Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Just Your Everyday, Regular Guys, You Know?

"I want to ask this question, but I don't want to- I know it'll make me- I don't want to sound like an asshole."

This is what a very dear friend said to me a few hours ago. It was somewhat leading, based on the conversation we had been having, but the question itself was in no way obvious from context. Given two normal, everyday people alone in a room, I would not expect one to know where this discussion was going more than, say, 30% of the time. It is precisely this issue that allowed me to know exactly what question I was about to be asked, because it's not normal and I've already wondered countless times, but I've never asked because it does make you feel like an asshole.

"'What the hell do normal people think about all day??'"

It was a good minute before I could hear anything but raucous, almost disbelieving laughter coming through the receiver in my cell phone–that and occasionally a few syllables of "DAA-AAAAVEEE!!"–but this was enough to tell me I hit the nail on the head. With a sledgehammer.

You see, there are two types of people in this world, as loath as I am to use that simplified stance on anything. There are people who with great consistency wonder what other people must think about at all hours, thinking, "Well I think of these things, but I'm considered weird, so normal people probably don't think that. Maybe they think about football? Or hockey. Maybe people think about hockey.It's already Fall. They play hockey on ice all year but I thought hockey season would be in Fall and Winter since they traditionally must have started when there was ice out. Crap. What was I thinking about? Oh yeah, 'what do normal people think about?'"

The other type of people are normal people, and I have no idea what they think about because as far as I can tell they're not inclined to ever wonder that. The only people who seem to ask that question are the type of people who ask that question. Somewhat circular logic, I know, but frankly you just have to split the difference when you can. Some people ponder how introspective other people must be, while other people don't wonder about wondering.

Which is not to say they're incapable of it. I avoid asking the direct question because I don't want to come off as a complete douche, but my friend Dean has answered once or twice. He seems to indicate that he thinks about whatever it is he's been tasked with doing, then maybe thinking about what he's going to do on the weekend or something. If he's at work and bored, he might check Facebook to see if anyone's RSVP'd to do whatever it is he wanted to do this weekend to spend the money he has earned by working. There's a correlation of thought processes.

I asked Dean once, "What do you think about when you're going to bed? Right before you actually fall asleep but the lights are out and you're actually trying to become asleep, what thoughts are going through your head? What do you think about, right then?"

Dean indicated that he didn't. He just goes to sleep. I asked if he thought about what he had done that day or try to plan out what he has to do tomorrow. He seemed to indicate more towards the latter, but it really petered out around 'go to work, have dinner with dad Thursday."

I'm always thinking. Weird thoughts, too. I cracked the meaning of Donnie Darko's time vortex in the shower. The Terminator time travel. I came up for a mode of faster-than-light telecommunication that is scientifically sound but can't possibly exist for at least 50 years, also in the shower. I do a hel of a lot of thinking in the shower. Before bed, my life tends to swing between feeling so contented in my nice cozy sheets that I drift lazily to the most restful sleep reserved usually for new-born babes and the cruelly, psychotically remorseless … or I just think about every mistake I've ever made and how stupid I am for it and why my inability to not fuck up will leave me forever ruined and without love. One or the other.

On the other hand, Dean has the most amazing ability to fall asleep anywhere, doing anything, and fight through every possible stimulus against waking. Last Sunday he fell asleep at the movies and a hard slap across the face only managed to wake him gradually.

So maybe he's not the best source to ask about pre-sleep thought patterns.

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