Required Listening: This Is The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance by Sinead O’Connor

 

We all need something constant in our lives— something to keep us grounded when life gets crazy or out of hand. Something stable that we can always count on to keep us in touch with reality. This constant can take many forms. Maybe it’s a partner whose reassuring smile happily meets yours when you enter a room. Or, if you’re like me— maybe it’s a cat, awkwardly watching you while you go to the bathroom in the mornings. Nevertheless it’s important for us all to identify and appreciate the constants in our lives.

If I’m being honest (and I am to a fault), the real constant in my life for a long time was Kasim, my pizza delivery guy. I’ll stop you here, because I know what you’re thinking: you’ve heard this story before. I can assure you the whirlwind bromance that I forged with Kasim was strictly platonic. Besides the fact that I almost always order the Meat Lovers, this is a completely new spin on the classic pizza delivery guy tail (yes, a pun).

Sure my friendship with Kasim seemed forced— mostly because I tend to order pizza roughly three times a week. But, it also worked. Why? We had a mutual understanding: Kasim didn’t judge me on the consistency of my orders or that I requested delivery even though I lived two city blocks away from the pizzeria. In return, I didn’t complain to customer service when he forgot the cheddar chipotle dipping sauce, or brought me Brio instead of Diet Coke. Or when… well, you get the point. Most importantly, what worked best was our strict no verbal communication rule— instead we “communicated” using a Morse code of grunts, throat clearings and sometimes, the odd whistle.

For many couples Friday night is date night. For me, Friday is when I prefer to do laundry (and on Saturday nights I like to fold), it’s also the night I come home, change out of the shackles of my work garb, slide into a nice pair of plaid harem pants, turn on The Ghost Whisperer and phone in my order for a saucy thin crust.Thirty-nine minutes later, like clockwork Kasim was at the door with a used-to-be hot pizza.

I didn’t know it yet, but on this particular Friday a change was looming. Somewhere in the other room Jennifer Love Hewitt prepared to make contact with the Otherworld— and so did Kasim— only his was an attempt to make contact with someone in the Indoorworld; Me (I never let him inside. It’s important to establish boundaries).

Kasim spoke. Possibly for the first time and with a surprisingly judgmental tone:

“Every time I come here you is wearing pyjamas.”

His observation hit me with a cold smack. So what if I was one bad experience away from becoming agoraphobic? Was this really how the community of pizza deliverymen viewed me? Had I allowed myself to get too vulnerable with Kasim? Something in our dynamic had shifted, and I needed to restore the moral order. There was only one thing left to do. I had to show Kasim that he was wrong about me (even if he was right about me).

The following Friday, I phoned in my order— this time a slight but strategic variation on the usual: a party tray of their signature “Sweet Heat”— yes, I was sending a message. Operation Impress Kasim was moving ahead full steam. His estimated time of arrival: twenty minutes.

Freshly showered and clean shaven I cut the tags off a previously unworn Nicole Miller dress shirt, fastened my Ben Sherman tie, slid on my Aldo dress shoes (sorry, it was the best I had) and cranked the music loud enough to signal a party, but not so loud as to annoy my neighbours– I don’t do well with confrontation.

DING. DONG. It was Showtime.

I slid into my blazer, tightened my tie and checked the symmetry of my hair in the mirror— flashing myself just the appropriate amount of mirror face.

I opened the door with vigor— admittedly, already overselling it.

“Hi there! I thought you would never get here. I’m just having some people over tonight. We’re starving!”

Kasim looked more nervous than me. That’s how I knew I needed to tone it down. But I couldn’t. I started with the twenty questions, never once pausing to let him answer.

“What’s the word on the street? Having a good week? Gas prices are up I see!” Systems were failing. I was self-destructing. This was stupid and I was only just realizing it. I needed to abort. In a hurry I fumbled with my pockets to find the cash. Hands trembling, I dropped a handful of coins. As if in slow motion; quarters, dimes and nickels hit the floor and scattered (along with whatever dignity I had left).

Kasim leaned in to help. That’s when, while bending down, he caught a perfect view of what I had been trying so desperately to hide: The empty apartment of a cat-loving, single, twenty-something. The mission had failed.

“You’re a very strange man.” Kasim said bluntly (but fairly), as he returned almost the correct amount of change, and quickly took off down the stairs.

That was the last time I would ever see Kasim. And would long be remembered by me as a personal low in decision-making.

This night would leave me (and probably Kasim) with several questions. But more than anything, it would force me to make some truly personal observations about myself. First: eat less pizza and join a gym, because all this trans fat and inactivity was clearly going to my brain.

Second, and most importantly: I learned that Kasim wasn’t the constant that I thought he was. The real constant in my life was me— a constant fool maybe, but a constant nonetheless. Constantly.