lost time incident 49
It’s Christmas day, kaloo kallay, and I am celebrating the way I celebrate every weekend: By doing as little as possible. A few dishes were washed, as a concession to adulthood, but otherwise I’ve listened to music, worked on this newsletter thing, taken a nap, and carefully crafted a porkloin sandwich on a cheese roll.
I slept terribly last night.
However, this terrible sleep did let me wake up with a vivid memory of dream employment. I was undergoing an orientation of my new responsibilities, looking at a clipboard and learning that my job was going to include close contact with cows. Something to do with their tails.
“When do I start?” I wondered, and then found that I was already among the cows. They were on all sides of me, just inches away. I could feel the heat on my cheeks. My peripheral vision was full of soft white cows. How had I not noticed them? One passed over me, putting me in shade. It glanced back at me as I shifted to avoid being knocked over. Their warm presence, in hindsight, was not unlike the feel of a warm pillow.
I woke up. A Christmas miracle. Every breath. Another miracle.
I wiggle my fingers and words come out.
total dear diary
The other day, I wore a red Santa hat to work emblazoned with “Bah Humbug” in script across the brow piece. It went over pretty well, with some commenting that the festive hat seemed to be sending mixed messages. Some holiday cognitive dissonance. Yes, indeed.
On the train ride home, though, as I stood to disembark, I spotted a middle-aged lady already queued to hop off the train. She was also wearing a Santa-style hat that was declaring “Bah Humbug”, though hers was black in color.
I gave it a moment of thought.
Then I took my hat off.
I decided that I didn’t want to risk having a moment of peer recognition and understanding, Scrooge-to-Scrooge. I didn’t want our eyes to meet, prompting a casual nod of acknowledgement. Nothing. My holiday spirit didn’t extend to taking a chance that I might actually have a moment with a stranger.
We got off the train, part of a mass of strangers, and I didn’t put my hat back on ’til I reached the parking lot.
I’m a weird idiot.
meanwhile at the north pole
An elf is hammering on a wooden rocking horse, a variety of toy you’ve never seen anyone receive. These wooden rocking horses must be going somewhere, but where? It seems like elfs are always seen making them.
The elf turns to his companion, who is carefully painting a stripe around a hula hoop. Surely those are stamped out in factories now. Why would anyone be making one by hand? And out of what material? Do these magic toy creators have access to some gizmo that extrudes lightweight plastic?
Oh, these elfs have been talking to each other, and we’ve missed the beginning, as distracted as we were by the anachronistic nature of the toys they’re creating.
“— just saying that no one else’s labor seems to attract the fetishistic attention that ours does.” This is an elf named Tarbox. “How many other holidays include a specific sort of worker at the center of it? On Valentine’s Day, are there cartoons for children about the makers of confectionary? On Halloween, do we follow the colorful adventures of mask-makers and costume tailors?”
His fellow elf, momentarily distracted, makes a mistake in the hula hoop’s stripe. His name is Aalborg and, with a deep sigh, he draws from his waist a flagon clearly marked poison and raises it to his lips. Tarbox, none-to-eager to lose a conversation companion, slaps it out of his hands
“Not now, you fool. I was just talking about the gaze. It is upon us even now! We’re just trying to make a living. We are working, not from choice, but from necessity, which is the alienating nature of labor. And what does it add up to?”
Aalborg watched the poison dribble from the flagon’s mouth on the floor, slight wisps of dramatic smoke rising from the spilled fluid. “A few moments of joy, quickly forgotten. For children, the formation of hazy memories of happiness that will color their adult anniversaries with melancholy, by comparison.”
Tarbox shoves his completed rocking horse off of the worktable “All this good cheer is an affliction. We must be stopped.”
“I was going to,” replied Aalborg.
“You’re not thinking big enough,” said Tarbox.
“Thanks for making that rocking horse I wanted,” said Aalborg.
“Thank you for destroying a hula hoop for me,” said Tarbox.
With that, we take leave of our beloved laboring magical creatures for another year. They’re allowed to return to the invisible work that makes up the rest of their year, uncelebrated. We zoom up and away from the workshop, wondering at how our imagination has been so colonized by the movie camera that we now treat every imagined vista as something captured on film.
The horizon tilts away from us. Are we going into orbit? A distant star blinks, but we don’t know what that means. A promise? A farewell? A trick of the light? We can’t survive in space.
We hope this story takes us somewhere else, where we can live, and maybe it will.
Maybe next year.
ending theme song
Amanda and I went out for a walk this afternoon, just to stretch our legs and enjoy what the neighborhood feels like when cars are rare. We can pretend that we’re well past peak oil and no one drives anymore. Most things are closed, save for bars, Asian restaurants, and a 24 hour donut place we stopped into, to get out of the cold for a bit. To eat mediocre pastry and drink awful coffee.
We walked along the streets and looked at the menus of closed Mexican restaurants.
Massage places you have to ring a doorbell to enter are open. Corner liquor stores are open. The psychic who’ll do tarot readings, or read tea leaves, she’s good to go. Still open.
There’s a whole world out there.