I quit drinking early, but Tobias, man, you should've seen him go to town on those gin and tonics. I went over there to pick up some records, and he wanted me to stay and have a couple cocktails. I accepted his offer having nothing better to do at the time, or at any other time for that matter.
We sat in his well-decorated kitchen and listened to some soul. The open face cupboards were crammed with 50s-style appliances - half of which didn't work. And even it they did, he wouldn't know how to use them. Every object in his apartment serves an aesthetic purpose. It's all arranged strategically, with balance in mind. From the 1930's time clock to the nouveau bread box collection. It's tasteful, yes. And when I'm at his place I wish I had the energy to be as stylish as him.
As he bitched about his nympho girlfriend, I found myself particularly drawn to the art deco, metal popcorn popper. It almost seemed like a prop from an old sci-fi movie.
My gaze shifted toward the kitchen window. It was raining, and the gutter must've been clogged because a small stream of water drizzled down from above. The half-vacant parking lot below was spotty with oily, rainbow-colored puddles. It was an ugly, but welcome, reminder of spring.
"Man, I'm so glad winter's over," I said.
"I enjoy Wisconsin weather. I hate the heat," he said. "I'm more of a cold weather person."
"Yeah, but don't you ever get depressed," I responded. "I mean everything is sleeping - it feels like death. The sun sets at four o' clock. And half the time you don't even see because we're stuck in that fucking sweatshop most of the time."
"Now come on. I don't mind working there," he said.
I had had too many drinks to refrain my pessimism. "Did you get a degree to satisfy you aspirations to paint portraits of rich people?"
"Oh, come on, don't start with the whole starving artist bit. That's a cliché and you know it. Besides, I have bills to pay," he said.
"Do you still want to make a living off of your art?"
"Yes, of course. But I'm a realist."
"Have you worked on any of your prints lately?" I asked.
"As a matter of fact, I have," he said, going to the kitchen counter where the open bottle of gin sat. "Let me fix another drink, and I'll show you."
I took the opportunity and excused myself and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom, as I pissed, I noticed the toiletries on the shelf in front of me: tortoise shell nail clippers, matching comb and brush, 1940's safety razor - all items he doesn't use. I flushed and washed my hands. On the sink ledge lay, in stark contrast, his functional items: Barbasol, pomade, toothbrush with ratty bristles, tube of toothpaste. I must've caught Tobias off guard because normally these items are hidden in the medicine cabinet.
I walked out to the living room, and the heat hit me. I took off my sweater. God, it was miserably hot. The heater sat in the middle of the living room. It was an industrial-sized piece of machinery. The air coming out of it must've bee 100 degrees, literally. "Man, Tobias you need to turn the heat off." He gave me a drunk grunt of indifference. I don't think Tobias knew how to operate the thermostat. He's afraid at what might happen. Most of the trinkets in his pad were purely aesthetic. Laden with knobs and dials that didn't work anymore. Tobias is just used to that , turning dials that just don't work anymore. Face with something functional, something linked to a chain of events with a conclusive purpose, he's at a loss. I just put up with the heat.
Tobias was kind of wobbly and had a hard time flipping the record. After finally getting it into position, he placed the needle down scratchingly. The music, Aretha Arrives, plays medium loud.
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