“De do do do, de da da da, is all I want to say to you.” – The Police
You know that feeling, when you’re sitting in a mostly empty room with just one or a few other people, and someone else comes in and it’s like everyone can just sense it — even the people with their backs to the door? You know that one? How weird is that? I mean, I know we’ve got a hundred thousand generations to thank for our preternatural sensitivity to and ability to read faces, but how can we detect another heartbeat or mind from twenty paces, and instinctively know to pause, to check our conversation or run a scan on our proprioception loop or sit up straighter and tuck our hair back behind one ear, or adjust our glasses.
It’s like the stranger has yanked open that nighttime car door in the rain, popped that hallucinatory bubble, brought all the chaos and the noise streaming back in without warning.
And even if we were just midway through a sentence about CSS layouts or God or the Colts, it is such a wretched, deathly feeling to have that fragile thread of connection to another mind severed so abruptly.
[OK, making the turn… Cuz this one was supposed to go up before that other one, and they’re already out of sequence and date stamps and muffins and heck I don’t even know why else.]
[Notice how at the turn I so often resort to the cheap trick of switching from “I” to “we”? It’s a reflexive move at this point, like knowing to spin off the pick. I suspect it works because it sets the hook first, then yanks it. Like selling a used car by starting with the weather and ending up with the optional undercoating package.]
[Oh — it also conveniently diffuses blame for my conclusions, now doesn’t it?]
Anyways. When people I genuinely Like start Sharing what’s going on in here, it is of course glorious; a windfall to my slovenly ego. But also, sometimes just seconds later, it feels like that outsider crashing the party; the “aw fuck, now we’re going to have to start all over again from zero” feeling. If there’s nothing better than being understood, maybe there’s nothing worse than feeling that illusion yanked away unexpectedly, like a branch in mid-air breaking beneath your feet.
And so, arms windmilling and contemplating gravity with a suddenly sharp focus, my inbred reaction is to go weird, fractal, obtuse, dumb, jokey inside reference, opaque bad Beat poetry, so oblique and uncapitalized and wanting for any sort of commonality — like whatever the conceptual opposite of that late night, rain soaked windshield, two people talking in a car thing is. I go out of my way to momentarily make this space as uninviting to the uninvited as possible.
Here’s the most obscure part of a song you probably know, cited in a minor code that you’ve gotta go back through seven thousand words to decrypt. Here’s me stringing together random neurons right there live on the screen. Here’s more crap that HOW IS THIS ABOUT POTTERY? I WAS TOLD THIS WAS ABOUT POTTERY can’t possibly be construed as something to return to. If there was such a thing as a reverse browser bookmark — eg. Never let me come back to this site again, even after I’ve forgotten it exists — those posts would trigger that.
And it is glorious.
“Don’t think me unkind. Words are hard to find.”
I like my All-22. I love my #1 Fan. You save me from myself over and over again. I want K in A and adolescent Steve and oats and that other guy who’s name I forget to stumble into my booth in the back corner of the not-cool bar and know they’ve always got a special place at the table. That this is for us. And that, even though, in theory, every table is open to any goddamn drunk who stumbles by, in practice we own this, and claim it, and manufacture some sort of meaning from it, every time we climb inside and pretend it’s a car. At night. In the rain.
“No one’s jamming their transmission.”