I fell asleep while writing this last night. With a more wakeful mind, I’m not really sure where this is going, but I’m excited to find out. Enjoy!
“I will never amount anything. Everything I have ever done is meaningless. Why should I try anymore when I know I’m going to fail?
“I. Give. Up.”
Or something like that. That’s the general sentiment of the self-pitying soliloquy I whispered into my beer that night at the bar. I downed what was left of it, shoved the glass off to the side and plonked my head on the bar.
“Hey buddy, ya mind?” the bartender reproached me. “If yer thinkin’ of passin’ out, I’m gonna have to ask ya to take it elsewhere.”
I didn’t raise my head as I replied in a monotone: “Not me. I’m great. Keep ’em coming barkeep. And do you have anything with a euthanasia chaser?”
“What you sayin’ about Asian kids?”
I sighed. “Nothing. Just… nothing. But if you’ve got any rat poison in the back, I’d appreciate a bit of that in my next drink.”
Now he understood. “Oh, hey man, I wasn’t tryna cause nuthin’. I just don’t want no passed out drunks in this here reputable ah-stablishment is all.” He gestured vaguely around the dank and lifeless bar.
I lifted my head slowly, and looked him in the eyes; held it for a second; then dropped my gaze down to my hands, which were laced together in my lap.
“It’s not you. I just… It’s just so frustrating to go into work every day and work my ass off so that someone else can get credit for it, and then I get to inherit the extra work they pull in with their new title and corner office.” I was getting fired up now. “And then I try to do something about it, like—I don’t know—apply somewhere else; my boss catches wind of it and he fires me! Right there in front of everyone.”
“Jesus man, that’s rough. Lemme get ya another drink. But this one’s on me.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it.” I attempted a smile. “I’m sorry to bring all this negativity into the bar. I’ve just… have you ever reached a point where you thought that things were fucked up so badly that you’d never get your life back on course again? Not that I want to get back on that course. But just any course? Like, say my dream was to one day become a doctor: I could go back to college, take the MCAT and maybe even get accepted into a good school. But I just don’t think I could go beyond there. I’m a small fish living in a big pond, and the only thing I’m good for is being the bigger fish’s bitch, until I get swallowed whole by a shark.”
The bartender smiled grimly and plonked the next beer in front of me. “Well now, I don’t want to cheapen yer pain or nuthin’, but it sounds to me like yer only hurtin’ yerself with that kind of talk. I see it all the time workin’ in this bar. Folks come in feelin’ all sorry for themselves and turn to drinkin’ the pain away rather than tryna do somethin’ about it.”
“Sounds like good business,” I said with as little sarcasm as I could manage.
He glared slightly, then raised his eyebrows and conceded: “Well, that it is. But ya know what it becomes? A self-filling prophecy.” He nodded his head as if to ensure that his point was hammered home.
“A self-fulfilling prophecy?” I corrected.
“That’s right. Ya see, somewhere there’s this guy who calls himself the self-fulfilling prophet, and he doesn’t think nobody is capable of doin’ nothin’. And if ya give up, all ya do is prove him right.” He left me to ponder this as he went to tend to a new customer who had just taken a place down at the other end of the bar.
Looking at this new guy, I saw in him the same dead eyes and inner turmoil that I glimpsed in myself in the mirror every morning. He probably hated his job, and his life, and himself. Just like I did. And, if the bartender’s unique take on ‘self-fulfilling prophecies’ was to be believed, we both had this asshole, the self-fulfilling prophet to thank for it.
Where was the justice? Why should I have to work so hard just get to fired when there were people all over in positions of power who hardly had to do a damn thing and were rich? I don’t know what exactly did it, but I was suddenly overcome by the outrage of the situation. I chugged the rest of my beer in two gulps, slammed the glass down on the bar along with a twenty dollar bill, and then strode out the door of the place into the street.
“Come back again,” I heard from the bartender as the door swung shut. Fuck no, I thought. I’m leaving this place. I don’t have a job and there’s nobody who would really give a damn whether I was here, or in some other town, or rotting in prison somewhere on the other side of the planet.
And you really have to understand the kind of mindset I was in by this point to get why I thought this next thing made sense. I thought: I’m going to go find that sonofabitch self-fulfilling prophet, and I’m going to kick his ass…
end of part one
(to part two)