Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Musings

Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. - Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea (1938) "Vendredi" French author & existentialist philosopher (1905 - 1980)


  1. 1983...

    Bob put four quarters in the jukebox and hit the button for Teenager in Love. Maris and Beth banged the salt and pepper shakers to the beat on the scared wooden table while singing along, occasionally with the wrong lyrics. Billy wiped down the bar with a rag and then tossed the rag over his shoulder.

    Marshall yawned and looked at his wristwatch. “You know, it’s almost three in the morning.”

    “So?” said Paul.

    “So,” said Billy, “There’s nothing else open right now, the show ended hours ago and I’m getting tired. Maybe you guys should call it a night. We actually closed an hour ago, but then, you all know that, right?”

    They were all sitting in the front window at Capulet’s on Montague, a pub (and theatre hangout) in Brooklyn Heights. They were all members of the local theatre company, which was currently doing a production of Follies.

    The song came to an end. Maris whined, “Aw, come on, Billy. You’re one of us. We just all want to stay up ‘til dawn. Like the Dawn Patrol, kinda sorta. Sartre said it’s either too late or too early to do anything else you want to at three o’clock – remember?”

    “Yeah, yeah,” said Paul.

    Marshall looked at his wristwatch again. “Maris, there’s always something you can find that you want to do at three. Trust me. And besides, Billy said he wants to go home, and I want to go home with him.” Marshall flashed a hopeful look at Billy.

    Billy grinned. “Sorry, Marsh. Not tonight.”

    “Someone else waiting for you?” asked Marshall. Billy grinned again.

    Bob said, “Is the kitchen closed or can we get some more fries with gravy?”

    Beth smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “You idiot. Kitchen’s been closed for hours. You know that. And Billy can’t serve us drinks – at least, officially anymore - because it’s after two. Laws and all that jazz.”

    Bob walked over to the jukebox and put in four more quarters. “Any requests?”

    Billy cleared away Paul’s empty glass and said, “How about, Sloop John B? You know the song? Beach Boys. It has that famous line in it – ‘Well, I feel so broke up – I wanna go home.’”

    “Haha. Funny, Billy. But really. Just one more song, please? Then I promise - we’ll all go home.” Bob pressed the button for What I Did for Love, and they all – even Billy - sang along, one more time.

  2. You probably have no idea what you're getting into, by feeding me a Sartre line. hahahahahaha

    (I'll read your post later after I've written my own, but I had to crack up when I saw the prompt.)

  3. I had the feeling you (and a couple of others here!) would take Sartre and do weird/wonderful things, existentially speaking.

  4. [Explicit language and other things warning]

    Each tick of the clock was another rumble in the belly of my nauseous mind. The thing I had once called a soul. That coincidence of electrical impulses I had once called spirit. The sick, twisted joke I played on myself.

    I could not begin to tell how long I'd been staring at my tormentor. At each tick, the second hand twitched, but it never progressed. It was running in place, just like everything else in this man-forsaken universe.

    I hadn't had a beard when I started staring. I did now. My hair was longer. My eyes bleary. My stomach hungry. But I had lacked vision all my life, and I did not think I could ever be without need, so even these signs were poor indicators of the passing of time.

    Around me, people went about their activities. Sometimes they stopped to talk to me. I rarely answered them, for when I did they did not understand.

    “Honey, how much longer are you going to sit there?”

    “I haven't even been here a full second.”

    Or –

    “Daddy, can you take me to school this morning?”

    “It's still yesterday morning, and tomorrow morning has already come.”

    Or –

    “Jones, there's no two ways about it. You've gotta come into work to keep your job. You haven't so you won't. You're fired.”

    “I would worry about that tomorrow, if there were such a thing.”

    Sometimes I tried to explain. Tried to get them to understand. To realize that their eyes were bleary and that they were hungry – and that they always had been – and that they always would be.

    “Sweetie, why don't you want to go to work anymore?”

    “Because I'm just going to die.”


    “Does it matter?”


    “What's different about one time from the next?”

    Or –

    “Daddy, why don't you eat?”

    “Because even if I eat, I will die.”

    “So I don't need to eat?”

    “Of course not.”

    “What about taking baths?”

    “You will get dirty again.”

    “Do I still have to go to school?”

    “It is too late to learn, the moment you are born, and it is too early to learn until the moment you have died.”

    The ticking of the clock only served to sicken me further at the futility of clutching at existence. The uselessness of grasping at moments. The fruitlessness of striving to achieve within the no-win situation that mankind has given the grandiose title of LIFE.

    It is too late to learn, the moment you are born, but you never chose to be born. Your parents did that to. Your parents decided to fuck you over and stick you in a seventy-two year prison term. They wrapped it up with an umbilical cord and gave you presents every year to apologize for what they had done.

    It is too early to learn, until the moment you have died, and that – that you have control over. That you can choose. You're not stuck with someone else's time table. That's all yours.

    Outside, I heard the roaring of a car around the corner. I knew it would be possible to hurl myself in front of it without it having a chance to stop. I moved.

    School was in.

  5. Wow Nevets. I think Sartre and Camus might be impressed. Very sad, but totally existential and meaningless and potent.

  6. RJ, beautiful as always!
    Gosh Nevets, you certainly nailed it with that one!