Set my sights on Monday

Part I

There is a certain kind of comfort in morning ritual. In waking up slowly and eating quickly. Standing in the bathroom with wet hair and feet pressed against cold tile listening to the rasp of a razor across your check. There is a kind of comfort in that. I suppose mostly I get satisfaction from such things because not much else can be placed shelves and forgotten about only to be revisited the next morning when they are needed again. This things are independent, indifferent to what drives me to daily stand and shift my weight in a graceful sort of dance while I scrape the blade across my cheek or rake the bristles past my teeth.

The only other place I have found such brash disconnection from the current, from truths which drive other things, is between the covers of books that line shelves or serve as coasters on a desk piled high with them. Open a book anytime and it will unabashedly tell the same story it has always told. Men, with all our might, will try to bend the words to mean something which they didn't not mean when they were written. We will try, but a book can resist simply by refusing to say anything other than what it always has. There is a kind of comfort in that too.

Regardless of the comfort of morning ritual it is not easy to drag yourself out of bed on a Monday morning. Focusing my thoughts away from their wondering is never easy either. My thoughts seem too...no, no! Focus Henry, focus. Okay. There we are. I stand up slowly and padded into the shower. I turn the knob all the way to hot and return to bed for a few more minutes. It is a habit I gained in my college days, when the water didn't come out hot for many minutes. The water here is always hot, but the habit is justifiable, I get a bit more sleep. The snooze alarm sounds, and I return to the bathroom for my shower.

I always take 7-minute showers. I do not time them. I dated a woman once, that is to say I slept with a woman once, that said you could set a watch to the time I spent in the bathroom. That came in handy I suppose. One morning I got up to shower and shave and dress. When I came out she and all her belongings were gone. A perfect get away, facilitated by my schedule. Convenient. I am doing it again; having a conversation with myself. This cannot be normal. I step into the hot spray.

I do not sing in the shower. I sing outside of the shower. Almost constantly. The words are not always aloud, my lack of actual singing ability accounts for that. I am, however, constantly running the lines from songs through my head, I cannot help it. I truly believe it is genetic; it is something about my father I always hated. I don't hate it in myself though, and have no one to hate it for me so the habit persists. It keeps my mind occupied, and keeps me from talking to myself. The water is getting too hot now, almost scalding, my feet are turning red in protest. 7 minutes.

I step out of the shower and towel off. I dress quickly. Pulling up and pulling on clothing efficiently, with a kind of fanatical precision. This is something I hate about myself. I try to shift my thoughts away from a self-analysis, away from a discussion of my reasons for this speed. My parents were beautiful, thin and of the classic mold that has enticed humanity since the black monolith was opened and apes turned to men. I was never made of the same stuff. Perhaps now I have grown into my father's image. The pictures look similar, I am told. But in my youth I was not. I was slightly over weight, a bit unkempt, and slightly less poised. I always yearned for the kind of weightlessness and hard lines of John Galt or the square jaw and glinting eyes of John Wayne. I have been told I am a handsome man. But I cannot look at myself in the mirror unclothed without feeling ashamed. I am tall and thin and strong, these things I know. I shave with my clothing on.

I am walking down the hallway away from my room, my haven, towards the outside world. I am being melodramatic again. I suppose that is a side effect of talking to yourself, even if you do it silently. You have no one to discourage your imagination. In the realm of reality, the door to room 912C is opening. Mrs. Thomps. I will try to pretend I don't see her. Perhaps God will smile upon me and she won't notice me passing her by.

"Good morning, Mr. Stanforth." My skin crawls. More accurately, my muscles stiffen and my heartbeat quickens. I do not like being called by that name.

"Mrs. Thomps." I hope, on the surface, that my reply is not overly curt. Inwardly I just hope she is done conversing with me. I am not shy exactly. I learned years ago to raise my eyes from the ground as I walk. But I am still not prone to be neighborly. I turn the voices to a lower din in my mind. She is talking to me again.

"How are you this morning?" I see the glint in her eye. Her voice is filled with more than pleasantness. Her daughter is coming to visit again. Mrs. Thomps has been trying to get me to meet her daughter for some years. You mean marry. Yes, I mean marry. Yes, well. I am not quite ready to 'wive an thrive' as it were. And besides, Miss. Thomps would prefer a man with a bit more bend in him than I have. I glance again at Mrs. Thomps. She has a puzzled look upon her face. I have been standing here for too long, I have forgotten to reply.

"I am feeling strangely fine Mrs. Thomps, my regards to your daughter." She looks at me oddly. I am used to it. I comfort myself. At least I am not provincial. Is that a song? Provincial. It seems so. It'll come to me.

There are 116 stairs from my floor to the street. There is also an elevator. Aloud I say 'Il y a un' but then cannot remember the French word for elevator. Oh well, I'll have to continue my musings in English and silently. I never take the elevator. My father never took the elevator and he always parked his car far back every lot. My car is in the last row.

I jump down the final few steps. That little wisp of excitement is what they try to bottle and sell to you on television. Or at least I like to think so. I walk through the doors leading too the street. I look left and step into the street. A horn blares. I step back as a car blows past me from the right. You are an idiot, Henry. I always forget that part. Look right. A habit not learned young is hard to pick up when you are grown it seems. Today is surely a day to take the subway to work.

 

2003 Copyright held by the author.

 

 

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