Monday, February 16, 2009

Eleven Feet

Now I got a new problem -- where to put all the souvenir books. Need some bookcases. I take the measuring tape out, stretch it from the right wall to the molding around the door and try to read the numbers. Ten feet, eleven and seven sixteenth inches. What kind of dimension is that? Shouldn’t it be an even eleven feet? Haven’t used fractions in years. Whatever happened to the metric system, wasn’t it gonna be adopted here? I seem to recall someone talking about it from my school days, some forty-odd years ago. No wonder we don’t make much of anything anymore.

Some six hundred thousand poor souls got laid off in January. So what in hell am I looking in the mirror for? Quist said nobody you don’t know is gonna stare back out at you. I’m not sure though. You work someplace long enough, you start believin’ that person is really you, not the one who came there years before with big ideas and brass balls. You used to be human but somehow you became a turtle, mold growin’ on your shell, wizened little head retracting at the first sign of trouble, wrinkly webbed feet makin’ scratch-marks on the linoleum as you tried to flee The Man. Then you got caught. Now you see the Free Market Boys put Turtle Soup on the menu.

You got to look in the mirror, prove you’re still human. Touch your cheeks, your forehead, your chest, your genitals, tuft up the gray hair on the top of your head. Watch yourself get goosebumps. Shiver a little, then breathe on the mirror and watch it cloud up. You think wakin’ up alive is a given, poot? Thank god for that little patch of condensation, it speaks to me, tells me I’m still here.

Sweet Lou says, “Go out and enjoy yourself, you only live once. You can always stay at my place on the shore.” I think, yes that’s right, but then again he’s eighty-one and I still got a ways to go.

So I look at the tape measure again. I ask you now, is there really a difference between ten feet eleven and seven sixteenth inches and eleven feet, when it comes to bookcases? Quist used to tell me, “Don’t over-think things, poot, it'll all work out in the end.”

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