What Now?


I chuckle and she thinks it's at her, which looks like it's going to set her off again. I tell her it's been a rough week, forgive me, "if you can't say anything nice..." and eventually, with enough ass kissing, she is soothed. People around me smirk at me and I shrug. Sometimes I like the confrontation.

I finish my burger and light a cigarette and three hours pass while they talk around me and I watch the door.

Other people don't think the coffee drinkers are cool because they talk about the wrong topics, but really, they're the same people I sit with at the bar. They're just not pretty and they're missing some amorphous social skill that allows them to fit in. So am I, but I fake it better by being quiet.

A waitress I've been out with a few times refills my coffee and asks me if I'll be there when she gets off. If she were subtle, I'd think it was a cute little flirt, but she just wants a ride home. I tell her I don't know because answering that yes, I'll be there when she gets off, sipping coffee and waiting to feel tired would be admitting that I could find nothing better to do with my time but sit there and listen to these people. She says, "Oh," and walks away and I wonder why both scenes work for the people in them, but not for me.

Let's talk about the darkness outside a twenty-four hour restaurant.

Darkness is the ability to do whatever you want and not have to watch your hands chopping up the neighbor's dog. Darkness is the biggest excuse, the hugest lie. God can't see you, in the dark, so nothing's immoral, you just take off your clothes and fuck, or kill. It's a bandaid for your wounded ethics, sure, a good excuse. When there isn't any light, you can almost fool yourself into thinking that it's someone else holding the knife, some other person having casual sex with strangers. Even if that's not your excuse, at least fewer people are awake to see you in the middle of the night. It's just you and people like you, no accusing eyes that prod and stare and condemn, just because you've decided to dye your hair and walk down the street.

Some people revel in their differences. Some people like the attention. Some people are cannibals, too. If it's about attention, you've lost before you started.

I look at people my age and say to myself, "I think I know you." It's three in the morning, you should be tired, or it's five in the morning and you're racing the sun, trying to get home before it gets light out and avoiding the early morning commuters' half-asleep glares. They stare because you're not starched and fresh, like they are. It's five in the morning, the world's waking up, and they all know that you're different, because you're not moving away from the bed and the shower, you're headed towards it. I said it before, but now it's more obvious, it stands out.

The change in attitude is easy to spot, in an all night restaurant, because all the people like us, all the watchmen of the night, they all trickle off to smoke pot, or get drunk, or just go home to sleep, and all the early morning oldies start trickling in. It's the changing of the guard, trading off youthful innocence for aged hopelessness, and you can watch it all for the price of a cup of coffee. Conversations turn from bands to politics, the only real change noticeable by topic. Old or young, everyone's got a solution to the problems they perceive in the antics of the rich, famous, or powerful. We spend so much time on bullshit fixes for Madonna's sex life and the state of the union and nothing gets done about the state of our lives.

"We," the people who stay out all night. The ones with plans that never seem to go further than back home to pass out. The ones starting college 'in the spring,' and then 'in the fall,' and then 'in the spring,' again, but never really getting to any classes, or enrolling. The ones who hate their jobs, but never quit. The people who'll never make more than thirty thousand, but could, if they got up and did something. We are the lazy, the unemployed, the wasted potential, the bored, and the tired.

We're the ones who come up with smart remarks, instead of real answers. We're the ones who don't take our lives seriously, right down the drain. We'll never age, smoking won't kill us, and the goals of successful people will forever be beyond our understanding. The socially broken.

And me, on the fringe, clawing desperately to get away, to find a solution. To find a home, somewhere that I feel like I fit in and can identify. Maybe I try too hard. It frightens me that I can't find anywhere to stand and giving in to the sinking feeling, just going with the flow always feels like giving up and losing, or accepting the loss. I don't know how to lose gracefully, like the people around me, or even if they've lost. Having that for a first impression makes me look at myself funny, because I never thought I was that arrogant. It all just looks like an act, though. It smells fishy.

Walking out to my car I think that maybe I only hate it because it's not what I wanted.

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