Friday, October 24, 2003

The guy Mark who runs the little ad agency we sublet part of our office to, I never really met him officially so the first time he called my name I was startled.

"Bye Pat!" on the way out.

He's frequently on the phone, schmoozing in his blustery adman's voice, sometimes saying fuck.

He's noticed I'm into the baseball playoffs so he has fixated on this as a subject of small talk but I can't for the life of me figure out where he's coming from. I think I heard him on the phone tell someone go Red Sox. And before Game 3 against the Marlins he wandered over and said, "Do you think they can come back tonight?" even though it was 1-1 so his question made no sense whatsoever.

"I… Do I? Yes!" I found myself saying idiotically.

I suppose good salesmen do this, they get you to say shit you have no idea what it is you're saying. Or why.

49 Russian miners trapped as water enters mine.b

Could there conceivably be a more ominous headline? It's worse than Asteroid races toward earth for crying out loud.

First, the number: 49. So sinister. Not prime but odd and angly, as though it were chosen by some cruel consciousness. And what a great number of people to be suddenly shut out of the world: we imagine a cooped-up, agitated gaggle of men, hardworking men, vodka-drinking Russian toughs breaking down. There are 49 of them. Any lower number would somehow seem much more tolerable – and seven or eight, well, if they were lost their number would at least suggest a noble band of brothers, a family. We might fantasize that their last hours were dignified and we'd elevate them each in grief. But 49!

Second: water enters mine. Has nature ever sounded so malevolent? It's like monster enters bedroom. Water enters mine and does what it will, and we all know what it will do. Water! The situation is utterly, irretrievably dire.