Monthly Archives: September 2008

On Conversations and Connections

(Written Saturday, August 30, 2008, 9:30pm)

Ah, yes. Texarkana. IHOP.

So I’m sitting here wondering why I’m sitting here. I think I missed what I was supposed to do. Like I stayed at the house too long. Like I was supposed to call old friends and visit. But why visit? No news to report! That’s a lie; there is. There’s always news. But trying to reopen the dialog is a lot of work and a ton of bother. To what benefit? Affiliation. Affinity. But why? Why do I have friends? Why do I have to be with them? On the corollary, why do I not want to be with them? Why do I want to be alone? Why do I come to anonymous places like IHOP and sit in a faceless crowd? I’ll keep asking until I die.

I come to places like this instead of friends’ houses because…

  • My own terms: I can come and go as I please with no protracted bowing out
  • It’s quick, clean: the only relationship is “What would you like?” “Coffee, please.” It’s short, clean, efficient. The waiter / barrista / hostess doesn’t need to know my backstory. I don’t have to catch up to theirs.
  • I spend nothing but a few bucks, and I get what I pay for
  • The sound of voices is a placebo for social interaction

Actually, I’m scared of the baggage and bother involved in opening myself up to long-time friends / practical strangers. “So, what’s new in your life?” “Well, not much. I’m decaying. You?” “…decaying?”

I’m listening to people talk. Table of four. They’re all talking…at the same time. Is that the secret of happy society? Constantly talking in full duplex? I’ve had the understanding — it’s my programming — that polite society is simplex: one person talks, the rest listen and wait their turn. That sounds great. Sounds wonderful. But it’s not real. Anyone who carries on in that fashion will constantly get trampled on. His words will either fall on deaf ears or he will wait forever for his turn to speak, meanwhile the topic shifts and his unspoken words expire, never to be born. The dead words rot and leave the taste of lowered status on the tongue.

I pity the poor soul who acts in that way. He certainly leads the unfulfilled life. More accurately, I say he follows the unfulfilled life. Waiting your turn is no way to lead. Sure, it’s polite, but it’s soft, mooshy, flacid. The poor bastard can’t summon the moxie to get it up for those in his conversation to witness. Poor bastard.

Fuck that guy. Yeah.

We’re gonna grill out tomorrow. Pork chops on the grill. Apparently my sister will be cooking. I’m not sure who’s showing up; mom threatened to contact all my cousins. I have no idea if she did. As far as I know, my immediate family are the only people who know I’m in town. It’d be nice to see cousins. Can shoot the shit. Guess that’s what family’s good for. Maybe I’ll call my old down friends afterwards, see who has decayed more than me. I also need to fill up some family gas tanks and do some other charitable works while I’m around.

I feel like I’m failing on some duty to support my family or be there when they need it. I dunno. We don’t have a connection. Haven’t in a long while.

So, here I am. I still feel like I missed a step. Like I’m at the end and I’m scrambling to throw on as much support, love, and friendship I can at the end of my visit. Like I’m trying to make up for years of neglect with a rush of charity. I feel like an absentee father who swings through town bearing truckstop gifts for his children. Well-meaning, but thoughtless and cheap; his actions are more a self-defensive maneuver to save face, but his actions are counterproductive. His children thank him with disbelief and his ex-wife looks on with disdain. The whole affair is cheap and the gifts are worthless tokens.

You cannot give a thing that is worth more than your time. Money is free. Time is the one thing doled out unevenly to everyone and in limited supply. That flow will run out, and our lives will become forfeit. Don’t let them be bankrupt before their time.

And so here I am at IHOP. Not talking with anybody, not poking at the logs and stoking the fires of my relationships. I’m sitting with cold coals. This is no way to be.

Why do I do this?