Here I sit at the dinner table, alone, waiting for my prison guard and her husband, or maybe one of my prison-mates, to join me. Alone. Do you not notice there is no food on this table? There is no tablecloth. No vase of flowers. But wait.
Here are the flowers; they are with Mingus. Please do not act surprised. He is given many gifts, countless!, while I am ignored, and while I wait patiently for someone to take notice of me (if only for the briefest moment).
Perhaps you are wondering why I care, when these flowers are such transient manifestations of love (which is itself such a transitory intangibility).... It seems that even cynical, realistic, despondent, possibly caustic, sardonic, hopeless, sad (oh, etcetera!) creatures such as myself would like flowers every now and again.
And regard exhibit the second if you will! The dog, curled on the prison guard's lap, with a squeak toy, and a sweater. I do not have the words to describe my horror, my utter incomprehension at this. What do they see in this animal? Where are my flowers? Where is my sweater? My squeak toy?
This picture chills my heart. Here they rest. With the prison guard. While I wait and wait at the dinner table for someone to join me. For someone to pet me. For someone to notice me.
There are days when I wish I was Mingus, or (and I cannot believe I am even saying this) the dog; at a fundamental level these creatures possess a patience I do not, a desire for companionship I feel but rarely (oh but how I ache so when I do feel it - perhaps I feel it all the more intensely for its rarity), and an asinine happiness I am incapable of feeling.
Ursula K. Le Guin in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" writes: "The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain."
I am treasonous, banal, and so alone.