Sunday, February 7, 2016

306. Confusion

"So explain something to me," C.W. said, as we enjoyed ourselves at a local Little Rock beer joint. I it was pleasant, with his taking, for once, the sensible shape of a good friend. I was having a beer and he a soda, his usual since the incident with the female police officer. Don't ask.

"Explain what?"

"This concept your species has called a 'love-hate' relationship."

"What do you mean?"

"It doesn't make sense," he said."Is it what you call a combination of contradictory word such as a 'definite maybe,' like Mrs. Big Dope says all the time?"

"You mean an oxymoron?"

"That's what I said. Your repeating of everything I say is becoming a periodic constancy."

It took a moment for that to register. "She doesn't say that all the time," I said. It's just a falsehood she uses to express the truth."

"You are confusing me with elucidation," he said.

"So what was it you want to know? Forgetting what you say is, for me, a cruel kindness."

He scowled at me from across the table. “Would you rather play our beer-drinking game?”

Oh no. We have this game we play called “Songs and songwriters I enjoy disliking.” The image of Tony Orlando popped into my head. I quickly changed the subject.

“So what was your question again? I’m drearily attentive.”

“What does it mean to have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with something or someone?”

“Well,” I said, “it sort of means you love something— or maybe the concept of something— at one moment but then hate it at another. You know … possessing simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate.”

“Like in marriage,” he said, “when …”

I interrupted him. “It doesn’t have anything to do with sex,” I said.

“Hmm,” he said, and he took a small notebook and pen from his pocket and began to write.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh nothing,” he said, “just making a note to get a second opinion on something.”

“You leave her out of this,” I said. “Or I’ll catch you sleeping and play, ‘American Pie,’ as loud as I can.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he said. “I have ten Tom Waits discs just waiting for you.”

“Okay,” I said. “Truce.”

“Truce,” he said. “Peace through war.”

“You got it,” I said. “But why are you off on this love-hate kick?”

“Your species seems to live by it,” he said.

“Confound me with clarity,” I said.

“Look at your religions,” he said. “Between those urging love, and those urging hate, which are the fastest growing?”

I took a drink of beer and signaled the waitress for another, not from desire, but from a need for a second or two to think. She came and I stalled some more, asking about her family.

“Oh my granddaddy said the nicest thing to me the other day,” she said.


“Yes, he told me that he was so proud that I had five kids and that I knew who the daddy of each one was.” She took the empty bottle and wandered away.

C.W. stared at her. “How old do you think she is?”

“Nearly 30, I imagine.”

“What her grandfather said, isn’t that what you would call ‘praise damnation’ or something like that?”

“No,” I said. “I think that’s what we call redneck sophistication in the South. But back to your question …”

Something tells me that his man
is not reciting the Beatitudes. - C.W.
“Yes,” he said. “Now take a look at your current crop of political candidates.”

“What about them?”

“The ones who get all the attention, what are they whispering most loudly?”

“Uh,” I said, once more stalling for time.”

Let me answer with a hint,” he said. “It isn’t love.”

I nodded. “Just what are you trying to say?”

“Just that,” he said, “you species never seems to feel more correct than when they are wrong.”

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