An Ice Fisher

23 02 2007

The river’s iced and yes we slide about thinking about who we used to be. There is something in her voice that makes me remember when we used to kiss, but I try like I promised her to ignore it because she is married for the moment. She is thinking about how the Charles River is an accurate rendition of the human condition with its trivialities pressed cold onto the surface while life and some multitudinous currents scatter about beneath, diverse as the day itself but hidden until someone pokes through. How poetic. Her cheeks turn red and I can only think about how she used to blush at the sight of me; how I’d tease her for being embarrassed to see me, of course she wasn’t actually embarrassed then. I begin to wonder what it means to love.

“Gené, what does love mean to you?”
“Oh, do we have to have these philosophical questions? Can’t you just come out here sliding around with me?”
“What if the ice breaks?”
“What if you die right then? What if, Jean, you suddenly find yourself in heaven and you’re laughing about it?”
“Well suppose I die, suppose…” She dragged me out on the ice.
“…And worse,” Gené continued, “what if heaven is just like what everyone imagines it to be; wouldn’t that be a treat? I mean,” she throws on a pouty face, “that would be terrible, that would mean my Jean was wrong.”
“If I die right now then it’s all over, no kids, no books written, no lives saved or mended. I live my life because I pursue these things, I want to make life better for those near me, those dear to -”
“Who matters to you?”

I don’t answer the question. I’m not really sure why; part of me is doing it to admit to her that I like her or maybe it’s to make her think I’m interested. I run over to her intending to grab her hand, but I thought about it and maybe she’d take that the wrong way. I want to ask her out on a date.

We kiss, passionately, and I forget everything, I forget about the ice that isn’t beneath our feet, about dying. There is no ring on her finger anymore, or burden upon my mind, I am nothing but a visceral puddle slowly taking shape like a wave that wishes it could freeze. I reach out and grab us two drinks pouring them into the glasses on the table; the liquid burns as it goes down, more than usual today. The fire inside spreads out over my chest, starts to blacken my vision. I know that I had not drunk that much, I knew somewhere that I was probably dying, I know that the ice water was paralytically cold, but even as it was happening I thought to kiss Gené because in this dream this delusion I was not alone not crying in my bed, no I was holding my Gené again and her brown hair was flowing against my face and I was suddenly tired, and I fall forward. I think she may have caught me.





A Good Conversation

23 02 2007

Last night at about this time of night a man chose to end his life in a way Tolstoy might have envisioned; he flung his body into or under an oncoming Red Line train. The man, probably middle-aged probably depressed, found some reason surely for it, and committed himself. Above the Harvard T stop was a crowd of police and frustrated subway riders who found themselves confused as to why the trains (for some surely pedestrian reason) were being turned around at Harvard.

Today I sat down to dinner and next to me was certainly a surreal conversation emerging between two freshmen, a boy and a girl. The conversation was more or less:

Boy: “Men are the worst beings imaginable. Their actions constitute the vast majority of suffering throughout history, being a particularly aggressive and irrational race.”

Girl: “I agree.”

Boy: “Furthermore, women did so much for the human race. They were the ones who developed language. While men think about sex 97% of the time, women are more balanced.”

Girl: “The thing is I’ve never met a guy who doesn’t think about sex. Quite honestly, if I could meet a guy who was sensitive, and such”

Boy: “They’re out there yes, but that three percent completely blur the larger problem. While there are a few good men, most are by design imperfect subject to the confusions of the male gender. These inadequacies or deficiencies or what-have-you is subverted today into discussions of the id, or in saying that a superego transcends our society, or that some unconscious tendencies are the sum causal explanations to atrocities in our time.”

From atrocities he shifted to genocide, first Rwanda and then to how Holocaust survivors should counsel the Rwandan survivors. Then he shifted to commiting mass genocide on, quite logically, the male gender as a sort of compensatory gesture for what has happened in the course of human history.

Boy: “Women could, with the technology today, harvest men for their sperm and kill them, continuing genetic diversity but reducing the amount of hatred and violence in the world.”