An Immaterial Messageby Andrew Farkas
That worthless pothead, your roommate, so the rumor runs, has sent a message to you, the straight-laced student, the tired-of-staying-up-late-every-night-because-someone-won’t-let-you-go-to-sleep guy snoozing on the other side of the room; the pothead from his miniature den of iniquity has sent a message to you alone. He has commanded, or at least asked nicely in his confused sort of way, for the messenger, his girlfriend, to lean closer to him as they both recline in bed, and has whispered the message to her; so much store did he lay on t that he repeated the message two or three times. They, by a nod of the head, the girlfriend confirmed that she had no clue as to which message to deliver because, having repeated the message two or three times, the pothead had, indeed, communicated two or three different messages with nary a similarity between them. And since there was no one else, no one of import anyhow, to hear the message in your cramped, cluttered, claustrophobic dorm room, only the girlfriend knows the words your stoner roommate spoke. Never can the girlfriend deduce the actual meaning of the message because of the disparate communications and because she herself is trashed; hence, she would have had trouble comprehending a clearly stated message that had been repeated verbatim several times. Yet what does get through to this messenger is the fact that something (whatever it is) must be delivered to you. Oh, but the journey is so far! So arduous! For in order to deliver the message, first the girlfriend must lift herself from the bed—and that is not all. If that was all, perhaps, perhaps she could make it. But, no. Even if she were able to stand, she would then have to right herself, to gain and retain her balance, for in the likelihood that she lost her balance, she would collapse to the floor and then she would never rise again. Yet, should she remain upright her journey would still be impossible; for still there would be the task of scaling the pile of dirty laundry directly next to the bed, and that pile is insurmountable: it can never, never be passed. If someone could climb that pile of laundry, and that someone is certainly not the messenger, such a person would next have to rappel the various stacks of aluminum cans, which stretch on forever. Beyond the cans are the fast food wrappers, the assorted textbooks covered in maple syrup and Chili Cheese Fritos, the broken jewel cases for unknown CDs, the treacherous strands of beads hanging from the ceiling, the “We’re Number One” foam rubber hand with the middle finger extended. The worthless pothead’s girlfriend must get past all of this. And she has yet even to sand up from the bed. But still, on the other side of the room, maybe ten or fifteen feet away, you sit and wait.
Andrew Farkas is the author of Self-Titled Debut and is a frequent contributor to The Brooklyn Rail.