("you" is craig. second person is fun.)
T. Tweak II
December 16th, 2021
Your dreams shrink as you grow older.
They shrink progressively as you get suckered into the void of realism. It starts out like this: You want to be a spaceman. You want to go to the moon and fight monsters. Save the planet from invaders. You've never been more ambitious about anything in your life. You're sure this is your destiny.
Then, you tone it down. But just a bit. Maybe I'll stay on the planet, you think. Maybe I'll just be in a rock band and have millions of adoring fans that way. Maybe I'll pick up a guitar right now.
Then, you fail at the guitar. As you grow older, you go through revelations and roller coasters and inevitable epiphanies. Hey, you think, I have to go to school for this. It's all a lie. I can't actually be whatever I want. It's all a lie. Everything. A lie.
You're thirty now. Both you and I, we're thirty. We're past the ages of delusion. Now, our job is to plant delusion in the minds of impressionable youngsters. We're distrusted by the younger crowd. We can't up and assure them they can be whatever they want, because we know it's not true. But we don't have the heart to break it to them.
I've never met a kid who dreamt of being the assistant manager of a pretzel kiosk at the mall.
As assistant manager, you tend to order people around. Train newbies. Twisting pretzel dough used to be an art for you, but now it's a chore. I understand you find some boring things fascinating. Like pigeons and oatmeal. Pretzels too, once upon a time. Now you hate them. Salt. Mustard. Anything you work with. You come home smelling like it every day. Sometimes, I have dinner ready for you.
I don't even ask you how it is. "Too salty," you mutter, setting down your fork.
I apologize. You're like, "No, it's okay," and settle for Entenmann's cake for dinner. I don't know what to do. I never know what to do. I put away your food for later, to play pretend it won't go to waste.
Sometimes, when you tie your tie, you forget how. You start a pretzel process. Then, I have to tie it for you. This is okay.
I ask you how work is. "I don't like pretzels," you say.
"I know you don't like pretzels."
"Stop buying pretzels." You're referring to the Snyder's I buy.
"If I see a pretzel in this house, I'll vomit."
The issue is, I really, really, really like pretzels.
Maybe the idea that you don't want me to eat them in the house makes it all the more tempting. I probably wouldn't even buy them if you didn't supposedly ban them. I buy bags and try to finish them before I get home to you. You smell it on my breath most of the time. When we kiss. I try to pull back, but you go in right for the kill.
"Seriously." You stick out your tongue in disgust.
"Sorry," I say. It seems to be all I say lately. I head right for the bathroom to brush my teeth. But you also don't like the taste of mint. We don't kiss for awhile, sometimes.
After that while, I show up at the mall and sit at one of the little, metallic square tables. You bring me a soft pretzel to make up for the withdrawal. It's okay, when you're at work. It all smells like pretzels anyway. It's white noise.
You don't want to quit. You fear you won't be able to find a better job. I think you feel sorry that you can't make more money for us, but our income is substantial. You've never directly admitted to this insecurity, but I know it's there. I know you don't like to think about it. Sometimes, I want to know more about how you feel. About how your dreams spiraled down to the narrow end of a funnel. As if this is your last step of your journey. Pretzel guy.
But I don't mind.