Nadav Spiegelman

The Nix

Nathan Hill
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The problem here is that whenever Samuel sees someone else crying, he needs to cry too. He’s been this way as long as he can remember. He’s like a baby in a nursery crying out of sympathy for the other babies. He feels like crying is such an exposed and vulnerable thing to do in front of other people that he’s ashamed and embarrassed for the person doing it, and this triggers his own feelings of shame and embarrassment, all the layers of childhood self-loathing that accumulated while growing up as a huge crybaby.
Samuel is waiting for Periwinkle, who wants a shoeshine but is hesitating. “I’m an exquisitely dressed white guy,” Periwinkle says, staring at the man at the shoeshine stand. “He is a minority in regressive costume.” “And this matters why?” Samuel says. “I don’t like the image. I hate that visual.”
Periwinkle is like a flashlight aimed at all your shortcomings. He makes you think consciously of the image you are projecting of yourself. For example, Samuel’s typical order at a coffee shop is a cappuccino. With Periwinkle, he ordered a green tea. Because a cappuccino seemed like a cliché, and he thought a green tea would have a higher Periwinkle approval rating. Periwinkle, meanwhile, ordered a cappuccino.
Despite its proximity, Samuel rarely goes into Chicago these days, and now he remembers why: The closer he gets to the city, the more the highway feels malicious and warlike—wild zigzagging drivers cutting people off, tailgating, honking horns, flashing their lights, all their private traumas now publicly enlarged.
There’s that thing where drivers next to him speed up when they see his turn signal, to eliminate the space he intended to occupy. There is no place less communal in America—no place less cooperative and brotherly, no place with fewer feelings of shared sacrifice—than a rush-hour freeway in Chicago.
“How do you know my brother?” she said. “He jumped out of a tree and scared me.” “Oh,” she said, as if this made perfect sense.
They navigated out of the subdivision, onto the wider arterial road that looked like any arterial road in any American suburb: a franchise hall of mirrors.
It was easy to forget when looking at the chaos of the cereal aisle that all these hundreds of options were actually one option.
It was as if the headmaster’s large presence had colonized the room. He was one of those men whose body exactly matched his disposition. His voice was big. His body was big. He sat bigly, his legs far apart and his chest puffed out.
“Every week I eat cheap shitty things, like nachos, is a week I can tick like seventy bucks to the other side of my mental ledger as cash ‘saved’ for my new life. This plan is going very well so far.” There seemed to be a not-rightness about him, a sense of disorder and exotic illness. His features were off in a way Samuel could not immediately put his finger on, like he suffered from some long-eradicated disease—scurvy, maybe.
The barometer for the health of the country seemed to be what middle-aged men thought about the behavior of college girls.
[Nadav’s note: yes we got it]
“Isn’t that so brilliant?” They’re both looking at you now, waiting. “Brilliant,” you say. Bethany smiles at her fiancé. The diamond on her finger might best be described as protuberant. The gold band seems to lift the diamond up like a baseball fan who has just caught a foul ball.
Families stood in the front vestibule awaiting their tables, staring at the round plastic puck the hostess gave them, a device that contained some kind of inner motor-and-light apparatus that would blink and agitate when their table was free.
[Nadav’s note: come on]
“It’s no problem,” Sebastian said. “I saw your maarr.” “My what?” “Your maarr.” “What is a maarr?” “I learned about it in Tibet,” he said, “visiting this sect of monks, one of the oldest Buddhist groups on earth, met them while I was abroad. I wanted to meet them because they’ve solved the problem of human empathy.” “I didn’t know that was a problem needing to be solved.”
The music was not hummable, was not really even danceable, but was excellent to kiss to.
They didn’t have sex “together” so much as Alice had vigorous sex with him while he lay there also participating.
Brown’s research was narrow but exhaustive.
[Nadav’s note: even this is DFW]
[Nadav’s note: supposed to be deep but doeant land]
“I’ll call it fiction,” Samuel said. “I’ll change the names. I’ll be sure to give you a really silly one.”
[Nadav’s note: he had to go meta too]