What should I say to her?
My Dearest Toungue-Tied Novitiate,
To you, and in this moment, I shall make the honest: I was not intending to answer your query. I had, in fact, showcased your question at our weekly staff meeting, as just the very sort that I am sick unto death of attempting to answer: Poorly formated fragments which have all the seeming of a brief jotting, abridged, of an inchoate quasi-thought half-aborted as it struggled to find air in the tumultuous sea of short-message-service texting Twitters that so many humans seem to believe passes for "communication" in this day and its age.
I will admit, it is within the vast and forested realm of possibility that I was somewhat the ranting upon the subject, my coiled tentacles pounding upon the glass of my tank, and sending the grape Kool-Aid in Jarwaun's, Trael's, and Rob's drinking glasses to a shiver.
"Why are you screaming?" Editor Fritz asked, all the bafflement at my rage's fury.
"And why are they the only ones that get Kool-Aid?" Editor Dave added.
"'cause we bought it ourselves," my typist, Jarwaun, repeated patiently.
"But a fuckin' Kool-Aid single is, like, 50-cents—"
Jarwaun looked upon Dave, cold and unflappable, "And me and Rob and Tray each paid seventeen cents."
"—and you used sugar from the break room, and water, too. Break room water. Company water."
TAKE, FOR THE EXAMPLE, THIS: WHAT SHOULD I SAY TO HER? I ASK, TO WHOM? AND ON WHAT OCCASION? AND, FOR THAT MATTER, HOW SHOULD I ADDRESS YOU TO ANSWER WHEN YOU HAVE NOT SIGNED YOUR LETTER! IT IS THE VERY VAST DEPTH OF SELF-INVOLVEMENT! I AM NOT ONLY TO GUESS THE CONTEXT, BUT ALSO THE PETITIONER'S—"
"Hey, sugarumpus; you wanna bump uglies?" Rob asked, then sipped from his glass, "That's what you should tell him to tell her. That's, like, the 100-percent thing to say."
"That's terrible advice," Editor Mojo opined from the sunny shores of Sam's Francisco via teleconferencing screen at the end of the table.
"Well," Rob revised, "Maybe the wording's a little off. I'm not, like, married to sugarumpus, for examp—"
"It's terrible advice on many levels. On every level. What if the person asking the question is a woman?"
Rob crossed his rams afore his chest. "They can still bump 'em. It's medically possible." He paused, considering, then finished somewhat in awe of himself, "It really is perfect advice."
"What if the 'her' is her mom; like, the advice-seeker is a teen, and she totalled the car or something, and doesn't know how to tell her."
"I'm cool with that. I'm cool with MILFs and DILFs getting it on. It's called being tolerant, right? It's maybe something you Heil Fuhrer Schwartzenegger It's-Not-a-Toomah California firebugs could learn from us Detroit folk." Jarwaun scowled at Rob who, unawares, drank of his Kool-Aid. "I stand by my advice."
"You ain't from round here," Jarwaun mumbled, pouring the last of the Kool-Aid into his glass.
Rob did not shift his gaze from Mr. Mojo's teleconferencing screen, but from the corner of his mouth replied, "Yeah, but I'm here now. I'm still standing with bumping uglies."
Jarwaun shook his head tskingly. "You are half way to dumb as hell, and they let you vote and drive a car and buy beer. I got a B- in Health, and they won't even let me do driver's ed until Winter. An' I'm from round here. If you askin' me—"
"I AM ASKING NO ONE; MY POINT IS TO ILLUSTRATE HOW POOR THIS CROP OF—"
"—you gotta be respectful. And take it slow. Gotta start all Girl, you lookin' fine in those jeans."
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Rob puffed, exasperated, "One, have you ever even danced with a girl, Dr. Love?"
"OUR LEGAL COUNSEL?" I craned to look about the room.
It was then my turn to receive a scowl, likely because Rob knows well how expensive Dr. Love's services are—$250 per hour, pro-rated at the half-hour—and thus not justified for a matter such as this.
"And two, if you're gonna come on that this is all about respect, how can you roll a line like that? You've got no clue if the chick whoever wants to mack looks fine in jeans or is two sacks of gravy in clown pants. Say what you want about sugarumpus and ugly bumping, as, you know, like, word choices, but at least I'm coming legit: We can be damn sure that the question-asker, at the heart of it, wants to fuck, and the respectful thing is to play it legit and lay it out."
"I think," Young Trael said, now looking up from the table's top, looking toward me, but not at me, only into the space between where we each sat, which is to say, I believe, into himself, or same strange recess of his own skull, "I think, 'cause we bein' honest, you should say to tell her that at night, sometimes, you can't sleep, and your brain keeps going 'round and around, and all you think about is, like, how clear her skin is, by where the bones of her collarbones point at each other, below the little cup at the start of her neck. How the skin is clear and smooth, not like glass, but like a rock from the bottom of a river, or the thin ice on a big, clean puddle in the morning in the fall. Or like the sky, when there's nothing there during the day, not even an airplane far up and gone, or the quiet moon. And when you think about her skin, you know it would be totally the best thing, the most important thing, if you just could reach out, with just one single finger by itself, and touch her there, where she's warm, and feel her breathe. Just one breath, in then out. And you don't know why, and you don't care none if she's got a monkeyface or that she makes, like, living flesh into or through solid mater. None of that, because it all be cool, all the time, 'round her." Trael looked back upon his graped Kool-Aid, the glass still brim-full and untouched, "Is what I think, anyway."
"Did someone get that?" Editor Fritz asked, of the panic, "Is someone writing this down?"
"Transcript," Editor Dave-o said, his voice muffled by his face resting upon the table, "Make J. type up the transcript from the CCTV footage," he waved his arm blindly, but succeeded in indicating the camera, far and wee in the corner of the room. "The voice-to-text software is crap and makes everyone sound like they're drunk on kerosene. Make J. type it up." And Dave-o did lift his head. The left of his face was flushed from its long contact with the conference table. "And I just want to go on record," he addressed this to the closed-circuit camera, and thus to posterity, "I just want to go on record pointing out that the six-year-old—"
"I'm eight" Trael corrected.
"—and the stoner—"
Rob said nothing.
"—gave basically the same advice with the same rationale, and that shit chills me to my core. Especially because I'm pretty sure they're both thinking about poking it into minor gods. I'm gone."
And he stood, and he left. I sent Rob to fetch the closed-circuit footage and Jarwaun to warm-up his computer and limber his typist's fingers. Trael and I sat, then, together and alone, looking toward but not at each other. He lifted his glass, finally, and took long swallows of his Kool-Aid.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson