Monday, August 07, 2006

Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter.

Last Monday, I received something suspicious in the mail. It was a rumpled manila envelope to which electrical tape was nonsensically applied. There was no return address, but instead a cryptic "respondez si vous plait" in the upper-left corner. I hadn't been expecting any packages from psychopaths, so I thought twice about opening it. Anthrax? A letter bomb, maybe? I couldn't be certain. "Maybe someone out there thinks I'm worth more dead than alive," I wondered aloud, eyeing the lumpy, brown parcel. It was a flattering notion, in a way. It was a very film noir-ish line to deliver, and I think I nailed it on the first take. Never mind for the moment that the proposition itself was utterly false. Even if it were theoretically true that my value as a dead person exceeds my value alive, I reasoned that either value was probably less than that of the postage. Simultaneously emboldened and deflated by this realization, I tore the package open and braced myself for the worst.

Enclosed was a homemade t-shirt, emblazoned with a fairly crass pun using the name of the boarding school that I attended. Also, a bus ticket from here to a New England Town, where the school is located and where the senders of this parcel still reside. They wanted me to go out there for the coming weekend. An informal reunion of former roommates, friends, and whatnot. They thought they'd have to entice me with gifts. They were right.

Some are beginning their medical residencies. Others are working at financial services firms. They have nylon laptop bags with their firms' logos on them. They wear golf shirts. Most are engaged or already married. I don't have to explain to you why this is awkward. Most of them know my situation. In fact, one of them came up with the idea of the reunion because he saw this blog, put two and two together, and wanted to check in. He was good enough to keep the discovery of the blog to himself, or so he assures me.

It's not awkward merely because these people have more money than me, or because they've done more with their lives than me thus far, although neither is ever comfortable. It's the little things. It's that their clothes just seem to sit right on their bodies more than mine do. They wear baseball caps that just look right on their heads. My head seems like it's a weird shape compared to theirs. None of them wears eyeglasses. I do. Their hair is straight and looks sort of conventional. Respectable. Never too unruly, even if it gets windy outside. Mine always looks a little off. Their teeth are white. They are in better shape than me. They are good at their jobs.

Was my growth irrevocably stunted somehow? Why do these little things come so easily to them? How come, for instance, they're not even interested in eating the fortune cookies at the Chinese restaurant? I always feel like such a child when I'm the only one who eats mine as we deliberate about the size of the tip. I don't own a pair of sunglasses, but if I did it wouldn't occur to me to hang them nonchalantly off the collar of my Polo shirt. But these guys make it work.

I don't even have a driver's license. I guess I just never learned how.


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