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Candy is not a minimalist. I am. This is a problem. She's constantly coming back from Whole Foods with ephemeral things like tomato paste, tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, ketchup (I could go on) -- futilely trying to patch up the irredeemable negative space between her body and the universe. I try to explain how life is like discovering you've had the microwave set at defrost trying to make popcorn after three minutes of silence. It's a scam and it's your fault.

The repetition is almost avant-garde: I'm a minimalist. Just give me my Philip Glass CDs and leave me alone. The melodies weave together in a flimsy latticework of net-like hugs. They wrap me close and I sink into the infinite alternating currents of layered harmonies. I'm making my way through "Music in 12 Parts." It's hypnotically profound, especially when it goes da da dou-a di a, da da dou-a di a, da da dou-a di real fast with the horn coming in buuuuuuu, buuuuuuu, buuuuuuu.

I get back from the side yard, on which I fashioned a Zen garden out of gravel, and Candy's making dinner, complaining about how I don't help out in the kitchen. She cuts marjoram into dust. The dim 40W bulb casts a mild sheen on her; it looks like she's got bad zombie makeup on. No blood in this house, only ketchup. I consider replacing the other bulbs in the house, but.

"But. That's all you ever say. You never help."

"I'm shaving my head," I say.

"Being an unemployed snob doesn't make you a monk," she says.

"But --"

I'll say this one more time: I'm a minimalist. Except when it comes to supper. I have three plates of pasta, a bottle of Shiraz, a bag of Doritos, some leftover buffalo wings, a mouthful of gummy bears, then I get up to alphabetize my avant-garde minimalist CD collection. I'm already at the Rs when Candy interrupts me.

"You never help with the dishes," she says.

"Jesus, Candy, I'm already at Steve Reich. This is intense minimalist stuff here . . . Hey, that scratch is going to skip. You know I love my 'Music for 18 Musicians."

"It won't sound any different."

"Don't tell me about do do di do, do-do, do do di do, do-do, I know."

She doesn't understand me, just like my parents. They never did take my Marxist phase seriously. The bed rash didn't help. Instead of graduating, I read Hegel. That's when I shaved my head and got my barcode tattoo -- right about the time I met Candy. She teaches high school Spanish to rich kids in LA who only want to learn words for fuck and pot. She tries to teach me some ¡Español! but I won't have it. I'm working through complicated Sartrean ideas about nothingness right now, and I need some space. That's why Candy sleeps on the floor.

Nothingness is the waiter who isn't at your table. I've always encouraged Candy to embrace her absent mattress, but no, she's still quite moody in the mornings. Candy says my snoring could wake up the rooster. The birds outside get the hint and keep their songs to themselves. I tell her Gandhi would have gone nowhere if he had such a drama queen to deal with all the time. "Your back will be fine. It's not always about you," I say.

The Ahknaten box set comes at my head in slow motion and I duck. She still looks like a zombie. There's a shiny bead growing out of her tear duct, and it stays right there, frozen like the pause button is pushed and the batteries fell out. I could never translate her feelings, but now I know. "Take all of your Philip Glass CDs and get the fuck out of here," she screams, "and your Yo-Yo Ma too!"

[Forever after at]


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