“Wahples,” Finn announces as he wedges himself in between the arm of the couch and my thigh, nestling in to the cat’s usual nighttime nook before placing a thumb resolutely in his mouth. The cat lowers her ears and endures the trespass, her fight-or-flight reactions having long since been dulled by a half-life of toddlers running amok. Finn’s in his dinosaur pajamas and was asleep—honestly, he was asleep— tucked in with his brother not ten minutes prior.
“Wahples. Ee ehggs,” Finn elaborates, this being his particular manner of ordering breakfast, despite the contrary hour.
“Waffles. Eat eggs.”
We have a candle burning, most lights out. Jenn and I were cuddling on the sofa and working our way through ‘Stranger Things’ (always a few months behind everyone else on the TV trends), but shruggingly make room for Finn. He can watch Episode Six, I guess; Daniel Tiger will just seem that much more comfortable come morning. ‘Meow-meow-meow demogorgon.’
‘Tay’ is this new contraction of Finn’s, somewhere in between ‘Yes’ and ‘Ok’, and I don’t make an effort to correct his speech. Cayde’s recently confided to me that he likes knowing what Finn says, even when others don’t. It’s a secret language of sorts, and a brotherly understanding. Cayde’s ears remain precise even when Finn’s language is sometimes lazy. When I seem them snuggling together beneath an afghan and whispering to each other, it’s the best thing. It convinces me more and more that language needs lesser volume and lesser exactness than we pretend. And I say this as a fan of the Oxford comma.
The breakfast order has been summarily placed, though it’s nine at night and there’s a full sleep to be had before the kitchen re-opens. Meanwhile, I don’t blame Finn for the confusion—I’m drinking evening coffee and all of us have been sick this Thanksgiving holiday, napping at crooked hours. Jenn exercised her way through a stuffed head this morning; Finn and exorcised our blahs by enjoying a midday Nod. My fault, probably, that he’s awake.
Episode Six credits and Jenn goes to lay down with Finn—“just for a minute”—to have him settle. I already know these to be famous last words. The cat couldn’t be happier, kneading her suddenly extra cushion-space with outstretched limbs. While waiting for Jenn to reappear, I hear her begin to breathe in tandem with Finn the next room over. Maple-coated dreams, everyone.
Scrolling through my phone, I read on Al-Jazeera that Fidel Castro has died. This strikes me. I rouse Jenn briefly.
“I’ll be out in a second,” she says, which I know to mean she’ll soon be out cold. The cat’ll ultimately win her nocturnal roost; surely I’ll be up for a bit. Episode Seven will have to wait, in part because I can’t navigate the television remote.
Castro is dead, fifty-three years and three days after Kennedy. Also, ‘wahples.’ These are facts.
I shoulder into my peacoat and slide on flip-flops—such are the contradictions Southern California allows—and leave to get eggs. We’re out of eggs and the cornershops have since closed. A half-mile up is the late-night market and it’s a nice walk. I don’t look at any more news tonight.
There’s that nice phenomenon when you take a stroll and witness the streetlights wink on, that little bit of synchronicity where you can pretend for a second you’re the reason why the sidewalk is suddenly lit. A similar and more modern phenomenon is seeing news the second it breaks, when you’re at the top of the media micro-cycle, and opinion hasn’t yet formed to churn up the wave and eddy things. There’s just a simple fact, a declaration that something has occurred, and it’s history happening before everyone has had a chance to say what that happening means. With great volume, always, and with pretend exactness. ‘Tay.’
Castro was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He also had scores of human rights violations on his record. Kissinger won the prize back in ’73, as precedent to irony. I don’t look at any more news tonight, though—it would all make as much sense as peacoats and flip-flops, or coffee before bed. There’ll be arguments tomorrow. There are arguments everyday.
This time last year, Jenn and I were looking at houses, which seemed a bankrupt idea considering 2008. On the way to the market, I pass by walk-ups and bungalows—enviable, sure—and one Craftsman has a water element that runs even into the after-hours, a recycled waterfall lending nothing but noise to the xeriscaped chaparral along its borders. Jenn and I don’t know any more. What does equity mean, what’s a house, what future is about to slouch its way toward Bethlehem with demagogues dying, but with others soon to take their place. Today we pondered a new vehicle, a trailer, more attention to date nights and weekends, urban walks, travel! Turning on the streetlamps with our footfalls.
I get eggs at ten-thirty before the market closes and the store clerks say: ‘Oh, yeah, yeah—the Castro thing. What difference does it make though, no?’ We exchange monies.
I like it when Finn is meanwhile declarative, if even at the wrong hour. It’s language and meaning to me, and informs my tomorrow. Waffles—they’re best when the eggs and buttermilk are at room temp, so I leave the eggs on the counter upon coming home and let the coffee go cold.