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Stalking the Average Man

-Your poetry may be too clever, and the apprentices will look suspicious, if not superior, by
choosing younger friends. |
-Your view of friendship is a balanced relationship of reliable exchanges? |
-Works for me. Why? |
-By that definition, two fools could form a lifelong bond based on agreeing with each
other's faults, and circulate endless sympathy as their lives never improve. Apprentices were the
second best friends anyone could ever have, beside teachers, because they never agreed with
flaws. | She leaned her head against the house. -You have to understand what your flaws are
before you can have a true friendship with anyone. |
Feeling that we were on the brink of a confrontation, I lifted a worn running shoe to table
height and said, -Will the scene make sense if I tie my laces backwards?"
-It would help, | Bonnie said, leaning forward to poke a finger through the slit in the side of
my shoe where he glue had given way. -You're due for a new pair. |
-That lets the water out. | I lowered my foot.
-Treating yourself poorly leads to acting poorly, which gives others permission to treat you
the same way. Treat yourself well and you set a standard others must live up to if they want to
share your company. | Bonnie assessed my appearance from head to toe. -Trimming your beard
might make people think that growing it was intentional, and buying shoes will make you feel
better about yourself. Maybe some shirts that aren't so tight would help, as well, | she said,
glancing at my paunch.
-I began running a few weeks ago, | I said.
-You must be very tired by now, | she deadpanned.
-I‘m getting there, | I said crankily. -How does this encounter fit in your work? |
-My characters couldn‘t appreciate the symmetry of their quest, if they thought too rigidly.
This meant there remained a chance that they might improvise, and in predictable ways. |
-By which you mean like an average person? |
-I do. If they studiously practiced disrupting their routines, they will become fluidly
unpredictable, and yet deliberate within their new way of thinking. As you know, outsiders to
that way of thinking can‘t plan for it. Even if they tried, | she added, -average thinkers would
defend themselves in predictably inappropriate ways, leaving them vulnerable. |
-Vulnerable to retaliation? |
-To impeccable acts. We‘ll define those as we go along. |
Chapter 14
The Guardian
I was looking through the picture window at a pedestrian drizzle that a soft-rock jock said
would end by lunchtime, when the phone rang and Bonnie saved me from having to dress like a
lobsterman to cross the bridge to her place. Forty minutes later, we were in our front booth at
Nolan‘s having coffee and Danish pastry.
Taking new pages from an old envelope, she said her commune had designed helping
others into their way of life so their children took little for granted while participating in practical
cycles of positive cause and effect. For example, the effectiveness of water proofing boats
depended upon surface preparation, the quality of fine cloth when required, and the proper
blending of oils and saps. Not coincidentally, at some point in their early years every child had
gone fishing in a leaky boat, and become exhausted while learning the rhythmic art of bailing