Friday, March 1, 2013

Epigrams and Fiction

Today, Dr. Kernighan gave a lecture on the changing face of programming. I'll admit to being so radically out of my element while covering this that I admit to only getting a brief idea of what he was talking about. Even the "Epigrams in Programming" he referenced, when I looked them up, seemed like things that, if I knew what they meant, would have been enlightening. Except for this one: "Don't have good ideas if you aren't willing to be responsible for them." I know what that means; I told someone at work a few months ago that "suggesting is volunteering." So, see, there's wisdom even in things you don't understand said by people you don't know. I also like "Editing is a rewording activity."

Expect low blogging this weekend. For now, enjoy the fiction below and the table of contents elsewhere.

* * *

I arrived at the bowling alley early. I was wearing khakis; the only pair of khakis I owned. Kenny asked if I’d forgotten to do laundry, but I told him no. From now on, I was putting my best foot forward. As frustrating as hitting the pavement had been, I was making progress. I’d turned in about a half dozen applications, and I had even stopped to write a resume. In long hand, but you know, baby steps.

Once I had resolved to move beyond waiting tables, things started to make a lot more sense. I saw all the little tells in my life that made women think I was a loser; I saw what made me think I was a loser. Frankly, that was what was more important to me right now. I don’t know how Kenny did it, but he exuded confidence. Real confidence, not the false bravado I had been faking. That came because Kenny was at peace with where his life was; until I found that same slackerdelic peace, or some peace, I would be, and remain, a loser.

“Oh, I got you a date, by the way, Kenny. You won’t guess who.”

“Kate Upton?”

“Your obsession with her is unhealthy. Understandable, but unhealthy,” I told him as I took my place behind the counter.

“There is nothing unhealthy with a perfectly normal respect for the human figure.”

“Christine.”

Kenny came back behind the counter. “Peter doesn’t know?”

“More importantly, Peter’s wife doesn’t know. Yet,” I said. “Between his drug habit and affairs, he’s being a really bad role model.”

“Do you really think it is a good idea to introduce the mistress to the wife?”

“The question really is: Is it a bad idea for us?”

“I don’t know, your whole plan to come clean to Susan about not being a Boy Scout made me think you were giving up the deception game.”

“It is true that lies rarely bring about a good end, but we’re not lying to Peter,” I said. “We’ve never told Peter an untrue thing about our dates, have we? Deception, though it leads us all to ruin, is not even in play in this scheme of ours.”

Kenny acknowledged it was not; then he told me he hated it when I talked like a medieval wizard. That was the last we spoke of it, because the first after work rush started to hit us. Well, as much of an afternoon rush as a bowling alley got. The funny thing is, that after the last few days, we’d been getting a lot of new business. Kenny’s dad seemed thrilled about it, and he credited it to our heroism. I just didn’t understand how he reached that conclusion; I’d been to the sporting goods store by the bowling alley, and Susan’s magazine wasn’t out yet. Hell, they didn’t even stock it there.

Later in the evening as the customers were leaving, one of them reached out and shook my hand. “You’re a brave man; thanks for all you’ve done.”

“Anyone would have done it in my position.”

“Not anyone,” He said. Then his friends were calling for him to hurry up. He walked out the door, giving us one last thumbs up.

“Nice guys,” Kenny said as we locked up.

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