“Here’s A Gesticulation.”

by G.T.

Tony V. (815) – Here is the only person that I’ve ever known to have considered placing milk and eggs in the back of a grocery store as “FUCKING GENIUS!” All I had done that day was point out how funny it is that stores do that, fully aware as to why mind you. And I mentioned it rather timidly, too, which is how I always am when being smug and when making smug observations. Apparently I had posed a threat, and Tony took offense that I do not share a similar fervor for the sales strategies of retail grocery.

That said, Tony was my former supervisor at Wal-Mart, where we both worked in the odoriferous and inglorious meat department, adorned in white butchers coats, minus all of the skills and knowledge that butchers possess. All we did was stock hot dogs and pre-cut, pre-weighed pork chops, and lest I forget the terrible chore of discarding the expired and tampered packages of meat. Those rancid tubes of ground beef — forever ingrained in my mind, haunting my subconscious. Tony was very loyal to the workings of Wal-Mart; always on time, impeccable work ethic, and not just willing, but ecstatic about taking part in the degrading Wal-Mart cheer. I, on the other hand of the matter, was late four out of five days a week, took thirty minute breaks, ninety minute lunches, and wrote haiku poetry in the bathroom stalls and seafood freezer when I was on the clock. I eventually stopped writing in the seafood freezer. My pen would tend to freeze, go figure. Outside of work, Tony played in two bands: a death metal band, and a Christian rock band. I found this musical conflict intriguing and could make absolutely no sense out of it. I had his phone number saved after he called me the afternoon following my resignation of sorts from Wal-Mart. At 3:13pm.

                                                             The value of a man’s
                                                             life I found in the
                                                             canned goods aisle.
                                                             Replaceable,
                                                             expendable,
                                                             hourly wage earner.
                                                             His purpose was to
                                                             check the expiration
                                                             date everyday.

Fuck you, monotonous routine that is retail. Thought I’d throw that in.

7:39pm, Tony: “?”

I thought it unlikely that Tony ever saved my number after calling me that day. I never answered his call and he never saw me again. Having dealt with the ever common “who is this?” responses that I’ve received so much writing this god damned poetry. It never hurts to begin screwing around with these people.

8:05pm, Me: “What is there to question?”

8:06pm, Tony: “I havent heard from you in months how is it goin?”

However inclined I was to send Tony a text poem, I regretted it right about here. I didn’t have the heart to ignore the kid…again.

8:08pm, Me: “Meh. This and that. Yourself?”

8:09pm, Tony: “All good. I live in springfield now.”

Tony left Wal-Mart. Works for the government now. Whether or not he still rocks on for Jesus while stage diving into a crowd of headbanging heathens remains unknown.

Roger P. (815) – Undoubtedly one of my closest friends. And that means a lot, because I don’t get out much, and therefore, my closest friends are few and far between. We first made acquaintance during our Sophomore year of high school, in English class. I kept a leather bound chess set in my backpack (peg, not magnetic, for any of you who are wondering), and a game or two of chess gradually became a daily routine, as well as cigars on the weekends.

Quick aside, but nobody other than Roger or myself would understand the “peg, not magnetic” mention, in parentheses, in the previous paragraph. That’s what makes our friendship unlike most others; over time, we have quite literally developed a second language of sorts based entirely on inside jokes. So far I should say, that we have even made the same gesticulations when making a joke. There, I did it again. Roger got it. I got it. That’s the beauty of it. We won’t see one another but a few times a year anymore, but always these jokes and stories remain second nature to ourselves.

My only qualm is a fault of mine, and that’s my tendency to fall through on some things involving our friendship. On a minor scale, having yet to watch Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke 2, and on a larger scale, not completing his peer recommendation letter for Dartmouth until the very day it was due. Again it happened recently, when I wrote Roger a poem, received his humorous reply, “i dunno who dis is nu phone lol”, that poked fun at all of those “who is this?” responses that I’ve received. Unfortunately I had lost all of the text messages as more text messages accumulated in my inbox, his and mine both, and was unable to recover them. Had I published them sooner, that could’ve been averted. So I sent him another, regarding procrastination, and another inside joke of sorts that nobody gets but the two of us. At 3:34pm.

                                                             The answer wasn’t at
                                                             midnight, but it was
                                                             daylight somewhere.
                                                             In the meantime we
                                                             wait in empty parking
                                                             lots, and there are
                                                             just too many to pass
                                                             this time.

6:57pm, Me: “I can’t recover our previous text exchange, so I wrote you another poem. I hope it found you well. How’s the lab work going?”

Roger had been busy almost exploding in a lab at Princeton. That’s the best I can describe it.

7:40pm, Roger: “Things are a bit hectic at the moment but I’ll probably survive. How are you?”

8:01pm, Me: “I’ve been managing, I guess.”

8:02pm, Roger: “That’s about all most can do, really, so I’d say that’s alright. How have the poems been going lately?”

8:04pm, Me: “I’m trying to revive the whole thing. I really lost touch with it, but will try to write a few more posts.”

8:14pm, Roger: “That’s too bad, but I guess you can only get enough “lol who is dis” replies before you get a bit tired of it. Sorry it didn’t work out like you’d hoped.”

Text poetry is cute, but it’s no transgressive sort of thing. I had no outlook or expectation for it. I thought it a nice way to flex some literary muscles, possibly reconnect with people that I haven’t spoken to in a while, which worked out quite well in a couple instances. I reconnected with one former, fellow architecture student, and we’ve been spending evenings in all of the questionable yet delicious far eastern greasy spoons that make up the dimly lit corners of Chicago’s Northside. The poetry is worth it in such a case as far as I’m concerned.

I happened to be texting Roger at the same time that I was corresponding with Tony, the conflicted rocker/supervisor above.

8:17pm, Me: “I was able to reconnect with some old friends. I’m currently texting my former Fuck-Mart supervisor who seems to recognize my number. Quite awkward.”

8:19pm, Roger: “Whoops! Should make for an interesting blog post, at the very least.”

8:20pm, Me: “He works for the FBI now. I feel like the texts are being tracked.”

8:22pm, Roger: “Haha, holy shit. Be nice to him or they’ll start staking out your house.”

Nothing perculiar yet. Just the typical drunkards riding their bicycles for more tallboys at the liquor store.

8:39pm, Roger: “We just getting our first bit of snow here, now. Nice time for a smoke.”

8:40pm, Me: “Nothing like a smoke in the snow.”

8:40pm, Roger: “True dat.”

Word. Happy Holidays.