“Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit!”

Thursday, February 7, 2002

As Jorge said, we felt rather spoiled last night at Brian’s art opening because we’d seen all the pieces before. We’d seen them at his apartment or at Ruta Maya when they were still in progress, when the skies were still a solid block of color. It was interesting to walk around and think to yourself, I remember when he was doing that one. I think we each made a few passes around the gallery doing just that before settling in with the usual group of friends who showed up just after the beginning of the opening and stayed until after it was over.

I talked my parents into coming down to see his work. My mom came up with the idea of having Brian come to her third grade class and talk to them about painting and maybe paint a little for them. He was all for it. Jorge got jealous and asked if he could go photograph them. Of course.

I introduced my parents and my little brother around to Jorge and John. Brian had met them back on my birthday when he stayed at our house. They left shortly afterward.

—The rest of this will not be in chronological order.—

Jorge and I stood in the hallway next to the catered food table and spoke of the Australian girl who’d just left with Oscar. I saw the blacksuited John pass by followed by a blonde woman. I pointed it out to Jorge. His entire face said, “WOW.” Eyes and mouth, everything. It’s very odd to see John with a woman. Until we see him with Erin, it will always be odd to see him with a woman. They disappeared around the corner and it appeared that he was walking her through the exhibit.

A couple of minutes later, John turned away from the girl and starting coming back through the door alone. Jorge and I both waved at him to go back. “GO BACK. DO NOT COME OUT HERE,” we motioned. With a low-key wave of his hand, he walked past us saying, “I’ve got to play.” He sat back down at his guitar and went at it.

——-

An hour or so later, I was sitting on the other side of the same table listening to John play. The girl he’d led around had come and sat down in the chair next to him. She would say, “Ow!” and “Oh!” when he did a particularly nice lick. He’d look at her, smile, look at the wall on the other side of him, roll his eyes, glance at me and smile knowingly and continue playing.

Listening to John play guitar makes me want to write. I’ve said before that if I could make my words sound the way he makes his guitar sound, I’d be more than happy. Such nice, full, flowing notes spill out of the amplifier when he plays. There are certain songs he plays that just beg to have his voice accompany them, too. As was the case last night, he only played the instrument without any of his own singing. Some of the songs dragged my ears to the guitar out of magnetic tonal attraction waiting for his voice to come in and sing the blues.

When he finishes his CD, I’ll pick up a copy for anyone who wants one. Such good stuff.

——-

Standing outside earlier in the evening smoking cigarettes with John, we watched Brian mingle with the crowd inside.
“She’s nice,” John said.
“Which one?” I asked.
“The one in the heels. The redhead. With Brian.”
“Oh, yeah. She is. Look, he’s got her laughing. Oh, he’s getting laid tonight.”
“Did you hear her voice?” John asked.
“No.”
He mimicked a high-pitched, scratchy voice.
“Probably has a name like Amy.”
“Nah. Probably Jennifer,” I posited.
“Hey, my sister’s name is Jenny… but it’s not Jennifer.”
“Hmmm…”
“Nah, man. Her name has to start with a ‘k’,” he said, “Like Katie.”
“Yeah. Katie. I could see that.”

Brian did give her his card. And her name was Kris. Or Khris. Or Chris. Close enough.

——-

Not long after I arrived, Jorge and I huddled and shared recent relationship stories.
“Yeah, Charity told me to give her directions here and I didn’t,” I said, as I sipped my wine.
“I talked to Annie earlier today about this,” he said.
“And were they planning to come?”
“She said it depended on how Charity felt about the thing between you two.”
“God, I hope they don’t show up,” I said, as I made a furtive glance about the room.
“So what exactly is going on between you two? Nothing?”
“I haven’t even seen her since your party two weeks ago. She e-mailed me the other day saying that I had her wrapped around my finger and I didn’t even know it, but the fact is that I do know it, I’m just not taking advantage of it. Any other guy in this situation would’ve banged her and then ignored her. She’s probably thrown off by the fact that we’ve never had sex and I’m already ignoring her. I’m actually being a nice guy in that respect, whether she sees it or not.”
“Right, and, she likes girls…” he added.
“Right, so where is this going to go? Nowhere.”

——-

I’d invited an Australian girl, Tonya, that I’d seen around the campus where I work. At the time, she’d said she had to work. But as Jorge, John, and I stood outside, we saw her walk up with Oscar and another girl.
“Hi, William,” she said.
“Hey. Thought you had to work tonight.”
“I’ve got a cold.”
“Quite a cold there.”
She smiled.

I’m awful around pretty girls. You’d think I were still in high school or something. I stutter, my mind goes blank, I’m intensely shy. So I didn’t say anything to her for the majority of the rest of the evening. I wanted to talk to her about Australia. I thought my being accepted to UNSW twice might be a bit of an icebreaker. Depending on where she was from, I thought she might’ve heard Leigh on the radio some time back when she was in Oz.

It’s not a big deal. It’s not like I wanted to hit on her or anything. I had no expectations. That’s precisely the reason it bothers me so much that I became all shy and jittery.

Oh well. My view toward relationships at this point comes from a ReBirth Brass Band song, “Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit.” Meaning, essentially, that if I don’t start any relationships, I won’t have to deal with my or anyone elses’ shit on that level of emotional involvement. The past few relationships have taught me that rarely is it worth it.

——-

Outside with John and Davey, who’s gay, after the official part of the opening was over, we watched as the blonde girl who’d earlier been following John around stumbled through the doorway onto the patio. She started talking really loud about wanting John to meet an artist at Jovita’s. David Lee, another guy from Ruta Maya that no one really cares for (he’s a chameleon, every six months he changes everything about himself — he was a photographer who dressed all in black six months ago, now he wears jean jackets and stuff, not sure what he does), came out and told her they were going next door to eat.

She became belligerent demanding that they all go to Jovita’s. John bowed out saying he had to go out to dinner with us. (He did. Earlier in the evening, I’d passed around the idea of all of us going out and buying Brian dinner somewhere to celebrate.) Finally she said, “I’ll go down on you, David Lee, just please take me to Jovita’s. I will give it to you good, David Lee. I’ll let you cum in my hair.”
“First you have to blow Davey,” David said.

Fortunately, Wally, the gallery owner, came out shortly after that and ran the two of them off.

——-

At the end of the night, after everyone else had gone, and only Wally, Jorge, Brian, myself, John, Brian’s brother, Davey, and another guy remained, we all stood around the food table and talked. Wally kept opening bottles of wine and filling our cups. We spoke of my writing. Jorge, John, and Brian said it was good. Wally wanted me to send her some pieces so she could introduce me to other local writers (I think she was drunk).

We talked about girls and jobs and traveling and art…
And I realized that for this reason alone, I don’t want to leave Austin just yet. I don’t want to go start over again. I enjoy having all these friends. It’s what makes life worth living to me.

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