Thursday, June 06, 2013


"So what's your theory?" asks ever-earnest and eager Spencer. It is apparently time to play Ask the Graybeard, the game of being temporarily amused by the factory oddball. It's sort of like poking fun at an old chimpanzee — he looks remarkably like a human, he appears to be beaten down by life, but you never really can be sure when something's going to piss him off and he goes for your eyes, fingers and genitals. The potential danger gives the game its fun edge, like shotgun golf. I'd play it if I wasn't me.

We are talking about black holes and parallel lines and the bending of time. You know, the usual lighthearted fare. So I tell him before I go all ape on his ass:

"I think those other universes aren't way out there, off in some distant space. I think they're right here" — and I gesture to the air a foot from my face — "and we flip back and forth between them. Only we don't know we're flipping. One minute you're here, talking to someone, and the next thing you know they go all weird on you. That's them from another universe, flipped over here and confused as hell. That explains why people sometimes seem strange, why people go insane and do things no one expects them to do. That's not them — it's them, just from a different universe, a different string."

"So in a parallel universe, you're — "

"In this universe I'm this," I say. "In another one, I'm — " and I don't finish the thought because I can't say it out loud. Instead I show Spencer my Facebook status:
What I learned today:
- Pam really DOES dry nail polish.
- I have been lucky to know good and decent people.
- The laws of thermodynamics rock.
- My life is a fucking joke.
"Why is your life a fucking joke?" Spencer asks. I wave him away; the chimp is old and tired and he doesn't want to dine on anyone's fingers.

But what I want to say to him is this: All those other universes, all those other realities? Forget what I said about them existing alongside one another. They're right here inside me, dude. All of them. In one of those universes I'm paralyzed — not by a stroke, but by my own crippling fears and phobias. In another one I'm Mr. Don't-Give-A-Shit, the playa who cares only about pursuit and pleasure and pushing people away when I'm done with them. There's the universe where I believe the hype; the universe where I am incompetent; the universe where I really make some sense and contribute something positive. In one of those realities, life is incredibly sweet and lovely, and everything is as it should be. And then there's this one, where I no longer care much about anything, where I do not give voice to what I want or need, where those things only come out in dreams — or is that yet another reality? — that end with me biting my tongue and screaming myself awake.

All those universes inside one brain, moving along the spiral, never intersecting. If the chimp in me thinks too much about it I will rattle the bars of my cage, and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to damage a perfectly good cage. After all, I built it myself.

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