Friday, August 27, 2004

Believe, Achieve, Succeed

The cycle of day to night loses all meaning when you get most of your light from a laptop beaming the light of far-off job listings onto your face. I’ve been regarding the outside world with suspicion, shutting the blinds on too many sunny summer days only to go nuts by five pm and force myself into a four-mile run. I always end up at video store, renting something to make the relentless indoors more bearable.

All play and no work makes Jeff an extremely neurotic boy. It’s high time for a job, no matter what.

I’ve landed a gig as a cook at Cogan’s, a bar and pizza joint a block from my high school. I work nights, leaving my days free to pursue the sort of job that will allow me to repay my debts from traveling and move up out of my momma’s house.

The walls at Cogan's are covered with airbrushed renderings of spacemen and planets and angry apes fighting laser-spraying aliens. Giant renderings of the Cars’ first album and the Talking Heads’ album “Naked” preside over the back room, home to the air hockey, pool table, and pinball machine.

Making pizzas is really fun, and the food is fantastic. I find it very difficult not to sneak bits of Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella cheese every chance that I get, ducking down behind the counter to pack them between teeth and lower lip. The casual observer would think I had gum in my mouth but no, it’s just sausage.

I went to high school with one of the waitresses. Her dad was my 8th-grade soccer coach. A girl we couldn’t stand in high school teaches at Maury now and comes in sometimes. Most of the people I recognize from way back don’t recognize me, or keep it quiet if they do. I like it that way.

I wear my old gym shirt around as a sot of silly hipster statement, the sort of statement that has led Urban Outfitters to make a killing on reprinted t-shirts from a strawberry festival in the 70s. But as I mop out the walk-in at closing time, an unsettling thought hits me. I mopped floors during the summers of 1993 and 1994, and I’m wearing my gym shirt from that period as well. Creepy.

Whenever I run into someone I knew here from way back, I think “Sweet Jesus, you got stuck, didn’t you? Just working in the restaurant and getting by…nice work.” Now these people are co-workers and I am one of them. What once was a bit of comforting condescension now stings my brain.

It’s been ten years since high school, and I’ve moved a grand total of one block.


At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff,
I know what you mean. 10 years past and I have only bettered you by 3 blocks. I went to Maury, and I still reside in the same neigborhood. U probably don't remember me, but I'm also a 2004 Maury grad. Rob Shell. I was always sandwiched between Cyrus and Jeff (last name thing). Hope these days are treating you better. Who was the girl that you guys disliked in high school?

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction: I meant 1994 Maury grad. Oh my, where have the years gone?


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