Cracks

from Nick Suss

Jan. 28, 2014, 11:03 a.m.

This is a story I wrote for a creative writing class. But here's the thing. You know me well enough to know that this is a short story in the same way that anything else I write is a short story. So enjoy this while I still enjoy it. It's gonna be ripped to shreds by my classmates soon enough!

I keep my head down when I walk for three reasons. First, I don’t like to step on cracks. It isn’t a superstition thing. I just like to keep my boring times interesting. Thing is, I’ve taken the same walks too many times and now what used to keep things fresh is just as bland as a normal walk. Secondly, I don’t own a pair of sunglasses. It’s easier to look down than to stare directly into the sun. It’s like no matter which direction I’m going, the sun is in front of me. Thirdly, and most importantly, I watch too much television. That might not seem like a reason to stare at your feet when you walk to you, but to me, it’s all the motivation I need. If television has taught me anything, it’s that if I look down long enough, I will bump into somebody. That somebody will drop something – more than likely books – and I’ll reach to pick them up. So will she. Our hands will meet. Then we will look up, our eyes will lock, our hearts will flutter and lovable hilarity will ensue.

I know. It sounds delusional. It’s just as plausible as thinking that I’ll meet a beautiful girl wearing glass slippers at a ball or believing that if I walk through the forest aimlessly for long enough I’d eventually come across a cursed princess sleeping among the trees. But this is how I was bred. Some people look back at their childhoods and remember the Harry Potter books or Disney movies or Nintendo games as the staples of their adolescent lives. I remember sitcoms. Sure, I played and watched more sports than the average human takes in in their entire life as a kid and was blessed to have plenty of friends, but the sitcoms stand out.

I often replay the scene where Ross and Rachel first share a loving embrace in the doorway of Central Perk in my head. By often, I mean daily. It’s comforting, to a degree. It’s awesome that someone like Ross could pull Rachel. It gives nerds like me a chance. But he’d loved her since they were in high school. So it’s also a lesson in the virtue of patience. That’s just one of the scenes I think about when I stare down at the monotonous cracks I’m avoiding. I skip one crack. Sam slaps Diane. I skip a second crack. Diane slaps Sam. I skip a third crack. They kiss and the audience roars. I switch lanes to avoid some leaves. Jim and Pam get married. I return to my original path. Leonard and Penny reconcile. Then I look up briefly. All I see is the blinding, pale sun. No one had crashed into me yet.

I can’t be the one to initiate the crash. That would be manufacturing fate. So I keep plodding. Music normally snaps me back into reality. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Reality is repetitive. Reality doesn’t interweave story arcs and develop characters in the same way the television industry does. Nevertheless, music is my televisual antithesis. Here’s the difference. To me, there is no such thing as a sad sitcom. Conversely, there is no such thing as a happy song. Sad songs make me sad. Happy songs make me sad because there’s no way to be that happy. Happiness in music feels unattainable. I listen to the Beach Boys a lot. Wouldn’t it Be Nice doesn’t tell the tale of exuberant young love to me. It asks a very simple question. Wouldn’t it be nice? Music is very present. Sitcoms on the other hand seem plausible. It’s best not to question why Ralph Kramden can pull Alice or Doug Heffernan could pull Carrie or Ray Barone could pull Debra or George Costanza could pull any girl. It creates hope for out-of-shape, awkward, impossibly unattractive guys. Music then is a vacuum of hope. These rock stars with their unmatchable charm and their unmistakable charisma seem to be bragging. That’s why music makes me pick my head up.

But before long it’s back down. I can’t stare at the sun too long. It’s like looking at cleavage: you take a quick look and then avert your eyes. I can’t take credit for that joke. It’s an inverted Seinfeld joke. Most of my jokes are, references that is. It’s a side effect of my unhealthy obsession. But people seem to like it. Who am I kidding? I like it too. Referencing the troves of reserved quotes I have on backlog in the weird portion of my brain I have singled out for inane trivial minutiae, which has to be the biggest part of my brain on average, makes me feel a little closer to the life I aspire to have. Which brings back in that delusion I was talking about before. I know that retorting “could I be…” doesn’t make me Chandler Bing and gregariously exclaiming “Evening everybody!” when I walk into a room doesn’t make me Norm Peterson. But it instills the right kind of attitude.

But it really doesn’t. It reinforces my delusions. But come to think of it, everything I do is based in delusion. There is no logic behind avoiding cracks in the pavement. There is no logic behind avoiding the sun. There is no logic in expecting my dream girl to crash into me. But where is there logic? There is logic in a few important things like baseball and science, but the truly important areas are all subjective. Faith is illogical. Trust in strangers is illogical. Love is illogical. Yet those remain the cornerstones of a healthy society and a healthy personal life. So what’s the harm in a little delusion? Who do I hurt by modeling my life after sitcoms? Is there no one out there who thinks like me? Honestly, I am asking. I wouldn’t know. My head has been down so long I haven’t noticed if anyone else’s was too.


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