sometimes at night i go outside with the dog and a glass of wine and my laptop and sit at one of the picnic tables in my apartment’s courtyard. maude roams around sniffing at whatever dogs like to sniff at, while i sip cabernet and write or surf the internet. i do this partly because it’s been nice out lately, but mostly because the wifi is good out there.
for the past few weeks i haven’t been able to do this without encountering my neighbor matt. he lives in the apartment next to mine, and he never walks by without trying to engage me in conversation. i’ll be really into whatever i’m doing on the computer, and then i hear someone behind me say, “hey, gal,” and i know it’s matt. we’ve introduced ourselves, which is how i know his name is matt, but he obviously doesn’t remember my name, and has yet to ask again.
(sidebar: what’s so difficult about saying, “i’m sorry, what was your name again?” everyone forgets names now and then, so i’ve always thought it best to admit to the forgetting as early as possible, to prevent greater embarrassment later.)
matt has asked me what kind of wine i’m drinking (cab). he’s asked me if i watched the game (what game?*). he’s walked by twice in a row and then said, “do you ever feel like you’re going in circles?” (yes.) he’s asked me if this is my dog and is she friendly (yes and sort of). after hearing that i’m a web designer, he’s asked me to offer his credit-card authentication services to my employers (that’s not really what we do, but thanks anyway). lately he’s been requesting my presence at a nearby bar, offering to introduce me to everyone there (how would he introduce me if he doesn’t know my name? “everyone, this is gal. gal, everyone.”)
(*sidebar #2: when people say “did you watch the game?” to me, it always reminds me of a running joke my sister and i used to have with my dad. when we were in college, he would say, “your football team won this weekend,” to which we would always respond, “we have a football team?” i’m still not sure he even followed the football himself; headleys are just that fond of the running jokes.)
(sidebar #3: one of my favorite headley jokes has been passed down from my grandfather to my dad. whenever my sister or i complain about our hair, my dad says, “why don’t you get it cut in a nice short little bob? it’ll be so cute and so easy to take care of.” i suspect this is only funny if you’ve also heard your grandpa say it to your aunts.)
most of the time i have no problem chatting with my neighbors. in fact, there are several in particular that i’m quite happy to say hello to. but when i’m outside drinking my wine and writing or trying to find maude under some shrubs, i guess i’d rather be left alone, or at least keep the chatting to a minimum.
the other night when i saw matt, i told him that i’d received a visit from the maintenance people, a visit i was pretty sure was intended for him. they’d left a work order on my door about inspecting my garbage disposal; the work order had matt’s name but my apartment number. “yeah, my disposal’s been broken,” he said, “but i guess they came to your place by mistake. thanks for telling me.”
last night maude and i were outside in the courtyard again, and matt came over, again. we said our heys and how-are-yous, and then he said, “hey, remember that night when you told me about the maintenance thing?”
“well i had a friend with me, and she thought you were really attractive.”
“oh?” i said.
“yeah, she did. she wanted me to find out for her if you swing that way.”
“well,” i said, suddenly shy, “i, uh, actually don’t. but that’s, um, really flattering.”
“oh, okay,” he said. “i’ll see you later.”
and it is flattering. but on the night matt was talking about, he didn’t have a friend with him at all. he was alone. i suppose it’s possible that his friend was looking out the window of his apartment, or that they walked by me later and i didn’t notice, but i doubt it. if occam’s razor is to be believed (and it is), then he was probably asking if i swing that way because he wanted to know.
(sidebar #4: if i’m going to be selfish about it (and who wouldn’t), the flattery couldn’t have come at a better time, as i’ve been feeling less than attractive lately. my hair looks funny, i’ve gained a few pounds, and my acne is flaring up. when i used to complain about my acne to ryan i called it my “leprosy of the face.” sometimes i wish i didn’t have a body at all, that i were just a head in a jar labeled “alison headley,” like on futurama. i bet all that formaldehyde would clear my acne right up.)