It is funny, the weather, isn’t it? Not that it changes, coming and going, like moods. That is expected of any great force. I mean it is funny how we utilize the weather as conversational fillers/feelers. I love the lines from Listener’s “You Were a House on Fire”— “Let’s not talk about the weather and whether or not there’s really rain in the clouds, unless you want to know if I feel the same as you. It’s more measuring up than just wasting time but time is not on our side, you’re burning. Rain would only be a temporary fix and there’s just no place right now for cute ironies like that anymore.” These conversational cues are such bullshit. We never get to the meat and potatoes, the marrow, of anything because we are dancing around each other at arm’s length. As Amanda Palmer sings, “It is so polite, it’s so polite, its offensive.”
And thinking of this, and Listener’s lyrics, of how I call my parents and ask them about the weather—what am I really asking? I think of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, of Heinrich and Jack sitting in the car, a complete and utter disconnect, even though they are sitting next to each other:
“It is going to rain tonight.”
“It’s raining now,” I said
“The radio said tonight.”
I drove him to school on his first day back after a sore throat and fever. A woman in a yellow slicker held up traffic to let some children cross. I pictured her in a soup commercial taking off her oilskin hat as she entered the cheerful kitchen where her husband stood over a pot of smoky lobster bisque, a smallish man with six weeks to live.
“Look at the windshield,” I said. “Is that rain or isn’t it?”
“I’m only telling you what they said.”
“Just because it’s on the radio doesn’t mean we have to suspend belief in the evidence of our senses.”
“Our senses? Our senses are wrong a lot more often than they’re right. This has been proved in the laboratory. Don’t you know about all those theorems that say nothing is what it seems? There’s no past, present, or future outside our own mind. The so-called laws of motion are a big hoax. Even sound can trick the mind. Just because you don’t hear a sound doesn’t mean it’s not out there. Dogs can hear it. Other animals. And I’m sure there are sounds even dogs can’t hear. But they exist in the air, in waves. Maybe they never stop. High, high, high-pitched. Coming from somewhere.”
“It is raining,” I said, “or isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t want to say.”
The conversation between Jack and his son continues. Jack trying to get his son to admit that it is raining and his son continuing to argue past, present, and future. There is no “now”. In reality, all Jack was looking for was some confirmation of self, some validation that he shared similar thoughts and experiences with his son. This conversation becomes ridiculous—Heinrich skirting around what his dad really wants because his dad won’t outright say what it is he wants. A complete and utter disconnect.
I feel this way at parties sometimes. I never know what to talk about. When people are reminiscing about their youthful endeavors to be different, to embrace rebellions, and “discover who they are”—I can never relate. I think I knew who I was from an early age—but that does not mean I am stagnant as rain caught in time’s pools. I am always evolving, always growing. But I did not need to experiment with different fashion styles or fictitious personas. So I do not have that shared experience to talk about. And half the time people just build up this wall of rhetoric—exchanging pleasantries and politenesses—my god, sometimes it makes me want to scream! I want to get to know the person, not the façade.
As I wrote about in one of my previous blogs, Fine: A Lesson in Improvisations, in reference to the responses “fine” and “okay”—what do they even mean? And when did we become trained in them as a standard for society. Things are not always fine. We have more common threads than the weather or what bands we listened to in highschool, or what clothes we wore for the different acquired personas of youth. We have more commonality as human beings than all of that. So why do we hold each other at arm’s length? As Listener says—“We all write songs about life, we just sing them different. You sing the words but you don’t know the song. And you expect us all to sing along. How selfish. The lengths that we go to, to put so much distance between us is staggering”.
I do not want to talk about the weather.
Here is a link to Listener’s “You Were a House on Fire” music video, if you feel so inclined to give it a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f25CEMbHrqM