Wednesday, June 25, 2008

herbs & kisses & a guilty mind

I've been kissing a girl recently, a blond tomboyish girl, partly or sometimes or one evening at least for real as Steve Earle, R.L. Burnside, & Tom Waits rasped out of tinny computer speakers; other times merely in my head, in those pre-dawn moments when my mind has yet to fully latch onto the wakefulness and the new day.

Eating with this girl is a field strewn with landmines, yet I find myself wanting to eat with her, wanting to cook for her, wanting to feed her in spite of (because of?) this.

And I find myself inordinately amused at the things she can and can not (will and will not) eat. Basil and garlic, oregano and hot peppers, good. Cilantro very, very bad. Mint acceptable (but only in moderation). Lemon thyme unknown, but tested and deemed perhaps worthy. Peanuts in shells in. Peanuts not in shells out (unless they are Trader Joe's Thai Lime & Chili peanuts, which might be alright, apparently, in small doses). Chocolate bad. Tamarind (sweet tamarind) palatable in its comforting similarity to the already acceptable prune. (And all of this, I can only imagine, being only the tip of the iceberg.)

And then I talk to Erica, Erica who is dear and young and not afraid of being judgmental, of giving voice to a certain simplistic good/bad understanding of the world that I find both intimidating and admirable but also, yes, sometimes aggravating. Erica who is aghast at my behavior, and who declares that she's keeping her boyfriend well away from me.

I think she is joking, and joke back to her that he is not my type, that she need not worry, but her narrowed eyes tell me she's serious. "What about that old friend of yours? The Republican?" she demands. "He was married -- this is a pattern!"

"That wasn't anything," I protest. "A kiss. We hadn't seen each other in years. We were drunk. It was two o'clock in the morning just standing on the street corner.  We were saying goodnight!"

My protests fall on disapproving ears and I realize that I am rationalizing, that I am justifying myself, however unjustly. And it hits me -- I am parsing degrees of hurt (worse has been done to me), degrees of knowing (the Republican's wife, the tomboy's girlfriend, they are not friends of mine, they are not even acquaintances), degrees of responsibility (I don't owe them anything).

It hits me that I am parsing degrees of consciously inflicted pain and even if the wife, even if the girlfriend, never know it, I know it. I know it, and it makes me unhappy with myself.

But there I go probably over-thinking things again.

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