Although his surgery is a week away, the Complete and Total Loser has stockpiled prodigious amounts of stuff. Over one hundred and twenty bottles of water, lots of butter, bagels he's halved and frozen, six jars of peanut butter to put on those bagels, two dozen rolls of toilet paper, bath soap, aspirin, microwaveable meals, a variety of meats he's wrapped in foil and frozen, two cases of beer. He has much more to buy. Nuts, pickles, tofu, instant coffee, eggs, chicken sausage, juice. Some of this he's waiting until closer to the date so the food won't expire. Fortunately, the Loser is smart enough to know that most foods last well beyond their assigned expiration dates.
|A gorilla hoarding food.|
But no matter how much he buys the Loser knows that he'll miss something essential. Something dumb like salt. Paper towels. Toothpaste.
Meanwhile, the knee that will be replaced seems to know it and is hurting as much as it can. In a way, this is good. It will keep the Loser from coming up with an excuse to avoid the operation. It's also making him think of a woman he knew over thirty years ago named Marlys.
Marlys lived in the same house in Minneapolis the Loser lived in after college. The house had been divided into efficiency apartments and was inhabited by five people, all well under thirty except for Marlys, who was in, probably, her late fifties, the age the Loser is now. Life had been neither kind nor unkind to Marlys. It just ignored her completely. She'd never married. She made the Loser uncomfortable because she was clearly one of those people who simply never got it, something he at that age hoped wouldn't apply to him forever.
The Loser could hear her snoring through the thin drywall between their apartments in the otherwise solidly constructed house, which had been built to withstand harsh Minnesota winters. (The sound depressed him; he moved his bed away from the wall.) Of the few conversations they had, the one the Loser remembers now is of Marlys having trouble one day getting a taxi to take her back from the supermarket. "I certainly can't walk that far," she told the Loser, her expression one of stupid wonder that anyone could. It was her knee. The Loser, an unwrinkled 23-year-old, listened politely, concealing mild contempt. That store's just five blocks from her. It's a ten minute walk, if even that.
With age and decrepitude comes understanding.