The Comfort Of Bitter Laughter

Someday I will be capable of looking back at all of this and laughing. Normally, this isn’t an impediment to getting an early start, but I’m not sure exactly what the punchline is this time. I’ve always said that failure is a better teacher than success, but I have no idea what’s going on right now, and I can’t think of anything in particular that I am doing right. Sure, I’m inflicting my words on literally tens of people on any given day, and my beard had regrown to a respectable Ewok-Wookie hybrid length, but I’m also much more massive than I was before, and I seem determined to push the limits of just how far mopiness can take me. If I were forced to commit to a metaphor to describe my life, I would have to say it feels like a fairly unfunny sitcom before the laugh track has been added. Everybody is just waiting for the laughter which they hope will come, and praying that they don’t fall flat in the moment of truth, yet knowing that script just isn’t all that funny. It would be okay if this was just a pilot, but we’ve just begun our tenth season, and it really feels like we should have worked all of this out by now.

Batmart judging Batmart. This should be amusing.
Batmart judging Batmart. This should be amusing.

Have you ever woken up and felt like you might have slid one dimension down while you were sleeping? It’s hardly noticeable, but there’s just that sense that something just isn’t quite right. On the good days, if you can call them that, the differences are more pronounced, and it’s easier to believe that you might be a pilgrim on his voyage through the looking-glass. But on mornings such as this, with only five hours separating the moment of slipping into slumber and final surrender to the alarm which rings out to shatter the wall of sleep around you, there’s nothing at which you can definitively point to make your case that this is not your world, beyond a nagging sensation just behind the bags beneath your eyes. It’s either that, or I read entirely too much Speculative Fiction, and have lost the ability to view the world as anything but a metaphor for my internal struggles to find my place among the stars.

I suppose that if I had gotten into Westerns, I would be prattling on about cattle rustlers and a Frontier Spirit, and if I’d somehow been caught up in Romance novels, I would be able to describe this crisis as the irreconcilable difference between the billionaire who wanted me to be his trophy wife (thereby providing for my ailing, widower father, and the son I’d had with my the love of my life who had been claimed too early by some exotic disease he’d caught from treating underprivileged patients in the third world), or my secret, burning desire for the rough, lower class day laborer who loved with a burning passion which I never could resist, but couldn’t hardly provide for himself, let alone my son and father. And if that seems mean, please keep in mind that I have been subjected to telenovelas, on a near-daily basis. I used to be able to ignore the soapy melodrama altogether, but as my Spanish has improved, my ability to just tune it out has plummeted. That doesn’t mean that I am mocking those who indulge in romantic fantasy (any man who has that many Star Trek novels is in no position to judge another’s tastes in literature), just that I find that particular genre unappealing. Now if you’ll excuse me while I reverse the polarity, adjust the Heisenberg Compensator, and make the jump to Hyperspace.

Maybe I should get to work on a telenovela; it’s not like I don’t know the formula by now. I’m just afraid that this hopeless romantic poet will fall in love with the characters he’s written (especially the villainess), and be unable to return to the real world. Leave it to me to be worried about creating not the perfect woman (who exists fully within herself and yet compliments the best things about me, so that when we join together, there is no power in the world which might stop us), but the perfect nemesis: someone perfectly crafted to dig deep within me and destroy the best parts of me. I’m sure that it speaks volumes about me, but there is nothing more alluring than woman who wants nothing more than to destroy you. Yeah, I’m guessing that I’m not nearly as well-adjusted as I thought I was, and I wasn’t really confident in even that.

Truth be told, I’d love, one day, to be the hero. Not somewhere buried in the written word, but in the life I live. I’d settle for being remembered as fair and just man, but I would love to stroll into a situation where hope had long ago been forcibly extinguished, and discover that the key to fixing everything had been forged in the crucible of my suffering, and filed down by bitterness and blindness to hope itself. My ultimate dream, of course, would be to do all of that, but somehow die in the process, thereby elevating the mundane muddling of my existence to a burning light which would withstand the bitter winds of time. Hey, to each his own.

Sadly, I have an amazing wife (who I’m fairly certain I do not deserve), a son capable of moments of sheer brilliance, a daughter so much like myself that I find it difficult to believe that we share no D.N.A., and a grandson who is so full of love that sometimes I think that I may just break down in joyful tears the next time he embraces me. And I’m about to have another grandchild. This time it’s going to be a little girl. I don’t stand a chance. I’m going to wind up beaten down by all the love around me, and, if I’m not very, very careful, wind up a happy person. Who then, I implore you, will make sure the neighbor kids know the rules regarding my lawn? A sad day, indeed. I’ve spent my life carefully cultivating misery, only to have it tossed to the wind every time I see the love in the eyes of those around me. And then I remember just how lucky I truly am, and how far I’ve come, and the anger builds again because they’ve stolen my bitter tears from swollen cheeks, and left me with laughter in their place. How am I supposed to be complete if I’m not completely inconsolable and an utter killjoy?

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