- When the Turbulence Ends, and: But I Didn't Look at Her
When the Turbulence Ends,
it's not a peaceful blue skythat will land the plane safelybut fully forgettingwhat wind shearfirst made it lurch."You can't treat me this way,"someone texts, and a pigeonin love with another pigeontakes a shit on the chimneyoutside my window.They spend sunsets up here,the two pigeons, nuzzlingbeaks into necksfat with feathersthat glint, at that hour,like oil slicks. I don't knowwhat the pigeonssee in each otheror if they've finallybegun to get boredafter what could be morethan four hundred yearsin pigeon timeor if I should text backsaying "How?" or,"You can't treat methis way either" or,"It's as if the pigeons'feathers, nestled at sunsettogether, want to reflect [End Page 266] the great oil slick of the sky."I can, in fact, treat youexactly this way.The bloom's off the rose;the glint's off the feathers;the charm's off the dingof the treasured text message.Once dried, their shittakes on the tintof the pigeons.When the turbulence ends,it doesn't matter who lovedor who didn't or who saidwhat they saidabout whose heartbeing like lice—that is,harmless, and itchy,and everywhere.Blame grabbed a cloudthat the plane lurched throughand blame stayed there. [End Page 267]
But I Didn't Look at Her
Hashtag me too, said the man in the next booth, and the two men beside him started laughing. The waitress with menus laughed too. The bald man in the suit jacket placed his thumb on her lower back—lightly, as if pausing a sentence.
I can't resist, I said, walking over. Tell me what's funny. The waitress turned away as if programmed to do so, not seeing as she walked with smooth speed from the booth to the bar. The men laughed harder. Uh-oh, said the bald one, touching my back in the same spot: We're in trouble!
I placed my palm on his warm head. Really, I said. I want to hear. Grinning. Let's tell her, said the first man, and he started telling a story about hot butter, but the bald one interrupted: Ooh, she is mad. I rubbed on his head like soft wood I was sanding and asked how could I be mad at someone so gorgeous. He asked if I was joking. Crouching beside the booth, I grabbed some fat on his waist and tugged. I bet your penis is huge, I said. It is! the first man yelled. It's this big! He picked up a bottle of hot sauce. His penis is bigger than that, I smiled, then whispered: I bet you're good in bed. He stood up. Shaking his jacket for a cigarette that wouldn't drop. I can't tell if you're joking, he said, and he walked out of the restaurant. Now the third man in the booth, the one who hadn't spoken, pointed at me with the pistol gesture that means, right you are, or, gotcha. I pointed the pistol back, then I aimed my hand toward his lap, and the look on his face changed.
Let's start over, said the first man. He was here for the Super Bowl; he'd come from Columbus, Ohio; and where was I from, and what was my name. But the quiet one said, no, he was here for work, they were colleagues. They work as inspectors of fire trucks.
I went to the bar and paid the waitress but I didn't look at her. The man with the bald head or penis stood outside smoking and either telling the doorman what I'd said or not, but I kept walking and thinking how in various versions [End Page 268] of this story, I'm the one who seems insane. But I felt simple. Like if your first grade teacher asks what's two plus two, how confusing...