Jeff lived in an art deco one-bedroom apartment in Los Felis.
Downstairs there was a rec room with a few free weights and a ping pong table. My big brother and I used to play ping pong at Highland Springs Resort every summer when I was a kid. I beat him every time. I love to win.
So, I love ping pong.
Jeff is a new guy I’m dating and I’m still sussing him out. I often do said sussing by picking apart the surroundings. Jeff decorated his kitchen with porcelain knick-knacks that your grandmother would kill for. Acrobatic hippos and dancing frogs seem to be a favorite of his.
Jeff’s bathroom is so clean I’m convinced he never uses it, it’s just for show. And his bedroom, God help us, looks like something straight out of a 1980s flick, bad lighting, shiny black shellac furniture, red satin sheets, framed Nagels hanging everywhere. There’s an outline on the ceiling of where the mirror used to be.
I conclude the bathroom is what he’d like to be, the kitchen is what he might be one day and his bedroom is who he is. But still, I stay.
I make small talk with Jeff while he fixes me a drink. But my small talk gears more to the big side of the talking scale which kind of explains why he spills his drink when I ask him if he agrees that marriage is an outdated concept and that the world would be a better place if a child was president.
Maybe the mention of marriage and children, in general, frightened him. Man, I really hate it when people take everything so personally. I certainly didn’t mean I wanted to marry him. And the child president didn’t necessarily have to be mine. But it could be.
Jeff’s not a big talker. Which is fine by me. I have plenty to say for the both of us. So, I continue talking while I watch him clean up his spilled drink and ask, Do you think people who are evil, know that they’re evil?
He looks me dead straight in the eyes for the first time since we met and says, more to himself than to me, I don’t believe in evil.
Oh, I respond, Well, maybe evil is a harsh word, but you know what I mean. Like, people who do obviously hurtful things to others.
Actually, he begins, this time staring out the open window, I believe that there are two kinds of people in the world…
I interrupt enthusiastically, excited that we’re having a conversation, I bet there's more than just two kinds.
Okay, well, just for argument's sake, let’s say there are two different kinds of people in the world.
I sink back in my chair and think about his ping pong table. The last guy I fell in love with would tell me nursery rhymes that his great-grandpa used to make up for him. He would tell them to me as I would drift off to sleep. Naturally, I couldn't help but fall in love with him. Sweet stories shared late at night make me happy. Ping pong makes me happy. I could love Jeff too. I decide to listen to him in case I planned on falling in love with him.
Jeff continues, There is the kind of person who pushes and there is the kind of person who allows.
So, I say, there are go-getters and there are slackers.
He takes a deep breath and explains his philosophy to me. He tells me that I should listen with my “spirit ears” and not my “analytical ears” or my “make-everything-into-a-joke-ears.”
I smile. In this moment I feel like Jeff gets me. He gets me good. I flirtily tell him that I think my ears are just plain old “hearing ears.” He smiles back. His is a knowing, sexy smile that I like. I like a lot.
Jeff performs his ideas to me in monologue form and I’m a captive audience.
Let’s say you’re standing in the sand and there are huge rocks blocking your way. There are some people who will spend every bit of their energy pushing the rocks out of the way. They’ll kick and scream for help and inconvenience others, just so the darn rocks get out of their way. Other people, maybe those labeled as evil, will not only find a way to move the rock but they’ll place them on a clear path, blocking someone else’s way. They will spent much time making the walk difficult for others. But as long as the rock is out of their way, they believe that they’re free. But they’re not free. They’re alone and exhasted from all of that wasted energy. And then there are the others…
Jeff does a dramatic pause here. So, I encourage him, batting my eyes, leaning in I say, Tell me about the others.
There are those who don’t push and shove at the rocks, they don’t put them in someone else's path. They just simply wait for the tide to come in and wash them away. Patience, trust, saving their energy for the walk was the important thing. Some people think that this is “doing nothing.” I think it’s allowing everything. And you know what the best part is?
What? I ask loving him more than I could ever love nursey rhymes and ping pong. Jeff sits down beside me and as he leans in for a kiss he whispers, The tide will eventually come in.