Crying? I ask.
Yea. He says. Besides that.
I don't know how anyone mourns their abandoned loves. Do you cry over the ashes of the childhood home that you torched? Do you shake your head, remembering the rooms where no one hurt you but which had to be destroyed for your own sanity? What the fuck is wistful anyway? Why does our language have so many flavors of sadness but insist on a single version of history?
Besides that, I don't know. Why Paul Simon? Why not Harrison Ford or Bryan Lourd or Dan Akroyd? I ask.
Dan Akroyd? Carl's version of history doesn't include things like liner notes or Wikipedia, or even Cliff's Notes or SparkNotes. If a fact is not a headline, it has to be explained to him. The Ghostbuster?
They were engaged. When something is broken. A promise. An engagement. A rule. Anything but a heart. A leg maybe. Not a heart. When something is broken, a person has two options: anger or forgiveness. You can never have both simultaneously. You can forget you're angry with someone, and decide to forgive them, or you can forget you forgave someone and surrender to anger but you can not angrily forgive someone. During Blues Brothers, Akroyd proposed. They might have gotten married but then she got back together with Paul.
Carl wrinkles his nose. Paul Who?
Simon. I say. Paul Simon.
I don't know why people drift back together when they've come to the almost always correct conclusion that they don't belong together. Nostalgia? Familiarity? The desire to prove friends and family wrong? Because those who refuse to acknowledge history repeat it until they're doomed? Yea. They were a couple. They broke up. She got engaged to Dan Akroyd, and then broke up with him to get back together with Paul.
How do you know this shit? He asks.
I read things.
I read. Carl says. As though I've implied otherwise.
I have implied otherwise. Carl is a reader of license plates, if a car cuts him off, ingredients on boxes of frozen food, if he thinks I am watching, magazine covers while waiting in line at the pharmacy. An avid reader he is.
It is fine. I don't listen to music the way he doesn't read. I've heard music. I don't plug my fingers with radishes when I'm in the grocery store or start screaming when the background music of a film slowly encroaches until you can't hear the characters speak anymore, and what you're watching is less a movie and more a glorified music video. I've even been known to turn on a radio or put on a tape in a car. Though, it's been long enough that what I put in was not a CD or an iPod or a cell phone or whatever it is these days people would plug into a car in order to listen to music that wasn't selected by some stranger sitting in a booth hoping the radio industry won't die in their lifetime. I've even heard Paul Simon. When I was watching The Graduate. And probably over the speakers in one of the hipster department stores Carl likes to go into but never buy anything from. I don't know.
Why do you give a shit about Paul Simon anyway? I ask.
I don't. He says. I just know you like Carrie Fisher, and wondered. You know.
I like Carrie Fisher? I ask. God, I am made of questions today.
Yea. You have her books, and you like Star Wars, and, you know.
What do I know? I ask. I know hints and allegations. I know the difference between books and music. I know that Carrie Fisher had at least one lover who left her for a man. I know Simon and Garfunkel broke up and don't like to talk about it. I know that they still perform together when it suits them. I know they are unlikely to ever record another album together. I know Paul Simon wrote a song about Frank Lloyd Wright because he was asked to. Not because he even knew who Frank Lloyd Wright was. I know who Frank Lloyd Wright was, although I've never knowingly seen one of his buildings in person. I know architecture like I know music. I know Carl is hinting that I'm bipolar.
You know, he says.
And I do. But Tell me what I know, I say.
He does not. So we are just sitting here. In my bedroom. Both of us dressed and waiting for the other person to leave.
You didn't ask me how Iman was doing after Bowie died or how I need to stop making accusatory statements before I think them through to their conclusion.
You're trying to remember the name of one of Prince's ex-wives. He says.
Shut up. He's right, of course.
I don't know, either.
Finally something in common. Ignorance.
I feel that if I were to get up now, he'd think I am the one who's leaving first. I don't want to leave. I want him to leave. Still. If, a little less than I did a minute ago.
He starts cracking his knuckles. I flinch. He rolls his eyes. It's so much easier to talk this way.
go, I finish.
apologize, he says. I'm not trying to start anything. I don't think you're crazy anymore.
I feel crazy. Not like bugs under skin crazy or screaming on a bus crazy. I feel like confessing an affair to a stranger on a plane crazy or waking up in the middle of the night convinced there's a burglar only to remember that your exboyfriend is sleeping on your couch until he gets a new job crazy. Do you mean you no longer think I was ever crazy, or that you think I was crazy before but am not currently?
He looks at me as though that wasn't the obvious question. As though I haven't questioned every statement he's made since we started this arrangement. And the last one. And the one before that. As though I've ever done anything but question his intentions.
He looks at me.
I look at him.
He doesn't look angry like used to. So maybe, maybe we've finally reached the forgiveness stage of our over.
He puts his shoes on and stands up. He shakes his head and smiles at me. I've got to go. He says.
Nobody has to do anything they don't want to. I counter.
He rolls his eyes. He leaves.