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I was leaving the shop way too late. I had to meet my soon to be ex-wife for a drink so she could drop off some paperwork that I needed to sign before her lawyers could finish financially raping me. I was supposed to be there in 10 minutes and since I was halfway across town, there was no way that was going happen. Even if, by some miracle, I could grab a cab, there was no way I was going to be on time. So I jumped into the elevator, pulled out my discman and headed out of the lobby. On my way out, I passed two women who worked in the office, huddled close together and obviously conferring with each other. “His pants were around his ankles and she was on top of the copier,” one of them said as I passed by, fumbling to get my headphones on. The other woman gasped and the last thing I heard before I finally got my headphones on, was the first woman saying “You can’t change a leopard’s spots.”
When I met my ex-wife, I was a scrawny, hardcore kid with hair down to my ass and a chip on my shoulder. My housemate and lifelong friend, Jonny D., had just gotten a job at a new bookstore that was opening up in the suburbs. Big place, literally thousands of books, owned by two brothers from Wisconsin. He had heard from our mutual friend Stiv, that they were looking for people and had been hired on the spot. I had been out of work for about a month, living on toast and Ramen noodles. So, Jonny, after being picked up right then and there, called me to tell me about a position they had in the espresso bar. He gave me the manager’s name and her number and told me he’d just finished talking me up to her. That I’d been a barista before and that I knew my way around a coffee joint.
I called her up, and after talking to her for a few minutes, she asked me to come in for an interview later that day. It was then that I decided to tell her that the only thing I knew about espresso was how to spell it and that I’d never been a barista. I knew how to make a killer cup of coffee, but that was about it. She said she’d show me what I need to know and to come in anyway. So I jumped on the bus, looked her in the eyes when she was talking to me and smiled at her an awful lot. I aced the interview and got the job.
It was easy to look her in the eye and smile. She was very easy on the eyes. And she and I seemed to get along more and more the longer we worked together. We came from radically different backgrounds but seemed to click on all the right things. And after about six months of fighting it, one night when were both closing the place up, I asked her for a ride home. And then I invited her into my place. We talked all night long. And, as she was leaving in the morning, I gave her a hug that lasted a little too long. I walked her out to her car and kissed her, softly, on the lips. A week later we were dating.
A few months after that, we were living together. Gradually, I began to change. I quit staying up all night listening to records and playing video games. I quit buying clothes, because she’d buy them for me. They weren’t anything I’d normally wear, but they were free. I stopped doing computer work for my friends because she convinced me that I could get paid for it instead. I took a shirt and tie job, bought a car and moved northeast, away from my beloved D.C. and everyone I knew. Weeks and months became years. And one day, I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see that snot nosed little punk kid there anymore. And I was okay with that.
By the time Elvis had started “Little Triggers”, I was off the El and headed to the hip little bar where my almost ex was waiting. I opened the door with one hand, saw her sitting at a table and sat myself down. She started in with some small talk, but we both knew why I was there. I told her to just give me the paperwork, so we could finish our drinks and I could get the hell out of there. She looked at me, a little puzzled, and reached into her bag. She pulled out a manila envelope and started to hand it to me. “This is the last bit, Finn,” she said, “after this we’re through. Are you sure that’s what you want ?”
It took ten years of being molded into something else for me to realize that I’m not a shirt and tie guy. I’m not the guy who’ll tell you about my night at Restaurant X and how much I dropped on a meal. I won’t brag about the quality of my cigars and bitch about domestic beer. I won’t even smile and pretend to like you as we pass each other in the hall, because if I don’t like you, you know. I wear concert shirts and jeans and Doc Martens. I like my whiskey reasonably cheap and my cigarettes en masse. I like my music all kinds of loud and I like to dance with my wife when no one’s looking. I adore my son and do whatever I can to spend more time with him. I don’t wear color or eat red meat.
My name is the Finn. And these are my spots.
How about you ?
Wow. Welcome back!
Another great read..... sounds like it worked out for the best alright.
Posted by: Dan | September 21, 2006 2:16 PM
Great writing as always. And an issue I can really identify with.
Posted by: michele | September 21, 2006 2:25 PM
Great story Finn. They just keep getting better.
Posted by: Ernie | September 21, 2006 2:41 PM
me? i will always be...
don't get down on me
cuz i'm OG.
Posted by: kali | September 21, 2006 2:42 PM
stay true pony boy
Posted by: the turtle | September 21, 2006 2:43 PM
i like my shirts collared.
i like my liquor brown and my beer ice cold.
i even enjoy wearing khakis now and again.
those are some of my spots, and probably my brightest because they're what people see first. but they're not my favorites. lotsa people like cold beer and collared shirts. find the spots that make you you -- i will put together the most delicious, romantic dinner for two you can get for less than $50 per plate, and i will do it with cannibal corpse's "stripped, raped, and strangled" blasting out of my stereo. those are the spots that make me me.
i'm glad you found yours, finn.
Posted by: baby huey | September 21, 2006 3:04 PM
Huey.... That's precisely what I was going for... As for cooking to music, I prefer Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison... Something about cooking to sad country music just makes me smile....
Posted by: thefinn | September 21, 2006 3:13 PM
I like t-shirts and jean shorts.
I like sandals.
I like being freakin' comfortable.
I would rather stay home than go out.
I would rather spend time with my kids than do just about anything else.
I try to treat others as I like to be treated. Which, most of the time, is left alone.
I like my steak burnt over open fire.
I like my hot sauce Cajun.
Posted by: Cullen | September 21, 2006 3:15 PM
Finn. Dude. You stopped me in my tracks. You are just killin' it.
How in the Hell did I ever get mixed up with the lot o you hodlums?
Oh yeah, that's right. michele and turtle totally got all Godfather on us and convinced us to come and play. Made us "an offer we couldn't refuse".
Posted by: Bob | September 21, 2006 3:24 PM
My spots (or, the things I am known for, especially with my family, and things that will never change)
I'd rather be home than anywhere else.
I would prefer to wear sneakers (read: Converse) all the time. I don't like dress shoes, pumps, heels, etc.
I like my music very loud.
I wear all black 90% of the time, right down to my underwear.
I put salt on everything.
I am loyal to a fault.
I am way too emotional.
Those are my spots. Well, some of them.
Posted by: michele | September 21, 2006 3:29 PM
Spots o' Dan:
-not tucking in my shirt
-hippie music on Sunday mornings (and Sunday mornings only, although The Allman Brothers can stop by anytime)
-cooking - stay out of my kitchen, that goes for you too wifey
-the absence of soap opera drama in my life
-paying my bills late
Not all good, not all bad, but none of those things are changing anytime soon.
Posted by: Dan | September 21, 2006 3:30 PM
My Spots -
Posted by: Michael | September 21, 2006 3:59 PM
One more thing, Finn, I really look forward to your stories, very well writen and very desciptive.
Posted by: Michael | September 21, 2006 4:02 PM
Michele - Yep, even my draw's are black....
Cullen - I LOVE a good creole sauce... Spicy and flavorful at the same time...
Dan - Whiskey that's not Irish ain't whiskey.... My forefathers would fucking kill me....
Bob and Michael - Thanks guys... You keep reading it and one day I'll get better...
Posted by: thefinn | September 21, 2006 4:10 PM
I like the Allman Brothers, too.
Especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.
Posted by: michele | September 21, 2006 5:12 PM
excellent writing, i always look forward to your stories.
Posted by: wilhelm | September 21, 2006 6:47 PM
i like black converse and being naked
i know it's wierd, but it's what i do
Posted by: the turtle | September 21, 2006 7:09 PM
I cuss like a sailor.
I love coffee.
I can sit in front of a computer for hours on end.
I am never late.
I hate to drive.
I wear flip flops most of the time, unless it's cold, then I wear docs.
I like punk.
I hate going out; I'd rather stay home.
I am not "needy".
My kids are the most important thing in my life.
I love video games.
Posted by: shawna | September 21, 2006 8:44 PM