The Holder Onners

There had been some disconnect between my friend and I on the phone. “I just suddenly felt like I didn’t know you,” I said. “You don’t know me. You never did,” he said. “So, all that time growing up together amounted to nothing?” I said. “No, it amounted to something. It just didn’t amount to being friends,” he said. “So all those times we referred to ourselves as friends, those were lies?” I said. “Oh yes, definitely lies,” he said. “Why didn’t you say something?” I said. “I did say something, you just didn’t hear me, because you weren’t really listening,” he said. “No, I would have caught that. There’s no way I would have missed something like that,” I said. “And yet you did,” he said. “I guess you’re right. I mean, the fact that I can’t recall a time I didn’t listen, strangely substantiates your claim,” I said. The phone crackled and then went silent. “Are you still there?” I said. “It depends on what you mean by “there,” but I think we can safely assume I’m there,” he said. “Don’t you mean here?” I said. “Are you suggesting I don’t know what I mean to myself?” He said. “I wasn’t suggesting anything. I was just correcting your grammar,” I said. “You’re my teacher now, apparently?” He said. “No, definitely not. The last thing I want to be is a teacher,” I said. “Well, clearly, you’ve identified something you believe to be wrong about me, and made an effort to make me more aware of it.” He said. “I guess I did. I hadn’t thought about it like that,” I said. “Of course you didn’t. You never reflect upon your own thoughts before you poop them into the world. You can’t help but be an ethnocentric bigot of everybody. Who has a chance in your world?” He said. I didn’t really know what to say. “I’m no more one than you are,” I said. “Who am I?” He said. “You’re you,” I said. “How can you possibly be positive that there is such a thing as a second person?” He said. “Nothing is for sure. But that’s not the point. The point is we pretend to know anything, half-wishing to trip over truth like it was something fooling us in a dark we can always see enough of,” I said. “What if one day, after years of faking it to make it, you decide you can’t endure all the unknowing anymore, and so give up on trying to be cognizant entirely, inducing a kind of vegetative stupor that permeates your every fiber?” He said. “At the very least, your automatic functioning would remain” I said. “Yeah, but what if you taught yourself to stop breathing? Have you ever caught yourself holding your breath, for example?” He said.

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