by David Bradford

When I bob my head to the music it is to keep on titanically avoiding defeat. I bob my head with a shrink's wit—not one who wishes to make the other, the kook, feel they are understood and compassionately in good hands, but to communicate an apparent flawless, albeit dishonest, unflappability. No one is indifferent to Michael Jackson, for better or worst, and coming back home to the vibrating sonic skunk of 1987’s Bad pounding through the foot thick walls and into the garden is an example of what it takes to make me pray the gay student (fashion administration), the 20 year old econ major will accept me into their home and its grey, seriously custodial aesthetic. But still, for now, I am here, I am smiling, and I am limply, though aptly, bobbing my head to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” in an apartment with acoustics similar to a 1986 club, specifically when said club failing and overly loud and empty and everyone inside—say me and the roomie wreck wretch bitch—are pretending not to mind the dismal time. She says she shall go out very soon. I type on, and affect unaffectedness. In 20 maybe. I am a rock, reliably inanimate, mostly. I drink water out of a Flensburger bottle and crack my knuckles. I visualize grinding my teeth like a yogi cage fighter. I want to die, though that is merely an expression, I guess. I want to kick the chair from under her and MJ, which is a euphemism, I guess.

Here is an example of the lack of self-awareness and lack of selflessness roomie-darling demonstrates: she is a self-proclaimed light-smoker who smokes, feet away from my bed (daybed), at least one 17 cigarette pack worth of hand-rolled Kingsgaard death-sticks everyday. I am a non-smoker. She rolls, smokes, waits maybe ten minutes and rolls again. She then smokes again. And waits ten till her next roll. Maybe. Maybe less. And so forth. Till 3 am. Maybe. If she is tired. Or later. She claims her recent intake of the carcinogens is related to the stresses of being out of school and, intentionally, out of work—two things she, irony of ironies, quit because of feelings of overwhelming stress. Self-awareness. She’s also quite loud when she cooks, and eats for two, though she is quite plainly only one. She is lovesick for a child to love her. To love her she says. Not to love. She’d be horrible for a child.

Here is an example of her capacity for ‘love’ of loved ones: we are at the one bar worth drinking at down the street. I have, previously, insisted I really want to stay in and work on stuff, but she insists, over the phone, that we meet, in 20, at most, for a quick drink or two. An hour later she shows up and we drink a drink—mine already almost gone—and finally my second. A friend phones her in tears. A close friend she describes as, lovely, beautiful, close, sweet, selfless. The line cuts out. Bad reception in the bar. And she just keeps on drinking with a sigh, rolling a cigarette, lighting up in the non-smoking section. I ask her what’s up. Her friend, the lovely one, is in tears she says. I ask if she’ll, like, call her back. Bah, she says, don’t feel like it, later. I tell her I’m going after I get this last Flens down. The phone rings again. Again, the close friend. Again, in tears. The connection cuts out again. Again she sighs, rolls, lights up. Shall we have another she says. No I says. Call your friend back I says. Oh No she says, when we’re done she says, I buy you another you shall buy me breakfast. No. Come on. No, we’re done. Call your friend. She doesn’t.

Here is an example of her pathologically lying neediness: she offers her place to me for a month, has me move in and crash on her daybed. She sets me up nicely, tells me she’s leaving in three days. She has me pretend I’m her cousin for most of her friends, for reasons she refuses to cite. She tells me she’s leaving in five days. She has me come home to visit her home neighbourhood, tells me come home at 2, my appointment is at 13, we’ll leave at 14 she says. When I get there she changes it to 16, then 18, the 20. I waste a day. She tells me she’s leaving in six days. Tells me she’s booked the ticket. Tells me she asked her sister to book the ticket. Tells me she does not believe a person can be happy living alone. Tells me she hates living alone. Tells me she’s leaving in four days. Told me this two weeks ago. I ask her when she’s leaving. She doesn’t answer.

Here is an example of her stupidity: she tells this same close lovely friend that I am very much comfortable around her, very much myself. She believes my agreement when she asks whether I shall miss when she’s away in Denmark.

Here’s an example of her troubling depression: she sleeps 14 hours a day. She denies unhappiness.

Here’s a second example of her stupidity: she buys spinach in the frozen box format.

Here’s a lasting example of her stupidity: she read, if she reads anything, stuff like Rumi poems.

Here’s an example of her peculiar and paradoxical form of boring: she goes out every night and tries to drag me along every time. She stays out late. She drinks. But it takes her half an hour to drink a glass of wine and she feels that 9h30, which is the time her friends normally want to meet, is unnecessarily and problematically late.

Here’s an example of her single-mindedness’ many dimensions: she uses “shall” instead of “could”, she uses “shall” instead of “would”, she uses “shall” instead of “may”, she uses “shall” instead of “will”. She never uses “please”. She never uses “thank you”.

Here’s a conflicting example of her troubling depression: she thinks happy people shall inspire her to be happy. They shall be quite inspiring she says.

Here’s an example of how unreliable she is: the clock on the stove, her alarm clock, the kitchen’s wall-mounted tea kettle clock, her watch and her cell phone all indicate different times, none of which are right.

Here’s an example of how she has changed over the years: pictures of her former 24 year old self are undeniably of a beautiful girl and now she is undeniably chubby and more or less ignorable in the looks department. This is a conceit.

Here’s an example of how she makes me uncomfortable: she makes this sound I’ve never heard elsewhere like a live animal’s jaw is breaking and blowing a cavitation bubble at the same time. All this occurs within her mouth. She makes it all the time. I ask her to stop. She winces depressively, as in a reverie, looking away. She does not answer.

Here is an example of her confused simple-mindedness: another Michael Jackson album comes on.

Here’s an example of something she does which seems so puzzling and insulting one cannot even get mad due to the confusingly shocking consistency of the said something: four out of five questions you ask her are simply ignored.

Here’s an example of her stubborn incapacity to change: the music is skipping because it is a CD-ROM.

Another example of her stupidity, though perhaps more specifically her stubbornness, or even more specifically her simple-mindedness through the limited spectrum of her lack of selflessness: she just turns down the sound instead of skipping to the next song.

I skip forward. Her jaw cracks. She rolls another.

After about three hours I says when is she going.

As “Heal the World” crescendos and shrivels my ears and kicks me in the face I nod my head again. When, I says. Shall you make it louder, she says. I cough a bit on some second-hand Kingsgaard. I make it louder.

When I shall she says.

Shall you make it louder she says.

I bob my head.

You’re strange she says.

Yes I says.


David is back from Berlin now. Visit his blogspot: When god closes a door he opens a window -- for a view of David's puppy love, try

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