Thursday, December 24, 2015

Notes from a Cast-Iron Bathtub at Christmas


The landscape has disappeared behind a curtain of silent glistening snow. The wind is fierce, chilly, full of mischief. It's approaching dawn. I'm sitting in a small moderately groomed living room. The Christmas tree partially fills the space with a gentle greyish-blue light: a timeless stillness.

The streetlamp outside glows soft like a distant fire. The cars are all white and the trees are dressed in snow. The pale winter sky protects the silence. A silence that permeates the snowy icy depths. The scene is compelling and delicate. I think of my mother and father's grave covered in snow; the sparse trees nearby eloquent in grief. My parents lie in cold unimaginable silence.

The weather forecast confirms the snow is causing mayhem. That is how it must be. I shake my head. One should not dread snow, it gives warmth and deadens the monotony of pale skies. Such days are not lost, for they are tenderly captured by one's measureless evolving memory, to be evoked perhaps on a warm afternoon, or evening, when peace and quiet abound. 

I decide to take a bath. The fact that I bathe in my neighbour's cast-iron bath tub with his girlfriend ensconced in its interior causes me little concern. Her warm green eyes, soft hands and calm smile beckon me to join her. I do so with profound pleasure. A hot scented bath with a young woman hardly accrues to bitter disappointment so close to dawn. I make a preposterous effort to shroud the flight of years which has ravaged my body. 

Nicole, her long, silky blonde hair spread over her shoulders, tells me she is about to take flight with another man. Indeed, it is her intention never to be in this part of the world again. We drink champagne to celebrate her good fortune.

'I always leave a man in December,' she ventures. 'I must be alone each January. I adore the fresh air and sunlight. It's vital I recharge my batteries before embarking on each new love affair.'

'Of course,' I reply. Her exceptional beauty justifies my response.

'Anyway, I dislike being in love. The thought that a man would believe I could love him day in, day out, forever, is frankly horrifying.' Nicole understood her power over men, or women for that matter. Yet I knew nothing about her.

'I see a look in your eyes I've witnessed a thousand times.'

'Really?' I say, murmuring, trying to smile.

'There are few moments of true passion and exhilaration in one's life. In fact, most of one's time is illusory and wasted.' Nicole leans towards me. 'How old are you?'

'After sharing this bath ... Talking to you, I'm not sure? After thirty I stopped counting. To do otherwise ... Well, it seemed pointless and troublesome.'

Her wide green eyes stare at me. They sparkle with desire. 'Everything must come to an end.' Her lips part in a sweet delightful smile. 'Maybe we should just embrace this moment. I'm a woman, which I see you've noticed, and life is always too short.'

Nicole enfolds my hands softly, pulls me towards her, and kisses me. My body gives itself up to pleasure and rises from the dead.
*    
Reflection:  Even though Christmas Day is tomorrow some people are looking forward with rash eagerness to warm spring mornings, roads without snow, trains and planes running on time, and going to work in heated offices and shops.

An injudicious yearning to embrace the brash fast world is visible in their cold eyes, bored faces and weary demeanour. Some people fail to notice the immediate radiant beauty around them that will soon fade. I have no wish to sound overly eccentric, but it appears that human folly remains fashionable and contagious, and dominates, to a terrifying degree, the eternal mind of human life. Quite pitiful, really.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The TruthTeller and The Idiot (Hard to tell which is which)


A GP surgery. Doctor Wilkelfield Finkelfukal is sitting behind his desk.

Doctor: (sighing) Take a seat.

Long pause.

Doctor: Do you know that one thousand individuals dictate the thoughts, opinions, customs, trends and fads of our entire world of seven billion people? What we eat, wear, read, watch, talk about, do, think?

I: Well ... No.

Doctor: I thought so. You're an Idiot!

Pause.

Doctor: Do you know I was beat and bullied as a boy. Of course not! Furthermore, my head's too big for my body, my body's too big for my trousers, and my wife sounds like a squealing fiddle! The stink of boredom is everywhere. I'm dead and so are you! A trivial matter, you'll agree.

I: I'm sorry ...

Doctor: To hell with your damned, "I'm sorry". What are you here to whine about?

I: (uncomfortable) Well ... Sometimes, I hold two thoughts at the same time. For instance, my life has purpose, yet it is without meaning. Sometimes, when I'm in a room full of people I feel I'm in an echo chamber listening to myself. Sometimes ...

Doctor: Sometimes! Sometimes! Sometimes! Me! Me! Me! Get a grip on yourself! Can't you talk without bleating?! You live in a dream world like most idiots. (Shouts) Wake up! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! WACH AUF!

Long pause.

Doctor: There's no point in telling you lies. I'm a hypocrite and a wretched doctor. What impelled me to live in this multi-coloured hell escapes me. Don't be fooled by certificates, diplomas and expertise. A day comes when all men and women are proved wrong. (Thoughtful) Even a professed 'genius' like Einstein will get his comeuppance one day. I believe he never took his hands out of his trouser pockets, even in bed. What a strange man?! (Pause) A few inescapable truths - I see I'm overwhelming you - something like genius cannot be measured. What's more, excess of wealth, or natural ability, do not ensure happiness, success, or freedom from diarrhea.

I: (timidly) Indeed ...

Doctor: I'm sorry to say there's no medication for your condition.

I: Really?

Doctor: Yes. Really. You appear to me to be a person who is holding on. Old and weary before your time. A mixture of anger, tenderness and shattered visions. In short, you're carrying a perpetual burden. A million shapes and sizes of shadow beleaguer your mediocre mind!

I: I see ... Well ...

Doctor: Isn't it good to fit into society. However that may be, I once aspired to be a farmer's wife: my parents were livid, of course. Instead, I'm a faceless false dummy who has to listen to dreadful boring people whining and sobbing all day about large dark clouds and the absence of clear blue sky. (Thoughtful) One can only guess, of course ...

I: (timidly) Really ...

Doctor: You're not the only one with a neurotic fear of growing old. We're bombarded daily with images of smooth faces like 'Thanksgiving Day' balloons, pert breasts, lineless mouths and full lips. (Pause) Here's my prognosis. You've taken stock of your life and realised how little you've achieved. You are leading a factitious life and not going anywhere. Welcome to the club, old chum!

I: Oh …

Doctor: (writing) Have you heard of euthanasia?

I: No … I don't think so?

Doctor: Excellent. Take this confidential letter to a doctor friend of mine. His name and address is written on the envelope. He'll show - sorry - tell you all you need to know about the subject. (Pause) And good luck with the rest of your short life.

I:  You said short?! ...

Doctor: It did sound like it. I said, 'Good luck with the rest of your sport life'. You must learn to be less anxious. Goodbye.

The Idiot walks out into the sun and faints.

*
Reflections:  My wife is besotted with her in-car digital radio which she listens to in bed at night. My thoughts become hindered as I gaze at her lying in bed, bobbing her head, and wielding her feet aloft in time with the racket from her radio. When she exists in this 'self-induced' exile I am forced to confront my own neglected thoughts: a dreadful and precarious position for a dull, exaggerated creature such as myself.

When language runs dry the mind is derailed. I walk around the old town square several times without seeing a living soul. They could be hiding perhaps, or pretending to be woodpeckers. I sit on a stone sculpture, brood, and doze off.  Not good for the piles, not good at all.