DATE: 1/23/2004 04:28:00 PM
I Was Up Above It
Steve the Engineer comes up to me today and says, "So, who you voting for?"
"Um..." I say. "Well." I'm embarrassed. I know Steve is just trying to make conversation on a timely topic, but I feel caught completely off guard.
Always one to have an answer for everything, though, I do my best to come up with one. While stammering at Steve, I steal off into my brain's back filing room to root around and see what I can come up with.
Back there, it's floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall file drawers, with rows of library shelves and free-standing file drawers in the middle. You know the type of room I'm describing--you probably have one yourself. Linoleum floor. Buzzing ultraviolet light. Dead bugs in the light.
Most recent thoughts are in a file cabinet near the door, a two-drawer job, with the top drawer labeled "SPORTS" and the lower labeled "EVERYTHING ELSE."
The top drawer, I know without even looking, is packed full of hanging files, which in turn are jammed with manila folders bursting at the seams with sheaves upon sheaves of paper, marked off in two main sections, one labeled "PATRIOTS" and the other, moved toward the back, reading "RED SOX".
Most-used files, of course, are at the very front of the drawer, regardless of their subject, and the two most dog-eared specimens are labeled, in the quirky lettering of an old typewriter on white self-adhesive stickers, "Brady, Tom: Goddamnit, he's Gorgeous", and "National Sports Media, (The): What the Fuck?"
Close behind those is, of course, "Super Bowl XXXVIII" and "Curse of the Bambino, (The): Does it Apply to Football?" Bringing up the rear there are "Garciaparra, Nomar: SEE ALSO RODRIGUEZ, ALEX," "Rodriguez, Alex: SEE ALSO 'A-HOLE'", " 'A-hole', SEE ALSO WEEI, WHINER LINE", and "WEEI, Whiner Line: Holy Shit, that's Funny."
Obviously, it'll do no good to go through that top drawer, so I go for the "EVERYTHING ELSE" grab-bag. At the front of this drawer is "Friends and Family: Recent Happenings" (being that the overall "F & F" file occupies a sizeable series of document boxes arranged on archive shelves elsewhere in the adjacent warehouse), and behind that, a large dossier marked, "MOVING OUT". Skip that one, definitely. Slightly behind that is a file called "CAREER ASPIRATIONS," which contains the sub-folders: "Journalistic Career, Early: What the Hell Happened?" and "Current Job: Staying Sane Amidst Mind-Numbing Meaninglessness." Cross-referenced with this, of course, is the archive for MUSICIANSHIP, with a Post-It saying, "Will I ever play violin / sing again? Should I? Call Steve Re this."
Behind that, there's "Blog: Finding Time," another biggie labeled "BOOKS I'VE READ LATELY AND WHAT I THINK ABOUT THEM." Then behind that we're getting into the far reaches, including "Places to Eat Lunch," "Places Between Home and Work to Buy Coffee," "Crap, I'm Fat," and "Maybe I Should Quit Smoking." Behind all those, wayyyy back among the dust bunnies and remnants of old Post-Its and little round white confetti circles from three-hole-punchers, is a slim file, indeed, marked "Misc."
Inside it, among old receipts, a fading Polaroid or two of friends I've lost touch with but think I should call paper-clipped to their profile sheets, a couple of newspaper clippings, scribbled ideas for stories, novels and poems, and tidbits on Post-Its like my ATM card pin number, there is a small sheet of scrap paper, ripped crudely from a spiral notebook. Scrawled at the top in fading blue ball-point pen is the notation: "Democratic Presidential Candidates". Below that, written hastily in messy handwriting, are three things:
"John Kerry: Senator from Massachusetts.
John Edwards: Cute - but Southern.
Howard Dean: YAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"
Returning to Steve, I say, "You know...um, I really don't know. Ask me again after the Super Bowl."
Man...I used to be somebody.