Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What The Ear Hears In The Mirror

"Well Jeffrey what are we going to do about this?" Mrs. Dittmer asked. This was one of her favorite questions. Always we. The words she used made it seem like she was going to be part of the solution, and by that she meant that she was not at fault. Jeffrey knew the only answer that would please her.

"I guess I've got to buckle down. Try harder you know. I keep getting distracted."

Music filed in under the door, or maybe through the cracks in the windows. It was there in the background. A piano was being played somewhere, it sounded mournful and yet somehow light.

Mrs. Dittmer smiled a tight smile. Her lips were pressed together so tightly when she smiled like that, trying to cover that snaggletooth. "No Jeffrey. We've tried that too many times already. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go to your parents with this. Yes, I've already contacted Principal Sorenson and he agrees with me. We're really going to have to do something about these test scores of yours."

The piano played on in the background, and Jeffrey tapped his foot lightly in time.

"Please don't, you don't know what they'll say. I promise I'll do better, let me take the test over again, I'll prove I can do better."

"Jeffrey that wouldn't be fair to the other students, they don't get the chance to take this test over again, and neither should you."

The music was swelling now. Swelling in Jeff's ears. Didn't she hear it? Why didn't she hear it? It had to be a concert pianist visiting or something like that.

And then something happened that nobody could explain. The world jumped forward twenty-three years in time.

Mrs. Dittmer was dead, cancer. The middle school had closed, republican governor.

In the meantime Jeffrey had gone on to be an average student, and had graduated high school and college and gotten by as the manager of a local office supply store.

Peculiarly twenty-three years in the future Jeffrey found himself as an adult, with all the little betrayals of age, staring into the mirror and having no memory of the past twenty three years. He was a handful of years shy of forty and still felt like he was fourteen staring up at Mrs. Dittmer.
I am a salesman. I sell flower services. I sell flowers, but in my heart I like to believe I sell dreams. Sweet little lies that fall like raindrops, and shatter like a crystal vase after you've thrown it against the wall in anger.
Have you ever heard the story of Atlas? Yeah, that guy with the world on his shoulders. Well you've probably heard it as a Greek myth, but it's older than that. Anyway, he didn't start out with the world. No the guy started out with a plate of beans. He was a waiter in one of the first restaurants. Nobody knows the name of the place anymore, but we do know that they had the first tablecloths, and they were red. The napkins were red, the candles were red, the plates were made out of red clay, in fact at that time even people's skin was red, because of all the red clay dust, it didn't matter what color you were underneath the dirt, you were red anyway. Everyone was red, from the mayor to the little kid begging for apple cores on the streets, everybody was red. And Atlas? He was really red, because he sweat so much. The dust just stuck to him. Anyway. There he was in the restaurant, carrying plates of red beans and rice to people, when all of the sudden a snake dropped from the ceiling right on top of table seven, the one where the city council man and his mistress were eating. Everyone starts screaming and hollering red bloody murder. Atlas didn't miss a beat, he ran over to the table, looked at the snake, looked at the city councilman and his young mistress, and lifted the whole table right off the floor, and held it up to the ceiling. Oh, man, the room exploded in applause, here was this guy, sure he was kind of big, and kind of tall, but not too big, and not too tall, but man could he ever lift tables. He had saved the city councilman, who later ran for and became the mayor in the city official's annual fight to the death. So that's how it started and then people kept asking Atlas to lift more things, here lift this bed, beds at the time were only a little bit bigger than tables, people weren't really into sleeping all that much back then. So Atlas lifted the bed, and then a long bench with people on it, and then a small tree, and then a whole house and on and on, until he was lifting the known world, which really wasn't that big, but still pretty impressive for a local boy, but then again everyone was a local boy back then. The point is by the time the story of Atlas lifting the whole of the known world got to the Greeks size of the known world had gotten a lot bigger.