Monday, September 29, 2008

guess who's coming to dinner

Occasionally I run into futility, he finds me at odd times and I either turn and hide or look straight into the glare, inevitably ending up in tears. One time futility found me I was on a plane with J, I look over and he's hunched over his seat eating bullshit airplane food and there he was, futility. The futility of all of us trying to be good people hunched in bad airplane seats eating the crappy food they give us and we have no say whatsoever in the matter and worse, we are hurtling through the air at a million miles an hour and then one day we die. I started sobbing right there and then, J looked at me in confusion. I was pregnant so we let it go but I knew what it was, it was that bastard futility showing his face.

Futility, that bastard, he found me again this weekend. I was with a couple of friends yesterday and one of them, the crazy one he wanted a cheeseburger so we stop at a place and order some food. My friend, the crazy one he wanted to eat inside so we do. We sit inside a fast food place and eat, something I haven't done in at least twelve hundred years. So we are eating and my friends are talking and my mind is wandering and that's when I see him, futility.

He's sitting next to the couple in the booth in front of us, the woman she's talking and talking and talking about errands and home redecorating and the man, he's totally checked out and nodding and staring off into space and not paying attention but she doesn't notice or doesn't care and she keeps going and keeps going and he keeps checking out and checking out and it's like their whole life flashed in front of my eyes and I want to cry. I look around the restaurant and see other people engaged in similar acts of futility, moms trying for the eleventh time to quiet their kids or get them to eat or older kids looking bored as hell with their parents or people like me sitting with friends but not really paying attention and all of a sudden it's hard to breathe.

So I tell my friends, the crazy one and the other we need to get the fuck out of this place, it's full of futility and they look at me and at each other and shrug and nod so we leave and as I walk out into the sun I look back to see if he's coming, if futility is lurking behind us because that fucker is everywhere and I see him, he's on the hood of the car next to us and he's walking down the street. And it's this feeling I want to change, this awareness of settling, of all of us collectively settling because we don't know what else to do.



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25 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

It's true. What else is there to do??? Although, maybe it's only if you engage in that damn futility. Tell it to eff off instead and hug your kid. There's nothing futile there. Cuz I said so.
Hugs.

thailandchani said...

Futility is a state of mind that's hard to grasp. Most people hide in mundanity and call it "life" - kind of like the woman carrying on about redecorating. I call it a choice.


~*

flutter said...

you are the least futile person I know, jen.

kristen said...

it's mediocrity that scares the fuck out of me.

i agree with flutter, you are hardly futile, but dude, i get this.

and i'm working on it.

marymurtz said...

Dude, seriously. In your top ten best posts ever. Now I know what's been pulling on my shirt tail and sitting in the corner of the office and scratching at the door these last few weeks. That asshole futility. He's standing next to Palin, he's crouchign around Henry Paulsen, he's in the halls of congress, he's stalking the campaign trail and he's got toadies on every corner.

jennifer said...

Sometimes I think this is what has made me such an introvert.
This is what made me an artist. At least making something which has no purpose except for the making doesn't feel quite so futile.

julochka said...

it does indeed seem like futility is everywhere, but that's why it's really important to vote. because i refuse to believe (so far) that that's futile as well.

Magpie said...

ROAR!

Complacency gets you nowhere.

Sober Briquette said...

there are some of us like Cole in The Sixth Sense who see it more clearly, who feel it more harshly.

It is a little like death, but this is a death you can fight. Not for everyone, but for yourself. And maybe then there will be people who see vitality they see you, and it will be a little bit contagious.

Defiantmuse said...

I have many moments like that. Maybe it's why I choose to spend more time than not, here - in my cozy home, on my land. Or out in the forest or on the beach. With minimal human contact other than my immediate family and a few like-minded friends. I've never liked crowds or public places. Because I zone and I listen to people's conversations and watch their interactions and I feel like I'm losing my mind and I want to shake everyone and ask if this is really the life they want. I just can't deal with other people's bullshit. I can barely deal with my own. You know?

Gwen said...

ouch.

carrie said...

I know.

TZT said...

I know what you mean - and I can't think of anyplace with more potential than a fast food joint to bring on that kind of suffocating dread. Maybe Walmart. Or driving on service roads in front of strip malls. Or watching Fox News.

But hey... we have a new A.G. in Ohio, so I don't feel like voting is futile this year! Things have shifted, here in the bellwether of American settling, where I stay because things have never been as settled as they appear.

Maggie, Dammit said...

But see, you're going to the JUNGLE. You know? You're doing amazing things. Futility doesn't know how to follow where you're going.

mamatulip said...

Yes - what Maggie, Dammit said. Futility doesn't follow you where you're going. Futility gets checked at the baggage area.

wheelsonthebus said...

I know him well, but when he shows up I make him eat in the kitchen.

meno said...

Last time i saw him i was in a WalMart. I had to leave in a hurry too as i was unable to find Denial fast enough.

QT said...

W-O-W. Totally get this in ways that are almost spooky. Including the bursting into tears part. Except I wasn't pregnant when it happened. I'm just more of a freak, I guess.

Janet said...

Futility usually visits me at night when i'm trying to sleep. He snore and hogs all the covers. Fucker.

painted maypole said...

wow. yes. I know this.

bgirl said...

seriously, this post, i love. your words are shared in my head. i just saw this bastard at the airport this weekend, and again on the plane and again creeping around my office today. the dude has a huge territory and quite frankly he is freakin me out.

Expatriate Chef said...

I'd like to think that I live consciously, that there is some purpose, but if you capture my life at a moment, I could be the mom asking her child to behave for the fourth time (okay, not in a fast food joint). Maybe the woman was prattling about decorating because there are deeper things in her life that need renovating, maybe the woman with the child is a nurse who cares for cancer patients, maybe the bored kids will grow up to be activists. Maybe just one of these thoughts is true, which would eradicate the futility. You looked at a bad snapshot of life, look again at a different picture.

Heidi said...

Fabulous post! It is very close to the word satisfied - and shocker if I will ever be satisfied. Not that I don't love moments of peace, but it is the settling that drives me nuts. We are here to live, so let's do that!

carol at A Second Cup said...

That was the most creative insightful post I've read in a while. I've seen that creature around, I just didn't know it's name.

crazymumma said...

Ay, but here is the rub.

You surround yourself with anti futility.

You are an anti futility superhero.

But I do know what you mean looking into the faces of others. Some might say you are too finely tuned. A double edged sword that. Being able to sense futility. But the pain of seeing it sucks.