Friday, February 2, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

The anger makes you shake. It makes your voice quake. Like you're about to start crying or spitting blood. It radiates off of you, and everyone can see it. It's like a rattlesnake tail, that shake, that rattle. It gets inside you and starts flipping switches. Old ones, made thousands of years ago when predators roamed the land, and we didn't have guns to punch holes in them. It's a natural response, and it is appropriate. 

Still, it's unsettling. It makes eye contact difficult. It makes you feel like danger is all around you. You turn into an antelope, anxious on the veldt, frozen in place while your comrades spring and jump and run away. Fight, flight, or freeze. If only you didn't always default to freezing. The veldt would pull your card quick. 

Anger and fear can get mixed up, and, combined, they are a potent cocktail. 

I call it the American dream. One part paranoia, two parts unwarranted pride. One part individualism. One part propaganda. 

Shaken, not stirred. No one has time to stir. 

Pour into a chilled glass and smash it into your face. It's good for you. It builds character. 


  1. "...American dream. One part paranoia, two parts unwarranted pride. One part individualism. One part propaganda..."

    Maybe we all need to get the duck away from un-Social Media.

    1. Agreed. Felt this tightening my chest as I imagined the triggers.

  2. At first you chalk it up to the time-whiplash of being back in a once-familiar place that has become unfamiliar. A meal, a good night’s sleep should take care of that, you think. But then you wake. And it doesn’t. It’s as if the world has been magicked out of one of its dimensions. All looks flatter, stiffer, the colors not as bright as you remember. You feel like an animated figure walking through a sketch of a background. It takes a moment to recognize the people in the photographs, the knickknacks on the shelves, those standing in front of you with hopeful, too-wide smiles. You want to grab them by the shoulders and give them a shake. Don’t you understand, you want to scream. Don’t you understand what happened?

    They back away. Their smiles grow more timid, their approaches more tentative, the way they interacted with that messed-up cat they used to have. The cat understood. You know that now. You wish you could apologize to the cat, long dead. But you heap it onto the growing pile of things you can’t change.

    You stay in bed until you hear the last of them close the front door and drive away. Then you troll through what remains, trying to make sense of it all, but it’s too hard, and television is boring, and you know far too well the slippery slope of that first drink.

    You are lucid enough to know you need to make a change. But not enough to know what that change ought to be. All you feel is…nothing. You fall onto the couch, let your gaze melt into the change of patterns through the windows as the sun tiptoes across the sky. The moving squares of light. The metaphor hits you like a big stupid hit on the head from a cartoon mallet: time marches on, but you, my friend, it has left you behind.

    Two telephone numbers do battle in your head. Always, the way things battle: the one you want and the one you should. The digits swirl and dance and taunt. Your chest tightens with the ramifications of both. Finally you choose. You get a recording. Your message after the beep stumbles, preambles, then finds a scintilla of adulthood. “So what I’m saying is yes. I’ll sign the divorce papers. At least that way one of us will be free.” You end the call, drop the phone onto the carpet a few inches from one of the moving sunlit squares, watch time engulf it with light.

    1. This is super strong writing, and so visual. I think the whole thing is dope, but the images especially. They landed so well, and it really gives body to the narrative. - JD

  3. I’m smaller than I used to be. I weigh less and my clothes are beginning to hang loosely, the number of unused holes on my belt fewer than before. I'm running out of adjustments – I’m disappearing by degrees.

    I’m slimmer and leaner now. The spare tyres I used to carry are no longer a full set. I’ve only the one left now, a space-saver I keep in my trunk, its benefits no longer obvious to anyone.

    Life is different now. I’m calm and I’m more meditative than I used to be. Less stressed. I can see the effects of that. I sleep well, but not excessively. I’m lucid and aware. I can see the future opening before me, impassive and without any sense of enthusiasm.

    It’s just that I can do little to change it right now.

    I live in hope. I’m persistent. I can wait.

    Back in the seventies, when I was in my teens, the world and its options seemed infinite. Money was tight, but I had time; too much for me to be worried. I had youth and I had optimism, a need to do well. I had ambition, a keen mind and a sense of equality and fair play. There was nothing I couldn’t do if I applied myself and focused my attention.

    Fifty years later, the whole of the world has changed.

    1. Man, I feel this one in my bones. I'm not quite there yet (still working on the spare tires), but this is real and weighty. I've been thinking a lot about aging lately. There are parts of it I dread, but I am really looking forward to some stuff, too. _JD


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