cool story bro
(originally posted 2/1/2013)
We invent people all the time. Jerry sat in the Barnes & Noble doing it right at that moment. The girl who had given him the mochachino that he’d asked for but had meant the hot variety instead of the iced beverage, but was too embarrassed to correct her for fear that he used the wrong hip word, was now the frumpy girl who was overweight in only a few odd areas but had a face that made her realize that she would never have a man feel lust for her and she was not alright with that.
He sat next to the girl that was deeply in love with a man and yet was waiting for any other man to notice her so she could flirt and then sleep with him for some reason she did not fully understand. She was scribbling away in a little journal and he had no doubt it was some romantic reflection on how when a shoe gets lost the other shoe might as well be lost anyway because nobody is going to wear that shoe again either.
We invent people we know as well. We create who they are in our head and then tweak them when it becomes necessary to be consistent. The caricatures at Jerry’s office begin to live and breathe as the years pass and he accumulates information about them, grudgingly filling in gaps that often times don’t need filling and make the person less understandable than before the information gleaned from an overheard conversation, drunken rant at a holiday party or stolen glance at a personal e-mail makes itself available.
We invent the people we love. Jerry tends to break them down into two groups. The people he’s loved for awhile and the people he hopes he loves. Maybe he has two types of love, he’s never sure because just when he thinks he’s invented a version of someone that can pass from the latter group to the former they go and reinvent themselves in a way that puts them in a distinctly third category.
Jerry doesn’t hold it against the girl behind the counter that he’s drinking a cold drink that he doesn’t particularly enjoy when he wanted something entirely different. Just as he wouldn’t hold it against her if he fell in love with her when what he really wanted was the cuter girl with the notebook and commitment issues.
Right now they both resided in the aforementioned third category of ‘everyone else.’
Every morning he invents the man looking back at him in the mirror. His greatest project. He long ago gave up on figuring out the cesspool of subconscious motivations and has instead just focused on how to frost a cake he will never comprehend. The truth is that every morning the invention takes a different turn based almost entirely on chemical and electrical interactions that nobody can claim they understand. He is left to stand on the shoulders of midgets who came before him with ideas like happiness and sadness and self-actualization.
The only constant in an ever-changing universe is that when Jerry steps out of the shower he strikes a rigid and fearsome karate pose, his left arm makes a sweeping crescent in the air while his right hand mimics the act of masturbation as he softly utters the phrase “wax on, whacks off” to himself and then giggles.
Every act of invention needs a mantra.