Of Sickboy’s many bad habits perhaps the worst is his inability to prevent himself from falling for a girl just because she happens to be involved with someone else. It seems like the good ones are always taken. Unrequited love lingers, boring holes through the middle of sad, unsuccessful suitors. Sickboy has been down this road before – first with Jenny and now, of course, with Kirkland.
A friend of Sickboy’s since a chance encounter in the coffee shop where she buried her face in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Kelly Kirkland is one in a million girls, the perfect combination of beauty, wit, and soul. Currently, she and Jenny are the sweet and shiny apples of Sickboy’s admiring eye. Sometimes he feels blessed to have been born so undesirable. Otherwise he might have to choose between the two. Fortunately for Sickboy, he is an equal opportunity repulser and one extremely sad sack. He has no choice.
Before kicking off another weekend of boozing and wallowing in self pity, Sickboy makes a quick pitstop on the way out of work, popping into Kelly’s office on the 6th floor.
“Hey, Kirkland, I’m taking off. Have a great weekend.”
Kelly turns around with wide eyes and an inviting smile. Sickboy is prepared. He reminds himself that every two minutes during the conversation he has to look away. And don’t forget to ignore the way she is playing with her hair. Kelly exudes a charm not unlike the Sirens’ call, and Sickboy has come perilously close to smashing up against the rocks on a number of occasions. There’s just something irresistible in that smile and in those eyes.
Then Sickboy feels like Superman, a humble hero about to crumble, as a full karat of kryptonite arises from the band around Kelly’s left ring finger. Soon it will be official. Kelly has someone to have and to hold.
“You have a good one too, Sickboy. What are you doing this weekend?”
“The usual. Drink. Brood. Wallow. Stumble home. Sleep. Repeat.”
“Not really. Don’t patronize me, Kirkland.”
“I’m not patronizing you. I’m sorry. Are you taking the bus right now?”
The fucking bus. Sickboy rides the fucking bus! But cars are such a hassle. Pay for gas. Pay for insurance. Pay for repairs. Pay for parking. Pay attention to the stranger in the next lane. Zoom! Zoom! Hurry up! The ultimate con on society perpetrated by Henry Ford and the oil companies. Who needs it!
“Yeah, Kirkland. You know how I roll. I like to get out there among the people.”
“You want a lift?”
This could be tricky. Sickboy let his feelings be known immediately after getting to know Kelly. When it comes to matters of the heart, the boy knows only one way. The few things they have in common just happen to be the most important things of all. A soulful connection is the result. On top of that, Kelly is everything good that Sickboy is not.
She had gracefully dodged Sickboys advances, citing a respect for her boy and their relationthingy. Then came the trip to Vancouver and the ring. But Sickboy is a gentleman, able to compartmentalize his desire away from his sincere admiration and friendly affection for the girl. She knows how he feels. He knows she knows how he feels. Honesty is the only true template for friendship between a man and woman. Nothing lingering here. Just two friends who know the contents of each other’s heart.
“Uhhhhhh… sure, Kirkland… if you’re headed my way.”
The ride home is marked by the usual small talk and banter and few playful glances. Sickboy could go all day. When they reach Sickboy’s pad twenty minutes later, Kelly pulls into the driveway and turns off the engine. The sudden silence and turn of the key throw Sickboy for a loop.
“What’s up, Kirkland? You OK?”
Kelly’s eyes stay glued to the dashboard for just a moment before she turns to Sickboy. No words. Just those inescapable eyes and an appreciative smile. Sickboy’s wheels start turning. The overthinker is overthinking again. That look. This girl. This moment. All of these moments. It’s just too good. Too good not to be right. Too good not to be true.
“You know I love you, Kirkland.”
Oh, Sickboy… not again. But he keeps going. Sometimes he can’t help feeling that her eyes are asking him to intervene.
“Look, if you’re not sure about this guy… I mean…you’ve done a lousy job of convincing me. But I didn’t want to say anything because… you know… because there’s part of me that wants to be with you. But I’m also your friend who loves you and wants you to be happy. So when I sense your hesitation or see the pressure tightening down on you, I can never be sure if I’m concerned as your friend or interfering as someone who wants you for myself. So I say nothing, and I banter and I evade and I diverge. This is crazy. Just tell me that you’re happy.”
Kelly’s expression never changes. Sickboy’s friend whom he has come to love looks him in right in the eyes and commands in a calm and soulful tone, “Get out. Get out of the car. Get out of the car right now.”
Such is the plight of Sickboy, the boy with the manic mind and the sometimes deluded sense of self. Stay true to your heart, speak your mind, and be prepared to deal with the consequences. Sometimes it feels right. Other times he is so full of doubt. It’s no walk in the park – this illness of his. Ebb and flow. High and low. Like the tide upon an uncertain shore.
Thankfully, one thing is for sure… The bar is open every night until two.