The cats are agitated because I am eating a tuna salad sandwich. Never get so excited by the smell of ravioli or anything Mexican… but tuna salad? They want to get closer, jump up on the desk, which is not a good thing because they walk on the keyboard and something like this happens:
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Affectionate creatures, rubbing against my leg.
What, though, if I smelled like tuna salad?
I’ve always admired Don Quixote. Why? Because of his marvelous blindness. He can see, but only vague shapes he must interpret with his imagination. His marvelous imagination took root in novels, in romance, in the idyllic impressions found within the minds of men like himself, men who long for some sense of the nobility of intent in mankind, a concept expressed in the code of the chevalier, a notion that prevailed in the novels written in the time of the Don’s creator. Which notions likely never really existed in fact, or in practice, only in the words that formed the ideal.
Of course, neither did Don Quixote exist.
The old man was a character in a book, a novel at that, an intellectual vehicle, the projection of someone like myself, a writer… in this case a man, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
A writer tries to rebuild the world with a framework of words. So, by that token, in such a world, I can have dinner with the Don. Perhaps a meal consisting of tuna salad sandwiches on soft rye bread. Cold iced tea or beer in chilled pewter mugs. For desert, maybe fresh cinnamon and raisin spice cake with sweet, thick, rich, rich, rich butter icing and coffee. Of course, the food would not really matter. It could be anything… roast beef, chicken, lamb, pulled pork. Food is food. The dinner is only a platform on which to build a conversation.
In that conversation, perhaps I could tell a story, inject an opinion, betray confidences. Because I so love the heart of Don Quixote, perhaps I would only listen.
Cervantes is dead … though his words, his mind, the Don lives on. I suppose that I am upset that Cervantes wrote the story so that the Don died of a broken heart, but isn’t that the fate of any man or woman who aspires? It’s no coincidence that the brain is the organ within us that is closest to the heavens, that the bowels are closest to the ground, that our heart lies somewhere between the two. In a way, the concept is comedic and so it is, or was, that in the mind of Cervantes, Don Quixote must die aggrieved. It’s the natural consequence of truth.
Ha! Foolish old man.
Where do you get such notions? Die already. We need the bed. We need the space you’re taking up, the fucking air you’re sucking in, the food you turn to waste. Die!
So the dinner we share is not unusual, I think. Maybe in a clean, noisy diner in Missouri or Oklahoma. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, peas, corn, or maybe gravy and black-eyed peas. Meatloaf has this crispy edge and on the top of the slices, a thin red layer of baked, sweet ketchup.
Lots of coffee. Pretty waitress.
The conversation? Dreams. Beautiful dreams and maybe dark dreams as well, but dark with a twist of charity. Laughter, tears, emotions swell.
I am a writer. This is what I do.