under pressure


Writing Prompt: What would the title of your memoir be? Write the opening …

I play theme songs when I work. Not on my iPod or anything like that. In my head. I drift off into an alternate universe where Eye of the Tiger and Freddie Mercury sit on repeat. Under Pressure – the song you always think is Ice Ice Baby, because you grew up when it was- it’s my mantra. Only I never get anything done when I’m listening to it because I get all day dreamy and stuff. (I once walked in front of a double decker bus in the middle of the Bowie remix.) When the piano kicks in, that’s my time to dance. On the inside – because I’ve never done the other kind before – because the other kind, the real kind, is far too much expression for me.

I’m emotionally stunted. Like a man. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, so you fellas can just calm down. What I mean is, well, you know how some chics get all teary eyed over things like sappy story lines or grandiose romantic gestures … roses and bended knees? Well I’m not that way. I laugh when someone cries during a film and the knee thing…the knee thing just makes me want to roll my eyes and help the poor sod up. I keep thinking one of these days I’ll get better. Work up a good hard cuddle, spontaneous-like, or the perfect warm wish for a V-Day card. One of these days hasn’t come yet.

Under Pressure

Maybe that’s what’s doing me in. What’s wearing me out before I should be worn out. Like the not-old man who spent all his life never crying because he was too strong and tears were for women – he died of a heart attack. He was 54.

Maybe that’s what done him in. All those tears he never let out. Maybe they have to get out. Somehow. And if we don’t let ’em out ourselves they’ll burst right out on their own. Like they did with the not-old man.

Paulie says it’ll happen to me. Paulie’s this wrinkled Italian I know. He said that if I don’t find some way of letting go of the gut rot and awfulness that I’m hanging on to, it’ll explode on me. All that pressure building up inside. I’ll be singing Freddie Mercury one day and … BAM! He reckons I should take up lascivious living for a year. Says that’ll flush it out.

I said “I’ll emote some other way thanks”, and he agreed to let me. Not that he’d have any choice in the matter. I mean, he’s Paulie, and I listen when he talks because he’s been kicked around pretty hard and looks like he knows a lot. But other than that he’s just some wrinkled old Italian I met in the coffee shop one day. That I still meet, every day, for a morning cuppa.

Max, who isn’t anybody important, just some guy from the office who saw me with Paulie one morning, said: “That Paulie’s a homeless bum”.

He may be. I’ve never asked. Partly because it’s not something you ask a man: “Are you a bum”. But mostly because he always smells good and is fat. In my experience bums are skinny. And smell bad. Paulie is neither. Even still, if he were, I wouldn’t care. He knows things. I like him. And I’m taking his advice. Not the lascivious part. The other part. The get it all out you part.

Cue ‘Under Pressure’.

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