After we ate, we had some coffee. It was still too late for mummy killing and too early for flamethrower returning but at least we were trying.
Sam and I continued talking and then got into some chit chatting, which are two different things.
“That’d be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”
“Why?” Sam asked.
“Say what you said again,” I said.
“All I said was at least we’re not getting our faces bitten off in our sleep. What’s so ridiculous about that?”
“That’d still be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Not having your face bitten off while sleeping is a basic human right,” I asserted.
“What? Really? It’s every person’s right to not have their face bitten off while sleeping is it? Since when? Things bite things. That’s what every thing on this planet does, it bites things. To assume you’re above an attempted face biting is a vicious act of pride.” A bit of smoke came out of Sam’s ear. Just the one. Usually when this happens, it’s the left ear. This time it was the right. I wondered if that meant something.
“Look around you,” He continued. “Everyone in here is biting something. Everyone.”
“It’s a restaurant, Sam, that’s what happens when people eat. You’re supposed to bite with a face, not bite a face. It’s just good manners. Civility is an important part of civilization.”
“Manners are a social construct and have nothing to do with whether or not biting faces is an acceptable thing to do. You’re being silly about this.” That’s what Sam said. I tried to figure out a way that he hadn’t said that, but it’s what he said.
“Civilization is a social construct? What else could it be?” I asked, not because I wanted an answer. I tried to say something else, something sensible and intelligent, but all that came out of my mouth was the mouthful of coffee I had just placed in it and the word ‘Ridiculous’.
I started to wonder why Sam was so keen on defending his pro-face biting position while I casually sipped my coffee. Usually, when someone clings to a ridiculous idea, it’s because they have some sort of personal reason. They need it to be true in order to justify their past, present or future behavior. I was wondering who was biting or had been biting his face and I further wondered how I was going to find out. Usually, when I want to know something, I ask, so I just asked.
“Sam, who bit or bites or has bitten your face?”
“Judy? Really? What did you do? Why isn’t there a scar?”
“Yeah, they are tiny aren’t they? Like those mini Chiclets. When?”
“Last Tuesday when I was talking to her about insurance fraud.”
I only asked him when, not why but he told me why anyway. Neither Sam nor myself make a habit of volunteering information. It’s dangerous.
I decided to go for a change of subject.
“I guess we’ll have to decide to disagree on this face biting issue.” I casually mentioned as though I were someone disinterested in why my gal pal bit my best friend’s face while discussing insurance fraud.
“Agreed. I thought you forgot all the other words you knew and were just going to keep saying ‘Ridiculous’ over and over again. Hey, you ever wonder?”
“Sometimes,” was my reply.
“Me too,” Sam counter replied.
“Good to know,” I said in an attempt to end the conversation.
I was itching to get out of there, I wasn’t sure why though. I looked at my watch and was reminded that I wasn’t wearing one. I glanced at the clock on the wall and it told me the time. We had an hour or so before the flame thrower needed to be back at Danny’s.
Nothing to do for an entire hour. Itchy or not, I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon so I thought I’d continue our conversation since it was already in progress and showed no signs of ending. “Be where you are” is what I usually say to myself when I find myself being somewhere.
I started to say “Ever wonder this?” and when I finished that part, I went on to say “We got here and the waitress gave us a glass of water. There was a lemon slice in it, remember?”
“I remember. I don’t see what you’re getting at, but I think I like where this is going. That was some glass of water. They know how to mix those Hs and Os really well here.”
“That’s the sign of a quality establishment for sure,” I answered. “Now, stay with me on this one. There’s also sugar on the table and that’s free as well. You know the ingredients for lemonade, don’t you?” I knew Sam knew, he knows the ingredients to most soft drinks. He has this recipe for fruit punch that will reshape your entire view of what red should taste like.
“Yeah, like the back of my hand. Sugar, water and lemons. It’s not rocket science.”
“No, it’s lemonade.”
“Huh, I think I get where you’re going with this. The water is free. The lemons are free. The sugar is free, but the lemonade…”
“Is $1.79 for a small glass.” I interrupted while holding up my tiny lemonade glass. It was slightly larger than a shot glass, yet substantially smaller than a glass than would be useful for holding something to drink.
“Makes no damn sense.” I mentioned in a casual manner and went on to elaborate in such a way that the next thing I said was “The components are free but the finished product isn’t? That’s what I’ve been wondering. “
“Now I’m wondering that too. How long have you been working on this?”
“About fifty years.”
“You’re only 36.”
“I know both how old I am and how long this mystery has been being pondered by me.”
“What a world,” Uttered Sam as he gazed into the distance as if he really was absorbing all the wonders this world had to behold.
We eventually got around to paying the tab and leaving. Sam said he would take the flamethrower back to Danny. I told him to make sure he got that coupon. He said he would make sure of it. That was good enough for me.
I watched as Sam waltzed down Pine Street, towards the river without so much as one person noticing that there was a flamethrower strapped to his back.
“I wonder how he does that.” I wondered.
I’ve been wondering a lot of late and I started to ponder why I was doing that, but then I sneezed.
Sneezing isn’t just a biological reflex to a sudden influx of irritants and/or allergens that sets off a complicated series of nerve signals that cause the brain to tell the lungs to blast a bunch of air through the nose to alleviate nostril irritation but it’s easy to see how your average person could think that.
A right and proper sneeze is much more than that. The educational system doesn’t really focus too much on educating these days, so most people remain in the dark about the true importance of sneezing. I always thought that was a shame.
I heard from a dubious authority that some Buddhists consider the state of mind that manifests during a sneeze as nothing less than a type of enlightenment. I’m not a certified sneezeoligist or anything of the sort but seems to me that sometimes a good sneeze will show you a new perspective or provide you with an answer to a riddle that’s been plaguing you.
Other times it’ll force out a spirit that got stuck in you and some sneezes are just regulation biological reactions. This sneeze I just experienced was of the riddle solving sort. I was glad it wasn’t a spirit sneeze, those I find indignant.
The sneeze came upon me so suddenly that I didn’t have time to stick my hand in front of my face. I considered that a plus, since it saved me from having to wipe my hand on my pants, like I’m some sort of walking napkin.
After a sneeze of such magnitude, and I’ve had the pleasure of several over the length of my life, I like to take a nap. After the the nap has run its course, I usually go to the office and prepare for the slightly dramatic showdown that is often the result of sneeze induced riddle solving.
So that’s what I did. I arrived at my office a few hours later, feeling well rested. I was sitting at my desk, double checking my mental math. Everything added up all right. It divided and subtracted too. One should never multiply while doing mental math, so I didn’t do that. The summation of my calculations left me with little choice as to what should come next.