It’s so rare I get to show up a smart guy who’s my friend too, that I jumped at the opportunity from heaven when buddy said he didn’t get out and vote in the election last week.
‘So what’s all this about being so smart then?’ I said to his face.
‘Yeah, damn it,’ he said, ‘I was really aching to get out and get my word in, but geez if the last couple of days haven’t been hazardous enough.’
So I asked him to tell me the deal.
The whole affair hinged on a couple of complete unforeseeables that, added up, fell down into place like sheer stupid luck, unconnected, but by the power of mathematics, wearisome.
‘Happy New Year!’ he said, ‘this is my story.’
First he was sitting around one day, reading a book, probably, and out of the blue the phone rang.
‘Just a fluke of nature,’ he said, ‘and not foreseeable in the least. My mother’s only friend went down with a case of coming undone at the seams and they took her away to the hospital. Poor lady has a twelve year old daughter, and though my ma offered and asked to take care of the girl, the services came and took her away. But she also has a cat and nowhere to put it into, so I took it on, as mother has the fear of animals and viruses. So I got the cat, and you know, the thing is just adorable, but I must admit I know nothing of how to care for animals, the sphere of my knowledges being limited to politics, and I felt obliged to keep it entertained like any old guest. So after they brought it by, I was spending my time rolling around with it on the floor; I went to the store and bought a ball of yarn, and I’ve been rolling around throwing the ball of yarn at it, and basically we’ve been having a grand old time. Despite the wounds on my face and arms, we have bonded famously and I call him little cat face, and it’s great. Eventually I had to go to work and do my thing there though, and poor cat face, as any guest could be expected to, got bored. So when I got home I found he had eaten everything made of material, and scratched the walls up to boot, and I had a long night stitching up my business suits and making the place liveable again.’
‘That’s all interesting and good,’ I said, impatient to be right after all, ‘but I don’t see how it kept you away from the polling booths.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘seeing as your culture is one inclined to impatience and punch lines I can forgive you, but if you just let me go, I’ll lead you on to the end.’
‘Ok,’ I said, ‘I’m sorry.’
‘A couple of days later another thing happened that was just a complete fluke too, and not an everyday occurrence. While I was snoring in my bed for the night, dreaming of all the slurpees my modest wages bring me after the loan payments have gone through, I found myself awoken by the telephone with another urgent bad call from my mother. This time a robber had cracked in and broken the window by her backdoor, and made haste with her purse. She had no documents and didn’t know how she would recover her peace of mind, or convince other people she was who she said. I managed to calm her down enough to make out her words and promised to stop by and help her talk to the police. I did just that, and said “thank you” to the officer, and was about to leave when my mother asked me to give her the cat for company and to feel protected.
‘“The usual collocation is guard dog, mother,” I said, ‘but if it will help with the tears, I guess you can have him.”
‘So shattered as I was at losing my new companion who understood me so well, I took the cat over to my mother’s and said farewell.
‘I have to admit I was feeling a little down, but I still had all my destroyed furniture to look at and remember him by, and there’s no use getting down every day.
‘Then the coup de grace struck me right off. You know I’m really in love with the modern world, I’m not a student any more, and I see no point in protesting against the new technologies; I love spaceships and TVs and online banking, but I couldn’t get into my account to pay my rent check yet again, by accident. So I ran in to the bank and asked them what the problem was and they told me they had sealed my account on account of my suspicious activities.
‘“And what’s so suspicious about loving the modern world?!” I said.
‘“Well,” they said, “it’s the way you gave all your money to a stranger by email.”
‘I hadn’t been able to anticipate that, it being completely unforeseeable, like every other variable in my personal life that others can’t see, and so it fairly struck me a blow to my ability to breathe in my chest.
‘When I recovered enough to stand up straight and look at the bank clerk in her pretty batting eyelashes, I had lost my ability to perform. False accusations do that to me. The words lose their meaning and dance naked without form before my vocal chords.
‘I left the money bank and walked down the street towards a place I might call home. I wouldn’t want to bore you with everyday details that are not political and vital in their strength, but without the means to pay my rent, the polling booth slipped my brain.’
I must admit I was unconvinced and not impressed.
‘And has it occurred to you that a tolling booth is a good place to call home, so to speak, ideologically? That one might rest their political head there and become so refreshed they wake for three or four years?’
‘Truly – yes, it had occurred and come to me that I could hide in the back for the night, while the old-fashioned counted their votes. But when I tried to put my plan into action I was suspected of irregularities and chased into the street with a broom and severe words. Once again, put upon and beset by accusations, I found the dance of the naked words leaving me without defence. At the risk of being melodramatic, it became quite clear to me that I was doomed to walk the earth, a prisoner of unrequited love for the modern era.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that would be quite melodramatic, and as you see, we are neither wandering, nor be pining away from love and surrounded by roses, though to be sure, melancholy abounds. What are you doing about your plight and situation?’
‘I’ve moved in with mommy again and I spend my free time playing with cat face, though the small period of our absence has grown it fonder of my mother. I bear no grudges. I have my job, as little satisfying as it may be, and I have my health, for which I am visiting the doctor tomorrow. A little cough like the one that shakes to my very core surely mustn’t be of great concern. And in the end the bank returned the money, a slight portion too behind the schedule for saving my shaky relationship with the landlord, but at the end of the day honourable.’
What could I say? A victor ought to be gracious in victory, ideological or otherwise, so I merely shrugged my shoulders and tried to transmit as much sympathy as a narrow heart can to my friend, after all, that is what friends are for, perhaps.