Mobley stepped close to the floor to ceiling glass doors that led to his balcony. He marveled at the lights of the bay, the San Francisco Bay over which his four-thousand square foot, seventh story loft seemed, at that particular moment, to float effortlessly above the roil of the bay below. The moment was broken when he reflexively reached for his ass and scratched mightily through the virgin silk of his robe. His hemorrhoids were acting up. And, he had gas.
In one of the four bedrooms Kit (Kitten) and Kat (Kat), doctoral candidates in philosophy who shared Mobley's loft, did what lesbians do when the third glass of wine and the itty-bitty tokes they had taken through Mobley's little ivory pipe made the inevitable, well, inevitable. They weren't sure if they loved each other. But, they were sure they adored Mobley completely. Mobley was, after all, already a PhD with a pretty impressive track record and did, after all, have some little influence with those who would review, dissect, turn inside out Kit's and Kat's dissertations. Yes, Mobley was their little stud-muffin who, incidentally, had little interest in sex but did occasionally like to watch the two young women go through their, um, contortions.
Mobley's dissertation, "The Impact of the Metamorphic Synthesis on Sartre's relationship with the Other," had been lauded throughout academe and his PhD had come easily, almost effortlessly. Nevertheless, the holy event -- his canonization within the heady air and ivory-laced world to which he had for so long aspired -- represented for Mobley his arrival amidst and amongst that venerated cabal of degreed elite who, through the sacraments of the university, were granted the privilege to add "Dr." to their business cards.
Mobley had, of course, had his diploma duplicated twenty-five times. And, just yesterday, he realized he needed at least another ten copies. It was important that those with whom he interacted not only understand but see the evidence that he was highly degreed, and -- although he wouldn't admit this to anyone except Kit and Kat -- just a little bit better, a little bit smarter, a little bit more worthy than most.
But, damn! The hemorrhoids were a bitch!
Mobley stepped away from the glass doors and settled his slightly overweight body onto the couch. He pulled his legs under him, leaned over and grabbed the glass of chardonnay off the top of the coffee table and sipped. He placed the glass back on the coffee table as he softly, faintly farted through the virgin silk of his robe. He wondered if that wacko who had had the audacity to question his intellectual veracity would show up again at his next presentation.
Yes, he was working outside the precious womb of academe for the summer. Yes, he knew that the dregs of the earth were out there and he knew they were just waiting to insult his integrity by wondering -- as the wacko had, just today -- "What the fuck are you talkin' about with this Sartre and the Other bullshit!" But, if Mobley was nothing else, he was brave. He would take on the dregs. And, he did have Kit and Kat to help in that department. Why, they would scratch the eyes out of anyone who annoyed, much less insulted, their stud muffin.
But, damn, the hemorrhoids were a fucking nuisance.
To be continued....
Kit emerged from the bedroom. Her sickly pale, vegan-inspired complexion contrasted starkly with the black silk ankle-length robe she had donned . She sat down next to Mobley and placed her arm across his shoulders. "How'd the lecture go, muffy?"
"Fairly well," he said with a sigh. "I had a heckler; a dreg."
"No!" she scooted herself slightly back from him. She looked him straight in the eyes and, with her teeth clenched said, "I told you Kat and I should have gone with you. I told you what it's like out there."
"We could have bitch-slapped the muthafuckah a new one," Kat said, walking across the oak floor of the great room. Her purple silk pajamas provided the same contrast to her sickly pale complexion. She sat down on Mobley's other side. "We would have ripped his balls off," she said matter-of-factly.
Tears welled-up in Mobley's eyes as he caressed his two ladies. "Oh, I am so lucky," he said through his sobs. "I am so, so lucky," he said again as he smelled the sweet-sour odor of sex on the lusciously anorexic women who so, so dearly loved their little stud muffin; their little muffy.
Cabot -- certainly not of the Cabots -- had, seven years ago, placed his framed doctoral degree on top of a stack of books and papers on top of the old oak desk in his study. Over the years, several additional stacks of books and papers had landed on the same pile. Every once in a while he'd try to find the damned thing. It really should be up on the wall. But, every time he would start to look he'd realize he had better things to do and the search would end.
Cabot's degrees were in history. His passion was history, which he taught at the local state-supported junior college.
Cabot's Sunday mornings, for the last three years, had been devoted to delivering meals to those living with AIDS through the Meals on Wheels program. He'd been assigned ten stops where he'd sit with the clients and make sure the meals were consumed. His easy manner and gift for gab provided, for some of the clients, a tonic more potent than the cocktails they took to sustain their lives.
To be continued...
One of Cabot's most difficult stops was Miguel. Miguel was only forty and had been living with aids for almost twenty years. Miguel was often angry, frustrated, sometimes in pain, sometimes drunk, sometimes absolutely exhausted, but always, always up for an intellectual confrontation with Cabot or anybody else who he'd happen to encounter in his limited capacity to get around. But, he did get around ... often attending art shows and free concerts, lectures and public ceremonies. He'd climb on a bus at the curb right outside the building where he lived and travel the blocks or miles to wherever the event of the day called him, only to return completely drained, completely empty of whatever energy with which he had started the day.
Cabot's knock on Miguel's door last Sunday was met with the unmistakable angry Miguel who screamed, "It's fuckin' open."
Cabot walked into the small apartment and found Miguel on his bed with his back resting against the headboard and a book in his hands. "Good morning," Cabot said.
"Is it?" Miguel asked from behind the book.
"Indeed," Cabot said as he sat on the edge of the bed and opened the Styrofoam container. It was eggs and bacon; toast and a pear half. "Hungry?"
Miguel lowered the book and glanced at the food. "Yeah," he said. "Okay. But, we gotta talk, Cabot."
"Absolutely," Cabot said. "We always talk and you always get the best of me. Shoot."
"Well," Miguel said, as he placed the Styrofoam container on his lap and unwrapped the plastic utensils, "I went to see that fucker Mobley yesterday. You know, the guy you told me was gonna give that lecture at the library."
"On Sartre," Cabot said. "Yes, I remember."
"Well," Miguel said as he speared some scrambled egg with his fork, "that guy is so full of shit it runs outa' both sides of his mouth."
Cabot smiled. "I told you that you probably wouldn't enjoy it. He's a doctor of philosophy; an academic discipline that exists primarily of and for other academics."
"Tell me about it," Miguel said as he chewed the eggs.
Cabot handed him a cup of coffee. "So, what'd Dr. Mobley say that ..."
"Hey," Miguel raised his voice. "It's what that motherfucker didn't say that pissed me off. I don't fuckin' know how anybody can talk for an hour and ten minutes and not say a fuckin' thing. You know what I'm sayin', Cabot? You understand me?"
To be continued...
"Okay, okay, Miguel," Cabot said as he raised his hand, palm forward, to Miguel. "Settle down. What did you want him to say?"
"I wanted him to say..." Miguel said and then he paused and stared at something only he could see. "I wanted him to say something to me," he said as his voice lowered, softened.
"Miguel," Cabot said, "these philosophy guys, these academics don't really speak to the ... ah, to the common man. They speak to academics like themselves. I mean didn't you see that at the library? Didn't everybody there look like an academician?"
Miguel sipped his coffee and turned his stare to Cabot. "Now, herr professor, tell me how an academician looks? They prettier than the rest of us? They show their fuckin' superiority somehow in their hair or smiles or eyes or... Jesus, Cabot, you are some kind of stupid shit!"
"Thank you," Cabot said as he pulled the foil cover off the orange juice container which he handed to Miguel. "Actually, Mobley didn't really owe you anything. He was discussing his Sartre expertise. That was the point of the lecture. And, I told you that you probably wouldn't be interested."
"Yeah, well..." Miguel said as he took the orange juice. "You know what, Cabot?"
"You're some kinda fuckin' tramp; some kinda hotsy-totsy, intellectual apologist. You know what I mean, Cabot? You know what I'm talkin' about, herr professor?"
Cabot looked into Miguel's eyes. He acknowledged that Miguel had an innate intelligence; that he was as sharp as a pin, even though he had never graduated from high school. "Yeah," Cabot said, "I'm a dumb shit. So, what did you want Mobely to say to you?"
Miguel again looked off into that space to which only he was privy.
To be continued...
"I guess," Miguel said as he raised the small orange juice container to his lips. He took a sip. "I guess," he said again, "I wanted him to tell me about the meaning of life. You know as well as me, Cabot, that's the eternal search, the eternal passion for these guys. Whether they're talkin' about Sartre or Foucault or fuckin' Kierkegaard; whether they're talkin' about anybody who calls himself a philospher or even a fuckin' teacher of philosophy, that's the whole point: The fuckin' meaning of life, Cabot. Here," he said as he moved the Styrofoam food tray from his lap to the side of the bed and reached over to his night stand. He placed his oranged juice on the small table and then grabbed a paperback book which he quickly opened to a page that he had creased at the edge. He began reading aloud, "'If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it; if you marry or do not marry, you will regret both.'"
Yes, Cabot smiled. Miguel was reading from Kierkegaard's Either/Or . "Yes," he interrupted Miguel, "I know this well."
Miguel lowered the book slightly and stared intently into Cabot's eyes: "And, you're gonna know it a hell of a lot better, Cabot, 'cause you're gonna listen to this fuckin' thing. Got it?"
"Proceed," Cabot said as he raised his hand slightly in a it's your dime gesture.
Miguel raised the book and continued: "'Laugh at the world's follies, you will regret it; weep over them, you will also regret that; laught at the world's follies or weep over them, you will regreat both; whether you laugh a the world's follies or weep over them, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that; believe a woman, or believe her not, you will regret both: whether you believe a woman or believe her not, you will regreat both.'" Miguel paused for a moment. "I might add here," he said as he lowered the book again, "that nobody, ever should believe anybody that says they're clean; that they're negative. If you believe 'em and they ain't, boy oh fuckin' boy, are you gonna regret it. Anyway," he said as he raised the book again, "'Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself you will regret both; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.'" Miguel gently closed the book and placed it back on the side table. He raised his head and stared at the ceiling.
"Well," Cabot said. "Thank you for reminding me of the content...
"Oh, fuck you, Cabot," Miguel said. "Did you hear what he said? He talked to me. He had something to say to me. Life is full of regrets; moments that, either way you go, you're gonna fuckin' regret it. That's philosphy, Cabot. That's, "'...the sum and substance of all philosophy.' And, I get it Cabot. Mobley doesn't get it. He can talk all day about Sartre and not say a fuckin' worthwhile thing to me. To me," Miguel repeated as he thumped his chest with his index finger. "That's who Mobley needed to talk to.
To be continued...