“Happy New Year!”
“It’s the 6th,” I said and yawned a mighty yawn.
“Whatever,” New Year Baby said and ashed his cigar in the trash can.
“You’re late. Weren’t you supposed to get here, like 5 days ago,” I said and swung around to a sitting position on the bed.
‘I’m never late. I show up when your mind tells me to show up,” he said and hitched up his diaper. He took a big draw on his stogey, then blew several smoke rings into the air. “So here I am.”
“You’re not supposed to smoke in here. In the garage or on the patio.” I stared straight ahead and let my mind shuffle the deck for the day.
“You’re not off to a bang-up start,” he said.
“I don’t make resolutions.”
“Please, don’t tell me what you do and don’t do. For the last several years, you haven’t done anything except booze and feel sorry for yourself.”
“Except last year,” I said, turning to him.
“Except last year. And your table is set for this year and I applaud you for it.”
“It was nothing, just doing what I need to do.”
“Well, you’re right about the second part. But it’s certainly not nothing. A lot of people don’t get 18 months right out of the gate like that and you need to give yourself some credit. I mean, you did make it onto the Birthdays List with all your other sober poker buddies. So at least as far as they’re concerned, you are in it to win it. Then chairing one meeting and cherry-picker at another? That’s nice work my friend.”
“I’m just getting started.”
“You’re just getting started is right. Time to step up your game.” He tossed me some jeans and a snow-white T-shirt from the dresser, then sat back and stroked his beard.
“I like the crown,” I said smiling. “Nice touch.”
“You like that?” he said and experimented with cocking it to the side. He turned and looked in the mirror to examine himself. Scrunching his lips to the side, he scooted the “2014” on the brim of the crown to the side. “There. Makes me look more devilish.”
“Like my smirk.” I said, grinning a bit.
“Exactly,” he said, stood up, threw me my boots and began pacing.
“There’s a lot of stuff you need to do and I’m gonna make sure you start doing them. Going to the gym every day was good and certainly had its therapeutic benefits. Today, you’re going to get bean bags.”
“For juggling. You are going to treat yourself to a little juggling kit and learn to juggle.”
Now I smiled. “Okay.”
“Next you are going to that temp agency Bryce told you about. Then you’re going to call some of the numbers on that list of employers. Ask about a resume and all that.”
“But I want a job at the Humane Society or a vet clinic or –“
“Blah blah blah. You’re going to start working again, let’s start there. Remember what you said last night? Get a job, then get the apartment, then get the new dog? Yeah, well, this is the first step homeboy. Put your pants on,” he said and left the room. By the time he came back with two cups of coffee, I was dressed.
“What about the voice-over stuff Nancy suggested? And the Mud-Factor Race? And starting work on the book?”
He looked at the calendar on the wall. “Well, you lost a couple days stewing about bullshit. But again, that’s why I’m here. Fly’s open.”
I zipped up.
“And yes, there’s all that stuff, too. But you gotta start one step at a time my friend. Mentally and physically. Start simple with the job. You do that, and things will start to fall into place. Right where you need them to be, too.
“Okay, but what about … “
“A woman? Well, that’s an easy one. Two ways you can go. You can either hit on the sick chicks and get laid. That’s one option.”
“I’m done with that nonsense,” I said. “That’s what I used to do. I don’t want that anymore.”
His eyes went wide and he opened his mouth in mock amazement. “You mean,” he said and gasped. “You mean you want to like, talk to them like an adult first, get to know them, maybe go on a date or two?”
“Shut up,” I said, and smiled my big toothy smile.
“You think too much,” he said and tossed me my boots.
“Hey, it works. You’re here aren’t you?”
He blew smoke rings again. “Good point.” He said. “Look, just ignore all the stuff that’s swimming around in that little head of yours. Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t get all bogged down in the stuff that doesn’t matter. Keep it simple. “
“It’s so cold today, dude. Like 11 below,” I said, but let him help me put my winter coat on.
“Oh please,” he said and handed me my hat and gloves. “Tell that shit to the tourists. Go on. The world is waiting.”