Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Filling in the Blanks in Blank's Apartment


Filling in the Blanks in Blank's Apartment

On the floor of the bedroom is a futon couch/bed on a low-lying wooden folding frame. The futon lies perpetually flat, its folding abilities an implied, and not yet performance art. I have yet to see this bed act like a couch.

A growing pile of screws and washers rest under the futon frame, hence its inability to return to lounge-upright from perpetual bed status. Of the two cats in the apartment, the white cat, pink-eared and blue-eyed, playfully bats this hardware about on a regular basis. The black cat drools a lot.

I read once in an entertainment article that the comedic actor Chevy Chase (famous for his falls on Saturday Night Live) slipped, fell and injured himself in his bedroom one night. He had stepped and then skated on a magazine left at the carpeted bedside. For all his staged falls on SNL, he was unable to right himself at home, and after a bout of magazine-boarding he suffered injuries.

I'm pretty sure this is the reason that Blank keeps his “Victoria's Secret” catalogs and “Legs!!!” magazines under the futon. Though his futon frame rides very nearly to the ground, and a person has to roll out of it rather than disembarking from a sitting, to standing to walking position, Blank keeps the magazines out of sight, but close in mind, to prevent household accidents. And, I suppose, within reach for “other stuff.”

Against the wall, and above the futon and frame, attached to nothing but memories of another bed, stands the remains of a waterbed headboard. It is of the mirrored and shelved variety. You could say it was a gift, the truth of the matter being; previous tenants left it behind.

If Blank feels like delving into someone's thoughts, besides his own, he has a jar of pennies on the headboard in order to pay for incoming calls for conversation. A jar of quarters rests next to the jar of pennies, on the outside chance that the bedding might one day be offered an all-expense-paid trip to the Laundromat.

The entire time Blank and I have been seeing each other, both the penny and quarter jar have gone up in value. From time to time, I have even donated to the cause, silver and copper, leaking from the pockets of my jeans on more than one occasion. No pennies have been dispensed for thoughts, and the sheets very well could travel to the Laundromat on their own power, followed by Blank's dirty jeans.

Time, not money, is what we spend in this room. There are wide waste and profit margins. It's a good thing math makes me sleepy, or thoughts like this would keep me up at night.

Across the bedroom, is a white-painted dresser of no particular design quality. It is the remains of Blank's parents' apartment days, a nonplus piece they no longer wanted among their modern day d├ęcor. It is too perfect for Blank's needs and was exactly the right price --FREE! The delivery of this piece was free as well, and a matching bookcase was thrown into the bargain.

My first time in Blank's apartment, I fought the urge to judge the man by the cover of his books, but old habits die hard. Book curiosity got the best of me and I spied the shelves for clues, as I spy them again now, months later, thinking perhaps I missed something. This man is still yet a boy.

The shelves have not changed much in the months that I have known Blank, other than a thin film of dust. What remains on the shelves is a hardcover book on how to pick up women, a few books that were required reading for college, including Leaves of Grass and a copy of Plath. Blank calls them his “sure to get laid” volumes.

Filling in any remaining spaces are Blank's books on C++ programming. There are also several cling photo albums filled with pictures of Blank's parents, his subdivided land/ranch-house only child upbringing, family vacations and a few college photos. He has an enormous assortment of pictures of his cats.

I believe I've failed to mention the window in the bedroom. I look at it now, turning away from what I'm not finding on these shelves. The window is expansive, commanding the entire wall, with a wide ledge, perfect for sitting, plant or person. It is only three floors up; however, a useless exercise if a person were to jump. I suppose this is why I have stayed put, until now.

The sun squints behind the dusty blinds, as if to scrutinize me. What business do I have here? Just how much longer am I going to hang around? What do I think I will find here?

I turn my face from this interrogation and continue my mental tour of this all too familiar place.

All or most of the furniture Blank owns is in this room. It could for, all intents and purposes, be considered the main room in this very small apartment. It is the room, in fact, we use the most.

The outlying rooms include the entrance hall, which opens into the living room, which opens into the kitchen, which spills into the hallway, which runs right by the bathroom, and here you are, right back in the bedroom!

The room we use the most.

Affordable apartment living is in a circle, if you are a nearly 30-something man living in a trendy part of the city. Trendy is the polite way of saying, this apartment is beyond all pretenses and not worth the rent for such an image.

The living room in Blank's apartment also doubles as a dining room. When I first came to Blank's place, there were four chairs surrounding what remains now to be now just the table, a bike, a computer desk, a desk chair, a stereo system and a tower of CDs. The TV had wheels and had already been shoved into the bedroom.

Blank has no couch. He owns no dish towels. The dishes and glasses in his kitchen cupboards are circa 1980s, things his mother couldn't sell at rummage sales over the years. The refrigerator contains mostly clear liquids with Aquafina bottled water and a bottle of vodka. What is not transparent, is white --eggs, a box of baking soda and the walls of the fridge.

The kitchen chairs have long since been moved to an alternate location --the Dumpster. Blank has pushed the glass-topped kitchen table against the wall of his living/dining area, just under one of the only two pictures on the wall, a repo print, a Lichtenstein. This afforded some space for Blank's recliner, yet another hand-me-down, lacking a price tag of any kind, and kindly dropped off by his parents.

The chair reminds me of the dry heaves in its absence of color. Vomit, in this case, would probably be a step up, for this less than beige chair.

The nausea hits me now, that feeling of over-eating, but yet still hungry in some odd way, and I begin to actively leave this apartment, in search of, I don't know what.

Blank has so often pointed out that I never leave anything behind after I spend a night or a weekend. My leave-taking, this time, is no different. I require no boxes, not even a small carry-on. On prior departures, admittedly, I combed the place and removed all evidence of any activity. Forensic relationship experts would find few clues that I existed here.

My tour of this apartment appears to be over. I leave, where I came in, shutting the door behind me.
I intend to begin again.


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*My hope is that this piece reigns as "slice of life" observation and does not come off as a judgmental and/or autobiographical in nature, although we all know that readers tend to consider, dollars to doughnuts, if that darn writer might not just be penning all about themselves, or someone they new --no matter what they write!

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott advises, if you are being horribly judgmental and/or biographical, you might consider changing the characteristics of a person slightly so they are less than clearly identified and less likely to sue or slash your tires. She has also joked, if you are writing about a past lover, you should give him a smaller than normal penis. She stated that no man in his right mind would sue you for defamation of character, if he had to go in a court room and say, "See, that's all about me, every last detail!" --- including the nearly microscopic member!

While I like Lamott's advice on how to reweave the patterns of a life observed, I chose to leave the size and nature of sex organs out of this one, unless of course you read between the lines, which I hope I do. -And if that's the case, you will find more than one person in this piece … mirror, mirror on this apartment wall. -A

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