True things (Magic 8)
This is important.
I cannot tell you anything truer. So please listen.
We were in your apartment, studying. So many books.
Once I dreamt my Beloved’s path through Surgery and he walked for miles and miles over fields of books. Pages stitched together like a quilt. He and his now-wife climbed over them in an endless trek all through their 20s. Sweating with bottles of water and t-shirts in a companionable journey under a prairie sky.
But I digress,
The point is, there are many books in Medicine, many words. Many things to memorize.
It was an exam, I can’t remember which one. It doesn’t matter, they were constant.
You are Persian. Soulful dark eyes, and a kind soul. We have lost touch, I suppose I changed. But in this moment, we were friends. True friends, you had unconditional love for me and I had learned to accept it,
Like a stray dog finally accepts the food on the back porch.
Sniffing, circling, and so hungry eating. It must be good, and after a while you are so hungry you don’t care. But it is good and you learn.
Learn to trust a little more.
“How did you know that?” You said,
It was slightly accusatory.
I never studied, was as undisciplined as a feral child.
(Really, I was a feral child. So it’s not even a metaphor.)
It was some Fact. We were always wielding Trivia like weapons. Glittering orbs of ego splatting about the room. Like paintballs whizzing always whizzing at each other in an endless war.
(I did not dream this of my Beloved but I did observe it. He was not immune to the Training either.)
I had known the Fact and you, my Friend, had not. And it was not Fair. And you knew it.
You had done the work, all the endless work with so much patient Discipline.
And I sat there like a grinning Monkey and I knew it anyway.
I grinned even more.
“Just use the Magic 8 ball,” I explained, to be kind.
“What are you talking about?” You asked.
Now you were exasperated, as though I was playing a game of mental keep-away.
“You know,” I said. “The magic 8 ball in your head. You shake it and the answer pops up. You don’t have to put it there per se, just have heard it once or something.”
I really wasn’t that sure myself how it worked, only that it did. I had found it in desperation during an exam which I (predictably) hadn’t studied for. Then used it ever since without any real thought about its Origin.
I used to be Unconcerned like that.
I can see how this must have been infuriating.
I’m grinning about it even now.
It’s so illogical and unfair.
Funnier because it’s to my benefit.
If I had been you, I think I would have been indignant too.
“That’s not normal,” you said.
And we looked at each other, and I finally understood.
You did not have a Magic 8 ball.
And neither did anyone else in our 300-person class.
Or anyone you had ever met.
Maybe, anyone I had ever met.
Or if you did have one, you had never used it.
Not for an exam.
Probably not to cross the street.
Although I like to think, that you used yours once, long before, to pick me as
There was a moment of silence and unfortunately
I think that was the end of our friendship.
It was when you discovered that I was Other.
And you could not accept it.
Stray dogs are sometimes a bit too Wild to let into the house...
But in that moment, in the evening, before it Ended we acted as though the silence had not happened. And we moved on.
And shortly you said another Trivia. And I stopped.
This time it was I who balked.
“That is not True,” I said.
“But it’s on the Exam,” you said.
“But we know it isn’t true, it was disproven only this last year, and logically…” I explained... The details are lost on me and I would not bore you with them even if I remembered.
(When you are like me you evolve very pristine Logic so that even though you have the Answer in advance you can always justify how you arrived there after the fact. I confess I spent most of my time on this skill instead of the other. I had no interest in simply learning — well anything.)
“Just learn it,” you said. “It will be on the Exam.”
I was distraught.
Normally I am unfairly Comfortable, even when I really shouldn’t be.
But here, I was distraught. Upset in the way of a neighborhood house fire, or a child bleeding from the head. Something was hand-wringing Wrong.
“You can’t,” I said.
“I can’t... You can’t.”
“It isn’t true….”
You can’t learn untrue things. It will always be there!”
“No.” you said.
And now we were past the borders of your Space and it was all Over although I didn’t know it yet. “I will learn it for the exam, and I will get a better grade than you.”
“I can’t afford to miss any marks.”
“I do not have a magic 8 ball. I must learn everything they tell us.”
“You will never be able to forget it,” I said. “And it will clutter your mind. Please do not do this.” But I was pleading with a closed door.
And I was making it worse.
Stray dogs need to eat and move on. It’s one particular kind of interaction and should not be contaminated with barking, and scratching and fleas. Kindness must be accepted in the exact amount it has been meted out as and there should never be any asking for More.
We stopped for the night, and really for an entire lifetime although we have made pleasant overtures a few times since.
It was too Important I suppose, to both of us.
And watching our lives unfold since, I see that it was. It was very Important. It defined everything we did for every day from then till now.
Most particularly in the Now.
And many years later now, I can say with perfect certainty:
This is important,
It is the most important thing I will ever tell you.
You cannot have a Magic 8 ball,
If you believe, for even an instant
In a Lie.