I was having a really bad day. I felt lonely, my heart ached. I was having anxiety. Overall, the world seemed to pulsate with the meaninglessness of it all. One could say I was having an existential crisis. Standing mid-hill on a walk home, breathing heavily, I thought, I wish Life could take the form of a man, so one afternoon I could bump into him in a dark empty tavern. He’d be sitting at one end of the bar, toiling through whatever thoughts Life would toil through. I’d give him a nod and say, “Barkeep, send that man a whiskey.” He’d thank me and we’d share some inane conversation about baseball, the weather, and how there is no good TV news anymore. Life would even make the joke about how there are so many Starbucks opening up that a Starbucks opened inside of a Starbucks. Though I wouldn’t find it funny, I’d smile. Then out of nowhere, I’d say, “I know who you are.” Life would play coy, shrug, and try to make it not a big deal. I’d say, “Guess what? I’m going to take you out back and kick your ass.” I’d mean it too. I’d take Life right out back and beat the living shit out of the mother fucker so badly his front teeth would hit the pavement like the sound of dice, and every punch would be delivered with a verbalized reason: “This is for heart break” (Punch). “This for that cancer scare you gave me this year” (Punch). “This is for the girl who made 1998 hell” (Punch-punch).
“This is for utility bills. My lack of being able to connect with my family, being born poor, not being able to pay my rent, born-again Christians and the various other assholes who harass me on the corner. This is for the threat of nuclear devastation, starvation, hatred, racism, AIDS, the Chicago Cubs sucking for my entire life, wet shoelaces, the death of John Lennon, my father’s breath, homelessness, the girls who I can’t get to love me and the girls who do love me, fear, high school, my inability to truly understand The Brothers Karamazov, the day I have to hear Woody Allen died, the lack of health care, the depletion of the ozone, the price of gas, my social awkwardness, cars breaking down on the 405, the general overall pain we feel, jobs, Republicans, Joan Rivers, spider bites, bad tacos, my sudden inability to digest cheese, and the goddamn daily struggle of it all!”
Finally, when Life was beat and tired and lying on the pavement, I’d extend my hand and help him up. He’d struggle to get his footing, weave, and then stumble into me so he wouldn’t fall back down to the pavement. I’d grab him and hold him close to me, with my hand cradling the back of his greasy head. I’d whisper to him, “Hey, thanks for Miles Davis, Chicago in November, and that girl who smiled at me in the lobby of that theater. Thanks for The Marx Brothers, Guinness, Jameson, and those flowers I smell when I stumble home drunk. Thanks for girls with dainty tattoos. Thanks for Camus, even though I have never finished one of his books. Thanks for breakfast at outdoor cafes, the city of Dublin, and that guy at the subway stop in New York who plays that old metal bucket with a string and a broomstick attached to it. Thanks for the sound trains make and Cole Porter. Thanks for the paintings of Gris. The words of James Joyce and ee cummings. Thanks for road trips to Portland and Mad Magazine when I was eight. Thanks for the love I do have and my friends, no matter how fucked up they can be. Thanks, you old shit bag, thanks.” Then I’d throw my arm around Life, and we’d shuffle back into the bar where we’d proceed to get drunk and laugh like fools, for that’s what we both are – fools.