Monday, April 6, 2009

Fucking, Fucking, Cowards


Mark put down his beer and looked at his friend. "So, what the hell are you on?"

"What?" Greg put down his beer and bordered it with his palmed hands.

"I'm looking at gerbil eyes here." Mark sat back into the booth. "So what the hell are you on?"

Greg shifted his seat in the booth. "Oh. My doctor prescribed an antidepressant."

"Oh."

"A lot of stress lately. I think it's going to be a good thing. How could you tell?"

"I've looked at your face for 15 years. I've seen more animation in Hello Kitty's eyes."

Greg laughed.

"What's so fucking funny? I see my buddy's decided to kill himself. You expect me to laugh?" Mark's palm propelled his plate away. "I've lost my appetite."

"A little overstated there. Don't you think?"

"No."

Greg picked up his beer and whet his pride. "You're over the top here. Back up."

"Everything's over the top to someone hiding in mediocre land."

"I think it's going to help me."

"Oh good for you. Who’re you gonna help?"

"What?"

"Let me ask you something. How long do you intend to do this not feeling thing?"

"It's a medical issue. It's a chemical imbalance. And I resent this."

"Okay. Okay." Mark picked up his beer and took a pull. "Help me understand this. It's a chemical imbalance. All right. When we worked downtown together and we'd hit happy hour and bet who could go home with the prettiest woman - which you always won - when we hit the gym in the morning and laughed about our conquests, did you have this chemical imbalance? Did you have the imbalance then? And um ... when, ah, we used to compete for accounts and I usually won - when we went out for happy hour and boasted we were the best in the business ... did you have this imbalance then? And when your daughter was born and we smoked cigars on the beach of Lake Calhoun and you cried because you said it was the greatest day of your life ... did you have this imbalance then? Do you remember a couple of years ago when we peed beside each other at that urinal at the Timberwolves game and we laughed because we agreed our lives were perfect, did you have this chemical imbalance then?"

"Things got worse. I'm having trouble now."

"Yeah. Sure. So this chemical imbalance just manifests itself in direct proportion to personal responsibility. Huh?"

"I don't think that's fair."

"Oh really? I'll tell you what's not fair. You're being unfair. Because you know what? When you found out that bitch was cheating on you, I stood beside you and I cared. And when your dad died and I sat beside you and helped you make every arrangement - I cared. I wasn't having a chemical imbalance that excluded me from emotions. Oh fuck no. I stood beside you and I gave a damn. And I cried with you. But now you've decided I've got to face all my shit alone. Because you've got an imbalance. Well, apparently I do too. Because there's no balance in this friendship."

"Mark, it's hard. I don't know how to handle all the stress. My life is so stressful."

"You coward. Everyone's life is stressful. Don't you know that? We're all fucked. We're all burying our parents. All our kids are animals. All our careers suck. It's called life. It's called death. It's called responsibility. But you've decided not to have a response. Fucking coward."

"I'm not as strong as you."

"Apparently not." Mark dropped his head into his elbow pedestalled hands. "Did it ever occur to you that I'm not that strong?"

"What?"

"Did it ever occur to you that you have people in your life who need you to feel? If nothing more ... just so that they feel less alone?"

"It's not like that. I can still feel. It's not like I'm a zombie. It balances everything out."

"Oh perfect. So everything is the same. Perfect. No proportion. No worse. No better. Just the same. It's all just oatmeal. Well, good for you. So a death gets equal emotion as a job loss? Okay. You know what though? Did you ever consider that it takes a hell of a lot of friction to make the orgasm? You've got to have a lot of friction to get the payoff. I'd just as soon feel it all, dude."

"See this is what I don't like about you. You just made everything about you."

Mark sat straight and pointed his finger. "No you fuck. You've made everything about you. You're not going to feel the highs and lows of happiness and sadness and you're going to make all the people around you feel everything alone and I'm the selfish one? You're kidding me."

"I can't believe what a dick you're being."

Mark lowered his voice to a whispered. "And I can't believe how disappointed I am in you. Oh my God. Jesus, I thought you were better than this. I can't believe you're going to emotionally abandon everyone around you, and we're supposed to be happy that you don't care about us anymore." He raised his hand. "Oh wait. You care less about us."

"You’re out of proportion."

"Am I? See I care enough about you to fight you for you. I do. I love you. I can't help it. I do. I care enough about you to be heartbroken. I'm devastated. You know I’ve got a neighbor. A super nice guy. And he was so funny and real. And then one day, hamster eyes and a monotone voice. And I thought, what the fuck happened to him? Apparently life got too hard for him. And now he's a coat hanger. Okay. I didn't fight for him. I guess I chose to be the unmedicated version of you. I cared. But I cared less. But see Greg, I love you. I won't for long. You'll just become a faded photograph of old emotions. And when I need someone to care that they've cut off my leg, imagine how sad I'll be that you care ... less. And when I bury my folks, I know you'll care ... less. I'm sorry I can't be happy that you intend to live this careless life. You coward. You're just going to carelessly kill everyone who loves you. So what are you going to do when your son needs you to care because he's heartbroken and he needs to know someone cares about him, you gonna tell him you care less?"

Greg summoned his snide. "Well let me see how I can carefully say this. You need help. I don't think medication will help you. Maybe shock therapy."

"Nope. Nice try though. But see I want to feel it. I want to cry when I see the devastation of Haiti. And I want to cry when I see crippled babies. And I want to care when I see lonely people because I want to befriend them. And I want to care when I feel the rigid back of a cold cunt who doesn't love me anymore. And I want to feel guilty that I use words like cunt. And I want to laugh when I see the joy of God. And I want to mourn when I look into the eyes of my friend who's decided to be a fucking coward. I want to fight for him. And I want to mourn that death."

"Well this friendship's dead." Greg stood up.

"It is." Mark picked up his beer. "Too bad I'm the only one who'll care."

Greg's monotoned mumble split their soundlessly separated air. "Fuck you Mark." He turned and walked out of the bar.