Whatever… complications are presented in the act of feeding the cats, I much prefer… prefer it to going to California for a week. I’m gonna miss… doing that! As much as I convince myself, “Oh, no! It’s time to feed the cats! Here we go! Sigh.”
That was a spoken… much like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip used to apparently say “sigh.”
I don’t think he was really saying “sigh.” I think he was sighing, but it was represented by the word “sigh.” Which… has some onomatopoeic… uhh… quality, I suppose, but… maybe that’s the way people—maybe that’s literally what people used to sound like. Not during the run of Peanuts, but way back, you know, in the Middle Ages.
Speaking of which…
That’s the other thing I forgot to mention.
[Laughter. Coughing. Sniff.]
Uh… why did I walk in…? I walked into another room…
Man, I’ve got a headache! Maybe you’re witnessing the… this is it. Although there will be no one here to transcribe it if that’s the case.
Oh, my head’s pounding all of a sudden.
You know what? I don’t think I took my… I’m on a beta-blocker these days to keep my blood pressure… it couldn’t hurt to take one, could it?
I just ate some leftover pasta from last night that Anastasia made, and… it had Italian sausage in it, which I’m sure had… an amount of sodium that could be… you know what? I’m gonna take a beta-blocker. I mean, uh, God! God forbid it lowers my blood pressure to such a point…
What if I’ve taken too much?
Well, you know…
[sung]: Doo doo doo doo.
[Pills rattling. The cap of a pill bottle popping off. Rattling. More rattling.]
[Squeaking of medicine cabinet door. Water gushing into bathroom sink. Water turned off. Water gurgling down drain.]
Well, I mean, I have a meeting coming up. Beta-blockers don’t interfere in any way with your… mental capacity. That’s one thing the doctor actually mentioned when he prescribed them. They just, as you know… uh… you know what beta-blockers do! Who am I talkin’ to?
So, oh yes, the Middle Ages and whatnot. The other thing I was gonna point out, which hardly…needs to be said… but what does? Perhaps that’s what we’ve learned above all other things in our experiment together. That nothing needs to be said. Nothing needs—let’s emphasize that word, “needs.” Nothing needs to be said.
But I was just thinking about the time I read this really boring book, I believe it was just called The Middle Ages, by an austere German…
I don’t know if he was [short laugh] austere. I don’t know anything about him. His writing doesn’t suggest a guy who enjoys parties. [Wheezing laughter.] His style… well! He was talkin’ about the year 1000. And to paraphrase incredibly loosely, everybody in the year 1000 was like, “Whoooooo! It’s not gonna get any better than this! Man, we’ve got it all figured out!”
It’s hard to… uh…
“Boy, I feel sorry for everybody else!”
I’m very loosely… uh… you know… I… you know… “Boy, those suckers that get born in the future are gonna really… be sad they’re not livin’ in the year 1000!” [Wheezing laughter.]
I don’t know if anybody… [short laugh] I might even… I’m totally… There’s a great chance I’m totally misrepresenting… this. Not really! Not really. There’s a grain of truth in what I say. [Swallowing.] But what I mean to, uh… the point upon which I mean to elaborate… [sniff].
Sometimes I think my grammar is too good!
That’s a thought that stifled me for a moment.
[Wheezing laughter that turns into coughing.]
No, what I was gonna say is that… and then—ssss—I think it was around the same time that also people started—there were a lot of… “Awwww, this is the year the Lord returns!” And, of course, every year [short laugh] has been that year. You’ve seen, uh, the Ingmar Bergman movie, The Seventh Seal. Everybody’s always convinced that, you know… [sigh].
I want you to know that I bore myself at least as much as I bore you.
But maybe that’s a… inevitable… you know, that’s one thing I do a lot. I say, “a” when I should say “an,” but the thing there is I don’t know what [short laugh] the next word’s gonna be, so…
I mean, if you thought more carefully…
I mean, that’s how you should listen to people!
You should listen and notice whether a person… says “a” dot dot dot “apple” or “an apple.”
One of those people [laughter] is lying to you, but I’m not sure which one.
Either the first person is being spontaneous… and the second person has carefully and maybe perniciously crafted what they’re going to say… or… to look at it from a contrary point of view… the f—[wheezing laughter]… the first person is lying! And they were going to say something else, and then changed it to “apple.” And the second person is just quick-witted and highly intelligent! And… instantaneously processes a sentence, who—a person you imagine… [wheezing laughter]. Oh, how I hate myself.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. This thing about the year 1000. Everybody was like… high-fiving [laughter] each other [wheezing laughter]. And, d-uh… God! Oh, boy! Look at this… uh… “Look at this road!” [Laughter.] “Man! There’s never gonna be a nicer road than this one!” And on the other hand, people were, “Oh, God, it can’t go on…!” Maybe that’s it. “Uh! We’ve reached the pinnacle. Nowhere to go from here but the world’s gonna explode.”
So! When we think… and now we’re pretty sure. And… we might be right! [Short laugh.] But everybody always thinks this. And… You know, maybe it’s a miracle that nobody’s been right yet!
I sign off… with good wishes.
[Unpleasantly wheezing laughter.]
Would you like another? This way, please.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.