The sun shined through the cracks in the blanketing clouds in the sky as they drove to a coffee shop for live music in downtown Portland. The rain had just stopped, and steam danced on the road as the cars drove over.
“I can’t wait to fall in love with a girl and marry her,” said the singer-songwriter to the writer in the passenger seat, turning down the singing and strumming guitar coming from the stereo.
“Why?” the writer asks. “Everyday at Powell’s, I’m interrupted by the over-affectionate couples giggling in the corner. I always think that such things just interrupt self-enriching opportunities. Why would I want to be interrupted by someone nagging me, wanting to hang on my whim?” he confessed, putting down his mug half full with some Stumptown coffee that he brewed just before leaving his house. “
“You never want to hold a girl in your hands and simply enjoy each other’s presence?” he dreamed, tightening his grip on the wheel.
“I have many friends whose presence I can enjoy, why put all my eggs in one basket when I can have many baskets for all my eggs. I mean, it’s more of a juggle but in the end, it’s more reliable,” the writer mentioned coolly, quickly rolling down the window for a splash of fresh air.
Droplets of water trickled onto the windshield. “Nothing you’d only want to share with a particular person?” He questioned, turning on his wipers and swiping away the guises that disrupted his thoughts and his vision. “Wouldn’t you like to say, ‘There is this one individual who knows me inside and out, and I can trust her to be mine’?”
“I much rather be happy that I am known inside and out by all those that I know, and thus be know for who I am, instead of only being know by one person. Besides, relationships are really about taking,” he remarked, sipping from his mug once more. ”You take from this person because they can give you such and such an feeling, and then you become upset when they fail to give it to you any longer. When that time comes, you move on to someone else, and they keep whatever they took from you. To me, all I see is selfishness, especially when you say someone is only yours,” resting his mug on his lap.
The rainfall increased, and the singer turned up his wipers to keep his composure. “You have to know there is more! That tinge, the twinkle, sparkle, jazz that you feel when you’ve just met her. Goosebumps shoot down your arms when she giggles because perhaps your joke actually was funny, and she dances through your thoughts as John Mayer sings you a lullaby through your bedroom speakers,” he mused, fancifully dazing into the taillights in front of him. ”Tell me you know what I mean?” he asks, waiting for affirmation.
“That feeling exists,” he agrees, “but because she gives me that ‘sparkle,’ I want to keep her around? It’s not about her but about the feeling that I can take from her. With every passing moment, I continue to rob her. That feeling, that attitude, is hers, and I would hate to corrupt her as she is. I would hate greater that she could corrupt who I am and steal from me,” he jeered, shaking his head as the thought of manipulation and self-loathing ran its fingers up his spine. “Love is a double-edged sword, swinging like a pendulum and causing harm as it swings. It cuts away what makes me who I am and replaces it with who she is. Oh, God, spare me from corruption and save her from the enslavement of another. Please, provide us with the ability to remain unaffected by the persuasion to another’s dreams. No person should have that much control rendered to a single individual. Slowly we become carbon copies of who this person has made us to be,” he ranted. “Each person has a void, and everyone fights to fill this void with the love of someone else, a void that should be filled with the purity of the self, enriched by others in small doses. Then again, everyone is lazy of course, unwilling do things themselves. Why make your food, when you can walk down the street and have someone else prepare it for you? Then you don’t have to pull out the dishes, make the food, and then clean it up. Everyone pushes their responsibility onto someone else, and I refuse to give in to such laziness. Too many people are lazy. If all are lazy, then nothing will be accomplished.”
Distracted by the conversation, the singer almost missed the exit. “Yet the economy is driven by the laziness of its consumers: ovens versus building a fire, microwaves versus the oven, bikes versus walking, and cars versus bikes,” he replied, as he swings the vehicle over to the exit lane. “Where would we be without laziness, the birthplace of each new invention?”
“We would be in the places of individuals in developing countries around the world. Our selfish laziness is criminal, focused on how we can make ourselves better. Our sales go to the latest iPhone, those over-priced sandwiches, and those ‘cute’ new shoes. God-willing, I hope to live the minimalist life in efforts to get Rhonda out from under that bridge and Roland from that tribe and going to school. Call me Robin Hood, for I guess I actually do intend to steal,” he chuckles. “I will steal the drive to succeed from the ungrateful and replace their drive with the heart of the unlucky, the ones unfortunate to live in a house and the ones who have to constantly stack up the hay to keep the torrential rains from entering their hut. I want to steal opportunity from those who were born with it and return it to the ones who Chance overlooked.”
The rain stopped as they approached the coffee shop, and another idea escapes the singers mind as he parks his car, “We need the hard work of the ungrateful, as you call them. That way they can give more.”
Exiting the car, the writer raises his voice to speak over the car. “What are their intentions though?” asks his pessimism. “The currency of diligence is spent on the inessentials, the futile,” it follows up.
As they approach the shop entrance, the singer restates, “The rich, they have the potential to give more in their wealth. When they continue to work, they can provide more help with their prolific wealth.”
Walking in the door, the dimly lit old warehouse was filled with a couple dozen people, and spotlights pointed to the young woman on the stage accompanied by three musicians: one with a guitar, one with a banjo, and one on a cajon. “Potential, opportunity, that’s what it is,” the writer theorized as they looked towards the stage for two empty seats. “Nothing more than good wishes that never make the transition into action. Justice comes in action.” Spotting two seats over to the right, by the wall of artwork, he points, “Oh! there by the impression of the Eiffel Tower.” Making their way over to the artwork, the French architecture brought back his memory of the French language. Quickly thinking of an analogy, he weasels out, “I noticed when I was taking French, ‘faire’ is the verb for ‘to do/ to make.’ Doing brings about fairness. One must make justice into existence, not merely intend for it.”
Unphased by the French, the singer chuckles and mocks, “I like how you incorporated that French. It barely made sense, but I understand what you are saying, I believe.” Laughing at his momentary lack of wittiness, he admits, “Yes, yes, I won’t try that one again.” But he didn’t care, he was too drawn by the somber melody streaming from the banjo. Never before had the instrument lured him like this before.
Proposing another idea, the singer interrupts the writer’s trance, “Here though, if the small things aren’t taken care of, how can one focus on the larger things?”
“I love the idea,” he hesitantly agrees as he re-enters the conversation. “Surely, the lazy create simple jobs for those searching for the opportunity. Then the lazy are free to create better things for… yet the other lazies,” he laughs once again. ”It’s like the sweat shops over seas. Those factory workers work for far less than they ought to, and then we benefit from their hard work. A friend of mine in Beaverton is trying to start a clothing company, and he shared with me that could have clothing made in China for an unbelievably low price, $3.50 per pair of shorts to be exact, and yet he sells them here for $40.00. Manipulation of the inopportune for the benefit of the lazy, and when do the lazy give back to their inopportune labor-doers? I see the same in love. We either give ourselves to or take from the other person so that we can feel affirmed in whatever way. It’s just a game of stealing and maximizing. I know that after some time, I will be robbed of my ambition, and Rhonda and Roland will not receive the opportunity of the lazy and the ungrateful.”
Trying to turn around the writer’s negative thoughts, the singer wonders, “Could it be though that she complements you and enriches that ambition rather than steals it?”
Pausing for a moment and refusing to accept his idea, the writer asks, “Why then can we not simply be partners-in-crime and nothing more?”
“Because it won’t end there. You know it!” he cried. “The feeling will be there, and you won’t know what to do with it. Once that sparkle or whatever you want to call it begins to fester, it will make even the wisest of men do the silliest of things.”
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” he murmurs, unsure of how to continue his ideas of individuality. “We are here now… Let the music take us,” he requests, returning to the carefree twang of the banjo again.