The American Caliban (substitute) wrote,
The American Caliban
substitute

People I know, or knew.

She maintains a library of perhaps ten stories about her life that she retells. In any conversation I’ll hear at least one of them. It’s impossible to agree with her, as she’ll change her opinion so that she’s always in opposition. There is no good news for her; everything is in decline. She hasn’t got up before noon in years.

He’s an innocent egotist. In the years I’ve known him, he has only contacted me when he needs me for some practical purpose or has an achievement to present. I understand his promises now only as sounds that meet his own psychological requirements.

Haunted by the respectable brutality of her upbringing, she is frozen in den mother mode. Everyone is her wayward child and will be fed, and corrected, and encouraged. At regular intervals she explodes in rage against everyone around her, railing at the massive and sole responsibility she has incurred upon herself. Her real personality is kilometers below somewhere.

She has boiled down the art of conversation into twenty catch phrases which she tosses out nervously. She doesn’t understand much of what goes on around her and doggedly sticks to routine to avoid being overwhelmed with complication and detail. She smokes three packs a day of Marlboros. She can’t meet your eye. She calls everyone “babe”. Her mother died on Mother’s day. She hasn’t bowled for twenty years.

His life is woven together from fantasies, half truths, and overheard ideas. You can hear him inventing a story as he stumbles through each sentence chasing its end. He gives everyone qualities in his mind that are their opposites: fools he calls smart, mean-spirited people mean well, drunks are pretty together. He hides his actual heroic life, in which he cares for a dying mother. He’ll never be out of debt.

He mistreats his dog, talks constantly about his wealth, and parades a pretty blonde or two around to show the world he’s made it. When he walks into a social setting, you can see him trying to find the most advantageously cool person to approach. He can talk for hours about his possessions. No one knows about his terrible medical history, pain, disability, and life long limitation. His taste in music is terrible, and he has his father’s politics without question. He didn’t have a childhood.
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