We live in a world of abstraction, a world where reality is defined by words and images – not by our experience.
Instead of basing our reality on the solid, concrete world of our senses which can touch reality through experience,
we float in an external context manufactured by those who program our reason and our imagination.
We live in a world where our feelings are programmed by ‘shoulds’ and the stories we tell ourselves.
We inhabit a world cut off from our own experience.
We live in a self-medicated fiction, lonely and confused, unable to connect with authentic human experience.
A Reflection of Second Order Intelligence
Cole leaned on the bar for support, waiting impatiently to order a Mojito. Fortunately for him, not all the local younger women had heard of the Mojito. Cole cherished the intoxicating effect of this image of himself introducing ‘chardonnay babes’ to how he almost single-handedly reintroduced this Cuban drink to the neighborhood hotspots. The Mojito line usually worked. Women are so stupid. All he needed now was a “chardonnay babe” and a little luck.
The combination of champagne and Mojito was serving a second purpose for Cole. His frustration and anger were fading into his inner fog. Cole was dreading being alone. “How can you destroy a perfectly good friendship by getting married?” he asked the bartender, who had not arrived yet. “Marriage is for ugly people; not studs like us,” he explained. Cole looked around, embarrassed at what he had just heard himself say. He felt lonely. He had tried to make relationships work. He remembered seeing the same frustration in his dad.
Cole looked up and down the bar for the bartender. He hated what was going on inside his chest. Cole considered jumping over the bar to make his own Mojito. “Not as simple as pouring a beer,” he reminded himself. Cole had no clue how to make a Mojito. He wondered if Mojitos were like relationships, "no clue how to make one of those work either," he sighed.
Cole’s hand grabbed the glass holding the brightly colored plastic swizzle sticks that some bar patrons use as a straw. He remembered an image in a movie where the hero looked cool chewing on a swizzle stick. “They should make these in flavors,” he mused as he placed an emerald green swizzle stick between his back teeth. Cole liked how he felt reenacting the hero in the film. “Mint swizzle sticks would freshen my breath,” he imagined. The image of himself becoming a wealthy man from the patent on flavored swizzle sticks brought a savory grin to his mouth.
“Lousy service, you lose your best friend, and where are all the hot babes?” This fresh image of himself being the ‘flavored swizzle stick king’ eased the tightness in his chest, at least a little. “Can I get some service here,” he continued shouting. This was clearly one of the worst days he had felt in a long time.
“Come join the reception, Cole. We’re almost ready to cut the cake and it’s your job to make the toast.”
Cole turned slowly toward the door. Who was this who was reminding him of what he was trying so hard to deny? “Can I help you,” he offered sarcastically, as he strained to recognize who was disturbing his fantasy.
“Your name is Cole isn't it? Hi! My name is Amy. Mary asked me to fetch the best man. I don’t think we’ve met before.”
Cole quickly scrutinized the female intruder. He judged her a “7.” “No point in being picky on a rotten day like this,” he rationalized to himself. “Hey little lady, come on over here for a minute. I want to talk to you. Have you ever had a Mojito?”
Amy scanned the bar for a mirror. She hadn’t checked her makeup for some time. She hadn’t expected a conversation. Amy slowly inhaled, counted to three, and focused on not looking self-conscious as she gingerly approached the best man. “I guess we have time to talk,” she smiled in a practiced purr. Amy wondered whether it would be too forward to seat herself on the bar stool next to Cole. She decided to wait for him to offer. “What’s a Mojito,” she blushed, suddenly realizing it might have something to do with sex.
Cole backed his butt onto the bar stool that had been nudging him. Things were starting to look up. “So, you’ve never heard of a Mojito huh?” the often-rehearsed Mojito line cascaded unconsciously out of Cole’s mouth. “I don’t remember seeing you before Amy, are you a friend of the bride or the groom?” Cole knew she couldn’t be a friend of the groom. He knew all of Mike’s past girlfriends, many intimately. Cole figured he would make a better impression if he appeared ‘open’ rather than assuming. He tried to keep track of what worked and what didn’t.
“Typical guy,” Amy affirmed in her thoughts, “no manners means I don’t get treated like a lady.” Amy decided to shift the bar chair so she could sit facing Cole. If she moved the stool to the left a little bit more, she might also have easy access to the big mirror behind the bar. By the flatness of Cole’s voice, Amy figured the Mojito line had nothing to do with sex. She felt relieved.
The words “bride or groom” found their way into Amy’s ears. “Oh, the bride,” she beamed. “we were best friends in high school. I haven’t seen her since then.” “Manners aren’t the most important thing,” she mused to herself as she made an effort to like Cole. Amy had a lifelong pattern of seeing men as their most positive potential instead of how they really were - and she had an equally long history of hurt and disappointment. Amy did not know how to change this pattern. Perhaps Cole was different.
“What's the first thing you notice when you chew on a swizzle stick,” offered Cole. “Here Amy, try one.” Cole spat his scrunchy emerald green swizzle stick at the ground and put a fresh cherry red replacement in his mouth. He wanted to show Amy what he expected her to do.
“That there's no drink around it,” laughed Amy.
“Huh?” puzzled Cole.
“The first thing I notice when I chew on this swizzle stick is that there’s no drink around it,” repeated Amy, now feigning a laugh. Wasn’t he going to buy her a drink? Where was this guy when God handed out manners anyway?
“Ha ha very funny,” smiled Cole, remembering that women are stupid. “That swizzle stick you’re chewing on represents my second million dollars. I’m thinking of having my attorney get me a patent for flavored swizzle sticks. I’ll make a fortune. I’m going to be the ‘flavored swizzle stick king’.”
“Second million?” repeated Amy, “how did you make your first million?”
“Well,” bluffed Cole, “I plan to make my first million on flavored swizzle sticks too.” Something was different about this day. Cole did not usually hear his own utterings. “I plan to make my first million on flavored swizzle sticks too,” he repeated, this time to himself. "I am such a loser!" Amy looked like the type of girl he had dreamed of marrying one day. Today Mike was marrying someone he loved. Cole tried to distract himself from the anguish gripping his chest.
Cole's attention shifted as a tuxedoed girl who looked barely 21 entered behind the bar. “F - i - n - a - l - l - y,” he enunciated as slowly as he could, “get us a couple of your finest Mojitos, on the double?” Cole noticed Amy’s perfume. He sniffed a couple of times to see if he recognized it.
“I would be happy to make you whatever drinks you like,” smiled the young blonde bartender, “but I’m brand new at this job. Just tell me how you’d like me to make it. I’ve only heard of that drink before - never made one."
“Great! Looks like I’m going to learn about a new drink,” grinned Amy, somewhat relieved that he was going to buy her a drink after all.
"Nope - never smelled this before," decided Cole, "must be one of those cheap perfumes no one has ever heard of."
“Oh my gosh, the toast,” shouted Cole, “didn’t you come to get me for the cake cutting and the toast Amy? I’ll tell you all about the Mojito later. We don't want to make Mike and Mary wait do we? C’mon Amy we better get going.” Cole spat the crippled cherry red swizzle stick onto the carpet.
“You know Cole, I just thought of something. Won’t a flavored swizzle stick interfere with the taste of the drink? If you put a spearmint flavored swizzle stick into a gin tonic, won't it wreck the taste?”
Cole nudged Amy’s arm to get her moving. As soon as he saw her move toward door, he stepped back and attempted to ground his chewed-up cherry red plastic swizzle stick into the carpet. He felt his chest tighten again. Time for another Valium. “You know I was just kidding about the flavored swizzle sticks don’t you Amy? I’m not stupid or anything like that you know!”
“Of course I knew you were kidding Cole, unless you meant the swizzle sticks came in different alcohol flavors. If you put a gin-flavored swizzle stick into a gin and tonic, it'd be a fun idea.”
“Wow, you know me pretty well already Amy. ‘Cause that is exactly what I had in mind – alcohol flavored swizzle sticks!”
“You can color code the flavors Cole.”
“I already thought of that Amy!” feigned Cole.
Cole realized he wanted Amy out of his life as quickly as she had entered it. Just as he was exiting the door, he turned and eyed the pretty bartender. “Well she doesn’t know what a Mojito is – but I’m not likely to impress her until I learn how to make one of those damn things myself.”