He could always reason things out if he had enough time, and he had read Euclid when he was five, but the test had a time limit so there wouldn't be a chance to think. Ender's Game

Without Euclid this very school could never have been built. Paddy Clohessy mutters behind me, Feckin' Euclid. Angela's Ashes

We played on into the night. At our age, friends who were just at the table a few weeks ago are gone. You wonder who invented the first table, how long ago it might have been. We are connected. In fellowship and conversation and mortality.

We talk about work and sports and the endless geometry of our paths ahead. Although it does end. Maybe not the light that reflects from our eyes as we look into the future. Some of that light may escape the atmosphere, may bound off towards stars unknown, may be shining still after a thousand earths have come and gone.

I was reading a book and the subject of Euclidean geometry had come up. In the very next book, surprising, really, Euclid was mentioned again. I tell the story.

“What did Humphrey Bogart say when he finished his geometry class? Here's looking at Euclid.”

I misread my friends. This was the guy who I turned against, because he's different.

Thank you, I say. For helping me. This is is for you.

I hand him a bottle of scotch.

You want to go with me to the casino on Saturday?

Sure, I say.

Aw, Christ above, don't you know anything? 'Tis condoms, you know, rubbers, French letters, things like that to stop the girls from getting up the pole. Angela's Ashes

No home, no money, no babies. No husband, for that matter. Meggie started to laugh. Luke joined her, his teacup lifted in a toast. “Here's to French letters,” he said. The Thornbirds

Someone dispelled the Baader Meinhof phenomenon, but ghosts have been disproved, too. It doesn't mean you don't see them at every turn. It has been at least a decade since I heard the term French letter, and then suddenly twice one book after another. Twice. Like a second chance.

I must have frightened my wife without meaning to. I dreamt I was holding a new baby. Then I went through a few days with terrible pains in my back, followed by nausea and then nightmares, low rumbling in the clouds, waking up barely able to breathe. She said, go to the doctor. I said, oh, no it's fine, and if it's not, then really that's fine, too.

You are an idiot, she said. You need to stop being obsessed with money. If you forget about it, it will come.

I'm not worried, I said. Things are fine. I have never felt this free. I can see my entire future in front of me, whether it's a day or a decade.

I'm playing poker on Saturday. I need to take $400 with me.

Don't get into any trouble.

Oh, don't worry, I won't lose it.

Money? she says. No, I'm not worried about the money.

The problem is not how I look so much as where I look.

Better versed than his wife, Luddie dropped on one knee and kissed the ring on the hand held out to him. “Sit down, Your Grace, talk to Anne. I'll go and put a kettle on for some tea.” The Thornbirds

She went to one knee before him. “Sire.” Am I humbled enough for you, Your Grace? Am I beaten, bowed, and broken sufficiently for your liking? A Dance with Dragons

I am home at 2 in the morning. I wonder if this inability to understand me makes me attractive. There are times when I wish I were normal and constant. I am chatty and excited, and these moments are rare, and they always give the game away.

I won, I say. They were really good, and I hated every moment, and at the end, I thought, this wasn't any fun anymore, so I picked up my chips and then just sat around in the bar until my friend lost all his money. Here.

I knew you would win, she says. I knew you wouldn't like it. I was never worried about you being addicted to gambling, that's not in your nature.

I won't go back, I say.

I won't go back I won't go back I won't go back.

I will have nettle tea, a boiled egg, and bread with butter. Fresh bread, if you please, not fried.” A Dance with Dragons

She started heating water, and by the time she brought him his morning tea of mint, alfalfa and nettle leaves, Ayla was up and sitting beside the crippled man. Iza brought the child a breakfast of leftovers from the previous evening's meal.” Clan of the Cave Bear

We drive to my parents' house and celebrate mother's day. There is an awkward moment when my wife's sister's childlessness is brought up. I lighten the mood by telling the story about my friend committing suicide the day after christmas. My parents talk about their will. There is, honest to god, a turkey vulture flying over the property, and the dog they just got to replace ours who died a few weeks ago is chewing on a mouse.

We open a bottle of wine, and another. My head is pounding. In the guest bathroom, there is a bottle of vicodin, there always is, but I need to have this ache, I have earned it, so I splash my face with water, and walk into the evening. I grab a handful of bread, and sit outside by the fire.

My hands, when I wake up in the morning, are bloody. I had held the bread out to all the ducks and chickens and turkeys and geese of my dad's farm, and they had pecked away at fists and fingers, and, it was the most analgesic activity I can remember. I was smiling the whole ride home, thinking about all those beaks and bills in abject, shameless abasement. It made no sense, I was sunk into the costs of inebriation.

Do you want a tea? she asked.

Yes, please.

We sat together and drank tea and held hands.

Was it, you know?

Yes, it was.

I'm glad.


eclectic said…
Angela's Ashes punched me right in the guts. So did Ender's Game, and The Thornbirds, for that matter (albeit years and years and years ago). Lucky for me, I've not read A Dance with Dragons, so you can't punch my guts with references to that. HA! I win!


Hmmm... you're right: winning DOES take the fun out of it. Going to get A Dance with Dragons, now. *sigh* You win.
Kerri Anne said…
I feel like maybe I should be shouting CONGRATULATIONS! at you, and while I can't be sure this post is heralding happy news of some specific kind, shouting CONGRATULATIONS! at you just sounds fun.

P(atrick).S(wayze). Please to be appreciating I couldn't be sure what a "French letter" was before Googling. (You and Angela's Ashes were trying to help me with that, but coffee: I clearly haven't had enough of it this morning.)

P(atrick).S(wayze's mullet). I myself am quite appreciative Urban Dictionary had only four references to "French letter" and all of them were variations of "Oh hey, a condom!" and none of them were "Oh hey, I'm going to go cry in a corner now!"-inducing, like at least one Urban Dictionary definition typically is.

Brandon said…
shari, winning is for losers.

kerri, i wouldn't congratulate me too much. i only won $50. that puts me slightly between a N(ut) C(ase) and a N(icolas) C(age).
There was a time when the casinos in Biloxi were run by fools/madmen, because they all housed blackjack tables that used only two decks at a time. There was this dude (who shall remain nameless) who won buckets of money over the course of a few months, as 'figuring things out' is pretty simple when only two decks are involved.

Then the powers that be got smart and converted those tables to six decks. Nutshell: Confidence in a casino can be a killer. That dude still wonders if they did the two deck thing on purpose just to reel in the fish.
Brandon said…
sir, it is so amazing how you are able to get into that guy's mind.

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