Thursday, September 29, 2011

Little Black Books

It was that look; you know the one. It says "My life was perfect only a few minutes ago and now it's ruined, up in smoke, I'm eternally damned and you!, YOU are the cause! and you wanna know why??? Dooya??? Well GUESS!!!"

I never could guess. It's a man thing I suppose; we're too logical, too simple...we don't have that all seeing third eye to notice what the hell we stepped in just before we tracked it all over the carpet of "her" life.

Marie and I were just barely discussing playing house when I asked her if she'd like to go on a long motorcycle trip. That cinched it for her pretty much; we were now officially boy and girlfriend and would solidify cohabitation plans upon our return. I just thought it'd be a fun ride, I hadn't meant it to be a statement of love everlasting. But, "whatever works" I thought as I scooted toward the Rockies, oblivious to what her reaction had actually foreshadowed.

It was in Billings when I noticed that my front tire was near treadless and should be replaced. We were camping, but at KOAs as I was happy to rough it as long as I had a shower to wake up to. We checked in and unloaded so Marie could set up camp while I spent a few hours with tire mechanics elsewhere. It actually took less than an hour as luck would have it, and I raced home to mama for smokes, sex and salmon; not necessarily in that order.

As I pulled up it was hard not to notice the tent was still lying lifeless, tossed into a pile along with the sleeping bags and other outdoorsy type gear. The only container opened was my personal pack, and that stood against the picnic table right next to where my new true love sullenly watched me drop my kickstand and lean back in wonder.

She'd been crying it seemed, and as I'd been married once before I knew how this worked. It could be nothing; just a mood swing or unforeseen cramps. It could be she'd just noticed she'd left her favorite hair tie at home. Only God knows why women cry sometimes, and He wasn't dropping any hints at that moment.

I jest now, but at the time I was truly worried. "What's wrong?" I had to ask. She whipped a small book at me as if it were a Frisbee, hitting me square on in my leather covered breadbasket.

It was my phonebook that now lay open in my lap as she angrily turned away and huffed something unintelligible but surely vulgar.

By all appearances it would be seen as a "little black book", save its medium brown color. And I have to admit it surprised me a bit as I didn't remember packing the thing. It was hardly useful as I was gallivanting across country, and if I'd lost it I would have spent a lengthy time replacing what was in it.

Before I could speak, my tripmate had turned back into my face with combination pleady/angry eyes and muttered, "I really wasn't looking for anything, I was just unpacking and it fell out of your bag and I was just gonna set it aside but I couldn't help myself because a page blew open and I saw what was in it and then I got mad and......"

It was the longest sentence I'd ever heard. The woman had a set of lungs on her. The gist was that she'd dropped the book while unpacking and an open page had "forced" her eyes to read a few lines. Her curiosity, and then hackles raised, she paged through the entire book while she sat waiting for my return; and with each turning a new hash mark was made beneath my new name...Mister Mud.

"Which one am I" she asked with a lip quiver for dramatic punctuation. "How can you be such an asshole" she added, so as to leave no doubt that the rest of the trip would be a wild ride indeed.

I just sat there with my mouth hanging open, my eyes darting between her twisted but still amazingly beautiful face, and the pages of my property. I stutter smiled a few times as my feeble man brain saw the light of truth momentarily, but then shook it off as it wasn't possible anyone could actually think that!

"Tell me exactly what it is you think you know" I said finally, leaning forward on my handlebars with a heavy sigh. "Show me what you believe."

She stood and stepped to me, snatching the little brown hardback notepad from my hands. With a healthy harumph she opened the cover and pointed to the first page...the "A" page so to speak.

"Anita" she said coldly. I had to defer to the facts; it was my ex-wife’s name and number. But as I'd explained on more than one occasion, we were still in contact as she needed me to pull her silly ass from various fires here and there.

"Fine" she said with an imagined stomp, steeling herself for yet more accusation. And then she began to rifle through the pages, whipping off name after name....well, sort of names.

"Darlene-Beyond Words...#461-30**" she said smugly, her eyes lighting my jacket ablaze. "She must be really something!"

"Andrea-Creative", "Susan-Aplus", "Barb-Fourstar" and on and on she went, pages flying right to left, her finger tracing, nay underlining every word spoken in what seemed like smoking blood, her head cocking for a braying smirk after every other descriptive phrase.

"I can only imagine what "Lipservice" does for you" she cackled as she continued through the M-N-O-Ps and beyond.

My head hurt. I wanted to fall off the bike in screaming laughter, but as I said, I'd been married before so I knew that would be a fatal course of action. And so I endured...endured the name calling, the nasty glances the haughty, self-righteous gotcha tone, and...the look.

I can't describe what happened to her face as I explained that this was my voiceover talent agency phonebook, the female names, my contacts. I won't go on about how she groveled after I told her I would never treat another human being with such disrespect that I'd label them by sexual scorecard in even a supposedly private notebook. I won't tell you how she rectified the idea that she was ready and willing to move in with me, but in the next breath could see this little book as Jack the Ripper’s appointment register.

But when she stopped apologizing and began to proselytize that she'd known all along that I wasn't like that, that she didn't know what had gotten into her, I had to tell her that I'd left something at the mechanics building and that I'd be back soon. It took me an hour’s ride to laugh it off, and a month before I stopped wondering what I'd gotten myself into.

My dad had a saying he used quite often, particularly when he found himself trying to prove something didn't exist, which was near every day in our house.

He'd say, "Sometimes ya just can't win fer losin'".

It's a ridiculous phrase, a kind of a word gumbo. But I know exactly what he meant.

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