James hated tinned fruit, but was drawn to it for reasons he didn’t fully understand. He liked when, sitting at the breakfast table, which in his house and the houses of his circle of his friends was distinct from the dining table, his mother would scoop pears or apricots into his bowl of yogurt, or would let them fall and plop and sink like weary white or orange heads on a pillow, would be slick with nectar like something living, something newly born. She had a habit of sprinkling sugar too on the fruit, his mother, or molasses sometimes, and James didn’t know which he hated more. The whole thing would be sloppy and sugary and over the top, but he had never once complained about it—asked her to make french toast instead, or waffles, the carbohydrates of which would be actually satisfying, something hot—because he enjoyed the nastiness and offensiveness of the tinned fruit and molasses ordeal. Enjoyed the feeling he would have afterward of being saturated and addled with sugar—with something that at one point, or in other contexts was wholesome. Fruit, for those days his mother brought it out of the pantry, lent to him a satisfying allegory of the mystical and necessarily transmutational nature of pleasure. Things had to change, he thought, meanings had to change—inversions had to happen. He enjoyed being full with sloppy, sugary tinned fruit and yogurt because there was a hatred of it in the first place. These were the unchangeable virtues of doing what one knows is bad—the pleasure that results, that is produced on a metaphysical level and able to be captured as with antenna, human antennae, and enjoyed.
“Come on, now,” said Stewart, hitting James playfully on the shoulder with that day’s issue of whatever—actually, James noted as he turned, brushed with exaggerated disdain at his shoulder, what would have been a printout of a Stratfor quarterly. “This pageant is for the willing and youthful.” His father rolled on his heels, circled his arms like in some commercial.
“Where do you come up with this stuff?”
James rinsed his bowl and spoon and headed to the bathroom. Stewart followed him like a stalker, so much that he smelled his cologne, which was always sparing. He started singing a song from his youth and rolling the Stratfor quarterly around like some goddamn baton. James flossed and rubbed what was left from a crumpled tube of toothpaste on his parent’s bathroom counter into his teeth and gums, swishing it around with a dribble of water before spitting.
“You need to give me space,” said James, holding onto his father’s hale frame. He wondered at how some people, like his father, became more substantial as one drew closer, while others, like his mother grew frailer and somehow less real, as upon closer inspection of a painting the whole of some aspect—a rooftop, the white gleaming of a sail in the wind—is discovered to be only a well-placed, single splotch of paint.