Someone once told Johnny that all great love stories are filled with tragedy and triumph. They said that you cannot truly appreciate those you love most unless you have loved and lost. They told him that every relationship is filled with ups and downs and that he should listen to his heart because it would never sell him out. For a brief moment Johnny considered punching the man in the mouth. He pictured the man falling down and then slowly picking himself up off of the floor, one hand wiping the blood from his lip.
Johnny would look down at him and offer some sort of pithy excuse like, “I took your advice and followed my heart. Who knew it was so angry.” The thought made him smile. He could almost picture this leading to some crazy line of t-shirts which would also contain a mixture of pithy and sarcastic statements. These shirts would sweep across the nation more powerful than the Pet Rock craze and far more useful than stupid rubber band things for kids. More interesting than Cabbage Patch dolls and far more profitable they would make Johnny exceptionally rich.
Later on he would be courted by talk show hosts and asked to explain how he came up with the idea. “Well Regis, it came to me one day when I was sitting around trying to figure out what the hell to do about a woman.” Regis would laugh and Kelly would sputter at his retort. Later on Letterman, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel would all place their own spin on things. Maybe there would be a time or two hosting Saturday Night Live and perhaps an appearance on the new Oprah network. Johnny snorted at the thought. Â He was angry with the fairer sex for being unfair so perhaps an appearance on such a show with Oprah would be bad.
Moments later reality slapped him in the face in the form of horns honking. He had gotten lost in his thoughts while stuck at a stoplight and the drivers behind him were anxious to proceed through the intersection. As he stepped on the gas pedal several made a point of coming along side of his car so that they could offer the universal salute of excellence in driving. The thing is, that such a salute is never meant to be friendly so Johnny opened his window and shouted out at the cars. It was kind of silly as they probably couldn’t hear him and in all probability all he had done was offend the people on the street corner.
It occurred to him that he could focus on inventing something more useful than the t-shirts. Perhaps he should focus on developing some sort of James Bond like device for the car. Â You know, like some kind of arm that could be extended from the car. It would have a boxing glove attached to the end so that you could punch a driver ‘upside their head’ for driving like a jerk. That thought made him laugh. It was absolutely ridiculous, but he loved ridiculous so he thought about it for a moment longer. One of the challenges of this device would be finding an open window. If the driver of the other car wasn’t in a convertible or enjoying some fresh air you would have to break the window so that it could strike the driver.
Johnny shook his head and asked himself why he was trying to minimize the damage caused by punching a driver in the head. After all, it wasn’t really less dangerous to hit the driver through an open window than to break the window. “Fuck it,” he thought, “give me the damn James Bond Machine guns if I am going to have to go to jail I might as well earn it.”
It all came back to that damn woman, the same damn woman he had been in love with his entire life. Ok, maybe he hadn’t known her quite that long but it felt like it and he knew that she felt that way too. Damn if life didn’t sometimes resemble some kind of twisted version of Abbott and Costello. Stuck in a traffic he had plenty of time to replay the moments and to think about what had happened and what hadn’t. That damn woman had pushed him to marry her. She had poked, prodded, pushed and pulled and he hadn’t done it.
Eventually he had come around and said yes, told her that he couldn’t imagine life without her and what had happened. She had left. Told him that they had missed their window. Walked away and pretended not to look back. There were moments when Johnny figured that his penance for the sins of a past life was to have gotten a taste of something amazing only to have it taken away. Now he knew what could be and knew that he couldn’t have it. It was both tragic and cruel.
At other times he was convinced that they were stuck in a moment. Convinced that this detour through time and space wasn’t a life sentence. It was just a small blip in time and that they would find their way back to each other. In fact more often than not he felt her thinking about him and them. More often than not he felt like the universe was sending him messages that he should focus on himself and that when the time was right they would find their way.
It irritated him to no end to live life based upon fate and signs. It was too easy to say that you could always find an interpretation that favored the outcome you wanted. Yet at the same time the signs were increasing in frequency. There were constant reminders of her in front of him. Consequently he started to focus on things about her that he didn’t like. He thought about the pain and the hurt and tried to build a fire. It is always easy to say goodbye when you are angry. He had busted her on that more times than he could count. She was famous for starting fights for that very reason.
But this time was different. This moment was different. Everything about this was different. He was stuck in a moment because he was stuck in the moment. They never stopped loving each other. They never officially said goodbye or agreed that it was over. They just kind of faded out for a time. So to paraphrase the old line, for better or for worse he felt like there was a lot of life left.
And for better or for worse his heart kept telling him that she was waiting for him to come after her. She was waiting for him to get his act together and come find her. She wasn’t going to volunteer her feelings. She wasn’t going to admit that she missed him because this time around she was playing for all the marbles. She wouldn’t give him an out. He either came ready for forever or he didn’t come at all.
Maybe this was craziness he was feeling. Maybe it was nonsense. He really wasn’t sure. What he was certain of was that he was stuck in a moment that he couldn’t get out of and that until he solved the riddle of this relationship he would remain in it.