I’m at the wedding of a guy I work with. Bill, another guy I work with, who’s older than me, gives me advice.

 

He says: Now that you’re almost thirty, one thing I would tell you is this—and everyone I tell this to says, Bill, man, you were right—that if you’re interested in somebody, just let them know. Say, hey, I’m interested in you, you seem like a person worth getting to know, let’s get dinner.

 

And then he clenches his jaw and slaps an invisible ass in the air and says, quieter: And man, have some damn fun with it.

 

I say: Thanks Bill.

 

My coworker cries during his vows, looks into the eyes of the person who, in a minute, will be his wife. The sun backlights the Spanish moss and freckles onto the grass like in a movie where, later, someone will be dragged into a swamp.

 

I tell Bill I’m gonna sneak off to smoke, and Bill asks his wife if he can come with me.

 

His wife says: Fine.

 

 

Fried tomatoes, crawfish lathered in orange sauce, cheesy oysters, tiny bits of steak on little breads. I sit alone and eat fast and don’t drink anything.

When I arrived, I scanned the crowd, hoping someone else was also not wearing a suit. But even the children wear suits. I keep the sweater on even as it warms up because it is nicer than the shirt, which at least has a collar. And the pants are brand new so you wouldn’t know they only cost me 14 dollars.

 

I used to complain to my dad about not liking suits, not wanting to wear them. He would say: Too bad.

 

Sitting in the white chair, running the edge of the program along the webbing between my fingers, I think about how when I was in college, a girl I hardly knew texted me:

 

I’m down to fuck. The year is ending soon. Thought I’d say something.

 

And then a few days later: Studying in the library but want to take a break.

 

So I texted back the number of my dorm.

 

When she got there we talked for a few minutes—fake talking for the sake of talking—then started making out. We took off our clothes. When I had my hands on her ribs she said: I don’t think I want to do this. So we lay down for a while, sort of touching each other.  Then we started making out again. Then I went down on her. Then I said: Do you want to fuck? And she nodded.

 

I think about this again while I’m driving home. And about the time I was with Jen and Jen’s friend, Tom, at a party. Tom said: You guys are hot, should we make out?  Jen and I laughed. Tom said: Hahaha, but I think we should all make out. Jen and I looked at each other and shrugged. Tom said: No, but seriously.

 

So Jen and I made out for a second and then Tom and Jen made out for a second and then Tom and I made out for a second.

 

And I said: Maybe let’s go outside.

 

And Tom said: We should totally go outside and make out.

 

And Jen said: Let’s find drugs.

 

 

One time I was listening to a show on the radio. Someone called in and said: I don’t need advice. I’m just lonely. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world. I don’t think anyone else actually exists.

 

The host said: Of course people exist. Everyone exists. Come on. If you thought I didn’t exist, what would be the point of calling me? Why bother talking to me right now? I exist.

 

The caller said: I guess you’re right. I don’t know. I just decided to call. Thank you.

 

The host said: Sure. Next we have Kristen from Seattle. Sorry, Kirsten.

 

 

When I was little, I’d bubble snails with salt. One time I threw a cat into a creek.

 

I wouldn’t do that now.

 

There’s a lot I wouldn’t do now.

 

But even now, I don’t trust the things I think, or the opinions I hold, or the things I do.

 

A day later I’m like, why the hell did I think that? Why did I say that? Why did I do that?

 

Maybe it’s confidence, (inhibition, youth, freedom), that allows you to throw a cat into a creek.

 

Maybe we have to cripple ourselves with confusion and doubt.  Maybe that’s maturity.  Maybe it’s a trade.

 

Maybe we have to hurt ourselves in order to not hurt cats, or each other.

 

 

When I get home, Drew is on my couch and there’s a Lunchables next to him. He looks drunk or like he’s been crying. I think both. I take off the sweater.

 

He says: Jackie threw me out. She read my texts. I still have your key. I’m so dumb.

 

I say: Fuck.

 

He says: I know dude.

 

I say: You can definitely sleep here.

 

He says: Thank you.

 

I say: Can I see the texts?

 

So he shows me.

 

They’re just dumb texts, like, you’re really cool, let’s hang out.

 

I say: Can’t blame her.

 

He says: I know. I think I just want to fuck everyone.

 

I say: Yeah, well.

 

I pause.

 

I say: Well then maybe it’s good.

 

 

John Collector is a carpenter in New Orleans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *