feet, I made sure to remember my culinary classes should never go to waste.
The evening ended with me paying for dinner, insisting to do so, and then walking her to her apartment under the umbrella. She lived in the upper part of a duplex near the park, making the walk yet another twenty minutes of time for conversing. While doing so, we decided that Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest would be the film for Saturday, and that Megan also had a sort of obsessive interest in lamb dishes. We stated our good-byes and agreed that I would meet her here at seven on Saturday evening for what would be my first "date" in over two years.
From that Thursday to Saturday, I kept myself busy doing everything I possibly could to give Megan the best impressions of me. I cleaned from side to side of the rooms, leaving various books or vinyls spread out so as to make me look a bit more cultured. On Saturday morning, I walked to Gladd's market and picked up everything that would make dinner excellent: spinish salad, rack of lamb, and a bottle of the darkest red wine I could find, "Toad's Eye, eh? That's a little different than your usual wine purchase," said Frank, the owner/cashier of the only grocery store I shop at, as he was bagging my purchase.
"Well, if you have to know, I have a girl coming over tonight."
"Oh, a girl! That's big news,"
"A little bit. I'm hoping it all goes well,"
"Give her as much wine as possible, and I'm sure everything will be fine."
"Frank, I prefer my girls to be sober during sex."
"You young kids," he stated the total, "always trying to be politcally correct or something."
And with that, I went home and prepared the meal, letting the lamb cook as I began to walk to her apartment. I put on my overcoat and walked into winter feeling as cold as I have ever felt, still shivering beneath my scarf. I arrived at her doorstep with a boquet of tulips, slightly wilted due to the temperature. She smiled as the cold turned her cheeks the color of the roses.
"You live at Felix's Fix It Shop?" she asked as I approached to unlock the door.
"Yeah, it's a funny story. Anyway, I get a hell of a deal on it."
"Totally. The only problem is having to eat with the entire midtown area staring at you while you eat."
"I love it. It's so Andy Warhol!" she said as we entered.
I poured the wine and served the salad, followed by the lamb, followed by sorbet. After that, we headed to my living room, the futon adjusted to be the most comfortable suede couch that could be imagined. She sat to the left of me, allowing about five inches seperating our bodies.
And the film began to play.
Her eyes seemed transfixed on the movie, as if she could think of nothing but watching this movie. She sat with her head propped on her hands, her shoulder length brown hair covering the back part of her face. As she continued to be transfixed on the screen, I was observing her and all of her lovely features. The eyelashes that slightly turn upward, the mouth that stays somewhat puckered, the hair that fell upon her turtleneck, her flat stomach leading to her legs that seemed to put her within the clouds.
I then stared to stare at the space between the two of us and how easy it would be to disolve the space with my arm around her waist or my hand gripping hers. I would look down, look at her, look at the TV screen, and look at her once again. I would stop her concentration on the movie to kiss me, but destroying such concentration seemed like a sin.
Two hours later, I began to trek to walk her home, wondering when would be the exact time to begin a great romance of the century, "So what are your plans for the winter break?" I asked her, breaking the frigid silence.
"Oh, me? I think I'm going back home, then who knows? I'm still thinking about what I'm doing next semester."
"You're not coming back here?"
"Hell, I don't know. I have had one of those semesters where I might need to take one off to do all of that get my life together shit. You know?"
I paused, thinking of how this walk is the last chance for anything to ahppen, "Yeah, I think so."
"Can I have your address so I can write, just in case I don't make it back?" she asked me as we approached the door to her apartment.
"Sure," I grabbed a reciept from the pocket of my pea coat and scribbled the two lines she requested, "I'd love to keep in touch."
"You're great, you know that?"
"I try," what the hell was her last statement supposed to mean? Why am I still questioning things? Why don't I just grab her and firmly push my lips to hers?
She gave me a hug, wrapping her arms around my neck, as mine grasped the small of her back, "See ya' around?"
She waved, smiled, then unlocked her door. I stood outside her apartment for a few moments, while grasping a faux-leather Gideon new testament I was recently handed on campus. As I started to walk away, I thought about Christ so hard that I nearly blacked out.