four walls around me to hold my life.
a counterpoint to everything i was going on about yesterday: it is of course sane and upright to tell people what you need and how to avoid torturing you. (“she likes giving up.” “if that were true, Celia, my giving-up would be self-indulgence, not self-mortification.”) since the Tread-Lightly era began i have made PATIENCE AND CONFIDENCE my motto and have repeated it over and over and over to myself. patience and confidence. i am patient and confident. these are good qualities. Tread-Lightly told me he admired me in part for my confidence. which is pretty hilarious. of course he was only seeing me in an arena where i am pretty damn confident—at work—and where even if i’m not confident, it’s my job to smile and act like it. i wonder if he has any idea that when he’s slow to respond to a text i become convinced that all is lost, my heart will break, and i have to put my head down and put ‘blues run the game‘ on repeat for a while. like the patient confident woman that i am. (and yes that’s the state i’m in this afternoon. it is pretty bad but believe it or not, i’ve gotten a lot better.)
i miss flirting with Tread-Lightly behind the bar. how exciting it was when he came in—though i didn’t admit this to myself. or rather i didn’t admit why i was excited. he didn’t attract me physically—or any other way—at all, at first. i remember the first day he came in very well! he was with his colleague, rosa—she drank about 12 martini-type cocktails—he had a negroni (we chatted about how it was fine negroni weather, what a fine drink the negroni is) then switched to draft beer. i don’t remember how many beers he had because it wasn’t notable—he definitely did not have anything like 12. the two of them were there for a solid four or five hours and they did not stop talking the entire time—frantic constant academic conversation. they scared all of us working there—i practically dove under the bar for cold sweats and panicky grad-school flashbacks—just before they finally got their check my boss said, “how can they still have anything to talk about? did they order any food? have they even taken a breath?” ‘they’re academics,’ i said. ‘that’s what it’s like. i used to be like that. i used to have conversations like that all the time!’ “you used to be like that?”
and the two of them started coming in once a week or every other week or so. we called them “the professors” until we found out they were folklorists. and we thought they were a couple for a pretty long time until i don’t know, we found out they weren’t. one afternoon Tread-Lightly brought some good mellow records—don’t remember what except that one was sturgill simpson—and it was a wonderful change of pace from the kind of classic rock and R&B shit that i normally have to listen to—and we talked about the records and he listened to me about the watersons and i thought, maybe he’s doing this to please me. it certainly is pleasing me. and one afternoon (it might have been the same one) he and rosa were out smoking in the alley for a while—she’s a rabid chain-smoker, i’d always have to sweep the alley after one of their visits—and i looked out the window and thought, ‘well, that’s what he looks like standing up. well. goodness me. i think i could look at that for a while.’ and i got myself perfectly situated so i could polish glasses while thoroughly checking him out.
yeah, i miss all that. i wonder if he does too. i genuinely miss asking him if he’d like another beer! it was a happy harmless crush. he won’t come in the bar anymore—he just said he ‘felt weird about it’ and i didn’t inquire further. don’t know whether he feels weird about my serving him, having to tip me (a subject for another post), the fact that my colleagues know we’re going out and assume we’re fucking, all of the above or what. i also wonder what he told rosa. ‘no sorry i never want to go there again, that place is dead to me.’ ‘i got a hair in my soup! i hear the cooks blow their noses on the sandwiches!’ i mean what. i can’t imagine he told her the truth? but what do i know. all i know is how miserable and silly i am today and how much i don’t feel like going to work.