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Awakening Forever - 31. Chapter 31

Chapter 31

After my haircut, I was starving. I headed up a level to a place called P.F. Chang’s. It was an Asian fusion restaurant Mary had told me about–her bridge club went there once a month and boozed it up over fried wontons and sushi. I was hoping they had more standard Chinese fare. I didn’t like the idea of sushi.

I was seated right away and my waiter, a rather heavy-set middle-aged man named Harold, brought me an iced tea. Harold had a receding hairline and probably looked ten years older than he actually was. But he was very friendly and took my order for chicken lettuce wraps and Mongolian beef with a smile before departing for another table.

As he walked away, I caught myself mentally judging the man for his appearance, and I silently chastised myself. I had made the mistake of spending my whole life thinking I could never be good or do good because I was gay. And now, if I was being honest, I was making the same mistake by thinking Harold wasn’t as good as maybe another waiter, simply because he was heavier and balding. The size of a man’s belly or how much hair was on his head didn’t make him good or bad, anymore than who he had sex with. It was what was in his heart that counted. I just lost two thirds of the hair on my head. I didn’t suddenly become worthless.

I was thinking about that when Harold brought my lettuce wraps and started mixing a special sauce at the table–soy, mustard, and red chili paste. It was delicious. He seemed to really enjoy what he was doing.

“Hey, Harold. Can I ask you a question? Is being a waiter a hard job?” I said. He paused a minute and thought about it before answering.

“Well, I suppose it’s like this. The hardest part of any job is knowing what is expected of you, then deciding you are going to always exceed those expectations. It would be easy to say all I do is take orders and sling food at people. But that’s not how I see it. I’m here to help you have an enjoyable experience around the food. I don’t cook it but I’m its voice, its attitude, its human side.”

“Wow. I never thought of it like that, but it makes sense. Thanks. And may I say, you do a very fine job. I could see the great attitude immediately when I sat down. I appreciate it.” He smiled and went back to cleaning tables. He was still smiling when I paid my bill later and left him a big tip. I wrote a note on the receipt, “Keep up the great work, Harold! I loved my meal, Jack”.

My head was fixed, my stomach was full, now I needed to finish my shopping. I still needed underwear and maybe a few new work shirts and pants, if I could find those. That would be a good thing, too.

The next stop was Hugo Boss. I saw the underwear display from the entrance and had to go in, even if just to lust after the nearly naked torsos on the covers of the boxes. I picked up several boxes, pretending I was deciding on what style I wanted, but really I was just trying to see if they fully airbrushed the pictures or if you could see the outline of their dicks in the underwear. On some of them, you could. Hot.

I knew I wouldn’t look as good in them as the models on the box but I really did need underwear and I wasn’t picky. I knew I wanted boxer briefs and I preferred darker colors, mostly black. I had given up tighty whiteys in college. They had boxes of three, so I got three boxes in my size–medium according to the chart of the back. They were all black, which was cool. One less decision every day.

I hadn’t seen it when I first came in but directly across from Abercrombie & Fitch was an Apple Store. I decided to check it out. I was curious about iPads. I had no work use for one so I never asked Marcus to buy one for me to use at the office. And of course, I never had the budget personally so none for home either. But my apartment complex did have WiFi. The owners added it a year ago as part of a rent increase of only ten bucks a month. Not much for high speed internet.

The store was crowded so I almost didn’t go in. But this cute little Indian girl asked me if she could help me find something and naturally I started up with her. In just a few minutes, we had narrowed my choice down to the latest iPad for WiFi in black. She upsold me some additional accessories–an iHome box so I could play music at the apartment, a carrying case and a screen protector kit. She had suggested a stylus, but that didn’t seem necessary to me. The best part is she set it all up for me right there in the store so I wouldn’t have to connect it to a computer at work to do it. I’m sure I could have figured it out, but I didn’t want to have to explain the iPad at work.

I exited the Apple Store, further weighed down, arms aching from carrying all my goodies. But I was determined to finish strong. I spied the J. Crew store across the way. They had men’s dress shirts in the window and a cute girl waved to me when I looked at her. That was odd–most girls just ignored me like I was invisible. What was odder still was the even cuter Hispanic guy standing three steps behind her, looking at me the same way. I figured I better go see about their shirts.

Kylie, according to her name tag, flipped her curly blond hair behind her ear and smiled, greeting me.

“Welcome to J. Crew. How may I...”

“I’ve got this, Kylie. Can you help Samantha with folding those shirts over there? Thanks, love.” I watched as Kylie shrugged her shoulders, smiled again at me and nearly skipped over to Samantha, who looked anything but happy folding shirts and putting them back according to the size order on the display table.

“So how can I help you? My name is Jesse, by the way.” He stuck out his light brown hand and I shook it, thinking this was a rather personal greeting. But maybe that’s how they did things at J. Crew. Every store has a different angle to get you to part with your money. His black hair was cut very short next to his scalp with a matching amount of beard showing all over. It was a sexy look to say the least.

“Hello, Jesse, I’m Jack. Nice to meet you. I was looking for some dress shirts for work. Maybe some nicer pants. You know, office casual. Nothing super fancy. We usually wear Dockers and buttoned shirts with collars.”

“Sure thing, Jack. We’ve got lots to choose from in the back area. Follow me.” So I did. And I was rewarded with an ass that filled his pants like they had two cheek holders sewn in, perfectly proportioned to his measurements. A thing of beauty. The pants were a dark blue textured material and looked very expensive. I wanted some. And I wanted my ass to look that good in them.

Jesse was friendly and helpful but not flirty. I didn’t push it. I can usually tell when a guy is into it and he wasn’t. He was just really good at his job. And I mean really good. By the time I got out of there, I had five new work shirts and five new pairs of pants, including the blue ones Jesse was modeling, although my ass probably wasn’t nearly as spectacular as his in them. But it wasn’t bad either. Just as we were walking up to the registers, I saw a sports coat hanging on a mannequin. It was a charcoal gray, almost black, and it looked casual and sophisticated displayed over a light blue work shirt and the same blue pants I was buying. I wanted it.

Jesse helped me find the right size, and to my good fortune, it fit really well off the rack, no tailoring needed. He said that hardly ever happens, that I’d be a fool not to take it. Yeah, I’ll bet.

By this time, I had stopped thinking about the money. After you spend one hundred fifty dollars on shampoo and conditioner, you clearly have no financial scruples anymore. So when Jesse rang up the bill and swiped my Centurion card, I didn’t even look at the receipt. I had people for that.

I had no more room in my hands for packages so it was time to go home. I needed a nap and time to process what had happened today. Until I was out the door, I was determined to do only window shopping and guy cruising.

But of course, if you go window shopping with money in your pocket, you’re probably going to end up buying something. I was in the home stretch and walked in front of the TUMI luggage store. There was the coolest Arrivè Briefcase in the window. It was calling out to me, “Buy me, Jack, please, please,” like a puppy who wanted a new home. I had to go in and check it out. Then I saw the matching luggage and that was it. Time to retire the trusted duffel bag. I bought a Zurich large bag, an Orly carry-on piece, the briefcase and something called a Barajas Dopp Kit for my toiletries. No more plastic baggies for this traveler.

Thankfully, they said they had to order it all, so I did not have to figure out how to carry it home. It would be shipped within two days to my apartment. There was no rush, I had no plans to go anywhere anytime soon. I didn’t even have a passport.

As I drove home in the afternoon gloom, stealing looks at myself in the rearview mirror at every stop light like some narcissistic nimrod, I kept thinking about the crazy day I just had. I met some great people, got some great new clothes, a new hairdo and some cool luggage to carry it all in. Where to, I had no idea. Yet.

I didn’t even know what I was going to do about my job. What do I tell Marcus and Mary about the last few days? Do I say anything? They’re going to take one look at me and know something had changed. I didn’t know so I decided to pull a Scarlett O’Hara and think about that tomorrow. For now, it was time to go home and play with my new purchases. And maybe with myself a little bit. Damn, that Andy was hot stuff.

Copyright © 2017 Jack Schaeffer; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

JayT

Posted (edited)

Question.....Who's Andy???

Edited by JayT
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12 minutes ago, JayT said:

Question.....Who's Andy???

Dude from A&F that helped him buy jeans in chapter 29. 

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Just now, DarkChanteuse said:

Dude from A&F that helped him buy jeans in chapter 29. 

Oh okay....now I remember....oops

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5 minutes ago, JayT said:

Oh okay....now I remember....oops

LOL. The dangers of publishing a chapter at a time :)

 

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"So when Jesse rang up the bill and swiped my Centurion card, I didn’t even look at the receipt. I had people for that."

 

Great line, well written.

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An excellent last few chapters.  I am a firm believer in shopping therapy when I am down.  If I had that kind of money I don't think I could control myself like that though. Thanks Jack. 

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Oh yeah, the last few chapters definitely show Jack growing and assimilating into his new life.  

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1 hour ago, glennish said:

An excellent last few chapters.  I am a firm believer in shopping therapy when I am down.  If I had that kind of money I don't think I could control myself like that though. Thanks Jack. 

But Jack doesn’t see it that way. He sees his shopping trip as a day gone wild! He thinks he didn’t control himself! He’s used to shopping for clothes at that unAmerican Arkansas-based big-box store.

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Jack’s cheap old shoes are going to look out of place with all the new stuff!  ;-)

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I loved the shopping spree an me day jack had. Although I think my fave was Andy.

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3 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

I loved the shopping spree an me day jack had. Although I think my fave was Andy.

I LOVE re-reading the bit with Andy. I can't believe I wrote that scene or the one with Saint Nick. It's just not me, but it I guess down inside it is? Ha Ha.

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Hey readers - thank you so much for all the love over these "shopping trip" chapters. From the beginning, I've often wondered if they were too "off topic" with the drama of the story, but then again, as many of you point out, Jack has to have SOME response to sudden millions, and his very measured actions (and inner doubts) make it fun and I think realistic. I would probably go for the 747 myself :P

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Curious as to whether he'll rock the new duds at work come Monday. You know that's gonna bring up questions he won't want to answer since he has had an outfit a day for a while... hmm

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The line "I have people for that" was priceless! It made me chuckle, but I did wonder where it came from. It seems so un-Jack. Maybe it's the new, awakening Jack. Thanks for more shopping fun!

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1 hour ago, JeffreyL said:

The line "I have people for that" was priceless! It made me chuckle, but I did wonder where it came from. It seems so un-Jack. Maybe it's the new, awakening Jack. Thanks for more shopping fun!

One of the fun things about writing "Jack" is that he is very complex underneath his simple, straightforward exterior. He doesn't always do the expected thing. I "hear" him say things in my head and I'm like, "Okay, if that's what you want." And I write it down. Always a new discovery with this one.

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Well fiddle-dee-dee, these are my favorite chapters!! I find Saint Nick to be such a riot, I always wished that I'd find a barber/stylist that would just take control and completely redo my style that way. Andy was great for Jack's ego - something he definitely needs boosted a bit.

 

My favorite things about this shopping trip are the subtle changes we're starting to see in Jack. He's exhibiting a bit more self-confidence and the beginnings of comfort with his new reality. In an earlier comment Jack (our author) mentioned a concern that this trip felt out of place, I believe that it is a transition scene that starts moving Jack from his old, sheltered, life to whatever his new direction and adventures will be. I found this to be a necessary metamorphosis point in the story signifying Jack's (unconscious) acceptance of the changes in his life and what they will mean going forward. Hence why I've been looking forward to these chapters and hold them so dear - beautifully written, and so important in the overall scheme.

Edited by phoenix_0826
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It's no good I'm now starting forever again from the beginning and its all your fault!😂 sleep who needs it when you have forever ......

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34 minutes ago, Daveh said:

It's no good I'm now starting forever again from the beginning and its all your fault!😂 sleep who needs it when you have forever ......

I am literally laughing out loud right now. Thank you for this. Sorry about the loss of sleep...not!

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1 hour ago, phoenix_0826 said:

Well fiddle-dee-dee, these are my favorite chapters!! I find Saint Nick to be such a riot, I always wished that I'd find a barber/stylist that would just take control and completely redo my style that way. Andy was great for Jack's ego - something he definitely needs boosted a bit.

 

My favorite things about this shopping trip are the subtle changes we're starting to see in Jack. He's exhibiting a bit more self-confidence and the beginnings of comfort with his new reality. In an earlier comment Jack (our author) mentioned a concern that this trip felt out of place, I believe that it is a transition scene that starts moving Jack from his old, sheltered, life to whatever his new direction and adventures will be. I found this to be a necessary metamorphosis point in the story signifying Jack's (unconscious) acceptance of the changes in his life and what they will mean going forward. Hence why I've been looking forward to these chapters and hold them so dear - beautifully written, and so important in the overall scheme.

Thank you so much. One of the things I love about writing is seeing the work through the eyes of readers. They often tell me so much more about the work than I realize myself, which is weird and wonderful at the same time. I love writing!

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Marvelous chapters, especially for us shopaholics..:P But I'm in total agreement with droughtquake...how the hell is he going to rock all his expensive, hot clothes in his old but goody Thrift shoes??? And now Nosey Mary is going to have a seizure just trying to figure out what's going on in Jack's life...he should have stopped an bought her a life of her own during his shopping spree...just sayin..,:rolleyes:  :worship:

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2 hours ago, Onim said:

Marvelous chapters, especially for us shopaholics..:P But I'm in total agreement with droughtquake...how the hell is he going to rock all his expensive, hot clothes in his old but goody Thrift shoes??? And now Nosey Mary is going to have a seizure just trying to figure out what's going on in Jack's life...he should have stopped an bought her a life of her own during his shopping spree...just sayin..,:rolleyes:  :worship:

Jack has always been frugal, but smart. I bet his shoes are all from DSW during their amazing clearance events so somehow our boy was always rocking some hot footwear and now the rest of his clothes finally match! :wizard:

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Great shopping spree chapters, but why was Pretty Women theme song in my head lol I was just waiting on someone to treat him cruel and he whip out his card... LOL :lol:

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