lack of co-operation.


last night, ross invited me over for dinner at his co-op, bob the house. i was reluctant to go, since it's an hour bus ride from my apartment to the u-district, but i decided i could use a night off from watching back-to-back episodes of ugly betty. a few days earlier, i asked if i should bring anything. "you don't need to bring anything," he said, then added, "maybe just a bottle of wine." so, after work i stopped at qfc to look for some wine. i don't know anything about wine. mostly, i just look for bottles that are under $10 and have a cool-looking label. i settled on snoqualmie red rose, something or other. the dealbreaker was that it was local and the label contained the phrase: "organically grown grapes." perfect for a hippie commune.

after the bus dropped me off at 45th ave ne and brooklyn ave ne, i had plenty of time to kill. i decided i would go inside a comic book store. when i was younger, ten maybe, my parents drove past the comic store. i wanted to go in then, as comic stores were the only places i wanted to see on vacations, but i think it was closed that day, or else we were too busy to stop. it was a small comic store, but they carried a lot of stock. the clerk said, "hello," and i looked around. little yellow notes said "new!" and the comics were arranged by label: dc, image, marvel, etc. it was hard to believe that i was into this stuff at one point, even though i never read a single comic from beginning to end. i always preferred much lighter reading, like archie or foxtrot.

i picked up liz prince's small comic, would you still love me if i wet the bed? i read the first few passages, and decided it was too girly, too hipster, too romantic. but i kind of liked it anyway. they also had a harvey pekar and frank miller section; the few comic artists i actually know. i was interested in the process of creating a comic, and i wanted to ask the owner or clerk or whoever was standing behind the register, but i didn't. he probably just wanted people to buy stuff and get the hell out.

to get to bob the house, i had to walk down 17th ave ne, a neighborhood full of frat and sorority houses. a bunch of sorority girls, a dozen or so, were talking in front of their big, brick house. i never knew anyone in a frat or sorority, except for my cousin francis, who went to uc davis. i heard that when he pledged, his brothers got him shitfaced, stuck him in a trunk, and then drove him out to the woods. then they beat the shit out of him. i think he had to eat a live goldfish, too. all in the name of tradition and brotherly love.

i'm sure not all frats and sororities fall under the hollywood stereotype, but even so, i can't imagine what would make anybody want to pledge. the girls were mostly white, and they all looked the same. they wore sunglasses even though it was dark out, and their land rovers and mini coopers were all crammed together in the driveway, overflowing into the street. did each of them really feel like they belonged? what do they get out of this, other than parties and cheap rent?

when i made it to bob the house, ross wasn't there. one of his housemates let me in. since i don't know how to make small-talk, i began with my usual question, "are you originally from seattle?" i feel like the most boring person on earth every time i let that one out. she said she was from texas and came to seattle to get her masters at the uw in bio-engineering. now she does freelance writing for science magazines. it was awkward, though. i got the sense that she didn't really want to talk to me, and was just keeping me company until ross finally arrived. when he finally did arrive, she shot upstairs almost immediately. is this what it's like to live in a hippie commune?

while preparing falafel patties, boiled beans, and corn on the cob, i asked ross what the point of living in a co-op was. "ideally," he said, "living in a co-op is supposed to make your life easier. it's supposed to be cheaper, obviously, and you should be able to buy stuff in bulk. people help out with cooking meals and doing chores. you're also supposed to support each other and exchange ideas. other people are supposed to expose you to new things. it's kind of like being in a relationship." he expressed that he was thinking of moving to south seattle. "so, there's been a lack of co-operation around here, huh?" "yeah," he said, "my housemates are hardly ever here."

ross' ex-girlfriend, anita, who was staying with him for two weeks, had cooked up some vegan cornbread, carrot-slaw, and hummus dip with green peppers. they both liked the red wine i brought. during dinner, someone came home and hardly said anything before going upstairs. i felt a weird tension in the house, like they all had come to resent each other or something. it made me glad that i lived alone. in fact, with my fruit flies and other bugs dancing in the kitchen and attacking my left-overs, my studio seemed like more of a co-op than bob the house.

at 8:32, i decided it was time to leave, so that i could catch my bus back to columbia city. the bus comes at 8:45, and then not again until 9:26. i powerwalked down sorority avenue, worrying all the while that i would miss my bus and have to wait another half an hour. i jaywalked and didn't hesitate to check the clock on my cell phone. with the 49 in sight, i sprinted down the sidewalk and shot across the street. i made it, just as the bus arrived. on the nearly empty bus, i sat by the window, panting, and i thought about timing.

if i had left just a minute earlier, would i still have made the bus? the obvious answer was yes, since i would have had extra time. then i thought about it some more. if i had stayed a minute earlier, i might have decieved myself into thinking that i had all the time in the world, slowed down my step, and may have chosen not to jaywalk. a single stop light would've made me late. during my half-mile walk, every step mattered, and the traffic flowed in my favor. it might not seem like that big of a deal, but lately, i've come to think that timing is everything.

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