Fried Brains and Sam

Poof. Vanished. It used to amaze me. Poof. Vanished. It used to excite me — the whole magic of the universe — how there are so many things I’ll never understand. Poof. Vanished. Now it bores me. Now it depresses me. Poof. Vanished. That’s the culmination of every evaluation. From the rapist to the . . . the, whatever it is people view as good anymore — the Mother Teresas of the present day, whomever they may be. Poof goes their life force, unceremoniously. Vanished — goes their body, like an unimportant thought. It’s really hard not to get jaded doing this type of gig.

“Any final thoughts before I whisk you off to damnation, paradise or some so-so accommodation in between?” I asked Micheal Fink a balding, 78-year old man, who’d spent his whole life trying to fit in, but like many of us, felt inadequate.

He didn’t steal too much or too little. He didn’t try too hard or too little. He didn’t fuck too much or too little. He lusted more or less on par with the average, and did good deeds as if he’d read a worldwide survey on the issue and was hell-bent to maintain the status quo. However, there was one area he seemed a little unique. See, he had an intense aversion to being asked a question without knowing what, on average, most sensible people would answer. Asking such a question made him sweat, a lot.

“Ummm, geez. You know, I’m not sure.” He was sweating already.

When you see as many people as I do on a daily basis, you’ll find that anyone who’s not intensely unique quickly blurs into a big blob marked “average humanity.” If you’re average but somewhat lucky, you may just have some random yet pointless tick that makes you memorable. Like a bizarre fascination with three-toed sloths or something. Otherwise, honestly, I won’t remember you and I doubt anybody else will either.

“You’re not sure if you have any thoughts?”

“Ahhhh . . . no.” Micheal Fink sweated quite a bit more than the average.

“Honestly pal, it can be about anything. You can ponder the nature of the universe, or wonder how they get caramel into a Caramilk bar. I only got the answer to one of those questions though.”

More sweat. And more still. It filled the air with an unkind odour that made me queasy. If it weren’t for the sweat, I’d have forgotten about Stinky Finky already.

“Which one do you have the answer to?” he asked.

“Well, honestly — neither. But I suspect the candy bar is just injected or something. You people sent men to the moon and a rainbow of races and genders to Mars. I doubt filling a bar with caramel is all that tough.”

“Oh. You’re probably right.”

“It’s not supernatural. Nothing is. As soon as something exists, it is by definition natural.”

Stinky Finky smiled a little. “True enough.”

“As true as anything, I suppose.”

Suddenly his eyes diverted, and there was a brief pause.

“I have a thought.”

“Oh good,” I was honestly more concerned about the 65 people behind him, and my lunch break, but acting supportive sometimes moves things along.

“I’ve always wondered, why I wasn’t born to wonder?” Clearly unaware of the contradiction in his sentence, Stinky Finky looked ashamed. “Why couldn’t I think to wear a different colour of socks from time to time, or write a symphony?”

I wanted to ask him if he actually thought there was still good money in symphonies, but it was a little insensitive and beside the point.

“Something to do with genetics I’m told,” I said calmly.

“So it’s the same story up here?”

“Pal, haven’t you heard, there are no new stories, ideas or thoughts — just different combinations. It’s like baking.”

His smile broadened, and his sweating slowed.

“I guess I’m just like everybody else then, huh?”

“Most people are.”

Then like all those that came before, or will come after, Micheal Fink went poof and vanished.

I set him up with so-so accommodations. I figured that way he could spend the rest of time with all those people he wanted so badly to be like. Perhaps now with a little more confidence. But, perhaps not. Who knows.