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Pasties and a Thong | 2012 | When in Doubt, Mumble: Otakon 2012


A monk asked, "If on the road one meets a person of the Way, how could one respond to that person with neither words nor silence?"
Daopi said, "With kicks and punches."  

-Zen's Chinese Heritage


Missed the Boat

We reach the dock just as the captain pulls in the rope to set sail. He sees our urgency, our rushing, the tickets in our hands, then looks past us as though he did not notice. I could touch the prow of the Pride of the Hudson, but we cannot board short of leaping over the railing onto the deck, something I imagine more likely to get me arrested than a scenic cruise with my lover. Also, I am not sure Amber would be willing to take the leap with me and I can't leave her in Newburgh without car keys.

In better circumstances, I am sure I would laugh. It reminds me of a Zen story, how because I had rushed out of unpreparedness and did not trust that the nearest spot would not be the fastest, I literally missed the boat. As metaphors go, that is about ten tons too heavy-handed. While my inner monk can tweak my nose and tell me this, it isn't enough to soothe me. I am having an irritable day and had been looking forward to this cruise for weeks. I do not want a lesson about patience right now. I have invested too much in an experience less than five feet away and receding slowly.

I look at Amber as though she will have some grand solution - grand theft marine, perhaps - but she just shrugs. If I had not stopped for gas, if my GPS had not gotten confused, if a dozen other little things had not conspired against us (and I am a resistentialist, so it was a conspiracy), we would be on the boat and on our way to memories.

I take Amber's hand and we walk away as I fume.

"I just- no, that's complaining," I grumble, cutting myself off.

"So? Complain," she says.

"But that doesn't solve anything! And this is largely my fault. I mean, yes, Newburgh can fall into the Hudson and what the hell is wrong with them for not having sufficient parking and woman I spoke to should have told me how bad this would have been! But, yes, my fault," I ramble.

"Do you want to go for a walk, see what else there is to do?" she offers, quietly.

"No, I want to be on that bloody ship," I say, but follow after. There is nothing to do here but eat in a series of restaurants overpriced given that they are separated from one of the most crime-infested streets in America by only a few meters and a wall.

I am, strictly speaking, no worse off than when I began this adventure an hour ago. I am a bit poorer for the gas I spent and I am now a bit over an hour from home, but I am not wounded or weakened. Yet I feel as though something has been taken from me, as though I have been spited by inconvenience and apathy. No one is really to blame, but I want to blame because I want a target who does not so closely resemble me.

I wait for there to be a reason for us to have missed the boat. I wait to hear it sinking into the depths of the Hudson (no casualties, but some severely soaked electronics and deserved grumpiness) or for something wonderful to pop up in its stead, but the Big Buddha is not being accommodating today. Sometimes, the moral is only to take a deep breath and not trust object to be helpful or truthful.

Soon in Xenology: Male friendships. Otakon.

last watched: Supernatural
reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
listening: Garfunkel and Oates

Pasties and a Thong | 2012 | When in Doubt, Mumble: Otakon 2012

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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