Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I love you, I’m afraid not

Earlier I was in the hospital’s gift shop looking for a card that wasn’t cliché. I found one that I could idiosyncrasize and brought it up to the counter, just as a man shopping for the perfect balloon distracted the lone cashier, ADD’ing him away from asking me to pay for my card.

Do you have "Get Well Soon"? he asked the cashier.

Yes, he replied.

How ‘bout "I Love You"?

No, we don't have "I Love You."

So you have "Get Well Soon" but not "I Love You." The balloon shopper wasn’t the brightest bulb.

Right. "Get Well Soon," yes. "I Love You," I’m afraid not.

I contorted my mouth to stifle laughter. I just witnessed a rejection.

I love you, I’m afraid not.

What if love were as frankly mechanical as the balloon trade.

Friday, September 08, 2006

plants of various sorts


Forgive me, Fire in the Hole. This is why I don’t have children yet. My two plants remind me of this when they aren’t hidden by the curtain.

* * * *

Last night, driving home from work, I called my mom. We traveled through the Holland Tunnel together, where she told me she got claustrophobically sick when she was a little girl on vacation with my grandparents. Her spot has been marked by irises and the skeleton of a man who never made it out. My mom is famous.

Once I came out of the tunnel I got off the phone so I could be legal and pay attention to driving. My mind wandered anyway. I left into space, wondering if I might be a bad person, how I might be a better person, as I rolled up to a stop sign on a small unbusy street. A man who looked like he might have been homeless was walking in the street outside my window and caught my eye. As I looked out, he looked in, eyes to eyes. Am I a bad person? "Don’t give up," he said to me. And walked on.

This reminded me of a time when I was in college. I was walking toward the bridge back to my dorm. These were the especially depressed and disgruntled days. Nick Cave was playing in my walkman. He had just growled about a devil on his floor when a fellow I didn’t know approached me. Mind you, this was why I wore the walkman (outside simply enjoying the music)—so that people would leave me the heck alone. He handed me a pamphlet: How Can You Be Saved? From the devil on the floor?

This is why I sometimes think I have my own Truman Show. Laughter is the answer.