Reprint from Bryan K. Brown's "Meanderings: The Journal of Perspicacious Goofiness."
I'll allow that loud rock & roll accompaniment may also factor in, but the weighty insights I mention here definitely pop from the careful preparation of Sunday brunch.
At least that's my current theory. (And trust me, this has nothing to do with my recent self-improvement reading.)
Anyway, as I listen to the pork's sizzle-pop between cuts of Third Eye Blind, frying my month's allowance of saturated fat, I flash on recent time spent with my brother and begin to ponder the nature of emotions and the human experience.
[Stay with me here, this isn't a PBS special...]
Grease spatters my arm, and I picture driving with my bro' in quest of a fresh cup of Starbucks' Colombian. Now, for the uninitiated, this journey would in-and-of-itself eliminate any need for caffeinated beverages; when provoked by even the slightest lapse of driving etiquette on the part of a fellow commuter, my brother can go from placid to homicidal in .34 seconds, bringing all passengers to an immediate, wakeful state. (He could never drive a school bus.)
I'm accustom to these eruptions regarding all things inconvenient, so I observe in quiet amusement; here's someone who can go from almost meditative relaxation to critical mass and back within the time it takes most people to check their rear view mirror. He's like a rocket fueled yo-yo on a short string.
More grease singes my arm hair, reminding me that bacon tastes better with a little meat mixed in with the charcoal; I exchange the four burnt strips for 4 raw ones -- promising myself to keep my head in the kitchen.
About now I hear my roommate putzing with his motorcycle in the storage shed; no doubt he's wearing surgical gloves to keep everything but skin off his hands. (There's gotta' be a stronger term than "anal retentive"...)
I flip the bacon and begin running through previous experiences revealing of my roomie's demeanor. Loads of mellow. Imagining Mr. Rogers on Darvon will just about calibrate you to my roommates excitability scale; I don't even think he HAS a resting heart rate. (Of course, as a pool man, he's world wise, which could account for his blase outlook.)
I recall a trip to the motorcycle parts store:
CLERK: We don't take post dated checks.
CLERK: So how are you going to pay?
ROOMIE: Well, with this check.
CLERK: I can't take this -- it's dated the 28th.
ROOMIE: Yeah, I know. Today's the 28th.
CLERK: No it's not.
ROOMIE: Uh huh.
CLERK: Hey Dave, what's the date today?
DAVE: The 28th.
ROOMIE: You don't wear a watch do ya'? (Delivered like Columbo in investigative mode.)
CLERK: Well, no...
ROOMIE: I like to wear a watch myself. That way if I need to KNOW what day it is, I can just pull up my sleeve and look at this little window...right here...and it'll tell me EXACTLY what day it is.
ROOMIE: That way I don't end up wastin' a buncha' time, holdin' people up in lines and so forth.
CLERK: Well, I didn't know...if I'd known I wouldn't have...
ROOMIE: Oh, that's okay. Don't worry about it...just learn all about watches and what they can do for you. See now, when you get off work this evenin', you can run on over to the K-Mart where you'll find a fine selection of watches; you can get one for yourself. That way next time I come in, I can just hand you my check -- and you'll know instantly that it's the right date. Won't that be nice?
So far I'm "oh for two" with swine strips; shall we try for three? Drain the grease, crank up the fan to clear the smoke, listen for fire trucks -- all clear. Four more strips. Okay, I can do this.
What do I make of this? Captain volatile and the flatliner.
Well to be fair, I must say my brother is one of the coolest cats I know under real pressure, with the capacity for as much contagious happiness as explosive anger. And my Roommate's a really genuine guy, with a good sense of humor; he's just not the cheerleader type.
I guess people are like stereos: they vary in their dynamic range. Some catch the screaming highs and the bellowing lows, others are better suited to talk radio. Is this significant?
Probably to them. Both my brother and roommate get stuck in post office lines, and each of them sees his favorite sports team clinch the occasional last minute victory. They must just represent these "facts" to themselves differently; with more or less emotional intensity. I wonder who enjoys life more?
All right, one side down and one to go; it even still looks like bacon.
Anyway, I suppose emotions CAN be a bother.
Maybe the trick is to feel more of the good ones and less of the bad ones. Not an issue of dynamic range but of volume; you know...turn it down when the Spice Girls come on.
That's easy to say, scary to do.
I remember Larry The Lion from when I was four years old. A stuffed toy equipped with 3 or 4 recorded messages guaranteed to annoy visiting friends and neighbors. You'd pull the little string with the plastic ring, and he'd roar and say, "Oooh...I scared myself."
Sometimes I think we scare ourselves. We decide to yank our own emotional chain, or let someone else do it, then jump back wondering who made that sound. Some of us bluster with loud superficiality, covering it up like a fart in a quiet room. Others clam up and hope no one notices it was them.
But the fact remains, stereo is better than mono and Bose beats a Walkman any day of the week. It's all in the presets. In the volume. And we all tune our own radios.
Damn. I did it again...right now I'd settle for some bacon to go with my cold eggs.
Bryan's opposed to ruining a good read by exposing the wizard. Heart, brains, hemorrhoids -- "just leave 'em with what they take from the story." Send comments to email@example.com, and he'll direct you to more of his work. Seat belts not included.
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