We went to a comedy show. He insisted.

It wasn’t even a normal showing of stand-up circuit comedians. It was worse because it was just joke writers. Most of the jokes were about how they were Jewish or hated themselves or both. People laughed anyway, too much, because they had paid and they had made plans that night to drink watered down cocktails and fucking laugh. They even laughed at the joke set-ups, like they had been so conditioned to the situation that they couldn’t help but flinch laughter. So I drank extra so I would laugh more, like my laughs would soothe him. I drank extra so he would drink extra, too, and maybe he wouldn’t think too much about the news that his grandfather had died that morning.

It might have been the morning, or the night before. He didn’t know, and he didn’t ask. I don’t know why it mattered to me. I guess it doesn’t matter when time stops, if you think about it. When the ride is over you have to get off.

The comedians were terrible. We each had six scotch and sodas and shared an order of greasy fried shrimp. I had the urge to pat them off with a cocktail napkin but I didn’t want to garner the attention of the comedians. I had a panic attack that they would run out of material and angle in on the audience, notice me patting off a basket of fried shrimp and ask what I was doing there, and I would blurt out, “His grandfather just died,” and everyone would laugh and laugh, looking at the joke writer for the punchline.


One response to “Flinching

  1. fabulous snapshot. thanks. never been to New York, but now I know. don’t order the shrimp.

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