Like the Mountains
In the middle of dinner, the landlord’s daughter knocks at my door. Her mother’s not home and she needs help with her Sociology homework. She has to write an essay solving a problem in society using one of three classical perspectives.
I say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She hands me a printout explaining the assignment.
I say that there are no problems unless you think there are. She looks at me blankly. I try again.
“There is no solution,” I say, “nothing’s ever solved. Say that.”
She says, “That’s not the assignment.”
“Okay, well, pick a topic, then.”
“I can’t think of one.”
“How about the credit economy, or the divided self, or racism? That’s becoming popular again. Write this down: Racists are fucking morons.”
“I can’t say that.”
“Then pick your own topic.”
“You’re not helping,” she sings.
She stands in front of a mirror, tall and over-thin, and fixes her hair. But what does she see?
She says, “What about obesity?”
“Okay, good. Obesity. Why is it a problem?”
“Duh, because it is.”
“Okay, fine. Obesity according the dialectical principles stated on this sheet of paper you handed me, is a state of unreflective satisfaction which is a self-consuming state. Obese people are saying I am me. A equals A. It’s a motionless tautology. And that’s the problem right there.” I make a chopping gesture with my hand. “These people have to get up and move around. But first they have to think of doing it and then once they’re thinking and moving then they have to stop again. Proving that life is futile and that thinking is a derangement of the mind. So, conclusions like: life is futile, like all conclusions or solutions, are meaningless. Once this is realized you become happy. Are you happy?” I ask her.
“I’d better call my mother,” she says, already dialing.
I scoop up the last of my steak and rice.
“She’s on her way,” she says, picks up her homework and leaves.
I put the dishes in the sink and go stand at my door. The skies are lit, but it’s gloomy down here. Recent rain has damped the colors. I drive to the store for dessert and I see two young birds fly out of a bush and cross in a swoop in front of my car. One of them circles back and disappears. I look in the rear view mirror to confirm my suspicion. It’s there, on the road, dead.
No one is safe.
I think of the birds framed by my window at home, hopping around in the yard. They look comical on the ground. I always laugh at them, until I see them fly up onto a tree branch; it's not as easy as it looks.
Once inside the Super Warehouse of Food and Supplies I notice that the people in here have acclimated themselves to these economy sized food portions. Eating is, indeed, an unreflective satisfaction where the satisfaction becomes hungry for itself. How will you feed that need for satisfaction? If it can’t be regulated you have to starve it. It’s the only way.
I drive by Petra’s on the way home. Stop in front of her house and call her on the cell phone.
“Ask me how I feel,” I say.
She doesn’t say anything.
I say, “Like a thousand lost golf balls.”
After a pause she says, "Don't call me anymore."
Someone once said, Be far away, like the mountains. I hear my stomach grumble. Then I’m home sitting in front of a tub of ice cream not thinking about anything.
Robert Bradley is far away.