Tuesday evening I pulled into the driveway. His mom was landscaping, complaining about the contractor and second-guessing her decision to go with the twisted sidewalk as opposed to the straight one. I’d parked too close to his car, and he waited while I backed out. When he touched the car-door handle I turned the dial on the stereo far back to the left. Pretty loud, he said. I smiled the way a person does when they are looking at something very far away. In my car there are only two volume settings; inaudible and ridiculously loud.
Turn signals, speed limit 25, park between the lines. At a local franchise bakery cafe. There were people we knew, because when you’ve lived all your life in a small town suburb like this there always are, and we chatted with them. Hello, how are you, congratulations on graduating, good luck finding a job. The usual. And someone said something about youthful optimism, causing us pause and a smile, knowing that even now we’ve got faith in something inside of us. The air warm and light like all the best summer evenings are, and we were seated at a table where I’d commandeered a third chair with which to slouch and rest my feet.
We covered the whole gambit. The election in Iran and the power of social media. The fundamental differences between male and female same-sex group interactions. Shoes. Babies. Exotic fruits. Loss of appetite. What there is/is not to do in the suburbs. As the barista came with a rag to clean the tables we got the message and picked up the remains of our cookies and I decided the time was right to mention something about phases. Just that I was in one, and some failed attempt at a description and an apology. That, and a useless 4-year degree in communication (imagine that.)
Then I must have mentioned the weather, and we left. Decided on a children’s movie – a theme that recurrs probably to try to overwhelm the other themes that seem to be repeating themselves without our initation or desire. I’ve never been one for robots or science fiction, but it was undeniably adorable. It finished and I, exhausted, dragged myself off the couch to drive home. Sure you can make it home ok? He asked. I smiled. Two volume settings in my car, remember? This is when “ridiculously loud” comes in handy.
“Certain souls seem hard because they are capable of strong feelings, and they sometimes go to rather extreme lengths; their apparent unconcern and cruelty are but ways, known only to themselves, of feeling more strongly than others.” – Marquis De Sade
*in case you were curious, the notable sexual practices and writings of Marquis De Sade were what gave rise to the term sadism.