The Adventures of Riff Dixon
It was 1948. No, I don't mean this is 1948. I know when now is and I don't have any trouble with then either. No, this wasn't when, this was where. It seems we stood and talked like this before. Did it ever.
People think time goes in a straight line, but that's only good for thinking, it's not the way it works. Don't worry, I'm not going to get all California on you. I've never done that to anybody. It's just a matter of opening your eyes, and I mean that the only way I ever mean anything -- literally. Open your eyes. And watch your pockets.
Time doesn't pass, it accumulates, the way people bunch up around people who remind them of each other. Most don't move through life - they pick it up and take it with them. Only the very rich and the very poor actually move through life. Time and people usually collect like lint in pockets of same-brained, like-tasted, self-referenced era ghettos. Places where being themselves with each other means being each other with themselves.
They call it demographics. This was old news a long time ago to a privileged few who made large amounts of big money. These pioneers of the applied pigeonhole made the country even safer for advertising by finding fresh new ways to foresee behavior by numbers. All the better to reach everybody's pockets.
They would have loved Inwood. There's a lot of places called Inwood but none could have deserved it more than the Inwood I was in. What was it about it like 1948? It was an accident of architecture coinciding with the ebb of an economy. Somebody saw this was as good as it was going to get before it got to be too late. Somebody thought the future would look better as the past. Welcome to Inwood. Welcome to a lot of places.
I was working on learning how to make use of even the low-quality time I was currently passing. I was running my mind over what I was doing here in case I'd missed anything, which I doubted. Very little had happened yet, and I don't miss much.
She'd been in my office quite a while before it began to mean anything. She was saying:
"I don't like the way you say 'uh-huh'."
"I said 'I've got this friend', you said 'uh-huh' and I said 'I don't like the way you say "uh-huh"'."
"I charge double for going over everything twice."
"You're the one who said 'huh?'."
"Don't remind me."
"Don't make it necessary."
It was time to attempt a new conception on this tune. All I was getting so far was a tired lip. "Look, we know who I am, but we seem to have skipped 'who are you'."
"You can call me Iris - Iris Tree."
"I'll call you anything you pay me to call you Iris, as long as I don't have to think it's your name."
"That's funny coming from 'Riff Dixon'."
"Whenever you're ready to make this mean anything, I hope you're not waiting for me."
"Ever been to Inwood?"
"It's not the kind of place you remember."
"I'd like to pay you to go there and get some new memories."
"I'd rather remember New Orleans."
"You don't have to pay people to go to New Orleans."
Welcome to Inwood. What seemed like standing and talking like this before was standing and talking like this before. Only the place would change as I'd address myself in the same way then. Not that my lips were moving. At least I hope they weren't.
"Some things that happened for the first time seem to be happening again."
"You read my mind."
"Welcome to Inwood."
"You're pretty good."
I said it and I meant it, but also meant more than I cared to make clear. He'd come up behind me and I didn't know it 'til he let me. But I, in turn, didn't let it show. I didn't want to be the only one with something to wonder about.
"Did you know I was there or do you know how to not let it show?"
"I didn't want to be the only one with something to wonder about."
"It's more fun when you know."
"Fun for you or fun for me?"
"Don't you know?"
"I didn't say I didn't know."
"I think it's premature to talk about what you didn't say."
"Yet here we are."
"Fun is where you find it."
"Why do I think you don't mean Inwood?"
"Why do you like to keep hearing what you already know?"
"You never learn anything if you don't ask questions."
"Are we talking or making sounds?"
"I don't see why we have to choose."
"You can tell a lot by what somebody says."
I gave it a few beats to phrase the response I wanted to make to that:
"I've got a policy about what I listen to."
"And you're going to let me hear it. "You can tell me what you already know, you can tell me what I already know, just don't tell me what everybody already knows."
This gave him the pause I had in mind. I felt okay. I didn't have any idea what, if anything, was happening, but I'd met the first person I encountered and we both knew we both knew it. Relentless coherency gets very the same after a while. Nonsequential continuity is the next frontier. I had time on my side and a gypsy in my soul. I felt the constraints of sense falling away - clink, clink, clink. Whatever else would go on to happen, I knew I knew what I knew right now: I'd faced disorientation and I didn't blink. I felt good and I didn't care who knew it, including myself.