Should I be worried about the apocalypse? Is it coming? Or is it just gonna be a new giant squid era? If it's just gonna be a giant squid era, should I be even more worried?
It is the universal plight of any professional that he or she might become so intellectually en-mired in his or her field that, after a time, all things seem but a facet of the career. I think now, for example, of the proctologist who did become so obsessed with his craft and trade that, one day, he finally came to realize that, wheresoever he did go and whosoever he did see, all seemed just to "be a bunch of assholes."
Advice columneers like myself, I believe, are especially susceptible to this syndrome. The more we look and advise and consider advising, the more we begin to expect, in perpetuity, that each question which briefly lies before us is in truth a coded, pseudonymous plea from one so close as to be almost directly adjacent. As such, on Monday, whilst I pondered the above query — taped to the exterior of my tank by my assistant Jarwaun — I did note Editor Dave skulking in my vicinity, looking over-casually out the fine large window at Detroit's River, and Windsor upon the opposing shore. There he stood, tracking the sun's progress as it broke above the clean Canadian skyline, then crawled its burning beetle-path across the sky until it was no longer visible from my lab's eastern exposure, pushing further along the sky and projecting back the phallic mock-promontory shadow of our glass-and-steel tower ever farther towards the inviting nooks and crevasses of le Dame Canadianne.
As evening became night, I chose to finally broach the topic. "EDITOR DAVE-O," I did ask, "ARE YOU CONCERNED FOR THE APOCALYPSE?"
"I guess," he sighed, lifting not his forehead from the window's dark glass, where it had rested for the last several hours, "I mean . . ." his pause, it was long. "No, actually, I guess not." He then grunted, as though slightly astonished.
"ARE YOU PERHAPS CONCERNED THAT SUCH ANY APPROACHING APOCALYPSIS WILL REVEAL AND USHER FORTH AN AGE AQUARIAL OF UNQUESTIONED SQUID DOMINION OVER THE TINY STRIPS OF DRY LAND WHICH SHALL REMAIN?"
He appeared to consider the possibility. "I don't really see how that would make my life any different," he said flatly. "I think, maybe, that's the definition of rock bottom: If Revelation is at hand, and it turns out God is a pitiless fucking sea monster, and that doesn't change your life for better or worse, then you are technically exactly one-hundred-percent as fucked as you can be."
I then took to the sighing. "SHOULD I THEN UNDERSTAND THAT YOU DID NOT WRITE THE QUESTION WHICH JARWAUN DID PRINT FOR ME AND POST TO MY TANK'S GLASS FOR MY CONSIDERATION?"
I became cross, stitching of my brows, "THEN WHY HAVE YOU LOITERED AROUND MY TANK SO? YOU'VE STOOD AT THAT WINDOW, GAZING, FOR 16 AND TWO-THIRDS HOURS."
Dave finally disengaged his head from the glass, and turned upon me, and there was fire upon him, like burning oil on the face of still waters, "One: people hate it when you use the wrong fucking fractions; NO ONE breaks hours into thirds, and no one wants a fifth of a sandwich, and no one can even fucking fathom what a fucking 72nd note is, which is why your album has sold for shit. Two: I'll stand wherever the fuck I want."
"BECAUSE IT IS YOUR BIRTH'S DAY."
He turned back to the glass.
"THE AUSPICIOUS EVENT HAS BEEN MUCH PUBLICIZED."
His back was stiff, hands buried into the pockets of his canvass workingman's pants. In that moment, I did realize that I had never in my life seen a man stand so furiously.
"ARE YOU HIDING FROM YOUR BIRTHDAY?"
He thrummed, like an office tower in the midst of the tornado's punishing pressure fluctuations, like a shaken bottle-soda, prepared to relentlessly spew forth, "ARE YOU HIDING FROM YOUR BIRTHDAY?" he sneered, a sneer I saw reflected in the dark glass, a sneer bejeweléd with the tiny, friscillating lights of Windsor, a sneer riding like a birch-bark canoe upon the dancing shimmer of reflected light upon the surface of Detroit's River, "Yeah, I'm hiding from my birthday."
I see all, and yet I was completely at a loss to explain such behavior "WHY?"
"The same reason that people cross the street when they see a pit-bull wandering around," he told the insensate glass.
"TO AVOID PAYING DELIVERY FEES AND SURCHARGES?"
"To avoid disaster. Three years ago I went to Baskin Robbins on my birthday for free birthday ice cream and the roly-poly teen-larva behind the counter spit in my ice cream —"
Lights, they did kindle in my ponderous brain. "AND THAT IS HOW YOU CONTRACTED GONOCOCCAL PHARYNGITIS!"
He said nothing, stood ramrod straight.
The moment was long, and I heard the lab's heaters thrum to life, then click off again. The moon, a thin sliver like the reaver's sickle, loomed up from among Windsor's providential towers .
"Two years ago," he spoke betwixt teeth clenched like a closed zipper, "I was arrested, last year was that thing with the trunk, on my twenty-first there was the elderly stripper incident, the stadium-show diarrhea on my eighteenth — It's just fucking Disaster Time every year. For fifteen years — for half my fucking life! — I've been saying I shouldn't do anything, and then I get cajoled into doing something, and I get bit in the ass. This year I'm not doing shit."
"BUT WE ARE RECOGNIZING YOUR BIRTHDAY RIGHT NOW: WE ARE DISCUSSING YOUR NATIVITY."
He turned to me, looked upon me with perfect loathing, "No." he said gently, "We're not." And then gazed back to the window.
"THIRTY," I said.
"Thirty," he confirmed, and then slumped.
Again we stood in silence, but it was a silence most pregnant, and I knew that it would soon be broken with the quiet cries of some notion's birth. The moon rode ever higher in the dark night's sky, another canoe, sailing for another sea.
"I have no career," he said quietly. "I work for a sea monster. I'm missing a testicle, and two years ago I had to pay an illegal Russian office temp to pose as my wife at my class reunion. We got in a fight in the wine line about preschools — preschools for impossible children, 'cause we never even shook hands, let alone — whatever. But someone called Social Services, and now I'm on some sorta fucking watch-list for serial domestic abusers, and I've never even been married."
He sighed and again rested his forehead upon the dark glass.
"I just . . . I dunno, I guess I always thought I'd be a little more something by the middle of my life."
I relaxed, finally placing my tentacles tip upon the problem's heart, "OHH, DEAR DAVE-O," I did chuckle, "NOW I DO CONCEIVE OF THE NATURE OF YOUR ENNUI. YOU ARE NOT MIRED IN THE MIDDLE-OF-YOUR-LIFE."
He turned from the dark glass of the window, "Really?"
"INDEED. TRULY, YOU ARE MUCH CLOSER TO THE FIVE-SEVENTHS MARK — THERE ARE BUT A FEW PALTRY LAPS REMAINING IN YOUR RACE."
His face fell.
I then realized the error in my calculations — he being far closer to seven-ninths than five-sevenths, but elected to keep the intelligence to myself.
Nonetheless, his face was already rapidly souring. "DESPAIR NOT," I reassured. "I AM QUITE CERTAIN YOU SHALL MAKE IT." I neglected to opine that, in this particular race, no one fails to cross the finishing line, apart from poor, damnéd Roger Waters.
"How the fuck do you know when I'm going to die, you boneless fuck?"
"I DO NOT," I lied. "BUT I DO KNOW THE SQUID-POCALYPSE COMES ONLY NEARER: THE GLOBE WARMS, THE ICE MELTS, AND THE SEAS RISE. AND YOU — IT IS WELL NOTED — CANNOT SWIM. THE SKIES ARE CHOKED WITH POISON AND THE BEES CEASE TO POLLINATE YOUR FOODSTUFFS. A CANNIBAL FUTURE AWAITS."
He slumped against the glass, yielding to Logic's indefatigable thrusts.
"PERMIT NOT THE SADNESS TO RULE YOU ON THIS DAY OF YOUR NATIVITY. YOU STILL HAVE YOUR PROSTITUTION CONVICTION —"
"That was trumped-up bullshit," he mumbled.
"— AND YOUR LONG-STANDING DIFFICULTY WITH AIR TRAVEL —"
"— AND YOUR FRIENDS, AMONG WHOM I DO PROUDLY COUNT MYSELF."
"Thanks. Listen. I'm just . . . I'm just gonna stand here until tomorrow."
"LIKELY, THAT IS BEST."
"I know I can't really see it, but I feel . . . after watching the river all day, I sorta feel like I can actually see that it came up a bit, got a bit wider, pushed Windsor — fucking clean, perfect Windsor — a little farther away."
"THE RIVER ROSE THREE INCHES TODAY."
"IT IS. HAPPY BIRTH'S DAY, DAVE-O."
I thought upon explaining to him of the proctologist who looked and saw only assholes, but then I reflected that, in his own manner, Dave likely already understood.
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