A Simple Observation

 
Just as a tulip is revealing to young Rory its upright stance, green stem, and yellow petals, Old Sis claims its color to mean “hopeless love.” The way she makes “hopeless” sound bugs him as much as the sound she makes of “love.” Anyone calling anything hopeless is hopeless anyway. As for love, it comes with its own quandaries.

Though he may have planted the same flower in the backyard two years ago as part of a biology experiment, Rory can bring no such flower to represent anything more than Little Brother’s personality, small and vibrant.

The word tulip, says Old Sis, comes from the Turkish pronunciation of a Persian word meaning “turban.” “For God’s sake,” says Rory. “Why is it always the sounds of things with you? What about the tulip itself? Where does it come from?”

For Rory, whether the tulip is supposed to match the shape of a turban or evoke the prettiness of bunches of bright turbans adorned with parading flowers, the love it means, though somehow meaningful, is neither hopeless nor romantic.

Present Tense

The marquee on the side of the chapel reads, ‘God loved the world.’ Captivated by this use of the past tense in the verb ‘to love,’ a sacred pedestrian complains to no one in particular, “It’s like they think it’s over.” Only later does he ask, “Is not the main task of human civilization in all times and places to strive for that which they most ascribe to god, which is love?”

Close-ups Hurt Comedy

While I shoot blanks and you age out, the complicated circus car chugs the ring, throwing up spare parts like ladies tossing underclothes over a boudoir screen.

In an epigram for you, my bride, my confidante, always the avid reader, Nabokov reminds us that the difference between the comic side of things and the cosmic side depends upon a single sibilant.

We’re standing in the aisles when our whey-faced planet, swathed in the Human Mop, goes whirring by, giving way to a gorilla named Peter the Great, his flatulent elephant filling the room after our planet’s sudden departure and, all but invisible to the naked eye, decked out in rococo tusks by happy-go-lucky prop men.

Soon the Buddhists are filing in and, in violation of the ground rules for any good walking meditation (silence!), talk about themselves in the third person.

Paul’s knocked off his mule on his way to Damascus and discovers God.

Because the comic side isn’t always funnier, flying men remind us, when we go through the air, to use our heads as a rudders.

Thank Steve I’m a funny writer; if not for him, my closest friend in life, I’d still be stuck in my old job, doctoring obits.

I can’t be funny.

On the road home, we train our gaze on the nighttime sky: Venus shines brightly just before the break of dawn, the Seven Sisters to close in on the red star Aldebaran.

Recounting to each other the death-defying acts we’ve witnessed, I joke that when I die you bury me with our ticket stubs.

Our old debate ensues: I say you’ll live longer and you remind me that mine are the genes of centenarians, and for the first time ever, you say in a way that reeks of codependence that you want to go first, because you can’t bear the thought of being alone.

If you do die first, I conjecture, it will be the most profound experience of my life.

[Silence.]

Coming to light, the deep dark secret I might be happier on my own isn’t the only one I’m harboring: Every time the show gets over I never imagine the road home without you.

I love you—I love your company!