Sunday, January 2, 2011

Who Are You?

Yesterday, during a spate of boring errands with my family (though the company is never boring, and neither was my salad lunch at Panera), I stood at a bird cage inside PetSmart, admiring a cute blue parakeet that kept staring at me, and vice versa. After our finch Jules died a few days ago, no. And especially not with two dogs in the house. They're more understanding of birds now, but still, with parakeets needing to also be outside the cage to be played with, it's not worth the risk this time. Our dog Beaumont, back in Florida, didn't mind the birds we had. He was loving, but mostly into himself anyway.

Anyway, I went to look at this tall cage that basically introduced the bird section, and there was a $599.99 orange-and-greenish bird inside that cage. One of the employees, a girl who looked like my age, came around and asked if I needed any help. I said no, and she said, "Ok." But it wasn't your typical ok, like a dismissive ok. It was more like one of gentle mocking disappointment, like "Okaaaay." Not sure how much gentle mocking was involved, but she captured my interest right away, especially when she went to the side of that expensive bird's cage and began talking to it. Now clearly she loves this job, and this bird. But how much of that was perhaps a show for me? Was she trying to impress me? Was she interested right off? I don't really know, since I'm not good yet at accurately reading the intentions of women. I'll bet that when I read this entry a few months later or even a year later, I might laugh at that statement, maybe being better at it. But I wonder if she was interested in me in that one moment. If I was anyone else, an older gent with disturbingly wild hair, she might have given a simple "Ok" and moved on. But to go from me to the bird just like that? I don't know. I know with her being an employee of PetSmart, things have to be sold, but it's unlikely she would have received any commission from finding this bird a home. Do they have commission for things like that?

She did help me with two things. First, she showed me that I want a woman who is interested in birds, animals, whatever. In 7th grade, I dated Irene, whose house was a menagerie of animals, almost a farm. I loved it. That's part of who I am.

Secondly, I don't want to go another year without someone. I'm going to be 27 in March. I want my Nora Charles. I want my Amy Adams. I want my Erin O'Brien (Hi, Erin!). I know it may not be easy at the start, I know it will take time, but I want to seriously start the search. It's time.

I hope that girl said "Ok" like that and was interacting with the bird like that because she was interested. I wasn't really sure how to react in that moment, but I thank her for reminding me of one of the major priorities in my life this year. My first book will be out in February, I'm gradually reaching less than 200 lbs., I know the full-time career I want, and I'm thinking hard about what I want to write next (Another book of essays? A play?). Yes, it's time.