25 January 2009

Not the next Albany travel log.

Yeah, no log. But there is this!

What do you do when you don't want to do what's next? He sat at the plastic table on his patio. Hot ground beef, formed into two patties, grilled over charcoal, lay on a plate. The steam from the burgers clings to the edges of his glasses. He does not notice. His wife steps outside holding two beers, a salad, buns, plates and other fixin's, as she likes to call them. She was smiling until she noticed his brow, folded into a corrugated forehead, drenched in thought.

“Hey,” she says, holding up the beers, “I picked these up at the supermarket, they're Belgian... I think. I've never seen them before.”

He exhales a “Huh.” With just the slightest movement of head and eye to show that he recognizes her presence.

“No cheese?” she asks.

“We ran out.”

“Well, I was just at the store and I could-”

“You would think that I would be used to this.”

“To what?” she asks while sitting down, placing the plates and opening the beers simultaneously.

“To eating food once it's cooked,” he sighs and lifts his eyes from the burgers to her. His glasses clouded to the point where eye contact becomes impossible. She continues staring, expecting the rest of the thought, as if that one were not complete and self-contained. Twenty seconds pass without a word exchanged. She finally breaks the silence. “What?”

“I feel like I'm only going to eat these because they're cooked.”

She continues to stare, “Are you not hungry or are you having an existential crisis?”

He is sure that he was never asked that question before. “Fuck it, let's eat.”

“No, no. What do you mean? Did you not cook these because you were hungry?”

He assembles a burger with too much horseradish mustard. “I was... am hungry. That's not the problem.”

She sips at the beer without breaking the now possible eye contact. Her intention was to stare at him until he spoke, but her face scrunches into a ball when her brain registers the taste.
“Ugh, too much hops. I can't drink this.”

“I'll drink it. Pass it here.” They pretend to wrestle over the beer. Eventually he wins, takes a sip and lets out an overproduced Aahhh.

She leans back in her chair, smiling. He can't think of anything to say. Neither can she. Another few moments pass and she reaches for a bun.

He starts, “My mind keeps falling into grooves, familiar thoughts, worked and reworked. And it's- and it's like... Christ, like if these thoughts were a physical, circular path, I would have worn down my feet to nubs and dug a trench several feet deep. And every time I notice I'm in this path I can just get out, climb on out. But the deeper it gets, the more familiar, I worry that the day will come that I won't be able to get out without a ladder, or non-metaphorically, anti-psychotics.”

All she can manage is a “Hmpf” and proceeds to assemble her dinner. He takes some salad and leans back in his chair, one arm on the rest, the other slowly pouring beer into his mouth. His eyes twinkle like an eight-year-old's might after getting into some mischief.

She looks up, “You know you're not crazy. Stop being such an ass. Is this life not interesting enough for you? Do you have to live in fantasy?”

“Sometimes it's not enough,” he regrets the statement before he says it but does so anyway. “I mean- this isn't about you.”

“No of course it isn't.” she heads into the house and comes back with a bottle of wine and a glass.

He watches her pour a glass. The red splashes and sloshes, a drop jumps out onto the table. The antisocial group of molecules that don't want to be like the others, and maybe it's not desire, maybe it's pure physics. Maybe the entire history of time was a story leading up to and flying past that one droplet proving to be unique from the rest of the wine in the glass. His mind has jumped back onto a well worn track, the scenery familiar and perhaps comforting.

He says, “You know every year, almost all the atoms in your body are replaced with new ones.”

She drinks from her glass.

He continues, “So we're not the same people we were last year. We're not the same people when we woke up this morning. Our physical makeup has been altered considerably since we sat down.”

She continues drinking, refusing to come up for air.

“It's no wonder people change. We're destined, preordained, to change and reinvent. It's the human condition.”

She finishes her glass and breathes deeply. “Are you asking for a divorce?”

He stares for a second. “What? No. Jesus, no. Why? I wasn't at all-” At that moment he noticed a sadness and determination in her eyes that he's never seen before. His beer fizzes quietly, releasing carbon dioxide into the air, but for some reason they can both hear it.


  1. I like it man. I like it a lot.

  2. Thanks. This is what comes of sitting in a one room apartment, sick, for a weekend.

  3. so, that sadness in her eye - is it because she doesn't really want to be with him? or is it just this crazy guy coming to the realization that he's overly pensive?

  4. I have my own idea of what it means, but I like leaving things up to interpretation.