I’d been working with the book(s) for some time, and for some strange reason… I lost it. Waking the next morning, realizing the black binder book was missing, I checked back to the last place I remember using it, the Spyhouse coffee house. The value of the book is a long time coming, and is currently happening. Future mixtapes are in it, and I can’t remember a time in the past two years that I haven’t jotted some kind of important work within its pages.
There is something special about the book as well, it has a tattoo. Whenever someone takes it upon themselves to write in a book of mine, make a lewd drawing, or stick a sticker to its cover- I call that a tattoo. This one had been tattooed before I’d even written in it. It’s dated to 4/21/03 “Hope you have a wonderful birthday. Thought you’d appreciate a place to write down your memories of tonight + thoughts of tomorrow. Happy 21st! <3 Gwen”.
Gwen and I dated for the span of 2 weeks, but cascaded a cold war that still hasn’t died (check the date of the book, then check your calendar… do the math). However low the temp has reached between the two of us, we can survive in the same bar together. Meh, Gwen’s not the point of importance here, the weight of this book is relative to the f’ng Book of Eli. I’d memorize the damn thing and walk the world with an AR-15 to protect its content if I had to… but I don’t, thankfully.
Rewinding my tracks back to the Spyhouse on Nicollet Ave, the barista directed me to the lost & found… and fortunately it was the latter. Found the book, tossed it into the foot rest of the passenger side of my car, Honda. Zoomed to work, parked the car in the garage section at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and leapt into action. My shift lasted for two hours, made all of 6 bucks in tips after serving one table- worthless. I returned to the car.
Upon jumping into the driver side, I noticed a mound of large magical dust in the front passenger seat- large magical dust in the shape of shattered shards of window. The gravity departed my rib cage, breath flown from me, and emptiness subsides the next seconds. Seconds to feel like minutes, to feel like an eternity stripped away from my private universe: my car. Broken glass scattered all throughout the seat and car where someone had smashed in the passenger side window.
A gal and I just split. Truly a horrible break, it was. Having just left the break, I couldn’t think of anything more cliché than to go to Barnes & Nobles and enjoy my new found free time. Once you’re out of a relationship, and it was clearly the right decision to be out of the relationship; you find yourself breathing with a smile, walking with a lil’ pep in your step, and responding to women after shows differently than you would while in a monogamous situation. Well, strutting into Barnes & Noble, the cover of a book caught my eye. I delved into it, vamping through page after page after page, always flipping back to the “Table of Contents”. “Several Women To Never Date” read the chapter. I laughed out loud, the way you laugh out loud with your good friends in company- nothing holding your lungs back, or volume from concern of bothering others around you. Barnes & Noble has that comfort to it. I feel everyone is legally contracted to laugh out loud as they would at a dinner party with several glasses of wine in them.
Back to the book, I dared read further into the chapter of “women to never date”. The titles were brash, offensive, misogynistic and a bit off-the-wall… except for one: The Street Fighter. The chapter describes the Street Fighter as continuance of negating anything and everything you bring to the table. Past, present, and future problems are your fault, even agreeing to disagree will do no good, the Street Fighter feeds off the moment of conflict. Their lives are in constant disarray, argument, and personal matter-of-fact opinion. The Street Fighter has life advice for everyone, instant critique of those they’ve just met, and a thirst for the- well, the fight. My jaw lay open by the end of the read. I’d just evaded the Street Fighter, the woman I’d just dated. I fashion myself a good street fight every now and then, but this past situation was war day-in, day-out. It was destined to break, weathered the very awning of my happiness, and find a daily shit storm to throw in the face of any positive outlook I’d tried to keep on the relationship. In the end, it ended the worst way. Voluminous yelling, doors slamming, after 2am texting/calling, beyond the personal and into the malicious… twas ugly. One way or another, I was happy to be out of it.
“Whatever you can do, stay away from the Street Fighter. Do not engage with this one, for even when you’ve parted ways, the Street Fighter will always find a way to partition the ongoing battle.” I laughed aloud again. “No way!” I thought to myself… “no way”, my grin & laugh dying to a slow realization and fear for the return of the Street Fighter.
Staring at the pieces of broken glass bouncing sunlight in all direction of the car like crippled disco ball… there lay my laptop beneath the rubble. “But why not take the laptop? The damn thing would have been in clear sight of the robber” I murmured like a schizophrenic in a coffeeshop. “Sweet Lucifer, thank the Gods I left the most important notebook in the foot rest”, murmuring still. All that was taken was my backpack- the backpack with the past decade of my writing in it. The iphone, the camera, the mini HD recorder in the glove left unaccosted in the same condition they were when I left them. So strange. The thief had to have been in a hurry to smash, grab, and run with just a backpack… or was it exactly as they’d planned. Was the backpack all they came for? Perhaps they knew the backpack was worthless to anyone in the world except for me and somehow knew it’d be the most sensitive vein to strike. Perhaps someone who knew I only work Sundays at the Old Spaghetti Factory, came for my most prized possession- to snatch it from my life- to hit me where it would hurt most. Who would do such a thing?
I remembered how bad things had gotten with Gwen, the sophomoric fights, the mind games, the bullshit our young voices would spear into the air to outwit the other. Again, perhaps the stolen backpack was a blessing to help me focus on the book that counted the most… the one from Gwen. But then again, what if this was the Street Fighter’s doing… and I’d truly learned nothing from any of the defunct dating I’d accumulated to now? Perhaps I should’ve seen this coming and not left a fricking prized possession in the front seat. Gah- it’s all in the past. All I have is the notebook from Gwen. That’s all.
Gwen, older now, has calmed her fangs to simple wit. Notice I said “calmed her fangs”, not “filed her fangs”. The woman will still cut a bitch. Full knowledge of her limitations and potential to murder feelings, Gwen and I pace down Lyndale Ave. She’s just moved back to Minneapolis after completing her MBA in Indiana. New job, fat paycheck, high maintenance condo, it’s fair to say Gwen’s living in the lap of luxury. It’s also fair to say her & I have barely grown beyond are spite & rivalry for each other, but still able to share a walk with each other.
I tell her about the book, we laugh. However, glancing back at the car, I couldn’t help but think if the Street Fighter had put an end to my car’s window or if I was developing paranoia for the past. Whether or not it was the Fighter’s doing, there was a larger lesson to be learned from all of this.
Walking around the city with the eldest of ex-girlfriends, perhaps my most useful work wouldn’t exist had Gwen never handed me the notebook ten years ago. Perhaps, if I’d learned my lesson from dating in the name of spite, resentment, and cold war… I would still have a passenger side window as well.