Skip to content

Road To Gila Bend

I got nothing. Not literally, of course; I’m not so oblivious as to discredit family, friends, or my general good fortune. But sometimes it’s reflexive – the first thing that pops into your head when trying to think of something to write or offer something to say. I got nothing. “I’ve” would be the correct form, of course, but this only emphasizes my point.

Read anything good lately?” I was asked this at a dinner party over the weekend by a tall guy with glasses in a white cotton shirt. It was Summer 2011’s hottest day thus far, which, ironically, is saying something, and I’d been hovering over a corner air conditioner on the fifth floor of a Manhattan apartment, picking at a small portion of lamb and rice on my plastic plate. He looked a little like a towering, Cuban, Steven Soderbergh with Paul Lynde inflection. One of those guys who possesses the kind of on-command exuberance I’m decidedly lacking, but only miss on rare occasion at dinner parties. I told him I was reading a book about the Mitchell Brothers, and that the last thing I could remember reading before this was Crime and Punishment. My mind wasn’t focused on the words coming out of my mouth, but rather on the probability of having to explain who the Mitchells were, followed by a passably thoughtful analysis of what Dostoevsky was getting at. I got nothing .. I got nothing.

The Mitchell explanation led to a brief exchange on the definition of redeeming social value, and we both agreed that Dostoevsky had something. He’d been reading a five hundred page book on the CIA and was much better at selling it than I would have been. Outside of the length and subject, I can’t remember a thing he said. Not because I’m a dismissive, disinterested sort, but rather because I’m not good at channeling my brain and compartmentalizing neurotic rumination. I did a better job earlier in the evening, listening to a pretty, Asian, Dartmouth grad deal one liners on how the first Japanese farmer discovered Kobe beef. Among humor’s many advantages is the option to throw in a well-timed “that’s what she said” as suitable alternative to paying attention.

On the way home I discussed this phenomenon of having nothing with a close friend who agreed I was on to something. The problem, we concurred, was that while social obligation dictates getting out to the occasional dinner party and mixing it up with new people, there is no true motivation to get to know anyone. “That’s what the first grade is for,” she said. “You’re thrown in to a room with a bunch of kids you don’t know, and you’re too little to know anyone besides your parents, so it’s sink or swim.” It continues in this fashion, she explained, until you’re about thirty, at which time you have no need to make new friends unless you move somewhere new or lose all your existing ones in some kind of mass tragedy. I’m sure there are exceptions to her theory, but it made me feel slightly better about my social shortcomings.

I met Tom Myers, who visited me in Brooklyn a few weeks back, well before my thirtieth birthday, thereby excusing me from having to justify the connection. I was home from college, playing on an employee softball team for my dad’s company. I arrived late and rocketed the first ball I threw over Tom’s head while warming up. He reserved external judgement while chasing it down, which may have been an early sign that we’d get along, and I got things under control by my second toss. Tom was visiting Brooklyn as a stopover on his way to Vermont and a reunion with more old friends. It wasn’t exactly a pleasure trip – they were paying respects to the widow of another old buddy. We bar be cued a Newport steak, hung out on my roof, did some socializing, and got dinner in the city one night. I probably rambled a bit more than usual when he was here, likely the result of lacking people who really go back in my current existence. I’m sure he would have gladly taken “I got nothing” by the end of his stay, but it was a good few days.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Comment

  1. cookie rojas wrote:

    Nice, I got nothing could be the name of your first book

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *