Short Story: The Man Who Died for Seven Days (Part I)

I began to die this morning. I woke up, as I often do, with a particular brand of helpless indifference that has so carelessly devoured my once beautiful mornings. I went online and ordered a dozen roses to be delivered to Samantha’s office. Samantha is the girl I’m dating. I loved her but was not in love with her, and tonight was our anniversary. I have only been in love once, and the feeling was less-than-mutual. All that was left was to make the reservation for the restaurant, dear God, what a hassle. I made an eight o’clock reservation for sushi, her favorite. How cliché. I’m willing to bet that if you select a random group of people, let’s say a hundred, and ask them what their favorite food is, I’m willing to bet eight of ten will blink their eyes moronically, raise their eyebrows and say, “Sushi.” It’s not because they actually like sushi, I mean, I’m sure they like sushi, but that’s not why they said it. They said sushi because the truth is that these people, like most people, don’t know what their favorite food is. They don’t really know what they love, they don’t really know what they hate. What they know is what everybody else loves and hates, which is ironic considering it’s really themselves they’re looking to. So everybody is looking at everybody else to try to find out what the fuck to eat for dinner, when the basic fact is that Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts ask for sushi one too many times in a movie and all of sudden, everybody’s favorite food is sushi. So basically, my dinner plans are determined by a couple of salmon-inclined screenwriters who get their wasabi to go because they need to get home and write up all the eel-encrusted bullshit that we in turn eat up.

Shit. I had to call Greg. Greg was my sorry excuse for a best friend. I left my wallet at his house last night and had to pick it up before my doctor’s appointment, which was in an hour. God, I did not feel like seeing that idiot so early in the morning. He is an associate at a real estate office, and a bit of a sleaze ball. He’s not actually sleazy, I wouldn’t be friends with him if he was, just… in his suit, he looked like it… sleazy.

“Hello?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s me. I left my wallet at your house.”

“Fine, I’ll give it to you tonight.”

“Are you an idiot? I need it now.”

“I have to go to work now.”

“Well, I’ll come by and pick it up.”

“No, I have to go to work right now.”

“Well, I need my wallet, I have a doctor’s appointment in an hour.”

“Tough.”

“Fuck you. I’m coming over.”

“No, you’re not, I told you, I’m leaving.”

“Well, then, leave the door open.”

“Are you fucked?”

“What, you live in your fancy gated building, what’s going to happen?”

“Alright, I’m done screwing around with you.”

“Ok, fine, leave it with the doorman, I’ll get it from him.”

“Then what?”

“I’ll lock up and give him back the key, what do you mean ‘then what’?”

“I don’t trust that Mexican with my key.”

“Your father’s half-Mexican.”

“My father wasn’t a doorman.”

“Alright, you fucking racist, just leave it under your doormat, I’ll lock up and put it back when I’m done.”

“When you’re done? What else do you plan to do over here?”

“I’m just going to get my wallet, asshole.”

“If I come back and you’ve taken a shit in my bathroom, I’ll fucking lose it, no joke.”

“Trust me, if I take a shit, it won’t be in your bathroom.”

 

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Traffic was a bitch. I turned on the radio, and was less-than-startled at the plethora of garbage that echoed like a preschool taunt through my tired speakers. When is it exactly that making music started requiring no musical talent and moderate to advanced computer skills? I just don’t like hearing genuine musicians being outplayed by a fourteen year old schmuck remixing his six year old sister’s poem in his basement on his dad’s Mac. It’s this whole bullshit “clubbing” culture. It’s “who we are”. My ass. It’s just the default. Our generation is nothing but a bunch of confused and present-thinking idiots who spent half their lives being so scared shitless about dealing with the world around them that they never figured out who they were, so they wander around partying and clubbing and dancing as if eventually, in one of those inebriated tangos a light will shine down bringing the clarity they seek. But it won’t. It’s not that there isn’t any depth in the world anymore, I’m sure there is, hidden somewhere deep in some crevice in Tibet most probably, but superficiality has at this point and time in human evolution all-but-overtaken the Almighty in its global predominance.

My problem, my real problem, is that there is no genuine individuality left because, for those rare few that actually possess traits that stray from the weary flock, well, they won’t be recognized. People won’t see the uniqueness, they’ll see the difference, and believe me, that’s not the same thing. I happen to have the burden of belonging to an age group that starts with two, and for that, I am forced to deal with a bounty of stereotypes that have been willfully attributed to our pitiful generation. So when I buy a bottle of scotch, the clerk asks me where the party’s at tonight. Pathetic. I’ve found the alternative far too complex for the weaning intellectual capacity of the common man, so I simply think of three Greek letters and tell him it’s “Barbie night”. When people notice that I don’t fit in to the general “twenty-something” mold, they simply tag me with another label, all pulled from the same jar, which once again, was probably filled by the friendly folks in Los Angeles.

I’ve been a rebel, an outcast, antisocial, arrogant, the sensitive guy, the intellectual, and the guy who ‘just doesn’t care’. People think these are unique personalities but the truth is they’re just variations on a theme. It’s not individualized character, it’s characterized individuality, and quite possibly the saddest part of all is that nobody notices. Nobody wants to believe that the man who is capable of merciless cruelty can be capable of sense-shattering love because that would mean that human beings were unpredictable, that personalities, in their innermost cores, allow for sustainable deviations strong enough to shift the very essence of the entire nature of social interaction. So the rocker will never accept that he likes a Britney Spears song, the Christian housewife can’t be a Jew at heart, and the proverbial “nice guy” will never be allowed to finish first. If you’re not one thing, you just have to be another, because god forbid you can’t be categorized.

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Christ, what a shitty apartment complex. He thought it was sophisticated, the shiny black gate, the buzzing in, the doorman. It was a façade. It was like a satin silk sac of shit. Like those people who serve dinner on crystal plates and eat it on plastic tables. You know who I’m talking about. We spend half our lives working our asses off so that we can afford the illusion of superiority, just so that that we can quiet the restless insecurity that defines our inner selves. Because the fact is every person, young or old, rich or poor, is exactly who they are and who they are going to be, at their heart of hearts, at four years old. After four, we start to build the masks, we start to shape them, paint them, and the more expert our teachers at that particular brand of bullshit, the better and more complex the masks become, until it gets to the point that we have so many on, we don’t remember which one belongs to us. I’ll let you in on a secret; you want to find out the real you? Cry. Sob like a fucking baby, like you’ve never cried before in your entire life, and eventually, you’ll get to that point, that moment when the actual situation is no longer the impetus for tears, but rather the tears themselves have now become your state of being. And for that instant, that short interval in time, you will, of no conscious will of your own, flash-back to your childhood, flash-back to your first love, your first pain, your first and possibly last true happiness, you will flash-back, almost without fail, to four years old. Why? Because as sad as it is, at the age of four you are a complete human being, at the age of four you have experienced every possible range of human emotion that you are capable of, and at the age of four you realize that that’s all there is.

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