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Saying nothing

Walking to work this morning, I stopped, bent over, and doused a fire hydrant with remnants of breakfast. "Food for the homeless?" asked a voice following me, followed by a laugh, and it was Danny. 

"Hey, man," I said. "It's good to see you — glad you're out! You OK? What did they nab you for, anyway?"

"Huh?" he said, with a confused look to match. "Do I know you?"

"I'm Doug," I said. "I sell fish. We've talked sometimes."

"Oh," he said and looked at me, trying to place me.

"Sometimes I'm forgetful."

"So what did they arrest you for?"

"I was arrested?" he asked. "What for?"

♦ ♦ ♦ 

That was the last vomit, I hope. Other than that, no symptoms. No fever, no rumbly belly. And no thought of canceling the evening, so after selling fish all day, I bused over to Andrea's house for another night of babysitting.

When I got there, Andrea said, "Shannon's been a little sick, but nothing to worry about." I told her I must be immune, cuz I never catch anything.

On the Avenue when I see Andrea, she's in jeans and she's a pretty 30-something woman. When I babysit, twice now, she's been in a dress, leaving on a big date. Last time it was red. This time it was beige. That night and this night, she's looked fantastic, and it would've been easy to say so, but I didn't. Seems wise under the circumstances to say less. 

Shannon was happy to see me, and didn't seem sick. We played Scrabble and watched mind-dumbing television most of the evening. She told me she'd been yelled at by her mom for staying up too late with me last time, so when her bedtime came she said good night and faded down the hall. Who knew anyone's kids could be so well-behaved?

I'm not a big fan of kids, you know. I don't hate 'em like W C Fields, but they're way too much trouble, too loud, too short and stupid. Shannon's not, though. When she talks about school I hear a healthy skepticism that'll serve her well if she keeps it for real life. And she very intelligent, since she laughs at my corny jokes. 

The mom had said she'd be back at midnight or shortly after, but I didn't wait up. Their couch is comfortable so I slept, and it was nearly 2:30 when she got home. I almost made a little joke as she was closing the door — Do we need a curfew around here, young lady?" — but it's a line that would've fallen flat so I stayed quiet. Usually I stay quiet.

From the slight disarray of her dress, I'd guess that Andrea's date went quite well, damn it. She'd gone out with the same man she'd called a lout last time she'd seen him, so double damn. 

Why do so many women go for men who don't deserve them, while nice guys who just happen to be a hundred pounds overweight and funny-looking with bad teeth and shitty clothes end up alone?

Andrea and I didn't talk much, but the buses stop running at around 1AM, so she paid my cab fare home. She seems more comfortable with me than last time. I'm just the sitter, though. We both know that.

I'll never work up the nerve to ask her out, and if I did, she'd say no and we'd both be embarrassed and then she'd find a different babysitter, so I'm saying nothing, not ever.

My very best chance with Andrea is that if I'm a nice guy who never asks her out, maybe I'll be invited to the wedding when she marries the lout. I'd have to buy a damned gift, and I don't even like going to weddings.

From Pathetic Life #19
Saturday, Dec. 30, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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