Two weeks have passed since Jeff's high school reunion, which no doubt will be remembered by his classmates simply as 'the incident', and he's still trying to figure out exactly what happened. At present, his head feels like a snow globe that has been firmly ensconced in a paint mixer for the better part of a day. It's cloudy, messy and will take a while for everything to settle. There's a fine line between a breakthrough and a breakdown and right now it's anyone's guess as to which side of that line Jeff has landed.
Ashley's insistence that he undertake these bold new adventures and discuss them on a video blog had a certain appeal to it. Anything that frames him as more bold and daring and less cowering under his bed like a puppy in a thunderstorm is certainly welcome. But like communism, hot yoga, and deep fried Snickers bars, this might be another in the long list of things that are good only in theory.
And so Jeff feels like he is at a crossroads as he sits and stares at his laptop's webcam. Much like a combatant sizing up his foe, he must decided to either engage or leave the battle for another day. With an all-too-familiar sigh of resignation, Jeff clicks the record button and his image appears on the screen.
I once asked a co-worker how his performance review went and he said "They literally fucked me up the ass!" As my performance review was scheduled next, I was really hoping he simply misused the word 'literally'. Although I couldn't fight the curiosity as to how exactly a performance review would take that particular turn. 'Well Bill, you failed to meet your sales quota for the third straight quarter, I think you know what happens now.' I'll bet this happens more than we realize – misusing phrases, not employment related sodomy. We toss around words and phrases without really understanding what they mean. Then one day we wake up to realize just how important these once seemingly abstract concepts can be in our lives. I recently had this kind of awakening which started, not surprisingly, in the bar with my friends.
At their regular table in the Cedar Room, Louie and Jeff sit with an almost trance-like fixation on something unfolding directly in front of them. At first glance it's unclear if they are watching in silent judgement or are just completely engrossed in whatever is happening in front of them. Their concentration is such that they don't even notice when a completely exasperated Ashley plops herself down at the table.
"Anyone know where I can find a good caterer on short notice? Maybe one who won't back out just because his father needs a kidney." Had they been paying the slightest amount of attention, the guys would have picked up on the fact that Ashely used air quotes for "father needs a kidney."
Jeff and Louie wave her off and shush her. "Niko's doing the thing again," Louie says, completely oblivious to the fact this raises more questions than it answers.
In a half-hearted attempt to clue her in, Jeff gestures with his head towards Niko who is sitting at a nearby table with Marlene, a stunningly beautiful mid-twenties woman with jet black hair and emerald green eyes. Ashley knows she will soon regret this but nevertheless, she scoots her chair a little closer to listen in to what Niko is saying.
"I remember how she left me on a stormy night. She kissed me and got out of our bed."
Niko delivers the words with the earnestness and sincerity of a deathbed confessional. Marlene squeezes his arm in a show of support.
"And though I pleaded and I begged her not to walk out that door..." he pauses to maintain his composure. "She packed her bags and turned right away."
"Oh, you poor thing."
"And she kept on telling me..." He's choking up now. He tries again. "She kept on telling me..." And again. "She kept on telling me I want you, I need you but...there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you."
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The New TwentyHumor
***WATTYS 2017 WINNER*** When the newly single, 40 year-old Jeff Dempsey suffers an agonizing humiliation at his high school reunion, he comes to realize he has accomplished almost nothing with his life. Armed with this new found insight, Jeff char...