I didn’t know it till it was over, but I was blessed with a gift last Saturday as I flew into the university campus with my book bag trailing behind me—the gift of music.
I stood and sang under the palm tree by the offensive statue, and the grave ornery flakes of temperament, the student advisors, with their masks and their appointed masques, now delayed by my extemporaneity, shoved me viciously into an alley and beat me with their fists, howling as their families had taught them.
I fought back with a knife my grandfather had given me.
I am just about to earn my BA.
* * *
I drink spiced coffee in the afternoons, to remind me I’m still here. Cinnamon and sugar and the essence of the clove, stirred under my nose with the women watching, to make sure I don’t go insane again. Training, perhaps. Or merely another kind of music. A lie, but oh well. One we enjoy.
* * *
Yesterday I asked her on a date. She says she doesn’t go on dates. I showed her the recipe for my coffee and she took it with her. Said she had some place to be. I said I ought to be there with her, wherever that place was, but she was snooty and ignored me.
I’m gonna make it big, I know. Like everyone knows. It’s gonna be big. We know that. Like my manhood. Like my cancerous growth on the back of my neck, so large it’s sexy.
Like my dreams.
* * *
Last night I dreamt I was with her, and after we went into the sea and swam with the whales, and so today I dressed in all blue, and sang again to the Intelligentsia of campus, and I serenaded the goon squad, and I tap danced and I lit fire in my hands, as the sun went down, as the cameras started to record.
It’s hard but necessary, these days, to get noticed, to get that advanced degree, to prove a significantly mediated degree of reality, to show that you’re a real mensch.
I am a real mensch, but what about the coffee? It’s larger than I am. It is eternal. How can I escape it?
* * *
I call her in the evenings and she hangs up in a huff so I go to her apartment and sing outside the window and she calls the police and I have to leave.
Get over it, they say. They’re right. But I can’t get over the coffee and she has the recipe, and so I make her the best batch I can, and leave it outside her door, and walk into the street, swearing off automobiles and university degrees forever, the taste of cloves on my tongue.