It’s an unseasonably warm day, even for Los Angeles, when you decide to come out and have coffee with him. You walk through the gate, and up the path to the front porch of their little rented bungalow. He opens the door with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes at first, but upon seeing it’s you, he seems to glow at the sight.
“Come on in, watch out for the toys…” he motions you through a small minefield of toys, dirty clothes and DVD cases. It’s not dirty, just cluttered as hell. “I’ve been trying to tidy up, but the toddler keeps pulling stuff down. Here, have a seat.”
He directs you to the small round table that dominates the section of the room. One half of it has been cleared off, a couple of cups of coffee sit in the open space waiting. Also waiting, a couple of spoons, sugar, milk, napkins and a bottle of whiskey.
You doctor on your coffee as you will, take a sip and enjoy the warmth of the mug, the liquid, and the sun streaming through the window.
He smirks, adds some sugar (a five count) and a shot of whiskey to his cup (a four count). He leans back, takes a sip, takes off his glasses and rubs the bridge of his nose.
“Thanks for coming over; I’m not getting out as much as I used to do. Between money, the kids, and just feeling–” He flicks up a couple of fingers to flash air quotes. “–old and ornery. You know I turn 42 this year? I’ve hit the year of Douglas Adams, as it were. You know what I mean? 42: The answer. To The question? The meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything: 42.
“Hard to imagine that just 10 short years ago, I used to go out four or five nights a week, stay out until 3:30am and get up for work, crisp and happy and hungover in my office chair by 8am. These days, I’m still staying up late, but man, midnight seems so late. I’m falling asleep in my dinner. It’s dumb.
“I guess there’s been a bunch on my brain these days. Work (or lack thereof). Money (or lack thereof). I’m in between gigs at the moment, and it’s kind of a royal pain for pretty obvious reasons, largely because where I am in my career, it means stagnation. And the money…” He takes a long sip of his coffee.
“Deb and I got our taxes done last week…and shit, we got boned. Our accountant–who’s one of my best friends’ dad–he does our taxes every year on Superbowl Sunday; it’s usually oddly a fun time–managed to save us a few dollars (Yay childcare deductions), but it’s still painful. My wife, bless her heart, figured out how to juggle it in my blind, unemployed-panic. Death and Taxes, right?”
He leans towards you, leaning on an elbow. “How’d you make out with the tax man? You get yours done yet?”
He puts his glasses back on, and listens to you intently, occasionally breaking into a smile over sips of his spiked coffee.
“Want another?” He stands, grabs your cup, and heads to the kitchen to refill both your cups, coming back. He sets the cup in front of you, and then proceeds to spike his drink again.
“You have any hobbies? I used to have a bunch. Well, I used to *practice* a bunch of hobbies–I was really into painting Privateer Press miniatures–monsters, knights, wizards and stuff. Miniature wargaming. It was a nice, Zen style release of creativity. Paint, plan, work out strategies for playing with friends. I haven’t done it since we moved into this place. I’ve missed it–a lot lately. I guess that’s why I’ve been digging into prop-building and beginner’s cosplay projects. Good long term things to occupy my days between gigs, and caring for my kids.
“Hobbies, you know? Clubbing, gaming, crafting, DIY stuff. Comic book collecting, juggling, photography. They let you zone in, zone out, and clear your mind. Mental sorbet. Whiskey in your coffee. Covers up the scratches with a smooth decoration. And the act of decoration is half of the cover up.”
He takes a deep breath, smiles, sips from his drink and then turns to you.
“Enough yapping from me. What’s happening with you? Seen any good TV lately?”