Small Talk

“Good morning, Mr. Doe,” he cheerfully exclaimed.

I smiled and said, “Good morning, sir,” [I really meant to ask, “What’s so damn good about it?”]

“How’s everything going?” he continued.

“Well”, I said, “it couldn’t be better! [I should be at a bar right now getting drunk. Everything sucks!] And how have you been lately?” I asked with faux sincerity. [Who are you? I can’t even remember your goddamn name!]

“Oh”, he replied, “things are starting to look up. Life is good.” [Yeah, right, you lying sack-of-shit.] “I got my promotion,” he proudly announced, [What? Did they promote you to chief asshole?] “and Doris is starting her own business.” [Ha! Your old lady must have become a call girl!]

“How’s everything down at the post office?” he inquired.

“Well, I’m up for promotion,” I lied, “and my work is challenging and very rewarding.” [I’m thinking of taking my shotgun to work and blowing the shit out of that wretched place.]

“And the wife and kids,” he asked, [Who is this person? He knows my worthless family.] “how are they all doing?”

“Hey, the family is great,” I feigned, “we are getting ready to go on vacation. [We’re really going to Arkansas to visit my crazy brother in prison.] Angie is busy with her church work [That reminds me – I’ve got to call my girlfriend.] and we’re coming up on our seventeenth anniversary,” I chortled. [Oh, yeah, I’ve got to find the old goat a damn anniversary present or we’ll have a repeat of last year’s fiasco.]

“Of course,” I continued, “Mike, Robbie and Chip are doing well at school [My three sons are dunces and they’ll be lucky to get a job at McDonald’s.] and Robbie is working for the city right now. [The lousy bum is doing community service for his last DUI.] “Mike,” I announced with phony pride, “was accepted at a very prestigious school [Boy’s Town Military Academy for Psychotic Pot-Head Teenagers] and will be moving to Illinois soon. [Not soon enough!] Of course, little Chipper is my main man. [More like “girlie-boy.”] I have high hopes for him [Hope that this is just a phase and he isn’t really queer!] and I think he’s going to go a long way in life! [If he doesn’t have AIDS he might make it to San Francisco and become some wealthy faggot’s bitch.] “All and all,” I continued lying, “the family [Manson Family] is great! I’m the luckiest man in the world. [I’ve got to ask my shrink about these murder-suicide fantasies I’ve been having.]

“Hey,” I asked the obligatory question, “how are your kids?”

He suddenly frowned and tears came to his eyes. He looked down at his feet and softly said, “I guess you didn’t hear that our beloved Megan passed away last week. She finally lost her battle with cancer.”

It was as if someone had punched me in the stomach. I just stood there with my mouth open as a cold surge of guilt enveloped me.

“You know, John,” he said, “I had started taking my family for granted until this cancer thing happened. My friend, you should be thankful for what you have and take time every day to tell your family how much you love them. Life is short, John. Hold on to what you’ve got!”

He gently put his hand on my shoulder and smiled. “See ya around, buddy.”