Dennis Rupert was definitely not John Q. Cool from elite suburbia. He had recently moved out of his mother’s attic on the eve of his thirty fifth birthday, the year mom told him was “when everything happened”. Helen had hated living with him since “The puberty episode” when he was ten and a half. The past quarter century couldn’t have gone any slower.
He was quite comfortable in a basement suite he was renting from one of Helen’s exes. The kitchen, living room and bathroom all flowed into one main space, complete with a large closet Dennis used as his bedroom. ‘I mean, what is a bedroom’, he reminded himself daily, ‘but room for a bed’. Neither this sentiment nor the words themselves were actually true as no normal bed would fit in a closet.
Dennis was in great spirits today, for he had conquered one of his greatest problems… not telephoning mother before he could go to bed. And this wasn’t just an unwinding kind of have a good night conversation. For literal decades, he had made her recite this lengthy three page, handwritten twisted sort of comforting to only him nursery rhyme or fairy tale story but based on his reality. An excerpt might read ‘Today is no longer today (sayeth the wizard) for today is almost tomorrow, and when tomorrow is upon us, like later tomorrow, shall we call it today?’ Near the end, there is a passage that goes ‘You mustn’t count sheep. Why mustn’t I? Clearly, you mustn’t because what if they are counting you?’ Obviously Helen almost dropped dead when the phone never rang that night at 9:15.
Truth was, Dennis had dranken a bit too much cough medicine last night and had fallen asleep in the kitchen. When he woke at 3:46 am the last thing he thought of was mother. He didn’t believe in drinking alcohol; he felt it was wrong so he drank cough medicine, mostly just on the weekends.
Today, Dennis would be taking the hour long city bus commute to a place where men and women would collide in an extravaganza so joyous and unparalleled that he would get his money back if it wasn’t the ride of his life, or so the advertisement read: speed dating.
Ever since moving out onto his own, mother had been telling him to ‘get a girl, whatever means necessary’. Excerpts of the conversation went like this..
Dennis: “Mother are you insinuatin’ I kidnap a girl and pay her with her own survival to fall for me?”
Helen: “Oh Dennis, that isn’t even legal! Though I could turn a blind eye or two.”
He took a nice, long look at himself in the bathroom mirror, which was actually three shards of reflective glass, each about a foot long. He looked good, or so he told himself, all decked out in tight white dress slacks, a grey sweater and a quarter spritz of Brut cologne.
But then that voice started. “Dennis, who do you think you are? Think hard.. are any of those girls going to find you attractive? I mean, what are you wearing.. ballet tights and a woven American flag? Chick magnet, my butt. And so say you manage to sweet talk one, through your s-s-stammerimg s-stutter and your two word sentences, what then? Gonna take her on a date to a place that doesn’t believe in money either? You ain’t got a girl or money and that won’t change, I’m afraid.”
The voice was mother, on speaker, on Dennis’s phone laying on the edge of the couch.
“Look, Dennis. As much as I want you to find a girl and live at least a percentage of a normal life, however terribly improbable as that is, girls don’t like you. And don’t you dare try the gays. K, gotta go.” The line went dead and so did Dennis’s libido.
Slowly, he undressed, carefully leaving his nicest clothing not to get wrinkled and with his pj’s back on he settled into the couch. He reached for the tv remote with a single tear rolling down his clean shaven face and turned on his favorite show in the history of television: Welcome Back, Kotter. The gang always helped him feel better. And who knows.. tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be his day, for a girl ‘n all.