To entertain ourselves as we trudge across the tundra of the waking day, my daughter and I argue over impractical philosophical questions and invent future worlds.
Maybe, for example, when I’m, like, ninety-two years old, my daughter will be a genetic engineer and still live close to home, or I will live close to my daughter’s home, or we’ll both live near our favorite coffee shop, and the owners of the coffee shop will call it The “Coffee” Shoppe because, by then, all the honeybees will have died and genetics engineers will have built coffee-flavored lima beans. Maybe the “coffee” shop will even be called The Roasted Lima Bean.
Maybe my daughter and I will meet for “coffee” after her days of re-stacking the genomes of anything not-bees.
We will both hoard cats. And also argue over the best categories for cat names.
She will insist that “words for family role designation” be toward the top, so she can tell people stuff like, “Today, we had to put Dad down,” or “Today, Mom’s fleas have been acting up again.” I’ll counter that everyone living in a house should have a corresponding pet with his or her name, so I can tell people, “Today, I had to take Helen to the vet and have her anal glands expressed.” However, we will both agree on two favorite categories of cat names: (1) minor film criminals viewed with derision by the other characters, which will allow me to name one of my kittens Little Don Segretti and (2) causes of death, which will allow my daughter to name one of her kittens Autoerotic Asphyxiation.
Maybe in 2060, the Gulf of Mexico shoreline will have crept up over the southern Houston suburbs, and my daughter and I will sip our warm somethings on the south “coffee” shop deck, on the sea wall, and see the sea where south Houston used to be, while molten Greenland slops its sounding sighs beneath our feet. To our North, smokestacks will stand erect like fists and middle fingers. And maybe not all “coffee” shops will allow pets, but the one where I will meet my daughter does, and my daughter’s kitten Prostatic Hyperplasia will curl around my foot while my kitten Blunt Trauma will rake her paw down the other’s squinting face.
Perhaps my daughter will smuggle into the “coffee” shop the white lab mice she can’t bring herself to kill or maim. And she’ll name these mice after infamous white-collar criminals. Maybe I will sit at our table on the porch on the sea and see the four black beady eyes of Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling lock with mine across the brim of her hat.
Maybe my daughter will tell me something like,
Today, I made Ken Lay’s sister into a miniature horse, and tomorrow, I’ll splice a gene into Jeffrey Skilling’s clone that will allow her to clap her front paws together in rhythm.
Then maybe my daughter and I will both sit there and both take a sip. Maybe then my daughter will say,
The day after tomorrow, I’ll splice a gene into Jeffrey Skilling’s cousin that will make her next baby into a miniature horse and a solver of differential equations.
Maybe I will respond:
Last night, a cat slept on my neck.
Perhaps, my daughter will demand that we replace “while” with “whilst” during our conversations and preface all prophecies with the words “Verily, verily…” For example, she might say something like,
Today, whilst I made Ken Lay’s brother into a horse, I glimpsed the future…
And then I might get confused and want to know, “Verily, Verily, … what?” And she will tell me to stop interrupting her and say, “Verily, verily, Ken Lay’s brother will one day make a fine steed.”
Then I will tell my daughter that
last night, I dreamed Famine chased Starvation into the food pantry, and I locked them in there, and they ate my whole box of Lucky Charms. Then, after I woke up from the dream, Starvation curled up on my stomach and Famine slept draped across my eyes.
And maybe my daughter will respond that
last night, I dreamed they made some of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms out of bacon—only it wasn’t real bacon. It was fake bacon.
I might then add that
last night, I also dreamed that my penis turned into an Allen Wrench. Then, later, after I woke up from THAT dream, Famine bit my left eyebrow hair and wouldn’t let go, and Starvation slept the rest of the night with her paw jammed in my navel.
Maybe when my daughter and I drink lima bean faux coffee, we will both sigh at the same time. Which will be really cool.
And both of us will bathe in a bath of south Texas air. And maybe my daughter will ask aloud why names of boats sound like insults, which will cause me to utter desperate prophecies, and then I will ask aloud why names of geometrical objects sound like insults.
Maybe my daughter will ponder in silence and then ask me if I have “heard the one about the group of Mycenaeans milling about outside the Agropolis?” And I will answer “No.”
And she will tell me that famous joke about the time one Mycenaean asks the others
Did you guys hear that Achilles tried to pick a fight with the River God?
The other Mycenaeans are about to answer when Achilles himself suddenly appears—completely sopping wet—and says, “OR, maybe the River God was just being a dick.”
Then maybe—just to be a sopping dick—I will not laugh at all, even though I really do think the joke is funny, and I will only respond, “When War sleeps, he snores, and his snores sound like porn film soundtracks.”
Maybe my daughter and I will sit drinking “coffee,” watching the orange cookie sun dunk down into the hot Abuelita-brown bay and watch the score of gasoline processing plants flipping us off, and maybe all the polar bears in the world won’t have drowned. Maybe the last polar bears will ride all the way to east Texas on a chunk of Greenland that cracked off from its main ice shelf. I will have the chance to say,
Verily, verily, mayest we receive the white bears on their frozen white berg with depths of reverence equal to our gratitude.
And maybe my daughter will gut-punch me back. “Now you’re thinking like a leaking punt,” while my daughter and the mouse Michael Milken, in her lab coat front pocket, seem both to shoot a damning gaze at me. Perhaps she will add, “Your head is like a hollow, leaking scull.”
But maybe, having achieved enlightenment, I will tell her with perfect equanimity that
Last night, Thrombophlebitis wandered into an adjacent field and was plucked up by a red-tailed hawk. And so this morning, I no longer have Thrombophlebitis.
And perhaps she’ll respond, “I don’t understand,” and my enlightenment will once again be clouded: “That’s because you’re a rhombus,” I’ll say. “You can’t understand because you’re a truncated cone-head.”
Maybe my daughter and I will sit drinking warm Abuelita and feel neither the crush of the inward weight of the world, nor trace of the outward plosions of craving, and through the non-medium of our emptied selves hear Galveston Bay slop the sea wall before us, and feel it clothe the I-59 Freeway in thick forgetful waves. And maybe then—while we toss our unused pets to the grateful, starving bears—my daughter will remember to tell me, “Tomorrow, I’ll use Martha Stewart’s daughter to make a tiny, little polar bear.” And that will remind me to tell her
Yesterday, Infarction chased and cornered Psychosis-Induced Respiratory Alkalosis, and then Stab Wound bit the hell out of Infarction’s tail.
And, verily, verily, my daughter will respond, “That’s because you leak knowledge worse than a water-breached dinghy.” And maybe she will add, “Last night Gregory slept with his head jammed into my armpit.”
And, verily, I will add, “That’s all well and good. Because last night COVID-19 slept with her front paw jammed in the crack of my ass”
And maybe it will be. All well and good
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