Friday, November 16, 2012

This Is Not Paul Giamatti

This is not a pipe.

You know, it isn't right that I keep mentioning Paul Giamatti, as if the real man is my story.  Sorry about that. I keep imagining the finesse that the real man could put onto playing the role of the insomniac.

This poor guy needs a name.  Chester Baumgarten?  Harold Unterbrau?  One of his coworkers could call him 'hold the wonderbra.' Harvey Westminster, maybe?  With that last one, people be constantly asking him, "How is the good queen today, Harvey?"  You could picture his response after he hears this line thirty or forty times. 

In the morning, he'd try to use the toilet and find there was no toilet paper.  He'd step on dirty laundry lying in front of the washer, trying to reach the rolls of toilet paper that are stored on the top shelf.  It never occurs to him to move them to a lower shelf now that his wife has left.  They cascade down onto his head.  He misses one of the rolls.  It falls behind the cat's litter box, which hasn't been cleaned in a while.  The grit from loose bits of cat litter stick to Harvey's bare feet.  Within a month, that roll of toilet paper will be crusty from getting a little wet and stuck all over with little clumps. 

Harvey gets into the shower, but the hot water runs out almost immediately because his daughter got in before him and stood there under the hot water for forty-five minutes.  The kids come and go while he tries to get out of the shower with a little decorum.  He realizes that he still has shampoo in his hair when he combs his hair.  He rubs it with a towel and it lathers up a bit.  This makes for some interesting hairstyles in the mirror that only serve to highlight his receding hairline.  He finally gets back into the cold shower and rinses it off, only to realize his towel fell off the drawer and into a puddle of water.  His robe is missing from the hooks on the door.

"Oh Dad, that's disgusting," his daughter says as he runs naked for his bedroom.  She's wearing his robe. 

Later, in the kitchen, he tries to stack the dirty dishes to expose the coffee maker.  He stands there staring dumbly at the dishes in the sink, the glasses and bowls stacked up next to it.  It's futile. 

His son comes in, overfills his cereal bowl and sits down to eat.  There are bits of cereal all around the bowl.  The boy is a little chubby.  Harvey tries to remember the last time he showered.  He's lost track. Harvey can tell the boy needs to start wearing deodorant, but he's too tired to argue about it.  His boy's name is just as bad as Harvey's.  Sometimes Harvey wonders if it wasn't his wife's way of punishing them both for eternity for being men.  Hillmann.  That's his name.   Hillmann Westminster.  It doesn't fit him, not in the least.  Harvey calls the boy Hilly, though he knows that won't help him either. Hilly quietly eats his cereal, his face hanging over his oversized bowl.

"Dad, you might just condescend to run a load of dishes now and then," his daughter says as she prances into the room.  She takes a tiny yogurt out of the fridge and looks, with scorn, at her brother.

"You eat like a horse," she says.  She needs a name too.  She'd be Victoria Westminster, high brow, a good name that will someday get her a job doing nothing along with her natural good looks.  She's skinny, smart, and very pretty, but she's a brat.  No one will hold her accountable for her behavior.   

"You could run a load yourself," he says.  She goes out the door with her backpack as if she hasn't heard him.  Her skirt is just a little too short.  Is that too much of a cliche?

Imagine Harvey at his son's parent teacher conferences, lined up along with four hundred other parents, waiting to see teachers.  He's missing a meeting that his boss thinks is important.  His phone buzzes at least five times while he's waiting.  He tries to respond to the texts, but the phone makes some embarrassing corrections to his typing.

He manages to see two teachers after an hour's wait. For the first teacher, his phone rings during his ten minute session and he makes the mistake of taking it. He would try to care about these meetings. He really would, but he'd end up telling the second teacher, a sympathetic-looking woman, in detail, how many hours of sleep he actually got last night in between interruptions. His phone, the cat, the dog, lying on the couch with the TV on.  He'll spend most of the time talking about that.  A bell would ring, indicating the next round of discussions, something like speed dating. 

"Hillford just needs to apply himself, that's all," she'll call as he shambles out the door. 

Thank you for listening, jules

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