The Knight of Infinite Resignation is the doomed loved story of Nicholas Rodney, a neurotic philosophy major at NYU, and Alison Heart, a talented young actress from the Midwest.
In the infinite resignation there is peace and rest and comfort in sorrow.
Johannes de silentio
Michel Foucault once described being hit by a car as one of the most pleasurable experiences of his life. I have never been hit by a car, although I did hit someone with a car once. I suppose that’s not the same thing. I was sixteen. I was driving down a quiet road when out of nowhere a splayed body appeared across my windshield with this bewildered face momentarily catching my eyes before it slid off the other side of the hood. I had hit a middle-aged woman. It was her fault. It was late, she had been drinking and she just stepped out into the road without looking. I don’t think she enjoyed the experience half as much as Michel Foucault had, but I tell you this: I bet she still gets some satisfaction from ranting about the time some punk kid tried to run her down on a residential street in Portland, Oregon. Luckily I wasn’t going fast, because I was trying to find the house of this girl I was picking up. Well, actually I wasn’t picking her up. I had a crush on her and I wanted to see where she lived. I wasn’t stalking her or anything—honest—but that’s another story.
When I was a little five-year-old tyke, I was nearly hit by a car. I was riding my bike down my parents’ driveway, out into the street, unknowingly into the path of an oncoming station wagon, piloted by an elderly man who probably mumbled something to his wife later on about these damned stupid kids. The car screeched to a halt, stopping close enough for me to reach out and touch its hood. I was paralyzed with fear and probably gave that old man the same crazed expression as that woman, who would appear on my hood late one night years later, gave me. After what felt like an eternity, but was certainly only seconds, I high-tailed it out of there, my tiny young veins coursing with adrenaline, afraid that I would be arrested by the police and thrown in jail and forced to do hard labor in the form of smashing large rocks into smaller ones as penance for my carelessness. It was a traumatic enough experience that, to this day, every time I crane my neck around a parked truck before crossing a street, an image of that station wagon flashes through my mind. It was a Buick.
I’m both puzzled and fascinated by Foucault’s assertion. Maybe he meant that it’s the painful trials of our life that shape us. Like Nietzsche, maybe he meant that only after intense suffering can true happiness be appreciated. Maybe he craved unique experiences. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. It might not have been painful for him at all. Maybe he was just a sick fucker. Whatever the reason, I don’t intend to go out and see if Foucault is right about it. Life is painful enough without being mowed down by a motor vehicle.
I don’t understand how anyone gets off on pain, though we all like being victims, regaling stories of our trials. This hangover feels like having been hit by a truck. It’s debilitating though for once worth it. Lying beside me is a girl who is way out of my league. I can’t believe I managed to get her home and into my bed. She’s beautiful. And she’s not one of those beautiful girls who are also total bitches. It’s as if she doesn’t even know she’s hot.
My first impression of her was as this dumb, blonde small-town-girl-in-the-big-city with stars in her green eyes. Not that it mattered. Like I said, she’s really hot. I didn’t think I’d have a chance with her, so I didn’t pay her much attention when I first met her last night at the bar. I was there with a group of friends from school. She was there with a group of friends from her school too.
We were both up at the bar trying to order drinks and it was really crowded, so she was kind of wedged up against me. She smiled. I was a little embarrassed. I didn’t want her to think I was one of those assholes who would take advantage of a situation like that, so I apologized and tried to turn away from her. She said not to worry. Even though I had been waiting longer, the bartender, predictably, took her order first. She told him I was there first and I told her not worry and to go ahead and order. After she got her drinks, the bartender took my order and she waited there at the bar with her friends’ drinks until I got mine. We made small talk, but I was too stupid to clue in.
“Is this place always like this?” she asked. “So packed?”
“School’s started. Time to start drinking,” I answered wryly. I got my drinks, thanked her again and returned to my table.
About an hour later, I went back to the bar to get another drink and she reappeared. I thought it was a coincidence. I flagged down the bartender and he came over and took my order and asked me what my girlfriend wanted and I wanted to say that she wasn’t my girlfriend because I didn’t want her to think that I was going to take advantage of the bartender’s presumption, but I didn’t want it to sound like I was saying that I wouldn’t have her for a girlfriend either and I was worried that any reply would sound awkward and I guess I waited a moment too long to say anything, because she finally said, “Aren’t you going to ask me what I want?”