Letters to Old Bob: #2



I’m not a morning person. Never was a morning person. Never will be a morning person—that is, unless you’ve proven me wrong, Old Bob. “New tricks” is what they say can’t be learned by old dogs, but perhaps they’re full of shit, or else maybe you made the transformation while still relatively young. It’s all relative. That’s another thing they say. In any event, it’s what one particular man said that got me so pissed off and got me writing this morning before work, at 5:30am, writing instead of the usual social media consumption. This fucking liar was being interviewed on NPR about his classical music compositions, about how he finds the time to compose despite being a full-time lawyer and a parent to boot. This lying sack of shit says, “Well, the law practice is an 8 to 5 kind of thing, and so after I put the kids to bed, I find some time to compose then.” After he puts the kids to bed! That’s rich! So, I’m to believe that at what, 9pm, after a long day at the office and getting the brats off to bed, he just sits down and knocks out a friggin’ symphony in G minor! Who’s cooking dinner dude? Who’s cleaning up the dishes and packing the lunches for tomorrow? Oh yeah, I forgot—you’re a lawyer! You probably have a well-paid servant who takes care of all the dailies for you!

And so I went on, yelling obscenity-laced objections at the radio the entire way home from work, resting on this final objection, weakly delivered while pulling into the driveway: “As if I’m going to grind away on my writing projects during what few minutes I have each morning to enjoy my cup of coffee. Nothing stokes the creative fires like an alarm clock going off at 5:30am! Fucking ridiculous.”

Then there’s this. My wife came home the other night, elated that a colleague of hers told her that she was “amazing.” The colleague was, is, a man, and so of course my first thought was, He probably just thinks your ass is amazing, dummy! So, to review, the other man told her she was amazing, and I, her husband, told her, through thought at least, that she was a damned fool. And that, my friend, is the difference between saying words and thinking them, at least in the mouths and minds of men. No honest man can deny that there are times when our dicks do the talking, and other times when we keep our thoughts to ourselves in order to avoid trouble. As always, self-awareness is the key to the good life. Now don’t get me wrong, I want my wife to feel good about herself. To feel amazing even. She is amazing, as you well know OB. But now I want to kill that motherfucker who (maybe) spoke to my wife with his dick. This impulse is all it means, really, to “have balls.” They just make you want to fuck and kill. Maybe each ball is in charge of each impulse. So the right one might fuel the fucking impulse, while the left one puts people on the kill list. Or vice versa. Or maybe the balls have nothing to do with any of it, and it just comes down to being an asshole.

Just looked at the digital clock in the upper right corner of this screen and thought, “5:46am? This clock is off.” Turns out, my eyes are off. My eyes have been off for a while, OB, and I’m wondering what, if anything, you can see at your advanced stage of decrepitude. Again, transhumanist utopian future technology aside. Perhaps you just went ahead and got you a pair of glasses at some point! If so, you’re probably seeing a lot more clearly than I am. I suppose eye-glasses are a sort of proto-transhumanist contraption, transforming us not so much into a cyborg but rather a, I don’t know, a dude with glasses I guess. I just don’t want to bother with it until I absolutely have to. As of today, 45 sliding into 46 at the end of next month, I have two bad eyes that somehow, through the magic of the human brain, together allow me to enjoy fairly functional vision. My left eye can see the far away stuff fairly well—not 20/20, but well enough to read street signs and see the digital clock on the stove way over in the kitchen. Can’t read the up-close stuff with the left eye though, as it’s afflicted with the common farsightedness of the typical middle-ager. What is uncommon is that my right eye can see clearly inside of two feet, while being nearly useless for distance viewing. So each eye (like each ball!) has it’s own job, one taking over for the other, depending on what I’m focused on, and the brain smooths it all out so that I rarely notice my antimetropic-anisometropia. But then again, you know this already, OB. I keep forgetting that I am, literally, your memories. I keep forgetting that I am a memory. A strange thought. And so you, OB, are really just a projection into an imaginary future, a fantasy. A fantasy, really. As a fantasy, I can make you out to be any way I want you to be. And as a memory, you can remember me in whatever way makes you feel best about yourself. We’re both bull-shitters OB! Our minds are playing tricks on us dude! I’m thinking of you as some wise old sage who’s finally figured everything out and transcended all of my problems, who has shined a light down all the blind alleys that I’ve been stumbling down for the past twenty years. And you are, perhaps anyway, thinking of me as a seed to your tree, as a naïve green-eared version of your fully-realized self. But then again, it’s me who wants to believe that you have realized your potential. For all I know you’re rotting away with a bellyful of regrets, and you’re regarding me resentfully, wondering why I didn’t take life by the reins while I still had the opportunity and the requisite élan vital. After all, it is I who am creating you, right now, as I think these thoughts and type these words. But if I suddenly flipped the script and were to address my ten-year-old self—Lil’ B, if you will—then who would be the creator and who the crea-tee? If Lil’ B is the real memory and you the real fantasy, then who am I, really? If one eye is half blind and the other can only half see, then is it really a good idea for me to grab the reins? Whoever’s been driving the team up till now seems to know where they’re going, or at least how to avoid going off a cliff.

6:15 am. I don’t have time for this shit, OB. Gotta jump in shower, then off to work. Dinner will need to be prepared straight away after getting home, and the dishes aren’t going to clean themselves. That’ll leave only about an hour to chip away at that unfinished symphony. Fucking ridiculous.

The Old Man Reading a Letter -Fyodor Bronnikov

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