This morning I woke up a half hour early, and immediately curled my body into the tightest ball I could manage.
It was like waking up in the Fortress of Solitude. Taylor had gotten out of bed hours before and left the blankets freezing cold, and now I was left trying to get back to sleep with icicles hanging off my nose. When my alarm went off at eight, Taylor shambled back into our room, his sweatshirt hood drawn up over his head, and collapsed onto our mountain of quilts.
“S’cold,” he mumbled belligerently.
I tossed my cell phone to the end of the bed and flipped back the sheets like I was ripping off a bandaid, enduring the chill all at once. I pulled on a pair of tights under my work trousers and shivered as I combed my hair. Taylor lay like a lump, his red nose sticking out from the folds of his sweatshirt, sighing conspicuously every few minutes.
When I left for work, my car was covered in a sheet of ice. I was already running a touch late, so I tackled the problem with an irritable energy and drove off. When I finally got to work, the parking lot was cramped and the only spot I could find was a solid jog away. I pulled in, zipped up my purse, and began click-clacking nervously across the pavement.
Enter The Air Guitarist.
Behind me, I suddenly heard the vocal interpretation of some sort of air guitar riff.
“Bweedle deeeeen dee gwabble dee deeeeen deedle DAPPA dee gwaaaa!”
Discreetly gripping my keys like a series of tiny shivs, I looked over my shoulder. Following me at a distance was a skinny man only a few inches taller than me, with long greasy hair and a the kind of mustache that some British guy might have worn to go shoot elephants in Africa. He was carrying three beer bottles, and was enthusiastically playing one of these like a guitar.
He caught me looking.
“Hullo!” he shouted at me cheerfully. “Hullo, lady! Hi!”
“Hi!” I said. There wasn’t much else to say.
“Good morning to you too.”
Satisfied with this interaction, the Air Guitarist lost himself in a particularly complicated riff. Having finished this, he looked for something to fill the silence.
“Colder than the divil’s balls today!” He commented.
“Excuse me?” I continued walking, tightening my hold on me key-shivs.
“The divil’s balls. Cold!”
“Wouldn’t…” I debated opening the conversation further, but chose to proceed. “Wouldn’t the devil’s balls be just…really really hot? Being that he’s the devil? In hell?”
“Naw, naw,” The Air Guitarist scratched his chin philosophically. “The divil ain’t never what you think. You think he’s big? He’s little. You think he’s little? He’s big. You think he’s a good fella?”
“I don’t think many people think the devil’s a good guy.”
“Well, he ain’t! And you think his balls are warm – they ain’t!”
I discreetly checked my phone. I was already late.
“I’m sure you’re right,” I said politely. “I’m running late for work. I really gotta go. Nice talking to you.”
“Man, lady, you gotta slow down,” the Air Guitarist said, taking a swig out of his instrument. “Lookit me! I got no job today. Just walkin’ around, seeing the beautiful day, talkin’ to beautiful people. Beautiful. Beautiful.”
This inspired another solo.
“Dweedle dee DEEEE gwonga daddle oh deeble dah!”
At this point I whipped in the front door of our office. The Air Guitarist, apparently unrealizing that I was gone, sauntered past the building, enthusiastically plucking away on his beer bottle, leaning back to really get into those high notes. Every few measures he would take a deep gulp of beer and return to his song.
The receptionist looked up from her computer, glancing at me and then at the talented musician outside as he bumped into somebody’s car.
She raised an eyebrow, and went back to work.