Monday, June 02, 2003

Been there, done that, never wrote it so well:

You call home to see what to get for takeout. No one answers. Hmm. They should have been home an hour ago. Do you:

1. Figure they’ll be home by the time you get there

2. Start imagining a sequence of events that ends with you finishing your will, surrounding yourself with pictures of your departed loved ones, swallowing 89 barbiturate tablets and putting a plastic bag over your head

If you answered 2, you are as bad as me. I tend to get . . . unhinged when wife & child are very very late, and I can’t raise them. They’d left at two for a bike ride; back in two hours, my wife said. To me that means 120 minutes, each composed exactly of 60 seconds. To my wife, and any other sensible person, it means that indefinable allotment of time that’s longer than an hour but shorter than the entire afternoon. Still, I don’t start to sweat when minute 121 has elapsed and I’ve not seen them through the spyglass or the thermal monitors. In fact I often don’t notice they’re late until they’re really late. Then the sequence starts: “I hope nothing’s happened” becomes “I suspect something happens” becomes “I know for certain that they both fell off a bridge into the Mississippi,” and this leads to horrible conjectures. How long will it take to find them?

“Here’s your credit card,” says the clerk who’s ringing up your order.

“At least it’s not winter,” you reply. “They’ll find the bodies faster.”

By now you’re resigned to the worst. You might as well pick up a pack of Marlboros on the way home. Start smoking again. What’s the point. You’ll have nothing to live for. Put your head in the oven . . . no, it’s electric. Great. Local man found dead. Roasticide suspected.

But then you get mad. Mad, somehow, that your wife was late, and didn’t get in touch with you by skywriter or mental telepathy.
The cold sweat and the hallucinations are the worst part.

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