And They'll Continue Singing It Forever Just Because
My life has been very, very repetitive lately.
I haven't done anything once. I’m not just knitting, an activity that's in and of itself repetitious--I've knit five scarves in the past two weeks. Yesterday at work I changed the salutation on a letter nineteen times, printed nineteen copies, transferred all nineteen to letterhead, stuffed nineteen envelopes, added nineteen bound galleys of a book I'm working on, and shipped all nineteen via UPS. I’ve switched off between the same two pairs of pants for a week—black jeans, blue jeans, black jeans, blue jeans.
Knit, purl, knit, purl.
Lasagna for dinner the other night. Cook the noodles, layer the ricotta, the beef, the sauce, the mozzarella, the noodles, the ricotta, and so forth. Realize I have another pan. Cook the noodles, layer the ricotta, repeat, repeat. Eat for dinner three nights in a row.
Even the weird things that happen to me happen over and over. I’ve seen something like three or four three-legged dogs in the past month. What?
It’s probably true that bad things happen in threes, or at least that you look for two more when something terrible happens to you. But once you hit numero tres the streak is over, whether it’s ended by cosmic fate or subconscious impulse. But what do you do when mundane things happen in infinities?
I had decided to take the zen approach to things, use my boring life as a self-centering, touchy-feely, metaphysical project. Get on the F. Count the stops. Go to work. Get on the F. Count the stops backwards. Ohm. This was until my subway ride home yesterday when a family got on with a baby in a stroller. They parked the kid right across from me. Everything was normal enough until I actually looked at the baby.
This child—there was something going on with this child. It looked like your standard issue baby girl, even falling on the adorable side of the spectrum given the number of waves and smiles she was getting from adjacent passengers with out-of-control biological clocks. But unlike any regular baby she wouldn’t wave, or smile back, or cry. Or look away, which was the creepiest part. It was sort of funny to watch this stone-faced baby win staredown after staredown with giggling adults, who, after a few minutes, would awkwardly stop waggling their fingers at her and speaking in falsetto coos because they felt stupid.
Eventually the little robot locked eyes on me. I smiled, she didn’t. I looked back down at my book. She kept staring. I looked over at her again and frowned. She did nothing. I tried smiling again. Stare.
It was at this point that I realized one of two things were possible. One, this was the calmest baby in the world, and that perhaps I could learn some kind of lesson from this little infant Buddha. What’s more Zen than a baby calmly rolling through the inevitably boring events of her baby life? My mom drags me on her errands; I dig it. People wave at me on the subway; they’re all the same. Drink a bottle, burp it up, drink a bottle, burp it up.
Obviously, the other option was that this child could read minds and understood that people smiling at babies are probably thinking things like, oh, say, “This guy sitting next to me is cute and is paying attention to this baby so maybe I should wave at the baby,” or “You are a creepy baby stop looking at me you creep.”
Given the two choices, I went with the latter (duh), locked eyes with the baby (still staring at me like a weirdo) and engaged in some serious psychic warfare until her mom distracted her with a bag of Cheerios. She looked away and stuck her little fingers in the bag, but I swear turned back to me, chewing slowly with her four teeth, leaned all the way around the woman who got on at Jay Street and was now standing between us, and gave me the patented This isn’t over… glare.
Bad things may come in threes, and boring things may come in a never-ending stream, but realizing you are thinking “CUT IT THE FUCK OUT” to a baby you suspect can read your mind is a one-time wake-up call.
This afternoon on my lunch break, I left Starbucks early and walked north on Madison for the first time.