What can you "get started" for me today? How sure are you that you can really start anything in this life? Heraclitus said we could never step in the same river twice, but me, I think it's just the opposite — every river we step in's the same one we stepped in before. Every step we take is in a spot we've already walked. That latte he's making for the fella in the Cowboys hoodie over there? Already been made, poured and drank.
We like to think of time as a straight line, but it's a circle, taking us back through the same events, feeding us the same script, moving along as we make the exact same mistakes. Including the one where I forget to ask for 2% milk in my caramel macchiatto 'cause I'm tryin' to cut out some fat and sugar . . . you know what, just gimme whole. Whatever I gain, lose, calories I burn or don't burn. Ain't a thing a one of us can do about it anyhow.
AT A RESTAURANT WITH KIDS
No, I can't quiet them down. I can't fix the lean in the ceiling up there, either. You didn't notice it? You wouldn't have, but I see it. I see it all, because I have gift for noticing the things I shouldn't, the little tweaks and creaks in the warp and woof of the universe all too apparent to someone who understands---well, the one who doesn't see it as a story of a ship sinking.
You see the Titanic as a tragedy. I see the kids throwing crackers over the seat and into your booth, and see the brown stains of a doomed waterpipe in the ceiling, and smell the stale booze and vomit on our server's breath and see the burst blood vessels in her eyes and know this: the iceberg always has the right of way. It's your fault for not seeing that, not mine. I understand what's going on here.
That's my only consolation. Well, that and the fact my son just threw your phone on the floor while we were discussin' the universe and such. You might want to get a proper case for that next time, because the iceberg ain't the only one with a perfect record. Gravity's undefeated, too, particularly against phones made of glass and doomed tightrope walkers. I know the score, and Karl Wallenda and your phone are getting shut out in the fourth quarter.
SIGNING THE PAPERWORK ON A NEW CAR
OK, now right here it says I'm bein' charged $150 for "underbody protection" . . . now you know I didn't ask for that. I look to you like the type of guy lookin' for "protection"? It ain't about me bein' tough, either, I know better'n to think I'm any tougher'n the next man. It's about bein' wise. Not even that, it's about bein' in tune with the universe, knowin' better than to think we can protect ourselves from anything.
We're all gonna fall into that deep sleep eventually, aren't we? So are you sayin' I'm gonna be sittin' there, facin' the blackness, and I'm gonna be thinkin', "Well, I sure am glad I got that underbody protection"? Naww, man. Everyone's so anxious to "protect" themselves from one thing or another, only makes the end more terrifying when it comes. Me, I don't have any illusions. This car, that car, ain't gonna change what happens in the end.
So with that in mind, ain't nothin' keepin' me from goin' cross town to the Chevy dealer, takin' advantage of that lease deal they got on the 2015 Silverados, is there? Yeah. Think about that next time you weave this fairytale 'bout how much "protection" you can offer someone. I would like the Sirius/XM satellite radio, though, 'f I can get that on there.
AT THE AIRPORT
Said you was lookin' for someone to give up their seat, take a later flight, all that? Yeah, I'll take that deal. Doesn't really matter when I get to Cincinnati anyways, not connectin' nowhere, nothin' that's a matter of life and death for me to be on time for. You see all these people runnin' around — "Oh, I gotta make my flight" or "Oh, why're we takin' off so late"? Wonder how many a them ever stopped to think about what it is they're goin' to. Business trip? Family vacation to Disneyland? More'n likely it ain't nothin' they're gonna remember after two weeks.
Hell, the universe forgets it even before it happens. Yet we still want to hold on to all that, as if it makes us unique, makes us significant, allows us to rise above the muck and rabble of human existence. But whether I get on this plane or the next one — hell, whether I'm goin' to Cincinnati, Phoenix, Tokyo, it don't matter. It's all goin' to the same place, and by the time we get there, everything we've done is just so much scrap metal, waitin' to be melted down and fashioned into the same stuff as the cycle repeats itself.
Anyway. Tell me again how much of a voucher y'all gonna give me.
SPOTTING AT THE GYM
You ever think about what you're pushing against here? You picked up that bar naively thinking it was just a matter of simple physics. The earth, rotation, the tendency of things to fall toward the center. Four. Come on. Five.
Wait, hold this one at the top.
[/grabs a knife and a Muscle Milk bottle]
[/starts carving up bottle]
You can keep going. You're not lifting against weight. No, no, you're pressing up against existence. This universe, physically speaking, is a flat rubber sheet, and the Earth is just sitting in it like a bug caught in flypaper. All that weight, caught in dark matter no one understands, pressing in on itself. You might slip away from it for a second, a minute, or an hour, but it's all gotta come back down. The only heat in this whole cold cosmos comes from that hateful pressure, the weight of every human alive or dead, the Sphinx, the air itself. It all adds up. Eight...nine...you wanna go for ten? How much weight would keep you from getting it. I had a daughter once.
[/places plastic outline of a little girl on his chest]
She passed. She's part of the world's dumb weight now that keeps the fires in hell and beyond burning. I wonder if her ashes are the exact amount of weight you'd miss this last rep by. You might think a ghost has no mass, but you'd be wrong. You add up enough of them and it's enough to crush a man. No, I ain't taking that off your chest. I got too much weight to carry all by myself, much less to carry what you're too weak to bear on your own, brother.