Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wait a minute.
The girl at the coffee shop always says that. But I’ve never seen her before, must be new. She’s squat and angry with a nose ring. I always stop here on my way to Ben’s place for coffee, and I’ve never seen her.
I mean, I should say, I think she always says that. Maybe it’s the way she said it, I think, as I pour cream in my coffee. Like I’ve heard someone say it like that. I look back at her. No…I don’t know her. I shrug.
“Back again?” She had asked, not exactly friendly-like, but more like I had interrupted her day.
“I’m sorry?” I had answered.
Her face pinched, like she didn’t trust me. “There was a guy in here that looked a lot like you a while ago.”
“I get that all the time,” I said, “Tall, handsome, you know.”
I laughed. She didn’t.
“How are you?” I had asked her.
“Living the dream,” she had said.
Maybe I just heard it before, I think, as I add sugar. “Living the dream.” One of those memories you have that fall down a hole somewhere in your brain, like a lost note card that falls underneath the couch. Then, some random day, the coffee shop girl says something…
I hate thirty-five, I think, as I walk outside. It’s like every experience gets thrown on top of a pile, and even by thirty you have this enormous, unsteady pile. Something new gets thrown on, and memories just slide down the pile. The name of an old, favorite restaurant you’d never think you’d forget tumbles down to the bottom of the pile. The name of the first girlfriend you made out with that had a tongue ring. The feeling you had, riding in the back of the car on your way to Grandma’s, Christmas 88. New experience, and the whole thing sloshes, memories sliding, rolling down.
I walked. Bit of a pain, having to go to Ben’s lab when it’s so far away, but it’s a nice day, so I don’t mind the walk. One of those days that seems like it must have come off a calendar. The clouds, like a map of places you want to visit.
It was bugging me. You know, you wake up – as I did, from a freaky dream where Ben had finally achieved a breakthrough in his research…ihhhh – you’re in a bit of a daze, then you find out the missus took the car without letting you know (no doubt full aware that it’s Tuesday), you’re late for an appointment, in a haze, and you get shocked out of your brain and your thoughts and your problems and get brought into the real world by a fat kid at a coffee shop. Where did I hear that before?
It all passes by, doesn’t it? How do you stamp every day in your head? Here it was…I didn’t even know what day it was, well…a Tuesday, but what’s the date? It’s the middle of the month…but you pull out your cell phone, like I did, and
Whoop – that can’t be right.
My phone is an hour…
“Excuse me,” I ask, “what time is it?”
Funny. My cell phone is off, by an hour.
But it’s the twenty-third! Already at the end of the month! See? It all whizzes past, and there’s no stopping it.
All this God-damned research. You get thinking, you get thinking, you get thinking. Work, work, work, Audrey and the escalating problems with learning to live with someone else who is no longer charming (or maybe it’s you who is no longer charming), stuff, stuff, and look – a beautiful day. How long will I remember how beautiful August 23 2009 was? Should I write it down? It’s already been thrown on the top of the pile, and tomorrow will be thrown on the pile, and tomorrow…
Pizza. Soho Pizza. And it felt like a little jab at Audrey. And if Ben’s really achieved a breakthrough, then it’s going to be a while until I eat. AND it’s August 23rd 2009. I should start writing this stuff down, as I walk in. I can’t even remember the last time I got pizza.
“Ah!” The man behind the counter exclaims. He smiles. He’s short and fat, the same shape as the coffee shop girl. He waves me in.
“You came back!” he says. He’s Middle Eastern. There’s a very, very fast dance music playing.
He lifts the money tray and there are several credit cards. He pulls one out and hands it to me.
“No, sorry. I think you have the wrong guy,” I said. Someone must be wearing the same shirt today, I think, as I look at the board. $2.75 for a slice! Of cheese!
“Leland Palmer?” He said.
There are moments in your life where you just can’t really function. I think it’s because our brains, for all the cars and computers and string theories it thinks up, just can’t process some things fast enough. Like a phone call telling us our father died. And you’re exposed for being the dumb, multi-celled caveman we all are. Stupid.
I grabbed the card.
It was my credit card.
I was no longer interested in trying to remember the details of the day, or sorting through the pile of memories in my head: I walked very, very fast to Ben’s. Had I been there? Have I been so entrenched in my thoughts that I forgot that I stopped at a coffee shop and got pizza? What’s going on? is such a clichéd question, and I’m now a dumb caveman trying to figure it out. I could see the pile, now falling apart.
I turned into Ben’s
That’s my car
What the hell is this all about?
“Hello, Leland!” Ben said, opening the door and stepping outside. He gave me a great hug, and began to cry.
“Ben, Something weird is going on.”
“I know, I know, I know!!! It’s extraordinary! Come in, come in, but…is this for me? Cheese? Sit down, Leland. You’ll never believe what happened: you’ve…sit down. Did you get anything for me to drink? No? No matter. It’s all right. Here. Sit.” Then he called out, “Leland!”
“No, not you. Well…Leland. This might be hard for you to understand, but I think I finally figured out time travel.”
And as he said it, I got quite the jolting sight: there I was, coming trepidously out of another room. Did I look that bad in that shirt?
Is that really me?
This was quite the day to remember.