as a brother
Tuesday, December 12 2000
In the evening I went out with John and his sister Maria to Maria's favorite restaurant, the Wahoos on Wilshire near Westgate. When it comes to Wahoos, John and Maria are unstoppably generous. This time John insisted on paying for my two fish tacos, which we got with free water (we got free lemonade instead, of course).
The dinner discussion started out with Maria wondering how to juggle her workplace responsibilities while still going off to do a job interview with a company up in San Francisco, one contracted to do the special effects for the sequel to the Matrix. Maria hates her present job, nothing new there, but she doesn't want her co-workers to know she's scheming to get a job somewhere else. "Just tell them that you're going to San Francisco on business," John suggested helpfully. "But they are my business," Maria pointed out. Other possible techniques for skipping out on work include the classic "death in the family." You can use the same family member once per job and no one ever gets wise to your scam. But one must be careful with this method of job skipping: John and Maria are superstitious and only claim the deaths of family members who are already dead. One wouldn't want to jinx a living relative.
The balance of the dinner conversation concerned all the chicks back in Altoona, PA that John "hooked up" with. It turned out that just about every one of Maria's girlfriends hooked up with John at one time or another. With each new revelation, Maria was ever-more aghast (and in some cases plainly revolted). But still I had the sense she was more intrigued than anything else and that this list of revelations had actually been made before and was being performed as something of a comedy routine for my benefit. Later in the conversation Maria made the observation, "It's been a long time since I've seen a guy I thought was attractive." At this point John matter-of-factly motioned over to me, his faithful landlord, with both palms pointed skyward. But Maria, suddenly put on the spot, responded by shaking her head, saying in the usual way clichés are uttered, "I love Gus as a brother." All I could say at this point was a sarcastic, "That's what every guy wants to hear." But back on Thanksgiving I remember Maria looking into my eyes and volunteering, completely out of context, "you have really pretty eyes." I always like it when girls say that, especially when the girl has pretty eyes herself (as Maria does). While still a handsome Greek youth, Narcissus went down to the pool every day to behold his reflection. When he was finally transformed into a flower the pool wept because it could no longer see its reflection in his eyes.
Another amusing thing that came up in conversation was, of all things, online journals. Maria got to talking about a friend who has a website, "complete with an online journal," adding that she, Maria, knows all about online journals, and that they are "stupid and..." (at this point she figured we got her point and were in agreement, so she trailed off). John looked over at me and said, almost apologetically, "Well Gus has Vodkatea.com, but that's not really an online journal is it?" "No," I said proudly, "It's an online community." I loved the fact that they were talking about online journals in front of the keeper of one of the most popular online journals on the web, completely unaware.
Though we'd been driven to Wahoo's by Maria, John and I elected to walk home without Maria after dinner. We talked on the way about our bad luck in Los Angeles developing social networks that contain appreciable numbers of attractive women. All of our social networks dead-end either with unconnected women of marginal romantic potential or with guys as frustrated and ill-connected as ourselves. It's a far cry from the places where we've lived. As a case in point, I brought up the fact that back in the Charlottesville I eventually "hooked up" with the great majority of my female friends. This isn't even something I realized until the other day. John agreed; it was the same for him back in Altoona.
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