It's not often that I write a love story, but when I do, I gravitate toward the events that keep us separated -- and pull us back together.
So quickly! The iPod! The diviner of our future. Set on "shuffle" and played during my morning commute, it tells us what the weekend holds, a little game I play with myself that I will continue to do until forcibly restrained...
Why Don't We Do It In the Road by The Beatles
In The Meantime In Pernambuco by Gogol Bordello
Rich Kid Blues by The Raconteurs
We Are the Ones by The Coup
Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys
Walk Away by Dropkick Murphys
And now, on to my love story.
Temperatures Rise Above Freezing, Area Resident Discovers Reason to Go On
The mood has gone Scandinavian in the tail-end of this Minnesota winter. Not the pretty, blue-eyed, let’s-take-our-clothes-off-and-sit-in-the-sauna type of Scandinavian, either, but the dark, brooding type, sitting on an isolated farm off amongst the fjords, perhaps, throwing knives into the floorboards and whistling eerie, minor-chorded dirges.
Why go on? The world is gray, cold and lifeless, covered with snow and salt-rimmed automobiles. A short-sleeved shirt is now tantamount to flashing one’s bare breasts: shocking, familiar yet painfully naked; and the populace is now down to shaving their legs once a month – whether it’s need it or not.
The locals are considering competitive drinking as a means of escape.
It is our good fortune, however, that contrary to how anyone feels at any given moment, there is always hope; and this time, hope comes in the form of a single, knitted glove.
Two months ago, a pair of favorite gloves went missing. Rightie and Stinky, they were called.
Stinky, by the way, didn’t deserve his lot in life but by default became the glove with which its owner picked up litter. Winter litter doesn’t literally stink, of course, as it tends to be frozen, but “Stinky” became his name, primarily because “Garbage Glove” seemed disrespectful.
“Stinky” just seemed kind of home-y.
But whatever the gloves were named, they had vanished; and while the owner stopped short of posting “Have You Seen These Accessories?” fliers, the disappearance of Rightie and Stinky left a glove-shaped hole in her winter-y heart.
Let us fast-forward then, from that terrible morning when it was realized that they were gone, to just two months ago, because there, in a filthy snow-plowed ridge of snow, its once five-foot mass reduced by the slowly increasing temperatures to a glacier-like solemnity, its stratified ice-snow-salt-dirt tale of the season glittering in the sun, one, lone, outstretched finger of a left glove rose silently: one brown, frozen, defiant finger aimed squarely at the elements.
Was it the index finger, pointing toward the sky? Was it the middle finger, taunting and insolent, a wintry "up yours"? Was it perhaps, even, the thumb, a cosmic "everything's OK"?
Is it important?
The other glove has yet to be found; but now there is hope, and you should know.
Stinky the Glove is home.
Long live Stinky!
Rightie Speaks; or Beyond the Pair: The Lost Glove Story
In a move that has stunned Minneapolis neighborhoods, area gloves have congregated together in what many perceive to be the first indication of spring.
The gathering of lost gloves began as a way of reconnecting but has, if you'll excuse the expression, snowballed.
“It was sad, really,” mumbled an un-named ski glove. “Here we’d been instrumental in keeping a hand warm and suddenly we’re on the streets, being pushed around by snow plows.”
Many of the gloves tell the same story: forgotten on laps and dumped upon standing, left behind at bus stops, fallen from overstuffed bags, they are forced to live on the streets, turning to each other for structure, some resorting to anonymous, one-off hand jobs to provide the protection against the cold that they were designed to supply.
“I spent three days with a homeless man before he, too, lost me,” shudders a cashmere driving glove who refuses to give her name. “All I wanted was to do what I was manufactured to do. Is that so wrong? Is it wrong to give warmth? Is it?” It is here that the glove turns away, sobbing.
“I’d lost hope,” opined a glove identified only as “Rightie”. “One minute I’m part of a team, the next minute my mate and I are casually removed so our owner can go digging through her purse. She didn't see us fall to the curb. You can imagine my dismay when she got on the bus without us. I was lost! Lost!”
But now those fearful, single days are over, thanks to two gloves with a dream.
That dream? To be reunited with their mates.
“We’re going to stand up!” shouts a leather working glove. “Do we not have fingers? Are we not counted upon? We’re saying "no more"! Glove! Glove! Glove!”
The crowd of lost gloves roars its approval. “Glove! Glove! Glove!”
In other news, large gatherings of cigarette butts and discarded candy wrappers have gathered just outside of the circle of streetlamp light on the corner of Broadway and Buchanan.
Their spokesman, an empty Yoohoo bottle, hints at big things come the true thaw.
Good Night, My Glove, Sleep Tight
The culminating frustration of the last few months met half way up and half way down the staircase last evening in an emotional hand-clasp that made the pictures on the wall shudder with its intensity.
Rightie and Stinky: the best of gloves, the most poignant of glove stories.
Kept apart by the complex bus-riding patterns of the homeless, an unrelenting cold front and the inability to ambulate on their own, the two gloves suffered separately but never wavered in their desire to be reunited.
Rightie, trembling, is the first to speak.
“I – I – Oh, Stinky. You don’t know what I’ve been through.”
“We’re together again. That’s all that matters.”
Rightie’s fingertips fall forward dejectedly. “Stinky, you need to know. I’ve been in situations – ”
Stinky shakes slightly from side to side, raises his index finger. “It doesn’t matter. We all did what we had to do.”
“You don’t know…”
“I don’t need to know. Nothing will ever change the love I have for you.”
Rightie’s fingertips assume an air of hope. “Then we still have time?”
Stinky pauses, runs his thumb up the inside of Rightie’s palm. Again, he shakes slightly from side to side. “It’s too late, my love. Word on the staircase is that we’re to be washed, pressed flat, placed in a reasonably airtight container, and stored in the basement until next October.”
Rightie closes her eyes and exhales slowly. She opens them, takes a deep breath. She smiles ruefully and sighs. “A six-month nap.”
Stinky reaches out, his fingers extended, “And we’re together.” Rightie, smiling shyly, leans forward –
Suddenly, there is the sound of a door opening; and with that the gloves fall, limply, to the floor.
The woman sweeps into the stairway down to the first floor, grabbing, in her wake, her gloves, the scarf Mary had given her, and a number of the thinner jackets she used to supplement her coat on the coldest of days.
“Longest winter in human memory,” she mumbles.
She runs up the stairs, the laundry basket bouncing off her hip.
And from within the dark, tumbled world of the laundry basket, Rightie and Stinky drift off to sleep, side by side.
There will be other winters.