I was raised a Catholic. I went to church every Sunday, religious education every Wednesday, and ice cream socials every summer. These days Im lapsed, which basically means that I cant get out of bed on Sundays. I want to, I do, but it is just physically impossible.
This, Ive found, makes me more open to other religions. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was out in Overton Square doing my best to look available but not desperate. Unfortunately, I wasnt doing a very good job; because I was starving and sometimes looking hungry and looking desperate look a lot a like. My friend and I were hopping from restaurant to restaurant, looking for a place with a wait of less than three hours. Eventually, we were seated so far in a corner that our waitress had to use a mirror on a stick to take our orders. Needless to say (as I did not have said mirror on stick), scoping out the other diners for possible dates was out of the question. So my friend and I had to resort to talking instead.
After an hour or so, our food was still lost in the kitchen somewhere and we had run out of her gossip, my gossip, celebrity gossip, and political gossip, and had resorted to talking about spiritual matters: in particular, dating karma. If you cheat, love too much, love too little, or lie, does it come back to you in kind?
Now, if thats the rule of the universe, Im in trouble. Its not that Ive been a raging bitch to my past likes, loves, and lusts, its just that, well, I have ice water in my veins. And that cant bode well with karma.
After dinner, my friend headed off to hang out with her boyfriend (obviously her karma is much better than mine. But what can I say? Shes Hindu, so its more her bag.) and I sauntered off to the Hi-Tone to drink a beer and listen to a band. I was ignoring everyone in the crowd (like I said, veins, ice water) until a man directly behind me tried to get my attention. I turned and raised my hand (I dont know why) and hit him in the face.
(Which, sadly, Ive done before. Of course the last time it happened was at Young Avenue Deli and it made a little more sense. The guy trying to talk to me was rather intoxicated, the music was rather loud, and as he came in close to yell some witty something in my ear, the bill of his cap hit me in the eye. And it hurt, so I raised my hand, ostensibly to keep my eyeball from falling out, and instead slapped him across the face. Or . . . geez, I might have stuck my finger up his nose. Or both. I cant really remember. At any rate, that was the end of that.)
But this guy wasnt fazed by my lack of grace and offered to buy me a drink. I could say it was a nice gesture, but I would just be saying that to make myself look good. He looked a bit older than me, and he had that smooth sort of veneer that, Im sorry, makes me cringe. Plus, I already had a beer. So I shook my head and turned back to the music.
Then he asked where I was from. Here, I said, the lie rolling off my tongue like silk. Where are you from?
Here, he said.
I could have asked what he did or if he liked the band, but I wasnt interested and I had to go to the bathroom. So I excused myself. Okay, I didnt really excuse myself; I just turned around and walked away (I told you, ice water).
The next day I was out walking my dog around my apartment buildings parking lot. Now there happens to be this cute guy who lives in the building. And let me just say for the record, I am not stalking him. I havent changed my daily routine or used binoculars or gone through his trash.
Im not stalking him, but I am keeping an eye on him. You have to be ready for that magical moment when the lighting is perfect and youre both looking fabulous, and your eyes meet and it all falls into place. And the importance of face time should never be underestimated. If someone doesnt know youre alive, its very difficult to get busy with said person (unless theyre necrophiliacs, but thats something entirely different and not altogether what Im into).
So Im in the parking lot with little Fluffy and shes chasing sycamore balls and Im dancing around. And then I look up and there he is, cute apartment guy, bearing down upon us.
Can I pet your puppy? he asked.
Now, my puppy is friendlier than Kathie Lee Gifford on speed. She regularly throws her entire body upon my neighbors; she has french kissed my postman; she has french kissed me.
There was no way he was getting out of petting her, not when he was within leash range. But I couldnt tell him that.
I couldnt tell him that, because suddenly I had forgotten how to speak. Nothing would come out. Not, Shed love that. Not, Go right ahead. Not, Yes.
No, I just stood there, in my sweatshirt and early Saturday morning makeup (read: makeup left over from Friday night) and smiled weakly.
Finally, after an unusually long silence (Im not kidding about this; he probably thought I was mute) I blurt out, Didnt you used to drive a blue car? Immediately I thought, Damn. Now hes going to think Im stalking him.
Which, as I have said before, Im not.
Yeah, I just bought that one last week, he says and gestured behind him. Meanwhile my mind is racing: Tell him youre a journalist. Tell him youre trained in observation. Tell him you have a photographic memory. Tell him something!
But what do I say? Oh, I thought you had just repainted it.
Well, that pretty much ruined the moment, not like it had even been magical, and he went his way and I went mine. It might have just been my own ineptitude. But theres that other option: should I take this as a sign that karma does exist? Because hes cute, but he isnt that
cute. Certainly not speechless, tongue-swollen-in-mouth cute.
I guess from here on in Im going to try an experiment: Im going to actually try and be nice to people. Its going to take a lot of work, but its been something my mother has been saying I need to do for years. And if it comes back to me in kind, well, I might think about converting. Then again, would that mean Id have to get up on Sundays? Because like I said, I just cant do it.
Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. Youre invited to come along.