Price Breaks And Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Al And Tallulah’s Wild Ride
I know what you’re thinking... Al Bruno III? In the Army? I talked to a recruiter but I didn’t go through with the idea. It was more than the fact I only have partial vision in one of my eyes. It was more than the fact I had a better chance of developing heat vision than I did of completing a single chin up. It was that I simply didn’t think I had the kind of personality that would do well in that environment, and besides wasn’t basic training nothing more than three months of never-ending gym class?
Of course in later years I came to realize the that only three constants on any military base were booze, porno and Dungeons & Dragons. So maybe I would have fit in after all... At least two-thirds of the time anyway.
So I had one meeting with a recruiter named Captain Majors but then never went back. Of course I then spent the six months or so dodging his calls. It was the closest I ever came to knowing what it was to have a lovesick stalker.
The moment of truth came during a quiet walk around Tallulah's neighborhood, it was a suburb of twisting streets and dead ends that looped back around on themselves. The section we wandered into was full of half-completed structures, skeletal duplexes and facades with gaping doorways and windows. It was the perfect spot for a seen from a horror film, or for a wannabe writer's life to change forever.
“I was thinking of the name Preston.” I said giving her hand a squeeze, “Something archaic.”
She replied, “Don't you want your kids to have normal childhoods?”
“If they're normal how will I relate to them?” I mused, “Then again maybe its in my DNA. Nature or Nerd-ture?”
“It doesn't matter,” Tallulah said, “the baby doesn't exist.”
“I took a pregnancy test this morning.”
“Oh.” I was relieved and disappointed all at once.
She sat down on a freshly completed set of front steps, “Just like always, I can't do anything right.”
“What? What are you talking about?” I tried to take her hand but she would only keep her arms wrapped around herself.
“It was last year. Give or take a little. I really was pregnant. We'd been going out since high school.”
“OK.” What else can you say when a conversation like this is going on? At 40 I still don't know.
“My parents flipped when they found out. It got even worse because my boyfriend wouldn't... He wouldn't be responsible.”
“That's awful,” I said. Our walk had started at sunset and by now her face was wreathed in shadows, she seemed grateful for it.
“So I said fuck it. I decided to raise the baby on my own. I had an apartment and a roommate all picked out. It would have been rough but I could have done it.”
She inhaled deeply, “But I didn't have to, I miscarried.”
“It's OK.” I said to her but the words felt useless, pathetic, “I’ll love you forever.”
Things got sweeter after that, we had a lot of laughs and spent a lot of time together. Between work, Tallulah and college I barely saw any members of my old peer group. Honestly though? I was OK with that.
I finally got around to introducing Tallulah to my father but he wasn't impressed. He continued to stress to me what a bad idea it was to get into a serious relationship with a girl my own age. That as women get older they get restless and crave change and inevitably that change results in a man having to fork over at least 30% of his income. He told me to bide my time until I was thirty or so and land a girl in her twenties, if I did that I would have the relationship weighted more in my favor.
While that strategy may have worked for my Dad I was sure that if I took his advice I would find myself a middle aged man living alone and and sewing dainty little outfits for my dozen or so cats.