[This style was too similar to Death on the Installment Plan. It's listed as "to be corrected."]
The 300 gallon upright five foot diameter cylindrical fish tank at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas held 75 bright, medium sized, flat faced silver fish. They swam constantly in circles, never stopping. The attendant said they would never know they were in such a small aquarium. Looking at them made me feel claustrophobic. I absolutely did not believe the fish had no idea they were confined closely. The fish don't have facial expressions. They don't have a way to communicate, supposedly. They sure looked miserable as hell to me. I couldn't think of anything more horrible than to be trapped in such a way, even if they never knew the sea. They were like veal, except at least veal got slaughtered and eaten after reaching a certain size and maturity.
It didn't occur to me to ask an attendant if the stock was ever rotated out or if the same tank-mates had to swim in 15 foot circles until they finally died of old age, unable to swim into the mouths of sharks or fling themselves into sharp undersea coral. They reminded me of people who took the bus to and from work everyday, walked to the store once a week, and repeated with no real end in sight, except maybe a vacation. Then they wouldn't be required to move from their location at all. They could remain nearly static until it was time to start making the same trips over and over again.
Cynically I mused that I was so much different. I made longer loops. I got to stop to sleep. Opening my eyes after rest made the experience of moving around seem new. I could communicate and I had facial expressions. Like other people I can feel pain and I have dreams, and exist on a higher level than simple animals and flora. Except when standing around staring at other people, other animals, or nothing in particular. Then I was just like an inanimate object. In fact it struck me that being an inanimate object would be vastly superior to any other sort of existence. So much less effort and tedium involved.
The young lady came back from the bathroom. She looked cheerful. Her name was Valerie. She told me that she loved me. We had been together 5 weeks. I ruminated about what she thought was so endearing in such a short period of time. Of course I loved her. I always love women. There's nothing better than loving a woman.
I don't think our two varieties of love were not the same. I would still love her after she no longer loved me. It would be sad when she was gone. I would think about her now and then, until I stopped. When I remembered her I would still love her. Somebody may have explained that emotion to me incorrectly, because when a girl said she stopped loving me she usually changed her behavior entirely. I never change my behavior, because of course I never say I stop loving a woman. I stay affectionate and sweet. My girlfriend would always just disappear after saying her piece. Why couldn't my relationships ever stay simple or end with just a breakup? Why did things always escalate to the all or nothing stage?
I don't cling. I am not a clingy person Maybe it's the way I treat love that keeps things from working out over and over. Physical love couldn't be more enjoyable. Spending intimate time with a woman was joyful. My hatred of spending time in public doing things average people do can not be overstated. I like to go in public for special events and outings. Attending everyday attractions does not excite me. Going out to see movies and sitting in cloth backed seats with people snacking nearby and talking felt like the opposite of a good time. Going to see the symphony, gallery openings, large private events, those things gave me a feeling of happiness and elevation.
I hadn't told Valerie about this yet. I always want to try an experience before knocking it, even if I suspect I will feel the same way I had every other time I had ever done something similar in the past. I'm not old enough to believe that there isn't hope normalcy won't somehow take root inside of me, that I'll wake up and want to go to fast food restaurants or wander around in big outlet stores like everyone else. I'm still not sure that's what normal really is.
I smiled at her when she handed me a Coca-cola. I do like Coke. That's a step in the normal direction. And Valerie is extremely intelligent, just like the other girls I had known. Before I could vacillate any further she pulled me to a side bench and sat me down, taking the Coke back away from me and putting it down next to hers. She pushed my legs together and sat down straddling my lap.
"Alexander, I know more about you than you know about me," she told me. I looked into her eyes and didn't know what to say. "I'm not going to slip away from you because you don't want to be in public with me."
"I'm not like that -- that's not something I -- "
She kissed me. It was a fantastic kiss. It didn't last too long. It was sweet and not a big display, but it was enough of a display to be sexy and normal at the same time. It was just right. I was supposed to do that, not have to depend on her to do that.
Before that train of thought went anywhere she pulled back and looked me in the eyes. "You're not listening to me, Alex. This is different. Forget what you think you know or knew. I'm going to show you what it really means to be in love."
She pulled away, stood up and took my hand. "Would you like to get out of here?"
"God, I can't think of anything I'd like to do more."
"Me too." She waited for me to stand up. We held hands after I was next to her.
"What do you mean you know more about me than I know about you?"
"I'll tell you. I'll show you," she said.
I had never felt like this before. Nothing felt askew between us at all. I believed her. Things felt right.