The Checklist

I could either lie awake afraid, or angry. I choose anger. But I didn’t become angry at Marty for not giving me a raise this year, or the soccer coach who benched Debbie because of her attitude. I got mad at me, Cheryl DeMarco. At my younger self. I got mad that I am a bartender in Fishtown and I could have made so much more of me. 

You want a list of the things I could have done with my life? Antonio once gave me one, but that was during a different time in our relationship. Those were the days when everything my father and me gave each other exploded in our hands. So, I never saw the list; tore it up right away. I may have torn it up and threw it in his face. The good old days.

Here’s what I could be: one kick-ass corporate manager (and then a $300-an-hour management consultant. Sweet!), a forensic scientist, a hell of a cop (I don’t even think about that one, it’s so ingrained — it’d be like thinking about your height or something), a great newspaper reporter, wait, fuck that, with this body? This face? Make that a great television reporter. I don’t know if I could have been an actress, that seems a bit tricky to do and I wouldn’t like where the method might lead. 

Jobs people look up to. Jobs that you step back and take notice. When they tested me in tech school the advisor told my parents that I could be a nuclear physicist. Yes, I said tech school, by that point I’d become one of the woodshop kids. I did terrible in regular school, refused to open a book and flunked tests on purpose because I wanted the boys to like me. It worked. 

Let’s see: lawyer, accountant, software engineer, pilot, nurse — no wait, fuck that — doctor (physician, to you), and, here’s one: biomedical engineer. How about sales director or vice president in charge of public relations? Yeah, I could do them but it would take some effort, because I’m not naturally a bullshit artist. I mean, I can turn on the charm with the best of them, the tips I get a week are one of the reasons I keep bartending. That’s different. I am truly nosy. Let’s see, other jobs. Physical therapist. Psychologist, you kidding? Yes, I can be a pharmacist. Real estate agent. Teacher. Hell, even a professor. 

Listen, bartending paid the bills, I lived right up the block, and I had two girls to raise. 

Now, though, my life’s about ready to begin. I’m going to get my GED, figure out what I really want to do, then go to college. 

Dad was right, but if I think about Antonio too much I get weepy and I can’t stand being weepy. That’s how finally I fell asleep that night. Trying not to be weepy.

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