Dillard had given up on living simply. What was the point when all of his pals from the good old days were already caving in? Just last week he went over to Mac’s for a beer and discovered him spread out on a black leather recliner, with a new plasma screen TV that seemed to be as big as Mac’s king-sized bed if it was turned up on its side. Hell, Dillard remembered when Mac’s king-sized bed was the only furniture in the place. Engage in any activity not involving a bed and you had to sit cross-legged on the floor.
“What the hell’s this?” Dillard said, when he discovered Mac spread out like that, a TV remote in one hand, the other clutching the recliner lever as if ready for any last minute adjustments.
Mac jolted forward and said, “What?” in that same defensive tone he’d used back in ’93 when Dillard discovered him in bed with the girl Dillard had been trying to make the moves on ever since she blew into town on a wave of Nag Champa. Sure, Dillard has gotten her in the end, they were married now and Shelly swore that night with Mac had been a horrific, psilocybin-induced mistake, and that where in the hell else was she supposed to sit down besides the bed? Dillard had gotten over that one, sort of, but just the same, Mac’s defensive tone put his hackles up and he felt overwhelmed by the desire to smoke a joint despite his promise to Shelly that he would give it up now that they were expecting the baby.
“What’s with the TV, man? And the recliner?” Dillard tried to control his agitation but still his voice came out tight. Shelly had taken their television to the Salvation Army only the day before, she didn’t want the baby raised that way, and now here was Mac, giving into consumerism like he hadn’t spent the last twenty years in hemp pants and Jesus sandals.
Mac shrugged and settled back down into his seat. He flipped a few channels. “I threw my back out in yoga on Friday, Dillard. Jesus. Chill out, man. When was the last time you got laid?”
“Life isn’t all about sex.” Dillard realized he sounded like his wife.
“Yah, right. And I’m still a vegan.” Mac snorted, then leaned over and patted the carpet next to his recliner. “Come on, Dillard, chill the fuck out. My mother sent these to me for my birthday. You know how it is. Every year she asks me what I want, and every year I say I want a month in Tibet, and she tells me I’m a bad seed and writes me a check. Well, you know what, man? I turned forty this year and when Mom called up and asked me what I wanted I just opened up my mouth and out came the words: I want a lazy boy recliner and a plasma screen TV. And guess what?”
“What?” Dillard said. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor now, which wasn’t as easy as it used to be, especially without the pot, and he was overwhelmed by a sudden craving to sit in Mac’s chair and hold the controller like it was him that owned the world, and not The Man.
“This blows Tibet out of the fucking water,” Mac said, and then he pulled a joint out of his pocket, lit it, took a toke, and passed it down to Dillard.
“I promised Shelly I’d quit,” Dillard said, but he took the joint anyway and held it gingerly between his thumb and index finger.
“Hold on to your balls, Dillard,” Mac said, “Cause they’re shrinking fast.”
“I only have one,” Dillard said morosely.
“TMI, Dillard, TMI.” Mac said. Mac was dating a twenty-five-year-old yoga instructor and had taken to using abbreviations for things that Dillard couldn’t understand.
“TMI?” Dillard said, and took a hit off the joint.
“Too much information, Julie told me that.”
“I figured,” Dillard said.
Driving home from Mac’s place that night, Dillard stopped at a red light alongside a powder blue Mustang convertible with the top down. The driver was a beautiful woman, like a movie star with red lipstick and these momentous breasts, the kind of woman Dillard couldn’t help wanting. And for the first time, Dillard felt embarrassed by his beat up old truck that he had converted to run off vegetable oil. He knew that when the light turned green and he accelerated, he was going to send out a plume of smoke that smelt like a deep fryer and that this beautiful woman would wrinkle up her beautiful nose and be glad she had never been stupid enough to go out with guys like him, because then she would have ended up sitting bitch in a giant French Fry instead of sitting pretty in a powder blue dream.
Fuck sacrifice, Dillard thought as he sputtered forward. Fuck the God damn planet. I want my TV back! But then, maybe that was just the weed talking. The weed and Mac’s tofu twelve-grain cheddar no-meat loaf that never failed to give Dillard indigestion.
Jessica Marco’s work has appeared in Mothering Magazine and Curve Magazine, as well as online. She is the co-author of The Dictionary of Wholesome Foods: a Passionate A to Z Guide to the Earth’s Healthy Offerings, published by Marlow & Co in 2006. She writes The Green Zone, a weekly environmental column, for the North Bay Bohemian, and teaches high school English to recalcitrant teens, and creative writing to far more willing adults. She lives with her girlfriend, her gorgeous sons, and two corgis in a very, very small house in Sonoma County.