Walk a Mile in My Shoes
“Walk a mile in my shoes and then you can tell me how easy my life is.” Nick said that to me last night over dinner.
Walk a mile in his shoes….pfft! As if I hadn’t already worn those shoes down to their soles. I knew how to walk in those shoes better than anybody else, but I took Kevin’s advice and just shut my cake hole and listened to what Nick had to say and yes Kevin did refer to my mouth as a cake hole. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I preferred pie hole. Of course then he would have come back with ‘well actually you are an ass…hole!’ I know him so well it scares me.
Something has been troubling Nick for days and of course when that happens he feels the need to take out his frustrations on the world. Last night the world took on the form of me I guess. He always clings on to me when he feels like this and I’m not sure why. It used to be Brian and for a few brief seconds it was Howie. It has been me for a while now. Ever since we got back together he would migrate over to me when things were going wrong and that seemed to be more often than not for the poor guy.
So, I just listen and try not to give him any advice. The last time I gave the kid advice he ended up shaving his hair off, hence where the ‘shut your cake hole’ comment came from.
He went on and on about nothing important. See, that’s the thing with Nick. He doesn’t tell us what’s wrong, not at first anyway, he just kind of starts babbling about nonsense. Then he eventually starts drinking and as he does that, he begins to open up. His tale unravels like one of those cool movies…the Usual Suspects comes to mind. You think its one thing that’s bothering him but actually it’s something completely different and unexpected. That was the case last night where after his tenth beer he finally blurted it out.
“My mother fucking sucks!”
This was about his mom. I guess I should also point out that last night was Mother’s Day. I suck at this, I really do. When it comes to his fucked up family I never have one clue as to what to say to him. I hate his mother; she’s a horrible lady who only cares about herself. Do I say that? I doubt that would help any. Where the hell is Kevin? He always knows what to say to him. Why didn’t he go to Kevin about this?
“No one gets it AJ. I know…I mean who the fuck understands how horrible it is except for my brother and sisters? That’s the most frustrating part.” It was like he read my mind.
Did he want me to answer him? Son of a bitch I wish I could yell “line” and have some tech guy suddenly run the what to say to Nick about his dysfunctional family
script out to me.
“Did you talk to your mom today?” He asked me as he started searching his room for more alcohol.
We were hanging in his room at my request because, ironically enough my mother was hanging out in mine with her new husband. We went out for an early dinner and then the two of them hit the town. By the time they got back it was so late that I insisted they just crash at the hotel instead of making the long drive back home. I didn’t feel the need to tell him this at the time and I certainly didn’t want to share after he went on about his mother.
“Yeah I did.” Short, and sweet with no need for elaboration…is that a word?
“I bet she didn’t ask you for money, did she?” He found his beer and cracked it open. I was hoping he would have run out of them but since he got a 12 pack there was still at least one more to go after this one.
“Your mom asked you for money?” He nodded after he chugged. He drank with fierceness in his eyes. His tongue was the punching bag and his gulps were his fists. That’s what scared me most when he was like this.
“Are you going to give in?” I asked him after a few moments of silence.
“It’s not like I can say no, right?”
“Why can’t you say no?”
“Because if I say no then I’m the bad guy and AJ, sometimes it’s tiring always being the bad guy.”
I nodded at him, “Well maybe if you give her what she wants she’ll go away.”
He looked straight ahead and nodded, “Yeah maybe.” The way he said it made me realize he didn’t want her to go away. That was the problem in a nutshell.
I just need to shut my cake hole and all my other holes for that matter.
After that he became quiet, that’s when the alcohol fully began to take effect on him. We were both sitting on the floor with our backs against his huge king sized bed. Our cold Chinese take out containers were lined up in front of us. His just about empty and mine barely touched. I wanted to say something to him, I felt like I should have but I just sat there.
He drank that 12th beer in total silence as I flipped through the channels. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave him alone or not. My plan was to stay until he passed out which was going to happen soon by the way his eyes were opening and closing every few seconds.
I looked over at him, surprised by his out of the blue apology. “What for?”
“For this.” He motioned to the last can of beer he had just finished, “Sometimes I forget…you know?”
“I know.” I admitted.
“I just needed to get shit faced tonight, thanks for keeping me company and letting me talk about my shitty mother and my shitty life.”
“Nick, your life isn’t so bad.”
“Walk a mile in my shoes and then you can tell me how easy my life is…” ********
I looked over at Kevin as he drank his second cup of coffee. I was so tired it was just a sin and a half. After Nick passed out I tip toed back to my room where I was greeted with snores coming from my own huge king sized bed. I ended up sleeping on my Howie sized couch. Have you ever slept on something Howie sized? Okay I know I’m not a giant either but Howie is well…Howie sized. I guess he’s taller than Prince though.
“Hey.” I didn’t notice Kevin walking towards me until after his greeting.
“Rough night?” He seemed amused when he said that. Made me wonder if I had hair sticking up or something…oh right I have no hair.
“I didn’t get much sleep.”
“I heard you were with Nick, is he okay?”
“He had mom issues.” That coffee was looking really good right about now.
I nodded at him, “Is that Hazelnut?”
He ignored me, “Did he drink?”
“Quite a bit, yes.” I wanted to rip the cup right out of his hands. Oh my God what the hell is wrong with me? Oh yes, I got NO fucking sleep last night.
“Think he’ll be okay for this performance? I mean it is early.”
“I hope so Kev…I didn’t know what to tell him.”
“Sometimes there’s nothing to say. Sometimes all people need is an ear.”
“He told me to walk a mile in his shoes.”
Kevin smiled and nodded, it wasn’t the reaction I was expecting. “He’s had a hard life AJ.”
“I know…I guess it just kind of bugged me.”
“I know it did.” He said as he squeezed my shoulder.
Nick walked in a few minutes after I finally got my coffee. He was wearing those all too familiar sunglasses. Thank God those days are over for me. I had to laugh when I looked down at his shoes. I wouldn’t even walk a few steps in those things, let alone a mile. Black and white checkered sneakers that stunk to high heaven. I could smell his sweaty ass feet all the way across the room. They didn’t even close to match what he was wearing. Someone needs to dress that boy.
He came over and sat down next to me, “Hey.” His voice sounded gravelly. I could tell he still had a slight buzz going.
“Feeling any better today?”
“For now I guess.”
“Well there’s plenty of coffee so I suggest you have a few cups before we hit the stage.”
“Yeah, sounds like a plan.” He answered as he yawned.
When he walked away I wondered if he even remembered our conversation, and if I asked him flat out about his mom would he look at me like I was nuts. I remember getting so drunk and wasted that half the time I had no clue what happened the night before. Although some of the shit I did was a little more potent than beer which would explain why never once did anyone tell me “Well AJ all you did was bitch about your mother.” Seriously, that kid has no clue, at least I hope.
When he walked past Kevin I saw them exchange a look. That understanding glance the two of them had that I sometimes found myself jealous of. Now that I’m older it’s not as bad, but when I was younger I used to long for the kind of attention that Kevin gave Nick. I mean I was the only one out of us that really didn’t have a brother or sister to turn to but yet, it was always Kaos that ended up getting most of the attention. I tried to always act like I was happy that I wasn’t the one getting all the lectures and pep talks but secretly I longed for it.
Kevin followed Nick out of the room and as much as I wanted to be nosy and follow I decided instead to have another cup of coffee. ********
The crowd gathered outside for the concert was kind of extraordinary. It was nice to know that we still mattered to so many people, even though for this particular event it wasn’t just us on the bill. All the signs with our names on it made me just smile with pride.
I’m not exactly sure why they felt the need to have this concert at the crack of ass though. I mean usually these things work better at night, not first thing in the morning. Whoever invented adrenaline was my hero. I guess that would be God huh? Well, God is my hero because any shred of sleepiness I felt before I stepped out on the stage went away the second I saw and heard that crowd. Even at this time of day.
As we were taking our positions around the piano, I looked over at Nick and Kevin. They had their arms wrapped around each other as they so often did, Kevin pointing over to the crowd as he whispered something in Nick’s ear.
It was then that I kind of understood.
No matter how many times he comes to me with his problems, or Brian or even short little Howie, its Kevin who gets him. In the end, he always goes to Kevin about everything. I bet if I had bothered to eavesdrop I would have heard Nick tell Kevin word for word what he said to me last night. Although for me, he needs alcohol to warm up.
I’m sure he probably also excluded the “walk a mile in my shoes” bit because Kevin does just that. He always does that. I think Kevin has walked that mile in just about everyone’s shoes, even mine.
As Kevin started playing the first few chords of Incomplete on the piano I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about how often we think no one gets us when usually the people who do are standing right in front of us…trying on our shoes. The end