Another story for my readers. Some of you will get a chuckle from this. Nearly all of my male readers can relate to this... The ones who say they don't are probably lying.
UNTITLED - by Jonathan K. Lee
I did everything they told me to.
I worked out: I hit the gym, I pumped iron. I even ate protein supplements. "Gimme the best stuff you got," I said to the young, muscle-bound boy working at the nutrition store. He handed me a large box, packed with some grainy white powder, a material quite reminiscent
of sand. On the box was a large man, enormously built, wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini. His body was apparently freshly waxed, and a light, seemingly angelic glow emanated from it.
Price of protein supplement: $77.24. The price of quality is undeniably woeful.
But it didn't stop there. I learned to play guitar. No, I was not the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. Hell, it was not as though I was a top hat away from being Slash. But I could play songs, popular songs, and sing along. I played well, and I sang even better. Not being a natural
musician, I invested a considerable number of hours to amass the little guitar playing skill I possessed. But I succeeded.
Price of guitar: $384.89. Price of strings: $8.99.
I am not one to settle for mediocrity, an illness that, in my humble opinion, endangers far too much of humanity. So my self-improvement, my value-added attributes, would not end merely with a pluck of six strings and a hoist of circular metal plates. I ventured even further, educating myself in Isshin Ryu karate – a martial arts style hailing from Okinawa, an independent island off the land of the rising sun.
Acquire a skill, I was told. Acquire a skill. So I did. I learned to kick and punch. I learned to twirl weapons, turning combat into a dance. Much to my surprise, I also gained an appreciation for the philosophical aspects of martial arts. My instructor's wisdom became the ideology behind my mindset: "A martial artist is nothing more than a goal setter. Set your goals; track them. By you accomplishing your goals, you improve yourself. Self-improvement is emancipation, the emancipation we've all been looking for."
Obedience is my greatest flaw.
Monthly cost of martial arts lessons: $72.00. Six years worth of martial
arts lessons: $72.00 * 12 = $5,400. I should note that there are still
$44.00 in late fees that have yet to be paid.
So, in sum, I had managed to acquire proficiency in a few extracurricular activities, thus entitling me to present myself as a well-rounded person. Yet still, my goal eluded me. Motivation to continue my pursuit was declining, and bitterness was on the rise.
"Dude, look at the way you dress." And with those magical words uttered by my friend Donnie, a man who had successfully accomplished the very same goal I aspired to, I changed my wardrobe entirely. Out with the Kmart, in with the Banana Republic.
"There's no way I can get a discount?" I said to the clerk at the register. "I mean, I'm buying thousands of dollars worth of clothes."
"You sure there's nothing you can do?"
"Some things are just out of my hands." I smiled. I knew exactly what she meant.
I stood there, wondering exactly how foolish I was for even contemplating such an extravagant purchase. "But this is a goal," I told myself, "and goals are necessary for self-improvement, which is necessary for emancipation. " So, by subjecting myself to the
imprisonment of credit card debt, I reasoned, I was really freeing myself.
I handed her my credit card.
Purchase of completely new wardrobe: $4,672.31. Less proceeds from sale of former wardrobe: $29.87. Total clothing expenditure: $4642.44.
Months passed. My goal was still unaccomplished. I simply could not understand it: I was smart. I was funny. I was a witty conversationalist. I had made myself a well-rounded individual, while also succeeding at academics. What was the problem?
"Man, I don't know, but it really sucks to be you."
Donnie, while he was my consultant on the issue, never skipped an opportunity to exploit the inherent humor in my predicament. "You need to wipe the cobwebs off Mr. Happy and put that son of a bitch to use 'fore he forgets what he's here for."
"Yeah." What was I supposed to say?
"Well, I gots to jet. I got a hot date with some chick I met outside of McDonald's. Fucking hot, man. Fucking hot. Looks like a slut, so I think I'll come home with a smile on my face tomorrow."
"And an STD." I hope he gets Gonorrhea. Or Chlamydia. Motherfucker.
Donnie smiled. He looked down at his crotch. "Are you ready, Mr. Happy?"
He left my apartment, and went on his way.
Just to clarify, I have been laid. It just hasn't happened in the last four years. I even had a girlfriend once; now that I think about it, she was a pretty good catch. Definitely not the hottest or prettiest of girls, but she was skinny and tall, making her somewhat desirable in
the conventional male sense of the word. She also could play piano, another bonus. But that was years ago, when I was young and my heart was an open book. The truth is that I was quite confused at the time; I eventually lost all emotions for her, and I saw college as an
opportunity to be born anew. But at this point, I'm starting to think that not every new beginning is worth ending the beginning from which it was born.
"Dude, man, the McDonald's chick was a good fucking lay," said Donnie immediately before submerging his lips into the clear, red bong. He exhaled a huge hit and passed the bong to me. "Sweet body. 34C man, 34C. That's what I'm talkin' about. I'm supposed to go out
with her again on Saturday."
"Man, I think you just need to be friendlier," he said, sensing that I was more concerned with my sexual inactivity than his animalistic rendezvous with the McDonald's woman. "You're always walking around with a mean look on your face. Ain't nobody gonna fuck you like that.
Just smile and be friendlier."
"You think I walk around with a mean look on my face?" I'd been told that before.
"Yeah. You also don't get out enough, man. A Playstation 3 in your apartment ain't gonna get you a piece of the action. Get out. Go to bars or something. Socialize. At least try, man."
Perhaps Gonorrhea Boy had a point. Relaxing in solitude, soothing as it may be, was not going to satisfy Mr. Happy in any way.
"Like you should really just try for some bitch, you know. Set a goal. Like, 'I will get this girl in my pants by next week.' You gotta approach this whole thing with some tenacity. This whole picnic in the park approach ain't gonna do shit for you, man."
"I been tryin' in some ways, though," I said, trying to redeem myself."I mean, I think I'm a pretty good catch. I'm smart, funny, I got some skills I can show off with, I dress well...I spent a lot of money on just improving myself so I can get laid."
Total dollar spent trying to get laid up to this point: $10,224.32.
And that doesn't include the $44.00 late fee.
Donnie sat there pensively, as cigarette ashes fell onto his dirty, hole-ridden shirt. Suddenly, a light bulb flashed in his head: "You ever smoke around bitches?"
"Weed. Or even drink around them. Or pills, man. Something to fuck with their heads."
I was getting the picture. A smile came across my face, as I envisioned Donnie's future: exiting a courtroom, trying to hide his face from the cameras, after just being convicted for date rape.
"Uh, I'm not exactly into committing any crimes, Donnie, if that's what you had in mind."
"Man, shut the fuck up. I ain't talkin' 'bout rapin' a bitch, you fuckin' moron. I'm talkin' about makin' the atmosphere inviting. I'm telling you, man, you can't just waltz on in without doing some prep work. Where the fuck you been, dude?"
In prison, I thought. I pondered his words, his ideas. They made sense.
"Look. You got a fuckin' goal. Now go get it." And with that he opened the door, sending me on my way.
The next day I made some phone calls and placed an order for some drugs: an eighth of marijuana, a case of beer, a couple of ecstasy pills, capped of with just a tad of psychedelic mushrooms.
Total expenditure on drugs: $85.00. I would have bought more, but drug dealers don't accept Visa.
And then I saw her.
Her: the woman that could change everything. She could make things right, make things better.
She was wearing an all black, skintight outfit when I saw her that day. Her smile, effervescent and omnipresent, provided just the radiance I needed on this cold, winder day. All of her actions seemed elegant and beautiful; it was as if she did everything the way it was supposed to be done. She stood in the dining hall, placidly yet perfectly, waiting for her turn to scoop some delicious portions onto her plate. The eating utensils were already in position, as was the beverage (it was bottled water this time). A priceless picture.
"Here's your chance." Donnie was in a supportive mood, and I appreciated that. He hinted that I should make her my goal: "Be nice to tap that, wouldn't it?" Donnie's objectification of this divine creature was spoiling my vision of her. She was too good, I thought. Too good.
"No she ain't, dude. Gotta shoot for the sky, man. You want to be settlin' for second best?" Actually, at this point, I'd settle for anything. Perhaps I should approach this matter with some realism, not idealism. Perhaps I should target the ugly, imperfect, dismal women of this fine institution. They'd be excited some guy even talked to them.
"It's your call, man. Do whatever the fuck you want. I still think it's a bad idea, though. Gotta go for the gold. Who knows, maybe it's your lucky day." Or maybe not. The feeling that comes after failing – the one of being crushed, if not obliterated – was not something I desired
at this point. I needed to do some homework, some investigative work on this girl. What if she had a boyfriend? No sense wasting my time on her then, right? I also needed to find out what kind of guy she liked, so as to present myself in such a fashion when making my sexual advance.
"Whatever, dude. Sometimes you just gotta fuck all that shit and do it." Haste makes waste, Donnie. Haste makes waste.
So for the next few weeks, I kept a close watch on her. Unfortunately, she sensed my inquisitive behavior; she caught my stares and noticed my unshakable presence lurking in the shadows of her environs. The stalking went without confrontation, though, so all was good.
Overheard conversations informed me that she was single. They also informed me of her desires: she wanted a man who was smart, funny, and mature, but also sensitive, loyal, and well-rounded. Maybe my investments were wise after all. Maybe.
A sneaky peek in her room yielded other positive and valuable information: she was born with the Sun in Virgo, much like myself. An abundance of marijuana-related paraphernalia also enabled me to intuitively reason that she was fond of engaging in one of collegiate America's favorite illicit activities: getting stoned. It came as no surprise, then, that the friends of my desire referred to her room as"The Green Factory." How cute.
"You did some research? Is that what you did?" Donnie puffed on his cigarette, laughing smoke rings between inhalations. "Fuckin' dork. So what'd you find?"
I informed him of my findings. "Well then, what's the hold up? Why ain't you in her face right now asking her out?" Good question, Donnie, good question. Courage was my shortcoming. I was always too cautious. What if she says no? What if she doesn't like me? What if she gets offended?
Donnie shook his head as though he were dealing with a helpless child, incapable of learning the simplest task. "You see this?" He pulled out a lottery ticket . "I buy one everyday. Yep, a dollar a day down the drain. Been buyin' 'em for the past three years."
Donnie's expenditures on lottery tickets: $365 * 3 = $1,095.
"You'd a thought by now I'd of given up. But I know you can't win less you try. Same shit holds true for you." Donnie's words, as blunt and direct as they were, somehow managed to strike a chord within me: I was inspired by his directness, his ability to seize the moment and quickly
take action. I decided it was time. Time for me to test myself, to see who I really was. I would ask her tonight.
Preparation was my forte, and naturally I employed this tactic for my big proposition. I visited Mario at the local barber shop. "Tonight's a big night. Give me something special." Always willing to satisfy a loyal customer, Mario took his time to trim my hair perfectly.
Haircut: $15. Tip: $5. Quality service should always be rewarded well.
I stopped by the local convenience store on the way back to my dorm room. My purchases: a new razor, shaving gel, and aftershave. The razor was nice – one of those fancy schmancy triple blade gadgets – and the aftershave, although purchased from a convenience store, was more than adequate.
Razor: $9.87. Shaving gel: $5.43. Aftershave: $7.34.
I was contemplating purchasing her a gift. Would flowers be appropriate? Donnie ruminated on my question before answering: "Yeah. But don't get a bouquet or anything like that. Just a nice flower. A single flower. Maybe a rose if you can find one."
So I scoured the city high and low for a flower in the midst of December. Finally, after an hour of searching, I found it: a single rose, delicate and beautiful. Just like her.
"Okay, you set now, man. No more fuckin' around. It's time to roll the dice and play this lottery ." Donnie was right. So I quietly sat in my room, eating dinner in solitude. Vivaldi played in the background. Upon the conclusion of my meal, I dressed myself in a carefully selected outfit: a collared gray shirt, tailored perfectly to my slender body, atop dark blue jeans. My sleeves were rolled up – about a quarter inch before my elbow – and all but the top button were buttoned. As for accessories, I sported my stylishly conservative wristwatch and all black dress socks. And in regards to shoes, my previous girlfriend fortunately had not ended our relationship prior to giving me one valuable tidbit of information, something that came especially handy today: "Shoes can make or break an outfit. Guys just don't realize that." Not this guy, sweetheart. I pulled out my new shoes, fresh from the autumn catalogue of Kenneth Cole.
And with that, I exited my dorm room and began the trek to hers, conveniently located just three flights down. Drum roll, please.
The elevator left me off right outside her door. Deep breath. Knock.
Nervous look from side to side. Sweaty palms. Knock knock.
"Coming. Just a sec." Footsteps.
Heart beat faster.
The door opened, and there she stood: beautiful, dressed in a silk bathrobe, Oriental in style, with her straight, lively hair resting gently on her shoulders. Her eyes sparkled betwixt the flutter of her magical eyelashes. "Yes?"
Quickly. This must be done quickly. "Look, I think you're beautiful, really beautiful, and well, I think you also look nice, and I'm a really nice guy, and –
And now for the $10,359.96 lottery ticket :
"I'm just wondering if maybe we could go out some time, you know, like maybe to a movie or to get something to eat or even to the grocery store or whatever or if you want to stay in we could like smoke or something 'cause I have some and I heard you like to hit it up, you
To the grocery store?
I called Visa the next day.
"Hi, I was wondering if I could get my credit limit increased? Yeah, I just need to buy another lottery ticket ."
$10,359.96 down the drain.
And I ain't paying that late fee.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
See you tomorrow.