For a while, after I moved out from the ex-girlfriend, I stayed away from
women. I didn’t even do it on purpose, but I had a different sense of my
fate. I was better off in my own company, a form I understood. I was better off not entering into false agreements. I wouldn’t have won any prizes
for celibacy during this time, but I was mostly on my own. How welcome
my own place was when I turned the lock and walked into it at night.
I was trying to get a gig for a newly released individual when I met Rachel. The guy had a chance to get hired as a dishwasher in a hotel kitchen.
Rachel did not do the hiring, but she oversaw the contracts. She was at
her desk eating a jelly donut the morning I met her, and she had a very
poised way of chomping as she listened to me. We had a frank discussion
of risk and violence and best guesses, and she waved Anthony in.
“You don’t get to choose what you’re born into,” she said. “I have a kid
who lives with me who had highly imperfect parents.”
“I didn’t get along so well with mine,” I said, “though I guess they
tried. Some don’t even try.”
The kid who lived with her was thirteen, and the girl was obsessed
with video games. I said I knew about video games and maybe Rachel
and I could discuss this over a drink sometime.
She thought we might, and I didn’t realize until we were sipping margaritas three days later that she’d sort of thought I might be an ex-con,
doing the work that I did. Good for her, I thought, to have a bit of booze
with me nonetheless.
I knew zilch about video games, but she never called my bluff. She
“She wants to spend money,” Rachel said, about the kid who lived
with her. “Just to have something expensive. Video crap or clothes by
designers she thinks every person on earth has heard of.”
“What do you do about it?”
Rachel shrugged. “It’s her allowance. She can buy stupid things if she
How supple that shrug was. Sanity is much sexier than people tend
Once Rachel and I got going, I got along with the kid too. Her name was
Nadia, and she was a sly young thing who laughed at my jokes. People
always thought I must not like kids since I’d never bothered to have any.