No Fixed Abode: The Day That Everybody Bought Extra Cheese

I was deep underwater this morning in the line at Jimmy John’s Subs, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas. Thinking about my son. Last night was his first time on a full-sized racetrack in his 50cc TopKart. I was terrified, but he was masterful, entering turns fearlessly at full throttle and nonchalantly catching slides on the way out. His feedback afterwards was detailed, exact; he remembered corner numbers and physical reference points. The best student I’ve ever had, by far, and to the manner born. No reason to not be ecstatic, although for me the happiest moment was when I told him to call it quits and he deliberately slid to a forty-five-degree-angled halt dime-square on the start/finish line, no longer in danger from light poles and concrete walls.

That was good, but there was this, too: I’d just seen a photo of a woman with whom I’d once had something. Smiling, holding a bouquet of flowers at her very recent wedding. Not sure what to think about that. Married to another handsome devil. Always the case. I’m always the most hideous, deformed creature any of my girlfriends ever dates. The minute I release them from my spell, they settle down with fresh-faced men fifteen years my junior, sensitive fellows with properly progressive leanings, tirelessly and cheerfully reaping from the furrows I’ve drukenly and dispiritedly sown. What this woman and I had wasn’t much. A few nights. A brief, furtive coupling at a racetrack before we both went out and drove press cars. Still. I could have loved her.

I mention all of this so you understand why I did not protest. The woman at the register said, “Do you want cheese?” I replied in the affirmative. She rang up “ADD Cheese $0.75.” Normally, I’d have protested this. The “Slim 5” sandwich comes with cheese. I shouldn’t have to pay for it. But I was lost in thought. I said nothing, and I paid, and I moved on.

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