Mr. Cope's Cave: We're Off 

Is anything wrong, Mr. Cope?

Why would you ask that?

Lately, you seem a little... uh... off. Like... distant. Or maybe distracted.

I don't know what you're talking about, Sonny. What the hell do you mean off?

Your blog last Monday, for instance. It was so short. It was more like a tweet, and not one of the happy kind, either. I'm used to you writing these long, rambling, over-blown, wordy, windy, pompous, bloated, meandering...

All right! I get your point. I just didn't much feel like writing Monday. Anything wrong with that?

It wasn't like you, is all I'm saying.

Yeah, well, I've had lot on my mind.

Do you want to talk about it?

With you? No. Ab-so-lute-ly not.

Why not me? What's wrong with me?

You're just not the person I'd chose to be having a meaningful conversation with about what's on my mind right now, that's all.

Golly, Mr. Cope. I thought we'd gotten to be sorta close, even though you don't seem to know my name. Like... I thought maybe you actually liked me. Or something.

Look, Iggy, I do like you. Or something. But what's on my mind isn't a discussion I want to have with someone like you.

What do you mean? Who's someone like me?

Someone young.

Ooooooh, I think I get it. Something else on your body is going kerflooey from age, and you don't think a young person can relate to that. What is it this time? I'll bet it's your bladder. I've noticed how often you have to go to the bath...

It's not my bladder.

Well if it were your bladder, it's nothing to be ashamed of, Mr. Cope. Why, my mom put a television in my grampa's bathroom because he was spending so much time in there.

It's not my f***ing bladder! The reason I don't want to talk to you or any other young person about this is because I have about 40 years of living under my belt that you won't have for another 40 years, and there's no way we can relate to one another because even if somehow I could go back in time... or if you could go ahead in time... our lives will still have been lived in different times with different experiences and different realities, and I might as well be trying to explain what's on my mind to a Martian. Savvy?

There are no Martians, Mr. Cope. Mars can't support...

That's exactly what I mean. See, early in my life, we still thought there was a possibility there might be Martians. It wasn't until later that any last chance of that being possible was eliminated. But you grew up with the reality that there are absolutely no Martians. Right from the get go, you learned there is no possibility that we will ever run into anything on Mars that we could have a conversation with. So when I say something like, "I might as well be talking to a Martian," you're sitting there thinking I'm either a fool, or worse, that I'm prejudiced against Martians.

Is this really about Martians, Mr. Cope?

Well of course it's not about f***king Martians. It's about coming from different frames of reference. It's about having what we say to one another misinterpreted because we're essentially speaking different languages, even if the only difference is temporal. It's about how it takes some perspective and distance to realize most of what we are at any given moment... our politics, our faiths, what makes us happy or what makes us sad... all of that wasn't the same earlier, and it won't be the same later.

Do you mean... like... uh... er... now what is it that you mean?

It's like, for example, we aren't born liberals. Or conservatives, for that matter. We aren't born Methodists or jazz lovers or vegans or Second Amendment advocates or Masons or proponents of socialized medicine or white supremacists or Stephen King fans or none of that frontal lobe stuff. And it's not like somebody pours a quart of liberal juice in our ear and bingo!... we're a full-blown liberal, instantly. No, whatever we are, we evolve to be. Over time, we find we like this and don't like that, and eventually, we become what we are because we chose it. Each one of us, at his own pace, usually without even noticing it's happening. Did you think about what you turned into while you were turning into it, Binky?

Uh... I guess not. But I haven't really thought about it.

And that's because you're not even aware it's there to be thought about until after it happens. Then to further complicate matters, we all come to what we are now through different avenues with different turns and different dead ends and different landmarks, all depending on the time frame in which we lived and the prevailing winds of that time frame. Get it? Do you get what I mean? Whatever combination of life experiences that turned... say, John Steinbeck or Eleanor Roosevelt into liberals, isn't going to be the same combination that turned Ted Kennedy or Barack Obama or me into liberals. So what is of the utmost importance to one liberal might or might not even make another liberal's list.

Mr. Cope, is there something specific that got you to thinking all this stuff?

Yes. You could say that. Something happened, yes. And it made me feel... it made me feel...


Worst than that. It made me feel out of touch. Let me tell you something, Thumper. I'll take a bum bladder any day, over feeling out of touch.

Maybe you'd feel better if you tell me about it?

Tell you? No. Ab-so-lute-ly not.

Why not? Why not me? What's wrong with me?

I told you. You're young.

Is it maybe that by telling me, you think that I, too, will think you're out of touch?

Uuuuum... listen, Opie. Will you excuse me? I have to go to the bathroom.
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