I’ve spent half a century knocking my head against the wall because I really couldn’t accept this basic axiom: nothing works. I keep thinking all of these things should work, but sure as day becomes night, my never-looked-so-fabulous-but-can’t-stand-how-you-look tricenarian juniors, and my rapidly-approaching-hot flashes-creatively bursting-quadragenarian friends–nothing works. Oh, sure, some things work, but there’s always something else that doesn’t. Just when you get that something else handled, something else breaks down. So, when all is said and done one plus a negative is always nothing.
I went into Ralphs the other day. My car lined up with about four others to wait to even move to park, the air still and hot. California summer always comes in the Fall. It makes for really sucky pumpkin patch gathering. Anyway, if you don’t run the fan without the air conditioner when you turn it off for a couple minutes, that moldy smell builds up. So, I’m hot! Not moving. Circus elephants, tail to tail, trying to get their asses into the big tent. Horrible. No parking. I get into a space, finally, and go into the store to get the one ingredient I need. I look up and down the aisle. Each row, item by item. They don’t have it. Did I mention I’m on hold to find out if they do have it? Been on hold since before I pulled into the lot. I hang up. I look for help. No one. I go to the front of the store and the gentleman at the front desk tells me they stopped carrying it once they remodeled. I go back to the aisle where I left my cart (I’ll tell you, why not–the SPIRITS aisle) and shop for a few other items I can only get here since this isn’t my usual store to make the best of it, and get in line. Fifteen items or less [sic], baby. We’re moving. I get to the front.
“Did you find everything you need today?” young, dark hair, I don’t have enough details to tell you or a police artist.
“No, actually, I didn’t. Seems that you guys no longer carry triple sec.”
Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting, but okay wasn’t it. I wanted to call a Ralphs staff meeting on the spot:
‘Right, see guys, we are asking the question so that the customer thinks we care if we had the item. We don’t actually care. But we pretend that we care. Who can think of some ways we might you know, act like we care? Yes, you over there with the three kids, no husband, and nowhere to live starting next month?’
‘Um, we write down the item and say we’ll try to have it for them the next time they come in?’
‘Yes! Excellent!’ (tosses her a Ding Dong) ‘How about you, over there. Yes, you short guy in the front who worked the double on Christmas.”
‘Well, we can tell them how SORRY we are that we didn’t have it and apologize for their INCONVENIENCE.’
‘Yes! That’s the spirit! Have a Cola on us!’
Yeah. No. ‘Did you find everything you need? . . . Oh, okay’ just makes NO SENSE!!! Why ask?!
Nothing works. I can handle that plan to run out for triple sec so we could have pomegranate martinis with our Door Dashed dinner didn’t come together, though that was pretty disappointing both because, um, I wanted said cocktail, and because the whole purpose of delivery was really STUPID what with me driving to a store. And I worked my way through that hot, miserable parking lot. But once I hit the wall of that cashier asking if I’d found everything okay and then, well, just not getting she was supposed to care about my reply, well, that just touches some core level about humanity, and justice and what’s okay in the world.
I’m afraid, it’s on this level that nothing works, really works. Thank GOD inanity is a word, by the way. You and I really need it now, and it’s not because we have a presidential candidate who used the word pussy eleven years ago and plenty of men still use it now the same way. Go ahead and hate me because I like Howard Stern. #intellectualsandfeministsforhowardstern. I’d sooner have him for president than either of them. No. Inanity is we live in a culture that can’t agree whether or not we have to bleep out the word pussy, but thinks it just fine to let my twelve-year-old witness a presidential debate the likes of what we’ve just seen. This debate endures as his introduction to what an American presidential debate looks like. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that on some level this, too, is no longer working?
You’ll see. I’m not wrong about this. People are stupid and bad things happen, which means day in and day out, and in the course of your life, nothing works. The sooner you get your reasonable head wrapped around this seemingly unreasonable principle, the sooner you’ll stop banging it against a wall.
So, next time nothing works, which should be any minute now, grab it by the collar and give it a good choke hold and tell Nothing you knew it was coming. And when it’s done its inevitable category 1 or 4 destruction, and has wreaked its havoc on your moment, your day, your life, your country, throw it back here on the page for all of us to see.
We’ll have our own little staff meeting. I’ll serve pomegranate martinis. You want Ding Dongs? I’ve got a couple of those around, too. Come as you are. Nothing works, but everything matters.