93 Irrelevant and not one bit happy

93) “Aw f___,” grumbled the Baby Boomer baldy with a gray ponytail. He knew that was impermissibly coarse language, absolutely ungenuine, “inauthentic,” for the way he was brought up, but he’d been co-opted by Flower Power, The Me Generation, and the morally relativistic New Age and no longer gave a s___. A friendly face who became perturbed by the Boomer’s paucity of commitment cited rather provocatively Nietzsche’s challenge which began one of his tomes: “Let us face ourselves.” The Boomer replied at the time, “F___ that.” Crumbs had flown from his briar patch of a moustache.
He directed the coarse sentiment to the entrance of a wife and husband well known in the community, and rich as Arabs.
“Of all the . . . in the . . . she had to walk or something into this one.” He was trying to quote Bogey. The baldy Boomer’s generation could take pioneering credit for its paeans to old films.
He’d had a brief affair with the wife, about as brief as it can get. That was years ago, but not lost to memory entirely.
And he’d heard about the husband, a Type A.
And she was a Type A wife.
Of course there’d be a spirited introduction, the Type A Way.
And all the baldy Boomer desired now was to look at the screen of his laptop in the comfort of the Plip Plop.
And he knew the question would come.
“What do you do?” the world-beating husband asked. The husband was over seventy but drove an AMG Mercedes. “A doer to the very last drop,” coughed the Boomer behind his hand, too well aware of the type. “Dork.” They were all over the place; “Like dogs__t,” he hacked.
“F___ him,” the Boomer thought, and f___ her for not pre-empting the inquisition. The Boomer was torpid, but not constantly, and not without control.
“I design Christmas tree ornaments,” he answered, before the wife whom he’d f____d ably, he thought, one time on a stray afternoon, could answer for him.
“Really?” the husband said, recoiling. It was out of the realm of being topped. To name-drop his fancy alma mater was summarily obviated. Nor could he get around now to asking one who designs Christmas tree ornaments, Which college thou?
The wife paled. She hadn’t expected this, either, but for entirely different reasons. She’d accomodated the situation just by watching: two lovers, one constant, the other far from, face to face.
The Boomer baldy was usually inattentive, but here he knew what she was up to.
“Tell me about it,” the husband begged weakly, compared to the same affable command he lavished on teenagers and just-twenty-somethings with big plans. He didn’t know what else to say. The mind beneath the silver mane identified with the promise of youth. With an unapologetic burnout, the husband was at a loss.
“Don’t you want to get some coffee?” the Boomer offered. It was a decent escape hatch, and the Boomer congratulated himself that for a split second he was a nice enough man.
“Ah . . .” There was no one behind the counter. The Type A’s were accustomed to service verging on the slavish.
“I gave him an out,” the Boomer pondered. “And she could have grabbed the old coot’s elbow with some workable excuse about finding the barrista. That’s how these f____rs talk. ‘Barrista,'” the Boomer griped silently and added, “That’s how I talk! Where the f___?” He meant, Where did it all go? His next thought was profoundly lazy: “It doesn’t matter.”
He waxed nihilistically – he knew what nihilism was, because it was in the curriculum, embedded in an elective when he was an upperclassman – “F___ everything, but here goes anyway.” He felt young, stupidly so, as if he were nineteen again, in the throes of an identity crisis. “Oh, f___, what a bunch of b.s. all that was.” College bullsession prolixity stormed back along with the futile feelings.
The rich wife took her rich hubby’s hand. She hadn’t seen the Boomer’s face this screwed up since he came. Why couldn’t he just tell the truth and say he was a retired widget salesman? Didn’t he know he owed her?
“Well, I design them in good taste, I feel. I try for that. It’s a merry and holy season, after all.” The Boomer was getting the feeling back fast, words at the ready just like they’d been at manifold management meetings, prior to the spectre of early retirement.
“Of course, sparkle. Plenty of sparkle! But – never overboard with that. I always put the glitter in service of the shape, the Porsche philosophy, form following function, whether my ornament’s an orb, or a muffin man, or a Little Drummer Boy drum. And so forth. An angel. The halo shiny tinsel, but never to distract – never – from the reason angels exist. Their goodness, the blessing of their protection. All of it has to be evoked by the angel’s figure, and I am responsible for that. I fax my drawings straight to the manufacturer. Always with the caution: Enough tinsel to radiate the holy truths surging from toe to top. Let the holiday cheer, the message of Joyeaux Noel, sparkle just enough to draw attention, but not, never, never divert from the thought of Peace on Earth, Goodwill To Men. I’ve updated that to Goodwill To All, of course, in inscriptions on the ornaments’ boxes. They have ribbons. I didn’t have to go with that, the added cost, but I believe in treating the customer right. A little green ribbon with gold sparkle.”
He turned his steady, zealous gaze from the husband to the wife. She was still pale, and her lips were parted. The Boomer didn’t know if she wanted to blow him again after all this time, or if she was affronted by his hot air, and this was a face-lifted version of her jaw dropping. “It doesn’t matter,” he thought, balanced between despondency and liberation. It was something of a sickness unto death, trembling below the surface. Only a gifted artist such as Mikkim Ttommott could capture the existential fear with her sticks of chalk.
“At any rate, I think we’re missing the point here. Behold! Bicycle creeps, piles of them.”
Husband and wife eventually would see baby Drew, who’d put twenty-nine down.
Thoroughly Type A, the husband counted thirty bicycle riders all together, with the one still living. That was Reluctant Dissenter #2 creeping on tip-toe, behind baby Drew’s back, plentiful degrees away from an intersection with the little fellow’s hawk-like vigilance, the warning eyes.


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