It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this. I get asked this more than anything else, but it never gets easier.
I try not to show it, my anxiety, as I say, “All of my life.”
“Well, let me tell you this much,” she says with a look of surprise, before winking, “I don’t detect any accent.”
This too, I’m told all the time. Somewhere between the relief and paranoia, I mutter my thanks.
Mashmallows are still on the lawn, even though it rained hot cocoa last night just like every other night.
I tell this to my neighbor. I say, “The marshmallows never melt.”
And my neighbor says, “Yeah, that’s how it is over here,” and a winged horse with a horn on its head appears behind him.
And I say, “Oh look, there’s a pegacorn.”
And without bothering to turn around, he says, “Yeah, they’re around.”
That’s what her license plate says, but in all caps.
Everybody has a pet name and hers is maus.
I never ask her about her german pet name, even though it’s on her license plate. I’d rather not go there. Things are hyped up as it is. There’s no need to galvanize any more energy to the fact by probing into something as privy as a pet name. With anybody else, it would mean nothing, but it’s different with sky, because she dresses in stockings and miniskirts in the snow.
“In other words,” I go, “she’s unparagoned.”
And my dentist goes, “She sounds high-maintenance.”
“Anyway,” I go, “she’s married.”
And my dentist goes, “Her husband must be exhausted.”
We embrace goodbye, before I hand her the bag of Ketchup Garden, and she gets inside her car. The headlights flash and the window rolls down, and sky goes, “If I don’t hear back from you by christmas, then merry christmas.”
“And if I don’t hear back from you by christmas,” I go, “then merry christmas.”
And she pulls ahead, turning away her license plate, pixelating into the night.
And she says, “It’s these kids getting into trouble and ruining the city.”
“And JC,” she says. “JC runs this city.”
I say, “Who?”
She says, “Jerome Corp.”
I say, “Jereme Corp.”
She says, “Jerome Corp.”
She says, “They run this city. And they don’t do anything for the city.” And she says, “You know how it says you can’t park in the streets between 3 and 6 in the morning? That used to be for street cleaning, but they haven’t done that in years.”
I say, “That’s unfortunate.”
She says, “In years.”
I say, “That’s very unfortunate.”
She says, “In years.”
I say, “That’s very very unfortunate.”
She says, “But it’s getting better here.”
I say, “In what ways?”
She says, “It’s turning around.”
I say, “How is it turning around?”
She says, “It’s starting to come back.”
I say, “What makes you think that?”
She says, “It’s in the news.”
I say, “What’s in the news?”
She says, “They’re rebuilding golly hi.”
I say, “What’s that?”
She says, “It’s the hi school.”
I say, “Ah.”
She says, “It’ll be ready next year.”
I say, “Great.”
She says, “And I was appreciating not having to deal with kids.” She says, “Once they reopen the school, you’ll see kids everywhere, breaking into property and getting into fisticuffs.”
I say, “That’s not good.”
She says, “There was a donnybrook at the concert a couple months ago here at The Park. You know they throw concerts at The Park. Like do you know the Beatles?”
I say, “Yeah.”
She says, “The Beatles perform every year.”
I say, “Are the Beatles from gollyland?”
She says, “No.”
She says, “And the Spice Girls. Do you know the Spice Girls?”
I say, “Yes.”
She says, “What about Cognitive Descendants?”
I say, “No.”
She says, “Average boy band.”
I say, “Are they from gollyland?”
She says, “No, none of the performers that perform in gollyland are from gollyland.”
I say, “I see.” And I say, “I’ve been around to Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, and other cities, and I have to say gollyland is like no other city.”
She says, “I’ve been in gollyland all my life because I can’t afford to get out of this hellhole.”
“Well,” I say, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
And she says, “I guess it’s a convenient location if you don’t drive. Everything you need is within walking distance.”
“Which works out for the environment,” I say.
“Fuck the environment,” she says, “I’m freezing my fingers off. The other day, I came home with the groceries and I literally took my mittens off like this,” and you could see her hands convulsing. “Anyway, I have to go to my next appointment.”
I say, “How much did you say I owed you?”
She says, “Twelve dollars.”
I produce my check book, and she says, “Can you make sure to put the suffix on it? My mom has the same name, and she might think it’s her check and cash it.”
I hand Snowblowergirl the check, and I say, “Maybe it’ll warm up before Christmas.”
“It won’t,” she says on her way out. “But you get used to it.”
real life doesn’t have to make sense.