Lice

by dschapman

Ten things I could do every instant and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do any of it. Yes sir, that’s what I said. I’ll sit here and watch while the rest of us get on with our lives and I don’t even try to. It gets hard sometimes, sure… It gets hard for everyone. But somehow that is no consolation. At least they have each other… All I have is this stupid dog. Some bad investments and a stupid dog. I can’t wait for the market to crash (I shouldn’t say that). That’ll do me in right good. I’ll have had it coming. That and those other things… Those other dreadful things. What’s the point of worrying, after all? Subsistence living, after all. Marquee, Marquis?

My dreams have come back again. I dreamt I was in a house on the river in Maine. My father gave me that house and I lived in it. It smelled like the salt and I had fun by myself in the house. I dreamt I was in a band having fun with my friends. Ha!

I ate decently for a month but have since settled back into my old bad habits. Rice and chicken, rice and chicken, steamed beans, steamed broccoli – and that’s that. Now it’s the old burger and fries again. Now its the old greasy spoon. I have seven different pints of ice cream in my freezer and I eat at least one a day. The stuff is magnificent. I went in for a pint and the price was half off if you bought 5, so I bought 5 and left with my arms full. Dumped the pints in the car and decided I could use 5 more, so I went in for seconds. That was two days ago and there are seven left. 120 percent of your daily fat in one pint. Last time I weighed myself I only weighed 120 pounds. 120 pounds! That’s what I weighed when I was 12. 10 pounds a year… I should weight 230 pounds now. I’m pathetic! Half the man I should be. Yes, that’s right – it’s simple mathematics.

I made the mistake of joining my parents for dinner. I mentioned that I wanted to make a living for myself and we got into it. They offered a hundred suggestions and each one was worse than the last. I told them I was already done with philosophy, that it was just words to me now, and words were, uh, meaningless. They said I should be a grant writer. A grant writer? Of all the niche industries to write for – I told them writing should be it but it won’t be it, not for me. I can’t write good and I can’t write bad, and you’ve got to do one or the other to get by. Good, shitty writing is the stuff of the industry – half a million bad articles a day in the papers and magazines, a million an hour on the internet – books, e-books, memos, notes. Nothing for me to do because I can’t do any of it well enough or bad enough. It seems so easy to write the bad stuff that the world seems to crave but I just… But if I could, that would be something

Finally I laughed and said that I wanted to be in a think tank. I don’t even know what a think tank is. They told us about them when I was in the third grade and it seemed ridiculous to me at the time. I didn’t believe they existed. My parents thought it was a good idea because they’re senseless. You can’t just be in a think tank. Think tanks come after a long and distinguished career. Exceptional careers. Not my kind of career.

I left the whole thing feeling pretty lousy and decided not to talk about careers again. I’m a damn hypochondriac anyway. It wouldn’t even matter if I had a career, I’d still be lousy over my loneliness. And it wouldn’t even matter if I fell in love with a girl, I’d be lousy with some nonsense yearning. It doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll be the same as I am, and that’s lousy. Lousier than I thought, I think, but how can I know?

It’s that season again. The dog has lice, which means that I have lice. I bought a few hundred dollars worth of new clothes but have nowhere to put them. All my drawers are too full. They’re very nice clothes and I like to own them. I don’t wear them, of course. I pick the one garment I like most and wear that, until the season changes again, and none of the clothes are suitable, and they are all old and unfashionable. And then I store them away with the rest of the clothes in storage. But damn if they aren’t nice clothes. Soft linen, breezy organic cotton. I’ve turned into a material fetishist.

I’ve started listening to popular R&B radio because it reminds me of walking from the car to the front lobby of the department stores in the mall as a boy in the early 90’s New England. It is a particular feeling and I enjoy it. I’m not sure what it is. Eight, maybe later, the sky is dark and there are constellations in the sky. I open the doors and am met with the nice cold conditioned well-lit entryway, the smell of clothes and chemical castration, the thin stainless carpeting and tall metal walls. Are the walls metal? Is the floor really carpeted? Maybe its tile. I don’t know. There is soft rock and R&B playing throughout the store and I’m bored. I fondle the fabrics that hang from the mannequins. My mother looks for something particular. I walk through the department store and into the mall, and I walk past the stores, looking into the windows. I have about six dollars in my wallet. If I had twenty I would be able to buy most anything I want. As it is I have to be very selective.

Night time in the 90’s, my… Now there’s something my dog will never know about. A lot of us will never know about it. That’s quite my own, and it’s gone for good, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that. Who else was there, in the 90’s, in that calm New England night? We were all in the entry hall to the mall together, and we were listening to soft rock and R&B underneath those big light bulbs… It might as well have been the Spanish Inquisition, or the birth of Christ. 1066, 1776, 1929, it’s a day, a decade, like any other, and it’s all mine, and I barely remember it. Well so what?

I’m so boring now I embarrass myself.

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