The Suc­cess­ful Years

Hello Mr. Magazine - - GROW TO UNDERSTAND - By Kort Havens

Look in the mir­ror. Closer. Check your pores. Are there black­heads, sun dam­age, dried skin? These small light bulbs aren’t bright enough to re­ally see ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pen­ing there. Too many of the bulbs have burned out. Inch closer to the mir­ror now. Are the bags un­der your eyes big­ger? Darker? Damn. They are. Haven’t been sleep­ing well? Those drinks last night were a bad idea. It was a Wed­nes­day night. You can’t keep drink­ing like that on the week­days. Put some ice on the bags. It should help tighten the skin a bit. It helps a lit­tle, but not as much as you’d hoped it would. You smile at your re­flec­tion. Wrin­kles frame your eyes. You stop smil­ing, but the wrin­kles don’t fade. You pinch the loos­ened skin un­der your chin. There’s a pang in your stomach.

The bright UV bulbs flash on all around you. An in­stantly en­velop­ing ar­ti­fi­cial warmth. Ev­ery­thing has a strange glow through your gog­gles. You never get used to these tan­ning beds even af­ter more than a hun­dred times. To the right side of your head, the timer ticks down from ten min­utes. Should it have been set for that long? That cream should build a nat­u­ral tan glow rather than a tan­ger­ine hue. You promised yourself you were go­ing to quit tan­ning. Me­lanoma would be worse than pale skin. Your mind wan­ders to the scene from that hor­ror film where a young girl is trapped in a tan­ning bed and dies by the hand of a shad­owy stranger. The clock counts down.

You’re at work now: aw­ful, ter­ri­ble, soul-smoth­er­ing work. You think back to be­fore 2008. You were al­ready work­ing at the bank then. It was be­fore the mar­ket col­lapsed. It was be­fore people be­gan blam­ing the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try for the mess the global econ­omy is now fac­ing. Was it bet­ter then? Your mind wan­ders as you click through the daily fi­nan­cial re­ports for your depart­ment. The bonuses were higher back then. They used to fly you out to re­sorts once a year to cel­e­brate quar­ters when you hit your quo­tas. Las Ve­gas was de­cent. Hawaii was bet­ter. Dis­ney World, though? How many adults re­ally want to go to Or­lando, Florida to be trapped in a chil­dren’s amuse­ment park for team meet­ings? Or­lando is a shit­hole. The nightlife was prac­ti­cally non-ex­is­tent. What was that gay club you went to? The Par­lia­ment House? You smile think­ing about how hor­ri­bly great the drag show by the pool was. A gi­gan­tic trio of per­form­ing ladies lip-syncs poorly to Whit­ney Hous­ton and dances in shock­ingly high heels. The ag­ing mo­tel had been con­verted into a sort of gay com­pound years ago. Where fam­i­lies on va­ca­tion once lounged around the pool, hun­dreds of men now crowd each other with one hand wrapped around a mixed drink while the other grabs at some­one else. House mu­sic and strobe lights di­late your pupils.

“Your beer is empty!” He shouts over the mu­sic while hand­ing you a bot­tle of cold beer. You open the bot­tle and nod your head while shout­ing some sort of thanks back. His smile seems gen­uine. You don’t move away from him and back to your co­work­ers like you nor­mally would. Hair falls down onto his fore­head as ev­ery­thing is sat­u­rated in the muggy Florid­ian night. Your mind would have re­mem­bered get­ting into a taxi later that night, spend­ing ev­ery free minute with him that weekend, open­ing up to some­one who was lit­tle more than a stranger, and sur­pris­ingly feel­ing the loss of some­thing at the air­port when your work con­fer­ence in Florida ended, but that is all cut short when your monster of a boss bel­lows for you to join ev­ery­one for the weekly meet­ing of as­so­ciates. He tells you there’s a sur­prise for you in the meet­ing. It’s your five-year an­niver­sary with the com­pany and they have a to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for your ser­vice. It’s a con­grat­u­la­tory cer­tifi­cate signed by the CEO and a sil­ver pen with the in­scrip­tion, “To many more suc­cess­ful years.” Kort Havens spends his life in Seat­tle try­ing his hand at pho­tog­ra­phy, writ­ing, film pro­duc­tion, in­ter­view­ing strangers, and eat­ing. He can some­times be found swal­low­ing up some lib­eral pro­pa­ganda @KortHavens.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.