Joe Jockstrap is gone. No more do I hear his sneezes, or see him in the kitchen preparing his manly milkshake or trimming his chicken breast while he flirts with the females, or see him in the men’s room swishing with red cinnamon Listerine to keep himself marketable. When I open the cupboard to get a paper plate from the break room there’s a tinge of sadness when I see the old dilapidated blender that was once his before he bought his industrial blender. Once in a while I have a reason to visit the second floor. When I do I always wonder if I’ll run into him. Our paths cross on occasion.
“Big Rob,” Joe said to me, smiling with a mouth full of braces. “Rob” will not do. It has to be “Big Rob”. Because Big = Man.
I asked him how he likes his new digs. Much more he told me. It’s quieter.
“Except when you sneeze, right?” I said. He laughed. It’s true though. His sneezes are like dynamite explosions. I swear it’s a ploy to attract attention. The bigger the man, the bigger the sneeze I guess. Sometimes when I’m talking to him I’ll have this strange out of body experience where I feel like I’m in a movie. The things he says, the ways he acts, almost doesn’t seem real. Sometimes I want to stop him and ask him if he heard what he just said. Like when he tells a woman that she should listen to “daddy” as he gives her advice on how to tighten the cottage cheese in her backside.
“How many kids do you have?” I asked. I had to ask him three times before I got an answer because he was busy remembering his ex, not so fondly, talking about child support, and giving me marital advice as he danced about the kitchen, putting his man meal together. His cooking paraphernalia was strewn all over the kitchen.
“Two boys.” Oh dear, I thought. Let them not be carbon copies of their narcissistic old man.
Once upon a time Joe played guitar in a cover band and his hair was once hairband huge. That was how he and his ex met. Within 6 months from the first time they locked eyes they were married. It had a shelf life of one year before it ended in a flaming ball of horrible. Poor guy. I felt bad for him even though it was probably his allegiance to the space docking federation that caused its demise.
He warned me, as he’s done many times before, “It all changes when you start living together.” And apparently after marriage sex becomes like the Sahara. I told him I was more traditional and I also told him that I’ve heard if a man is terrible outside the bedroom it is only a matter of time before sex becomes like the Sahara.
He put together his quinoa, Kale, and grilled chicken breast. He told me, “Now that my kids are older I’m free to revert back to my 20’s.”
“You shouldn’t let one bad year of marriage sour you on love.” I told him. The best thing about every new day is another chance to begin again. Love no longer appealing to him though. Tragically I think he was too in love with himself. There was no room for anyone else in his vanity mirror. Only his bed.
I began to slowly inch away. I needed to get back upstairs to try to figure out how to do my job.
“Hey we should hang out sometime. Grab a beer, and a shot, and hit the strip club.” The thought of this was appalling to me.
“Um, maybe yes to the beer. No to the shot and the strip club.” Although the answer was really a “no” to his entire proposition.
“Come on, man,” Joe said.
“No way,” I returned. “I’m a taken man, Joe.” He tried to convince me that this is what men do. I agreed. It is what they do. However it doesn’t mean that it’s what they should do. Joe didn’t have a high view of commitment. It was unfathomable to him that I would choose to be with one woman rather than be with whatever woman like him. As one woman once said to me, ‘it’s easy to please a thousand women once but can you please one woman a thousand times?’
I shook my head as I walked away. Deep down it made me sad. It was like a visit from the ghost of Christmas future. Only it wasn’t my future I saw. It was his. One day his good looks would fade and his muscles would vanish. One day he would be old and alone in his home, having never fully experienced the wonderful depths of true love. Sadly, he is one of many men, still cruising with the Lost Boys, getting drunk every weekend, only concerned with warming his bed with a new woman, ignoring the call every man has on his life to lead, to love, and to lay down his life for loved ones. Please men. If you’re listening. Come back home. Women need you. Children need you. The world needs you.