Separate Tables

What a desperate pursuit:

A woman across an empty restaurant asks, ‘What are you reading?’

So you flip the book over to reveal its title. You do so reluctantly, as if it’s your pet tarantula that just recently died and you don’t want anyone to know about it – he was your pet, the relationship was a little odd, let’s face it, and how many people could really understand that sort of thing, I mean really understand, even if they wanted to?

‘Very nice,’ she says, craning her neck to read the spine of the novel. And you suddenly realize that you do want people to know about your book, just as you would want them to know about the pet tarantula you had a long time ago – after all, both have been dead for many years and so it only seems right that they be publicly acknowledged. Nothing that deserves to die, you say to yourself now in vain, deserves to be forgotten.

‘What about you?’ you say.

‘Oh, I don’t read,’ she says, putting her book down on the table in what you take to be mock-exasperation. ‘Once you reach a certain income level, well, you just sort of start to pretend. It’s difficult to know what else to do.’ The woman sighs audibly.

‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ you say, happy to change the subject. ‘Have you tried picking up another hobby then, like needlework or something?’

The woman appears to shake her head, but only slightly; and she is a moderately obese Mexican woman, so you really can’t be sure.

‘You could do Pilates. Or you could hang-glide maybe!? Loads of people go hang-gliding.’

She looks away, a little sad maybe, like you’re losing her now.

‘…Hang-gliding Pilates, how about that?’ you hear myself mumble, practically whispering which is all you can do to stifle your sincere enthusiasm about this idea. ‘Not for everyone I guess. How about yachting, have you ever been out on a yacht? I hear its delightful. Nothing but you and the open sea, the wind at your back, the salt in your hair—’.

And just then the most extraordinary thing happens. The moderately obese Mexican woman turns to face you; suddenly serious, she raises her dark sunglasses so that you can see her dark eyes beneath them. She lifts the side of her sweater to reveal a monstrous meandering scar that appears branded on her torso in the shape of an overgrown caterpillar.

‘Is that what I think it is?’ you hear yourself say. The truth is you think it is grotesque, that it appears unnatural, still inflamed maybe, like a secret lab experiment gone terribly wrong. The Frankenstein of dead bugs. An entomologist’s worst nightmare.

‘Did you…Were you…? Was that from a shark attack!?’ You feel yourself start to get a little excited even though you know that you should know better. ‘Was it a deep-water eel, or was it a hammer-head? It looks like it could’ve been a hammer-head. Don’t tell me a Giant Squid did that!?’

She says nothing, she scarcely moves (you think), all the while holding her eyes on you like laser beams are about to come out of them. Finally, she drops her sweater back down and rises from the table, sipping loudly the last of her Fanta from a paper straw.

‘I don’t yacht anymore,’ she says at last. ‘I get sea-sick.’

The moderately obese Mexican woman walks out the door without looking back. A transparent mystery, a sphinx without a secret. You stare out the window a good while after she’s walked all the way past, disappearing around the corner of the building in a hurry like a woman who is interested, above all, in boredom. You know you won’t ever see her again. It’s sad for a moment, when you start to think about it.

You turn back to your book where you left off. It’s a good book, and you’re right in the middle of it. The book is about a man who goes fishing and, after a series of nearly fatal adventures, never seems to come home. You linger over the part where the man manages to stand on top of a whale while fishing for minnows. Sure, it is sort of nuts and a little bit absurd, even for a book, but you read on, engrossed, until you’ve forgotten all over again the room you were in a few moments ago and everyone else who may or may not have been in it with you.

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Anatomy of a Tear

So let’s take such a simple idea as the desire to improve, to become better. Is it a natural human instinct or is it the result of early conditioning? Crocodiles, king crabs, eagles, do not evolve and yet they seem perfectly content with their humble status. And many human beings enjoy a quiet existence without feeling themselves obliged to expand or develop.

So let’s say it happens sometimes you burst out crying without my knowing why. A libidinal melancholy. The kind of crying-fit where your rib cage tenses up, your whole body vibrates like it’s empty or wants to thank you for being hollow and useful for something after all these years, it’s about goddamn time, what took you so long? And  let’s say you don’t understand anything about it, except that it’s convulsive and has to do with a lot of exaggerated confusion over a little bit of nothing. After all, what can a man expect from a world he isn’t apart of, knowing nothing of people except that he never will? What are the chances for someone who has already dwelled so far in the depths of solitude that even being with himself could no longer be considered company? So alright, more than once no one was there with you but Time, stirring up the dullest water. So she didn’t have the slightest idea what she wanted. Time, the old fuck, that surest and purest form of doom. A little bit of nothing, I said. A libidinal melancholy. What’s a tear, after all, but a kiss on the stake of Time that’s no longer there?

Endure!

There was once a man (reputed to be the wisest in the world) who, although living to an untold age, confined his teaching to the one command: ‘Endure’!

At length a rival arose who challenged him to a debate which took place before a large assembly, ‘You say endure. I wish to love and to be loved, to conquer and create. I wish to know what is right, then do it and be happy’. There was no reply from his opponent, and, on looking more closely at the old creature, his adversary found him to consist of an odd-shaped rock on which had taken root a battered thorn that represented, by an optical illusion, the impression of hair and a beard. Triumphantly he pointed out the mistake to the authorities but they were not intimidated. ‘Man or rock’, they answered, ‘does it really matter’? And at that moment the wind, reverberating through the sage’s moss-grown orifice, repeated with a hollow sound: ‘Endure’!

Separate Tables

-if i order the sea bass for the table, will you have some with me?
-i don’t want any of your sea bass, thanks.
-well, what about ceviche?
-well, what about ceviche?
-if i order the ceviche for the table, will you have some with me?
-i don’t want any of your ceviche, thanks.
-do you even know what ceviche is?
-yes, of course i know what ceviche is.
-you don’t, do you? you don’t even know what ceviche is.
-well no, i don’t know what a ceviche is. so what.
-so you already know you don’t want any ceviche even though you don’t know what ceviche is?
-well no.
-no, you don’t want any ceviche or no, you don’t want to know what ceviche is?
-no, i mean yes. i mean no, i don’t want any ceviche. and no, i don’t want to know what a ceviche is.
-oh just leave him alone, he’s a vegetarian.
-that’s right, i’m a vegetarian.
-that’s right, you’re a vegetarian!
-you forgot.
-i almost forgot. no wonder you don’t know what ceviche is.
-well yes. no wonder i don’t know what a ceviche is. so what.
-well okay, but you’re not really a vegetarian though. like a real one.
-well yes, i am a vegetarian actually.
-you can admit it. it’s okay if you’re just a vegetarian, like, for the jokes.
-okay, so i’m a vegetarian, like, for the jokes. so what.
-so okay, you’re a part-time vegetarian then.
-so i’m a part-time vegetarian then. so what.
-so you’re also a part-time asshole then basically.
-well yes, i am a part-time vegetarian. and i am also a part-time asshole basically. and i am also a part-time bleeding heart hypocrite. and i am also a part-time jew, a sometime shyster, and full-time poet. so what.
-so do you eat pork sometimes, too then?
-so i eat pork sometimes too then. so sue me!
-so basically, you will eat whatever the fuck is in front of you. is that it?

-so i would eat whatever the fuck is in front of me.
-so maybe you’re just a spiritual vegetarian then.
-well yes, so maybe i am a spiritual vegetarian then. i mean so maybe i’d eat a bird if you put it in front of me right now. so what.
-so i am going to order the ceviche then.
-so order the ceviche then!
-wait, a ceviche is not really a small bird, is it?
-i don’t know, would you eat a bird if i put a bird in front of you?
-honestly, if a ceviche is a small bird, i feel like i probably could eat a small bird right now.
-and toot suit. tell me about it.
-i could eat the fuck out of a small bird right now if you put a small bird in front of me.
-i’d eat a small child if you put a small child in front of me right now.
-tell me about it. i would eat the fuck out of a small child if you put a small child in front of me right now. i mean could.
-wait, how could you eat a small child if you still claim to be a vegetarian?
-i feel like i could eat a small child and still be a vegetarian.
-like a vegetarian in your heart?
-yes, deep down in the cockles of my heart, i feel like i could still be a vegetarian.
-well, that is an entirely different line of logic.
-well yes, i suppose it is then.
-so a kind of modest proposal then?
-well yes, i suppose eating a child could be a modest proposal.
-you’d only be doing the child a favor, i suppose.
-i’d be doing the parents a favor, too.
-so, eating a child could be just the right seasoning then.
-you could say that.
-a last-ditch form of contraception then?
-well yes, i’d only be preventing what the child would become.
-an asshole then.
-well yes, an asshole then.
-like all men.
-like all women.
-well under that line of logic, yes.
-amen.
A-men is right.
-i honestly feel like I could eat a small horse right now.
-i could eat the fuck out of a small horse right now.
-amen, A-man, amen.

$ Bunny Horns $

Playboy has officially launched its first ever all-Israeli line of male supermodels. Break out the bunny horns, reads one news headline. TURN-ONS are expected to include:

‘Shiksas with uzis, an inordinate fear of their own mothers, and negotiating for more turn-ons’.

I feel I have to ask, I don’t know how it’s taken me so many centuries to do it, what kind of money will these models make at the expense of so much pleasure?

Glossary of Imaginary Sorrows

Prefertilization, noun.

Preferring and/or preparing to fertilize.

i.e. When you watch Mexican porn at work and, not having had the foresight to set your printer to ‘B&W Only’, accidentally click Print while your boss is making the rounds; and the two of you are forced to look on in shame as a series of Mexican babies emerge from the printer bearing labels like ‘Oscar/Lucinda Redux’ and ‘Las Papillas’ – which, you later learn, is Spanish slang for ‘Little Papers’.

Literatosis, noun.

Literary sclerosis exasperated by literary ambition exasperated by sclerosis of the liver.

i.e. I am trying to learn Italian as ‘research’ for a novel about a man who is trying to learn Italian. Neither one is going well. I can’t figure out who is cheating who. 

See also: Multilingualism & its Discontents, Death by Self-Plagiarism, Pirandello

Prefertilizing, transitive verb.

i.e. There is so much Spring in the air I could spring myself from the window.

Literatorture: Upon Leaving a Station at the Metro

a beautiful woman strokes my chest, and says she
likes the ‘pretty colors of my boootyful scarf’.

‘thank god’, I say. ‘I stole it from such an ugly friend’.
and it isn’t true…what they say of literature:

that it saves the sick from dying with unlived bodies
still inside them. outside the platform, we see the same

tedious arguments—lone and marbled clouds tumble over
one another, casting  shadows over so many

down-turned faces; a crowd of windless trees grows damp
from lack of attention, hints of future fungus settled on their

blackened boughs. and it isn’t true…what they say of literature:
that it was invented for the sick to have a language to themselves.

a beautiful woman strokes my chest, and says she
likes ‘the pretty colors of my boootyful scarf’.