She used to date priests. Not ordained priests, but those who decided after months of dating they had a vocation to the priesthood. Thomas joined the Nobertines, the order of our campus priest, who was very pleased with the decision. Sean joined a Benedictine Abbey in Oklahoma. Andrew, the Jesuits, but he always was dangerously liberal at our school.
I bought a tuxedo. I don’t know why. I don’t have any money. I have trouble paying my rent. But I just had this need for the tuxedo. I couldn’t help it. At night I wear my tuxedo and walk around. People take you seriously when you wear a tuxedo. You’re obviously important. I walk into a coffee shop and order a macchiato. I sit down. I’m having a break from my busy schedule. Just a few minutes to myself to have a delicious coffee. There are so many demands on my time. I look at my phone. I write a text. I have a thoughtful look. People rely on my texts. They rely on me. I look at my watch. Perhaps I’m waiting for my date to arrive. She is a beautiful woman, obviously. My phone rings. It’s my alarm. I answer it.
from the archives
His name was Timothy but we called him Carrot because his hair was red. Later, behind his back, we called him Gimpy because he walked funny. A week after we moved to Virginia Beach, Carrot’s mom brought him and his sister Tiffany over to our house.
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth,” she said when my mom opened the door. “We live just up the street. Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Mom introduced us.
Carrot looked at his feet. When his mom nudged him he asked if I wanted to go play football with him.
”Oh that sounds nice, Joey,” my mom said. “Would you like to go? Go on and play.”
I went. At first I was scared because Carrot was the ugliest kid I’d ever seen.
You do realize God has a plan for you. I know that. For a fact. I pray every night for you, sweetie. Every night I cry out to God for you. Show him your plan, I say. Show him your divine providence. You have to pray, sweetie. Tell me you’ll say a prayer tonight. You never know when the Lord’s going to call us home. Neither the hour or the day. And I want to see you on God’s path before I die.
Fucking fantastic. That’s great news. I’m so happy for you. You must be so thrilled.
Have you told many people?
Only a few. You’re one of the first.
Well, that’s great. God, so happy for you. When do you leave?
Wow. Great. So great. You’re keeping your apartment?
Yeah, you could sublet if you want.
Oh no. That’s alright. I’m happy where I am.
Where are you?
Here, there, everywhere. I’m like a sparrow, flitting around on residential trees.
We’ll give you a good rate if you change your mind.
I like the freedom. I don’t want to be tied down. I like exploring different neighborhoods.
You know what, I dated white girls. They complain too much. They want everything, credit cards, gifts, dinners, everything. I was married to one for twelve years. She was in the army. Once she became a sergeant, everything changed. Once she got those stripes she wasn’t ever the same. You know what, I took those stripes and ripped them off. I had to show her. I threw them in the trash. To make a point. Stripes don’t make you shit. White girls are crazy. Get away from them. They’ll mess you up and leave you broke. You got a extra cigarette?
Kisses, she said. Oh hugs and kisses. I haven’t seen you in forever, John. Forever! How are you, really? Tell me. You don’t have to lie to me, John. Tell me how you’re doing. If you want to say shitty as hell, then say it. I won’t mind. Just tell me without thinking. You’re fine? After what happened to you? I’m glad to hear. I’m sure you’ve felt terrible for so long and now things are evening out. I’m glad to hear. If I were you I’d want a good long cry every day. But that’s me. I’m a big baby.
I want to take you to a coffee shop and seduce you. I was walking down the street when he said this. I have a boyfriend, I said.
Don’t bring him, the man said. He was walking alongside of me. You’re a fast walker, he said.
I have to be somewhere, I said.
I know. Getting coffee with me. And you’re right on time.
I’m meeting my boyfriend, I said. He’s big and he has tattoos.
Did he just get out of prison? He was smiling.
Yeah, for killing a man who was hitting on me.
So it’s true, he said. Girls always go for the nice guys.
She was afraid of color. The walls of her apartment were white; the floors painted black. She was passed out on her bed, buried under her white comforter. On the bedside table was a copy of Domino magazine and a book: “How To Meet The Man Of Your Dreams (And Get Married) In 45 Days.”