Paradise

Mike Sauve

My own daughter is boring me in a way that is painful. She’s saying that movie producers have a vested interest in starlets going crazy, because crazy starlets generate gossip, and gossip is free publicity, so content producers go to dastardly lengths to drive starlets insane. Hypnotism. Split-personality disorders. Compartmentalization. Many references to Reaganite henchmen that I find particularly hard to follow.

A very old man is making a choking noise after forcing back a shaky spoonful of his soup. None of the regulars look concerned. This choking must be a regular digestive thing with him. That old man will be dead by the end of the week is how it looks, and this while a group of guys are watching a soccer game, exclaiming at a penalty kick off the cross-bar, all of which makes the grandiose analogy of Reaganite movie henchmen and ruined starlets unnecessary.

“And Marilyn Manson, you know Marilyn Manson right? Marilyn Manson would be considered conservative now.”

I had missed the prelude to this, but I immediately recognized her statement as false. I might not be up on new music, but I know that Marilyn Manson is not considered conservative. She must know this also. She is a bit thick, but not that stupid. A celebrity who is considered conservative is Dean Cain.

Maybe our lunches are like this because no one else will listen to her perennially sophomoric essays on the nature of celebrity culture. The worst bores reserve their most unlistenable ranting and raving for their parents. I exercise for one hour a day, each day. I would rather talk about that. She could just avoid celebrity culture like I do. A commissioned graffiti mural on the brick exterior of the bar across the street reads, “This is Paradise” in upside down letters. Paradise would be for me to get out of this joint. She orders another coffee. Each night she watches TMZ like it was a stakeout.

The cafe owner’s daughter comes in and they talk about her son’s soccer game. She is not putting across dubious theories. Sometimes I wish for a different life. I went on a date the other day with a woman my age whom I considered quite obese. I thought, “This is probably the best I can do now.”

I signed up for Facebook recently, but I think that was a mistake. Maybe I am more of a Twitter man. My daughter is always tagging me in specious videos about CIA Mind Control Sex Slaves and other things I don’t want the guys from the office associating me with. I feel guilty deleting tags from my own daughter. Can I talk to her about not posting stuff like that, or at least not tagging me in it? Her mother is also tagged, but her mother seems pretty oblivious, Facebook-wise, and has one of those blank outlines instead of a Facebook face. I may be old, but I hope I never get that out of touch. Her mother’s wall consists entirely of tags about CIA MIND CONTROL MK ULTRA SEX SLAVES, all caps like that. Her mother does not grasp Facebook’s security settings or the downside of an open profile. Members of her mother’s scrapbooking club have no doubt seen that crap and figured Nancy had gone off the deep end.

I am a simple man, but I suppose my daughter’s style of conduct is my own fault. I did not teach her to think about hard things, nor did I teach her to think hard about things. Her sense of justice was learned from police procedurals. She became a true believer as a literal college sophomore and has stayed one since. She drones interminably. I work as a hydraulic engineer. I envy the way the soccer fans can drink two or three beers in the afternoon and call it quits at that. Sometimes she has this guck in her teeth while she is droning on and I think, “How horrible.” I would very much like to drink ten beers, but have not myself drank in nearly two decades, since she was young.

 
 
 


Mike Sauve has written non-fiction for The National Post, The Toronto International Film Festival Group, Exclaim Magazine and other publications. His online fiction has appeared everywhere from Feathertale, Pif Magazine, and McSweeney’s to university journals of moderate renown. Stories have also appeared in print in M-Brane, Criminal Class Review, Filling Station, and elsewhere.