Mar 20, 2022 • 0M

Don't Add It

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Robb Schiller
The intermittent mystery of meaning.
Episode details

Ian watched his phone, smiling until the screen turned off. The flutter of the beautiful unknown was taking flight beneath his chest. Seeing her name made him happy. Thinking about the fact she wrote those words, thought about what to say, knowing it was him on the other end, made him happy. The feeling was surrounded by depth, something more than connection. Ian couldn't define it. There was always fun at the start of something new, but this was different. He didn’t know why.

Ian also felt a counter to the natural euphoria of the moment. A voice of shame for caring, for being in the present. These feelings were colliding inside, giving the moment a sense of enormity. Staying present with his care for Laila was a new sensation. He did care for her. He cared for her in ways he didn't yet know.

As Ian set his phone back down, deciding to leave the message unread and think about what to say, a group of tourists walked into the bar. He could immediately tell they were from the south. Drawls thicker than blood. They were a rowdy bunch and sounded like they had already been drinking, perhaps carrying over from last night. 

“Here’s a proper watering hole” one of them said while sitting down. There were five total, four guys. The woman had a cloverleaf tattoo on her cheekbone and two piercings in her lip. Ian immediately noticed she was in charge. All five of them sat at the bar to the right of Ian. They asked for Natural Light, which Bruce happened to have. He pulled five tall-boy cans out of the fridge. The guy that sat next to Ian was an absolute chatterbox. It took no time for this stranger to direct his attention to Ian.

“Howdy partner” the drawl rolled like credits in a movie.

“Where are you guys from?” Ian asked, to get it out of the way.

“Right here brother! Rode my horse here. Can’t you tell?” Ian smirked and took a drink of his beer, excitement building for where this could go.

“Nah, we’re from South Carolina my man, heard there was a circus of liberals out here and we had to check it out. You a lib? Wait don’t tell me. I bet you’re the thoughtful moderate-left-leaning type. Probably fall in love at the drop of a hat.” Ian legitimately laughed out loud as he sat up a little straighter, surprised by the directness and southern charm. It was delightful if he was honest with himself. The man continued “You know, everyone out here has their head up their ass a bit, ain’t no one shit talking you know? Us humans made language so we could shit talk, read that once. Can’t have any fear of getting canceled and whatnot. Sometimes love is talking shit you know? You gotta say it straight. Truth can hurt.” The man leaned his head back to drink his beer, took three enormous gulps without breathing. He set the beer down and asked another question before Ian could get his head straight.

“You in love? I can see some stars in your eyes boy. Tell you what it’s all fools gold. I don’t love anything but my horses. That's damn straight.”

"Sounds like you've been hurt a few times?" Ian asked in reply.

“Me? Nah. Can’t get hurt if you don’t care. I got scars though. But they’re all from my horse”. Ian started getting a sense of where this Natty Latte-aided conversation could go. He was making plans for an exit when two women walked up behind them.

“Hello, Ladies. My name is Ted. Teddy underscore underscore bear on Instagram, I got hacked though, so don’t add it they’re gonna ask you about some money and shit. For real. I swear.” Ian hadn’t yet learned his name. It was fitting. Teddy reached out to meet the woman’s hand he introduced himself to. He grabbed her dangling fingers and kissed her knuckles. The woman appeared to find the introduction endearing.

“Is this your friend?” The second one asked, pointing at Ian.

“Hell yeah! We just met 10 minutes ago.” Ian started getting the sense it was time to go.

With the last sip of beer in the glass, Ian thanked Teddy for the time, inviting one of the women to have his seat at the bar. Ted had the final word “Take it easy partner, four flats on a Cadillac, never forget it.”

Ian gave Bruce a departing nod, a more transparent good luck wish. He meant it. Ian walked out and took a left down Clement Street back to his flat and was feeling the energy from the conversation. Not wanting to overthink his next interaction with Laila, Ian pulled his phone out of his pocket and started writing a message.

“What are you most afraid of?” He asked. Sent.

This is going to be the conclusion of the backstory on Ian. I’m going back and re-working the start of this story, Lovely Kiss, Kiss, Kiss and will add the collection on Ian over the last five weeks, probably as chapter two?

This part was a lot of fun to write and come together pretty easily. Party because I had a conversation on Saturday with a person that inspired the Teddy character. The recording is our real conversation. Is secretly recording conversations to remember them later and make “art” wrong? Nahhhh. Can’t be.

I’ve been thinking about internal monologue, or perhaps internal dialogue. The construction of how we talk to ourselves. I think it’s a theme in my writing and this story in general – The overlap of thinking and feeling. What’s the difference? Where do they intersect? What do they share?

Maybe the words we collect to describe the way we think can inform the feelings we can inhabit? What’s it like to give words to a new feeling? How do you know a feeling is new without finding the words for it?

I’m trying to peel these layers back with Ian. Exposing the fragile ways self is defined.

More ideas I tried smooshing together this week.

America Has a Free Speech Problem
From the NYTimes editorial board. The twitter feed was rife with takes on this one. I think underneath all the cancel culture jargon is a question – How do we disagree? How might we disagree well? How might we give each other some space to fuck up sometimes? Paul Ford spells it out…

This tweet inspired some thinking on internal monologue/dialogue. What’s the difference? How do we interact with folks extremely different from us? How do we give them space to have opinions and feelings?

Weeding the Worst Library Books
I think about this article a lot when I think about free speech. Particularly because this image of these books is so amazing. I saved it on my phone a few years ago and it happens to show up in search results every now and then.

I suppose that’s all today friends,

Stay down like four flats on a Cadillac,