Two college professors met for the first time at a desert resort known for its world class spa treatments. One professor was British, the other American. The British professor had a serene demeanor and a cutting sense of humor. He was a Hegelian scholar and had written over ten books that dealt with such subjects as Death, Love, Music and Literature. The American professor was earnest and quite defensive. He taught a course on 1980s Blockbuster Cinema and the Expansion of American Hegemony at a Southern California university that had no interest in the funding of the class, especially if that meant even the merest amount of money was being siphoned away from the school’s storied Women’s Water Polo program. The two professors sat in one of the spa’s five saunas, had a schvitz, and discussed a multitude of topics, including the Brit’s near death experience at the age of twenty-two when a Double Decker bus rear-ended his Cooper Mini. The American enjoyed listening to the Brit, and complemented him on his ability to convey the depth, beauty and absurdity of the experience in layman’s terms. The Brit enjoyed talking to the American, and complemented him on his unobtrusive style of listening as well as his ability to ask questions that propelled the conversation forward. The Brit and the American got dressed in front of each other and vowed to meet again one day in the near future, perhaps the next time the Brit was in the States, which, according to the Brit, would be soon, seeing as how his latest book – a slim monograph on the cultural relevancy of Glam Rock curiosity Jobriath – would force him to slog through another North American book tour. The American was in the audience six months later when the Brit gave a reading at a bookstore just down the street from his apartment, and afterwards the two went to a Mexican restaurant to quaff Margaritas and catch up with each other. The rapport between the men was vastly different than the first time, however, as the Brit spoke almost exclusively in an impenetrable tumble of arcane jargon and homemade neologisms while the American was more eager to rant about the bureaucratic minefields he was unsuccessfully negotiating at his job then he was in listening and trying to parse the meaning of what he found to be almost incomprehensible. The two shook hands at the end of the night and promised to keep in touch, but neither one did. Years later, when the American heard that the Brit had died of a heart attack while taking a shower he felt a twinge of sadness he decided to keep for himself instead of processing it into a vocalization for his wife, who knew neither of the Brit or their previous meetings. He put down his coffee and stared outside. Like so many Sundays before, there was another vile wild wind threatening to wreak havoc on his polluted mind.
A Good Roman On A Bad Day