Tale: Seeing

Do you see that? A man with a clipboard, gnawing at a pencil like a bit, who’s he? Why do clipboards give people weight in the world, power to look important checking off top-secret duties from the man above? You’re not going to ask. I’m not going to ask. He’s probably just checking off the last bathroom he emptied the trash from, refilled the foamy soap in, and wiped piss of the porcelain commode. I wonder if he has kids.
What about that guy? He's in his buttoned-up shirt, tucked in, pleated pants and herringbone socks. Is the pattern for show? Was it a conscience effort? Did he go that far to think about what the world would see when he crossed his legs like a dame? What about the junk the world can’t see? People will be thinking more about that, about why he crosses his legs like a broad; real men would find crossing their legs uncomfortable. He must not be real.
What about her? She’s working as a cashier at the grocery store. She checks everyone out, literally. Ringing up baby food, Slim-Fast, Wonder bread, your six-pack of Bud. She scans you, your stuff, and by the time you’re paying, she’s judged you. Don’t let her “Have a nice day” fool you. Who makes her a judge? She’s put-together; put-together people don’t work as cashiers. But the rock on her hand and her blown-out hair mark her as someone who’s well-off. And she is, but she works because it gives her something to complain about, like the old people who want their goods double bagged: paper then plastic. She’s sick of hearing how their milk ripped through the plastic once and fell all the way down the stairs, so she does it. Maybe she isn’t better off.
What about inanimate objects? Let’s say linoleum tiling. The kind you can pick up from Sam at the local hardware store, bring back and install in a day; it’s like peel and stick square clings for your floor. At the specialized stores someone named Diane rips you off, selling it as “contemporary” flooring, when all she’s really doing is upselling cheap. It’s the kind that runs wall-to-wall waxed and topped with shiny new cars at dealerships, littered with the aftermath of unsuccessful TP tears in the bathroom of the ladies room at Wal-Mart, and with sticky beer spots on the floors of frat-house kitchens. It’s usually feathered, tone on tone, while some of the others do their best to mimic their more-desired natural stone heroes. And during awkward conversations, or the ones you rather wish you weren’t apart of, you let your body stay present and let your mind drift away, finding shapes in the design. Maybe you see a naked woman, the face of a child, a character your subconscious just created; maybe it’s the devil in disguise. Then again, you may see nothing. It takes an extra layer of intrigue to make such discoveries.
And what if you don’t see anything? If that’s the case you see nothing in the ceiling tile paneling embossed with textures. At first that is, but throughout your life you may spend hundreds of hours staring at them. Maybe at the dentist office while your spit is getting sucked out of your mouth with a tube and the hygienist is asking you questions, knowing full well you can’t adequately respond; talk about getting the upper hand in a conversation. And all you have are those tiles to look at, and after those countless hours of affixing your gaze upward, your mind digs out memories of a science class that were tucked in the folds of your brain. There was pond water, paramecium, amoeba, and euglena. And then the smell of your lab partner’s ungodly taco-like body odor resurfaces and you start choking, gagging on spit, and water, and air.
And what do you see in love? Being able to agree to disagree? How sad is it that some have only known it as a slap in the face, followed by apologies, and a forced embrace. Others only get it when their partner’s voice is laced with booze. For me? I don’t know. Maybe it’s taking out the trash or organizing the bills. Or how you tell me my hair looks nice. For you? Maybe it’s when I pick food from you beard. Maybe it’s in a kiss on the cheek, followed by sexual propositions and screwing.
What have you painted your life with? Maybe you don’t paint at all. Maybe you choose to draw. Maybe you see in grayscale. Maybe my view is in ROYGBIV. Maybe it’s because the way I see the world is advanced. Because maybe we see only as much as we’ve let ourselves observe and experience. And maybe I’ve done more of that. But who’s to say? I’m sure there are things that you see that I don’t. Our picture of life may never be the same. Like the other day when we saw that old man walking through the cemetery with a single rose. I saw him as a grieving widower or maybe someone's loyal son, and then you told me he looked like a man who led two lives—the rose was for his deceased lover.

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