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Dr. Susan | 2017 | The Neuroses of Accidental Lives


The human race has one effective weapon--and that is laughter.  

-Mark Twain

David and Grillades

Duo is closed to a private part when Amber and I arrive, which doesn't seem like my fault, but I cop to having done no more research than looking up its regular house and assuming the would not be closed on Sunday during prime brunching hours.

Which they were not, technically. They were merely closed to me.

I text Susan to inform her of this unexpected hitch in our plans. She is gluten-intolerant, though not specifically celiac, so I tried without much success to find her wheatless pancakes before she granted me absolution enough for my efforts that I could just find a place that served food I would want credit for having put in her belly.

David texts back asking if we ought to change the venue to my backup. Through the vagaries of our correspondence, the location had shifted into being a fun surprise for Susan, technically impossible short of picking her up and blindfolding her. We are too early into this friendship to stage a kidnapping for waffles and eggs, so she suggested I share the location with David and he would vet it for culinary suitability. Of course, I used this as an excuse to over prepare, which paid off this time.

We meet instead in front of PAKT that I might meet David for the first time and vet him for suitability for my company.

I did not go into this blind. Once Susan added me on social media so I could invite her to events, I snooped into her pictures, saw David's last name, and began searching the internet for him. I would have added him then, but it seemed forward and presumptuous. Best to stalk first.

He is a professional comedian and a likewise (better) self-promoter, so I knew he would be on Youtube. I watched five of his sets, years apart and all different, deciding if we would get along. He is dark, he is blasphemous, he is bizarre in the extreme, he enjoys upsetting people's expectations so he can tell them aborted fetuses make cockroaches in the afterlife. I assumed we would get along like a house on fire.

I knew I was building some defenses against David because I unabashedly like Susan so much so quickly that I didn't want not to like David. He hadn't been the one corresponding with me for weeks, assembling friendship out of slow hinting at our peculiarities and histories. I had instead his jokes about unicorns and fidelity when faced with celebrity crushes.

Like the jilted lover, there is a part of me anxious at the idea of welcoming new people into my life owing to my urge to compare. They are different from Daniel (who did not jilt me so much as take a positive step toward fulfillment for the rest of his life), but there are similarities in openness, humor, and boundaries. They know who they are, no matter how the world may have wanted them to be. And they seem to like me, which speaks highly of their character.

He has a ginger beard, which is the first thing I assume everyone notices about him for the first time, shorter and more kempt than in the few videos I wanted in preparation. Maybe frazzlement is part of his act.

I make some awkward quip about having seen some of his acts, so he will need new jokes over brunch, but he shakes my hand anyway. I assume Susan must have told him enough appealing stuff about me to make up for that poor first impression, this doubtlessly tired attempt at humor.

I forgot it was Brunchabilly at Pakt, with a rockabilly DJ and an all-you-can-drink special. The former adds a layer of challenge to communication, which the later might have ameliorated except we all forebear for reasons of work later, sober driving, and medical contraindications.

David and Susan are almost sweet together, but they are certainly well-matched. Our mutual banter builds quickly over biscuits and gravy, hash browns, and glutinous waffles.

At the end of the meal, well stuffed, David offers Susan his uneaten biscuit, which she of course cannot have. It is something of the German in me that I tense where there is food that is going to go to waste, but we are not yet intimate enough that I can effortlessly snatch it off his plate with a contrived distraction. Then he offers it to me, which is second base in some quarters. I make a brief, token show of gustatory modesty, then break off a piece, well worth the potential faux pas of eating someone else's food so early into a friendship.

Susan says she would like to go thrift shopping, a topic of mutual appreciation between us, but she has to return to her sober grading. I wonder at trying to convince her -- I brought my camera specifically so that I might record a Goodwill outfit montage should one break out -- but assume her duty is inflexible.

(And, yes, I am aware that going to brunch with a philosophy professor and comedian while listening to rockabilly is just about the definition of whiteness, short of discussing our Roth IRAs and Black Lives Matter at a county club meeting with Ira Glass.)

Soon in Xenology: Apocalypse. Imbalance. Meaning. More Susan and David.

last watched: The Good Place
reading: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
listening: They Might be Giants

Dr. Susan | 2017 | The Neuroses of Accidental Lives

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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