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Stalking the Average Man


forward. I assumed her anticipatory gaze related to her statement and me, but the connection
eluded me like the popularity of Abba‘s harmonically incarcerating whining, when Black
Sabbath‘s dissonant tritonics could set the inner beast free.
-If you‘re worried about credibility, | I managed to say casually, -how can you have spirits
talking to people? |
-As I said, understanding these things is a process. | Squaring her shoulders, she said, -If
you think about it, we‘re all a process—works in progress. |
-How‘s that? | I said, obligingly taking the detour.
-Being happy, for example, is an art that takes years of practice to achieve. |
I could not imagine how one would practice happiness, but this idea brought me to another
insight: with our uncommon comfort level acting as a safety net, my blunt manner had left
Bonnie no room to imbue my practical expertise with her creative spin. This would explain the
-crisper | moments, even implied threats in her tone. In fact, she probably agreed with me about
the pitfalls of gimmicks, but I had cornered her; she could no t help but think I was taking shots at
her labor of love.
-It must be, | I said amicably, -because there aren‘t many people who are good at it. |
-You liked your television work, correct? |
-Sure. |
-You weren‘t really out to save the world from ignorance? | she grinned solicitously.
-There was a time when I liked the idea that our work might influence people toward
making better decisions, but I had a couple of beers and the idea went away. |
-You can do better than that. |
-It wasn‘t my job, but it would take all night to explain why, | I said crisply.
-I‘m looking forward to that night. | There was no crinkle at the bridge of her nose or
creased lip-line to undermine her sincerity. -After reaching that realization, | she said, -did you
still like your work? |
-Why do you ask? |
-Taking risks made you happy, you practiced it, and you became good at it. |
-That‘s something else I haven‘t given much thought to, but you‘re probably right. Is that
an energy crime to your people? | I jested.
-It can be—depends. | She sipped her drink.
I didn‘t ask.
We had a light exchange about our school days, friendships, parents, and pet peeves—mine
being food shopping because it seemed that I was the only one not treating it as friggin social
occasion. I would have been happy spending the rest of the evening in this casual way, especially
not taking a detour after every innocent comment I made, but Bonnie had ot her plans.
Regularly injecting the word magic into our conversation, always without qualification,
became so annoying that when she eventually used the word to blithely describe all of human
existence I almost lost it. My intention was to satirize a New Ager on recreational
pharmaceuticals when I asked Bonnie to define the term, but my exasperation bloomed into the
embarrassing sarcasm of an adolescent.
Nonplussed, Bonnie asked me what I found so troubling about the idea.
Relieved for the reprieve, and cued by the flickering candle, I said, -A cave man staring at
fire could only explain the heat and light as magic. Time-shift him into your book, and he‘d bow
to the God Bic by virtue of a billion miracles a day. |
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