Back Beat

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Back Beat

“Show me how you do that trick, the one that makes me scream, she said.  The one that makes me laugh, she said. And threw her arms around my neck.  Show me how you do it and I promise you, I promise to run away with you.”

The Cure “Just Like Heaven” 

I got dumped for a drummer. This is worse, I think, than getting dumped for a lead singer or a guitarist. Probably not as bad as getting dumped for a bass player but I've never heard of anyone getting dumped for a bass player. I'm concerned this is a reflection on how far I have fallen in this world but she tells me it is something else, something deeper. She says he understands the back beat, the underlying rhythm of things. She says that he "gets it".

I remind her that unlike the drummer I have a J-O-B. I ask if her musician friend “gets that”.  This doesn't seem to impress her.

 She lives in Seattle, this woman who dumped me. The skies are soft here. They drizzle and darken and cloud and sometimes even rain but rarely get up the energy for a full blown storm. It is more like a great, furry deity is constantly toweling off just over your head, shaking himself free of the last clinging droplets of moisture. I think the softness of the weather, or perhaps being constantly dripped on, has clouded her judgment. 

She takes me for a walk downtown to give me the news. People everywhere are walking their dogs, wrapping themselves tighter in their coats and showing the dominance of pedestrians by lingering in crosswalks a half-beat too long. Crowds are not smiling but they look good. They look satisfied. The whole population of this city seems ALMOST beautiful. 

A ferry horn blows in the distance and I look towards the Sound and study the heavy chop of the water. Float planes buzz in circles then line up for landings on the lake in the distance. They skip across the water like well thrown stones. 

The crack-heads have an unusual pep to their walk today. They aren't shuffling so much as skipping, as if to an internal dance groove ripped from one of those maddening children's TV programs. Perhaps the underlying quality of rock cocaine has improved. That would be nice for the junkies. Small favors and all.

This woman, the lady that is dumping me for a drummer, isn't really all that. Her black hair is loose and flapping in the wind, free strands get caught in her mouth and she picks them out and tries to tuck them away. Her skin is pale but slightly chapped and reddened from the cold and the rainy season.  She looks at me when she talks but her eyes are elsewhere, looking to the future and a time when I won't be there, when she can close her eyes and listen to the drums. The rumbling beat of simple things pulses within her heart and her muscles, freeing her brain from the weight of indecision. 

I'm wondering if I will get a pity poke goodbye.

Maybe this is what she means when she says that I don't “get it”. It is hard for me to say since I'm not listening very well. I'm kind of obsessed with her dark stockings and sensible shoes right now. I like the way her fleece coat insulates her slightly chubby and mildly tattooed body.

She is still talking, I think.

She talks with her hands. They flail about as she is trying to make some point or another. I am sure she is explaining exactly what is wrong with me and on the outside chance she actually knows I should probably be paying attention, but I cannot. She smells of salt air and coffee breath and I can't stop looking at her teeth and wondering if she flosses enough, wondering what the drummer's dental hygiene is like and how it compares to mine.

I hear words like “connection” and “spirituality” and think maybe someone must have the volume on their television turned up WAY too high as they watch Oprah or Dr. Phil but then I realize it is still just her. Talking.

For a moment I tune in to her voice but I am pulled away by the scene of two power lesbians chatting while their dogs take tremendous dumps on a small bush. For some reason the sight of this brings me joy. I'm not sure if it's the way the lesbians are leaning on each other or the boldness of the public defecation but something is resonating with my soul. A curtain begins to lift from my heart. I can't remember why it was that I started dating this woman to begin with. 

She is still talking. Something about writing a new chapter in her life.  I tell her I think I need to go. She looks at me with her heavy, dark eyes and a mixture of scorn and pity and I'm thinking I might just get that poke.

“U-dub (Univ. of Washington) has a game in two hours and I have tickets,” I say. “Mid-court row 7.” I look at her a moment and wait for a response that doesn't come. “I need to take off now.”

“Who are they playing?” she asks, chewing the fingernail on her left thumb.

“Nobody” I say, “Oregon State.” I shrug, and start to walk away.

She grabs my shoulder and stops me. “I saw them play Oregon” she says. “They suck but they have this ball hog of a point guard that is fun to watch.

So we begin to walk together, discussing the bad things Spencer Hawes did to the program and wondering whether Durant can save the Sonics.  I remember why it is I like this woman.

She pulls out her cell and calls the drummer. Tells him she will be late tonight. She is going to a basketball game.

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