I was in my mid-forties. My wife and I had decided to clean out and organize a home office space. It seemed to be a semi-detached garage. The cinder-brick walls were pale yellow, a broken concrete and dirt floor was underfoot, and there were several large windows.
We’d lived in this place for a while, but several new people had moved in, and we were becoming acquainted with other neighbors. The office had a very large bathroom, also painted yellow, with a single naked bulb hanging down in the middle. I was in there with six neighbors, all men, with the door shut, discussing people we knew in common. One very tall man — I came up to his chest — said, “Hey, do you know Hylton?” I gleefully replied, “I know Hylton, really tall guy, right?”
I asked everyone if they would leave the bathroom, questioning why we were all in there. After that, I returned to the office. The office had a pale-yellow desk and matching file cabinets and printer stand. They could have been painted from the same can of paint as the walls. I began emptying all the drawers. I was hurrying because I’d hidden Playboy Magazines from my wife in some of the drawers. I didn’t want her to find them. After emptying the drawers, I frantically raced around, trying to find a new place to hide them. What to do! What to do! I could hear her talking in the other room.
She came in. I shoved the magazines into a box and shoved it under the desk. She said, “Oh, you’ve already emptied all the drawers. Good. Let’s go through everything and decide what to keep and throw away.”
I said, “I already did that. We just need to put things away. I can do that by myself. You can go do other things.”
But she disagreed, insistently she was staying there.
A man arrived in the garage next to the office. White, in his mid-forties, he had curly coal-black hair with a matching thick beard and was wearing a blue ball cap and matching overalls. I know this because I could see him over like a sort of divider. I asked, “Who are you?”
My wife said, “This is so and so. I hired him to help us clean and organize.”
I replied, “I have this handled. We don’t need any help.”
But she ignored me, going into the garage area with the man to talk about what he could do to help.
Okay, she was out the room. I resumed my attempt to hide my magazines. There were only four, so I thought it shouldn’t be hard. Then I thought, I haven’t looked at these in years, why do I want to keep them? I also questioned, why should I have to hide them from her? But I knew the reason was that she hated Playboy because of how it sexualized and objectified women.
I quit trying to hide them. My wife entered, saw the magazines, and threw a fit. I told her I was throwing them away, but she ranted about me having them and hiding them. Shrugging that off, I went outside to check on the cats. I had two young ones and wanted to ensure they were okay. I heard a dog barking. Looking over a hedge down into the neighbor’s yard, I saw a large German Shepherd running around. Well, I needed to keep the cats in, then!
I decided to cross the street to get my mail. The street was just a narrow dirt lane but my mailbox was on the other side. A middle-aged white woman was coming down the street on a blue bicycle. I waited for her to go by, but she just drew up and stopped right before reaching me. I was incredulous; she was blocking traffic, but seemed totally indifferent. After a moment, she shifted her bike to go to the mailboxes, the same ones where I was going. A large gray truck was waiting for her to go by, and several other people were waiting, too. But she just did what she wanted, oblivious to what was going on around her. Indignant, I crossed the street to the mailbox. As I reached the other side, she pedaled away.