X, Y, and Z walk into a bar.
They’re sloppily singing “Now I know my A, B, C’s
Next time won’t you…”, already a little trashed up
on Jell-O shots from an event down the street, when the bartender asks,
“What would you like to drink?”
X responds, “I’ve never been addressed with such a
significant question before. I’m so honored.
That, my good sir, is drink enough.” He bows and steps aside
to reveal Y who is, naturally, a little puzzled because X,
who also spoke in a British accent that wasn’t his,
doesn’t turn down a drink, isn’t polite, has never said sir,
and certainly isn’t British. But he rallies quickly to say,
with the presentationalism of someone who can fix any awkward situation
with quantity, “I want one of everything!”
The bartender hesitates, wondering in what order
he should complete such a request. He’s trained his whole life for this.
For someone to order the menu.
Usually, it doesn’t happen in a bar – that’s more of a
fine dining wet dream – but this guy must be a connoisseur.
His friend’s even British. They clearly have money and know their alcohol.
They reek of it, in a highbrow kind of way.
In the lag of this internal monologue, Z bellows out, “Don’t you dare
cast that bifurcated spear into the belly of this whale!
We’ll all die!” and tears out of the bar, leaving the
louvre-slatted doors swinging violently and rapidly
on their hinges. The remaining cavalry hold their breath
in the dim light. Someone seems to look furtively for the
whale before remembering it would have been obvious.
In the strain for sense that follows, a song begins
on the juke box, in the style of those that seep in at the edges
of tense moments at sundown, when the golden orange
of the light tussles with the worn out dreams of dusty men
who want all their answers to come from the foam
in the bottom of pint glasses. One of the guys at the end of the bar
nods along recognizing it as an old factory song, the kind that
rang out in the warehouses at the end of the work day, warm and
dialed low, vibrating at a frequency of pain that
belts of pride but smacks of anguish. An anthem for continuity,
something to drag this glory out of that dust and rise it.
Something to hold onto on the coattails to freedom.
Something to hang our hearts on.
For as much as we know,
we don’t. & we aren’t yet free.
We aren’t ever certain, prepared, ready for the sharpened ax that falls
blindly. Those variables so wildly – laughably – beyond our control.