Thursday, March 24, 2011

In between

You had to leave home for coffee because you were out of milk, a small-but-telling symptom.  While ingesting the first few sips of your latte, you looked up to see a woman smiling at you, telling you she enjoyed your last performance, wondering if "they" were going to "take you on" as a recurring character.  Before you can think of a response, the woman's friend tugs at her elbow.  "He's not who you think he is,"  she says.  "He's a writer."

This is getting good, so you settle back to watch, indulging another sip.  "Might I have read something you've written?"  you are asked by the woman who has just managed to assign you a new profession.  Once again, you are riffling through a stack of potential answers.  "Can't you,"  her friend says, "see that he's here to think?"

It comes to you that you probably would have allowed your mind to wander as you subjected it to its caffeine bath, would have settled on just about any vagrant theme or topic to come your way.  "Well excuse me," Woman Number One tells you, the edge now palpable in her voice.  Palpable.  Able to be felt.  Able to be touched.  You have not spoken a word to her but she is already irritated with you.  "I'm sorry to have bothered you."  She turns with an abruptness that speaks of her being no stranger to turning away from situations.  "Tell me his name,"  she says in a stage whisper to her friend.  "I want to know so that I'll never buy another of his books."

Her friend says "Clive Cussler."

You in fact know Cussler and in one remarkably civil exchange, loaned him your cell phone because his own had lost its battery charge.  With the exception of a certain tallness, you do not resemble him.  Woman Number One apparently knows this, too.  "He is not Clive fucking Cussler,"  she says.  "Clive Cussler lives in Nevada."

You'd like to call out, "And collects vintage automobiles and aircraft, which he stores in huge hangars," but this does not strike you as a time to share such information, thinking it might, under the circumstances, make you sound like a smartass.

"He may be Alan Folsom."

"He doesn't look anything like Alan Folsom."

Thanks to a party you attended last May, you are able to agree with this assessment; you do not, in fact, look anything like Alan Folsom.  This is the last of the dialogue you are able to hear,  The women have moved beyond your hearing range, leaving you to indulge the exact activity you were suspected of by Woman Number Two:  drinking your coffee and thinking vagrant thoughts, although they are no longer so vagrant.  What is it about you, you wonder, that causes strangers to think of you as an actor or a writer other than who you are?  You are reminded of a woman who approached you at another coffee shop, urging you to pretend your latest book was a rectal thermometer.  Your apparent delight at the anarchy of her metaphor caused you to laugh and her to further explode.

Had you not run out of milk, you'd have missed the exchange and some if not all the attendant associations, including a few possibilities you hadn't reckoned with.  The driving cause behind all this has nothing at all to do with your appearance and more to do with the fact that you are under the gun of deadline, revising with a fury, focused on the task at hand, with no hope of being done today or even tomorrow.  Maybe Saturday.  Certainly Sunday.  It is an in between day, a day of about eight or nine hours of work extended through various stratagems of procrastination to a fourteen or fifteen-hour day.  It is what you do.  You are a navigator out beyond shore line.

Such days are, on reflection, the best days of all, better than the rush of excitement for a new beginning or an effective ending.  Better than the arrival of a bottle with a note inside, containing an
insight of some considerable value.  An in-between day.  A work day.

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