White Ennui (a good job)


White Ennui

You’ll notice as you get older that those that drink a lot will often tell the same stories. Often. they are stories of glory days past. College buddies. “Do you remember at that Phish concert when Billy picked up that stripper?” Wild times all around. Except, for those not drinking the stories are boring during the first telling and painful at every reenactment thereafter, fueled by good craft IPAs that clock in at 7.5 ABV and run about $20 for a 4-pack of tallboys.

With a good job and a house in the country, what could be wrong? There was ice hockey. There was work-from-home flexibility. I wife who drank and listened. And arguments each night about who would put the kids to bed. And if the kids came downstairs more than once all hell would break loose. But their yelling was different from my dad’s yelling. They were pissed but more resentful of the other parent who did not get the job done.

Finally, a bit of peace so the telling could begin afresh.

I had to leave the dining table the second night the college bro stories started up again. My girlfriend at the time, the sister of this lucky man, stayed. It was her little brother. She was joining him in the drinking and ruminating on stories of hockey and Phish concerts.

The problem came in the form of ennui. All the trappings of success, and… “I’ve got this little ‘jiggler’ application that moves my mouse for me, so I appear online on chat.” The rest of life was about entertainment and leisure and craft IPAs. And Phish.

You can’t pizza oven your way into happiness. You can’t bank on having smart and adoring children. And if your wife thinks you’re the alcoholic and leaves you drunk in the hot tub, well, there’s a problem. And it terrified my girlfriend. “Is she trying to kill him? I’m sure they’ve got great life insurance.”

So, night after night, she’d stay up drinking to hear her baby brother’s stories of former glory, former buds, and former girlfriends. And Phish shows. My time was spent worrying about the pandemic and my small claims case that was being appealed to a higher court, and now put me at risk rather than paying me the $5,000 I was owed. We sailed along that summer looking for laughs and distractions. And while I tried to hang with the drinking for a week or so. I could not abide the Phish via Alexa 24/7. And when the evening stories returned to college days, I opted to go down in the basement alone and read, write, or jack off.

“You know, a lot of other good music is going on,” I said, one Sunday afternoon on the back porch, tallboy in my hand. My girlfriend asked, “Who needs another round?” And that was how I spent that summer figuring out my presence at the party was optional.

Read more Short-Short Stories from John.

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