paperman:
Gary leaned back in his chair and sighed happily, almost letting out a chuckle. Horace, who shared the office with Gary, noticed. Horace had lost a bet to Gary before lunch, so he was doing the work of both of them while Gary relaxed and poked around forums all afternoon.

"What's got you so happy?" asked Horace, a bit upset due to his workload.

"Oh," replied Gary, "I was just remembering by old room mate."

"I hated my old room mate."

"That's too bad, Horace, that's too bad. I've heard some room mate horror stories before. Can't say I know how they feel, though."

"Yeah? What was so great about your room mate?"

Gary spun his chair around to look at Horace. "He was made of paper."

"What?"

"He was made out of paper. No flesh and bones, just lots and lots of paper."

"That isn't possible."

"Ha, I don't blame you for thinking that but it's kinda hard to say that to his face."

"Oh, I'm sure it was. What, would he tear off his old face and draw on his 'angry face'."

"Ah, you're much more entertaining when you're annoyed. No, no, he had facial expressions. Lots of delicate folds and creases. I tell ya, it was like living with a piece of art."

"You must love freak shows or something."

"Come again?"

"You said you enjoyed your room mate, that you don't have any 'horror stories' about him."

"Oh, when you put it that way I guess I do then. I don't much care for freak shows, they're degrading in many ways. But this, this was like living in the freak show. I had before me, day after day, a completely intangible human being--"

"Paper being."

"Ha, yes Horace, a 'paper being'. A completely intangible paper being, yet he existed and interacted just like everyone else."

"That's impossible."

"Oh, he is quite real."

"No, I mean that--well, yes, that too, he can't be real--but beyond that, there isn't any way that he was 'just like everyone else'. He can't be treated like 'everyone else'. Just watch people interact sometime. Something as small as a bad haircut changes everything. If you get a bad haircut, you cease to be like everyone else, you become 'the guy with a bad haircut'"

"Ah, but that's just it, hair grows back. You return to who you once were. My room mate never changed, however. He was made of paper and there was nothing he could do to become 'everyone else'."

"So I'm right."

"No, Horace, you're not right. You're playing by everyone else's rules. He wasn't like everyone else and he didn't care. When you get a bad haircut, you want your hair to grow back. My room mate was like a bad haircut that never grew back."

"What are you getting at, Gary?"

"What I'm getting at is that what makes someone different from 'everyone else' isn't being different, but trying not to be different."

"What?"

"When you're like 'everyone else', you are different. Right now, I am 'the guy who had a room mate made of paper' and you, I'm guessing, don't believe me."

"You got that part right."

"Yes, you're quite predictable, Horace. Now, if I'm the one with no--"

"Look, just stop right there. So, what you're trying to say is that everyone is unique, but we cease to be unique when we try to be like someone else. When we aren't being unique, we aren't like everyone else because everyone else is unique. Your room mate was like everyone else because he could never be like everyone else."

"Oh, uh, yeah. You got it on the nose, Horace. I'm impressed."

"Yes, well, just go back to your forums and let me finish my work."

"Our work, you mean."

"Yes, our work."

Horace went back to his work and Gary went back to his forums. After a minute of silence, Horace asked, without stopping his work, "Hey, what ever happened to your room mate?"

Gary, still clicking about, responded, "Oh, he caught on fire. Completely incinerated in under 30 seconds."

"Oh, sorry to hear it."

Gary stopped his forum-browsing and sighed again, much like before. Horace stopped his work and, more annoyed than ever, asked, "Oh what is it now?!"

Gary laughed and said, "I'd like to see 'everyone else' do that!"

Horace moaned. "I'm never betting with you again."

to the guestbook
Originally Posted on 2004-08-24 00:40:43
Last Updated on 2004-08-24 00:40:43


 
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