I stare at a photograph of a man rowing a boat in the newspaper, and I create Bob Boland. The photograph shows Bob, as I call him, rowing his small gray boat along the Ship Canal toward Lake Union near Freemont. Bob wears a blue button-down shirt, which appears darker because it had been raining all day. Bob is in his sixties, and wears glasses and a graying mustache, which extends down and past his lower lip. His remaining hair is white.
Bob rows every afternoon since leaving his job as vice president for a successful branch of Aflac Insurance in Seattle. He lives with his wife Sandra Boland, a homemaker. . . .
Bob Boland rowed out each morning onto the lake. He brought his black dog, who slept through most for the trip, and fishing rod, he never used. When asked, he tells people he brings it along in base he grows hungry. Bob, however, does not eat fish and does not share what type of food he hopes to catch with the rod.
Some days, his wife joins him.
Where’s the hook? I never do find the hook before I case my rod. I struggle through and end back here, wondering why I even bothered to walk the course.
That’s all I got (shocking).
Try as he might, he failed many times. He was a Try Good Do. She was. He could be. Time trial. He sits here pounding out random thoughts that are not thoughts but feelings and movements.
She walks buy with short hair and a yellow shirt. Big black shoes kick as she moves.
The carpet is made up of boxes of tan with a large brown stripe running through the middle. A wooden sculpture, painted to look wrought iron, stands near the window, vying for attention that it rarely receives. The door opens and closes. People walk in and out. Time slows and speeds. I want to say something, I want a story, I consternate. A small round table waits for yummy caffeine, but I drank it already and it didn’t help me focus much.
A woman in a black shirt and tan pants walks down the stairs. She has short blonde hair and yellow sneakers. Who ever heard of yellow sneakers?
I’m hoping these words spark something in me. Nothing else seems to.
The more you do it, the less tired you become. You get used to it—that’s part of it.
Red checkered tablecloth. Frothy beverage topped with cheese. Give me a roadmap and I’ll give you a lost person. Why do I keep losing myself? That wasn’t the question I was thinking: the real question is why do I not want to go after I create the roadmap? I grow fatigued too easily.
He shook the cheese over his salad. “It’s a pizza salad,” he said when she asked. She didn’t smile at his response. “You get it? This is pizza cheese, and I put it on the salad.”
She told him she understood when he first said it, but grew bored of his banter.
“It’s what I’m thinking,” he said.
“No, it’s what you think will amuse me. I’m not a child, and I don’t need constant amusement,” she said.
He was taken aback. “Then what do you want from our conversations if not my clever banter?”
“Why don’t you tell me about yourself, the real you,” she said. “No the one you hide behind to impress us on blind dates.”
“What do you think this is—what I was doing to impress you?” He decided this wasn’t going to work then and there. This was the third girl he had met on the internet—actually met, that is, not emailed and given up halfway through the conversation. She had been very funny and clever as, he had thought, he had been. That’s what he was after: fun banter and a kick-ass body. She seemed to have the latter, at least on initial review. Although, he admitted, her choice of a black outfit might mean she was hiding something.
He used his fingers to pick at his salad. It’s why he ordered it without dressing—you couldn’t pick at it if it was drenched in oil.
“You said that you were a school teacher,” he said. “That must be interesting work.”
She looked at him through squinted eyes. “You said in one of your emails that you had many definitions for ‘interesting’ and almost none of them were good ones. Which definition is this one?”
There was the spirit he remembered. “I thought you said you didn’t want clever banter? And now you want me to dive into my theory of interesting? How does that get any closer to the inner me?”
Useless banter: two people on their first date after meeting on the internet. There has to be more than the banter. What could happen? Interruption. Hit it off. She could be crazy, he may be. (Stop masturbating!)
Upside down forks and knives. Moments of clarity among a lifetime of lows. Energy is so variable. What are the good moments, and what are the bad. Clarity is not the norm, the ordinary, the way it is, instead of the way it should be.