Thursday, March 1, 2012

Free Lunch (Part 2)

After having lunch with my old high school chum and finding out that I was wrong about every prediction I made about her, I came home to process it all with Pat:

            “She cured AIDS and now she’s going to cure cancer,” I tell Pat, after putting Spence to bed.
            “I thought she was a softball player,” he says.
            “No.  That was what I predicted.  I predicted that she played softball on the weekends.  But she doesn’t.  On weekends, she flies to D.C. to fuck a judge.” 
            “Are you leaving something out?” Pat says. 
            Pat accuses me of leaving out huge gaps of information when I tell a story.  I disagree.  My brain just works differently than his.  He has a brain that can’t leap over things.  My brain jumps around, but in a logical fashion.  The things I leave out are the connectors – vital to Pat’s understanding of any narrative.  Connectors are boring.  They slow me down.  Connectors prevent me from leaping over the left lobe, grabbing a thought, and winding up with an epiphany. 
            “She’s a lobbyist who works in DC sometimes and her boyfriend is a judge,” I say.  The edge in my voice is a sure sign of my annoyance at having to slow down.  Now I have to stop and give information.  This isn’t what I want to talk about.
            “Ah,” says Pat, “I thought she was gay.”
            “Obviously not.  Since she has a boyfriend.”
            Pat gives me a look I know well.  He’s deciding how much further he wants to go with this.  He can tell I’m annoyed about something and he’s hoping it has nothing to do with him. 
            I flop on the couch, look out our smudged window, and sigh, “I have done absolutely nothing with my life.”
            Pat responds with a non-committal, “Ah.”
            The window needs to be cleaned.  I only notice it at this time of day, when the setting sun hits it at the right angle. 
“I can’t even clean my windows,” I say.  “I’ve lived here two years and I’ve cleaned them only once.”
“I see,” says Pat dubiously.  I know he doesn’t see.  I know he wants to ask what dirty windows have to do with having achieved nothing in my life. 
“Do you think I’m completely self-centered?” I ask.
Pat doesn’t answer. Time passes.  I hear the traffic outside and the drip of our leaky faucet in the bathroom.  I listen to the drip, drip, drip – as if it’s marking time.  All the time I’ve wasted.  Drip, drip, drip.  Time leaking through the loose seal of my best intentions.  Drip, drip, drip.
Pat’s chair squeaks.  I had forgotten, in the vortex of time wasted, that he was here. 
“I don’t think you’re any more self-involved than anyone else,” he says carefully.
“Oh God,” I say, “That means ‘yes’.  You think I’m completely self-involved.” 
Pat pushes his chair away from the desk, “I didn’t say that.  This is what you do.  You twist what I say.  I send the words out…” He mimes words floating out of his mouth, “and then you twist them.”  He grabs the invisible words with his fists and twists them, like he’s unscrewing something. 
“OK.  OK,” I say. “Everyone’s self-involved.  But shouldn’t I want to be a better person than that?”
“So far, I’ve got that better people cure cancer and have clean windows,” he says.
“I should be doing something,” I say, jumping off the couch.  “I should be making something, giving time to a shelter.  I should adopt someone”
“Great,” says Pat, “Go do it. If it’s adopting we may need more of a conference.”
I pace, “I should call a soup kitchen.”
“If this means so much to you, why haven’t you done it before?”
“You remember.  I’d make a phone call or go to a meeting and then, something would get in the way. I’d get a job.  Or, hell, I’d leave the country.  I could never stay focused.”  I drop to the couch again.  “Most of the time, I just forgot.  I’d get all geared up and then I’d forget.”
“You’d forget to save the world?”
“Right,” I say, feeling the familiar creep of defeat seeping into my bones.
Pat scoots his desk chair back up the computer and turns on the monitor again, “Sounds like you’ve got a ton of stuff to get through before you save the world.”
I hate Pat. 


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