Letter to My Screwtop Friends
Broadway Conference Center Hotel
Greetings to the Three Muscatel-teers!
Hey, homies, remember how weird I was at twelve, when I obsessed over The Odyssey and those hot chicks, the sirens, who lured sailors to their doom with their songs? And how I loved how Odysseus made his crew tie him to the mast so he could listen to those songs without racing towards them and crashing his ship? And how you clowns swiped that candy from that catering truck when I was in my Odysseus phase and gorged on it in the park, and I just chewed a Hershey Bar without swallowing, then spit out a thick brown sludge that Skeeze swept onto an ant line, and called it a mudslide?
And I'm sure you remember senior year of high school, when I was in my Spartan phase and we camped on Mount Hood, and I slept out in the open without a sleeping bag even though it was around forty, while you guys warmed yourselves in the tent with muscatel? And how I took showers for a year with zero hot water just to train myself to do it? And how I fasted for two days, and you let me sniff your barbeque, and laughed your hyena heads off at me while sticking your ribs right under my nose?
You guys let me be weird, and you let me hang with you even after I ditched the warehouse for college. And when my so-called friends at the frat house got me deep into booze, and I knew I had to quit cold turkey, you partied hearty with Cuervo shots and beer—right in my overheated face—because I asked you to, like Odysseus's crew.
And it worked.
And it's twenty years later. Where does the time go? Two kids, architectural practice, nice house, great wife.
And a young associate who thinks I'm a genius. A pretty one, too. Not prettier than Penny—but not less pretty, either. And just twenty-six! And a good architect. Who smells like jasmine blossoms. Except tonight, here at this convention, she smells like summer peaches from this perfume she bought—for me. And looks finer than ever, with a clingy outfit she bought just for me. And this look in her eye, sort of dreamy and soft, when she squeezed my hand when I went to her room. She's so pretty it hurts. So nice, so fun. "Simply irresistible," as the song says.
But I did resist, with huge thanks to you. And I'm catching an early flight home to Penny.
With mad love,
wrote the flash-fiction collection The Roadkill Collection
(Big Table Publishing) and the long-story collection Family Happiness
(2016). He is a humanities tutor who curates the San Francisco-based reading series Rolling Writers and used to practice law. See more work at jonsindell.com.