June: the month of pain 

Random, meaningless melodrama

Random, meaningless melodrama
June is the month of pain. It's the month in which the days begin to get shorter, the nights begin to get longer and we settle in for a long, hot summer. Forget what you heard: June is the cruelest month.
She looked at me like I'd asked her to achieve cold fusion. "Probably dead. Just like you." A chill went down my spine.
June is a month of baseball. I hate baseball. It's a month for strawberry festivals, garage sales, cookouts and beer, all of which I can do without. I haven't watched a Star Wars movie in the last 25 years and I don't plan on doing so again in this lifetime. It's also a month where you can be confronted with ghosts from your past, figuratively and literally. I was cleaning up my apartment when I found a picture of an ex-girlfriend of mine. It was a Polaroid taken at King's Island about five years ago. She was standing behind a cardboard cutout of an infant, wearing diapers and holding a bottle. How appropriate, I thought, as I threw the picture into a 30-gallon Hefty bag already straining under the weight of liquor bottles and cigarette butts. A few minutes after I put the picture in the trash, there was a knock on my door. Another old girlfriend, who has a flair for the unexpected appearance, showed up. It'd been at least six months since I'd seen her, during which various stories filtered back to me, some true, some undoubtedly exaggerated. She'd added some blonde highlights to her hair and taken out the cornrows, but other than that, she was exactly the same, from the way she talked to the taste of her lip gloss. She's big on astrology and can't get over the fact that my birthday is Dec. 3 and hers Dec. 4. "Oooh," she said around 2 a.m., as she opened the refrigerator for a drink. "Budweiser Select. That shows that you're a true Sagittarius." "What in the hell are you talking about?" I asked. "Look at how pretty the can is," she said. "Sagittarians are attracted to things like this." "I guess." "Do you like this blouse? Baby Phat. You can't even buy it here. I have the whole outfit. Put on that 2Pac song we used to like." I walked over to the iPod and found the song she was referring to: an obscure song he did for some long-forgotten movie soundtrack. I'm high 'til I die Loc'ed 'til they smoke me The shit don't stop 'Til my casket drops. It's the last of the drink, pull over Can't hear a damn thing sober. She danced around the room, sipping from the can of beer and swigging from my bottle of Hennessey and singing along with Pac. "Jesus," I said. "You need to slow down a little. You live too fast. Something bad is gonna happen to you someday." "You're just saying that," she said. "How the hell old are you anyway, Hammer?" "You should know," I said. "OK," she said. "You're 40. But you're sounding like you're 50. Live a little. What were you doing when you were my age?" I had to think. "Drinking beer and Hennessey. Listening to Public Enemy and N.W.A. Smoking joints while driving down Madison Avenue. Hanging out with women like you. But that was 1990. Things were different then." "No, they weren't," she said, "so shut up about it. Enjoy the song." "Don't you ever think about where you'll be in five years?" I asked. She looked at me like I'd asked her to achieve cold fusion. "Probably dead. Just like you." A chill went down my spine. "Yeah, but I want to live," I said. "You're acting like you don't." "Put on that Biggie Smalls song," she said. "'I don't wanna live no' mo'. Sometimes I feel death knocking on my front door.'" "I'm not kidding," I said. "Neither one of us can go on living this way, getting trashed every night, not remembering half of what we did and not wanting to remember the other half." "I don't know about you," she said, "but I remember everything I do. It's just sometimes I don't want to remember." "That's my point exactly," I said. "Don't you want to be proud of who you are?" "I am proud of who I am," she said. "It's just that I'm not proud of some of the things I've had to do." I didn't have a response. "Listen," I said. "We could wake up tomorrow, drive downtown, get a marriage license, find some cheap preacher to do the ceremony and we could try and escape together." "Escape?" she said. "I don't want to escape. I like things the way they are now. You couldn't afford me anyway, plus you'd be cheating on me by the time we got home from the church." "Not anymore," I said. "I'm different now." She laughed. "You're just like me. We're Sagittarians. We'll never change." In the morning, when I woke up, there was a note: Steve, I thought about what you said. If it is the Lord's will then it will be done. I am going to get my hair done and see my sister. Don't worry about me. We'll make it out of here someday. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Like I said, June is the cruelest month.

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