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A man by himself -1

by Jason Wardell

"A man by himself hasn't got a fucking chance."
--Edward Abbey, "The Fool's Progress"

We talked for four hours without stopping, ordering drinks with hand motions, waves, a
cupped hand drawn forward, whole arm movements by the end of the night, and only
breathing enough to keep going. This is how our dates go. We talk animatedly and at
length until it’s 2 a.m. and the movie’s long over and the bar is emptying or kicking us
out and we’re sitting close, closer, and then I leave.

Hey. Now. What’s that all about? Well, in my admittedly short time breathing, shorter
time drinking, even shorter time dating, I’ve had the opportunity, privilege, good fortune,
call it what you will, to kiss three girls. I’m obscuring the truth. The opportunity,
privilege, good fortune have undoubtedly come and gone over the course of the past 10
years, it’s just been the insight, intellect, initiative I’ve lacked. More, two of those girls
were good friends that roped me into spinning a bottle a few times. I was 20, 21.

Understandably, I say to myself, I’ve built up a sort of phobia about the topic.
Understandably dreading the point where I want to kiss her; it’s worse than any speech
I’ve given, any time I’ve had to stand, sing, cry in front of an audience larger than one
girl. What’s the worst that can happen?, I ask myself, and then I answer it and leave.
Understandably.

Some times, I will attempt a modicum of an excuse.

-"I don’t... do... date... often."
-"Well, it’s... kind of a... while... so."
-"I just... well... I thought... it’s."

And I maybe throw in an anemic hug, like a consolation to myself. Better Luck Next
Time and I’m walking home against the current of happy couples, unhappy couples,
people together and not men by themselves, and me--a man by himself--hands in my
jeans pockets, maybe kicking a stone down the street, maybe muttering profanities at
myself or anyone who will listen, maybe trying to muster the strength to control my own
body--two blocks away--to turn around, indie music swelling in the background,
audience rooting, despite themselves, for the plucky dude, the loveable loner, and you
just want him to succeed so badly that you don’t mind how cliché the ending is, maybe
taking three steps into a jog, a run, a soaring sprint, taking three raps on the door. Hey.
I forgot something. Cheesy, but there it is: the kiss.

But I don’t write those kinds of stories and I’ve never heard The Postal Service booming
from the skies in my times of need for encouragement and I haven’t listened to them
since 2005 anyway. These days I prefer the slower, sadder songs, ones for walking
home alone. Maybe something angrier, quieter, tense, building and never breaking.

But it’s 10:30 p.m. this time. The weather has turned sooner than we expected, so we
walked and talked hand-in-hand back with astounding alacrity and suddenly it’s that
moment again. She tells me she should call it a night and I can’t argue that talking to 2
a.m. is best in moderation, but it’s the point of the phobia and I’m in top form.

-"Well... it’s kind of a...--"

and she grabs my arm, pulls me closer, and we kiss.

She blushes and we both laugh a little. Says,

-"I just... well... I thought... it’s."

and I pull her closer and we kiss.

10/02/2009

Author's Note: This is journal-type stuff but it's prequel material. It's important for what comes next.

Posted on 10/03/2009
Copyright © 2021 Jason Wardell

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Ava Blu on 10/05/09 at 04:09 PM

i've read this a few times. well, more like 4 times... and i love it. i love it in that way we find new poets on the shelves of a used book store and realize the book only costs 2 dollars. i love it in the way we look for an old friend we haven't seen in years, hugging like sisters/brothers. i love it in many ways that i cannot completely articulate. added to my favorite list, and if i could, i'd delete all the others and just have this. love.

Posted by Ava Blu on 03/21/11 at 03:17 PM

I can't believe I was the only one to ever comment on this. People are dumb.

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