Adventuring with the Left Handed Singles Club from the Other Side of the Tracks

The dry spell is over! We have hit the waters of fluid writing material! And just in time for the last post of NaPoBloMo. To allieviate the guilt of not posting yesterday, I am going to try to go into the details of every bit of noteworthy yesterday. It was a very interesting day from my perspective, and if nothing else, the sheer amount of hours awake have made for something to talk about. 

I woke up at 4 a.m. for my Black Friday shift at the mall coffee shop. All in all, it was an uneventful shift that sped by. The line was down the stairs from the moment the gate opened at 7 a.m. until I left that day at about 2:30. Yet, everyone was in a cheeful sort of mood. Only a few remade drinks were required and free food from the co-workers in the back was a bonus. The best part of it all was I didn’t have time to be sad or to think about everything that has happened in the past week. Today, the effect of working that long shift and going straight from there to hang out with friends has hit me and my body and brain feel electrified with agitation and a very pervasive sense of “why bother?” With anything. Moving on. 

My friend Stark invited me out directly after work to go have a late lunch with the crew of friends from the other side of the tracks so to speak, a nearby town that is a little bit po-dunk but has produced many a friend of mine with a good heart. Stark just so happens to be Lanks’s best friend since childhood. After the awkward party Lanks and I have separately been attending this week, the time with Stark could have been more of the same, but it wasn’t. I think that’s because Stark is the opposite of Lanks’ self-centered unapologetic cavalier. Stark is the one constantly trying to make sure everyone is welcome and having a good time. 

And so at lunch, Stark and the other end of the triangle of friends, Oscar were there. There was also a new face: a guy who looked like he was straight out of a role playing basement gathering, 40 and balding, wearing a shirt that said Jerk. Ironically, he was quite a nice fellow and smart as a whip like the rest of them. We all loaded up in Jerk’s car and took the sprawling roads to the town across tracks 40 or so minutes away. The roads in the town are winding and 20 mph is typical in this Mayberry throwback, as the only other girl in the group, Lauren said when she joined us later in the night. It was quite nice to ride around for an hour or so along these roads, looking at the endless open land, the cattle in almost every one of these fields, and the leaves that were just now turning from red to brown. It’s a beautiful land around these parts, and how much more beautiful to someone who hasn’t lived here all their life, I’m sure. 

After a quick stop at Jerk’s homey wrap-around porch house with two long-haired cats on the porch, we headed to Stark’s parents’ house. Stark was only in town for the weekend before heading back to school Monday, and so I got to meet Stark’s mother and father (a feat that I never managed to pull off with Lanks in the 4 months we were semi-serious) as we headed back to the door proclaiming the “man cave.” I wasn’t even nervous, readers. I knew this was about to be writing material of a kind I quite sorely have missed. 

Sidenote: Stark’s parents and his family home that we were in is a mobile home. I’ve led a rather sheltered life I suppose, because I’e never been in a mobile home. The stereotype that I’ve gleened from my television screen is that mobile homes are dirty, poor and a mark of low class. Well, that may be the case in some circles, but this was not my experience at all. Stark’s home was delightfully cozy. It was a clean place, well organized with a wide open living room, electronics of a nice variety, and even recycling going on in the laundry room. There was a cute little dog, and running water, and it was just as nice as any home I’ve been to. A valid learning experience for me. 

So in the “man cave,” Oscar, Stark, Jerk, and Anna settled into the chairs around a card table and embarked on a new quest. I’d never played one of these role playing board games of any kind, and so they eased me into the process with a game called Pandemic. I don’t care how nerdy I sound. I enjoyed the hell out of myself playing that game. These games are not for the faint of heart as so called “nerds” who play them are mental cutthroats, building even more brainmass through the playing of these games. These gamees are hard! And even the nerds aren’t sure how to win them the first couple or so plays. The greatest thing about them though is that they make the human connection real again. In the age of communicating and having full-on relationships with people via computer screens, bringing people back to being together for hours at a time, conversing, and working together to create a world and accomplish tasks is almost miraculous.

We didn’t manage to win Pandemic, but I was the scientst and got to cure one of the diseases. The guys of the group are so infinitely kind, as we moved into our second game, this one of Risk: Legacy, they were very gentle with the newbie. Stark spent 30 minutes reading the rules to me, and I was lost, completely lost. I felt very dumb. This group is one of the only ones that manages to do this to me on a consistant basis. And I can’t even be mad about it because they challenge me to get on their level. Is it normal to be envious of people with rather lax social skills, a questionable grooming routine, and a far from normal worldview? I have to say these are my people and I’m so very enamoured with them in a platonic way. I enjoyed playing Risk as well, and learning how to play has been on my bucket list for a good while. As I said, the guys were gentle with me in this war game and Stark attacked Oscar first instead of me. This caused the most hilarious and surreal meltdown on Oscar’s part. He was shouting about how Stark was going for his jugular, and leaving the newbie alone and how he couldn’t believe it. I thought he was going to flip the table and upset all the little pieces we had invested a few good hours into. Stark was saying, in between laughs, that he chose to attack Oscar and not the green pieces (literally and figuratively) because he had to make a choice, and he was out to “kill” us all anyway. I tried to muffle my laughter. 

Unfortunately, my long day was catching up with me and I was feeling a tough of the green around the gills. I timidly asked Stark for crackers and he brought out saltines and water for me, and we shared the pack. I know what you are thinking, but it’s actually none of that. Stark is a cuddle-fiend for another guy of the group and plus as Lank’s best friend it’s a bad territory to try and invade. Furthermore, as kind as Stark is, I think I’ve finally realized the difference between genuine kindness and flirtiness. And I need the former these days. I’m grateful Stark is there in that capactity for me while my brain is melting from being a bridesmaid on some days, a manager on others, a daughter on some, a best friend, and just trying to carve something out for myself sometimes. Stark invited us all out again to watch the new Muppet Movie at his place tonight. I hope I feel up to it, but after another 9 hour day, I can’t say a drive across the tracks will be something I can physically promise. 

I am very glad to have been inducted into Stark’s Singles Club of Sorts. It’s a strange new role, but satisfying. All of us except Jerk are left-handed as well and that’s an interesting dynamic of likeminded people.  

Two of the lines that stand out a bit more than others from last night include Stark’s opinions on ants. Stark was explaining the difference between red and black ants and how humans and ants are the only creatures that make slaves out of their kind. Stark was going into great detail about it all and then afterward paused and said a bit sadly, “I’m not sure why I read about ants so much as a kid.” Somehow, that struck me as the funniest thing. Perhaps that’s where we all went wrong, Stark. As children, fixating on things like ants and fish. 

The other comment was from Stark about Lanks. He was talking about the time that him and Lanks got into a fight on the streets of Boston when they were lost. Stark had somewhere to be in Boston and Lanks didn’t. He reasoned with Stark that it was actually fun to be lost in a fun town like Boston. Stark exploded that it was not and they separated. Obviously later they made up, but its’ an intresting dynamic. And as he told stories of how Lanks used his prominant height to attract women whom he had no idea were hitting on him as we reeled in drunkeness, he filled in the picture of this mysterious person I still “friend” with. He told of how another of the group looks up to Lanks fiercely and they all love him for who he unapologetically is 24/7, unable to turn off the charm and the magnificence of living his life by his own design. Here was the line that struck me: “Say what you will about [Lanks], but he owns up to his ideas and is unable to be embarrassed about who he is and what he does.” That’s truly a kind of beauty that I think summrizes how we’ve all been drawn into this person’s web. I do wish him luck in making his way, because he will make it one way or another, careening as he does through scenery and among the notes in his head. 

My confusion and irritation today is not much to do with Lanks anyway. I feel pulled in altogether too many directions, and this writing every day has been wonderful but a stress as well. I will attempt to do a weekly post from here on out and see how that fits with things. My pull between my former feelings for Lanks v.s. Stumps (who keeps texting me) v.s. Super (who won’t let me rest with his intensity) vs. Stark (who is representative of my blessed singledom I retreat to) vs. Blue is taking toll. The latter, I mention because I see him almost daily in my coffee shop and he is very flirty and attractive with all the confusingness of pandora’s thrice locked box. I’m ready to put it all on the shelf, but I’m entrenched in other people’s feelings. How best to drop off the map?

I leave you with a theory. I’m copying it and pasting it directy from my friend’s status bar. She has a wonderful point that sums up a lot of the feeling I’m having with the dating scene in my world. I’m ready to be like Katness and say forget it all, leave me be at this point. Perhaps, by the next post some clarity will clear the air. I particularly relate to the idea of sexy asshole (Lanks) up against the 1D nice guy (Super). God have mercy on my soul if anyone in my own small backward town should ever find this blog and do the math to equate themselves in my words.

Here is my friend’s idea: 
“I am formulating a theory that Katniss Everdeen is secretly a symbol for the vast majority of female heroines in romantic lit/films. You have this girl who is largely trying to mind her own business, when out of nowhere she is thrust into the middle of an unconvincing love triangle with two men she has no real reason to have any romantic feelings with for the entertainment of others. Then, due to the nature of this entertainment, is forced to make a decision, even though neither option is really appealing.

Think of all the shitty romances where the woman must choose between a sexy asshole and a 1 dimensional nice-guy, and how it NEVER makes sense why she would consider either option. The character is literally forced, by the author, to dance for our amusement (Much like Katniss must pretend to love Peeta, despite knowing nothing about him and him having next to no readily apparent personality). The ‘heroine’ must choose the character who is the most fun for *us* to imagine her being sexy with, even though he likely has no redeeming qualities, because otherwise no books will sell, and the character will ultimately die. It is not about choosing the person who makes the most sense, it’s about choosing who will keep the character alive the longest. In this sense, I almost feel sorry for Bella Swan. Almost”

 

I told you these other side of the tracks people were brilliant. I’m blessed to enjoy all the life experiences I get with these people. I hope it will help me to follow my own bliss better. Thank you to the readers who have stuck it out with me through this month long journey of writing and sharing through this medium. If I’m pleased with nothing else, at least there are the 40,000 ish words I have given reality from the place they were crammed within. Write on!

-Anna R. Kotopple

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