Friday, November 13, 2009

Aristotle and Fred discuss Tom Petty's 'The Waiting' and other matters existential

Aristotle: Do you think you could apply it to waiting for the bus?

Fred: I don’t know if that would be proper.

Aristotle: Proper. Who cares for being proper? I am much more likely to be improper. Being improper can be very fulfilling, you know?

Fred: I guess. But still, I don’t think it applies. Maybe in a Weird-Al sort of way. That’s all though. Nothing to it.

Aristotle: There’s something to it.

Fred: If you consider nothing to be something, then yes, of course.

Aristotle: Words, words, and junk like that.

Fred: What else do we have? What other modes of expression can…?

Aristotle: Sure. Yep. Okay. Alright. I don’t need this whole wise-ass exegesis thing.

Fred: Still. You understand what I’m saying.

Aristotle: What you’re saying…without words. Yes. See? We don’t always need words.

Fred: I cannot be so sure then. I cannot really know. Not without the words.

Aristotle: You know.

Fred: I do? Well, maybe. It’s hard to be certain.

Aristotle: Fuck, fuck, fuck…I mean, shit. What the…um, hell? Or, no, just more etcetera, etcetera.

Fred: There you go. That’s more like it. Now, back to Mr. Tom Petty.

Aristotle: Yes. Finally. Sure. So, like I was saying…

Fred: What was you a sayin’?

Aristotle: Wait. Was that a colloquialism or a good old-fashioned idiom?

Fred: Dunno.

Aristotle: Okie dokie. So, likes as I was a sayin’, fos I’s so rudely interrupted…

Fred: Ahem.

Aristotle: Yes. So, Tom Petty could have been singing that song about waiting for the bus.

Fred: As in the waiting for the bus is the hardest part?

Aristotle: Uh huh.

Fred: The hardest part of what?

Aristotle: Well, the whole riding-the-bus experience I guess.

Fred: That’s bullshit. The hardest part of the whole bus-riding experience is riding the fucking bus.

Aristotle: Um. But, it is still very, how do you say, uh, frustrating?

Fred: Have you always had that accent?

Aristotle: No. It comes and goes.

Fred: Waiting for the bus is not even close to as hard as being squashed and squished on a crowded bus, getting stunk out by everybody, crammed in there, no air really, just a puny draft slithering in through one of those insignificant cracked transom-like windows. People stepping on your toes. That god-awful stop-start-stop-start lunging that sends you ass-over-teakettle flying into some stranger’s crotch. Trying to pull the chord for a stop without running your hand through some beefy cowpoke’s hair. Scrambling for a seat, catching falling old ladies without getting hit by their cane or walker, squeezing around wheelchairs, trying not to step in any vomit or piss, or plop your butt down on a brushstroke of shit or a sticky soda stain, or lean against fresh graffiti. And then when you have to get off, having to push by people, bump into them, slip through the mass of bodies before the doors close. It’s hard. Damn hard.

Aristotle: The waiting is the hardest part.

Fred: No way.

Aristotle: What are you thinking of?

Fred: Air Supply

Aristotle: What?

Fred: I’m all out of love. What am I without you? It can’t be too late. I know I was so wrong. I’m all out of love. I’m so lost without you. I know you were right believing for so long.

Aristotle: Um.

Fred: It’s an Air Supply song. I thought’s that what you were talking about.

Aristotle: Oh. Well, I wasn’t. I wasn’t talking about Barry Manilow either.

Fred: Just another day. Happy people pass my way. I write the songs that make the young girls cry.

Aristotle: Nah. Not that. Come on.

Fred: Only if I can drive. I hate waiting for the bus.

Aristotle: It’s the hardest part.

Fred: So the song, if I may be so bold as to venture forth a hypothesis, is truly about the waiting of the knight for his one true love.

Aristotle: Ha. Waiting for her to what?

Fred: To be with him.

Aristotle: Be with him? Like, you know…

Fred: I think people use the term, “hang out,” do they not?

Aristotle: Hang out with. Yeah. I guess people say such things. I do believe that they do.

Fred: He is waiting for her to come spend her time with him.

Aristotle: This knight thing is stupid.

Fred: Well…

Aristotle: You know what though? This so-called knight of yours, what the hell is he waiting around for?

Fred: For the fair maiden to make up her mind, but of course.

Aristotle: So, this knight dude’s mind is like totally made up then. He knows what he wants, what he’s going to do? He’s all in the clear about the current situation? I imagine him as some drinker of life’s lees.

Fred: You could say that I guess. He knows he wants to spend his time with the girl.

Aristotle: The girl. That’s better. Girl and guy. I can relate to that. Knight and fair maiden, not so much.

Fred: Stop trying to sound like Jon Stewart. You’re not funny. Not like that.

Aristotle: Don’t I know it. So, this guy has his heart all set on this girl. He wants to span time with her, you know, go the whole nine yards, buy her dinner, white picket fence, kids, take out the trash, get burial plots next to each other.

Fred: No. Not any of that. You’re wrong. Damn, are you wrong this time.

Aristotle: Straighten me out captain.

Fred: You see, the stuff, the real stuff of life, is not what we are waiting for. No. It is what happens while we are waiting for something to happen. What happens to us while we wait. That’s the stuff that matters. The waiting.

Aristotle: I see. So, this guy in the song, he’s waiting, and I guess he doesn’t like it, right?

Fred: Of course not.

Aristotle: But it’s only because he doesn’t realize that the waiting for whatever it is he wants to happen with this girl is what matters. The stuff that he’s going through—that he is putting himself through I might add—is the real stuff of life.

Fred: Well, let’s not discount the part that fantasy plays in this. You take it on faith. You take it to the heart.

Aristotle: There were those that made me feel good, but never as good as I feel right now. You make me want to live like I want to live.

Fred: That kind of stuff, well, that’s not what I’m really talking about.

Aristotle: I’ll be your bleeding heart. I’ll be your crying fool.

Fred: No. That’s something else. That’s make believe pansy bullshit. But it’s part of it too. That’s why it’s there in the song. It makes up part of the discontent he feels, the uncertainty, the unsettled way his soul seems to be vacillating hither and thither.

Aristotle: People don’t talk like that. Hither and thither. That’s crap.

Fred: So what. I like how it sounds. Anyway, maybe it does feel like heaven right then, too, something from a dream, for him, this lovelorn guy dwelling on the possibly unrequited love of some girl he’s got some damn silly crush on.

Aristotle: Damn silly?

Fred: Of course. All crushes are ridiculous and stupid and meaningless, but sometimes they’re all that one has to…

Aristotle: Hold on to?

Fred: Could be. I don’t know for sure. It could also be that the possibility of the so-called heaven he has tricked himself into thinking he is feeling is really just a cheap substitute for some cavernous hole dug out of his emotional makeup which leaves him always a bit empty and aching inside and craving for something more real and rich in experience than what he normally lets himself have.

Aristotle: Ever heard of a comma?

Fred: His life is lacking because of all the stuff he dreams and doesn’t let himself actually do. And he now is putting all of that “stuff” onto her. She becomes the substance of his dreams, the texture of his thoughts, the pattern of his visions of the future. She is everything that he cannot be. She is also, you must realize, something that she can also never be. It is then that she becomes nothing more than some imagining, some fantasy, of which he no longer cares about the reality of. So he waits, and it’s hard, but what, really, is it the hardest part of?

Aristotle: Winston Churchill would kick your ass for that one.

Fred: Winston Churchill was a cherry-picking fancy pants. This guy, well, let me tell you, he’s waiting, and it is hard, it is the hardest part of his stupid, myopic, idealistic, ego-driven fantasy to let go of. He can’t do it. He has to wait. He can’t dream and fantasize all that waiting away.

Aristotle: I don’t see why he can’t just call her up. Ask her on a date. People go on dates. People go to the movies, they walk in parks and along the beach. People go to dinner together. I’ve seen them. Everyone’s got to eat.

Fred: Well, maybe there are extenuating circumstances of which neither you nor I could possibly imagine.

Aristotle: Ha. Let me see here. Oh yeah, “Possibility! I wear you out like an old hat, and lose you in a windstorm.”

Fred: Not always the case my friend. Not always the case.

Aristotle: I know, but still. Come on. This guy’s got to be able to take some form of action. He can’t be all abulia and inanition.

Fred: It’s more than just nerves and anxiety and the usual hang-ups at work here. You’ve got to change your perspective on this thing for a minute.

Aristotle: I’m not sure I really have one, but okay.

Fred: He’s not really worried about some other guy coming along and stealing her away with his money and his cocaine.

Aristotle: Hey. No fair. You can’t use a line from another Tom Petty song. Come on. Let’s not spiral out of control here.

Fred: Hold on. So, but, you see, what he really wants, what he, “needs to know,” in the sense of another song, well, um, like this: “because I don’t know how long I can hold on, if you’re making me wait, if you’re leading me on.” See?

Aristotle: Ok. He needs to know. He needs to know if she is going to...well…be receptive to his amorous, even if not wholly concupiscent, attempts at…well…being with her.

Fred: He wants to know. That’s the thing. That is what makes the waiting so difficult for him. He doesn’t know what the hell is going on with her. She is, for some reason, not giving him the straight dope. The lines of communication are stunted at best, if they even exist at all.

Aristotle: If she even exists at all. I mean, maybe she is just a twisted figment of his deranged imagination.

Fred: Let’s not veer off on that segue. That’s a-whole-nother side to this of which I do not want to venture into.

Aristotle: Segue? Not so sure about that. Maybe that’d be more of a tangent.

Fred: Okay. So he is left out there on his own, you know, the whole anywhere-I-lay-my-head-is-not-home feeling. And he’s a bit desperate, but of course he doesn’t want to let on to her about this. He wants to appear, what if not noble and confident and, well, like, he’s giving off the impression that he doesn’t need her, that he’s all nonchalant and playing it cool, and like he’s telling her, “Who the hell are you anyway?” You know? That kind of thing.

Aristotle: But at the same time it is killing him to have to wait around, to have to dawdle away his time, thinking about her, what she’s doing, who she’s with, what kind of things they might be doing together. He’s miserable. Right?

Fred: Actually, I’m not completely satisfied that he is. Maybe all the excitement of this thing, whatever it is, is like giving him a whole new perspective on things. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this here guy is probably not the hippest dude around. I’m not saying he’s a loser, but he might be a little bit of a loser. He probably doesn’t have a whole lot going on. Maybe he’s going through a slow period. He’s in a rut. Can’t quite figure out what it really is he wants to do with himself. And then, all of a sudden, there’s this new girl in his life, which he perceives as some kind of new way to look at the world, and his place in it. This is tough for him. He hates it, yet at the same time it’s damn exciting for him too. Not any easy thing to swing his thoughts around on.

Aristotle: You better stop or I might start crying. Boo-fucking-hoo. Who cares? So, he’s feeling sorry for himself. So what? That’s stupid. I don’t go in for all that woe-is-me crap. It’s self defeating and pointless. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps. Throw off your chains. Get a fucking grip.

Fred: Ah, well, of course he wants to show her that he is something more than this. But it’s hard for him to know exactly what to do in this situation. Maybe she’s got a lot of shit of her own going on. Maybe he doesn’t want to scare her off. Maybe he just doesn’t know what the fuck to do.

Aristotle: Ah. I don’t know. Waiting isn’t that hard. You don’t even have to try to do it. It just happens, right?

Fred: I guess so. Maybe the song really is about waiting for the bus. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

Aristotle: You got that right.

Fred: So, does this guy have to live like a refugee?

Aristotle: Shut the fuck up.