Sunday, July 20, 2014

Elbow Room

I'm always on time.  I'm not bragging.  Its simply a fact.  I am, if nothing else, reliably punctual.  I hate being late, I always have, but its only recently that I figured out why. 
I am incredibly impatient.  I’ve written about it before, and although this bit of news is not new to most of you, be assured that if you want to stress me out and initiate a creative and deep cutting onslaught of colorful metaphors and offensive adjectives… make me wait on you.  That said, it is the reason that I strive to be an on-time bloke.  I hate the way I feel when I'm kept senselessly waiting, and therefore, do not like to make others feel the same way.  Like most of us I have an inner monolog.  It keeps me company most of the time, and entertained for sure, but it goes into overdrive when I'm forced to wait on someone.  I have tried, valiantly, for most of my life to try to soften the edges of my rather German sense of timekeeping, with some success, but what happened the other day may just have given me the strength I need to abandon it forever.
You see, I have these friends.   They are good friends, close friends with whom Eileen and I share not just a great deal in common, but have a genuine love and admiration for.  We share a love of music, community and much, much more.  They are both wonderfully talented, and the best part is that our talents do not overlap.  What they do, I do not, and what I do, they do not!  It’s a great and fun friendship, and my life is that much better because if it! I consider them family.
A few days ago, a project of some kind in the works, we agreed that I would meet them at their home in the morning at 8:30.  When the morning arrived, I got up, on time, got ready and left the house, arriving at their home a short distance later at 8:28 a.m.  By the time I got out of the car and knocked on the door it was 8:30 sharp.  At first there was no answer, but after another knock or two, I was greeted by my friend Fred.
(Its important to know that in order to prevent any possible embarrassment on the part of my friends, I will change their actual names.  I will call him “Fred” and her, “Wilma.”).
So…Fred meets me at the door.  Fred looks tired, and not at all sure why I'm at the door, but he does not question my early appearance and invites me it.  He motions for me to enter the living room area, which I do.
There is a bathroom off to one side of the living room.  Just a moment or two later, the bathroom door opens.  I can hear Wilma calling to Fred, and I turn to say good morning…..
Standing in the hallway before me is a very, very, naked…Wilma!  When I say naked, I mean to express not just the absence of clothing, but no towel, no wash cloth, not even a tissue paper crunched up in one hand like old ladies in retirement homes tend to do.  No toilet paper stuck to the bottom of a foot or worse, trailing behind…nothing. 
I’ve seen naked women before…and if one has to be totally honest, once you’ve seen one naked woman…. you pretty much want to see the rest of them…. but there is definitely something to be said for getting an eyeful of one you either were not expecting to see, had not begged to see, or did not pay for.
Years ago, when outside mowing the front lawn, I saw the neighbor’s dog run out in front of a car.  You know the feeling.  It’s a little like watching a gruesome axe murderer do his thing on a rather grizzly horror movie.  Something in your inner brain, maybe your inner monolog, screams out, “OH NO! DON’T LOOK!”  Your reflexes kick in and you begin to close your eyes and turn your head.  No one wants to see the little dog get smushed, or witness a human being split down the middle with a fireman’s axe, but something happens to your muscles, something beyond your physical control, and no matter how much you know you should turn away, you DO look.
I'm convinced its why we have evolved with our eyes having corners.  You have to have something to look out of in those situations when the things you don’t want to see, the horrors, those life changing events that cause tiny little fissures to crack in the outer protective layers of your psyche happen right in front of you.  It’s a dichotomy of sorts, a conundrum that rivals our greatest unsolved mysteries.
Why do we look?  I’ll be damned if I know the answer to that.  It’s not that I want to see a little dog meet the front end of a speeding Buick.  I don’t relish the notion of dimwitted teenagers meeting their end at the hand of a maniacal, wood chopping psychopath in a dark forest any more than I needed to witness my friend Wilma in her birthday suit.  It’s not that she’s not a lovely woman.  She is, but of course that notion is directly overridden by two simple facts.  The first is that I already have the pleasure of seeing the loveliest woman on the planet in my own home every single day.  Nothing else can compare. The second is that she really is a sister to me in nearly every sense of the word. 
You know when you see the dog get his ass lifted by an oncoming front bumper…and you make that sound?  That “OH NO!” sound!  That “AUGH!” exclamation in anticipation of utter shock, coupled with a sense of, “man, I wish I didn’t just see that?”  Well thank Morgan Freeman I did NOT do that! 
I'm pretty fast on my feet most of the time, and although I got an eyeful, I managed a duck and cover maneuver that even Houdini would have been proud of.  I was able to turn away before Wilma and I made eye contact.  That would have been the worst.  Once you make eye contact in a situation like that, forget it.  It’s over.  Not only are you scarred for life, but the other party is forever glued to it! You might as well just stand there and look each other over like you are shopping for a used car. 
As it was, once the shock of it was over and we were nervously all three in the kitchen, Wilma asked if I had seen “anything.”  All I could think of was to say that all I had seen where her “elbows” sticking out.  Elbows…I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me.  I tried to make a joke, but it just served to fuel the situation.  Why did I say Elbows?  I think those are the only things I didn’t see!  That, and the back of her knees.  Now, whenever when ever Fred and I see each other, we bend our forearms and hold up our elbows in greeting.  It’s almost like a secret handshake now.  It’s very nearly a Masonic ritual, and I often image an alien planet, where instead of shaking hands, the little green fellows run up to each other and “touch elbows.” 
Had I not been so damned on time, so bleeping military about my desire to not be late, my elbow displaying friend Wilma would have had time to get dressed.  The other night, I was performing at a local venue and Fred and Wilma were in a attendance.  While performing a beautiful and somber ballad, Fred stood suddenly up from his chair and raised his elbows in support.  I instantly though back to that moment, recently, in their living room…..their COLD living room…the pair of chilled elbows I had seen that morning... and forgot the words to the fucking song!  I know I will never be the same, and I will endeavor now to be late where ever I go…well at least to their house!