Thomm Quackenbush, author

Party with Intentions | 2009 | The Hermit Crab and the Pheonix

10.24.09 1:41 p.m.

It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, but that not every one is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so if every planet in the Universe has a population of zero then the entire population of the Universe must also be zero, and any people you may actually meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.  

-Douglas Adams

 


Zombie Pin-Up

Loren  
Loren the Puke Zombie

We hurry down the street, away from the zombies.

"Don't make me start telling Zen stories at you," I say.

"Fine, tell Zen stories," Melanie says, increasing her pace fractionally.

"An old monk and a young monk come to a stream-"

She interrupts, "I know that one." A beat. "I don't see what that has to do with anything."

"I left the bar behind, why are you still carrying it?!"

She slows for a moment. "Don't yell at me."

"I wasn't yelling at you," I say. "I was speaking more loudly for emphasis. I wouldn't yell at you. 'Yelling at' is pejorative."

"Sorry I can't just let things go like you do," she replies, sounding anything but sorry.

We'd spent most of the night rained in from a planned zombie walk in Beacon. We had no intention of becoming ghouls, but we make fine observers of the undead.

The storm let up enough for the zombie pin-up contest to commence at a tea house. Melanie and I shared the delusion that this would lean more heavily on "pin-up" than "zombie", that the point was for suitably dolled-up women, preferably in faux-fifties array, to add a layer of rigor mortis to their ensembles.

The contest involved maybe ten zombies in total, four of whom I knew (Jess, Loren, Finn, and Ryan) and only four of whom were women. Through no fault of nature, not a one would grace a cheesecake calendar in Hell. It is undoubtedly my fault for indulging expectations.

The contest was over literally minutes after our arrival and, once the gift cards to a sex toy shop were awarded to the three most horrific pin-ups (one of whom was Loren, referred to as "Puke Zombie"), it was clear that the organizers had no idea how to capitalize off a shop full of potential customers. They pointed us toward a bar to coerce us to leave.
Jess, Melanie, and Loren  
Stop eating my girlfriend...
um...

I was intent to try to make the most of this, since I'd gone to the effort of rushing Melanie out of my apartment on a rainy night that might better have been spent with Japanese movies and fresh baked brownies. I led the group to the requested bar, instantly finding it crowded, cramped, and boring. Too many men mistaking themselves for cowboys - hooting behind limp mustaches - who couldn't handle that we were pursued by thirsty zombies.

I turned around to convey that whoever told my crew this was the ideal bar was playing a joke on us.

"Are there seats?" Loren asked impatiently.

"Not at the bar. Over there-" and they surround a table in a closed section of the bar.

The other patrons visited to take photos of the weirdoes. Then, a cover band shoved into a corner and began playing (badly) fifty decibels more loudly than the space could tolerate, perhaps neglecting that we few without hearing aides were being deafened. This was beyond the last straw and Melanie beseeched us to leave.

It is an hour after getting home before Melanie restores to her emotional baseline. She indulged the bar because she wanted to appear fun, didn't want to hold me back, but it was a perfect storm of things she hated (being out of her element, unable to have a conversation, in a loud place with hicks, when she knew that there are things she could be doing that she might actually enjoy).

I shouldn't have suggested this activity. Part of it, I admit to her, is a holdover from my relationship with Emily. When I started dating Emily, I was having obvious issues that made one-on-one intimacy a little frightening. (Obviously which is not the case with Melanie.) However, in public, hanging out with friends, I was able to see Emily's multiple facets and start acting more like a boyfriend. Also, to some extent, socializing outside my apartment gives me something to write about and remember, since I am not inclined toward sex blogging. If I spend my entire weekend on my bed, I can't help but feel I am being a little wasteful.

Last week, as I dissected Rob's party on our drive home, Melanie seemed to go from having enjoyed meeting new friends and thanking me for bringing her to mortified that that she may have seemed nervous or drunk. I tried to soothe her, but I admit to having been frustrated that she claimed to not have enjoyed something I had thought she did. (She repented the next morning that she did enjoy it, she was simply projecting her midterm anxiety everywhere.)

It is the closest we ever come to fighting, this mild grumpiness followed by a dialogue that would make a marriage counselor proud, full of "I think", "I feel", and "let me rephrase what I am hearing". I even invoke the name of Erik Erikson and produce a copy of Psychology for Dummies to aid our discussion and assure her that she is fine and right where she belongs. She thanks me for being so perfect for her and we rest in peace.

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job, Halloween, parties, Ilana, Tom.

last watched: Stardust
reading: Fates Worse Than Death
listening: Regina Spektor

Party with Intentions | 2009 | The Hermit Crab and the Pheonix

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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