dRead All About It!

I’ve got plenty to go on when I make my own morning summations of what the world has in store for me day to day. Most of my worst fears are based on the evil that bakes quietly inside of humankind. It is rare that I give much thought to the micro-critters that would have us serve as their vehicles of choice. And yes, I’ve seen all the very best and worst contagion films. But I am reading The Thin White Line right now, and I have to say–my ability to process the very real implications of something invisible but far more probable than a cracked-out junkie looking to swipe my iShuffle on my way to living an extraordinary existence isn’t very honed. I’ll be working on that to my own detriment and your personal enjoyment, as it pertains to humoring the masses with my anecdotes.

The Scent of Evil

If memory serves, and previous stories might suggest it doesn’t always, I haven’t worn cologne since I was a wee adult–let’s say seventeen or eighteen roughly. Back then a little Drakkar Noir was all the rage. I can’t say it did much for me. I don’t recall having washboard abs, an attractive woman on my arm at all times, and anything better than a twelve dollar haircut. I could tell you that I simply haven’t needed it as an adult, but am open to the idea that someone out there might vehemently disagree with that assessment. And, to be sure, I’ve dabbled in power scrubs, shower gels, and for a short period of time wasn’t a stranger to taking toothpaste and using it as soap on my hands in an effort to remove the sweet stank of cigarette smoke.

I’ve got friends that wear various scents–male friends I mean. And I suppose since I think I know them pretty well, I don’t tend to lump them in with the remaining male population that walks amongst us. Most of the time when I catch a whiff of an approaching male, the very first thought I have is, “What is this guy trying to hide?” You might think I am referring to simple body odor, but you’d be wrong. Logically, I can make all sorts of rationale as to why that is the most legitimate reason for bathing in the stuff–but, for some reason lately–and maybe it’s because quite a few of the most recent interactions I’ve had with these walking roses have also included awkwardly friendly salutations–I find myself surmising that the wearer has something far more sinister about him, something that he is trying to camouflage with microscopic atoms of smell-goodness.

In my book, some far more likely reasons for seemingly having drenched oneself in artificial flavorings are the following: The guy is most definitely an alcoholic, and without more than a little splash of Polo, he’d be caught vodka-tongued at his day job. (My own solution to this type of pollution had been AXE Snake Peel Scrub. That and a sick-sized wad of breath mints.) Or, maybe he wears it all the time so that should he cheat on his spouse or girlfriend, pick up a bit of a prostitute’s scent in the process, he can then douse himself in his brand to cover up any trace evidence his lovely back home might be able to detect with her sniffer. Finally, I could be mistaken, but I do seem to recall from some readings on serial killers and the disposal of bodies that many of the chemical substances used to breakdown human remains–bones, skin, organs, etc.–can leave a fella quite pungent with the stink of crimes most foul. If I was chopping and dicing bodies in my bathtub, I think I’d give some serious consideration to a quick spritz of CK One before leaving the house in search of my next victim. At least that’s how I’d go about it.

Thusly, if you are a gentleman, and you smell real, real good–don’t be surprised if you overhear my inner thoughts say, “I’m on to you buddy. You smell just a little too good.” And if you are hearing my inner dialog about you, then I probably have much bigger problems to resolve–but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, as I’m told the various spawns of hell, the real flesh and blood demons that walk amongst us, smell absolutely grotesque.

Gator Rosch

There are days that my life as a drunk can seem like another lifetime entirely. Days where the disease works hard to position that huge swath of so-called living-it-up as possibly a former life–the kind you pay a penny arcade prophet to tell you about on a sullen day in Coney Island. The more time I earn in recovery, the easier it is to forget that very real version of myself that was tearing through days and nights as he pleased. The world, and her mysterious ways, lend a hand from time to time with the remembering of things. And depending on what that forced recollection conjures, this can either be a real treat or a brutal slap to my non-bendering rosy cheeks.

Yesterday morning, on the Lower East Side, while I stood lost in my own thoughts of all the amazing things I’d been able to accomplish so far this year, and all the things I like to let myself speculate are forthcoming, a young woman ripped me from the safe confines of my own pro-Peter party with this seemingly misplaced question: “Is your name Gator?”

My name, as you may know, is not. And so it won’t surprise you to learn that I responded with a confused shrug and a grunt that sounded something like, “Huh?” This was followed by mutual shrugs and maybe even an apology delivered by her to my backside as I spun around to get back to the business of celebrating myself on the remainder of my walk to work. Iced-Coffee, check. Smokes, check. Half an hour or more to kill before the feeling of obligation compelled me to sit still at my desk, check. Just another lovely, somewhat silent by New York standards, morning gifted to me by sober living.

A couple of blocks removed from the incident, that aforementioned previous life–at least one of the many special nights from it–spilled from some dark corner in my skull into the forefront of my conscious. As it reconstructed the narrative, I was relieved to remember that the story wasn’t one of the more spectacularly disturbing happenings from those soggy salad days.

It was a familiar opening–me, friends, a bar, too much to drink, and a spontaneous introduction to some female inebriated souls. On more than one occasion, my father has told me that at times when I speak, it sounds like I have a mouth full of marbles. Drinking never made that delightful little defect any better, and when one of the young women asked me what my name was, even though my response had been Peter, she heard Gator. She repeated it to me and my cronies. “Gator?” She Said.

Our sauced minds met collectively without a word spoken and before she could ask a second time, a decision had been made by me and the group to roll with that moniker for the rest of the evening. And so I replied, “Yep. Gator.” What stories might have accompanied the origin of that name–stories I’m sure I told her in my failed attempts to parlay such a ridiculous name into an overnight visit–I can not recall. But, I do remember that all of my friends went well out of their way to use the name for a significant portion of that evening.

“Wanna another one, Gator?”

“Gator, it’s your rack.”

“Gator, we going down south again this year?”

I suspect, my dear reader, that you’d love to see this tale turn into something that it was not. A yarn about how Gator and that gal crawled from one bar to another, deep into the night, ending up in Vegas perhaps–awakening the following morning after an orgy that appeared to my crusty half-swollen afternoon-morning eyes to have included midgets, bearded women, and an attractive mute from some distant cobra-charming country in the East. I’ll regale you with such a tale some other time. But sadly, like so many others, this night ended when Gator went home, alone, and probably carrying enough alcohol in his system to nurse a brood of some fictional baby animals whose lives depend on booze from a stranger’s teet.

So, turns out–or, it is at least conceivable–that the young lady from yesterday morning had every reason to ask me such a seemingly ridiculous question. And, at least for the time being, I can have a good long laugh about a night that didn’t turn most foul, but still served as a charming reminder of the scofflaw that I used to allow out to play back in the day. I miss that dude, sometimes.

I can only hope, that the next time a stranger drags him out of my subconscious, that it is for as seemingly benign reasons as referring to oneself as Gator. After all, what possible harm could I have caused–and I’m privy to The Butterfly Effect–by simply leading someone to believe I had a ridiculous name? If you’ve been paying attention, you know damn well I’ve already mentally outlined a dozen that can be filed somewhere between, “I’ve a baby boy named Gator” and “A party tale gone awry in which a young woman recounts her having met a fellow named Gator, which reminds one of her newly minted acquaintances of how her own son had been torn in half by an actual gator, who becomes so distraught over the incident that she pulls out a bag of pills she keeps handy from her purse, and then chases it with a tumbler of vodka before retiring to the coat closet to see her way off this earth.”

End scene.

Coffee Shop Shakedown

This past Sunday morning, before the onset of a painful, no doubt secret lab accidental release style 48 hour virus that left me somewhat zombified most of Monday and yesterday, I was having an amazing morning. That morning included one of my favorite things of late: meeting my good friend, whose name I won’t use since I’ve no idea what level of paranoia he is rocking these days, for a cup of coffee and a nice chat.

My mood was so spectacular that I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that a stranger sitting across from us had skillfully injected himself into our preliminary conversations about the weather, recent films seen, and other surface level conversation had before getting down to the real nitty and gritty. As the dialog moved along, predominantly led by my friend and me, the three of us had somehow landed on what is and isn’t tax deductible in our various trades.

I took a moment to reflect on how we’d arrived there with this stranger, and came to realize he had used a piece of my own tale concerning an ancient and foolish charge I’d made for my tattoo that reads, “Question Everything. Trust No One.” The irony that this all stems from that is only evident to me as I write this.

Before my friend could say another word to the balding sly-fox seated across from us, I posited, “Wouldn’t it be something if you were actually some dude from the IRS who hit up coffee shops, to start up chats, move them towards tax returns, deductions, and the like–so that you could then flag folks for audits down the road?”

Our new friend was a little startled by the insinuation–and after a raucous bout of nervous giggles said, “Oh right, like I’m some sort of James Bond of the IRS? And this is what I do, go around and chat up people in posh neighborhoods to find out what they’ve been up to with their taxes.” This was followed by more nervous quips made in rapid succession that moved us quickly into another subject matter entirely.

Had we blown his cover? Maybe. Is Williamsburg really a ‘posh’ neighborhood? Maybe. Did I leave fearing that figurative ‘knock’ on the door we all dread might be coming despite our best efforts to play by the rules? Not really. You don’t live with Level 9 Paranoia, and get all willy nilly on the kind of stuff you know for certain Big Brother is keeping tabs on. I’d say I was most taken aback by his suggestion that he might be the James Bond of the IRS. Maybe the Roger Moore Bond. And that’s a big maybe.

Mediocratrocities

Success. I could start out this blog with a Webster’s definition, but it’s somewhat irrelevant to me at the moment. I know what success looks like to me. I’m not talking about fancy cars, flashy clothes, and a house on the hills–I’m talking about achieving something of value, doing something well, and reaching an intended goal I suppose. Throughout the years, the incidents that suggest my own standard for deeming something successful might be unrealistic have been many. I’m open to the idea that I hold myself, and perhaps more importantly, the company I keep intentionally or by way of happenstance, to a nearly unachievable bar. I’m not only open to the idea, I’m sure of it. But as of late, I can’t help but wonder if there is something in the water. In fact, many people believe there is indeed something in the water intentionally put there to dumb us down, numb us down, keep us from revolting and in a perpetual state of accepting mediocre results, behaviors, and near misses. I spent years using booze for many reasons, but one of the biggest benefits was its ability to make me simply not care about all the things I thought were wrong about a day, the world, and humanity itself. I’m soap-boxing a bit in this post, and maybe I’ll turn off a few readers in doing so, but when did we decide that almost achieving, half-efforts, and just enough was the best way to live?

If I let my mind go with it–as if I had a choice–it puts me on a speculative path about the impetus behind the sturdy reinforcement of sloth, uninspired efforts, shit-eating grins, and the go-with-the-flow head nodding of many of my fellows. In the rooms, those of us in recovery spend a great deal of time deconstructing all the daily incidents that illustrate the public’s blind-eye to these themes of atrocious mediocrity–even as we, the former drunks, are out there contributing to that general malaise with our own insincere efforts. No one is perfect, no one should be perfect, it would be damn boring. But I do wonder from time to time, if the hero worship of doofuses, slackers, lag-a-bouts, hipsters, just-get-byers, and perpetual selfish has us all brainwashed into thinking that our own efforts are far superior to that of our neighbors. I know I’m guilty of massive amounts of judgmental condemnation on folks I’ve never met. I’m not proud of it, but I’m aware of it. I’d like to open my heart up to all strangers, and believe they are all pulling their weight, carrying their load, and doing it on the up-and-up. I certainly don’t subscribe to a win-at-all-costs mentality. It’s cheap, cheating, and doesn’t suit me. I know this, because I’ve tried it.

The question I guess, at least for me, is will I slowly come to understand that not everything has to be a home-run? For a couple of years, right after getting sober, I was operating well using a suggestion from the rooms that allowed me to let much of what bothered me about myself and others not get too deeply into my head. Was an easier then I think, as I wasn’t quite putting myself out into the world as much as I am now. And my immediate social circle was comprised of brains, both normies and recovering alcoholics, who were living up to a code similar to my own. Again, none of us are or were perfect, but all of my besties were probably living with their own deep resentments towards themselves for not being  able to achieve perfection each and every day just like me.

As you look out amongst the landscape you might find just as many people kicking ass as there are sucking ass, but as of late, and I’m not against the idea that it is some chemtrail induced fog thrust upon the citizens of Manhattan, my own experiences seems to suggest the tables are turning in favor or the latter group of which we can refer to as Mediocratrocites. And even as I recognize the benefit of having tons of lazy folks around–after all, it only makes my own efforts shine that much more brightly–I am concerned that this particular malady might just be a much less noticeable version of a flesh-eating virus dropped upon the public for testing. What better way to remain the nations super power then developing a weapon that turns the inhabitants of other nations into drooling dullards.

Is it just me? Most likely. And since I intend on doing just about squat today, who am I to even say?

What’s all this Fizz About?

A quick glance at the morning paper would suggest that New Yorkers have–as I’m almost positive had been hoped for by Bloomberg and his cronies–soundly rejected the notion of a full-on ban of sugary beverages over sixteen ounces. I submit here, and I’m sure I’m not the first, that this had likely been the desired effect of the overly bold declaration that your sweet sugar water in mass would be removed from shelves. Has it occurred to you that perhaps the first step in getting people to accept a tax on the very same nectar beverages would be to craft a scenario in which we all started to see a soda-tax as a reasonable concession by Bloomberg and the city, in the face of our pained cries against a full-on ban?

Will we be reading about this for months, watching as they make it appear they are listening to the fine soda junkies of this fair city, while they are secretly galvanizing support for at least a small tax to be bestowed upon our vats of liquid glee? I can’t say. But I’ll be the first to say I told you so, when and if this particular bout of Friday morning Level 9 Paranoia proves to be prophetic. I’ve no skin in this particular game, as my own brand of canned/bottled happiness is of the chemical variety. D.C. for-evuh.

Memorial Elevasion

Last Friday morning I came bebopping down from my Jefferson-esque deluxe apartment in the sky filled with a special kind of piss and vinegar that only the promise of a three day weekend can impose upon a stinkin’ thinkin’ fella like myself. LIke many New Yorkers, I was only mere hours away from hopping into some form of transportation to skedaddle from my Point A to a Country B in order to rid myself of a little of the city’s oppressive this and thats. My mood was aces, my demeanor, spirited, and as I bounced off the elevator into the lobby to head out into the world I might have even been humming Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride. “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, oh no…” and so forth.

On the other side of my building’s lobby’s wall of glass widows and electronically locked double doors were two towering gentleman in orange jumpsuits. They had tool belts, tool boxes, and each smoked a cigarette–a sure sign of questionable character–while standing there, peering into the lobby like sharks on the other side of a flimsy Jaws sequel aquarium attraction looking for the rube who’d set them loose–and after a moment of hesitation, one in which I rapidly considered recoiling back into the elevator while feigning a look that communicated “Oops, I forgot something,” indirectly to these mindless stealing machines–I decided to be their Dennis Quaid.

Precision Elevator was embroidered on the left chest pocket of their matching garb. A nice touch I thought, and as I inched closer I could see that there were indeed all manner of tools in their belts and boxes–sinister in their appearance, think torture table instrumentation from any spy, slasher, or film about dentistry. As I made it through the first set of doors into the foyer, I tried to decide if I the adult thing to do was inquire about credentials. After all, it was the start of a holiday in which countless city dwellers abandon their abodes, and posing as elevator repairmen seemed like a clever way to get inside a building with the very tools required for picking the cheap locks contractors had outfitted my condo building with, if not every condo building in greater Williamsburg.

I opened the second door to the outside world, and before I could utter the first syllable of my credentials request, the first gentleman entered and in the thickest of Russian accents said, “We are here to look at elevator.” He hadn’t even bothered to put out his smoke before joining me in the foyer, and his buddy was quick to put his foot in the door just in case I decided to try any last minute slam-and-go maneuvers–you know the kind; where you let a door close on someone and act like you had your head so far up your own ass that you totally missed seeing them there, so you act hurried and give the person a shrug while holding your cellular to your ear that says, “I’m sorry, so busy I can’t even come back to open the door for you.” Aren’t we all armed with that routine?

They had gained entry, but they hadn’t made me a believer. I decided to situate myself under the steel awning over the entrance of my building under the guise of having a smoke while texting in order to assess what options I was left with. I began mentally cataloging everything of worth in our own apartment. There wasn’t much I cared about losing to these thieves. We live an almost ridiculously minimal existence at this particular address, so if they started or finished with our unit the joke would be on them. If they got around to ransacking our apartment in the middle of all the others, its lack of quality thievables probably wouldn’t have the same impact. But then I remembered our cat, Target. If they were to break in, there was a good chance she’d escape and probably end up in a ditch by the side of a road somewhere, meowing for money, and doing unspeakable things to try to make it by in a cruel world she’d never asked to have been born in.

Panic set in, and I debated going back into the lobby to demand those credentials. I’d noticed the two of them weren’t doing anything other than milling around inside the lobby and staring back at me. I figured they were trying to decide if they should wait for me to leave before emptying out this modern day Whoville, or worse, come back out and throw me into a van they most certainly had parked around the corner (for I saw no van out front while trying to assess their legitimacy) only to deal with me later. I could leave right then, with my life, and hope that the cat might bury herself under the bed until they were gone–this seemed like my best option at that point.

Then, as I was feigning playing words with friends, I remembered, “You have a working cell phone now idiot, and Ariele put the super’s number in there for you.” A simple text was made to that very gentleman, it read something like this: “Hey dude, it’s Peter from Unit XYZ, I just let a couple of dudes in to repair the elevator and I’m concerned that they might be Memorial Day thieves of some sort.” I hit send and waited impatiently. Tick, tock, tick, tock…

“Cool. I’m here. I’ll come get them.” He wrote back.

I would say I was relieved, and I was for a moment, but it was truly short lived and any peace about the situation was almost immediately replaced with the realization that the super was in on it too. And barring that scenario, the elevator needed repairing? When would its cables be snapping, and would me or the Mrs. be the unfortunate rider on that fateful plunge. I headed to work and the sweet docile tones of Wilder’s Break My Stride never returned.

Done in by a Chicken Wing

I wish I could say yesterday was the first time an object fell from the heavens only to crash land within feet of my person. A quick mental countdown of all the items that have either accidentally made that trip, or were intentionally thrust from the city’s rooftops and windows, has the total tally at about eight or nine. Once on the Lower East Side it was a butcher knife. That is probably tops on the list if ranked in order of most deadly, beating out the plastic cups, glass, pennies, toys, water bottles, small building bits, water (possibly pee), and food items, which brings me to yesterday’s chicken wing–full sized chicken wing too, not some baby Buffalo Wing.

For good measure, let’s call it ten incidents total, not including the water (possibly pee)–because that happens too frequently to include, over the span of sixteen years of urban living. That’s less than one a year, and so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my daily list of possible life-ending outcomes doesn’t include a stunted stay in this world due to some drunken ex-frat-daddy’s decision to hurl bar-b-que’d pork ribs off the deck of his cookie-cutter condo. It is all too possible that yesterday’s chicken wing wasn’t discarded by anyone of the sort. This is Williamsburg, Brooklyn after all, and I suppose hipsters can and will be just as ignorant. In my experience, all types of people can be ignorant–I’m not sure why my brain constructed an image of a backwards ball cap wearing beefy-sloth as the culprit. Obviously, I have issues.

The difference between yesterday’s incident and all those prior, was I finally had a relatively decent idea of the item’s origin. There is basically only one large building on that particular block, and its vast rooftop decking is primetime party-time during the warmer months of New York City living. With this certain knowledge, I finally was able to do something about it, something that had not been possible, and maybe even less wise, when that butcher knife nearly took me out back in ’07. I decided to tattle.

I told my wife to wait just a moment, and then I beelined to the doorman’s desk in the lobby of the behemoth and said sternly, “I just thought you should know that someone is tossing chicken wings off the rooftop.”

He took a long look at me, scanned the little security camera TV screens in front of him, and remarked. “People are idiots.”

I was pleased he agreed. His remark validated a line of thinking I’d carried silently for far too long. Inside I was beaming–I finally had an ally in my cause to rid the world of degenerate revelers. But, that’s where the conversation ended. For one, I wasn’t really sure what I was demanding be done at that point, and two, I don’t think he really had any intention of getting up to go investigate unless he witnessed it first hand. The triumph ended awkwardly, and I shuffled back out onto the sidewalk to rejoin my wife and head home.

In the remaining hours of that day, I hadn’t given much thought to falling items being capable of hurting or killing me, but I spent quite a few minutes going over all the probable outcomes of me being a sneaky little snitch. For all I know, the doorman was a good buddy of the chicken-chucker and I started to think it was possible that he’d have me on the lobby camera’s feed now. With that he’d not have to work very hard to describe me to his friend from that roof-top, who most likely lives in that building just one short half-block east of our own. The individual who tossed it was probably already enraged with the near-miss, and upon hearing the news of my squealing would make it his mission to see me done in. Or at the very least, bloodied, bruised, and humiliated. All in the name of stopping people like me from attempts at curbing his favorite pastime of launching half-eaten meats off of rooftops.

Will I take an alternate route to the train on my way to work this week? Not likely. Will I dye my hair and sport a different pair of large shades? Perhaps, but only because my band is doing a radio show tomorrow morning. Will I spend too much time scanning faces on that block, in an attempt to see him coming before he sees me, and then get mugged from behind for my iPod by another unrelated idiot because I’m too focused on trying to stay one step ahead of my newest enemy? In my mind, that seems most likely.

The Audio Equivalent of Clean Drawers

I took a nice long run this past weekend. All of my runs, no matter the length, come loaded with thoughts, old and new, that the run itself is supposed to clear my head of. I consider myself blessed to have a brain that delivers hundreds upon hundreds of thoughts every hour in each day, but I don’t always want to be formulating, creating, supposing, wondering, and deconstructing potential outcomes of scenarios–and I certainly don’t want to pound the pavement dwelling on possible deadly conclusions of the very runs I am using as an escape from that type of thinking in the first place.

One semi-successful method to defer my madness until later is to crank up the iPod shuffle, and let Steve Jobs’ magical postage-stamp-sized wizardry fill the space in between these ears with the not-so-docile tones of Queens of The Stone Age, Marilyn Manson, Ten Kens, J.A.C.K, and even my own band, The Future. I like my rock ‘n’ roll loud, I always have–but given my belief that someone might be coming up on me to strike me down at any moment, I will admit I keep the volume just a touch under the level that would prevent me from hearing the footsteps of my would-be assailant in just the nick of time to spin around and pretend I know some urban form of martial arts.

Since the majority of my iTunes library is still holed up in a storage facility on Ben White Blvd. somewhere in East Austin, I’ve little to load my Shuffle with–and so one weekend last fall, I plundered my wife’s machine for tracks that I thought might be up to the task of distracting my sickness for the roughly thirty minutes I spend trying to not think four mornings a week. During my run this past weekend, just as I was entering the home stretch, Madonna’s Justify My Love showed up. I knew it was on there, but I rarely use the shuffle mode, and so it hadn’t made an appearance in quite some time. Do I hate the track? No. It’s a touch dated to be sure, but in general I find it agreeable.

As it played, I pushed my pace up a notch, which is typical of me over the final quarter mile of my every-other-daily reprieve. I’m in decent enough shape, but it doesn’t change the fact that anytime I push my speed, I think about having a heart attack, or even tripping just the right way to fall on my face and experience some nearly impossible spinal-snap. And so this time, I wondered internally, “Is Justify My Love really the song I’d want playing in my earbuds when and if a good samaritan came along to unsuccessfully try and bring back from the other world? Would that be the last thing spoken about me for however many years people chose to remember me? Peter Rosch? Oh yeah, I remember that guy–good guy, really loved Madonna–was keen on songs that weren’t really good, not even songs really, which was odd since he was a musician. I heard they looked a little deeper into his iPod and also found Ex-Girlfriend by No Doubt. Who knew?”

I might spend the necessary buck to download Van Halen’s Running With The Devil later today, and just loop that track while I run from here on out. Then, at the very least, should I reach my final destination on some future run, people will speculatively remember me as some dude whose musical tastes hadn’t matured past puberty. I can die with that.

Another Night, No Hatchet to the Head!

Typically, even though I thoroughly enjoy the professional part of my day, my elevator ride to the salvation of the evening is the start of something even better – the hours of freedom to do whatever the hell I want before the sandman imprisons me for the majority of the night. On my ride down last night, a man in his fifties, possibly early sixties, boarded my elevator one floor after my own entry.

He looked at me and queried, “It just never ends does it?”

His words were pungent with the stench of liquor, a smell I fancy frankly, and a clear indication that liquid courage had put him up to the task of involving a complete stranger in his assessment of living life, at least his own life that is. Normally I would have shrugged my shoulders, raised my brows a bit, and given absolutely no verbal response – which in my book is the universal gesture for, I hear you, but have no intention of engaging in your crazy at this time. Last night though, maybe because he looked so genuinely defeated, I inquired, “What’s that?”

“This place.” He said in a manner that indicated he was put off by my not already knowing exactly what was never ending.

So, I delivered my aforementioned and possibly patented shrug-brow-silence gesture, to no avail – and so he continued.

“At least we have jobs.” He said.

“That’s what they say.” I replied, not holding true to my own protocol for preventing potential crazies from dragging me down into their pit of darkness – I was now a willing participant rather than just some dumb-luck hi-jacked soul.

He spoke no more, not that there was much time left – it’s only nineteen floors – but there’s always time for the macabre machinery inside my head to lay out a few potential, highly undesirable outcomes of unnerving situations. The defeat in his posture, face, and gaze left me feeling uneasy, specifically about exiting before him. After all, He wore a heavy coat, and perhaps he was concealing a small hatchet to bury into my brain – it’s always that hatchet to the back of the head with me – always. Because once a friend of a cousin told me about their friend who took a hatchet to the back of the head while strolling down 23rd street one night. The result of having stared at a mumbling lunatic just a touch too long while in the process of walking past him. Miraculously, the maniac had unwittingly driven the blade strategically between working pieces of that guy’s gray goo. He lived to tell about it. Since I know that story, I figure the odds of a similar hatchet-to-the-back-of-the-head-lucky-break story are slim to none. And so, like many before him, I insisted – under the guise of extreme courtesy – that the man for which it never ends, exit before me. And I’m happy to report, another night in NYC with no hatchet in my head – a scenario which for me is the thing that never ends.