Dogs 2007

SETUP
(1/28/07)


"you have
so much
in common"

her statement
filled with
romantic
possibilities

"like what?"

this
should be
good

"you both work
a lot
and don't have
any outside
interests"

OK
so it wasn't
that good
but I am sure
to those
on the outside
that my
outside interests
probably
seem few

they must think
that I sit alone
in the dark
pining away
for companionship

not true

I need
a bit of light
to read
and write

perhaps
the poor woman
whom she wanted
me to meet
was the same

like a fool
I agreed

I left work
a bit earlier
than usual
to meet the matchmaker
her boyfriend
and my
intended
at a restaurant

thankfully
I was too damn tired
to be nervous
about it all
but did swing by
my house
to clean up a bit
and put on
a fresh shirt

I needn't have bothered
since all three
looked as if
they had just gotten through
doing yard work
or perhaps
building
an outhouse

I said hello
and was awkwardly
introduced
to the woman
who poker-faced herself
through the pleasantries
then continued
talking to those
she knew

while
we waited
to be seated
many stories
too many stories
were exchanged
involving old relationships
and bodily functions
with much
back slapping
and knowing
laughter

all this was done
at a volume level
more appropriate
for a tractor
pull

something else
for which
my dining companions
were suitable
attired

what
was I doing
with these people?

had I lost
what was left
of my mind?

finally
we were shown
to a table
and the stories
continued

"you don't talk much
do ya?"

the silence
after the comment
finally led me to understand
that my new acquaintance
was addressing me

"only when
I have something
to say"

nonplussed
she aggressively
began to challenge me
with a barrage
of probing questions
to which I supplied
brief
but accurate
answers
hoping that at least one
might eliminate me
from her eligibility
list

I didn't like
this woman
but I refrained
from saying
and doing
the things that were
foremost
on my mind

(something like
"I'm a 47 year old
alcoholic
with herpes
do you
have any
incurable
diseases?"
then
scratching myself
vigorously
under the table)

finally
the waitress arrived
and diverted my date's
attention
we all ordered
and small talk
between the women
filled the gap of time
until the food
arrived

we ate
they talked
they talked some more
I kept looking
to the matchmaker's boyfriend
to lend
some assistance
but I could tell
that he was
under duress
and I felt a bit
sorry for him

almost as sorry
as I felt
for myself

we finished eating
and fortunately
the conversation
had turned to jobs
so I explained mine
to the best
of my ability
then listened
about the others'

everyone
has to do something
to get by
and it always
mildly interests me
to find out how
my fellow citizens
make it
through the day

the bills
brought
we finagled a bit
on the finances
then came to a suitable
agreement for all

I was
almost
free

"don'cha want my number?"

I was tempted
to guess her weight
which must be approximate
to my own
but
the pause
had become painful
for my "friends"
so I bailed us all
out of the
strained
situation

"ubetcha!"

she scribbled
name and number
on the back
of a business card
and smiled
as she handed it
to me
with a wink

"of course
if you came over
you wouldn't
have to call"

I begged off
saying
that I had to work
the next day
(thankfully
I did)
and we made
for the exit

once outside
hugs and hand shakes
all around
with promises
to
get together
again soon

all the lies
necessary
to preserve
some semblance
of society

luckily
it was cold
and we all
quickly escaped
to our respective vehicles
the two hour
ordeal
at an end

later at home
I finished reading
and writing
then turned off
the last light
in the house
to sit
in the dark
alone

grateful

and
not lonely
in the
least