This turned out quite well. Amazing fun to write, but maybe not so good to read, because you won't know who anyone is or any of the references I'm drawing. Finally finished listening to Imperial Bedrooms tonight so maybe it'll make sense then that there's a few throws to Bret Easton Ellis. (Maybe it already made sense, since his name has been everywhere on this blog for-like-totally-ever.) I'll give away the main stolen stuff at the end. Another influence is Bright Lights, Big City which is written, like this sketch, in the second person. As always there is a piece of boring meta in the middle of this, so just yawn over it, please.
On a plane: This is how you live your life. Transportation as an end rather than a means to an end, making you no different than currency holders, the money-hungry people who die with full bank accounts and no wills. So what? You’ll admit that you’ve spent your last few years typing yourself; it comes with the occupation, the territory, this is just another landmark in the national park that is you and because of that, yours truly.
What’s different now, however, is that you’ve noticed bad angles in your vision making you feel like a portrait printed in landscape, and it takes too long for you to realize the reason for this. This is no ordinary plane flight. You’re sitting sideways with a parachute on your back. The only way this story is going to end is by falling as if you were the world you live in and this plane was time reaching the peaks of yet another economy about to plunge.
Fear rush and thoughts of urinating yourself bring you out of this and back into the virtually unused apartment. Sleeping on the couch because you had been too drunk to make it to the bedroom, now you’re mad at yourself, because your back’s killing you, and it’s a familiar feeling these last few weeks: the consequence of the shallow lifestyle is always being responsible for yourself when you get caught in undertow, there is never someone to lean on, to pull down into the water with you. What you’re left with is getting by, which is easy, because swimming is easy, swimmingly means easily, the hard part is warding off the hypothermia.
These are the thoughts that accompany you to the bathroom cluttered with the various leavings of a myriad of women who might’ve been planning on returning. Might still be. You aren’t the picky one, but lately it’s just been a little too difficult to keep up the façade. Everything can become monotonous, which was, you recall, a sub-theme of an episode of Futurama that you watched with a potential client sometime in the past few weeks, because you’re back to being the boss’s watchdog, the man he sends to sniff out the potential. Bender, a robot, mind you, you kid yourself with inner dialogue, had to party hard or he’d explode. So eventually he didn’t like partying hard anymore. Or that was the set-up. The joke was that he hardly didn’t like partying; that he’d always get right back to it, even after his life (…? Someone laughing somewhere about how robots aren’t alive in the first place, but that was touched on in the show as well and…and, look up in the mirror, as usual you look older, tell yourself you look more distinguished) was saved. But IRL doesn’t care for non-sequiturs; its humor is always of the dark variety.
The old man in the mirror as you piss starts riding on you for your hip abbreviations. You’re an old man what are you doing talking like that? And you almost say aloud, I’m an old man who sleeps with young women, but that’d be lying and you can’t get anywhere by lying to a reflection.
Washing your hands provides a pleasant distraction, flushing the toilet somewhat unnecessarily, and putting the seat down even more so, this is how you get through the day. Ignore the cell phone calls. It’ll inevitably be family or her and you can’t bring yourself to talk to either. The water is no longer running, so this train of thought leads to a mild recollection of yet another drunken night when you did in fact make the call yourself and she didn’t pick up and you caught yourself and hung up
It’s horrible what monogamy can do to a man. That and the idea of secrecy. It’s all in the origins. Seeing certain things play out as they always have. It doesn’t bother you so much that she was someone else’s but that you didn’t know; that he still doesn’t know. You have to think about the kids, but then again, what do they matter? She’d still be a good mother if she was a good mother. You try not to think about her in that position because you’ll get to thinking about children yourself. That always infuriating question because you didn’t want to give an untrue answer any longer.
The fact of the matter was, it’s more so that you wouldn’t do them justice, that you’re afraid of your skills as a parent. The reasons are not as selfish as assumed, but just as disgraceful. And should you go back to bed now? All this thought of wife and children will make this small, small living space feel empty and huge and hollow. So fill it up, the air conditioning whispers.
You turn on the television but you’re too old for porn, so it’s more of a white noise thing. Sleep again but this time no dreams. You are not the kind of guy to dream. Or perhaps more realistically: You are not the kind of guy to remember your dreams or that you dreamt at all. Ryan this, Ryan that: it’s to be expected, because you remember so little these days, just commands, doing as you’re told and then listening for more.
This self-imposed isolation of the past three days was made by way of commands of a different sort. Being so inebriated that the voices in your head would tell you what to do? But maybe that’s just your mother speaking. All these left-over screen grabs: you have no memories but if you were an artist you could paint the pictures of all these people in your life; their voices have distinctive sounds in your mind. On the television is an old movie written by Clay Easton, Concealed, and you can almost tune it out completely and go back to being a dead man in bed, but a John Mayer song, titled so aptly, “Something’s Missing” brings you back a bit and suddenly the phone’s in your hand and it’s scary how these things don’t seem to be under your control.
The last time you tried to pick up a woman, someone new—someone who could fill a hole that you need to find in yourself, but are unsure of its location, like an almost finished puzzle and one piece, but you don’t know where it goes—you went blabbering on, a little too gone for doing what needed to be done. “Have you ever felt like a character in a sketch stolen from a film based on a novel?” you may have said because it made sense to someone at the time. In fact it probably still does…to them.
You’ve already dialed some numbers and now you watch your finger continue to push buttons on the phone. This is a pitiful thing, calling Alex up in the middle of the night when she’ll be in bed with her husband. But then Natalie answers and starts telling you about her life: how it’s fine that you called, because the time difference makes it only now getting late where she lives, and that she ended up getting a job because of you and how she has a new boyfriend who is treating her right and—
And it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen. A laugh, a chuckle from this reality’s peanut gallery. To think that this sort of parental experience could have been preminisced by vapid teenagers in a book you’ve never read.
A bit of an uninspired Up in the Air continuation.