After I stopped scratching, my eye was no longer red. He called me anyway, the next day, to inquire about my health.
“What eye?” I said, now concerned mostly with a suspicious looking paper cut on my left hand. “Oh, that. Fine. I think I'm okay now.”
He asked me to see a romantic comedy that night, and we were all love again, but then he canceled via my voicemail because of inclement weather, presuming to reschedule our date the following evening. How dare he presume I'm not busy, I thought shaking my head proudly, as I continued highlighting my TV Guide.
The next day there was no word. Nine p.m. rolled around and found me trying to learn Texas Hold'em with my friends Felix and Stinky. We played a few rounds and worked through a jug of room-temperature Chablis, before I put on my silver tap shoes and began practicing my time steps in the kitchen along with my record, “Tap Your Troubles Away,” and Stinky got out his camcorder and taped the nimble movements of my feet. We had just commenced the at home Karaoke session, singing along to “Night Fever” as it came over the radio and we read the words off my computer screen, when the phone rang.
“I can't believe you stood me up!” I cried out wounded.
“I didn't. We can go now.”
But of course, I couldn’t. I’m old fashioned, and believe a lady’s time should be reserved in advance. I was insulted. So I took a thick slug of my Chablis and said, “Listen to this.” I pointed the phone at my feet, and tapped out a little number and then bringing the receiver back to my face I announced resolutely, “That's it, I'm breaking up with you,” as if the combination of the tapping and my proclamation made perfect sense.
“Really?” he said, shocked by my declaration.
“Really,” I said. “It's over.”
That night Felix, Stinky, and I went to my friend's office downtown. There was an empty unlit loft space on the floor just above his, and we crept up the stairs to have a few drinks and hang out for a while in a less than likely place, which is sometimes all you can do. While they told jokes, talked about the weather, and generally regarded life as a good thing, I tried to tap my troubles away in the vast dark room. Our only light came from the moon and the many glimmering windows in the buildings that surrounded us, like artificial stars. I shuffled optimistically back and forth across the wooden floor, occasionally slipping on a few escaped tears and the rhythm-induced tidal waves overflowing from my plastic cup of gin and juice. Shimmying toward the Hudson River rushing by the west window, I reminded myself with each clicking Rif-Raf how much better it was that I hadn’t, at least, gotten my heart too tangled in this particular scuffle. Then I retreated again in Pirouettes and Traveling Time Steps back in the other direction.
Eight Days With Iris, pt. 4