One Conversation In Two Parts

[Late afternoon. The sellout part of the day is nearly done. A phone rings, a person picks up. Or should I say that a person touches a screen? Should I even say that a phone rings? Mobile phones are destroying our old metaphors.]

Schmutzie: Hello?

Palinode: Hi there. How are you?

Schmutzie: It’s been a long day.

Palinode: I hear you.

Schmutzie: Mm-hmm.

Palinode: I mean that literally. As in, I can actually hear you. I’m not deaf.

Schmutzie: I didn’t think you were deaf.

Palinode: Or maybe I’m deaf but just super-organized.

Schmutzie: Really.

Palinode: So organized, in fact, that I’ve planned out the rest of my life in minute detail, and I can predict everything that’s going to be said to me for the next forty-one* years.

Schmutzie: That’s pretty unlikely.

Palinode: But it’s true. I’m stone deaf and predicting our conversation.

Schmutzie: Really.

Palinode: Yes.

Schmutzie: Really.

Palinode: Yes!

Schmutzie: Really.

Palinode: About twenty-four, thank you.



Palinode: Do you want me to pick up anything on the way home?

Schmutzie: Nothing comes to mind.

Palinode: Okay then. I’m bringing home a fake motorcycle.

Schmutzie: What?

Palinode: I’m going to walk home going putt-putt-putt-VROOM-putt-putt.

Schmutzie: That’s not a fake motorcycle. You’re being a pretend motorcycle.

Palinode: You don’t understand. I’m going to hold my arms out like I’m gripping handles and stuff.

Schmutzie: That’s still not a fake motorcycle. Pretending that something exists isn’t the same as a fake thing that actually exists.

Palinode: You’re saying that a thing has to be real in order to be a fake?

Schmutzie: Exactly.

Palinode: What if I pretend to have a feeling? Isn’t that then a counterfeit emotion? Like I pretend to love you or something, but it’s all just a front to get at your riches?

Schmutzie: I have riches?

Palinode: I like to pretend you have riches.

*That’s the death clock on my life insurance plan. Forty-one more years, and then I spontaneously combust.