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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW NOT TO BE TWENTY-THREE
by Mitch

 

 

 

The peck on my neighbor’s lips from the morning after turns into a full-blown make out session. She heads to work as I crawl back to my bed – away from her stupid cat. When I reawake, I aspire to correct my mistake of constantly crawling into her arms out of complete boredom, but then again, I may just make a good breakfast. Either way, I win.

It started off with good intentions, much like the other two neighbors – I just wanted to see if I could score. Noble of me, right? If it’s any consolation, I am quickly realizing the errors of my ways. The awkwardness is punishing me. I can’t run. I can’t even hide. Thinking to myself is much harder than before. They aren’t even worth the inconvenience either.

Getting women thought is a blessing, though. At least I can attract something because I sure as hell can’t attract an employer. One of these days I’m sure they’ll return my calls, emails, and texts. Until that inevitable moment, I’ll continue to pull myself up by my bootstraps and deliver mediocre food. If I’m lucky I can make enough to have three victory beers (for surviving another day) after my evening shift.

My gay neighbors are at the bar. Every time there’s an important baseball game airing, they bother me. Fortunately, they turn my three victory beers into three shots and a pitcher. I am certain they are trying to get me drunk enough to dull my inhibitions and take me home with them. Every time they have a little too much and forget what they were doing. I pay my bill and walk into the night.

My ceiling is spinning and my phone lights up. It’s my neighbor. She’s lonely. What a coincidence, so am I. I quickly visit her.

The peck on my neighbor’s lips from the morning after turns into a full-blown make out session.

“Have a good day, Joe,” she says, like always.

She heads to work as I crawl back to my bed – away from her stupid cat. When I reawake, I aspire to correct my mistake of constantly crawling into her arms out of complete boredom, but then again, I may just make a good breakfast. Either way, I win.

I apply to a few more jobs before leaving for work. It’s mundane. Every challenge I could possibly achieve, like a perfect delivery rating, is accomplished. During down time, I read a book and think about my victory beers.

At the bar again, I watch the last game of a series when the gay guys walk into the bar. They’re middle-aged men, don’t they have to go start a family or something?

Once again, they turn my three beers into the usual. They’re talking to me, but I’m not listening; however, I’m trying so hard to ignore them that I can’t fully enjoy the game. They get too drunk and I adjourn.

Before I get to watch the ceiling spin, my phone buzzes in my pocket. It’s my neighbor. She needs a man. I can’t offer that, but I can provide the next best thing.

The peck on my neighbor’s lips from the morning after turns into a full-blown make out session.

“Have a good day, Joe,” she says, like always.

You know, she says that every day, and every time she says that, I have the same day, which I wouldn’t say is “good”. It’s unfulfilling. And what perplexes me is I’m doing what everybody says a twenty-three-year-old should do: break hearts, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and have fun. What fun am I having?

She heads to work, and I make a pot of coffee, refusing to crawl back into bed. I enjoy a cup and a muffin on my patio. I check my emails, voicemails, and texts for any word from employers. Nothing. I smile.

I head to work with intentions to change something. If I’m going to have a good day, I must change something. So, I make fun in my interactions with the people I see on a daily basis. I appeal more pleasant. Am I faking it? Of course, I am. However, it’s a change I want to embrace. Things go well and people respond happily.

Instead of going to the bar after work, I go to the gym and play volleyball. Do I know how to play volleyball? Absolutely not. But I have the most fun I’ve had in months.

I come home exhausted and sweaty. I get a buzz from my neighbor. I promise to come over later, but first I eat and shower.

I keep it to a peck as I send my neighbor off to work.

“Have a good day, Joe,” she says, like always.

“Absolutely will,” I respond, like never.

She heads off to work and I make a pot of coffee. I enjoy a cup and a bowl of cereal on my patio. The breeze is just perfect. All my inboxes are empty. I smile

At work, I continue my good will mission. A small grocery store offers me a position if I were to ever get tired of delivering food. I’d make less, but it’s a job offer. I’m absolutely flattered.

After work, I go to the gym and lift. A cute girl grins at me. I wink at her but say nothing purposefully. I don’t intend on seeing the end of this journey by tonight. She’ll be here tomorrow.

I arrive home fatigued and sweaty. My neighbor texts me. She’s lonely. Well unfortunately, I’m not. I go to bed early.

I wake up and make a pot of coffee. I enjoy a cup and a muffin on my patio. The breeze is refreshing.

She heads to work. I wave at her.

“Have a good day,” I yell.

Unhappily, she forces a wave.

I smile. I don’t even check my inbox that morning.

Work is great. I still don’t like what I’m doing; nevertheless, I refuse to allow that to ruin my good time. I am making good friends with the waitresses and hostesses at various restaurants.

I return to the gym after work. I’m lifting a little too much weight on military press. The guy I helped yesterday, helps me finish my last reception. I smile, and fist bump him. He smiles back.

“Anytime, brother,” he says.

I grin at the girl who grinned at me yesterday. She shows an authentic smile today, so I introduce myself. I don’t make it long because nobody likes to lose a good pump. But it’s enough to make a good impression.

I go home fatigued, sweaty, and elated. My neighbor doesn’t text me. I visit her, regardless. But the visit goes differently. I just stop by for a cup of coffee and briefly talk. I tell her goodnight and return to my bed. She isn’t happy about this.

I spend weeks minorly improving my routine and I feel different. I feel better. I feel twenty-three, yet I somehow am not doing the things most people my age are told to enjoy.

Things begin to pan out. I have a date with the cute girl from the gym. Days ago, the guy I spot occasionally offers me a position at his company because he feels I am a good fit. I accept the position, quit the delivery job, and I even help the grocery store every now and again for some extra cash.

Eventually, kingdom comes. I return from the gym, sore, sweaty, and happy. Somewhere throughout the weeks, I start to visit my neighbor less. After I eat and shower, I visit her and that stupid cat for the last time. I come home a little deflated but relieved.

A few days later, I’m doing laundry at the apartment laundry mat. The gay guys walk in to do the same. They mention how they miss me at the bar and we should get a couple of drinks before it closes.

I smile. “That’s too bad, because I don’t miss you at all.”

They’re flabbergasted and offended. Unfortunately, that’s how it must be for my personal happiness. I walk out of the room and breathe in the fresh nightly air, which is much more refreshing than a crisp tasting draft with bad influences.

I’m thankful how to be twenty-three and how not to be twenty-three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Mitch

Joe McKenzie (Mitch) is a poet that can be found on the deck of Mozart's Coffee Roasters in Austin, Texas, writing impromptu poems for curious coffee drinkers. In the meantime, he works two jobs. Before the sun comes up, he is rolling tacos. Then long after the sun falls, he tosses pizzas. Somehow, he finds time to write stories and lift heavy objects at the gym.

 

 

 

 

     
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