musings

The Meat Man.

There are three kinds of people in the world. The ones who immediately answer the door when someone knocks,  the person who asks “who is it?” before answering the the door, and then there is me. I am the person who hears a knock at the door and crawls around on the floor looking out every available window, like a ninja, to find out who it is.

I am not sure where this irrational fear comes from. Perhaps it stems from my extreme dislike of small talk. I really hate plastering myself with pretend smiles and fake friendliness in the face complete strangers, while they spill out the contents of their boring mundane life. It may seem harsh but I never found any personal benefit from these small meaningless interactions. Hence my fear of answering the unexpected banging on my chamber door.

At the time I was living in a studio apartment with my boyfriend, whom for all intents and purposes we shall dub Sam. Sam and I were both in college and had little time for anything other than books and bars, you know the important things. It was a normal quite evening, we were so deep in our respective homework that when it happened, I thought the plaster walls would crumble. A knock at the door. My heart jumped, Sam shuttered with discontent. Millions of unspoken anxieties passed though us, as the knocks became increasingly louder and ominous. KNOCK! KNOCK! Praying it wasn’t some solicitor, or the land lord dropping by for some mind numbing small talk. The banging continued as if the stranger on the other side of the door could see us, as if he knew with each intimidating knock our hearts were welling up with annoyance.

“You should answer the door” I whispered. In my head I figured the best course of action would be to let Sam take the brunt of the offending solicitor, while I try to contort myself in the worlds smallest bathroom to hide from the attack.

“You get it.” Sam slowly answered as if not fully committed to his statement. KNOCK KNOCK!! the deafening sounds of offensive knocks filling our tiny sanctuary with a profound foreboding, escalating to an anxiety ridden crescendo.

“Wait, maybe they will just go away, they will think we are not home or something.” I postulated, hoping I could put up with the excessive knocking until they gave up. “No no no that’s stupid! the T.V. is clearly on, they know we are here.” KNOCK KNOCK… and apparently they are not going to go away. Great.

Sam gently eased me off the futon, and by ease I mean prodded with force .”Just get the door Shelly.” Sam flippantly said as he returned to his books. All the muscles in my body were working against me as I scrapped myself off the futon and nervously headed for the door. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. Honestly, one would think a person would be like; maybe they are not home and give up at this point? My arm reached out to grasp the cold brass knob and with a quick turn the door was open.

There he was, the person who had intruded my deep thoughts on organic chemistry, with his thunderous knocking. Standing in the hallway, an old black man. He was slightly taller than myself, which is not saying much seeing as how most pre-pubescent boys are taller than me. His frail frame was adorned in a burgundy polyester suit, the jacket hanging long on his slim figure. The flashy suit was probably the picnicale of high fashion back in it’s hay day, but now it just looked like something found at the local thrift shop for a buck fifty. I smiled at the man, the sweet kind of acknowledgement smile that you would give an older lady at church. He lifted his head full of wiry grey hairs and said the most absurd and shocking words I ever expected to hear out of this slight mans mouth “Do you want some Meat?” There was No hello, No introduction. He just blurted out the phrase as if it was a perfectly normal thing to ask a complete stranger.

I wish I could re-capture my exact inner dialogue at this moment, I am pretty sure it went something like the following: “No.” Instead of listening to the voice of reason, instead of closing the door on this apparent lunatic, I shrugged my shoulders and replied ” Sure I guess.” I know what your thinking, why would someone who is nervous to answer an innocent knock at the door accept meat form a complete stranger? I have spent countless sleepless nights pondering my actions of that day, but to no avail my thoughts elude me and no answer was ever forthcoming.

I gave a quick glance at Sam both of us appalled with my apparent inability to assert myself and say No to the freakish mans request. I twisted back toward the man, and gave him a sheepish smile. He rewarded it with an eerie thin lipped grin, the kind a villain in the movies gives when his underhanded plans to trick the unsuspecting victim are realized. He said nothing, turned on his heal and began to walk across the dimly lit hall, beckoning me to follow with a curled finger pointing to what was sure to be my final moments. I shot Sam a look that could have won me an Oscar if I was cast in a horror movie, and continued down the hall after the man in the blood red polyester suit.

We reached his door and slowly it opened at the softest touch. I gingerly placed each foot on the soft white carpet of this strangers dwelling. His living room was adorned with copious amount of trinkets, brass statues, old records, and porcelain nick-knacks. These must be trophies from his previous victims I thought. Smoke from burning incense wafted about carelessly in the air, filling my lungs with the sweet false stench, surely created to cover up more devious smells. I heard the door gently closing the soft sounds of the locks whispering their song of finality. I followed him into the kitchen area, with a polite nervous smile plastered on my face, secretly glancing around for a window or door that would lead to my freedom, but alas none was to be found. His dark black eyes lifted to my face, as he gestured to the open freezer door. My body shifted to face the horrific mess that was this mans kitchen. The dirt stained door was wide open, and packed full of Meat and ice. The ice was half melted and mixed with bloody juices, dripping onto the dingy linoleum at the rate of a human heart beat. Drip..drip….Drip..drip….Drip..drip. The flesh was lean and cut into deep crimson strips, approximately the length of a human thigh, raw butchered steaks were laying listlessly in their icy coffin. Clearly this was not store brought meat. I inhaled sharply, and held my breath, as if a lack of oxygen would help me. Have you ever wondered what you would do in a life threatening situation? I always imagined I would be all heroic and bad ass, but then you find yourself in one of those situations only to discover you are just a wuss covered in a coating of distorted fortitude. The old mans eyes danced with delight as they grazed my frightened face ” Just take some meat!”

To afraid to deny his request at this time I reached my shaking hand into the cold dark and bloody abyss. My fingers caressed the first piece of un packaged meat, I felt the ice flakes crush beneath my sweaty palms. With a quick jerk I aimed to swipe a few pieces and high tale it out of this nightmare, but that was not to be. The “human steaks” were frozen together and then frozen to the bottom of the freezer. I gave the bloody iced over muscle a gentle tug and giggled nervously at my would be killer. With his hunched back turned to me he reached his spindly fingers into a rickety narrow drawer next to the food crusted stove. This is it Shelly, hit him over the head with a frying pan and get the hell outta there! In one swift motion he pulled out a long shiny object and pointed it to the ceiling looking at it with admiration. incense filled my eyes, trying to focus it dawned on me, this murderous man had a butcher knife in his hands! My skin instantly broke into a cold sweat. RUN, RUN!! my mind was yelling at my now lifeless legs. I tightly closed my eyes and waited for the smooth blade to cut my exposed neck. Like I said, I am apparently a giant cuckold. His wrinkled hands grabbed my clutched fingers as he placed the wooden handle in them. ” Here use this to break the meat free from the ice.” He proposed with a voice as smooth as custard. Relief washed over me. This man is not going to kill me, He honestly just wants to give me meat. I shifted my focus back to the bloody steak freezer and proceeded to chip away blocks of ice and meat.

“That’s good enough for now, you can come back and get the rest once it has thawed out more.” Holding chunks of frozen meat in both hands, I shrugged my shoulders hopping he would pick up on the obvious dilemma of running down the hallway with raw meat in my hands. He passed me some tin foil to wrap the grizzled meat in. (side note: why wouldn’t you wrap it in foil before freezing it?) I took my dubious packages and proceeded to walk to the door thanking the man for the meat. I must of had the strangest look on my face, because honestly that was probably one of the most peculiar encounters of my life.

Sam, breathed a sigh of relief when I walked in the door. “So he just gave you Meat?” He asked expectantly. I regaled the terrifying story, to Sam who was staring with a look of amusement and disbelief on his face. (It still bothers me to this day that he didn’t come with me on this meaty adventure.) After all was said and done one fact still remained: There is no way I am going to eat this meat! I shoved the raw frozen meat at Sam and told him to get rid of it NOW! Awkwardly the meat passed between us and there ensued the dilemma of disposing the meat.

“Where should I put it?”

” I don’t know just get rid of it! “

” Cant we just put it in our garbage?”

” No F-ing way, do I want that in here! “

“We’ll then You find a place to put it!”

” Hell No! I was the one who had to pick axe it out of some weird guys freezer, who could have killed me by the way! “

Sam shuffled walked out the door, with the miscellaneous meat, and disposed of it. Apparently he threw it in the dumpster outside the apartment. I was told that he thoroughly covered it with boxes and other garbage so that it would not be discovered, by the meat man, in hopes to avoid some awkward conversation in the future.

“Why don’t you want my meat, it’s good meat..?” The meat man would say. I would probably stand there starring into space, allowing the blood in my body to boil over with potential explanations, none of which would suffice, before I would just run away, spending the rest of my lease avoiding the man.

Over the course of the next few months this crazy dance played out. The meat man would knock on our door. ” Would you like some more meat?” I would grudgingly follow him to his apartment and proceed to chip away the bloody ice, freeing the meat. I would then return to my abode and Sam would sneakily hide the meat In the dumpster, in order not to offend the man and his meat gift.

Needless to say the whole experience was torturous for me. Strange man, innocuous small talk, bloody meat, and so on. I am sure you can imagine my relief when his freezer was finally empty and all that was left were meat blood ice chips. Except, instead of relief I felt empty, like I would miss the charade. I found myself missing the small talk, the meaningless recounts of our day to day activities.

It was Christmas Eve and it had been a few months since I last saw the meat man. Sam and I were preparing to leave the apartment I order to attend our families Christmas celebrations. When a familiar knock yet again graced our door. Instead my usual crawl around on the floor trying to hide from the visitor I excitedly swung the door open. On the other side stood my new acquaintance, the meat man. In a small voice he asked Sam and I if we would join him for a Christmas cocktail. I smiled brightly and replied “Of course!” We followed down the hallway after the man, and I entered his crowded apartment one more time.

In the middle of his living room a small gold table was delicately placed surrounded by three plush chairs. Upon the opulent table was a bottle of cognac, some melted brie cheese and crackers, and a few Cuban cigars. We sat as he poured us a generous glass of the aged brandy, and lit a cigar.

Throughout the night he regaled us with the most marvelous stories from his past. He told us tales from a time when he used to play jazz with the Thelonious Monk. He shared the story of the love of his life and her passing. He painted verbal pictures of his adventures in New Orleans. My meat man, whom I have shared numerous amounts of small talk with suddenly became the most interesting man in the world. The aged Brandy went down smoothly as we conversed all night, playing old jazz records, losing myself in another persons story. That would be the last I saw of him. I can’t say for certain where he went. I would like to think he is living peacefully, sharing his stories with anyone brave enough to accept them, and his meat.

It is easy to always think about ourselves and the happenings in our life. It is easy to judge someone based on our preconceived ideals of societal norms. It takes time and patience to listen to someone’s stories especially when they don’t pertain to you. It takes compassion and understanding to set aside your judgements and accept someone for who they are. But, If you are lucky enough, to step outside of yourself, if for only a few moments, and give your time and full attention to someone else, you might be surprised how truly freeing and rewarding it can be. I have been blessed to “meat” this amazing man even if it was in an unconventional way, and never again will I be fearful of opening the door, to someone strange.

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What Do You Like To Do?

What do you like to do in your spare time?

This question can bring a wave of uncomfortable panic into a persons soul. It’s not really all that straightforward is it? There is a lot to contemplate about your answer.

A majority of people respond with what I like to call basic likes or hobbies such as “I like to listen to music, read, and spend time with my friends.” No one ever answers this question honestly. A truly honest answer, might be, “I like to drink in excess, lay around and watch TV, and eat fried foods.”  A person can’t say those things, least they be judged as a fat lazy alcoholic. So this is where the panic sets in…in your mind your thinking, well I don’t know I just kind of go to work, come home, watch TV and sleep. I don’t really have any hobbies. I cant say that though, people will find me uninteresting. So this is where you quickly analyze your options.

You could always go with reading. I think a lot of people always throw this one in because it makes them sound smart, but if you ask them what the last book they read is, you will get one of two things. Either they will say To Kill A Mocking Bird, or some other book they had to read in high-school or college, and if they say this, then you know they are full of it and just really want you to think they are smart or impress you in some way. Or you might get the Fifty Shades of Grey answer which entails some other currently popular book, which means they like to read but are not necessarily well read.

Listening to music is a popular choice. Which is kind of a bull s*** one because really who doesn’t like to listen to music? I think that’s why its a popular choice, the hope here is that the other person will think  “Hey I like music too! how about that!” Then BAM! instant friends right?- wrong, because the next question is always, “what kinda of music do you like?”  err :/ crap! what if I say a type of music they hate, like country or something, (country always seems to be one of those, that people either love it or they hate it) the best way I found out of this scenario is to tell them you like everything, except country of course.

Running, I love it when people say this one, Its not that its untrue necessarily because a lot of people do enjoy running, but I have a sneaking suspicion that some people say this just to sound athletic, (usually found on profile pages). Have you ever had someone tell you they enjoy running and you look at them and are like..yeah no you don’t.

The other problem with this kind of question is, if you say something such as I like to paint pictures or draw, you’d better be pretty amazing at it, because by saying you enjoy doing something it automatically puts you in the running for expert, in this instance you become a self proclaimed artist. The problem with this is if any opportunity arises for you to show off your skills, such as making a bubble letter poster, you automatically become the person responsible for the arty part. If your bubble letters suck ass people will say  “I thought you were an artist” then you’ll have to respond with, ” I said I like to draw, I didn’t say I was good at it?!” and that just makes things really awkward.

The thing is, with a question like what do you like to do?  a lot of judgements can be made depending on the answer. Most people will play it safe, and go with the basics, in order for that first awkward conversation to move along. But what if they say something crazy like I enjoy scaling 40ft. ice walls with a pick axe. Well, now you’re in trouble and you had better come back with something mind-blowing too, otherwise the rest of your conversation will hang on this interesting thing the other person likes to do, and your lack-thereof.

In all honesty, it really doesn’t matter what your likes and hobbies are, or what anyone thinks of them for that matter. The truth is always far more interesting then some contrived conformity, no matter what it is. If it is the truth about yourself that embarrasses you  you then perhaps you need to change yourself and not the answers. Be proud of who and what you are.

As an after thought: Just once in my life,  I would love to answer with something off the wall like “Me? well I like all kinds of things, I like to be a clown on the weekends, I enjoy organizing super-balls  by color and shape, Dressing up like waldo and hiding along the freeway, I also like to summit skyscrapers and enjoy yelling at old people. what do you like to do?

Someone Died Today.

Someone died today.

It’s no big deal or anything, lots of people die. I think the thing I wonder about is if they could come back, what would they say what advice would they have for us? I doubt it would be anything profound, Like “OMG!! We are all ONE and we must recycle, and by the way God is a black woman.”  I’d like to think it would be more mundane, such as “did I leave the stove on?” or “I wonder what Karl and Sue are up to tonight?”

I imagine they would not regret the risks they took (unless that’s why they are dead :/) they may have regretted not forming close relationships, with the ones they love.  Or not saying I love you enough to their spouse, kids..ext. I suppose whatever their issues are or were they will still there at the time of death. Are any of them happy, does anyone die and say “well I did my best, and lived my life with no regrets”?  I suspect that some do.

This topic is not new. I am certainly not the first to think of death in this way; however I don’t think it does us any harm either. We should not necessarily think of death, but rather think of life. Many times in our lives thoughts arise. Such as, are happy, did we do the right thing, how we’ve been hurt in the past, and how to plan for the future. I think all these thoughts and decisions can be better made when put in the perspective of death. Not in a gothic death is cool way, but in a practical, does this really matter in the end way. I certainly know when I die the last thing I’m going to think about is the expensive car I owned, or whether my mother in law accepted me. I could go on about the mundane things that ramble throughout my head and cause me undue stress on a daily basis, but really it doesn’t matter.  Maybe reminding ourselves of our impending doom can change the way we think about our worries and thoughts.

When I die I think I’ll be more concerned with questions such as, did I live honorably, did I express my love and affection to those I care for, do they know how much they meant to me? Did I spend too much time keeping up with the latest T.V. dramas and not enough time exploring the world? Did I talk too much and not listen, enough? Did I live my life for myself, or did I give enough to others?  Am I happy with the way I conducted myself whilst alive, can I “die” with it?

When it’s my turn to meet my maker, I don’t want to wish I have lived differently. I met those people, you know the ones, they are demanding and selfish, they care only about their gain. They hurt others without a thought of remorse. They are the line skippers; they are the ones who yell at the 16 year old waitress, because their steak is over cooked. They have a sense of entitlement; they are the people who use the phrase “do you know who I am?” I’ve seen them perish and it is sad, because ultimately they die angry and alone, and the only person holding their hand is a stranger, usually a nurse that believes no one should die alone, even the assholes. Seems to me that it’s no way to live or die for that matter.

I guess to end this random thought, it might be best to use the cliche’ live as if you were dying,  but really do it, as if you were dying, not just like you read the quote somewhere and thought  we should all do this…. But what if we all did do that?  What If everyone in the world lived like they were dying!? Now you are looking at mass hysteria!  And for some reason if people think they are dying, they will steal electronics?! Which always gets me in movies? If I thought the world was ending or it was time for survival mode, I might take food and water, but seriously what are you going do with a TV? It’s like they are dying and think their remaining hours would be best spent watching dancing with the stars?  So maybe we shouldn’t live like we are dying. I guess we should all just Live, learn our lessons on the way, be proud of who we are and what we’ve accomplished, and when making a decision, always make sure you can live or rather, die with yourself.