I’m Not Yelling

10-Minute Sunday Stories For Growing Men, Issue N004

Opening Charade

Here she comes.

This is so easy to spot. Very unsuspicious and whatnot. Not.

She knows she’s doing this. Of course, she does. And she knows I can see it.

I’m not watching. Not looking, that’s what I mean. But I can see her out of the corner of my eye. Peripheral vision. She’s approaching. I can sense her, I guess that’s a better word. Yes, sensing is better.

I’m picking this shit up, you know. She knows it. I know she knows it. We both know what’s going to happen. We don’t want it to happen. I think we don’t. I don’t. But it will.

I won’t be yelling. Not this time.

Her stride, Jesus!

Slightly increased tempo, artfully heavy footfall; snappy-peppy arm-swingery. Her torso slightly tilted into an imperceptible forward position. That means you can hardly see how she leans into her movement. I can. You can’t. You don’t know her like I do. Slow clap, sweetheart! S-l-o-o-o-w fucking clap! This hasn’t even really started, and you’ve already earned it! Good work.

She’s good at this. I gotta give it to her. But I’m not going to.

This is very convincing. Such a well-coordinated symphony of bullshit mannerisms; all composed into this artful performance. Decades of experience, she knows what she’s doing. She clearly does. This symphony is about to escalate into a grande finale of shitfuckery. You betcha. That’s what she thinks this is, a symphony. I know she does.

Skillful composition my ass, baby! The first rumblings of bowel movement, after a long night of forcing down sweet ass rum-cocktails from cheap glasses with little paper umbrellas, and fruit slices, and plastic animals, and dingle-dangles, and shit on top of it. That’s what this is. An acidic cacophony in the making! That’s what this is called! Cacophony! That’s what I think!

I’m still not looking. And I won’t! I’m sensing.

I can sense her cape. It’s bright and red, and insulting. There is no cape, not really. But I can see it. I see red. She carries it like a torero. Imagine a bullfight. That’s what she imagines. I know she does. Olé!

Look at her posture. A torero parading into the arena. Stomp, stomp, stomp to certain victory. A goddamn march into an unnecessary, and painful, and stupid, and predictable fucking battle. An infuriating fiasco. A drama. Tragedy! I’m ready.

I’m getting riled up. You feeling me?

I feel like yelling. I’m not going to. Not this time. No.

What’s happening? She’s walking from the living room into the kitchen. That’s what’s happening. That’s what I’m telling you. And it’s pissing me the fuck off!

Oh, don’t you judge me! I’m not on trial! She is. Same offense she’s been committing for almost 20 years. You know this is deliberate and upsetting, and real. You know it! You’ve seen it before!

Any Reason Will Do

I was just there. In the kitchen, I mean. I’m barely two sips into my espresso. And now this nonsense. What a delight.

18 grams of little dark, fulsome beans. Roasted less than a week ago. Now ground into a small pile of delicious, finely-grained chocolaty fragrance. Carefully leveled in a stainless steel basket. Tap it gently. Then tamp, tamp, tamp into a compact puck.

Engage. Start. Water pumping. Pre-infusion. THIS is a symphony!

Now, wait. Watch. Blond frothy crema hits the bottom of the pre-warmed cup, chased by a thick, chest-nutty liquid. No hurry my love. Take it slow. That’s gooood.

Extract until the scales hit 45 grams. Time: 31 seconds. Yes, that’s right, scales and a timer, baby! 45 grams of complete goodness in a perfectly sized, 2-shot-cup. That’s how I do it. That’s how it’s done. You better believe it.

Heck yeah, it’s grams. Convert it if you must. It’s a European machine.

Never mind. She doesn’t appreciate that either.

My short, hot brunette. My steaming hot baby. Ha, ha, ha. I’m not laughing. But I’m amused that I’m thinking it. Sip. You know how it feels. Oh, you don’t? This is how. This is dope. My soul is spinning pirouettes on the soft featherbed of heartwarming delight. That’s what that means. That’s how dope it is. That’s just one sip. But she can’t even give me that. Won’t let me have it. Nope.

There: arrival!

El matador arrives in el kitchen. Or is it matadora? She, her, whatever. A sweeping glance. Check. She looks around. Unassuming. A non-fucking-chalantly attempt to look nonchalant. I see. Nothing new. Same performance as always. I’m not looking. But heck yeah, I’m noticing. She’s waving that damn red cape of hers. Trying to get the bull’s attention. Turning up the heat. My heat.

How?

She’s grabbing the dishrag. Like there’s anything to clean. She holds that piece of cloth like a fucking Estoque. A matador’s sword. The sword that kills the bull. Of course, you didn’t know that. Now you know.

You see, this is what’s pissing me off. I cleaned the damn kitchen. It’s a methodical approach, you know. A sequential process: pull a shot, dump the grounds, rinse the basket, wipe the machine, wipe the counter, clean the sink, flush all remaining coffee grounds down the drain. Then clean again. Wipe up all the damn little water spots, and sprinkles, and drips, and drops, and what have you not. It’s goddamn water but I clean it like it’s a fucking oil spill. Every damn time. It’s what I’ve been taught.

That’s right, I’ve been taught how to clean. Wait, not taught — told. I’ve been instructed, and I’ve been directed. Hundreds of times, for sure. Technically it’s not cleaning, you know. It’s wiping. That’s a subcategory of cleaning. It’s cleaning light for subordinates who haven’t mastered their tools yet. Or can’t be trusted with them. Or both.

So I wiped it spotless.

Now she’s wiping.

I’m fuming.

A Case For Wipery

Anger is underrated. They say anger fuels aggression, and rage, and violence, and hate. They say it’s a bad thing: harmful, and damaging, and all. Sarah is a friend. She says anger isn’t all bad. Not always. She says we are selling it short. I agree. Sarah is a professional. I’m an angry.

“Think of all the injustice that has been conquered with anger, all the things people protest for. Where would the civil rights movement be without enragement?” She knows smart things like that. Now I know, too. My civil rights are under attack. Right now they are.

“Look at it this way,” she said one time, and read this to me: “All other negative emotions push us away from something that we regard as unpleasant or threatening. Anger often does the opposite; it acts as an encouragement.”

I’m encouraged alright. There’s heat in my cheeks. It’s pumping up from my chest. It’s creeping up my capillaries like fucking mercury in a thermometer. I feel my eyes throbbing. They’re pulsating to the rhythm of this charade. My pulse is synched to the cadence of her movements. My eyes might pop. I’m sure they will.

Look at this show: Swish-swash, swish-swash, swish-swash-swish. I’m looking at this spectacle. My throbbing eyes are. I’m looking now. Not sensing. Fuck sensing!

Bend over. Yes, of course, baby. I can see how you have work. You are straining, stretching, bending to get to the far spots. The places I neglected. The far-away places. All the locations that didn’t get enough attention. My attention. The places with the nano-spots, and sprinkles, and drips, and drops. The ones I flagrantly missed with my clumsy wishy-washy-woopie-wipy. I’m a dilettante. I know it. I can’t be trusted with this. No, no!

I’m not yelling.

Now rinse away the coffee grounds. Again. I know, I failed. I failed you. I failed the grounds. I failed the sink. Sorry sink! I’m really sorry. I’m incapable of keeping things clean. I’m a caveman. I can’t be trusted with these tools of yours. Those tools of modern civilization. I can’t be trusted with your trust. I know it.

Dishrags, and sponges, and all your nifty wipy-thingys — I can’t even begin to understand how to use them. Use them properly, I mean. How you use them, it’s spectacular. Thank you for showing me. For teaching me. Over and over again. I’m a bad student of wipery. I will never graduate to cleanery. Will I? Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will do better next time. You have my word. I promise.

“Are you done with this glass?” she asks. It’s not a question. It’s an accusation. She lifts it out of the sink like her Estoque for the Estocada. The bullfighter lifts the sword for the deathblow.

Am I done with the glass? The fuckin glass that’s empty, and used, and sticky from the juice it held just 30 minutes ago? I drank the juice. I put the glass in the sink. I didn’t put it in the dishwasher. I know I should have. But I didn’t. What can I say? I’m guilty!

“Yes, thank you!” That’s my submissive voice. The same voice I use when I commend my soul into the hands of God.

See, I got this. It’s under control. Deathblow averted. I said thank you. No blood bath. This time. I’m grateful for your diligence, sweetheart. How can you not? Everything is sparkly. Clean. Pure. Sterile. What a relief. A weight has been taken off my shoulders. Thanks again.

She rests her cape on the drying rack. The bull survived. A quick polish with the tea towel. Bling! Beautiful. She’s on her way. Tippity-tappily levitating towards the living room, towards the door, out. Gone.

Maybe I overreacted.

I get up.

I make myself another coffee.

About the Author: Nick Lions is a former hero. Now he is middle-aged and tired. He writes 10-minute Sunday stories for growing men. Every other week. Subscribe here to get them delivered right to your inbox.

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Nick Lions

Narrative is the code to program reality. I Publish News From The Next Stage. Every other week. — www.nicklions.com