Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Thursday, February 17

My Goat, Part II

This is not the first time I’ve had a goatee. When I was going to Columbia College in Chicago, I was pretty rough and tumble. I wore an old army parka everywhere, wore dirty jeans with rips at the knees. I remember my dad saying, ‘Even though we just did your laundry, you still look dirty.’

It was the first time a woman looked at me and then crossed the street to put a safe distance between us. I felt like saying something, but what can you say to that, really? ‘I’m not going to rape you, ma’am.’ I can’t imagine that would be reassuring. Instead, I turned down a side street because I could see she was still giving me nervous glances.

Anyway, it was spring of ’90, about a year before grunge hit big, and goatees still felt more Medieval than Seattle and I was in the computer lab (with huge floppy discs, dot-matrix printers and no internet) and this guy sitting across the table from me said:

‘Hey, does trouble follow you around?’

I kept typing because, while one may or may not argue that trouble does, in fact, follow me around, no one had ever asked me that directly. But the room was empty and no one answered him, so I looked up.

‘Excuse me?’ I asked.

‘Man, does trouble follow you around?’ he repeated. I just stared at him, trying to figure out where this was going. We went on in silence for about five seconds. I was trying to figure out if I could take this guy if he attacked me, but he was two inches taller and had twenty pounds on me, easily. ‘I’m thinking about growing a goatee, but my girlfriend says trouble will follow me around if I grow one. So I’m asking you: Does trouble follow you around?’

I think about the lady who crossed the street. I also think about all the offers I get for weed, smack and even opium from people on the street. I think about how only a few years earlier my fantasies were of being Johnny Depp in 21 Jumpstreet and busting these peddlers, throwing handcuffs on them and flashing my badge as I threw them against the wall.

I think about the night a kid ran past me being followed by an old Russian Jew yelling ‘Stop Thief!’ I turned and chased him into the proverbial dark alley. I think about how I stood guard, staring into the darkness hoping to fucking god the kid didn’t have a knife or—worse—a gun. I stood there blocking the exit of the alley staring for what seemed an hour, but was more likely twenty minutes until the Russian’s wife came with a cop whose flashlight found the kid still stupidly clutching a handful of gold chains. He was not thrown against the wall with a flash of the badge. He cowered as the cop turned him around and put the cuffs on him.

‘No,’ I said, ‘trouble doesn’t follow me around.’

I shaved the goatee off before making my next move to Iowa City.

Part III


Blogger dan writes:

I had a goatee once for exactly two weeks. I'm sure it looks good on you, tho. Ahem.


Blogger hot babe writes:

Do you lied to the guy.

Dan- funny how I don't remember the goatee phase. Or maybe, thankfully.


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