The cashier at the café whose bathroom I had just inhabited has a full beard, round rimless spectacles, is bald and pasty, wears all black, and overall exudes an Edward Gorey vibe, like he’s his spoiled son with entitled notions of being a cartoonist. Given the stinky population of those who use café restrooms short of patronizing them, as the implicit contract in civilized society goes, we now need a 4-digit PIN in order to access the bathroom, which Edward Gorey’s son sullenly gave me. Per their “lock this door” note tapped inside, I secured the clasp lock, thoroughly wiped the seat, removed my pants, underwear, and pensively sat down. Of the Descartian I think, therefore I am, may I submit I sit, therefore I think. I thought about my plans for the day. I thought about my J. Crew shorts, and how swell they looked. I thought about cronyism, nepotism, Ivy league schools and cocktail parties, envisioning a bloody coup whose instigator — via a searing 30,000 word New Republic, Inquiry, or Yorker article — would be a humble me. I thought about being interviewed by Michael Silverblatt, to whom I would be reduced to constantly saying “thank you.” Someone jiggled the door handle. I prematurely pinched off a turd in fear. Why did Edward Gorey’s son give out the 4-digit PIN to a fellow patron when he knew it was being occupied by me? I know he’s probably getting paid minimum wage, and getting minimum head in his adult life, but how hard is it to remember one small yet critical fact? I quickly wiped, slipped my pants back on, and turned around to inspect my detritus, as I always do before flushing. The good news is I’m regular. The bad news is I’m abnormal. I exit the bathroom, give the entire café one nasty look, and create this blog post.
“The world is no longer the story of our omniscience, but a collection of unrelated movements weaved into an okay narrative about ourselves.”
– Jimmy Chen, Mirror with Self-Portrait
Yesterday I may have inadvertently helped a real estate agent sell a $1.4 million dollar house. That this was through the very auspices of being me makes this story notable. The house in mention resides in an opulent neighborhood next to a café whose outdoor seating—consisting of quaint wooden benches, potted herbs, and child made ceramics embedded in the concrete—I had solely occupied during my morning coffee. It was very brisk out, and while others sat inside, I hunched inward bracing my shoulders against the wind, reading a first edition hardback of a well-reviewed book whose author’s œuvre is looked favorably upon. I wore leather loafers, harlequin socks, orange corduroys, and was looking rather bookish. In short, like the kind of person you’d want to occasionally see forlornly reading outside your window, as some demographical extension of the cultured and/or cultural city one imagines themselves living in, whose steep cost of living may then be seen as a surcharge of sorts. I solidified the stereotype, while making myself nauseous. The real estate agent, a stunning “hapa” woman of mixed Caucasian-Asian race, who draped an intricately hand-knitted shawl over a slim Ann Taylor dress suit, gave me this sharp smile, if my entire existence as an aimless gnat had somehow led me to that critical point: I, the faceless mannequin of dying literature suspended in a cryogenic vat of self-contemplation, frozen in a lost pastoral, which felt so real at the time (the freezing part), as the fog slid under the sun and the silver fingers of wind went up my shirt. The prospective buyer looked at me with longing, my eyes corroborating the moment with falsity. He’ll likely buy the house. In the imagined fashion show of our lives, the anorexic look well fed. To the real estate agent, I lowered my gaze into my book of lies. May I waive my commission for a chance to wave back.