Tuesday, July 6, 2010

on cool

"This one girl who I had been watching most of the night stood squashed in the middle of the front row, and when she caught me looking at her, I gave her a smile. She made a gagging look and turned back to the band, swaying her head to the beat. And I got really disgusted and started thinking, what was this girl's problem? Why couldn't she have been nice and smiled back? Was she worried about imminent war? Was she feeling real terror? Or inspiration? Or passion? That girl, like all the others, I had come to believe, was terminally numb. The Talking Heads record was scratched maybe, or perhaps Dad hadn't sent the check yet. That was all this girl was worried about. Her boyfriend was standing behind her, a total yuppie with Brylcreamed hair and a very thin tie on. Now what was this guy's problem? Lost I.D.? Too many anchovies on his pizza? Broken cigarette machine? And I keep looking back at the girl - had she forgotten to tape her soap this afternoon? Did she have a urinary tract infection? Why did she have to act so fucking cool? And that's what it all came down to: cool. I wasn't be cynical about that bitch and her asshole boyfriend. I really believed that the extent of their pitiful problems exceed to far from what I thought. They didn't have to worry about keeping warm, or being fed, or bombs, or lazers, or gunfire. Maybe their lover left them, maybe that copy of "Speaking in Tongues" was really scratched. But I came to understand, standing there, the floor vibrating beneath me, the band blaring in my head, that these problems and the pain they felt were genuine. I mean, this girl probably had a lot of money, and so did her dumb-looking boyfriend. Other people might not sympathize with this couple's problems and maybe they didn't really matter in the larger realm of things - but they still mattered to Jeff and Susie; these problems hurt them, these things stung... and that's what struck me as really pathetic. But, I forgot about her and those other geeks, and did the last of the coke Lars was offering me."

From "The Rules of Attraction" by Bret Easton Ellis