The stupidest things can cause trouble for me. Back at the apartment, Ziggy was out. I got out my notebook and looked for where I had written down my plan for our rehearsal schedule, couldn’t find it, then decided I only thought about writing it down but didn’t actually.
That wasn’t what caused the trouble. I’m getting to that.
I called Carynne and she said we could talk about it tomorrow at the rehearsal space. Noon. Today was supposed to be my day off, remember? She asked about my appointment and I told her I had a new slew of exercises to do which made me happy. (It did, actually.) I inquired when I was seeing my actual surgeon again, because I was pretty sure I was supposed to do that, too, and she confirmed that I had not imagined that. There was another appointment on the schedule. Okay, good.
I asked her if she wanted to grab dinner and she laughed and said, “Honeybunch, you and I are going to see plenty of each other over the next couple of weeks. But you know who isn’t going to get a lot of alone time with you?”
“Ah, yeah, point taken.” I wondered what Ziggy was going to want to do for dinner.
That’s when the trouble started. After I hung up the phone I stood there in the kitchen. I’m not sure how long I stood there. When I realized I hadn’t moved, I’d been standing so still that there were blocks of color in my eyes that matched the shape of the appliances. It was like my brain wasn’t in gear. It was stuck on the thought of wondering what Ziggy was going to want for dinner.
My palms were sweaty.
I decided maybe lying down was a good idea. The sheets were rumpled because neither Ziggy nor I had made the bed and I burrowed under the comforter. The bed smelled like Ziggy and I found this calming, even if it seemed obvious that my brain was on the verge of flipping out from thinking about our partnership. Or something. On the one hand I wanted to figure out what was freaking me out and on the other hand I wanted to not think about it so I could stay calm.
In the end I had a nap, which to me proved my brain was not hooked on Vitamin F for sleeping, and I felt somewhat better when I woke up. He still wasn’t back. I got up and made myself a package of ramen noodles I found in the cabinet. There was a ten-pack in there that had never been opened. Ten for a dollar.
You might be wondering why someone like Ziggy, who pocketed five million or so dollars merely for being fabulously famous, would eat ten-cent ramen. To that I say…if it were me, why would I stop eating ramen noodles? What should I be eating instead? (Well, okay, wait another twenty years and someone will come up with an all organic hipster version of it, but in 1991 there was no “fancy” make-at-home ramen.) Then again, Ziggy hadn’t opened the package and it kind of looked like maybe it had been there since he moved in.
For all I knew Ziggy lived on fairy dust and unicorn poop when I wasn’t around.
Come on, Daron, it’s your first day at home as one half of a symbolically committed couple. Don’t tell me now that you can’t handle it.
But what if I couldn’t?
By the time he came in, I had worked myself into some kind of a lather. The hair at the back of his head was damp from working with his trainer or choreographer or something. I know because my fingers were buried in it as he put his hands on my shoulders and touched our foreheads together.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I’m kind of freaking out over nothing.”
“It’s probably not nothing-nothing, dear one. It’s probably something that you either wish was nothing or society’s told you should be considered nothing.”
“Huh, you think?”
“Yes, I think. Which might be why you can’t figure out what it is.” His lips brushed my cheek but he didn’t let go “How was your appointment?”
“Good. Everything was positive.”
“Did you tell the violin joke?”
“A man goes into the doctor to get his injured hand treated and says, ‘but doc, will I be able to play the violin after this?'”
I smiled in spite of myself and the stupidness of the joke. “And the doctor says ‘of course you will.'”
“‘Great! Because I never could before!'” He chuckled. “You seriously didn’t say that?”
“I am pretty sure they’ve heard that joke a million times before, you nut.” I kissed him back.
“What else did you do today?”
“After that I walked down to Chinatown and played tic tac toe with a chicken.”
“God, that chicken is still there? I remember it from when I was a kid.”
“It might not be the same chicken.”
“True.” He nuzzled my neck. “Come take a shower with me. A good shower is like a reset for your mind.”
So was a ball-emptying orgasm, which followed in the water, and was good. The vertigo and dizzy spell that came on after that wasn’t so good, but I sat down in the bottom of the tub and he made the water lukewarm instead of hot and I returned to normal.
When the water was off and he had handed me a towel, and sat down on the mat himself (I was still sitting in the tub), he asked, “Do you think that was post-concussion complications or was that just I should know better than to make you come when the water’s too hot?”
“I feel fine, now,” I said. I blinked. “I guess that has happened to me once or twice before, hasn’t it?”
He nodded. “Me, too. We should hang a sign in the shower: turn water down before sex. But do you feel better-better?”
I blurted out, “What are we doing for dinner?”
Ziggy patted me on the shoulder, opened his mouth, closed it again, then said, “Take me down to Chinatown. I haven’t been there in forever.”
The suggestion surprised me enough that I forgot that I was stressing about the issue. “Are you sure? Should we bring Tony?”
“No. Just you and me.”
“Barrett’s okay with that?”
Ziggy clucked his tongue and wrapped the towel that had been across his shoulders around his hair like a turban. “You’ll take care of me.”
I took that at face value. If that was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. In the back of my mind, though I was vaguely wondering at how this was a bit different from our usual way of going out in New York. It was one thing to go wandering through sleepy downtown St. Louis with him in stealth mode. Going out in New York City with no entourage was something else entirely. I mean, I was fine with it, I took the subway and wandered around often, and no one really gave a fuck who I was. But Ziggy had seemed to prefer going to places with a private room and being driven from place to place. Now I thought maybe that was all Barrett’s idea. Not that I could blame him for wanting to protect his asset, but it had always felt a little over the top to me.
We got dressed. The weather was on the cool side, especially compared to where we’d just been. Here it was, only the day after Labor Day, and it felt like summer had ended. The temperature only just edging seventy and by the time we were done eating it’d be cooler. Ziggy put on a pair of tights with ripped jeans over them, a tank top, and his sporty leather jacket, the one that was almost like mine. I switched to my leather jacket, too.
It was the tail end of rush hour when we went out, which meant a fairly crowded subway but also everyone in their commuter mindset of ignoring everyone around them. No one paid us any mind and we headed downtown and crosstown.
Walking down Canal Street from the subway stop, Ziggy paused to look at various exotic fruits being sold by mostly elderly men on the street from makeshift stands of upturned crates. Handwritten signs on torn carboard proclaimed the prices. After a brief negotiation which involved as many gestures as English words, he exchanged some cash with a guy and received a crumpled paper bag with a couple of weird-looking fruits in it. I didn’t ask.
Ziggy had a little manic-cat-canary smile after that, though, so extremely pleased with himself over the transaction. I didn’t ask about that either.
We took a pass down Mott Street, poking our heads in and out of souvenir shops until we got to the far end and the crowded, rough little video arcade where the tic tac toe playing chicken was. (The chicken beat us, of course.) Then we made our way back up the street to the restaurant Ziggy had picked out, a place that specialized in peking duck. (I’m not sure but it might have been called The Peking Duck House.)
During dinner I finally started to realize that a bunch of my anxiety around the question of couples eating dinner together was leftover crap from Jonathan. “Do you think we’re going to be any good at domesticity?” I asked.
“I think we’re going to be exactly as good or bad at it as we are when we’re single, if that’s what you mean?” he replied, picking up bits of duck skin in his fingers and eating them one at a time. “We really haven’t talked about whether this,” he held up his ring, “is going to change our living situations or not.”
“You’re right, we haven’t.” And then a pause happened where I didn’t know what I wanted to say and I guess neither did he.
We didn’t get to delve into it then, either, because two very nervous Asian-looking girls approached us then, asking for autographs, which we supplied, but then a manager chased them not just away from our table but out of the restaurant entirely. When he came back in, we could hear a somewhat high-pitched commotion outside. He came right to our table and apologized, but said that a crowd had gathered outside and this was something of a problem.
“Two questions,” Ziggy asked. “May I borrow your phone? And, do you have a back exit?”
Tony came to our rescue, so that worked out fine, but that was how I learned it wasn’t merely Barrett being paranoid that made limo travel Ziggy’s standard.
(SITE NEWS: ZOMG, folks, you’re really pouring it on with the donations lately. I see we’re already 1/3 of the way to another bonus. I truly truly appreciate it and I will write as fast as I can! I do want to make one preliminary announcement, though, which is that I’m going to cut back to one post a week in May/June/July/August again, like I did in the summer of 2015, while I meet some other deadlines. During those four months it’d be awesome to have some community posts of various kinds like we did then–fanworks, playlists, fic prompts, etc? But during the half-time hiatus, when/if donations hit $100 I’m still going to post a Saturday chapter. So those rules will remain in effect! Start mulling over your plans now, though, as far as what posts you want to make or would like to see, mmmkay? -ctan)
(See, there were some worthwhile songs from 1991. My favorite version is below, though. -d)