I penned this baby back in March. The sweet li'l tryst didn't "solidify," it gassified. A lot of my April 100Words entries were me being a self-pitying dick during the fallout. Such is life. Things are better now. I've got a new zine out: Wherewithal #1, 16 pages of childhood recollections, booze-fueled anecdotes and other ramblings. It's yours for a buck. E-mail emerson(at sign)hush.com for information.
I Was Looking For a Job...
By Emerson Dameron
I have to remind myself that there are people out there with genuine troubles. Plenty of folks I admire would probably switch lives with me. My life is easy. My needs are simple and my expenses are low. I live alone, and don’t feel much responsibility for anyone else’s well-being. I survive off temp work. I’m not looking down the barrel of a “career” I don’t want. My sidelines include taste-testing beer, interviewing escorts, liquidating unwanted possessions online and penning self-indulgent articles.
But it ain’t all good, ladies and germs. I want a job. I want a plan. I crave financial security. I’d love to pay off my loans and credit cards and relax with a stiff drink without wondering whether I’ll need to sell my plasma again. I’d like to get my computer fixed and put a little padding in the bank.
So when my temp agency offered me a three-month hitch proofreading for a cap and gown company, I grabbed. And it was a treadmill, but it was easy. I checked spreadsheets against order forms, ensuring that America’s army of overweight young’uns didn’t get stuck in anything too constricting. I observed that a disproportionate number of pudgy high school gals share their names with celebrities, but that almost all Catholic school kids are at or below their ideal weight. Guilt burns calories, I suppose. But this job didn’t. So I walked 30 minutes both ways between work and my houseboat-cabin bachelor pad. I had a lot of nervous energy to burn off.
Because I was smitten, but good.
Before I snagged the proofing gig, a friend sent me an unexpected e-mail. He said he had a pal named K who was looking for a date. So would I like a date with her? “I just think you’d enjoy each other.”
Sure. What the hell?
We hit it off immediately. We talked and drank for hours. She’s sexy, brilliant, tactile, outgoing, and just daffy enough to seize my interest. She’s deeply self-conscious, but improvises her conversation anyway, damn the torpedoes. She has an endless canon of wrenching, hilarious personal anecdotes. We love the same books and records. She’s right about a few things I was wrong about. She’s an unreal kisser.
We did the crossword together. When she talked about her friends and the things she likes to do, she said “You’ll meet him” or “We’ll do this together.”
And I’m into it. I want in. I want to know this woman. I want to tell her my secrets, forgive her peccadilloes, lick up her salty tears as they wash away her mascara, get her girly, red wine smell all over my life. This could be the start of something big.
Last Tuesday evening, I got home. I checked my messages. There was one from my temp agent. “Your employment with Company X has been terminated. Call me tomorrow for all the details.” I called then and there. What the fuck?
There’s no satisfying explanation. My temp agency was confused. I was baffled. I gave Company X my finest work. I followed instructions. No one ever told me I was doing anything wrong. I hardly ever talked to my condescending kindergarten-teacher supervisor. That afternoon, I had walked out of that fluorescent-lit dungeon feeling like Employee of the Month.
Apparently, every time my agency works with Company X, something like this happens. “Some people in management are better at it than others,” I’m told. Company X has its own way of doing business. The agency will be delighted to put me to work again, but it doesn’t have anything this minute.
Shit. Financial security out the window. More yawning crevasses of free time. Perhaps a happier man would be happy about the unanticipated freedom.
I’m not talking to K as much. She seems, in general, more cagey. I haven’t met many of her friends. I ask her out. She has a full dance card. I leave a message. I don’t hear back. I miss her, terribly.
I knock back some sleeping pills with some chilly, watery beer. The phone rings. It’s her, and we talk for two hours, me suddenly wide awake. We see each other and it’s amazing. It’s the new standard for amazing. It’s the finest night of my life to date. I’m nuts about this gal. We don’t speak for a few days. Then we don’t speak for a few more.
I don’t know how to feel. I don’t much want to feel anything. I’m taunted by the overtures of spring. I stay busy, but can never distract myself from the M-80s crackling in my skull.
I want a job and a ladyfriend. I could be a blue-ribbon beau and at least a white-ribbon employee. I could still pursue my own interests on my own dime. My newfound penchant for responsibility is wasted on this juvenile post-collegiate existence.
If I land a steady job, or if things solidify with K, perhaps I’ll croon a different number. I don’t expect to cease romanticizing the alternatives. That’s the way it works. I hope I get a chance to report from the other side.