Thursday, 9 February 2017

A Kind of Mania

Is it possible to feel tired, yet impatient? Actually, do I really care if you, the reader, think it's possible or unlikely because if that's how I feel aren't I the best judge? And I can't think, right now, of a more appropriate way to describe this stale, frustrated, conjoined feeling.
Tired of waiting, waiting, waiting as if the train I was due to catch has been delayed and nobody can tell me, irrefutably, when it might come, or even if it will come at all. And so I wait because what else can I do? For in this scenario there's no alternative, and no way to make the wait pass quicker.
I can't be sure that it will ever end: this scenario might but the waiting itself might not. For don't you find that when you get the thing you've been impatient for the anticipatory effect doesn't stop? It transfers its affections elsewhere with far more speed than it took to acquire the previous whatever. The egg (the whatever) gets flipped, fried both sides (over-easy as the Americans say), served with its sunny side-up and whisked away by a fifties candy-striped waitress to be laid in front of the customer to be partook of; however, for the short-order cook there's no let-up, his spatula must continue to flip patties, bacon, tomatoes and eggs. The orders come in fast but aren't always served a) as expected, or b) at all, as if the candy-striped, possibly bubblegum-chewing, coke-drinking waitress has downed tools (her hands and feet) or got lost somewhere between the serving hatch and the dining floor, and yet the majority of patrons sit there in hope, rather than angrily stand, hitch up their trousers and with a cow-boyish swagger, exit.
Why? you might well ask. Because when the ordered how-you-like-it egg or whatever finally puts in an appearance, it still tastes oh-so-good. The trouble is, as I said, you then want more: more of the same or perhaps an occasional change from your usual, and yet although you now know you might be in for a bit of a wait your impatience grows.
You underestimate how long it might take; you overestimate how long it's actually been. You fidget. Chew your lips. Bounce your legs up and down, up and down. Fiddle with your hair. Pinch the lopes of your ears. Scratch that itchy patch on your elbow. Think about complaining but don't, which is very English of you, in spite of your mind being aligned with one track of thought: Whereisitwhereisitwhereisit. WHEREISIT??!!! Cartoon steam or a disco smoke machine (and now I'm showing my age!), non-visible, of course, except in your internal combustible engine.
The dirty smoke clears, leaving a stinging throat and watery eyes. The fire, inside, dies, yet the head pounds. The wait, calmer now, recommences. You're not as edgy as you were before for the nervous energy you exuded then was pointless, and caused you more harm than good for it only made you cross, then crosser still, and nothing, even after that release, occurred to change the outer state of things. There you were, still waiting for your order to be fulfilled in a diner by the side of a rail-road or in a parked restaurant-car that hasn't yet been coupled with its train, although hundreds of trains, in need of a restaurant-car, seemed to have passed through this very station.
You're not content, but you're not discontent either. Still frustrated, yes, but there's very little you can do, so read the paper, have a cup of coffee, sit and watch the rest of the world go by, although where you are residents or fellow travellers might be few. If you decide to take a nap, it's highly improbable you'd miss anything new or anything pertaining to you, and if you do, so what? You've waited so long, would it matter?
The food might arrive, grow cold and congeal; the train might leave without you. Or you might wake up and find, at last!, you're moving. You might not know where to, but finally you're on the move, you're going somewhere; God knows where, but somewhere. And although the destination might not be apparent for some time it's good to watch the landscape rolling by in-between averting your eyes to the laden plate, now set before you to replace the empty setting.

Picture credit: Compartment C Car, 1938 Edward Hopper