November 13, 2009

How you were made


Did you know, I wanted to ask, that the way you make yogurt is that you put a small amount of a concentrated yogurt into a vat of milk and leave it alone for a while and when you come back it's a whole vat of yogurt now? It brings to question the idea then that all yogurts come from one original yogurt dollop, doesn’t it?
This wouldn't have made him laugh, I figured. Even if I told it the way it was told to me, giving the yogurt a bossy voice commanding the vat of milk, "OK, you turn into ME now!"
So I didn't say it. I don’t know why I wanted to make him laugh. That was just the way I tried to make people like me, even when the feeling wasn’t necessarily mutual.
At some point I decided that to be disarming was very important. It’s a useful skill to have when you haven’t really got much by way of fight or flight, and you get winded after one block, and you aren’t even one of those people that other people just initially trust and are comfortable around from the get-go. If you can make them laugh then you’re good company to have around. And I think that’s a good start.
I was only doing a friend a favor. There was nothing social about it. And still, on the way over I calculated how long I would realistically be taking in this venture and I came up with at least 3 things to mention if polite conversation ever became close to boring as shit. I could only come up with things to say that I knew I never would say because conversation would likely never cover the topic that I was genuinely curious about.
It’s difficult to give somebody sage advice about their love life within 6 minutes of conversation. It is difficult to comfort an uneasy heart in less than 15 minutes, at the very least. To even place myself near such an invisible disaster was just as equally compelling as it was an affliction to which I was all too susceptible. And at the same time I would deny it to death. I would go to work with the cold. Either way, my mouth turned to stone at the very thought of it.
Instead, I make my entrance, very aware that I don’t fidget with my jacket. I steal matches off the counter and we talk about relevant topics. How do you like working here, I ask. He says it’s great. It’s an easy job, and as far as day jobs go all he has to do is make sure the place isn’t a total wreck. How is your career? How is your day? How is your neighborhood? Small talk is such an advertising gimmick sometimes. Then again, so is heartbreak.
I wouldn’t pretend to know the first thing about it. It’s always a whisper of a rumor or else a promise, like some sort of disease statistic. Put 50 of your peers in a room and tell me how many. I don’t have the kind of eyes that can reach that far into you, I don’t think. They’ve never shown me any more than what’s right in front of them, although admittedly I am often looking with something else. Something with no loyalty to reality or truth. I am often looking for some sincere outcome that may very well not be a likely possibility, albeit a nice one. I think one of my greatest fears is insincerity. Insincerity often leads to having your heart broken. And yet more often than that, genuine candor has delivered some serious wallops. I don’t want to say I’m one of those people who just lets everything tug at their heartstrings. But didn’t I just say I didn’t really see with my eyes.
I held my tongue and feigned urgency to leave when I ran out of my 3 polite niceties to talk about. It was unfair, really. It’s like telling someone not to look down. I walked away still clutching the vague urge to cheer up a relative stranger about something I’m not sure I am supposed to know. I dropped it on the way out, littering the sentiment.
I want to tell him to prepare for her rage that really just means she’s still in love with you. That even though he’s done this to himself that doesn’t mean it’s irreparable. Anticipate regret but that doesn’t meant you have to follow through with it. I want him to know that there sometimes is a vast difference between a relationship and love. One can only hope that you can have both at the same time, but also go with the knowledge that maybe you won’t (and hopefully have the good sense to recognize which is which). It all depends on how much of that you’ll let in.
These are the same things I promised myself. That as long as there was the original and initial love, you still had options and potential. You had magic. You could make something appear from nothing. There was still a promise for everything to turn out alright or better than alright. Even in a vat of shit.
These are the things I could not conceptualize until I heard that damn yogurt story. As if I could convert anybody.