Aging Egoists by Philip Schultz


At dinner last night

people we know, but donít like,

complained about the expense

of heating their pool,

employing an army of

unreliable (and illegal)

gardeners and handymen,

the pain of being envied

by friends. Everyone they knew

sought their largesse,

apparently. My wife swims

at the YMCA. Our boys play

some kind of ball all year long,

which is why only mud grows

in our tiny backyard. When

my knees like me, I jog

with my Border Collie mix,

Penelope, trying not to think

about the sacrifices being made

in the name of the gods greed

and grandiosity, how democracy

is being flattened into a highway

for the bitter and the privileged.

My wife is a sculptor and these

people deal in art and money.

Was that why they served such

exceptional dry white wine,

exquisite pates, because artists

were less reliable than gardeners,

required, like children, guidance,

because human frailty and simplicity

needed to be reminded of how

powerless they were? We expected

boredom, not contempt, vacuity,

not a politics of primitive equilibrium.

They hugged and kissed us goodbye,

we hugged and kissed them back.

Driving home, we tried to imagine

their loneliness, what might occur

if truth could be apportioned like

their view of the sea. Were we all

aging egoists, battling boredom

and death, envying what we despised?

Oddly buoyed and estranged,

we drove through the long silence

of the trees, utterly bewildered.

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Philip Schultz


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