Sunday, December 14, 2014

Swimming in a Fish Bowl

This morning, Albert Wallace of the bent back but aristocratic nose woke up disheveled, shortly before a subdued autumn sunrise in a dimly-lit, painstakingly unadorned apartment, and after only a few moments of lying there in a trance, slipped his feet into his fading crimson rubber slippers, and promised himself he is so not gonna take shit from anyone no more. He straightened himself up and took brisk steps to the mirror, because of course the best way to avoid his fears was to confront them, and splashed freezing cold water into his face, furiously, fifteen times. 

“I’m gonna go out today, and I’m gonna talk to people!” he told his mirror image with an unsure enthusiasm, but with such loudness that one might as well imagine he was planning on conquering the Everest in his boxers. Once a popular creature with enviable looks, a reputation for expertise in all things from Probability to Literary Theory, and, even, a guilty taste for the rowdy humor of large groups, he had somehow found it difficult to get back on his feet after his former girlfriend, Anita, had suddenly left him for her long-time best-friend Patrick Boehner, who even Albert had grown a social fondness for, over time. But that was two years ago, and for what it’s worth, Patrick Boehner had by now married another fine woman, and Mr. and Mrs. Boehner are expecting a daughter next month, as some harmless facebook stalking has revealed.

For some months now he had felt no pleasure in most things people seemed to love, and often wondered how he, himself, had shown such keenness for the same activities in the years before. Every time he would discover himself tagged in a facebook photo by one of his acquaintances, the accompanying taglines that were usually on the lines of “Awesomeness”, “Amazing fun” or “Best day ever” left him nonplussed. If they hadn’t mentioned it I would never have known, he would muse. 

In the earlier days, he used to occasionally do stand-up at a local comedy club, and although he still appreciated the mechanics of humor and continued to be able to construct, methodically, laughter on other people's faces, he had found it increasingly difficult to elicit his own laughter, and felt uninspired, even, by the virtue in giving other people a good time. 

He had gradually become unmotivated to excel in his career as an Accountant, and the final straw came two months ago with his rather public firing, since which time, he hasn't applied for another job. It was the day after the firing that he first attended our yoga class. 

But today was different. He looked palpably determined in his freshly ironed, crisp white shirt and linen trousers getting ready for the Interstellar show at AMC New Brunswick. Unusually chirpy all morning, he played his favorite music from The Beatles to The Doors at full volume while he vacuum cleaned the whole place. But it was really when he began humming along and grooving rhythmically to the high points of these happy songs that I really knew today’s different. Very uncharacteristically, he also nudged me to wear my dark azure top, telling me how it enhances my breasts in a “menacing way". I was, like, woah!

I’ve been living with him for the last two weeks, but contrary to what others in the class think, we are not sleeping together; the only reason I’m living here is that we were both scared of living alone. Scared of ourselves, perhaps. We keep each other sane. And useful.  

“Let’s get going now” I cried at 5 minutes to noon, “we will have people from the class, all waiting. We’re also grabbing lunch before, alright!” 
“Just a moment, honey. I am shaving.”
“C’mon now. It’s not a party! And what’s with ‘honey’? I am not your girlfriend, okay?” I said, and put on Breaking Bad on Netflix. I was in the middle of season 5, and it’s getting crazier every episode. It’s so addictive, oh my god. It wasn’t until the episode was over that I realized Albert is still inside. What a bride-to-be, this guy.

“Albert! Dude. I’m gonna go by myself.”

No voice responded.


The doctors just told me there is scope for revival, but added that it was “in everyone’s best interest to be prepared for all eventualities.”

I don’t know whether we were lovers or just close friends or just two random depressed people who, as a matter of mere convenience, were each other’s support group. Whatever we were we weren’t anymore.

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