Fight Club

The unknown narrator, or is he Tyler Durden, ponders an IKEA catalog, wondering what his stuff says about him. But it’s not just stuff, it’s attitude about/identification with things and how what we wear, listen to, read and watch comes to represent us in the world.

Programmed from near birth, we come to view externals as part of ourselves and believe that they lift us or damn us according to society’s ranking of them and hence us.

Our musical tastes, for example, allow the majority to rule us. We are cool or not so much depending on our earworm preferences. Liking Nickelback and Taylor Swift earns scorn while pretending to get the deep meaning of Tool rates high social marks.

I like Nickelback by the way. Just plain old pop/rock and occasional boy band ballad-e-ness with a bit of growl. Pretentious? Perhaps. Lyrically challenged? Most definitely. Fun? In my opinion, yes.

I listen to Tool as well though I prefer Perfect Circle. It’s also pretentious, but it’s angsty in a discomforting way that allows people to pretend it’s more meaningful than Daughtry and therefore elevates the listener to some level the masses just “wouldn’t understand”. Forgetting all the while that music is poetry and poetry’s meaning is subjective and totally relative.

What kind of music defines me as a person?

And what does it say about me that I need external definition?

Yesterday was “cheer up, Keanu day”. Generated by a viral paparazzi shot of the actor morosely munching a sandwich on a park bench in a decidedly homeless guy sort of way, people with a soft spot of maligned movie stars decided to dedicate a day – and a Facebook page – to share their fond memories of his movies, music and their actual encounters with Reeves.

It reminded me of a memorial service.

For a man who’s not dead in case anyone missed that. Although maybe in a world obsessed with whatever one has done lately, a career not in full throttle is akin to a death of sorts. Even middle-aged men are put to pasture in Hollywood, however, but if I had Reeves resources, I doubt that I would be pushing myself very hard either.

Oh, wait. I am not pushing myself. Nevermind

What kind of movies define me as a person?

Can I be defined by the fact that I sometimes watch films just because the actors are pleasantly attractive? Or that I am sufficiently imaginative to be able to immerse myself in a story regardless of the quality of the acting and the CGI?

The latter perhaps is the more admirable quality but the former is nothing to hang one’s head shamefully over.

My fondness for Virgo men aside, I like Reeves the actor. I never have difficulty believing he is his character in a way that “better” actors like Tom Hanks, for instance, can never not be “Tom Hanks” regardless of the film.

Because I prefer to not wear make up, live in my yoga togs and forsake underwear, am I bohemian? Does being a yoga teacher/blogger make me trendy or edgy? Or does the fact that I’ve blogged for money blogs rob me of “cool” cred?

I’ve viewed people from way atop the bridge of my nose, but that vantage point didn’t put me above anyone as much as it revealed my own pettiness and superficiality.

What defines you as a person? Music? Movies? A dining set?

I’m still trying to find my true self. Excavate her, really.

But in the meantime, I like Nickelback and Keanu Reeves’ movies and buying my yoga duds at Sears.

In the movie Fight Club, Edward Norton’s character first meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on an airplane in what he explains is a “single serving friend” relationship. Basically it likens the whole idea of striking up friendly banter and interaction with people you will never see again to a ketchup packet or the shampoo offerings in a hotel room. One shot and it’s over.

Single Servings are the essential building blocks of mommy groups which grow into the child’s version of a one night stand – the play date – with the potential to make companions out of women who wouldn’t have a thing to say to each other sans children.

A lesser version of this is the drive-by. Like the young man at the Holiday Inn Express Sunday morning who, after eavesdropping on a rather mundane conversation between Rob and myself on preparing Quaker Instant Oats, happily inserted himself into the discussion and gave us incorrect directions.

And there was the woman at the rest stop outside Moorhead, MN who began chatting with me in the washroom. Chattering away at my back really because I didn’t make eye contact or anything until I realized that she wasn’t talking to the hand dryer. She proceeded to talk mostly at me on and off for the next 15 minutes while Rob and I walked around the playground where Katy and her little girl were playing and as he and I chatted with each other in the picnic area.

“She might have been a widow, you know,” Rob pointed out later. “Traveling alone with a child and all.”

That thought had occurred to me back in the washroom but not because she was a woman who appeared to be on her own. It was the conversation she was having with her daughter as they walked in.

“…there are bad people in the world just waiting to hurt little boys and girls who wander away from their moms.”

I was just glad at that moment that Katy was dancing around the stall and didn’t hear her. I didn’t want to be in a position of refuting another parent’s right to go over the top with a stranger danger lecture within their earshot.

Not that all widowed/divorced/or simply single moms are paranoid. That could just have been me. Still is me. I am hardly unique.

When she and her daughter took their leave she said good-bye to Katy and called out the same to Rob and I as we canoodled in the picnic shelter. We can’t be in public without touching. It just wouldn’t be us.

“Are you going to mention that we were making out like crazy?” he asked as I began writing this.

“No, because we weren’t,” I replied. “Should I though?”

“Well, it would titillate your readers.”

Since some of my readers are also bloggers who write things that need disclaimers, I doubted that highly. Now if we’d been el fresco on the picnic table, it would have merited a description. Besides, this post was supposed to be about those people you meet on trips, interact with – willingly or not so, and never see again but make wonderful blog filler.

*I didn’t get a prompt from Julie Pippert this week, so if you have a single serving acquaintance tale to tell link it or use the comment box.