Quist used to tell me, "There are no shortcuts, poot. In life, you gotta take the long way round." Sometimes you spy an open meadow through a thicket and think to yourself, "Lemme go that way." The next thing you know, the effin mud is sucking at your feet like quicksand. Walkin starts to get difficult -- your breathing gets heavy and you start to sweat -- so you pump your legs a little faster. Nobody around. Your cell doesn't work and you're not makin any headway. It ain't panic yet, but it's gettin close. And it happens every day. Lookin for a steady job.
You remember that time you tried to swim from Oak Beach to Fire Island half-drunk. The wind was calm, the sun shone high in the early afternoon. The inlet sparkled like cut glass and the girls were giggling in their towels. Hell, it was less than half a mile across and you'd only had a coupla beers. You couldn't see the current though, the one that ran as fast as hell from east to west towards Jones Beach. Sure, you could swim like a dolphin but it didn't matter -- there was no way you were gonna make it across. You dove in and started doing that impressive Australian crawl. And there you were a minute later, losing it, gulping saltwater, arms beating at the sea, flailin about, heart hammering away, eyes stinging, kickin your legs like a wild beast, panicked, choking, with no effin way to get the goddamn air in and out of your burning lungs. What an arsehole -- to drown on a beautiful calm day just a little ways from shore with the girls laughing and waving like that.
For one moment, you gave up. Which was the right thing to do. Cause that's when you glimpsed how the current was gonna carry you toward a spit of beach between you and the deep blue forever. And so you let yourself go. Human flotsam. You washed up a coupla hundred yards away. Couldn't even stand up your legs were shakin so bad, so you had to crawl out on all fours like an effin baby. And then you started puking all over the beach -- bile and mucus and beer. All that useless adrenaline. No one would see this. You laid there on the hot sand tryin to focus and slowly you began to get your breath back.
You covered up your vomit with more sand and stood -- you could do it now that your legs weren't trembling as bad. A flock of gulls sat in the dunes and stared at you. You were starting to get warm again. It was time to begin walkin back down the beach to the others, after all, you didn't want them to worry. Words too began comin back to you. "Nobody saw me. I can do this. I can do this."
So today, my pants are pressed and I'm wearin a tie. I shaved without cuttin myself and I've got a fresh copy of my résumé. And I think I know what these guys want. Age don't mean a thing. It's all in the experience. I got seven hours of sleep for the first time in weeks and I've been eatin pretty good. Today, I've even got my effin dignity for a change. I swear I'm not lookin for the easy way out -- you can throw the world on my shoulders and I'll try to keep it aloft. So. Lemme ask you, poot, what am I not seeing? And why do I feel like that kid who's lost his ball and is about to lose it again?