—I think you do.
—What gives you that idea?
—You seem… invested.
—What makes you say so?
—I dunno. You seem furtive. You’re eating too quickly, and too much. Your furtiveness belies your investment. If you didn’t care at all, you wouldn’t be eating — at least not so much.
—What is it that I care about?
—I can’t tell you that. Only you can answer that.
—So you know that I care about something — but as far as what it is I care about, that stays private and mysterious?
—I guess that’s what I’m saying. Maybe it’s not mysterious to you.
—Well, say that what I really care about is eating? That I like it? If I really like doing something, doesn’t that mean that I care about it?
What about the genocide in the Congo? Would you guess that I care about that?
—I don’t like thinking about your eating habits in the same context as an African genocide.
—By extension, then, would you say that I’m odious?
—I feel like that’s the conclusion you’re trying to push. I think you’d feel some kind of satisfaction if I replied Yes: Yes, you’re completely odious. Thinking about the deaths in the Congo in the same thought-breath as thinking about the way you appear while you’re eating your massive lunches is shameful, and you’re shameful. You should feel ashamed, and you should be punished.
And but instead, the world will continue to shower its favors on you. You’ll probably win a Wii and a subscription to the London Review of Books in a contest you didn’t enter. I’m trying to make you happy by telling you this. Your sneer looks comfortable. [Memo to myself: Invent a new item of clothing called the “Sneer”? And make it really comfortable? Some sort of fleece/chamoix facial scarf, with lots of swaths cut out? Reminder: ask Kolleen about this ]
Is this the first time you’ve been to The Mirror?
—Yes. Well, I’ve been before, but I always came alone. I’ve never talked in one of these rooms with another person.
—Do you like it?
—Sure. It feels like the difference between masturbating and having sex, maybe. “It’s usually better with another person.”
—Do you think that same logic applies to conversations? That is, is having a conversation with someone else usually going to be more enjoyable or productive than it is just knocking language around by yourself, in your own head?
—I think that raises the question of writing. Because with writing it’s not just knocking around in your own head. You’re squeezing it out of the tube onto a brush, onto a canvas. And then you can read it over, revise it, email it to a woman, etc.
—So is writing more like masturbating, or more like having sex? And what’s the difference between writing and correspondence? Isn’t all writing correspondence, in any guise? [Note: Maybe I should market a new brand of fleece (or chamoix) garment called The Guise? “Grab a brand-new hot-purple Guise before hitting the slopes this year — it’ll keep you warm, sexy, and aloof!” “Yo! Dis ‘Guise’ is ‘da bomb’!”]
—Writing is a simulated conversation. You’re still alone. It’s masturbation that sometimes later gets projected onto the wall and then couples couple and copule beneath it.
—People making love while a porno plays on the TV.
—I don’t think you’re listening to me.