Eat at Joe's: Captain Kirk & The Seven Sins of Buddha

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
John sits in a diner with his friend. Their frivolous pop culture conversation covers everything from hated bands and actresses to the latest shenanigans of crazy Moammar Gaddafi. Underneath the surface deeper issues plague John's mind. What is his purpose in life and how does he fit into the world?

Submitted: March 22, 2011

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Submitted: March 22, 2011



My spoon clinks off the inside of my mug as I stir my coffee. It is a Wednesday afternoon and I’m ensconced in my usual booth at Joe’s Diner.  Through the rain streaked window I can make out the blurred forms of people hurrying through the storm. Collars turned up and soaked newspapers draped over their heads bleeding ink on to their shoulders. They have somewhere to be, somewhere to go, somewhere they’ll be missed. They brave the elements because they have responsibility. More than that they have purpose. I have no purpose. I sit in this dreary diner awaiting the end to this dreary weather so I can go home and wait some more. I wait for my life to start. I wait for that inspiration to pull myself up by my bootstraps and make something of myself. I’m waiting for a reason to join those people out in the rain. 
Slap! The noise is small and accompanied by a tiny cold wet feeling in center of my forehead. I wipe away the small wad of paper as it begins to dribble, and shake free the residue from my hands. I look across the booth to the source of the ambush. A plastic straw protrudes from the grinning mouth of my compatriot Jamie. He looks pleased with himself. Withdrawing the straw he said, “As I was saying before you nodded off I can’t stand Juliet Lewis.”
“The actress?” I asked.
“If you want to call her that. She’s awful. Everything she says has the mongoloid twang to it. You know that movie ‘The Other Sister’ where she plays a mentally handicapped girl? Well let’s just say she didn’t have to prepare too hard for that role.”
As I listen to Jamie babble on about Juliet Lewis being brain damaged I can’t help but think of how much my time I’ve wasted in conversations like this one. We’ve been coming to Joe’s after class three days a week since we met in an Intro to Nonverbal Communication class as freshman. Jamie’s final project was on the variety of ways different cultures told each other to go fuck themselves. Now though we seniors, and with the question of ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’ looming over our heads I was feeling substantial pressure.
 I look around the diner at all the patrons enjoying their lunch. Across the aisle and three booths away a man in a red plaid flannel shirt and John Dear trucker hat eats a corned beef sandwich. His fingernails have a substantial amount of dirt underneath them.  As the sandwich comes level with his mouth his lips part revealing a row yellow, skuzzy looking teeth. He rips a hunk of beef and rye away, and as he chews he looks up making eye contact with me. It is now I realize the look of disgust on my face, and I hastily avert my gaze. Jamie is still talking about Juliet Lewis, oblivious to my lack of attention to him. 
“… wanted to throw myself off a cliff after seeing ‘Cold Creek Manor’, but that was mostly Dennis Quaid’s fault.”
“Do you ever get the feeling that we spend way too much time talking about arbitrary topics? I mean yesterday we spent three hours discussing how lame Foghat is.”
“I hate Foghat! It was such a crime that Rolling Stone named them as one of the…”
Zoning out again, I have a sneaking suspicion that Jamie missed my point. The rain lets up a little and can see a nurse waiting at the bus stop.  Now that’s a career. It’s not just some 9-5 job that has no meaning; it’s purposeful. It seems like it would be hard, but rewarding. The sense of joy they must get when saving someone’s –. The fork hit me just above the right eye, and landed on the table with a clatter. 
“Hey I’m talking about Foghat here! What could be more important than that John?” Jamie had an incredulous look on his face.
I decided to try to enlighten him one more time. “As I was saying I think we focus too much time on arbitrary topics like hoping Britney Spears gets diabetes, or the black hole of acting talent that is William Shatner…”
“Yes well, prosthetic chests aside, I think we should do something meaningful with our time, and since we’re too lazy to do that we should at least talk about something meaningful.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“How about politics?”
“Well I didn’t think things could’ve gotten worse after ‘dub-ya.’ I always thought of him as Lennie from Of Mice and Men and America as his puppy. But there are more crazies out there now than before. For every Christine O’Donnell that gets knocked down there's like a billion more lunatics waiting to take her place. And now it seems like there’s a war in the media for the title of ‘Most Bat Shit Insane World Leader.’  Do you even remember that Egyptian dude? He was hot shit for a couple of weeks.  He was like ‘I have heard my people and I will appoint a vice-president. Never mind that he is the same guy who runs my secret police and maybe the only person in Egypt more hated than me. Oh and look out for the police throwing molotov cocktails at you. Your welcome.’ And then all of sudden, like a week later we’re not even talking about him because Gaddafi is threatening air bomb his own people and writing letters to Obama calling him his son, and telling him he still loves him. And here I thought his dad was Kenyan. Speaking of Gaddafi, did you know he stylizes himself ‘Colonel’? You’d think after fifty years of ruling that place he’d give himself a promotion.”
I stared at him, “Is everything you say in rant form?”
“How long have you known me? This is the way I am. That hyco I did last semester went on for like twenty minutes.”
“Yeah and you failed that,” I remembered. “Didn’t it start off being about one of the approved topics like a flower or something and ended up on something arbitrary like the pros and cons of Captain Kirk wearing a girdle?”
“Don’t call Kirk arbitrary. Haven’t you seen that show ‘How William Shatner Changed the World’?”
“No, Have you?”
“No, but I don’t have see it. All the evidence I need is right their in the title.”
I sigh and look away. I can hear him explaining the intricate details of how Shatner continues to succeed at something everyone knows he can’t do. He makes comparisons to Keanu Reeves, then John Travolta, and then we’re right back on Juliet Lewis.  I turn my head to the kitchen. There I see our regular waitress Doris picking up four piping hot plates of food from the counter and bustle over to a table of waiting high school kids that are clearly cutting class. She knows the tip will be poor. She leads a noble life of hard work, but with little thanks either from those who know her personally or the broader view the masses have for an occupation such as hers. Perhaps it’s satisfying in its own way, but I want no part of it. 
I have to move on somehow. And I refuse to do it alone. Now is the time to wake Jamie from his slumber and together we will go forth into the unknowable, the unexplored expanses of the rest of our lives, and it will be glorious! Now though he’s ranting about something.
“… and did you know Marvel just sold the rights to the Dr. Strange movie? I like Dr. Strange, but come on is he really a strong enough character to hold up a movie by himself? They’ll probably get Michael Bay to direct. He hasn’t sunk a promising screenplay since the last Transformers movie. Granted that was the last film he directed, but he’ll bounce back. He’ll probably cast Ben Affleck as Dr. Strange. You know they worked together in that great cinematic epic Pearl Harbor. Seriously though after seeing that movie I couldn’t hold down any solid food for a week, it was like I’d had an iced tea from Mexico City I was so sick… Hey what’s the matter with you?” Jamie stopped mid rant, and was looking at me with a mildly concerned look on his face.
“Look Jamie I really think we need to get out there and do something meaningful with ourselves. No more time spent playing video games, or reading comic books, or ranting for hours about capricious topics like Juliet Lewis and Foghat…”
“I hate Foghat!”
“… I just think that we ought to be giving something back to our fellow man.”
“Why? Not that I don’t like our fellow man,” he said holding up his hands. “But why do we have to do more. I mean I give to charities, and help stranded motorists if their car breaks down on the side of the road…”
“Did you just say motorists?”
“… and I don’t litter and I drive a Prius, which aside from being really pretentious helps the environment.  Well actually it doesn’t help, but it does less damage than your car Mr. ’95 escort. It looks like you’re on fire when you drive down the road, you can see a plume of smoke coming from a mile away. So why am I obligated to do more?”
I shake head my, but a smirk finds its way onto my face despite myself. “You’re going to hell. You know that right?” I said in mocking tone.
“Well there’s no motivator like eternal damnation, but I don’t believe in hell,” he said now smiling too.
“I just don’t want my life to be a waste. I feel that as a member of the human race I should contribute somehow. Actually I want more than that. I want to be remembered. I want to do something that’ll go into the history books. I want to save the world.”
“Like Master Chief?”
“You’re such an idiot. 
“Look, your not wasting anything. You have all kinds of time to do something noteworthy. You’ve got to wait for your inspiration. That’s not something you can force.”
Jamie is more full of shit than anyone I have ever met, but as he spoke I slowly came out of the funk I’d been in all day. As this happened I realized that I’d been feeling that way for much longer than a day. I wasn’t really convinced of anything he said, but I felt much better regardless; as if a shadow cast over all I could see was lifted. The more rational side of my brain suspected this feeling might be just another symptom of whatever mental illness I surely had, but my hopefully ignorant side quashed that thought for being too hard to resolve. “So what do we do now?”
Jamie furrowed his brow in mock concentration, “Halo?”

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