Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I am sitting at a bar in Brooklyn with my friend B. We are playing “War” with a deck of cards and placing our bets on the girl sitting by herself next to us. I say that five men will approach her tonight; he insists that three men will approach her at the most.

In less than one hour I win at “War,” he wins the bet.

We finish our beers and run out of games, but don’t want to head back home yet.

"Tell me things I won't mind forgetting," he suggests. "Make it useless stuff or skip it."

I begin. I tell him that whenever I drink Canada Dry Ginger Ale I like to pretend I am in Canada.

I tell him that catching fireflies and trapping them in a jar is a fictional childhood memory that I made up after hearing other people talk about their childhood memories, always involving the act of catching fireflies, because I did not want to feel left out.

I tell him that I secretly thought “Inception” was a stupid movie and that to start with, not everybody believes in the unconscious.

I tell him that I've been trying to look more tanned lately. Mostly because the diversity committee at my job is sending people to Spain this year, and I really want to go to Spain, but I have to look like a woman of color to attend the conference.

I tell him that last Saturday I met an anthropology graduate student who is trying to buy a funeral home to start her own business, and that this idea was inspired by her job working at the mortuary.

I tell him that my niece has recently discovered death, and that he sneaks into his mother’s room every night at three am. That he has a small glow in the dark watch attached to his small wrist. That every night, he gets close to his mother’s bed to make sure she is still breathing and then goes back to his room. I tell him that watching over the living must be a tough job for such a young child.


I tell him that all of this is useless stuff that he will forget by tomorrow. So I win the game. By now my friend looks confused, but he buys me another beer.

What he doesn’t know is that I always win this game. I am an expert at ignoring the big picture, the abstract concepts. But I never skip on the useless details, on those contingent things that only seem to matter to me, the closest things.

Maybe this is why I am so bad at philosophy, and so good at telling people things, useless things. This is why I am still a stranger to the world of concepts.