Handsome Joe

I went to the deli yesterday. I’m standing around waiting for my gyro, by which I mean my pile of meat and onions that has a pita underneath it someplace. I’m watching a story on the TV about a sports star mishmashing the bible into his response to someone’s passive-voice twitter insult, and I realize that there’s a girl at the table by the napkins and the ketchup that’s sobbing. Eyes red hands shaking shredded napkins in a pile long old drippy boogers hanging out of her face sobbing. There’s a guy across from her, and I instantly conclude he’s breaking up with her, which must mean she was a straight up blood-soaked murderer, because a world where a pile of hair and flannel like that dude breaks up with a modest beauty like that dame for any other reason is a world that cannot exist. Heaven would flood that shit for 41 days just to be sure after neglecting to tell anyone anything about how to make or operate an ark. I’m a polite guy, so I try to divert my attention. I look at every single thing in that deli except those two. But my ears, they’re harder to point away, and I start to think maybe they’re not breaking up. The guy keeps kissing her hands. If he was breaking it off, he knew less about ladies than I did in eighth grade. Or twenty-eighth grade, who in the hell am I kidding?

At one point the guy uses the phrase “My work in neuro-” and I never hear the end of it because thirty people trying hard not to listen in on these two snicker.

Anyway. I get my gyro and I go. A man comes sprinting out of a laundromat. Joe! Joe! Is that Joe! Hey Joe! Exclamation points all the way. I stop and tell him he’s got me mistaken for someone else, and he doesn’t believe me. I’m digging through his accent with a shovel, and I think he’s telling me I’ve got the hat, I’ve got the whiskers, I must be Joe. I tell him I’m not, but it’s good to know there’s some other handsome devil out there making this look WORK. If he sees Joe, I tell him to say Hi for me. He’s standing there in the snow flurry in a t-shirt, he ran out of the laundromat so fast, and every night since then I’ve begged whatever petty moose-headed abomination rules this universe to let that befuddled pink northeastenaaaa run into Joe. 

We all learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons that when you die your life gets played for you like a movie. It’s hard to describe without resorting to idiomatic expressions, it flashes before your eyes is what I’m referring to. I don’t think that’ll happen. In 2006 I was in my first year of grad school, and I went to Florida for a conference. The other grad student and I picked a hotel on the outskirts of town to save money, and it was awkward, because there was a switch on the wall that turned on a set of purple neon lights hidden in the moulding that made it clear that the room was not intended for two people to not fuck in it. I went to the bar that night, and ate nachoes and buffalo wings and drank warm miller, and there was a guy there studying to become a professional umpire, and he was furious that he’d seen a commercial for Walmart on TV that morning that was entirely in Spanish. “I didn’t like that at all” he said. The moment before I die, I’m just going to see that conversation with him over and over and over again and then I’ll be gone. 


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