Karmic Relations

Dating, gossip, and other spiritual matters.

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I was raised a Catholic. I went to church every Sunday, religious education every Wednesday, and ice cream socials every summer. These days I've lapsed, which basically means that I can't get out of bed on Sundays. I want to, I do, but it is just physically impossible.

This, I've found, makes me more open to other religions. One Friday, my friend and I were hopping from restaurant to restaurant, hoping that somewhere had a wait less than three hours long. Eventually, we were seated so far in a corner that our waitress had to use a mirror on a stick to take our orders. Needless to say (as I did not have a mirror on a stick), scoping out the other diners for possible dates was out of the question. So my friend and I had to resort to talking instead.

After an hour or so, our food was still lost in the kitchen and we had run out of her gossip, my gossip, celebrity gossip, and political gossip and had resorted to talking about spiritual matters: in particular, dating karma. If you cheat, love too much, love too little, or lie, does it come back to you in kind?

Now, if that's the rule of the universe, I'm in trouble. It's not that I've been a raging bitch to my past likes, loves, and lusts, it's just that, well, I have icewater in my veins. And that can't bode well with karma.

After dinner, my friend headed off to hang out with her boyfriend (obviously her karma is much better than mine. But what can I say? She's Hindu, so it's more her bag), and I sauntered off to the Hi-Tone to drink a beer and listen to a band. I was ignoring everyone in the crowd until a man directly behind me tried to get my attention. I turned and raised my hand and hit him in the face.

(Last time this happened I was at Young Avenue Deli and the guy trying to talk to me was rather intoxicated, the music was rather loud, and as he came in close to yell something witty in my ear, the bill of his cap hit me in the eye. And it hurt, so I raised my hand, ostensibly to keep my eyeball from falling out, and instead slapped him across the face, and that was the end of that.)

But this guy wasn't fazed and offered to buy me a drink. I could say it was a nice gesture, but I would just be saying that to make myself look good. He looked a bit older than me and he had that smooth sort of veneer that makes me cringe. Plus, I already had a beer, so I excused myself. Okay, I didn't really excuse myself; I just turned around and walked away.

The next day I was out walking my dog around my apartment building. Now there happens to be this cute guy who lives in the building. And let me just say for the record, I am not stalking him. I haven't changed my daily routine or used binoculars or gone through his trash.

But I am keeping an eye on him. The importance of face time should never be underestimated. If someone doesn't know you're alive, it's very difficult to get busy with said person.

So I'm in the parking lot with little Fluffy and there he is, cute apartment guy, bearing down upon us.

"Can I pet your puppy?" he asked.

My puppy is friendlier than Kathie Lee Gifford on speed. She regularly throws her entire body upon my neighbors; she has french-kissed my postman; she has french-kissed me. There was no way this guy was getting out of petting her, not when he was within leash range. But I couldn't tell him that.

I couldn't tell him that, because suddenly I had forgotten how to speak. Nothing would come out. Not "She'd love that." Not "Go right ahead." Not "Yes."

No, I just stood there, in my sweatshirt and early Saturday morning makeup (read: makeup left over from Friday night) and smiled weakly.

Finally, after an unusually long silence (I'm not kidding about this; he probably thought I was mute) I blurted out, "Didn't you used to drive a blue car?" Immediately I thought, Damn. Now he's going to think I'm stalking him. Which, as I have said before, I'm not.

"Yeah, I just bought that one last week," he said and gestured behind him. Meanwhile my mind is racing:Tell him you're a journalist. Tell him you're trained in observation. Tell him you have a photographic memory. Tell him something!

But what did I say? "Oh, I thought you had just repainted it."

Well, that pretty much ruined the moment, and he went his way and I went mine. It might have just been my own ineptitude. But there's that other option: Should I take this as a sign that karma does exist? Because he's cute, but he isn't that cute. Certainly not speechless, tongue-swollen-in-mouth cute.

I guess from here on I'm going to try an experiment: I'm going to actually try and be nice to people. It's going to take a lot of work, but it's been something my mother has been saying I need to do for years. And if it comes back to me in kind, well, I might think about converting. Then again, would that mean I'd have to get up on Sundays? Because, like I said, I just can't do it.

Read the latest installment of Falling into Disgraceland Fridays at www.memphisflyer.com.

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