As a creature of habit, I love routines. You could set a watch by what I do every morning, where I go during the day and what I do in the evenings. Caitlyn from Kwik Trip asks me where I’ve been if I haven’t come in for coffee in a week. I’m on a first name basis with my butcher, Mike, and Bruce, the sports fan who sells me booze and gets score updates when I shop at Mega. Happy Hours are always at Tailgates and Jenna, Amanda, Ryan and Matt all know my drink is Red Label and rocks after work, gin and tonic during volleyball.
The best example is my Sunday morning. It doesn’t matter where I was on Saturday night or found myself waking up, like a swallow finds its way to Capistrano I make my way to Chucks, a townie bar I’ve grown to love. I stop for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, take a seat at the end of the bar and read it cover to cover over half a pot of coffee. I’ve been doing this every weekend for almost three years now. In that amount of time I’ve gotten to know just about every regular that Chucks has. I know the bartenders and the cooks and their political affiliations and music interests. I’ve fixed their computers and played on sports teams with the staff. I’ve given rides to job interviews and stayed up all night on the phone when they’re having issues with their significant others. It’s all because I love the Sunday paper and Chucks was located within walking distance of where I used to work.
I had a conversation with someone about this subject a few weeks ago. We talked about how nice it is to have something like that to rely on, no matter what’s going on in your life. She told me about her routines, I told her more of mine.
So it made for an awkward situation when that same person served me my Sunday coffee, a week after telling me she’d call and then never did.
I shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happened the last two weeks. I went through something similar a year before when I was asked out by a cute bartender. I bungled it, never recovered. Some girls just change their minds. Guys do it too. But it’s still disappointing, particularly when you actually like the person who doesn’t share those same sentiments.
Normally I brush these things off, most of the time inside of a day. This one was different. Is different, more appropriately because, I still can’t stop trying to dissect what went wrong.
But the lack of a date is one thing; my routine and how it was suddenly in jeopardy was entirely another.
The girl in question had never worked a Sunday morning. She worked nights, a time I never visited Chucks. So when I sat down and she started talking to me as if everything was normal I didn’t know what to think. Maybe she was busy the past week and still intended to go out with me? I texted her when I got home with a simple, “Hey, nice seeing you, let me know when we you want together.” She said, “You too 🙂 will do!”
That was the last text I got. I went all last week without hearing from her. Sunday rolled around and I had a choice to make. With her taking a new job working nights, I suspected she’d continue to take the Sunday morning shifts. I could stop going, find a new place to drink my coffee and read the paper. There wouldn’t be any awkward looks or conversation. I’d probably get better coffee, there wouldn’t be any racing on the TV over the bar and the atmosphere might be better.
Fuck it. I went to Chucks. She was the first person I saw, we chatted like everything was normal, I read the paper, paid and left.
Part of the reason I went was defiance. If she was working and I didn’t show up, she’d know why and I didn’t want her to have the satisfaction. I’d been going to Chucks longer than she’d been working there and it almost felt as though Sunday morning belonged to me.
That’s what I’m trying to tell myself.
But the other reason is I don’t yet know what happened that made her change her mind. I’ll probably never know. With other girls I knew what went wrong or why things didn’t go further, even without an explanation. This time I’m totally in the dark and it bothers the shit out of me.
Maybe I’m sticking to this convenient routine because I’m not willing to close the book just yet.