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Poem for Kenneth Goldsmith #3

{a fairy tale}

The white man woke up at his usual time. The white man awoke his youngest daughter first because she usually needed extra time to brush her teeth properly in the morning. The white man did not awaken his wife because he knew she’d had an especially difficult day at work the day before. Instead, the white man walked down the hallway to his son’s room and helped lay out school clothes for his son, a task his wife usually preferred to complete herself. The white man went downstairs and made coffee for his wife. The white man made his wife her favorite brand of coffee and made sure to put in exactly the amount of cream and sugar he knew his wife liked to have in her coffee. The white man walked quietly upstairs with the coffee, making certain not to accidentally awaken his elderly father, who was staying with them for several months due to a particularly gruesome and prolonged battle with cellulitis. The white man passed by the room his father lay sleeping in and entered the master bedroom, where he let the smell of freshly brewed coffee gently awaken his wife. The white man then went to check in on his youngest daughter, who had only just finished brushing her bottom teeth, of which there were few. Watching her struggle to clean her upper molars, the white man thought with excitement about the phone call he and his wife would receive that night from their oldest daughter, who was away at college at Valparaiso. The white man always spoke to his daughter on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and sometimes on Sunday nights if she was feeling particularly homesick. Before the white man had concluded his reverie his wife appeared and offered to take over supervising the kids’ pre-school preparations, as she didn’t work until 9:30AM. The white man needed to be at his desk in the office block down the street by 8:00AM or else risk the ire of his immediate supervisor.

By the time he reached the office at 8:00AM, the palms of the white man were sweating in anticipation of a presentation he had to give to his supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor at 10:00AM. The white man spent the next two hours at his desk furiously reading and rereading his notes for the presentation and checking his PowerPoint slides to make sure they were free of grammatical or content errors. The white man was so focused on preparing for his presentation that he didn’t even get up to grab a doughnut in the break room, his usual routine, in lieu of a proper breakfast, on days he had an important presentation. As a result the stomach of the white man growled audibly as he gave his presentation, which distracted not only him but his audience. Consequently, the presentation given by the white man was only guardedly well-received as opposed to unambiguously well-received. This disappointed the white man greatly, as he’d been hoping that this presentation, in conjunction with some of his other recent efforts at work, might eventually lead to a promotion. The white man had hoped for a promotion, and a corresponding increase in salary, to offset an anticipated tuition increase at Valparaiso for his daughter’s sophomore year. The white man sat dazed at his desk from 11:00AM until lunch, ignoring his growling stomach and thinking only of the severe and deleterious effects his tendency to not eat meals on a regular schedule had likely just had on his family’s finances.

During lunch the white man ate tuna fish from a container and drank an energy drink a co-worker had given to him a week earlier. The white man ate alone, which was unusual for him, as he typically ate lunch with the black man he shared an office with. The black man was on a business trip on that particular day, however, so the white man ate alone and did not particularly enjoy either his tuna fish or his energy drink.

From 1:00PM until the end of the day, the white man was forced to type virtually non-stop to complete a data entry project that needed to be finished by the end of the week. By 5:00PM the fingers of the white man were hurting terribly, which briefly made him think of the pain his father was likely feeling as a result of his cellulitis. The white man realized, of course, that the pain of his father was likely much worse than his own, but he felt oddly close to his father all the same just thinking about how both of them were at that moment suffering from inflamed appendages. It was one of the few things that made the white man smile prior to returning home from work. The white man did smile when he got home from work, however, as he loved his wife and his children and was always happy to be back in their company. The white man did not have many friends, nor did his wife, but their three children did and the white man and his wife lived vicariously through their children and their children’s friends. The white man enjoyed coming home to his family in part because he loved hearing the stories his children told him about their days at school. And on this particular day the white man knew he would hear similar stories from his oldest daughter as well, and that made him happy.

The phone call the white man had with his daughter did not go as well as expected, as his daughter had finally broken up with her high school boyfriend and was in a state of acute distress. The white man stayed on the phone with her for over an hour, and because he had a reasonably good relationship with his daughter he was able to cheer her up at least a little bit by the end of the call. While the white man felt sad about his presentation and sad about the suffering his daughter was experiencing, he nevertheless felt satisfaction as he got off the phone with his daughter because he knew he had made her feel just a little bit better. Also, the white man knew that he would shortly get to enjoy his favorite daily ritual, that being watching a sitcom with his wife as the two of them drank hot cocoa. While they always watched at least one sitcom together every weekday, the white man and his wife only drank hot cocoa when it was cold outside. Because it was January, it was very cold outside where the white man and his wife lived and so he and his wife did in fact drink hot cocoa.

By the time the white man and his wife had watched not one but two sitcoms together, it was almost time for bed. The white man thanked his wife for watching a second sitcom with him, as he suspected that she had only done so because she could sense from the look on his face that his big work presentation had not gone well. The white man had not brought up the presentation with his wife because he did not want to make her sad, particularly as she had lately been having so many difficulties at her own place of employment. So when the white man and his wife finally settled into bed together, they did not discuss work at all, either his or hers, but merely held each other until both fell asleep. The white man did not sleep particularly well, as he suffered from chronic insomnia, but as he drifted into sleep the white man thought to himself that without his wife in the bed next to him he almost certainly would have slept much, much worse.

Posted 03/21/15
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