The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
THERE YOU ARE are in the picture looking chubby and pompous, and it makes me remember how you told me that time you were afraid of fat people. That is, afraid of being fat, and hating those who were, so fear and hating, like of a contagion, the same way homophobes â€” guys who are actually maybe gay or have the potential for gayness within them â€” are thought to be afraid of homos. So want to annihilate them, make them not exist. You said you were embarrassed by it, though, your hatred of fat people, your fear. You knew it was shallow. You knew it was wrong. You thought it was a prejudice that was beneath the enlightened likes of you. And now, with all this time gone by, here you are in the picture. Looking chubby and pompous.
When you told me that, I remember being a little awed because we were kids, we were two young guys, and we hung out every weekend and we got drunk and declared, or might have declared, I love you man! at some point or another, but you â€” You â€” as much as you talked you never really said much of anything, you gave none of it away, whereas I was always yanking off hanks of self-flesh and shoving them bloodily at everyone around me, it felt like, half the time â€” no please, take it, take it, really. And people would accept them, those red bleeding chunks â€” because what choice did they have, I was a hulking drunken wreck who might fall on top of them at any moment â€” averting their eyes, embarrassed for both of us, as was only right.
Not you, though. I heard an expression the other day in reference to this other tight-lipped son of a bitch, actually it was the prime minister â€” He keeps his own counsel. And I thought thatâ€™s perfect, thatâ€™s perfect, thatâ€™s Adam. The operative phrase being his own, the operative concept being self.
Point being, you kept your own counsel most of the time. You never turned to me in the midst of one of our drunk-stoned hazes to implore: Help me, man! Iâ€™m all fucked up! The way guys sometimes do. Not you, not like I was always doing, or felt like I was. You never said boo. I thought that was very cool about you for a while. I thought your head was just too full â€” heaving with profundity.
It is stupid the way young men admire one another, the cluelessness of it, the non-reasons.
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