Another lady is stirring me up at work about my name. I hear them all the time. Art? Like Garfunkel? Is that Paul Simon in the truck? Or, sometimes I get the one that goes – think you’re art, huh? Eye of the beholder, I guess, though you’re not selling much work, are you?
I want to make some joke about her name, but I can’t remember it. I look at the order slip I’m holding and it’s Barbara. But there’s nothing funny about Barbara. And she hasn’t ordered anything funny either – just your typical frozen veg and toilet paper. What am I going to say? Yea, well at least I get fresh veg and three ply toilet paper?
When I was young, I had to take a special letter to school to tell the teacher that my name was actually Art. She had called me Arthur, and then everyone teased me about it. She didn’t believe that I was just Art. When I had the letter and she called – Arthur can you answer this? I ignored. And when she got angry, I walked up to her and handed her the letter. My Ma said that I should write it if it meant that much to me, so I did, and then she signed it saying with her permission.
The teacher didn’t know what to say. But she called me Art after that. You’d have trouble like that with a name like Romulus. But Romulus founded Rome, slew his brother and all. No one called Art ever did that.
I went for tea again with the girl I met in the rain. She has long dark hair and concerned, deep eyes. When she looks at me I feel like she’s found out something about me. Like she knows I stole the newspaper off my neighbours’ lawn last Sunday. As if she knows I hid another cigarette in the drawer with the takeout menus, and I’m secretly thinking about it.
She has a habit of looking down when she begins a sentence, and bringing her eyes up at a point for emphasis. As she told me that all she really wants to do in her life is play music – she plays the cello – she met my eyes like she was slapping me in the face with an important revelation. I was nervous to look away from her and miss anything. She might be upset to go through this act and I was looking at a poster on the wall.
I hope she doesn’t know that when she told me about where she worked, I was really thinking about writing all of this down and so wasn’t listening. It’s like this monologue that starts in my head sometimes and I walk around narrating my day. It’s funny that – that in trying to capture one moment we lose another.