Friday, December 11, 2015
What He Wanted to Say (Fiction As Catharsis)
She was there waiting for him at the sushi bar. Papers spread out on the table, glasses down on her nose, she pored over the fine print of a contract. Her sparkling water was set off to the side.
He wanted a beer, a tall, dark, high alcohol-content craft beer.
She had ordered him a water that matched hers, bubble for bubble.
When he sat down, she looked up over her glasses. "I'm concerned about how much we're paying for insurance and how much we are losing on the rental that needs filling. Have you called about the discount we should be getting for the landscaping work last week? That crew messed up the lighting on the path so bad I can't see where I am going when I come in late."
A waiter appeared, and the man looked mournfully at the menu pinched tight between the waiter's elbow and his rib cage.
"I already ordered for you," she said. "Veggies and rice."
"I want a beer," he said to the waiter.
She gave him a sharp look of disapproval before returning her gaze to the papers in front of her.
"A large one," he added.
The waiter made a note on his pad and turned away, stepping neatly around the bus boy on his way to the bar.
He was confused, tired, out-of-sorts, and wanted to say so. It seemed to him that nobody cared about anything anymore, that people just wanted to exploit each other, to steal, to take advantage, to climb over each other on the way to bigger and more. And the apathy, the mediocrity, the complexity. You couldn't even talk to a person on the phone anymore if you had a question. Go to the website. Get stuck in a ridiculous dead end of asinine buttons, clicks, and menus of numbers. He wanted to tell her that he was angry all the time and felt victimized again and again.
"Can you swing by that Asian market on the way home and pick up some fresh ginger?" she asked. "I want make something special for the Rosenbergs. They are coming over tomorrow night. We really need to impress them if we want their business."
When the beer came, he poured it clumsily into his frosted glass. The foam head rose like some aggressive fungus over the shallow yellow brew. He drank it anyway and was pleased that the foam made a moustache over his lip. He wanted to look ridiculous, to act up, throw a tantrum.
All of it, the losses, the violations, the helplessness just wouldn't leave him alone.
He wanted to bring it up.
"Sorry," she said, "but I gotta run. I have a 1:30 with the selection committee. You know how they are. And the pool we have to pull from... just not very deep. People don't seem very competent anymore."
With that she finished her California roll, tipped her fizzy water back like a shot of tequila, packed up her brief case, kissed him on the forehead, turned and marched toward the door with a gait that stabbed at the tile with her sharp heels.
She was a mover, a marketing genius, and proud of it. She thrived on the waves created by changing ways of doing things, saw them as a challenge to be met and defeated. She was the new way, the cutting edge, the pressure against the limitations of the envelope, and she took no prisoners. Get with it, her eyes said, or get left behind. He knew to stay out of her way. She hated weakness, indecision, and incompetence, all of which he felt in his bones.
He watched her disappear into her waiting Lexus through the window of the restaurant.
He nursed his beer and realized he had the rest of the day to himself and no one to call.