Friday, May 07, 2010

Apathy Man

Dear ______ ,

People like to give you a hard time. About living at home, not going back to school, still working at the cannery, etc.

And I invite you to just go ahead and ignore them. Why can’t he? Why won’t he? Why doesn’t he? You understand that these people are just using you so they can feel less lost. (Whether or not they give a damn is an entirely separate question.) They want to feel good they stayed on the path all this time. The well-worn, signposted path.

But there is no reason, therefore, that you should feel lost. Just for the convenience of those people. Just so they can feel less lost.

You get it, don’t you?

Obviously you do. You’ve done the math few would dare to do, as you revealed to me one day, down in the family basement.

The basement, which smells of pumpkin bread and boiled pork, of whiskey, and exhaustion. The basement where, like a triple X theater, it is always 2:30 in the morning, where you continue even now to live, where your mother toils to keep it all seamlessly and intolerably moving, where your father sits all night in the corner like an angelfish stuck to the filter.

In the basement you explained it all to me. You told me about Apathy Man.

Apathy Man has the powers of all the superheroes. He’s as strong as Superman, as clever as Batman, as nimble as Spiderman. He can leap over buildings, transform himself, save pretty girls, fly.

This power does not derive from a spider bite, from the planet Krypton, but simply from the understanding that, no matter how bad the situation, no matter how bleak things appear, things could always be far, far worse.

Apathy Man can do anything he chooses. Except that he won't do anything at all. If you call him for help he says I’ll be right over. But Apathy Man never shows up. He can’t be bothered.

It might seem like all those super powers are just wasted on Apathy Man.

But, as it turns out, apathy is a very special super power all its own. When the universe is entirely destroyed, as now and then it must be, when the universe is totally pulverized, when the other super heroes are a distant memory, when not even atoms remain intact --

Somehow Apathy Man survives. Apathy Man remains to inhabit the next universe, to create the world anew.

That is, if he gets around to it.

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