Moodswing - Power Couple

I like a laboring man in leather gloves and goggles

It’s kind of hard to convince people you’re part of a power couple when your boyfriend is elbow deep into a toilet every morning. “You own this place,” I tell Keiger. “Isn’t there someone you can pay to clean the toilets?”

Keiger snaps off his rubber gloves. “I’m part-owner,” he corrects me. It’s true, I’m always leaving out the “part” part. “There are two other owners.”

“Ain’t no other owner here cleaning the toilets,” I say.

We’re at the Local the morning after what appears to have been an incredibly busy night, and the place smells like an ashtray eaten by somebody with bionic halitosis. Debris is littered everywhere, including the butts of about 8 million cigarettes, a truckload of french fries bonded to the floor under a crust of dried beer, and, oddly, one brightly colored Christmas tree skirt. No underwear, though. Not this time. By 5 o’clock, this entire place will be remarkably clean - not eat-off-the-floor clean, but clean-enough-to-want-to-come-back clean - a transformation that always amazes me. No matter how trashed the Local gets the night before - and believe me, I’ve seen it so bad they should have marked off the area with crime-scene tape - it’s always ready for business the next day.

Keiger himself cleans the toilets every morning because, he says, it’s the worst job in the place and he would not ask it of his employees. As his girlfriend, I consider it my duty to serve as a distraction by demanding he blow off work and come get coffee with me and Grant, but he rarely falls for it. I, though, have fallen for him. I must say I like a laboring man. A suit-and-tie guy with a cell phone fused to his fist does nothing for me except exacerbate my TMJ with yawns. But put that same guy in leather gloves and goggles and have him sand down a door or something, and I’ll be stuck to him like a love-sick squid. Still, though, there are certain standards to consider. We are now, after all, a power couple.

“This is not how a power couple behaves,” I complained to Lary later. Until now, Lary had no idea what a power couple was, and neither did I until someone told me that since Keiger is such a successful business owner and I am such a successful author, we are hereby allowed access into the roped-off areas at all those society events I’ve been receiving invitations to these days. Hence, I believe we have certain responsibilities. For example, I now plan to wash my work apron at least once a month, as opposed to my former regimen, which was never, and I might even actually wear my nametag, though I’d have to find it first. Keiger suggests I also put some effort into actually working, as opposed to all the effort I put into avoiding it, but I don’t want to go changing now that I’m all successful and shit.

“Really, what would people think?” I ask, but Lary is busy being unduly freaked about my possible power-couple standing. “Power couple, my ass,” Lary griped. “I will make certain that doesn’t happen.” He blathered about how he was gonna have to stage another drastic interruptive measure like he and Grant did two years ago when they held the “Hollis Gillespie Heifer Intervention Convention” because I’d gone and gained 30 pounds.Daniel mixed the Mimosas and all of them instructed our friends to bring Krispy Kreme, fried chicken, chocolate-covered butter sticks and any other fat-laden chow they could think of to help me celebrate my last communal wallow in slop before my mandatory starvation period set in. Everybody also came equipped with diet books. Lary brought a pair of pliers (“In case I need to wire your damn jaw shut”) and a website from which I could buy illegal amphetamines. People placed bets on how long it would take me to lose the weight. It took me 16 months. “Whew,” Grant said. “I was starting to worry you turned into a cow and were gonna stay that way.”

Today Grant is starting his new diet, which consists solely of cayenne pepper, lemon juice and midgrade maple syrup. It’s supposed to make him euphoric by the third day and hallucinating by the seventh, not to mention 20 pounds lighter. As the designer of my book covers, he wants to ensure he has a respectable appearance at the party Tuesday commemorating the launch of my second book. The other half of his own power-couple presence will be a small Mexican busboy, not the same one he brought last year, but close. Hence, Grant wants to fit back into his favorite ass-shaping, hazard-cone colored prison jumpsuit as soon as possible and at any cost.

“I’m having crazy dreams,” he reported of the diet’s effects. “Last night I dreamt neon blue rats were attacking our arms. Then my teeth fell out like piano keys, and then the Local fell a-fucking-part. The whole place just disintegrated and we couldn’t do anything to keep it together.”

“I’m not too worried about the Local,” I said, and I didn’t have to tell him why. It’s because Keiger is running the Local, and he is really good at keeping things from falling apart, me included. In fact, being held together by Keiger is one of my favorite ways to spend the day.

“C’mon!” I keep coaxing Keiger, “It’s a great afternoon! Let’s get out. We should make an appearance. We’re a power couple now.”

“Power couple, my ass,” he says, handing me a toilet brush. “I’ll make certain that doesn’t happen.”

Creative Loafing is sponsoring a party in honor of Hollis Gillespie’s new book, Confessions of a Recovering Slut, and Other Love Stories (Regan Books), from 7-10 p.m., Tues., June 28, at Paris on Ponce, 716 Ponce de Leon Ave.