Good to see you. Grab a seat.
What a mess outside. You’re not wet – must be that jacket you’re wearing. I’ve ordered one like it. No, mine is a different color than yours, but we don’t get together all that much, so it’s not like we’re going to be seen out looking like twins.
You’re staring at the waitress again. She’s always here on these mornings. One of these days you’re going to have to get her number and call her up for dinner. She seems friendly enough. I think she’s a student. We’re not that old – you wouldn’t be a creep to take her out sometime.
How am I? Fine, I suppose. This weather has me all out of sorts, like I suppose it has done to you. Everyone is fine at my house. The usual January sickness, but no real disorders to speak of.
Did you read that article I sent you? The one about the internet making us sad? God isn’t it true? I remember when we were in graduate school and all of these websites began popping up. They were a lot of fun – you could now find out if the girl in your speech class was single or what her favorite band was. You found out that guy in early 20th century literature class was a Deadhead. The lynchpin in the whole thing was the photo album. Pictures of you and your friends at concerts, at parties, at bars, at the beach. But that became the problem, didn’t it? Do you remember how awful it was?
Maybe not for you. It was for me.
I’ll tell you why, and it’s just like that article I sent you says. Everyone in those pictures was smiling and happy. Shiny happy people. Everyone looks so damned pleasant and when you see those pictures on your laptop at two in the morning, it’s just depressing. Why didn’t anyone post pictures that looked sad? That looked real? They did, you remember, but they were usually poses. And poses don’t count.
The pictures made us sad even when we were home from a great night out with friends. I think a psychologist would tell us that we’re bombarded by images and so then we want to be part of those images. When we can’t, we feel sad. That’s exactly how I felt then. I still do. Don’t you?
You liar. Of course you feel sad.
You feel so sad that you rush back out to another bar with all of our old crowd and take more pictures and two days later you and them and maybe me are posted all over the internet, arms linked and glass raised so the whole world can see our shiny happy faces.
The hell with it, you know? Where is our sadness? Where is our malaise? I want it back.
I want back that malaise that says the old order is gone and we’re better for it but I’m sad about it anyway. I want the comfort of broken chinos and washed oxfords in the humid South soaking bourbon on a Saturday afternoon and reliving glory days in Tuscaloosa and Oxford and Athens because the rest of the world still think we’re defeated but at least we can look great and whip someone on the field come September. That’s what I want. I don’t want a smiling face on the internet. I want the search and struggle. I want Robert E. Lee and true gentleman and a bevy of fine Southern ladies, not a bunch of smiling ninnies on the internet. Let’s fight for it. Will you join me?