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Funny Anecdote From a Friend
August 26, 2004

A buddy of mine wrote this e-mail to his friends, and I found it so funny that I had to share it with everyone. (He gave permission).

"I had my first date in six months. Steinbeck wrote that young men need young women in order to be happy and, being such, I was as happy as any man can be without any women.

I suppose I was somewhat down for a time for this reason, because you can’t create companionship out of nothing. When it comes well it comes unlooked for and I wanted it well again. And I knew all this.

The more time a young man spends by himself, the more difficult it is for him to be himself around women. The less like himself he is around women, the more likely he is to end up by himself.

When my date arrived at my apartment, seclusion, anticipation and the knowledge of this cruel circle gave me butterflies and they weren’t those happy little tickles in stomach.

These were the kind of butterflies that come with extreme G-force and uneasy foreboding. My door buzzer makes a noise, similar to an alarm clock but with more vibrato, that is the acoustic embodiment of sheer panic.

It doesn’t matter who I’m expecting, I greet every caller as though they’ve just fired a warning shot through my window. My voice was shaky and my wit was dull; I was not myself and I knew what would come of it.

We walked a few blocks to Duluth Street. Duluth is narrow and charming with small lampposts and cobblestone but not so quaint as to be boring. There are depanneurs, some scummy, European restaurants, markets, cafés, boutiques and all of these the locals frequent. This is to say that on this street, a tourist would feel most out place. It seemed just right.

I had my collar up because Montreal’s air is damp and even after a warm day at the end of May it can chill. We were going to see a solo acoustic performance at a bohemian café/gallery that was so unobtrusive that I didn’t see it until I was halfway through the door. It was very small and very full, there was no talking and I sat on a stool that could not have been more perfectly ill sized for me.

The music was mellow and very enjoyable. It got better. I bought drinks on the recommendation of the musician, something that sounded like “Bang Lassies” which, at the time, seemed like just what I needed.

A girl delivered mushy, soy, fruit smoothies that contained a distressingly and infinitely small amount of alcohol. My date whispered to me, “What is this flavor?” I replied, “I don’t know but it’s delicious.” She didn’t agree.

After I had finished mine, I drank the rest, and most of hers. After I had finished hers, I emptied a third, unwanted glass. At the time I thought it funny and clever that the musician and later on, the bartender, when asked, “What is this flavor?” both dryly responded, “Cannabis.”

By the time we left this café, whose name I never knew because I was well beyond literacy, I had consumed not only nearly thrice the supposed normal amount but also roughly seven times that of my date and I was halfway around the cruel circle. This was the first night in a long time that I wanted to be charming, sophisticated and sharp of wit. This was also the first night in a long time that I behaved like a child who is perpetually lost, illiterate, has a debilitating case of attention deficit disorder and may not, no matter how hard he tries, sense any passage of time.

After I realized just how stoned I had become, I remembered earlier that day I played and sang to a friend, Johnny Cash’s ‘Sunday Morning Sidewalk (I’m Wishin, Lord, That I Was Stoned)’ because I was hung-over, and wished that I were stoned.

I know all of this is accurate but of rest of the evening, all I clearly remember is leaving the café, several communication breakdowns, my date politely asking me to leave her apartment and these few subsequent events.

In this case, "clearly remember" is relative to the shrouded fragments of memory that delineate the night. When my cab arrived at her apartment, I saw the eastern sky was blue. I was burning out and the cruel circle was complete. A taxi ride home from a woman’s apartment at sunrise is such an unmistakably sad thing that it easily dawned on me just how utterly the “Bang Lassies” had obliterated any chance for companionship.

It was at this slightly dejected moment, with literal and figurative light casting about, and in the spirit of illumination, that I noticed my cab driver was fast asleep and heading straight for the pointy end of a concrete divide.

I almost died on the way home. Auspiciously, the driver also noticed he was asleep a few moments later and slammed us back into our lane with sleepy precision and without a word. He had done this often enough not to care anymore. A near death experience is subjective; I’m sure we are close more often than we realize or would like to know.

This near death experience was different firstly, because I saw it coming towards me at over 100 kilometers per hour and secondly, because I was still stoned. I blinked and breathed a lot over the next few kilometers and found myself wondering why any city worker had bothered to paint a line on the road next to the concrete barrier. The allusion of the road of life, the wall of death and the thin, trivial, painted line that separated them was not wasted on me; it made me blink and breathe even faster.

When I arrived home and before I passed out, I reflected for a few paces, just enough to make it to my bed, on the entire evening. I regretted getting stoned and impairing the date but there was nothing I could have done to avoid it.

I was glad that my cab did not crash into the barrier but again, I had no part in it. The only thing I had to consider was how to respond. I proudly and yet, apathetically because I was tired of thinking, decided, as a final salute to consciousness, that irony is simultaneously comedic and tragic.

Write back real soon,

(name witheld)