Archive for February, 2010


When I Was Young

by mdjb

Once, when I was young and immortal, I was cruel and immoral. I walked an endless highway. I was infatuated with what I was capable of doing. It did not bother me to see someone with tears. Well, it didn’t bother me much.
When I was green, I laughed more of the time and saw humor in misfortune because I did not know enough to realize one day misfortune would visit me.
When I erred I denied it. When I succeeded, I gloated. I became bloated with my own complacency. I carried the laurel wreath long after it had dried and withered and revisited my past glory as if it were something fresh and new. I fully expected those around me awaited something from me which was fresh and new and I tried to pass off the stale remnants as such. No one ever accused me of begging for compliments, though if they had, it might have awakened me.
Once, when I was sleeping safely in the past, my tomorrows lacked the urgency I feel in them today.
When tomorrows were countless, I thought I would always have my friends and that I would have acquaintances for almost as long. Now the future feels like a finite possibility and probability lessens. There are days I walk alone.
When the days began to grow shorter, my attention was drawn to jesting matters. I played a waiting game, for there was no necessity to rush to checkmate. There were options aplenty and if none appealed there was the option to create more, a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will, but self-fulfillment is a well bound to run dry. The days grew shorter and now I feel the loss of hours, not merely moments. The scales measuring the past against the future have been tipped in favor of the former.
Once, when I did not state these inevitabilities, I believed they could be staved. Now, no longer young, I walk the road I paved.


Sit Right Back

by mdjb

I don’t know what I can do with this story, but I want to get it down before I forget it.
It was a dream.
I was at a party, and I was slouching in a chair, much like the upholstered chair in which I was sleeping and having the dream.
In front of me Cecilia was berating some guy whom she claimed did not have the character to be the godfather to her child. Others were observing, but their visages were indistinct and I could not make out who was there besides Cecilia and myself. I didn’t even know who the spineless character was as he skulked away, as I was trying to remember how Cecilia’s child sounded when s/he spoke, but in my mind that was the reason for the party—the child’s christening. Someone asked who would be the godfather then. Cecilia said something to the effect that she would know who was strong enough when she met him.
Then a loud bell tolled the hour and the lights suddenly went out.
In the darkness, and without rising from my chair, I felt as if I went to her and caressed her and lightly brushed cheeks told me she believed I was the one to be the godfather. No words were spoken. Then the lights returned, and I was still in my chair, and she was standing alone in the middle of the room. “Oh,” she said, as if she too had experienced the connection and was surprised to find no one next to her, but then she walked over to some friends who were discussing the pile of gifts and it seemed she wanted their help in deciding whether to return them or just hold them aside until the day the christening should occur.
All this time the child was nowhere in sight, and the spineless character had by now disappeared.
In the chair, down beside the cushion, I discovered a huge roll of bills, and thought to myself it was foolish that Cecilia should hide her money in that way with a house full of people, anyone of whom might have found and kept the money. They were pesos. Momentarily, I thought of pocketing the money myself, but then stuffed it back down, deeper into the chair.
I went over to tell her she shouldn’t keep her money there like that, and as I walked toward her, it seemed her face radiated an understanding that I was the person who’d come to her in the dark, and that she thought I was now going to confess to my action, but as I stumbled on a step, she shook the expression from her face, as if to say, “No, it couldn’t have been he. He’s such an awkward type.”
As I was telling her about the money, and she thanked me for my honesty, the scene shifted. The camera of my dream point of view panned and went through the window and out into the night, over the town, to a clock tower, where there stood a life-sized stone figure of a French peasant about to hammer down on a bell to strike the hour. As he did so, the strains of the show’s theme-song rose, “Gilligan’s Island-like” “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…” The stone figure slammed down his hammer. The bell resounded, and he turned toward us, face front, and he was now alive. This was obviously a show wherein the hero was a statue that came to life to do good deeds.
Now in my head, though I was no longer in the scene, I knew the money would go missing, and the statue/hero would resolve the issue during the upcoming episode.
Then a street noise awakened me and I saw it was already six o’clock, and I was reminded how I had begged off going to Cecilia’s birthday dinner in San Cristóbal because my finances were so bad this week, but instead of finishing up the work I had planned to do, I had slept away the afternoon in a chair.


Getting the Gist

by mdjb

Oh, the worst thing in the world, if you are an egotist like me, is to enjoy a little gossiping and then to overhear only part of a conversation in which your name is mentioned, or a description of someone or their activities is given and you see yourself in the words you hear.

It is so frustrating to only hear part of the conversation.

Now if you could come to grips with the fact that the world does not revolve around you and that everyone is not playing a part in your dream, you could probably put the dialogue in perspective, consider the source, apply to it its relatively insignificant value and move on with the business of your day, but of course when things are otherwise, you realize immediately that the gossip fate has directed to your radar surely comprises a plot to overthrow your influence which may be considerable and to usurp your power which is never enough in any case.

As you walk from assignment to assignment or only from the water cooler to the rest room your curiosity leads you past the people with whom you are least copacetic because you know they have nothing else to do all day but speak badly of you and of course as you glide nonchalantly by they always are. It’s as if they know you are listening so they only allow you to pick up the gist without the evidence.

Your only safe option is to avoid all conversation in which you have not been invited to take part. Sit at your desk and try to win that solitaire game on your computer. If you play a few times and you can’t beat your best score, call the horoscope line or look in the newspaper and see what’s playing at the theater near where you live. Call in sick tomorrow and go see a movie. When you come in the next day talk about what you’ve seen to a coworker and let your enthusiastic review be overheard even though you were not supposed to be enjoying a movie. You were supposed to be home in bed. It doesn’t matter. You know none of them ever believe you when you call in sick anyway.

If all else fails, pinch yourself so you wake up and this awful dream ends and these nasty characters all fade away. Start with a fresh cast and for pity’s sake keep in mind everyone’s livelihood everywhere depends on judging you scathingly.

Have a nice day.