As he talked
his brow furrowed and his color ran high.
The rant gained momentum.
I could feel him
At its crest his neck looked like a sunburn and
two scarlet dots painted his cheeks:
as we do,
working himself up to a
declaration of sorts.
All the usual cliches about thunderheads apply.
I will not -- no, I cannot -- surrender!
Disinterested in this performance art piece
having seen it many times and performed it myself
to smatterings of applause and
tepid reviews in my out-of-town tryouts.
(Everybody's a critic.)
I will not -- I cannot -- surrender!
It's not who I am
how I roll
what I do
how I goal
I have achieved and purchased and financed and leased!
I have big and important and special and brand!
I have more than you do -- I am more than you are -- than anyone does than anyone is
in that sad circle of chairs.
As is often the case
in moments like this,
the chin is up,
the shoulders back;
a noble tableaux
of delusion and defiance.
Who, exactly, are you rebelling against? I sometimes want to ask.
But then I think how disinterested I am in their answer, and
leave the question
for them to discover for themselves
if they make it.
You will not -- cannot -- surrender?
Okay, then. Don't.
Huh? Wha? Buh?
Then don't, I shrug, already wishing I was
home with a book and a cup and a cat in my lap.
Their defiance was a warm blanket to them but I've never been much for reruns.
And if you win, then congrats and huzzah and my hat is off to you;
I'll send you a card.
And if you lose,
and if you live,
there is a chair for you there,
in that circle of chairs,
reserved for all those who,
had their ass fully kicked until they realized
the fight was in fact over a long time ago.
Confidentially, I said, leaning in,
I lost pretty much right after I stepped into the ring.
All the rest was just the press release my pride tried to issue,
with my face pressed against the canvas long after the final bell.
(Do not ask for whom the bell... aw hell. Skip it.)
He looked so stunned. Apparently my verbal right cross was the wrong line.
I guess I'd gone off book.
He couldn't process this uscripted opposite in his contempt
I suspect I was cast as salesman for the cause or
sympathy for the rebel.
Sadly, I really
suck at those now.
Don't surrender till you know you've lost.
Cliche, I know, but that is then
the first moment when
have a fighting chance.
He sat there, poleaxed, unsure if I mocked or misunderstood
his brave speech.
I left a tip for the waiter and headed home.
There was fresher company
in my book