Where It Started

Where It Started, by Robin Sinclair, was first published in the May 12, 2015 edition of Gatewood Journal, a lovely journal that is now defunct.

Where It Started.

Seth and his girlfriend Jennifer would probably say
it started in a parking lot outside of a Denny's in Los Angeles.
I was irritable, quitting smoking for the twelfth time,
poorer than usual,
and was desperately circling the lot in a futile attempt
to find a parking spot for my 1976 Chevy Nova.
Somehow, between their shrieking there's-a-spots
and my relentless focus on a hot plate of steak and eggs,
I'd vowed to end our friendship, right there in front of the world.
Or at least, the world of the thick-in-the-middle-aged couple
who'd stolen the only suitable parking spot from me
in my time of despair.

I told Jenny about the prostitute in Las Vegas and I told Seth about the abortion.
I was very, very hungry. 
But this wasn't where it started.

 

At first, I thought it started when I lost my job.
It was the week prior, and I had been working swing shift at a factory,
harassed by my supervisor every day since the day I started.
This day, however, the moment he made a remark, I called him a sloppy cunt.
I walked into the locker room and changed into my own clothes,
put my name-tag in the trash, and left.
I even treated myself to a breakfast sandwich from the nearby deli.

That, however, started the night before.  
I'd drunkenly sworn to myself to never be miserable at work again.
I had just had a birthday, and I spent the little money I received
on one last pack of cigarettes, some ramen, and the cheapest wine I could find.
At a glance, my box-wine promises might have been the start of it all,
but the truth is that it started on my 10th birthday.

Aunt Doris was a shell of a person by the time I was born.
She'd had four religions, three divorces, and a gay son she never spoke to.
She worked nights as a waitress and mornings as a custodian at a hospital.
She was groped once by that homo male nurse, 
which in retrospect seems like an odd slur to use.
She was 45 then, but looked 60, and after helping me blow out my candles
with her beer breath, she pulled me aside.
"The moment you're miserable," she said
"Don't ever hesitate – make a change.  Remember that."
Aunt Doris also said something about condoms and lepers,
but I don't think that has anything to do with what happened at Denny's.

I told Seth about Aunt Doris and the box-wine, and he forgave me.  Jennifer didn't.
She also didn't forgive Seth, and his every movement 
in their relationship remained under her leering scrutiny and the 
sharp blade of his drunken indiscretion.
Jennifer likes the power that being angry gives her,
and that's where it will all start, and end, for her.

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