Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Old Bachelors

"Here we are, three old bachelors," Tanner sighed.

He paused, and Sallye and Phil glanced first at one another, then at Tanner leaning his elbows on the kitchen table. He was lighting another cigarette and they could sense a speech coming on. They'd been sitting around Sallye's combination kitchen/den for hours, drinking, talking about a lot of new things and a few old times. Tanner talked as much as ever, they noted. Sallye and Phil couldn't help grinning at each other about it; it had begun to feel like old times.

"Here we are now," Tanner continued in a familiar facetious tone, "emerged from that faded old Summer of Love, from that tired old Age of Aquarius, sprung forth like awkward grasshoppers into our jaded middle age, into this New Aquatic Age—oh, excuse me, Phil, that's old stuff!—this New Age, this energetic green world! Yet still the world is filled with loutish generations in front of us, more of them coming up behind, and we're starting to be suspicious of one another. We still don't have anyone to go through it with, no one who might make going through it at least tolerable, if not worthwhile. We're like unicorns without mates or the likelihood of mates, with no one but ourselves for company and no one but ourselves to blame."

"We only have ourselves? Is that what you mean?" Sallye asked him.

"Yeah!—isn't that so?"

"Well, maybe. Should we be depressed?"

"I'm not sure. That's what it sounds like I meant, isn't it? I don't feel like that much of the time, but I guess that is what I meant."

"It's not true that we only have ourselves, though," Phil said, a little indignantly. He'd been fidgeting for some time. "We have each other!"

"What's this?" Tanner asked with a friendly smirk. "Some kind of Big Chill hope-you-feel-better philosophy?"

"Maybe," Phil said spiritedly, almost defensively. "What's so bad about that, if it makes you feel better?"

"Nothing! Nothing at all," Sallye said quickly, hoping to sooth them. "God, you two are nuts," she said, smiling but slightly annoyed. "You argue sometimes even though you actually agree with one another, and I don't understand it at all!" She'd never had much patience with their argumentativeness.

"Well, we are here, after all," Tanner said in a half-sullen tone.

Sallye looked at him quizzically, then shook her head as if it didn't matter. She got up and went to the refrigerator. She quickly came back and set a coke down in front of Tanner, a wine bottle in front of Phil, then went back to get a beer for herself. After all these years, their tastes hadn't changed much and she pretty well knew what was called for without asking. Tanner, who'd been carefully preparing his next remark, had barely noticed her activity. Suddenly he saw the Coke in front of him and took a sip and grinned.

"We were always the best and the brightest," he said. "So we thought, anyway!—certainly we were the most particular, and in the end just far too fucking fastidious. We're still intelligent!—brain cells sacrificed to drug experimentation notwithstanding!—and still at least half-charming to anyone who likes that old intellectual crap. And!—well..."

"And all that jazz," Phil grinned.

"Correcto," Tanner acknowledged good-naturedly, glad to have someone fill in the blank. But then he went on to finish his statement, anyway. "And yet somehow we are still alone. Just alone, a good deal of the time. It isn't right. It doesn't make sense."

"Who ever said there'd be sense? Or justice?" Sallye asked him.

"Jesus, how the fuck would I know?" Tanner laughed. "You're the goddamn lawyer!"

"She's not that kind of lawyer!" Phil laughed, highly amused. "Nobody can get you justice in that sense!"

"Not hardly," Sallye laughed, pointing back over her shoulders. "No angel's wings here, you know!"


5th draft: 06/03/05
©1989 Ronald C. Southern

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." — J. R. R. Tolkien

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