Real-Life Dialogue: Vita Brevis Edition

[The scene: North Florida, USA, the interior of a car — not their own — currently occupied by a human couple and a micro-canine. It is around 6:00 pm: He and She, with The Pooch, are on their way home from work. They left work early today in order to rent a car (this one) so that they could leave their own car at their mechanic’s for its periodic maintenance the next day: they needed to get to both the car-rental agency and the garage before either place closed at 6. The evening before, they left work early in order to meet with their handyman to discuss the next round of “projects.” This came on the heels of the second weekend in a row on which they had overnight guests, on the weekdays between which they had various medical and other appointments, following weeks of, well, more or less the same. And it came before a day on which two medical appointments were scheduled, as well as the need — of course — to return the rental car and pick up the owned one before either place closed at 6.]

He: Did you read my Facebook status update today?

She: You posted something on Facebook? But no. I almost never look at Facebook during the day.

He: Oh.

She: Well, what did it say?

He: I forget the exact wording. It was long, I remember. Something like “I’d really like to have a single week, just a straight seven days, when nobody in the household has any doctor or vet appointments, handyman or other home-improvement projects, holidays, overnight guests, car repairs, laundry to do, overslept alarm clocks, power or Internet outages, computer problems…”

She: So what you’re saying is, you don’t want life.

He: Huh?

She: Life. All of that is just life. You don’t want any of it.

He: No. I’m not saying I don’t want any of it for good — forever. I just want a single, simple week of—

She: And why do you care if I’ve got a doctor’s appointment, or if The Pooch has to go to the vet or the groomer?

He: What do you mean, why do I care? Of course I care if you’ve got to see a doctor or if she—

She: It doesn’t affect you.

He: Of course it does. We’ve only got one car. We do this thing several times a week where we have to meet up during the day just to hand the car off, or one of us has to stay home to meet with a service person, or we’ve both gotta leave work early or get to work late because—

She: It’s life. Those things happen.

[Time passes. They get home, watch a little TV, read the mail, rough-house with The Pooch, fix dinner. As they’re preparing their separate dinner plates at the kitchen counter, She suddenly speaks, from behind Him.]

She: Damn it.

He: What?

[He turns to see what the problem is. She is trying to tug a napkin from the holder — just one napkin. She does not succeed. A dozen napkins come with the napkin She’s tugging on, and apparently leap from the napkin holder to drift, like unseasonable maple leaves, to the floor.]

He: A little, mmm… problem? [He bends to pick up the napkins from the floor.]

She: I was trying to take a single napkin. And then this—

He: Y’know, that’s life. Things happen.

She: [Pause for dramatic effect, and to see if He will look at Her; He will not. However, His shoulders are shaking and snorts issue from beneath his mustache.] You know, if you were a little closer I’d slap you.


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