Studies show that human beings are apt to lie when cornered just as snakes are apt to strike. You wake up shaking in the night, sweaty and sleepless, wondering is it love I fear? Studies show that more than half of the population is afraid of the dark. That grapefruit, blueberries, and apricots may help prevent certain cancers. That mistakes are made. That animals have emotional lives. Studies show that sleepless nights are cumulative in effect, that those whose eyes cannot close lose all track of time, wandering in their own minds as they lurch through their waking day somnolent. I need a nap. I need to lie down. I can't sleep. I can't eat. What's wrong with me?
The ice box sits in a corner of the kitchen, rattling away. I open it, remembering the rotting dinner in Repulsion. Moldy cold cuts and hairy vegetables, cold bread and slimy yogurt, sticky jars of condiments, flat soda and sour milk, rancid butter and old eggs, five plastic containers of pasty leftovers, the lids curling away from the rims, allowing the sickly odor of rot to escape into the other food. You live like this? Part of me does, part of me has gone to seed. What do we mean when we say part of me?
If you had a television, now would be a good time to turn it on. So in need of companionship. You think to yourself, where is the proper place for a television screen? In a hospital room, to comfort the sick. In a third world landfill, having been made obsolete. In a married couple's bedroom, killing their sex life. In a moving vehicle, to keep the kids pacified. Maybe nowhere. In your local bar and pizzeria, tuned to ESPN, results coming at you in a constant scroll. The eye in the night, looking back at you. My friend Farmer has a big plasma screen hanging in his living room. "Come on over and see the game." March madness.
Who doesn't fear love? In a brutal world men and women are capable of this. Even amid the struggle to stay alive, tubes coming out of their arms and stomachs, you hear them chanting over the ecstatic washing of wounds. Studies show that men and women are capable of extraordinary acts of tenderness, but only occasionally. A breach in reality. Widowhood begetting wisdom. Then it's back to lying and listlessness. Studies show that you are what you eat. Studies show that those suffering sleeplessness are more prone to stroke. Studies show that you only get one chance. Part of you only gets one chance.
I will try to be subtle. Gimme a straight razor and I will make a division between this part of me and that part of me.
Last week I attended sales conference in Florida for a two nights and a day. I split apart down there, loved and unloved, comforted and estranged, sentimental though sick at heart, needy but ready to bolt. Sometimes sobriety is a cheat. Studies show that sales conference is all about the books. Sure. Part of me believes that. Now I tell myself a lie. Hello happy camper. Studies show that campers are happier than non-campers. Studies show that if you go through the motions with enough conviction, you will accomplish what you've set out to do: make the motions your own. Studies show that "it is wonderful to see the old boy hale again." I ask you, poot, who cares what studies show?