Not always, does it go so wrong, so fast, but just when the frail brightness of a supposed happiness longed for daily seems to dwell more around you, more consistent, much longer than ever before imagined, and the failures disappear for a prolonged instant, that is when BAM!!! CRASH!!! Everything goes black, and to dread, and you feel so much the foolish soul for the prolonged effort in trying…to get it right, finally, again. Turning over and over events in your head, in a proverbial irreversible grave if you will, the errors discovered in a life that was… not going right at all. This is technically is called: the point of realization that you fucked up royally. And the place where all stories begin.
I was 18, going on 40, or 35 going on 12…it doesn’t matter what age I was. I was working the 9-5 for quite a few years, making people things, selling ice cream, keeping the boss happy and the like. The time was also filled with tons of restless sleep, socializing with bar buddies at local watering holes and bad women picked up at the 'last chance' gully of despair. My biggest goals were to keep the rent paid, the ‘rents out of my hair, a fairly healthy appearance (so I could dwell on the glory days) and someone coming around to satisfy those other needs, we all have. After all, what is a person to do if they are not focused on other things: like community service, long-range security, kids or 401Ks.
I met people like that. Some I could understand their points, and agreed wholeheartedly with their beliefs, until, when I saw them slamming down 151, Hot Damn or Stoli or gossiping excessively about some Jennifer so-so, then I heard the truest words they ever spoke about themselves, "I'm am so fucked up and I don't know where I am going." I kept that in mind, and decided those other goals don’t carry weight, much, after beer thirty and liquor lunch. Rarely, but it happened, as you approach milestones, those fated anniversaries of emptiness, you ponder harder on those issues because you never thought time would catch you by the short and curly ones.
It had in my case and the pull was painful.
The experience of life is not connected by just days, turning months, then years marked by candles, liquor celebrations or mid-life crisis, but the relationships we settle into out of desire, necessity or the convenience to not be alone. And not just any one relationship; most of us see our problematic situations for years and years, we bottled them up in neat little packages of anger, frustration and insecurities waiting for a solution to come out or about, usually, and instead, we crave an insincere apology from the other side of the divide. We seek our due penance through new relationships- trying to exercise the demons of old- hoping this friend is better than our family was, or our teachers were, or some other missing element of growing up, or the lagging development of being an overstressed, under appreciated, near-do-well adult.
God calls too. The Big Man. The Creator. His Most High. And all the
futile pleas to find out why we wake up wishing we weren’t us. Some
people don’t have this, and I truly envy their positivism in the bleak world it often is. I bid them do great things. Fine a way to solve all the hunger, and violence and end all the suffering everywhere. We all should be so lucky. But the remaining persons (like you and me) have to wonder why Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack” speaks to us vividly and resonates loudly, and we laugh and cry along with Billy, for a brief moment. Then we just ponder it all. Just like God (or Billy) expects us too. And He (GOD) sees this whimsy moving in our heads like a fat hamster on the wheel, and probably appreciates it in us. Just hoping action follows bloated thought.
And for the countless times I thought it out, that I’ll put my better soled foot forward, and find a real way to make the right choices and forge new beliefs, using the infallible guidance of the Creator or what I thought was his calling to some goodness that must exist inside of me. (It must, or I’ll be damned to understand why the game.) True to form, I wander away after a few weeks, or someone comes around to “tempt” me back to the consistent B.S. I got a post doctorate thesis working towards. But the song gets play again, by another artist, and that is the depressing part of this story. (Note: The Bible was a source of inspiration too. But for artistic purposes, utilizing the symbolism of a song just works…or not.)
Later, if the same year, I don’t think so, the finally resting place of the
old, cynical, crab ass happens. A different inhabitant begins to take form. The first of it is to ditch the beer buddies. They are quick to exit and easier to contend with once I just don’t go to their bars. I lose my controlling interest in MGD incorporated, and find faith in something more useful: jogging around my neighborhood every night. I can hear you say, “I thought it would be the church, or AA, or community service.” Grand leaps of faith are a glorious thing. Just they are not for us all. Commitment is a freckled and fickled thing. But for anyone managing it, I commend it. Enjoy your 12-step program to enlightenment.
Next came the rush to find a new job. Pulling out a different mask: the
considerate, kind, energetic, team player, all that you wanted to be and should be, only practicing it takes time. Discouragement happens, but rebounding is easier without the negative vibes in life. Hangers-on to the old self are damned, and the better part of rejection is the knowing the right person is still available for that dream job: me. But it came, and the fruits came with it. You like what you do. The boss does not bother you. I make the effort to stay later and get in earlier. Hours in my life seem like minutes. Days click by. Projects never done, get done. The hum and drum start purring and soothing over me like a waterfall hitting rocks and enticing me to relax, take it in, see all the good stuff.
Finally, the best part of it all: a relationship that counts. By the way: I met others that counted on the way to this. Just the relationship that matters, is the romance lost in the gloaming of the springtime of youth.
She was once a curvy Hooters waitress where all the girls are measured by bra size first, panties second and intelligence fifth. Marissa was a total babe, the package magnificent, body taut and mind razor-like. She utilized her girlish assets under 21 to get a sugar daddy for 12 months. Fifty large, a black Lexus, cute kid and $2,000 a month in child support later, she was out the door to make her way in the nefarious power-drunk world.
After getting through the 6-year torture session that is college, with professors that drone on, and on, and on about their ideas, while never applying a lick of them, Marissa finished up near the top of the 2004 Kellogg Business class at Northwestern. She was out to make a name for herself – willing to set aside principles and morals for bullshitting and cash receipts – if only to have what others desire, but won’t pay the adequate price for.
I met her during the company introduction of new ‘imps’, as the H-N-I-C was apt to say, which usually comprised of quick run down of a resume of useless information, since none of it usually true or leaves out the real juice to squeeze. Somehow, she noticed me. Or at least wasn’t repulsed by any ogre-like tendencies most men carry around like their penises.
“I wash the cars of big wigs, maybe get them a call girl for the evening.” I nonchalantly replied. (At least I think I did.)
“That’s nice, at least the sexual innuendoes are out of the way. What do you really do? All these others are pretty staid.” The bullpen was nearly empty after the 9AM meeting discussing numerous particulars relevant to particularly no one.
“Gather and process information. Make someone happy by knowing
something they don’t, or anyone else does for that matter. Inside… it’s all pink.”
“So you think you know stuff?” Marissa asked.
“I know…lots of stuff. And little else.” As we finally packed up to leave
the bullpen of the 58th floor high rise.
“Guess I have a few nuggets to share…soon with you.” She strolled out
the door in a way that spoke to me. The magnetic pull of her ass to my privates was something of an embarrassment. I jerked it off to her before the clock struck midnight.
As the months went by, I saw Marissa manipulate her way into projects – with success and praise soon to follow – and soon she was my equal in everything. Our banter revolved around sex, numbers, Buddhism and lingerie models’ weight. At 5’7” and 115 lbs., her lithe body was toned on a Stairmaster workout midday. I’d smack a handball around with the H-N-I-C because I knew his ass was ample to kiss. Soon though, 7 PM meant we would recap some parts of the day, and talk sweetly about what little direction we actually had. (Or, I at least did.)
“Tom…Are you happy?” Sucking down her 3rd screwdriver without
skipping a beat.
“I wonder until the paycheck comes. Then the cycle repeats.” I take a
swig from my 4th Long Island. “How about you, expert mountain
“Hey, I utilize my exceptional assets in a talent-poor market to increase my bottom line.” She half-stands, smacking her ass. I only wish I was the hand.
“Not at all against free-market…Milton Friedman, God rest his soul.” We clink our glasses.
pressing than ever – the desire to profess my love to her. She lays asleep, or I think she is, or know that I must be crazy to think this smooth worker is actually interested in my 6-figure ass. She mumbles something in her dreamy state that sounds like a call order. I must be nuts…
We’ve spent the last 5 months figuring out the language of love and manipulation. I work overtime figuring out what she is trying to accomplish, cause that is what you do when you never speak the truth of your hearts. We fuck a lot. Not so much as to interfere with her ‘plans’ I suppose, but enough. We’re not exclusive…
As the year-end bonuses come, I am hoping to lock Marissa up for the
long-term. Her daughter Kate is a pistol at 5 years old. Always talking and saying something that matters. I wonder if Marissa was talking to her daughter in the womb.
Marissa knocks at the door, “Tom, are you ‘bout ready to go?”
Closing up the laptop, “Yeah, I’m done. How did you do?”
“Got what I needed…” Marissa doesn’t sound happy.
“What’s wrong? They leave off a zero?”
“Let’s talk about it at Breakers.” Referring to our bar in the financial
We enter Breaker's and head to a table at the back.
“So what is it?” Tom asked, as they sat down in the back of Breaker’s, an Irish pub, with scantily clad waitresses wearing of course green tapered outfits and kilts. Before Marissa started, a redheaded waitress comes over, takes the order for two scotches straight up and water and leaves us.
“I don’t know where to begin.” Marissa said meekly.
“Anywhere you like.” Confused by her fear of trying to do something she had done plenty in her life.
“It’s not that easy, because it…will change everything.” She rests herself closer to Tom, making eye contact that drew and repel him at the same time.
“Marissa,” taking her hands, “I can’t tell you anything that will change us. I truly care about you and am willing to do anything for you.”
Marissa perks up, but shakes her head, “Tom, it’s not that. I wish it was only that, but…” she trails off.
“Then what are you being so weird about?” Tom asks.
“I overheard something that affects the firm, us specifically,” Marissa takes a sip finally from her drink.
“We’re being set up for a fall, and I can’t think how we’ll avoid it.”
“Why? How can it work now?”
“They’ve been watching us and Mr. Zitters is furious about our recent success or something.”
“So what are they planning?”
“I only heard so much – I was in the woman’s bathroom and that secretary of Mr. Hass came barreling in, making too much noise – and I ran out to my desk quickly to disguise my whereabouts.” Marissa pauses, then continues, “I think they’ll try to put an unusual trade or two on our accounts which they know will work out too good for someone they are targeting.”
“So what? We have control of the trades we make.” Tom feeling too confident.
“Do we? We make them, at the behest of clients and the partners, sometimes, but only if we stop trading are we completely safe.”
“Will go to the SEC. Tell them about it.”
“Tell them what? I got a hunch Hass, Zitters & Moss are setting us up, but don’t know what the stock is or when I am suppose to be in that large position. Not much to go off and why would a firm setup its own brokers?” Marissa explains matter-of-factly.
After a drag from his drink, Tom queries, “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes!” Marissa whispers an exclamation. “It just is too hard to believe Tom. Why us? Because we have sex?”
Trying to take it all in, Tom reflects finally, “Well it is not about why, it now about what we going to do to stop it from happening to us.”