People Keep Thinking I Speak in Wise Metaphors But I’m a Literal Idiot
I don’t think of myself as an especially wise person, but occasionally I do have revelations. This morning, for example, I told the barista making my latte that I had just realized something very important. “You can’t go through life with your emergency brake on,” I said. “It just creates friction and then when you actually need to stop, your regular brakes aren’t even working. They’ve been burned away. In the long run, you might find yourself without a ride. You’ll be stuck where you are until you can get it fixed.”
She smiled and said I was being really “deep”, which was a weird thing to say. I took my latte and went outside to wait for the tow truck to arrive.
While I was sitting on the curb, my best friend called to tell me that his girlfriend had just broken up with him. He was nearly in tears.
“Listen Keegan,” I told him, “There are a lot of fish in the sea. And you used to be the greatest fisherman. I can remember taking the boat out with you in those dark salt-scoured mornings, and we’d stay out until the sun rose, and sometimes you or I would land a fish, and sometimes not, but it didn’t matter, you know? We were in that boat together, and there would always be the chance of more fish the next day. You just need to remember what that’s like. Ever since you started dating, I’ve been fishing alone, and it’s just not as fun. My boat isn’t as good. We should get back out there together and fish to our heart’s content.”
“You’re right,” said Keegan bravely. “God, I’ve been so upset that I haven’t even thought about that. I’m still young, and I’ll meet someone else. Thanks, you’re the greatest.”
He hung up. I smiled and thought about how nice it would be to go fishing with Keegan again. His boat really was much nicer than mine. Its powerful engine could take us much farther out to sea, where there was more chance of reeling in a really great fish, like a swordfish or a turtle.
At this point a homeless man ambled over. “Spare some change?” he inquired.
“Uh, hang on, let me see.” I rummaged in my pocket. “I don’t have much on me. Money just kind of slips through my fingers. It might as well be oiled, you know? I try to hold tight, but it’s as if I become clumsy and weak the moment I have any; I lose my grip on it and the next thing I know I’m watching it tumble away. I’m really starting to give up hope that I’ll ever be able to hold onto cash for more than a couple seconds.”
“Don’t I know it,” chuckled the homeless man. “I could never save up either. It’s a good thing you’ve learned this about yourself at such a young age. You’re a wise person. Wiser than I was, that’s for sure.”
I finally found a quarter in my pocket and reached out to hand it to the homeless man, but I misjudged how tightly to grip it in my fingers and with the motion of my arm it went sailing across the street.
“Hey!” said the homeless man angrily. “You think you’re funny, do you?”
I tried to tell him that I had just explained how often I drop coins, but he charged at me and I was occupied with fighting for my life. Fortunately a woman came running over and separated us.
“Is that any way to behave?” she berated us. “You are fellow human beings. Why are you hurting each other?”
“It’s true,” I said remorsefully. I looked at the homeless man. “When you punch yourself, you might not realize how hard you’ve hit yourself at first. The skin stays unbroken, and you’re too worked up with the adrenaline. You don’t even know why you’re punching yourself. Maybe you were lashing out at something annoying, like a fly or a stupid song. But later you’ll start to bruise, and it’ll hurt, and you’ll carry the mark around for days. In the end, your aim was bad and you’re the only one who was hurt.”
“Wow, I’ve never heard a pacifist philosophy expressed so well,” said the woman, impressed. “That’s some really sage advice.”
“I’m sorry I swung at you,” said the homeless man. “You’re a good person, I can see that now. And you sure have a way with words.”
“You should be sorry,” said the woman. “Look at that black eye you gave him!”
“That was there before!” the homeless man objected. “I didn’t do that.”
“No, it was me,” I said. “I was trying to punch a fly out of the air yesterday and I missed.”