Disclaimer: I use this space to practice creative writing. If you stick it out, then for the next 15 minutes you'll be reading the maniacal rantings and random musings of a guy who's clearly off his meds. And so the story begins.
A lady knows in the first fifteen seconds if she's interested in a guy. Since half of that was already spent reading this sentence, there'd really be no need to read further. I mean let's face it, all you really needed was a passing glance at my photo to make you think you know everything there is to know about me -- whether or not I'm a decent guy, I'm caring and committed, financially secure, and have a nice house and a big car. No, it's 'big house' and 'nice car', right?
(40% of you have read this far.)
I hate to say it, but ladies... guys do this to you too. They don't care about what you have to say, how many kids you have or that you're the best mommy in the world. They don't care where you're working, or how much school it took to get you there. They really couldn't care less how much you've accomplished with your life.
(15% of you haven't yet hit the Back button. Not sure why. Its that blue arrow up there in the corner. You're welcome. Another 4% down.)
No, they didn't read a single word on your profile, ladies. Sorry. They just took a fleeting glimpse at your photo, and have either hit the Back button when your "fun bags" weren't big enough (mommy issues?), or they've just sent you a message that says, "Hi, DTF?"
That's right ladies -- men are pigs. But no doubt you've figured this out already, probably during an awkward gropefest to the tune of Oasis's Champagne Supernova in the bed of his dad's pickup. Or something like that.
"Slowly walkin' down the hall..." (3% of visitors remaining now. These are probably the ones who couldn't find the back button, even with my help) "...faster thaaan a cannonbaaaall..."
Now you're thinking, "Where did I go wrong?", and perhaps, "All my friends are married now, to really great guys. How come I never got one?" But you don't realize you already had one. Remember that geek in high school you crushed like a bug after he spent all day getting up the nerve to simply say Hi to you? Yeah, that was him -- and you made it pretty clear you weren't looking for a nice guy when you up-ended a medium Diet Sprite on his head.
(None of you have read this far, and so everything I've written from this point on is purely for my own amusement.)
So what is it here you're looking for now? A second chance at happiness? A do-over? Oh, I admire your optimism, dear. Life may give us a second chance at many things, but what are the odds you're going to meet that nice guy again in your lifetime? How can you even see us behind all of those pigs?
Especially when you've already made up your mind in the first 15 seconds.
Serious Addicts Only:
"Hi, I'm Nick and I'm an addict."
"Welcome, Nick!" the group said in unison.
I took a deep breath and began. "This's my first time attending Narcotics Anonymous, and I'm not real sure what to say."
I looked around the table. There were twelve of us, myself and my wife Laurie included. Each person at the table took turns talking about how drugs took control of their lives, and how they recovered from hitting rock-bottom. Now it was my turn.
"I've been clean for three hours and," I glanced at my watch, "seven minutes. I can't say drugs ruined my life. If anything, I guess drugs made it better. I don't think I've ever done anything extreme to get drugs...well, there was that house I burned down and those four dope dealers I killed just to get a suitcase full of Jane, but...I was doing alot of good people a favor!"
I looked at the group. Jaws were slightly dropped now; other than that, their stoic and somber faces hadn't changed. I continued.
"I'm not real sure how much of what I was done was contributed to drugs. I mean, I blew up a casino and hijacked a Lear jet, but I specifically remember being sober when I did that. Anyway, my wife Laurie and I want to try a clean life and see if it's any better."
I knew anything said at the meeting stays at the meeting, so I didn't hold back. I looked at the faces around the table again. All jaws were dropped. An elderly lady at the end of the table looked furious.
"Oh now I've heard everything!" she said as she grabbed her purse and stood to leave.
The leader of the group intervened. "Gladys, please. They're newcomers. We give everyone a chance here."
"Screw you, chuck! Blowing up casinos and hijacking planes? We're suppose to believe this crap? Not me!" she yelled and left the room.
Chuck turned back to me. "Forgive her, Nick, we don't all share her opinion. Laurie, would you like to share a message of recover with the group?"
I looked up at a reluctant Laurie, sitting across the table. Her arms were folded, and she had a scorned look on her face. I prompted her by tapping her leg under the table with my foot. She kicked me and gave me the finger. I returned the gesture and waited.
"FINE!!" she yelled, causing the remaining nine people to jump in their seats. She took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. "I'm Laurie and I'm not an addict. I've been clean for all of twenty minutes because I hid behind our car and smoked a fatty in the parking lot before Nick and I came in. Faithful, devoted husband here is making me quit against my will, because I'm four months pregnant and he says it's bad for me. Pfff. So is squeezing a watermelon out a hole the size of a lemon. I've tried the sober life long enough. Screw this..."
Laurie stood, grabbed a Lady Jane from her purse and left.
I looked back at the group. They seemed to be pitying me.
"Nick," Chuck said, "what was your drug of choice?
"Well...it was Jane. My sweet Lady Jane."
"No, I understand, but what did it eventually drive you to?"
I was confused. "Uhm, it drove me to guns, explosives and getting my wife pregnant."
"No Nick, see, this Jane as you call it...it's a gateway drug. It usually leads you to stronger things. What did Jane ultimately lead you to, Nick?"
"Well...after a while I started rolling them bigger," I said with a grin. I really had no idea what this idiot was driving at.
"That's it?" Chuck asked, his voice growing louder. "No coke, crack or heroine? Just Jane??"
I was really starting to feel uncomfortable. "I uhhh...I drink beer too."
"You call yourself an addict?!" another lady yelled as she jumped up from the table. "I use to sell my oldest daughter into prostitution for eight balls! Now that's an addiction!"
I slinked into my chair. I wanted to leave, but I couldn't move. A man jumped up from the table.
"I use to rob little old ladies coming out of the drug store to support my habit! And you call yourself one of us??"
Now it was Chuck's turn. "I sold my house for heroine! I've been living in a VW Bus in my parents' driveway ever since! Get outta here, Nick! Come back when you get a REAL addiction!"
Outside, I found Laurie sitting on the hood of the car, smoking a fatty. Her eyes grew wide when she saw me running toward her.
"Start the car! NOW!" I yelled, jumping into the passenger seat.
Laurie started the car and hit the gas as nine angry people burst from the building. We were barely out of the parking lot when nine N.A. handbooks bounced off our hood.
"What did you say to them, Nick??" she asked.
"I just said I was an addict!"
"I told you this was a bad idea..."
The Unarmed Robbery:
"Nick, the radio doesn't work."
"That's because you smacked it with your shoe," I said.
"'Cause it wasn't loud enough!"
"Laurie, did you really think that would fix it?"
She folded her arms and stared out the window into the night. "I don't understand, Nick. Why are we using a '91 Geo Prism for this?"
"I told you, you have to use a nondescript vehicle for pulling a robbery. And a '91 is about as nondescript as they get!"
Laurie turned and glared at me. "And what would you know about pulling a robbery? We've never done this before."
"True, but how hard could it be? I pull out the gun, ask for money and drive away."
"Ask for money??"
"Well yeah! I mean, with a gun in their face, will I really have to demand it? Besides, I think it's common courtesy to be polite while screaming obscenities and waving a gun in someone's face."
She eyed me suspiciously. "Have you been smoking banana peels again?"
By two in the morning we were sitting in our Geo in a parking lot across the street from a Sunoco gas station in Allen Park, MI. The station was deserted but still open. We watched for several minutes, but no one came or left the station. So far, everything was perfect.
"Do you really think you can pull this off?" she asked.
I flashed her a quick smile. "No one's as smooth as Nick Stone!"
When I was convinced there were no customers inside, I had Laurie pull the getaway Geo up to the Sunoco's front door, parking so close no one else could get inside the building. I put on my ski mask, grabbed Laurie's .38 snub-nose revolver and a cloth bag and went inside.
"Hi there!" was my congenial greeting to the girl behind the counter. "You know what I am," and I pointed to the ski mask, "you know what this is," I held up the gun, "and I assume you know what to do with this," I said, and tossed her the bag.
The girl behind the counter, who looked much younger than my twenty-four years, just stared at me, a grin slowly spreading across her face. I found her silence a bit unnerving, so I tried another tactic.
"Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. This is called a gun. Though I've never fired one before, I assure you I know how. It's like using the Internet, I hear. You know, just point and click."
She let out a snort in an attempt to suppress her laughter. "Dude! Are you fer real??"
That annoyed me. "Of course I'm for real! What do you think?"
"What do I think?" she began, her face turning serious. "I think you're doing well for a beginner. I like the polite approach, though it might make it easier for the cops to identify you. But I can tell you just slapped this job together. How long did it take for you to set this up?"
I hadn't prepared for an open discussion, so I winged it. "Hell, I don't know," I told her honestly, "an hour maybe?"
"An hour!" she yelled in delight, which startled me and almost made me drop the gun. "Oh! No wonder you screwed this up so bad!"
"How the hell did I screw this up? I know I'm new at this, but do I really have to take this abuse when it's me holding the gun?"
"You bring this abuse on yourself, because I know for a fact you didn't come here to shoot anyone."
"Oh? So not only are you a gas station attendant, you're a mind reader too? How do you know I don't plan on shooting you?"
"Because you're using a revolver, nitwit! And I can see it's not loaded!"
A pause. I turned the gun around to my face and saw the empty chambers, clearly visible to anyone on this side of the gun. "Ahh. Touché, my dear." I dropped the gun to my side. "Thanks for the advice," I said, and turned to walk out.
"But...aren't you forgetting the money?"
I turned back and stared at her as if she'd just grown a third eyeball. "How'm I suppose to take the money with an empty gun??"
"Aww, c'mon, weren't you ever a kid? Didn't you ever pretend? I can simply pretend I never saw the empty chambers."
My brain was starting to hurt. "Why would you do that?!"
"Well I can plainly see I'm moving too fast for you, so allow me to demonstrate." She opened the register drawer and began filling my cloth bag with tens and twenties.
"Now what are you suppose to say?" she asked.
"I, uhh...thank you?"
"No, numbnuts! Damn dude, do I gotta do everything for you? You're suppose to tell me to grab the cash under the drawer, too!" She lifted the plastic tray and removed eight fifties and dropped them into the bag. She then removed five one-hundred-dollar bills and proceeded to stuff them in her own socks.
"But...what about the cameras?" I asked, pointing to one right above her head.
"Oh...yeah, about the cameras. They're fake. $9.95 at Radio Shack. The owner's tight with money." She smiled. "I'm sure that'll change after tonight." She handed me my big bag of unearned cash and offered her hand. "Name's Melissa."
I shook her hand. "And I'm Ni...not gonna tell you! Nice try."
"Good, you're learning! Well, I'd love to shoot the breeze with you all night, but I should probably call the cops now. Oh, hey! Gimmie your opinion on this first." She dropped to her knees, covered her face with her hands and began crying. "He was a relentless madman, officer! He kept waving the gun in my face and talking about killing my whole family! How could you guys let such a psycho walk the streets?!" She stood up. "How was that? Think they'll buy it?"
"Uhm, yeah! Had me convinced."
She took a bow. "Thank you! I'm majoring in Theater Arts at Wayne State. Anything else I can get ya before you leave?"
I thought about this for a moment. "Since you asked, I could use a carton of Marlboros."
She shook her head in dismay. "I haven't taught you a damn thing, have I? Now I know what you smoke. That's one more way for the police to identify you, ya turd!"
"Christ, okay Melissa. I'm getting outta here before you talk me into handing over my driver's license!" and I started out the door, hearing her irritating self-righteous laughter behind me.
Outside, I tossed the bag into the Geo, got in and slammed the door.
"What took you so long??" Laurie asked.
"Nothing -- just drive."
She pulled out of the gas station, headed back for Detroit. "Did she notice the gun was empty?"
I turned and glared at her with contempt. "Yes Laurie, she noticed."
"No one's as smooth as Nick Stone," she said in a mocking tone. "Pfff. Whatever."
Strange that they'd call it meno-"pause", even though there's no chance in hell of it ever starting up again.