Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Lesli was fiddling with a bag from the airport cafe when a distinguished gentleman in a flat beanie and a beautifully-carved walking stick of redwood and a gold eagle cap lumbered along to her to help. also, he had a curvy beard and one wrinkle, two hands and unpolished walking shoes which blended with the airport floor. no earrings. when he laughed his belly shook like a bowlful of diet orange marmalade.

Lesli: next. (with bright eyes)

Duvid: let me help you with that, young lady. (he instead of going for the top of the bag, slides his finger along a secret tab in the middle of the package for easier close and open). there.

Lesli: well how about that?! you made my day, mister! that's a switch from normal. it was good enough to just steal the last bag of mint Oreos, but that little trick makes the happy glow more.

Duvid: what's old is new again (obviously referencing his age). just remember, child, and i say this not because i'm old, but because i've survived: as with bad things, good things, too: this, too, shall pass.

Lesli: okay, starting off on an awkward foot (she thought). usually i'm the one in command seconds upon the first chitchat. let's see where this goes. could be my first equal ever, my first real challenge. (and now speaking out loud:) what's your name, old timer?

Duvid: Duvid. but you probably didn't get that the first time around from how i pronounced it. no one does. just be like everyone else and call me David, or DaVID with the stress on the second syllable if you want to be erudite. i come from Spain, from a little village called San Puebla.

Lesli: it's a sin to be like everyone else. ah, yes. but why is everyone from a small village? all the good stories come from the small obscure villages which are now lost to time. you mean to tell me New York doesn't have its tales of woe?

Duvid: please, have a seat, my dogs are barking. (he got her first again!) in my town, we are all so knew i would say that...we are all so poor everyone in the village has the one dog as their house pet, we share him, bless his puppy heart.

Lesli: a village dog isn't that strange.

Duvid: i'm Jewish. it's a sin in our village to root for anyone but Raphael Nadal.

Lesli: (eyes light up) ah, i got you now, old man. tennis is my wheelhouse. i'm a diehard Federer fan from way back. well, it was Sampras first for me, but the transition to Fed was so seamless.

Duvid: aye. of course you'd be a Fed fan when i'm Nadal, this is the fate of the world. i love both players, but the online fans of each player have ruined tennis permanently.

Lesli: agreed. the problem was Fed was too good. if he were just Berdych, the fans wouldn't become trolls. but because Fed has the most Grand Slams ever, he is always in the conversation of being the GOAT, the Greatest of All Time, and because that is such a hazy subject which spans all of the tennis players who have ever played in the history of the world, it's ripe for trolls to come out of their basements to make their cases and curse those who disagree.

Duvid: very insightful, my androgynous friend. that is exactly right. and to top it all off, you have Nadal who has been Federer's greatest nemesis in their careers. Nadal has treated Fed like a ragdoll at times, beating him soundly. so then the argument goes: how can Fed be the greatest of all time when there's Nadal here who so routinely is able to defeat Fed like he were another Berdych? does not compute. how can the GOAT have a glaring weakness like that, a huge thorn in his tennis elbow?

Lesli: you hurt me with this information, but i know intellectually it is true. the Fed fans try to gloss over these facts by casting Nadal in a negative light: maybe Nadal's a steroid cheat, he picks at his butt when he's playing, picks at his shorts annoyingly, his hard-nosed grindstone style of spins is a horror to watch, nothing like the fluid grace of the ballet Fed puts on when he glides over the grass with ease. but facts are facts. and the fact is Nadal is close to surpassing Fed's all-time record.

Duvid: this brings me to the heart of the matter, the real thing which must be faced. life. life itself, especially those who dream big and carry with them a life's goal. when you are born, you can take two roads, the easy or the hard. the easy lets go of dreams very early because they cannot be achieved, at least not with a strenuous amount of work. i was a good student. i did well in Kindergarten and First Grade. before i knew it, my madre wanted me to ace Second Grade. i hadn't planned on that, i didn't make any plans at all, but i also had to go to school for 23 hours a day, so i figured i might as well make the most. i was the top student in my class, always, always the one with the 4.0 first, 3rd through 8th Grades and into high school. now the stakes were higher, it wasn't just me gliding like Federer along the path of life getting the occasional B+ mixed in with the A. no, i was always to get straight As, that was my thing now, that was my identity. i had strung together many years of life, not a freak science test pass here or a stray A on a pop quiz there, this was my very work, my life's mission, my career, i had become a lifelong student who always studied instead of partied and did well on standardized tests. this string of my successes had added up to something more. the whole was greater than the parts: if i continued on this glorious path, i could attend college free and continue grinding out those As. this was my journey, a journey i didn't choose but was chosen for me by my early performance. what was the endgame, though? what was the final result of me working hard my entire life, year after year after year after year? if i didn't get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, what were all the As for? could i cash in those As at a local ATM? did i get the girl at the end of the double rainbow? did i marry Miss Puebla?

Lesli: .........................

Duvid: no, to make a long story short, i did not. i smoked weed for the first time the night before my first college chemistry lab and went into another kind of chemistry. Ds followed, douchebags followed, Fs followed, frats followed, and i became another university statistic. no girl, not even the dogs. that is the terror.

Lesli: ...........................terror? oh, btw, do you drink coffee straight-up black without cream nor sugar like a virile man?

Duvid: yes, but i am not a man. i'm trying to tell you that i'm a human, a scared human like everyone else. if everything had just gone down the way it was destined, then EVERYTHING, my ENTIRE LIFE would have added up to something, i would have gotten something tangible from my life's work, someone i could taste: a wife, a job that didn't end in suicide, fame. when you work and end up with nothing, what was the point? your life is a waste, all the papers and quizzes and tests are floating down in the bottom of the ocean.

Lesli: how's your slice serve? that was the last thing i learned, that was the most difficult for me.

Duvid: thus it is with Fed and Nadal. Fed worked fucking hard to get all of his Slams, a lifetime, a career hitting that stupid fuzzy ball across the net to achieve immortality. but it's only immortal if no one ever surpasses his mark. be honest, you sweat bullets every time Nadal steps on court at a new Grand Slam when he's healthy, when his knees are able to hold his weight, because you know here's another chance for Nadal to cut into Fed's lead. Fed will never win any more Slams, his mark is set in stone, he's hoping no one else gets to his height because he himself is now unable to lift himself higher. Fed prays now, relying on angels to do his work for him, for he cannot anymore. Nadal still has self-powering juice in him, and i'm not talking about drugs. can you believe Nadal didn't cash in the Australian Open Slam this year playing first-time finalist Wawrinka? talk about silver platter.

Lesli: i know, biggest upset of all time. i was sure Nadal would have creeped closer to my husband Fed. i admit it, i do get scared all the time.

Duvid: so now, child, imagine the worst, imagine the day Nadal does eventually surpass Fed's lifetime mark. how will you feel? how will Fed feel? Fed will no longer be the greatest player of all time, he'll be just another player. we'll look upon him fondly like we do Sampras, but he'll be one paragraph in the book with Nadal on the cover. Fed will disappear into the ether, his very existence questioned 100 years of solitude from now. are you crying?

Lesli: no, i can't fake things, but i will cry when that day comes, certainly. i get you, David, and i understand your Goliath. lifetime achievements breathe meaning into a person's life, his entire existence rests on a certain number he is able to achieve through a lifetime of work, a number no one else has achieved, it puts him high on a pedestal with the other ant humans looking up. when the pedestal crumbles, what is this man now? is he even a man anymore? is he a woman? i try to be neither gender.

Duvid: no, he is naught, a zero, a cypher, he never lived, erased from the history books. think of Pangaea. what was life like then? those humans (or whatevers) are long gone, taking their secrets with them to their graves buried under millions (billions) of years of silt. the modern humans pretend those early humans never existed, they don't follow anything the apes tried to do to live, it's all stupid now, we modern eggheads know more science than the cavemen could ever know, so what's the point? the early ancestors never existed, all that matters is right now, now, NOW. everything is like this. sex is like this. back in the '80s, i had to make my sex tapes using


Lesli: are you sure all of this isn't you regretting getting old, mister?

Lesli closed her eyes to process as she often did. she was androgynous, she looked like Tilda Swinton, she wanted Tilda Swinton to play her in the movie, she dressed sharply, but she'd be damned if she were another Ellen or Bowie, she was her own creation, and she was no fool. the old man made sense, he taught her something, which was impossible. where was the glitch? where was the programming error? she had to find it.

she also started to imagine her parents having sex. it had to happen at some point, for she is born. she wondered if her mom liked anal. if Daddy was rough. to get these thoughts out of her mind, she downed some black coffee.

Duvid noticed Lesli's glass look and proceeded to hug her, he gave her a big bear hug but not before whacking her on her dyed-blonde head first.

Lesli: what the fuck?

Duvid: sorry, my cane got in the way of the hug.

Lesli: that was a little bit harder than an accidental swing there, that seemed to have some unconscious juice behind it.

Duvid just stood there smirking, looking drunk thought he wasn't. his juicy lips made the shape of sticking out one's tongue though his tongue wasn't sticking out.

this wasn't like last time. Lesli wasn't the director of the play this time, controlling the lights and the airport power. this Santa Claus wannabe had gotten under her skin, where everything had been heretofore pristine and clean. it was dirty now, she was dirty inside like all of the best NIN tracks. it was uncomfortable, exhilarating, no just uncomfortable. this wise sage was fucking her.

Duvid (leaving but not before reading her mind): i don't want to fuck. i'm not fucking, just steering, guiding. that hug was for later, save it, savor it, you'll need it for later. i have a feeling it will hit you, hit you hard some day, maybe tomorrow here at this airport, maybe later. the whole life-achievement disappearing without a trace. it's a mindfuck. that's the real fuck. save my hug, it's hot comfort when you really really really think about things, think about your life, think about life, the past, the deep past, Pangaea...the forgotten, those that are forgotten.

Lesli: ..............

Duvid: where's the bathroom?

Lesli: go in this plant.

fuck, this was serious, the tables had been turned somehow, Lesli didn't ask for this, the morn started out so bright with the cookies. want a cookie? want a cookie for surviving life like everyone else does? for not killing yourself...yet?

Lesli realized something very disturbing. self-analysis was coming, and it would not be pretty. the future was dark, even the blinding airport lights couldn't shine it under the shag carpet. this was not some magical Tony Robbins Deepak Chopra self-help shit-peddling anymore, this was real.

this is....................................fucking real.




Jules said...

Wow. There are stories within stories within stories here, my sweet Phoenix ;)

Excellently crafted, as usual. Moving, liberating and stultifying. So many tangents to an answer.

I think Duvid should realise just what his straight A's did for him. There's not always an end golden prize. The prize is now. Yes, right fucking now.

Ok, pass me a cookie....

the late phoenix said...

thank you, my love, the mint Oreos are on me when we have that Cinnabon! i can relate to Duvid's frustrations. actually, i am Duvid. except for the Nadal stuff. Santa is cool, though. also, i always wanted to twirl around a pimp cane walking down the street.

the name was in tribute to the excellent Film School Short "Duvid" i watched this week :)

Jules said...

Yes Duvid, I'll hold you to that.

Share the link to said "Duvid" if you will. I'd like to see it.

the late phoenix said...

if you look at my liked videos on my youtube channel, it's the first one at top there, the full film. this is my kind of filmmaking, it's religious Skins!

Cheeky Minx said...

If I tickle you, will your belly shake like a bowlful of diet orange marmalade? (I'm in love with that phrase...)

And if I do, can I have that hug for later?

Juliette is so right - you weave such an intricate narrative web. I feel drunk, intoxicated. Or maybe that's the crumbs? Or the heightened sense of duration and time? I swear I can feel Bergson and Deleuze in your words, sitting around the corner, drinking their coffee black like real men.

Amazing, gorgeous. Just amazing...

the late phoenix said...

cheeky: thank you so much, my gorgeous friend, i appreciate you.

yes and yes, except i don't do diet. i figure if you're gonna go marmalade, you gotta go all the way marmalade.

yeah, here's me trying to be a man: *takes a small sip of the black coffee*, *pauses to ponder for two seconds*, *ends experiment and quickly adds milk and sugar*