a carapace for this irredeemably querulous nature

I step out of the office and into the hall for an hors d’oeurve taste of corridor’d freedom, industrial-carpeted and fluorescent, tans and grays and whitishes with a texture at once abrasive and numbing, unsatisfying like a tease of a snack on a toothpick that’s been sitting out too long but is better than no food a’tall, and head to the men’s room.

He’s in there again, turning from a urinal and zipping up, and my heart does that sinking thing because I don’t know everything but I know what’s coming, and I want to rush over and clap my hand over his stupid mouth before either of us can make the human people word sounds, maybe just choke him out and be done with it, then drag the body to the back corner stall, whistling elfish and cheerful while I wash my hands and walk out like nothing happened because nothing did, just a little murder.

But I’m already speaking, before the anticipation and the thought form an action, homicidal or otherwise, and a single Howyuhdoin slips out of a mouth I thought was under my control. WELL THANKS HOW ARE YOU, his voice booms, clear and commercial, a parody of our unfortunate ability to locute, all enunciation and no heart like the words are big wooden blocks he’s arranged with infantile pride in some inchoate effort at communication, and I’m furious at the futility of being soft-spoken and hard-thought in a world full of empty-headed broadcasters so I kick his stupid fucking blocks all over the place and say I’m good.

My only wish is to evaporate so I stand there and hold rabbit-style still watching him without breathing in case that’s how that happens, thinking there’s strength in non-doing, weakness sometimes in action. It does not—quite. He looks at me quizzically and I wonder if he knows how to spell that, with all those z’s and l’s and such, because I always thought it had just one “z” the way “kat” only has one “t.” He probably does, because no one but a good speller could SPEAK IN SUCH NICE WORD BLOCKS and no one but a broadcaster could manage to look quizzically at another being without even a shred of a hint of curiosity, only an otherer’s sense of abnormality sensed and I’m at least placated for a moment, standing there motionless, staring, blinkless, my mouth slightly open, physiognomy frozen. I’ve got him cornered as a kat, door behind me, man against man.

But he breaks the spell and steps up to the sink and begins to roll up his cuffs. I abscond to a stall where I sit on the latrine to use it as a perch from which to watch him through the crack in the stall door. He talks into the mirror as he washes his hands and inspects his visage, talks about sports or the weather or politics or something, something immediate and mundane and I flush the toilet over the little deluge of nihility cascading from his facial orifice, imagining his words getting sucked down the drain.

Have you considered therapy, I ask, cutting him off. Honestly, for a year I was completely mental. The cost, the trouble of finding a decent therapist. What a nightmare.

Yeah, he says with utter dispassion.

Yeah, this is a nightmare, I think, contemplating the décor—all beige-brown, but almost warm-seeming, like someone who cares but has no taste. I stand, lift my trousers, zip and button them, fasten my belt, flip the latch, and open the door. He’s drying his hands with those sandpaper towels, facing the room’s far wall, the back of his dress shirt wrinkled and crinkled from all day in a desk chair with no breatheabilityness.

Oh, excuse me. You were talking. That’s what I say.

Oh, you’re fine, he says, without turning around.

You’re fine is something people say when other people apologize but it sounds less like acceptance and more like giving someone permission to exist, I think. Anyway, I said I was good, not fine.

Have you ever read Foucault’s History of Madness, I ask him in italics.

Foo-calt, he inquires?

Yes, Foo-calt, I say. It’s all in there.

What is?

Everything, all of it. You should pick it up sometime. But just open it, and be sure to do so in public, so people know you’re smart. Otherwise there’s no point.

He smiles, and I see him smiling because he’s facing me now and I’m facing him and it’s just like it was a few moments before, before I dashed into the stall for cover from a threat that didn’t seem to have the first clue that it was threating. He’s facing me but he’s not looking at me, still, again. Well, he’s looking at me but it’s as if he’s not seeing anything and I think of something Dany Laferrière said in an interview about being homeless—because he was once—about being looked straight through like it’s something people have always seen, with compassion, perhaps, but without the slightest surprise or recognition. I suppose it’s all in how we experience, how we choose.

Still smiling, he says alright, sounds good, and makes a move to walk past me and leave as if some manner of routine continuance would reestablish normalcy and what do I do but smash it all to bits by initiating the people-passing dance and stepping in the same direction.

Excuse me, he says. Shifting to the other side.

You’re fine, I say, sliding myself in front of him again. Right, left, right. I swear a brain circuit shorts and tiny puffs of smoke emit from his ears. He looks me in the eye, uncomfortable, perplexed, futilely soliciting an explanation like a dog when you take its toy away and hide it behind your back. It knows it’s there, somewhere, but isn’t too sure what you’ve done with it.

Ah, you see me now, don’t you, you fucker. But I don’t say that; I just look back, returning the perplexity, thinking yes, I see, this is the way to be visible.


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala earlier today.

predestination uncertain

Dream one. At a crowded beach on a warm, sunny day, big puffy white clouds in the sky that eventually overtook the sun, leaving its warmth behind but dimming the glare and gleam. With a few people, trying to decide if we should wait for the sun to return or be on our way. Cars were parked in a grass lot nearby, packed in. It was breezy and bustling, and felt like the kind of day when something might happen, relaxed but unsettled. I got up and left without a word.

Dream two, three days later. The sea again, but another beach, another time, in fact. Wider, broader, longer, slower. More space, more sand, more sky, more horizon, less severe and far fewer people. The sea was calm, blue, and shimmering and the hot sun poured down as if fixed in the sky high above and slightly out over the sea as if it had nowhere else to be. “It will sit there, right there in that spot all day,” I thought, “and nothing will change.”

I approached the shadowed side of a dark brick building, low with a gently slanting roof and a wide central corridor with iron gates open wide and fastened back against the brick. The kind of seaside building with bathrooms and lockers and vending machines. I approached the entry, the far end of the corridor framing the ocean like a painting, and found an information desk set back in a dark recess of the inner wall to my left. From the obscurity behind the desk emerged the dark, wrinkled face of an old man like an eel from its hiding place. I asked him a question and his response was kind and measured, something about where to swim. I wanted to get in the water but felt uncertain. In calm, unhurried tones, he told me where to go and I thanked him. He receded into his cave, shoulders, face, and, finally, eyes, and I continued through the corridor toward the sunlit beach, made a right, and set out along the dunes.

After a short trudge through soft, hot sand that burned the tops of my feet as they sank in, I came upon the end of a small, narrow inlet, so shallow and still that the water was transparent, about thirty yards from the waves’ innermost reaches. The inlet was not completely cut off from the tide, and the far-out waves caused occasional ripples on the pool’s surface. There was no one nearby, but I could see people out in the water, some walking through the flat, wet sand by the wavebreaks with children, some alone, some farther inland laying on towels or reclining in beach chairs. The sun radiated. The lightly roiling sea glistened and no one had a face. All was illumination, nearly blinding illumination.

I was carrying something, a bag or a box of some sort, and I set it down near the small pool, keeping it close. Then I stepped into the shallow water, only about thigh deep, and lay myself down, supine, trying to submerge all but my face in that tiny bit of water like it was a bathtub. Floating like that, I used my hands against the bottom to walk myself down the inlet a bit, out toward the sea and the waves, but the channel became too shallow and narrow for me to proceed any further. I could taste the salt water on my lips and noticed that I had forgotten what the ocean tasted like, it had been so long.

I drifted back to shimmering pool where I’d left my burden and got out, dripping. I walked back up the beach toward the brick building, hugging the grassy dunes. A faceless man ambling in the opposite direction asked me if it was nice in a tongue that I recognized but did not feel was my own. I nodded an affirmative, assuming he meant the water, and continued on my way.

Later, I found myself high up in a large building on the shore, standing before a wall of windows and gazing out at the spectacular oceanside panorama, down past the brick building, past the snaking dunes, into forever. A voice said “See? It’s coming,” and pulled me from my trance. The voice became a man standing beside me, pointing up the coast to my left at a mass of gray-black clouds bearing down on us, slowly, deliberately billowing and bulging and churning and consuming the luminescence all around. “Just in time,” I thought, as if the word were etched across the darkness, “good thing I didn’t go out any farther.”

Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala. Dreams are from August 2014.


Around two o’clock in the afternoon on a bright and chilly Chicago Thursday, a man in a black wool overcoat, scarf, and leather gloves walks into my bookstore and begins to browse without so much as a hint of acknowledgement that another human being is present. So I, sitting behind the cluttered, lifeworn counter on my faux-oak perch of a stool, return the favor and pay him no nevermind.

All I notice, out of my dispassionate peripherals, is that he browses the tables at the front by the big windows and the scuffed wood floor creaks in spots beneath him, alerting me to his movements as I settle back into minding my own business and withdraw all but the slightest investment of attention in his whereabouts and doings.

The recent bestsellers, the latest arrivals, the used and rare—I hear each pause, each shift of weight. After a few minutes of pauses and weight shifts he settles into the old leather sofa against the far brick wall and I glance up to see that he holds open a used copy of The Captive Mind we’d recently acquired from a university student purging her required readings from the winter quarter. The cover and about a third of its pages are curled back and held fast and firm by the four fingers of his right hand, while his invisible thumb steadies the arrangement like a prop. I wonder what page he’s on, as if knowing would afford me some trace of insight into the nature and quality of the moment, some sense of his intentions. He seems less concerned with the big questions, though, as he does with seeming to seem concerned, skimming page after page with an air of thoroughly mastered nonchalance. He could look right at me.

But he does not, and I politely resume ignoring him, though my eyes continue to dart his way every few every few page turns, merely because he’s there, merely because it makes me wonder why I feel the need for our mere moment to be about something, why I feel that couch was not placed there for sitting but merely to signify an invitation to sit which no one in their right mere mind would merely accept. This is a store, motherfucker. And I am here, minding my business.

On one of these darts our eyes meet and he speaks without disrupting his situation in the slightest, lifting his gaze but not his head. “It’s ok, I’m a writer,” he says, reading right through me and turning the whole thing upside down. I say nothing, only stare, more into myself than at him. Only those words. Only that glance, then back to the page. Only in Chicago, I think.

Only in Chicago would two complete strangers sharing nothing but an ordinary corner of our concrete and commercial cosmos operate so instinctively on the verysame wavelength of reckoning and exchange, acutely aware of any attendant incongruities and what their amelioration might could perhaps probably entail. I mean cost. In NY or LA, since no other cities really matter here anyway, he might could perhaps probably be permitted to sit in that couch untroubled for hours, reading peacefully without anyone second-thinking or double-taking beyond, perhaps, vaguely ogle-wondering who “he is,” leaving him quite free from peniurious eyes subconsciously peeling his off the page to request the sort of explanation sought by mine: what are you doing and what do you want, fishing for intent, grasping for purchase.

Only in Chicago would we both with an innate transactional sensibility recognize that this establishment was no library or park but, in fact, a business. Only there would never be a writer in Chicago, not only a writer, so I keep my narrowed eyes upon him, whoever he thinks “he is” because there’s no one here but us, all of us feeding the monster, outsiders first.

the man (with the hat)

This is the first quarter or so of a story I more or less finally finished the other day. It’s mainly about judgment and projections, I think.

Of course she’s sweet about it, handing mister plump and dumpy the grey newsboy cap he’d dropped a moment ago from the upper level of the train car and waddled down the narrow twist of too-shallow steps to retrieve, draped in his mauve trenchcoat with the vague, shapeless presumption of slacks falling over scuffed and dismal black dress shoes as featureless as Joe Christmas’s brogans, nebulous man on a mission and I hate him like some kind of pudgy past self crowding pushing into now, this flashbacked possible impossible me. Oh impossible me.

I see him all the time, all the fucking time, waiting on the open-air platform in that hat and coat and featureless fucking material and dress brogans for the 5:15 back to the city, doughy and pale and red-nosed, looking like a pile of burdens, like burdensomeness itself, standing with that leaned-back posture of too much belly and too little backbone, sucking on a vaporizer and emitting wispy aroma clouds that smell suspiciously of air freshener. Every day, every fucking day, sipping in regular intervals from tall cans of cheap beer held firmly by sausage fingers with unsuitably elongated, almond-shaped tips and his thin, dark red lips, almost bruised plum purple and shaded by a narrow, bushy gray-brown Hitleresque mustache, reach out to grasp the rim of his beer cans like giraffe lips tempted by acacia. I wonder where he lives, what he does for a living, how he behaves in his natural habitat and what they feed him. It bothers me deeply that we ride the same train to anywhere, ever.

He carries a thermal lunchbox, a plastic bag of backup tallboys, and a shoulder-strapped kind of briefcase or satchel or something, surely full of papers, business papers, I presume. Or maybe it’s empty and just lugged around for legitimacy, his self-awareness in a handbag. Everything is kind of, almost, sort of, or something; he’s a big mound of imprecision and indefiniteness, and I can’t help thinking he’d be useless in an emergency or devoured in the wild. It’s strange, you know, strange how strange is so often a thing I say, of all people me, strange how we develop something as strong as hatred for a complete stranger brought into our orbit by nothing more than dumb circumstance and the faculty of sight. We fall in love this way, I guess, but that’s almost stranger, stranger.

It’s dark when the train arrives, early evening.

Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala.


We’re moving to Paris, we said to each other in astonishment about where we were. Only where we were was London and it was bleak and gray and confusing and I was trying to make sense of the subterranean rail system as if I’d never been anywhere before, let alone there. The map on the small screen in my hand was moving around like the carpet in the hotel lobby in Fear and Loathing. The film. I don’t remember what the carpet did in the book, because whatever it did was in my imagination and that was years ago.

Ali Smith commented on the suicides that take place each year on the north line out of King’s Cross, I recalled, aloud, as if that’d help us navigate and we maneuvered like two lost fish, our foreignness silvery and glinting amidst the hurried throngs, side by side and single file, slant formation, a desperately rhyming dance of happenstance through crowds and corridors and around corners and finally up some stairs at the top of which we emerged into noncommittal daylight and stepped our way past a woman with such judgment in her eyes she stood out from the blur and we couldn’t help but notice her glaring harshness and contempt like we were about to walk some plank and she knew it and enjoyed not telling us with her mouth, only her look.

We left her behind us like so much else but carried her look along and felt heavier for it, stepping out onto a walkway under construction or re- at the edge of a wide bridge high up some few hundred feet over a green-black river I thought shouldn’t have a name but surely did and was speckled with all manner of vessels going this way and that and lined by tall mirror and gunmetal buildings rising from its foam and filth banks. I noticed that part of our path consisted of a vehicle-sized rectangle of steel of the sort they lay awkwardly over giant potholes or trenches cut temporarily through streets for the laying of pipe or power only this had nothing beneath it but a long drop into that terrible water. We took our first halting steps with my mind full of wondering why we couldn’t simply stop, sit, and think this over… And that’s where the story begins, always.


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala.


A fellow called Chris Knapp in The Paris Review, not me. Maybe I should tweet about it, so we both get some attention. And there again’s that jealousy. But it’s really not, not for talent, at least. No, only for its rewarded absence. In that offense does the injustice lie. This Knapp fellow’s talent isn’t absent, it’s abundant, at least in this instance, making me almost afraid to read anything of his else, else that sense be tarnished the way the wrong reader—reading aloud—can undermine a story or the way a new person can start off fine and then spoil themselves. Till we get used to it.

Thought and form of near-Proustian endurance, I’d call the writing, Knapp’s, in partial mimicry, and I think of a should. I should write that story, with a similar pace and cadence, of that day, a single day made from many, that day on the subway deep down dark underground, observative, inquiring, mind absently hyper-aware, of the woman—thin, not tall, heading home from work—who told the young boy of let’s say nine sitting across the aisle from her with his mother to sit his ass down on the seat instead of standing on it and shuffling and squirming and trying to hang from the hand straps like they were monkey bar handles while his mom sat could-not-be-botheredly on the seat beside, her listless gaze moving without an ounce of interest from phone screen to the space before her.

Only the woman didn’t say it like that like we were all thinking, didn’t say sit your little ass down, didn’t say to the mother, with whom she was clearly not acquainted, get your fucking kid under control but pleaded with him instead, exercising a nowadays lost civic responsibility to others, not so much ignoring the mother as not bothering to ask for anything as ridiculous as permission, and pleaded firmly, with grandmotherly kindness, making it a game as if there’d be some kind of treat at the end, talking about how she’d cry if he fell and hurt himself, and his mom would cry too, and that other lady there beside her too, though I think the rest of us had our doubts about that.

Over the mild narration of Teju Cole’s Open City through the headphones feebly plugging my ears I witnessed this exchange and considered the rare, sweet humanity of unseen but often felt barriers being broken down by first principles like compassion and fearlessness and remembered my own feelings of inauthenticity at speaking and even writing in a certain, I don’t know, literary way, recalling Proust again and ramblingly wondering if Knapp was listening to me narrate the way he wondered if Zadie Smith was listening to him at that café in Paris in the story he told, perhaps nodding in quiet assent or even offering a bit of telepathic applause as though encouraging me to continue in spite of arbitrary boundaries, mores, and expectations.

If anyone were listening—Knapp, Smith, Cole, the ghost of Proust, it doesn’t matter, apparently so long as they’re in a position of relative authority or standing to me and my predilections—I might tell the story of how three stops later a forty-something man in baggy jeans and generic football jersey t-shirt hybrid that should’ve had FUBU on it but didn’t stepped out of 1996 and came aboard looking gruff and tough and a little unhinged and slapped the first hanging hand strap he encountered and sent it spinning around the head-level (for him) and eye-level (for me) handrail like he was someone and like everything else in the world, especially that strap, was nuthin, a gesture which, without need of analysis or even conscious absorption indicated quite diametrically the obverse. Oh humanity the beautiful, the cordoned, the perplexed.

I was going back to work on a Friday afternoon, red lining from The Loop, as it’s called, after seeing my therapist, K, who, through my own mild psychoses and manias—overstated, truly—I had come to consider, I realized upon actual consideration as I watched and reflexively caricaturized this man, as something of a friend, oddly, a very particular kind of friend with a very particular kind of role: the person I paid to listen to me once a week, no strings, no expectations, no personae, only paid-for presence, which she did adeptly deliver. I was standing by the left-side doors, feeling far less cynical than that explanation just sounded, left in terms of the train’s direction, which, if you’ve never ridden the El in this grand city, or, I assume, many other such urban subways or aboveways, is typically the perspective from which each announcement of the coming stop identifies the side whose doors will open next.

Mr. 1996 stood by the door he’d just entered, on the side that would in fact open next (Clark and Division), leaning back against the car’s aluminum wall and lifting up a foot to place against it like he’d been out of fucks to give for years, likely since his adolescence arrested, likely in the late 80s, according to my projections. In that posture his eyes remained locked, save for the occasional, menacing glance around the car, on a young black woman with a narrow, high-cheekboned face and sullen, stoic expression sitting in the aisle seat of the backward-facing first row to my left. To her right, in the window seat, sat a tattooed white man who she might’ve been with but wasn’t, as I learned when he alighted with me two stops later. I had the distinct sense that this same mistaken supposition was behind 1996’s violently lustful ire and contempt for the young woman, and the barely-under-the-breath mumbling he began whilst grabbing his sagging denim crotch and baring his mouth’s left front corner of teeth in a wry snarl of a grin that seemed poised to turn to a bark, maybe even a bite.

Lust and contempt, swirling, mounting into a storm of sheer hatred. His tone rose steadily and it became possible to discern muttered semi-coherences of societal critique, such as the extent to which he believed white people were the “real terrorists” and I instinctively felt it was not my place to tell him to shut the fuck up and leave that woman, leave everyone, alone. Such are the effects of an American upbringing, of coming of age in a climate of heavy socio-economic and racial gerrymandering that produced at least two generations (his and mine) overly (sub)conscious of navigating an imagined community of starkly contrasting, distinctly separate but connected neighborhoods just like those of this city, linked by avenues and public transportation, our great equalizers. Visit Chicago sometime and you’ll see what I mean as soon as you leave downtown.

Though we stood no more than five feet apart and no other passengers stood between us and on any other day I could easily have drawn his ire, he never even glanced in my direction and thus all six feet and five inches of me and my upwardly-aspiring lower-middle-class white privilege continued to remain as if invisible to him, unseen, which, it occurred to me, often happened in my life in situations of conflict, whether potential or realized, not because, I mused, I shrunk from brutal, aggressive energies but because I simply stayed put like I belonged there, remaining both very much within and outside such scenes in an inarticulable manner that unfailingly appeared to commute itself rather magically to even the simplest, meanest, ugliest of minds. Or it was just luck and I should tone down my ruminative elaborations. He never did aggress, though, not that I saw, not then, only talked his hateful talk at the young woman, from whose expression the initial pigments of fear had blended themselves into repulsion by the time my stop was announced, but she never broke her focus on a nonesixtent point of nothingness before her, never even fleetingly acknowledged that he had the nerve to be alive.

The tattooed man and I got off at Clybourn, exiting through the verysame doors that had allowed 1996 to enter, and I hoped the young woman would be ok sitting there alone in her scanty white haltertop in the middle of a scattering of other strangers who were by virtue of little more than chance traveling in a temporarily shared direction, largely oblivious to one another’s travails, even while in their midst. I wondered what Knapp thought about matters like invisibility and sleepwalking and how he’d put them and whether the little boy, still through all that evil staredown and blank, disgusted stareaway, being coaxed by Her Majesty the Sweet Lady of Ordinary Kindness to remain seated for the good of us all, would grow up to be like 1996 and stamp his feet in the sand after his initial arrival upon the shores of adulthood, harboring  resentment and anger that would continue to grow and fester unaltered and stagnant for years, even decades, never permitting him to venture inland, or if a moment like this with an ordinary deity would imprint his soul and help him consider love and freedom and what those things might truly be and where and with whom and how they might truly be achieved. “If you’re too loyal to your own suffering, you forget that others suffer too,” I conveniently heard in my ears as I climbed the stairs from the tracks up into the sunshine at approximately 3:21 in the afternoon in June, pondering cosmic perspectives and all the ways I, too, fell short, got stuck, only appearing to move.

I went on my way and my thinking moved to how I might one day do the writerly thing and tie this all together, linked by connections found and made, how Knapp thought of a thing as momentous and mundane as his path, struggling to reconcile that unknown otherman’s ability with what seemed, through my scant researches, his relatively young age—and I don’t mean relative to me—how he came to have a piece published in The Paris Review in the first place, with a blurb at the back with all the other contributors stating “Chris Knapp’s work has appeared in the New England Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He lives in Paris”—with his wife, he tells us in the story. Maybe it’s a hoax, I thought, adhered to routine and the aloofness it affords, especially at its in-between times when we suppose we know what’s next but similarly suppose we just haven’t gotten there yet.

Why don’t I send a “piece” or two to the New England Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books and marry my girlfriend and move to Paris instead of heading back to the office and a several-hour pause on all the things I imagined I’d write about and do and become. As I thought of that pause, I realized that sense of it, once so overwhelming, that such pauses equated to nothing at all but lost time, nothing but wastes of time I’d only ever retrieve if and when I had the time, ironically, to go in search of it like Proust did and if illness was in fact a form of privilege, though Mahler, I learned through Cole, called it a lack of talent, a notion only a truly privileged man could entertain, whether with or without humor, was now merely a thought, and a rather silly one at that. I wasn’t ill, not certifiably, only at times afflicted, and for a strikingly peaceful moment I basked in the relief of being out from beneath those too-familiar feelings of frustration and wastefulness the way I basked in the instance of sunlight that poured through a gap in the clouds, one step at a time, feet carrying me west along the concrete sidewalk on the south side of North Avenue, making connections as columns of cars streamed by, doing their bit in the city’s choppy dance of perpetual motion. I found myself quite content with my present inability to go and sit down somewhere quiet to write like Knapp, whoever he was, wherever he was going, understanding I was always already heading down the path of my story, any story, and beginning to see how it was writing itself, talent be damned, laughing inwardly at my halting, unfailing desire for permission to begin speaking.

Audiobooks and people, I thought, they each take a bit of getting used to, but in opposite directions. Mr. 1996 seemed like nothing but a living, breathing relic of a time and attitude I could very much remember till he set eyes on the young woman, and from that point on he plummeted into pure ugliness, present as ever, as more of his insides came out and spilled around the people in his immediate vicinity. Narrators of audiobooks, I’ve come to find, almost invariably seem worse to me at the outset and then get better—they take some getting used to. They can’t do anything right at first, not a single thing, from voice to inflection to cadence to rhythm to accent to enunciation. Who are they to interfere with our reading, to tell us how this should sound. But after a time, usually, the sounds become a voice and the voice blends with the story and makes it something else entirely and that might just be where freedom lies, regardless of who thinks they’re better than whom, who sees themselves beneath, and who I am to say so.

date night

Those two over there, yeah, the table in the corner right there. Before you got here he said: “Are you more of a wine girl or, uh, martinis? I’m not much of a wine guy but I’d maybe go for a pinot grigio.” The waitress has come by their table three times already. Oh, no, don’t be sorry. I was enjoying myself, doing a little eavesdropping, just hanging out, killing time, etcetera etcetera. When they sat down he opened his menu and remarked that it was much longer than what he saw online as if making a pronouncement about a new land he’d just set foot upon, his crew of weary sailor-explorers in tow. Then they were talking about some tabloid scandal, hard to say which one, hard to say it matters—“I never really followed up,” he said—really said “followed up”—“but from what I can tell, he was totally in on it.” She said “yeah.” That’s the only word I’ve heard from her, might be the only one she knows. Yeah, aren’t you funny. Look if you can, at the earnestness of his expression, look how vacuous. It’s astounding. I feel like we’re on safari. How does a face get so empty? I know I’m being judgy, I know, I’m probably just trying to impress you with the astuteness of my observations and my charming prattling commentary. It’s really not cute. Does “judgy” end in -ey or just -y? Ah but now here comes their food and wait… wait… yep, phones….

Continue reading “date night”