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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 ?