My hep assistant Mike Fiffe swang by for a few, even though I only had pencils and nothing inked for him to erase and fill in blacks. He set up the second art table and inked his own comix while I penciled a proposed cover for NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET. We played HOOKED ON COMIX Vol.2, and BLADE 2, in the background and I got energized for "Movie/Pizza Night" w/SBX and her girls.
Ola & the Haze let me into the house and immediately ran over to the fire place where all of SBX's birthday cards littered the brick laden mantle. They began to poach hallmarks and read aloud the celebratory declarations, and when they got to my birthday AND anniversary cards to SBX [SBX's b-day is 3-days post our anniversary], they went through every single line, smiling, and blinking, and wondering what the bigger words meant and how they strung together. I chuckled to myself as they tried to poke fun at my romantic woo towards their mother, but kept a cheeky poker face. They were accepting my charge of love yet ribbing me and I liked it. A lot. I gave them some graphic novels; AKIKO Vol. 1, and LOUIS: THE CLOWNS LAST WORDS, and the Haze dove right into them while Ola and I ping-ponged small talk and flitted about the living room. SBX remained upstairs on the phone in her office working overtime for her dreaded job, pushing our viewing time to the limit, as the babysitter was due @9PM so we could attend her friend, Bill Tipper's [great name!] birthday bar bash. Pizza man arrived and Ola warmed up the oven to keep the cheese hot and viscous while SBX pushed the time and the Haze sunk deeper into Akiko-land. I got the kids downstairs and showed them previews for AUNTIE MAME to whet their optic appetite, and made Ola call SBX on my cell phone to "hurry it up!" That seemed to work and within 15-minutes, we were munching on pizza, drinking red wine, and watching Rosalind Russell deliver eccentric dogma with surgical flair! Watching this moral tale unfold for the 50th time, it occurred to me that Auntie Mame was Holly Golightly's [BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S] alternate future self [had Holly G. been born into money], and what a great double bill these two movies would make. As always, the message of the movie resonated deeply.
The movie ran long and the tardy start made for a bored babysitter, paid to sit by and watch as the clock ticked dollars off of SBX's wallet. The girls asked questions about story stuff that didn't make sense and we filled them in as best we could. Curtains closed the flick, lights lit up, and SBX was commanding the troupe to grab plates and pizza boxes for a quick ice cream retreat, so we could split for Tipper's birthday cocktail. SBX went upstairs to start the dishwasher when the girls got excitable and started jumping about the couches. I became a target for fun as the Haze hopped on my back for a ride. I took this as another notch in the belt of acceptance and went with it. Ola wanted a turn and it got the siblings jealous. Hopping turned into tripping and the Haze got stealthy with her foot and sent Ola flying onto the wood floor and banging her chin. A chilling scream and a burst of tears had SBX storming back down the stairs and yelling at her kids, not buying into their tomfoolery. Anemic in the art of wrangling younglings hopped up on goofballs, I stepped aside and took note as SBX separated them and sent them to different rooms sans ice cream. One can only feel sad when an otherwise fun evening turns sour in less than 60-seconds. I guess I should prepare myself for many a night like this to switch immediately from stretched teeth to scrunchy eyes on the flip of a dime.
SBX played mother and did what she had to do as they pleaded their desperate little one-sided arguments. A call from her job @10PM had SBX working AND disciplining at the same time. I don't know how she does it. It cracks the seams that knit her together. All I could think was, babysitter came at 9PM because we were supposed to be done with a movie, pizza, ice cream, and outside, cheering to a successful "family" night, only to get railroaded by knees, elbows, and job mania. And there I sat in the living room, studying my thumbs and listening to the rush of stomping footsteps and small cries, wondering "will I make a good step-father?"
Stoic like two 1950s movie robots, SBX and I left the punished girls in the babysitters care and rode our bikes to the party bar. SBX interrogated me, wanting to know exactly what had happened with the kids and suggested that the movie -- a tad steep in heavy subject matter, coupled with lengthy running time -- most likely contributed to their belligerent behavior. Facing blame but feeling pangs of guilt, my guns appeared out of nowhere and I was primed to shoot her tires out. Arguing that I had done nothing wrong and believed that we had made a successful night, pardoning the last few minutes of rampant rage to pent up tendons and bones stretching and making riot. Is all. No biggie small. Why cry over burnt milk? SBX took the blame and wanted to squash where this usually takes us. Only, my trigger finger was itchy and I was on the other side of war path red. We spent a good hour outside the bar blaming each other until finally, tears took over my sweethearts face and tried to drown her. It nearly choked me. SBX made the solid argument that we were both products of terrible child abuse and that we were never furnished with the tools it takes to deal with the pain of failure. We react by throwing emotionally damaging fisticuffs and torture ourselves into crippled dopplegangers that no longer resemble who were are. We take on these profiles that hurt rather than heal, and we are both yins grasping, reaching for the proverbial yang in each other. Only, we've got no yang to yield. We need yang. Exonerated, we squished ribs tight and her tears made my shoulder wet. We rode back home and spent a half-hour calming down. Chalking the night up to another page of how NOT what to do.