Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Lost Art of Dislocation


The Lost Art of Dislocation
I had heard her approaching but instead of turning and greeting her, I continued doing what I'd been doing for the past ten minutes.
"What the hell are you doing?" Sheila asked.
I put the quarter in the slot, turned the handle and watched the arrow line up on the one hour mark.
“I would have thought that was evident." I now turned to face her, "I was bored and I began to pace. All this change in my pockets jingled, and it bugged the shit out of me. So I decided to get rid of it. These parking meters were more fun than throwing the coins down the sewer grating."
"Sure." She took my arm. "Let's go, we’re late. I know it's my fault, but let's not discuss that now."
I allowed her to lead me to her car. We drove in silence until we left town. Then: "Are you mad at me?"
"No." I stared out the window. Between wisps of cloud, I could see the stars. "I don't get angry with people. It's a waste of time."
"O.K. I forgot. You just dislocate from them, isn't that right?" I nodded. "Have you dislocated from me?"
I thought a moment. "I guess so."
"I'm sorry I was late. You know why I was held up.  We don't have to go into that now, do we?" Sheila was driving very mechanically, stiffly. I began to worry about our safety.
"No. Remember what we saw in the movie on Friday?
How the hero explained his attitude? 'People think I'm indifferent, but I just respect personal freedom,' or words to that effect. I try to feel the same way. So, to answer your question, No, we don't have to go into that now." I paused, then added, "Or ever."
"But then I'll feel guilty. Your devotion and trust outweigh mine," Sheila swung around a dead animal on the expressway.
I shrugged. "So? Who ever said that we were equal in our attitudes? Not me certainly. I believe that sameness leads to stagnation. A relationship needs excitement, a small amount of friction between the partners."
"Well," Sheila smiled, turning on the radio, "we certainly have friction."
I reached out, pushed the cassette into the tape player, cutting out the radio. I listened to the music, trying to identify it. Sheila spoke. "The trouble is you are too good a person."
"Ha!" I laughed. "I'm only good about certain things. I do have my bad traits, character faults. But that was a nice compliment. Thank you."
"What I meant was that you treat other people too nicely. What did Leo Durocher say? 'Good guys finish last.'"
"Tell me. Do you think I'm finishing last?"
Sheila shook her head. "No. So I guess Leo was wrong."
I finally identified the music. Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure. "I just don't want to even compete. If I avoid competition, how can I finish last, or even first? There is no reason for me to turn this into a contest. The hell with that."
"Don't you think that might turn some people off? That it might seem as though you don't care?"
"What is this 'some people' bullshit? Don't get cute with this third person crap. Tell me the truth, do you think I don't care?"
Sheila drove along in silence for a moment. I returned to my window, watching the stars thru the clouds. Finally, "No, I'm certain you do care. It's just that a girl likes to be shown how much she means to someone, sorry, how much she means to you."
Sheila stopped the car. We got out walked down to the shore. "I care," I told her.
Sheila slipped her arm around me, as we watched the sun rise over the ocean. Her face was warm against my shoulder.
We sat down on the sand, letting the waves wash over our legs. "I know. I just like to make sure. I'm insecure, you know."
The sun felt warm on my face. "I never would have guessed."

© Ivar G. Anderson 1980


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