There’s a man on the TV, a jowly middle-age white guy in a shirt two inches too small for his meaty pink neck flaps, telling me what I’m supposed to make of the broad popular sentiment that ‘we’re fucked.’ Nothing new there.
In my bed, there’s a woman in sweatpants and a black t-shirt lying face down, awake. Her eyes are half-open, blinking but glassy: wasted. Again, this is not a new development. There’s a table next to her, small gaps of space peering between a large collection of prescription bottles in varying states of usage. The bottles have red markings on affixed labels, arrows pointing ↑ or ↓ to show the effect of the contents within. Most times, ↑ is for me, and ↓ is for her. It’s a handy system, a fuck-up’s attempt to bring some order and semblance of propriety to madness. I could give a shit, but Annie, this drooling, immobile mess laying next to me, is better equipped to accept and create such adaptions to our distinct and simultaneous disintegration.
“Bullshit!” I’m sitting up and yelling at this clown trying to fake his way through a segment on sovereign debt as if he knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t, he’s failing, it’s painful, and it is exactly like what I see at work. Unenlightened functionaries read pieces of paper with bullet-pointed blurbs and percentages with at least two significant digits and then get set loose in press conferences and shitshows like this. The fate of billions depend upon a few mediocrities. They need to sound and look smart when it counts, and it takes an army of slate-faced bureaucrats fumbling attaché cases filled with speeches that will never see the light of day to make that happen.
It takes skill to fill in the blanks without seeming like another well-dressed flunky, and the talent gap is on display here. “You don’t know shit!” The disgust I feel is genuine. (Note: Why am I doing this to myself? Why do I care?) Just then, Annie murmurs something. Still hasn’t moved, but she’s giving me a kindly look. I stroke her head and idly play with her hair for a moment. Xanax, probably. I wish I wanted to feel warm and fuzzy like that, but it’s just not my thing. I need the engagement and twitchy rush of energy that I never get shuffling around corridors and drafting memos. I need to do something.
I take a swig of Jim Beam and a Vyvanase as I watch Jeremy Grantham hold court in the dark. “Jokers,” I mutter aloud, as if Annie is listening. Sip. “They were levered out their asses, they were too busy trying to suck their own dicks to do their fucking jobs! Sorry pieces of shit.” Slam, swig. As my milquetoast host fades to commercial, I take a look around. It’s a plain, unimaginative apartment, nothing on the walls, a few photos strewn on tables and counters. There’s this sad little plant in the corner that I’ve never watered but remains alive somehow. I imagine Annie waters it, but I’ve seen her pick a sponge exactly twice in two years and I do most of the cleaning anyway because that’s what you do when it’s 4:00 AM and you’re trying to keep yourself from tilting over into psychosis. You pick up dust bunnies with your fingers and go over your hardwood floors with a warm, damp rag on your hands and knees so you can keep it all together. It’s a hell of a life, this. Where are my cigarettes?
Fumble, chick, fwoom, sip, aaaaahhhh.