Unapologetically wholesome

“I’ve figured out your brand”

“Do tell”

“You’re unapologetically wholesome”

“Of those two words, I’m having a hard time figuring out which one is more confusing”

“See, that’s what I mean! Anyone else would have just yelled about what I was even saying, but not you. You are politely confused, in a constructive manner”

“Huh. I suppose you’re right”

“You know it”

“Is this the part where you’re gonna rope me into eating an unapologetically  non-wholesome burger at 2 am?”

“Well, now that you mention it…”

“Let’s go. I can only be on brand so many hours a day”

Expediency

“But what I don’t understand is – why won’t he just do it?”

“See, here’s the thing. He’s been in love with her for years, right?”

“Right”

“So, this is the first time she’s talked to him in all that time. By continuing to hem and haw, he thinks he can keep the line of communication open. But if he goes along with doing it, she will move right on and never look back”

“That… makes sense. In a backwards kind of way”

“Anyway. You gonna pass me that cupcake or what?”

“Love doth make fools of us all”

The first move

whirr

place

click

whirr

a short moment of spinning up, then the music began

She always liked this particular moment the most. The brief, brief second of having put a CD in the tray and pushing it in, hearing those first introductory notes. Each album had different starting points, different feels, and she knew them all by heart. Even the one with an extra moment of silence introduced by accident; its duration as intimately known as any combination of sounds

Of course, explaining this to the young ones was a futile effort. But every once in a while, she made an attempt. Like now

In the name of the moon

“I see right through you”

“Now there is an ominous conversation starter if there ever was one”

“Your 90s retro party. It’s not actually about the 90s. It is all about recreating the normcore fashion on display in Sailor Moon”

“Yeap”

“What I do not understand is, why the pretense? Why not simply come out and say it’s Sailor Moon themed?”

“See, I’m in this strange generational middle position. On the one hand, this is the stuff we’re made of. On the other hand, we’re still honor-bound never to admit it in public”

“…like Sailor Moon?”

“Right on”

A messianic moment

He blanked. He knew, from somewhere, that you were supposed to think big thoughts at moments like this. Big, life-defining things that would resound throughout the years, to the point where you’d tell the grandkids “and at that moment, I knew”. Maybe something about messianic time. That sounded appropriate. But he had conceptual difficulties. Nothing came to mind. It was all a big blur of impressions, emotions and half-finished fragments. A muddle. All familiar, all anticipated, but also all extraordinarily ordinary

And then it came, the question

“Do you take this woman to be your lawful”

Now, at least, he knew what to say

One of the smaller moods

“What are you thinking about?”

“This song. It takes me back to a mood I used to be in as a kid”

“Is it a good mood?”

“I don’t know. Mostly, it’s just familiar. I remember doing things while feeling like this. Some were good, some bad, some were just, you know, life. Walking to school, sneaking to the store on the way home, rustling leaves. Nothing big, but I was there, you know? It was me, in this mood”

“Sounds nice”

“I’m going to sit with it for a while”

“Tell me the good parts later”

Combo breaker

It was a Taco Bell. It looked just as you would expect, deliberately identical to the vast numbers of other Bells out there. The food, too, had that distinct quality of sameness. Everything was a blur of similarity, neither here nor there, flowing together into a vast undifferentiated blob of unity that hampered any further attempt at thinking things through

But then, outside: the ocean

The sudden shift from one kind of overwhelming totality to another was almost too much to bear. But, in all this, one key difference snuck in, clearing up the confusion:

The ocean tasted better