Didact: An Excerpt

An excerpt from a larger work currently in progress.

It is difficult to tell exactly why she fell in love with him. Most likely, it was his stories of his summers in New York, his associations with dangerous people, long nights of drugged-out blissful haze, and her mental image of a young man in moccasins and flannel undulating to the sad sad song of another young man in moccasins and flannel, this one standing behind a microphone and positively going to town on a vintage acoustic in acute need of new varnish. All lies of course, told to impress her. But how they just danced out of his mouth: they, like the scruffy bohemians populating his stories danced out unashamed, absurdly intricately adorned–each bit with a long backstory–into the black of his bedroom on the winged feet of Hermes, charidotes–bringer of charm.

It was difficult for him to fully realize the young man he wanted her to. Both in his stories and in real life. His characters were vibrant and real and painfully human, all lost and in need of what ancient Greeks called hodios, the patron of travelers and wayfarers.

It was not difficult, however, to keep spinning these stories for her. Nor was it too hard for him to take on some of the character traits of his creations. That’s why he dated a Midwesterner, who knew nothing of New York, of the shabby-chic bobos he claimed to know, of the run-down exposed-brick studio apartments in the Village that cost more per month than she ever hoped to make in a summer as a lifeguard at the community pool. Truth is, she reveled in his stories as much as he fetishized her apparently totally earnest recollections of banal small-town life in the bit just north of Chicago’s hinterland in Wisconsin, which by his best estimates ended just short of Madison.

We are the stories we tell ourselves and to others. She imagined him to be mysterious and literary and fiercely protective of his ideals, and he imagined her as the squeaky-clean inviolate brunette that sets all the town’s males’ hearts aflutter. Each was the other’s perfect. Stories, you know. Gussied up a bit. Just for show. That killed him, just a smidge, realizing that she never will know him. Who needs honesty when better is the enemy of the merely good?


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