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Big A, June 20, 2013 in The Smack Down
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament.”— it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have a tradition that we’re descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather’s brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on to-day.
I never saw this great-uncle, but I’m supposed to look like him — with special reference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in father’s office. I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. I enjoyed the counter-raid so thoroughly that I came back restless. Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe — so I decided to go East and learn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business, so I supposed it could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles talked it over as if they were choosing a prep school for me, and finally said, “Why — ye — es,” with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance me for a year, and after various delays I came East, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twenty-two.
The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commuting town, it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, a weather-beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington, and I went out to the country alone. I had a dog — at least I had him for a few days until he ran away — and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove.
It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently arrived than I, stopped me on the road.
“How do you get to West Egg village?” he asked helplessly.
I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.
And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
There was so much to read, for one thing, and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air. I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities, and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew. And I had the high intention of reading many other books besides. I was rather literary in college — one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the “Yale News.”— and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded man.” This isn’t just an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York — and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals — like the egg in the Columbus story, they are both crushed flat at the contact end — but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead. To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
I lived at West Egg, the — well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard — it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion. Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires — all for eighty dollars a month.
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.
Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven — a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy — even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach — but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance, he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.
Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn’t believe it — I had no sight into Daisy’s heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.
And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens — finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage — a cruel body.
His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked — and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.
“Now, don’t think my opinion on these matters is final,” he seemed to say, “just because I’m stronger and more of a man than you are.” We were in the same senior society, and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
“I’ve got a nice place here,” he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.
Turning me around by one arm, he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore.
“It belonged to Demaine, the oil man.” He turned me around again, politely and abruptly. “We’ll go inside.”
We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it — indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression — then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
At any rate, Miss Baker’s lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back again — the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.
I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way East, and how a dozen people had sent their love through me.
“Do they miss me?” she cried ecstatically.
“The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath, and there’s a persistent wail all night along the north shore.”
“How gorgeous! Let’s go back, Tom. To-morrow!” Then she added irrelevantly: “You ought to see the baby.”
“I’d like to.”
“She’s asleep. She’s three years old. Haven’t you ever seen her?”
“Well, you ought to see her. She’s ——”
Tom Buchanan, who had been hovering restlessly about the room, stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder.
“What you doing, Nick?”
“I’m a bond man.”
I told him.
“Never heard of them,” he remarked decisively.
This annoyed me.
“You will,” I answered shortly. “You will if you stay in the East.”
“Oh, I’ll stay in the East, don’t you worry,” he said, glancing at Daisy and then back at me, as if he were alert for something more. “I’d be a God damned fool to live anywhere else.”
At this point Miss Baker said: “Absolutely!” with such suddenness that I started — it was the first word she uttered since I came into the room. Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.
“I’m stiff,” she complained, “I’ve been lying on that sofa for as long as I can remember.”
“Don’t look at me,” Daisy retorted, “I’ve been trying to get you to New York all afternoon.”
“No, thanks,” said Miss Baker to the four cocktails just in from the pantry, “I’m absolutely in training.”
Her host looked at her incredulously.
“You are!” He took down his drink as if it were a drop in the bottom of a glass. “How you ever get anything done is beyond me.”
I looked at Miss Baker, wondering what it was she “got done.” I enjoyed looking at her. She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face. It occurred to me now that I had seen her, or a picture of her, somewhere before.
“You live in West Egg,” she remarked contemptuously. “I know somebody there.”
“I don’t know a single ——”
“You must know Gatsby.”
“Gatsby?” demanded Daisy. “What Gatsby?”
Before I could reply that he was my neighbor dinner was announced; wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine, Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square.
Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips, the two young women preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch, open toward the sunset, where four candles flickered on the table in the diminished wind.
“Why candles?” objected Daisy, frowning. She snapped them out with her fingers. “In two weeks it’ll be the longest day in the year.” She looked at us all radiantly. “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”
“We ought to plan something,” yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at the table as if she were getting into bed.
“All right,” said Daisy. “What’ll we plan?” She turned to me helplessly: “What do people plan?”
Before I could answer her eyes fastened with an awed expression on her little finger.
“Look!” she complained; “I hurt it.”
We all looked — the knuckle was black and blue.
“You did it, Tom,” she said accusingly. “I know you didn’t mean to, but you did do it. That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a ——”
“I hate that word hulking,” objected Tom crossly, “even in kidding.”
“Hulking,” insisted Daisy.
Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire. They were here, and they accepted Tom and me, making only a polite pleasant effort to entertain or to be entertained. They knew that presently dinner would be over and a little later the evening too would be over and casually put away. It was sharply different from the West, where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward its close, in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself.
“You make me feel uncivilized, Daisy,” I confessed on my second glass of corky but rather impressive claret. “Can’t you talk about crops or something?”
I meant nothing in particular by this remark, but it was taken up in an unexpected way.
“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”
“Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”
“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we ——”
“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”
“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.
“You ought to live in California —” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.
“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ——” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “— And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”
There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more. When, almost immediately, the telephone rang inside and the butler left the porch Daisy seized upon the momentary interruption and leaned toward me.
“I’ll tell you a family secret,” she whispered enthusiastically. “It’s about the butler’s nose. Do you want to hear about the butler’s nose?”
“That’s why I came over to-night.”
“Well, he wasn’t always a butler; he used to be the silver polisher for some people in New York that had a silver service for two hundred people. He had to polish it from morning till night, until finally it began to affect his nose ——”
“Things went from bad to worse,” suggested Miss Baker.
What's this? I think I would rather the usual one liner snarky remark including a homosexual reference to your anal cavity you normally make, I'm not going to read all that!
if he really wanted to be e-cool he should have just posted about his cars and shoes
“Yes. Things went from bad to worse, until finally he had to give up his position.”
For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened — then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.
The butler came back and murmured something close to Tom’s ear, whereupon Tom frowned, pushed back his chair, and without a word went inside. As if his absence quickened something within her, Daisy leaned forward again, her voice glowing and singing.
“I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a — of a rose, an absolute rose. Doesn’t he?” She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation: “An absolute rose?”
This was untrue. I am not even faintly like a rose. She was only extemporizing, but a stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words. Then suddenly she threw her napkin on the table and excused herself and went into the house.
Miss Baker and I exchanged a short glance consciously devoid of meaning. I was about to speak when she sat up alertly and said “Sh!” in a warning voice. A subdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room beyond, and Miss Baker leaned forward unashamed, trying to hear. The murmur trembled on the verge of coherence, sank down, mounted excitedly, and then ceased altogether.
“This Mr. Gatsby you spoke of is my neighbor ——” I said.
“Don’t talk. I want to hear what happens.”
“Is something happening?” I inquired innocently.
“You mean to say you don’t know?” said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. “I thought everybody knew.”
“Why ——” she said hesitantly, “Tom’s got some woman in New York.”
“Got some woman?” I repeated blankly.
Miss Baker nodded.
“She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner time. Don’t you think?”
Almost before I had grasped her meaning there was the flutter of a dress and the crunch of leather boots, and Tom and Daisy were back at the table.
“It couldn’t be helped!” cried Daisy with tense gaiety.
She sat down, glanced searchingly at Miss Baker and then at me, and continued: “I looked outdoors for a minute, and it’s very romantic outdoors. There’s a bird on the lawn that I think must be a nightingale come over on the Cunard or White Star Line. He’s singing away ——” Her voice sang: “It’s romantic, isn’t it, Tom?”
“Very romantic,” he said, and then miserably to me: “If it’s light enough after dinner, I want to take you down to the stables.”
The telephone rang inside, startlingly, and as Daisy shook her head decisively at Tom the subject of the stables, in fact all subjects, vanished into air. Among the broken fragments of the last five minutes at table I remember the candles being lit again, pointlessly, and I was conscious of wanting to look squarely at every one, and yet to avoid all eyes. I couldn’t guess what Daisy and Tom were thinking, but I doubt if even Miss Baker, who seemed to have mastered a certain hardy scepticism, was able utterly to put this fifth guest’s shrill metallic urgency out of mind. To a certain temperament the situation might have seemed intriguing — my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police.
The horses, needless to say, were not mentioned again. Tom and Miss Baker, with several feet of twilight between them, strolled back into the library, as if to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body, while, trying to look pleasantly interested and a little deaf, I followed Daisy around a chain of connecting verandas to the porch in front. In its deep gloom we sat down side by side on a wicker settee.
Daisy took her face in her hands as if feeling its lovely shape, and her eyes moved gradually out into the velvet dusk. I saw that turbulent emotions possessed her, so I asked what I thought would be some sedative questions about her little girl.
“We don’t know each other very well, Nick,” she said suddenly. “Even if we are cousins. You didn’t come to my wedding.”
“I wasn’t back from the war.”
“That’s true.” She hesitated. “Well, I’ve had a very bad time, Nick, and I’m pretty cynical about everything.”
Evidently she had reason to be. I waited but she didn’t say any more, and after a moment I returned rather feebly to the subject of her daughter.
“I suppose she talks, and — eats, and everything.”
“Oh, yes.” She looked at me absently. “Listen, Nick; let me tell you what I said when she was born. Would you like to hear?”
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about — things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘all right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
“You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow,” she went on in a convinced way. “Everybody thinks so — the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom’s, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. “Sophisticated — God, I’m sophisticated!”
The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention, my belief, I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. It made me uneasy, as though the whole evening had been a trick of some sort to exact a contributory emotion from me. I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face, as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.
Inside, the crimson room bloomed with light.
Tom and Miss Baker sat at either end of the long couch and she read aloud to him from the Saturday Evening Post. — the words, murmurous and uninflected, running together in a soothing tune. The lamp-light, bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf yellow of her hair, glinted along the paper as she turned a page with a flutter of slender muscles in her arms.
When we came in she held us silent for a moment with a lifted hand.
“To be continued,” she said, tossing the magazine on the table, “in our very next issue.”
Her body asserted itself with a restless movement of her knee, and she stood up.
“Ten o’clock,” she remarked, apparently finding the time on the ceiling. “Time for this good girl to go to bed.”
“Jordan’s going to play in the tournament to-morrow,” explained Daisy, “over at Westchester.”
“Oh — you’re Jordan Baker.”
I knew now why her face was familiar — its pleasing contemptuous expression had looked out at me from many rotogravure pictures of the sporting life at Asheville and Hot Springs and Palm Beach. I had heard some story of her too, a critical, unpleasant story, but what it was I had forgotten long ago.
“Good night,” she said softly. “Wake me at eight, won’t you.”
“If you’ll get up.”
“I will. Good night, Mr. Carraway. See you anon.”
“Of course you will,” confirmed Daisy. “In fact I think I’ll arrange a marriage. Come over often, Nick, and I’ll sort of — oh — fling you together. You know — lock you up accidentally in linen closets and push you out to sea in a boat, and all that sort of thing ——”
“Good night,” called Miss Baker from the stairs. “I haven’t heard a word.”
“She’s a nice girl,” said Tom after a moment. “They oughtn’t to let her run around the country this way.”
“Who oughtn’t to?” inquired Daisy coldly.
“Her family is one aunt about a thousand years old. Besides, Nick’s going to look after her, aren’t you, Nick? She’s going to spend lots of week-ends out here this summer. I think the home influence will be very good for her.”
Daisy and Tom looked at each other for a moment in silence.
“Is she from New York?” I asked quickly.
“From Louisville. Our white girlhood was passed together there. Our beautiful white ——”
“Did you give Nick a little heart to heart talk on the veranda?” demanded Tom suddenly.
“Did I?” She looked at me.
“I can’t seem to remember, but I think we talked about the Nordic race. Yes, I’m sure we did. It sort of crept up on us and first thing you know ——”
“Don’t believe everything you hear, Nick,” he advised me.
I said lightly that I had heard nothing at all, and a few minutes later I got up to go home. They came to the door with me and stood side by side in a cheerful square of light. As I started my motor Daisy peremptorily called: “Wait!”
“I forgot to ask you something, and it’s important. We heard you were engaged to a girl out West.”
“That’s right,” corroborated Tom kindly. “We heard that you were engaged.”
“It’s libel. I’m too poor.”
“But we heard it,” insisted Daisy, surprising me by opening up again in a flower-like way. “We heard it from three people, so it must be true.”
Of course I knew what they were referring to, but I wasn’t even vaguely engaged. The fact that gossip had published the banns was one of the reasons I had come East. You can’t stop going with an old friend on account of rumors, and on the other hand I had no intention of being rumored into marriage.
Their interest rather touched me and made them less remotely rich — nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away. It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child in arms — but apparently there were no such intentions in her head. As for Tom, the fact that he “had some woman in New York.” was really less surprising than that he had been depressed by a book. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.
Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages, where new red gas-pumps sat out in pools of light, and when I reached my estate at West Egg I ran the car under its shed and sat for a while on an abandoned grass roller in the yard. The wind had blown off, leaving a loud, bright night, with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life. The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight, and turning my head to watch it, I saw that I was not alone — fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor’s mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars. Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.
I decided to call to him. Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and that would do for an introduction. But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone — he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.
...and this concludes today's reading of the Great Gatsby! LMFAO
Some more intelligent posts from Mashdummy!
tiss tiss you call this crap. and I call it a work.
I will tell you something that is truly unbelievable........know the truth about how Columbus never stepped foot in a north america, never discovered it. Yet it is sadly preached that he found America.
anyhow pick your path, your way, what you believe. but do not call another way to add 2+2, crap.
putting another down is just your self being upset with yourself. It is a means into trying to make yourself feel better.
and to all your pictures of hitler etc. you should really not let this bother you. there is always a bad sheep that rises from Buddha to Atheist to Christian to etc.
It is up to you to read the book and find out the truth and if you listen then you will find the truth. and then you'll spot those in wolves in sheep clothing.
Don't make me go to chapter two. No body gives a poo Alice. We couldn't give a fug less about some shitstain falcons fan.
Did you fail English class?
So, there's a man crawling through the desert.He'd decided to try his SUV in a little bit of cross-country travel, had great fun zooming over the badlands and through the sand, got lost, hit a big rock, and then he couldn't get it started again. There were no cell phone towers anywhere near, so his cell phone was useless. He had no family, his parents had died a few years before in an auto accident, and his few friends had no idea he was out here.He stayed with the car for a day or so, but his one bottle of water ran outand he was getting thirsty. He thought maybe he knew the direction back, now that he'd paid attention to the sun and thought he'd figured out which way was north, so he decided to start walking. He figured he only had to go about 30 miles or so and he'd be back to the small town he'd gotten gas in last.He thinks about walking at night to avoid the heat and sun, but based uponhow dark it actually was the night before, and given that he has no flashlight, he's afraid that he'll break a leg or step on a rattlesnake. So,he puts on some sun block, puts the rest in his pocket for reapplicationlater, brings an umbrella he'd had in the back of the SUV with him to givehim a little shade, pours the windshield wiper fluid into his water bottlein case he gets that desperate, brings his pocket knife in case he finds a cactus that looks like it might have water in it, and heads out in thedirection he thinks is right.He walks for the entire day. By the end of the day he's really thirsty. He'sbeen sweating all day, and his lips are starting to crack. He's reapplied the sunblock twice, and tried to stay under the umbrella, but he still feels sunburned. The windshield wiper fluid sloshing in the bottle in his pocket is really getting tempting now. He knows that it's mainly water and some ethanol and coloring, but he also knows that they add some kind of poison to it to keep people from drinking it. He wonders what the poison is, andwhether the poison would be worse than dying of thirst.He pushes on, trying to get to that small town before dark.By the end of the day he starts getting worried. He figures he's been walking at least 3 miles an hour, according to his watch for over 10 hours. That means that if his estimate was right that he should be close to thetown. But he doesn't recognize any of this. He had to cross a dry creek bed a mile or two back, and he doesn't remember coming through it in the SUV. He figures that maybe he got his direction off just a little and that the dry creek bed was just off to one side of his path. He tells himself that he's close, and that after dark he'll start seeing the town lights over one of these hills, and that'll be all he needs.As it gets dim enough that he starts stumbling over small rocks and things,he finds a spot and sits down to wait for full dark and the town lights.Full dark comes before he knows it. He must have dozed off. He stands backup and turns all the way around. He sees nothing but stars.He wakes up the next morning feeling absolutely lousy. His eyes are gummy and his mouth and nose feel like they're full of sand. He so thirsty that he can't even swallow. He barely got any sleep because it was so cold. He'd forgotten how cold it got at night in the desert and hadn't noticed it the night before because he'd been in his car.He knows the Rule of Threes - three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food - then you die. Some people can make it a little longer, in the best situations. But the desert heat and having to walk and sweat isn't the best situation to be without water. He figures, unless he finds water, this is his last day.He rinses his mouth out with a little of the windshield wiper fluid. He waits a while after spitting that little bit out, to see if his mouth goes numb, or he feels dizzy or something. Has his mouth gone numb? Is it just inhis mind? He's not sure. He'll go a little farther, and if he still doesn'tfind water, he'll try drinking some of the fluid.Then he has to face his next, harder question - which way does he go from here? Does he keep walking the same way he was yesterday (assuming that he still knows which way that is), or does he try a new direction? He has no idea what to do.Looking at the hills and dunes around him, he thinks he knows the direction he was heading before. Just going by a feeling, he points himself somewhat to the left of that, and starts walking.As he walks, the day starts heating up. The desert, too cold just a couple of hours before, soon becomes an oven again. He sweats a little at first, and then stops. He starts getting worried at that - when you stop sweating he knows that means you're in trouble - usually right before heat stroke.He decides that it's time to try the windshield wiper fluid. He can't waitany longer - if he passes out, he's dead. He stops in the shade of a largerock, takes the bottle out, opens it, and takes a mouthful. He slowlyswallows it, making it last as long as he can. It feels so good in his dryand cracked throat that he doesn't even care about the nasty taste. He takesanother mouthful, and makes it last too. Slowly, he drinks half the bottle.He figures that since he's drinking it, he might as well drink enough tomake some difference and keep himself from passing out.He's quit worrying about the denaturing of the wiper fluid. If it kills him,it kills him - if he didn't drink it, he'd die anyway. Besides, he's prettysure that whatever substance they denature the fluid with is just designed to make you sick - their way of keeping winos from buying cheap wiper fluid for the ethanol content. He can handle throwing up, if it comes to that.He walks. He walks in the hot, dry, windless desert. Sand, rocks, hills,dunes, the occasional scrawny cactus or dried bush. No sign of water.Sometimes he'll see a little movement to one side or the other, but whatever moved is usually gone before he can focus his eyes on it. Probably birds, lizards, or mice. Maybe snakes, though they usually move more at night. He's careful to stay away from the movements.After a while, he begins to stagger. He's not sure if it's fatigue, heatstroke finally catching him, or maybe he was wrong and the denaturing of the wiper fluid was worse than he thought. He tries to steady himself, and keep going.After more walking, he comes to a large stretch of sand. This is good! Heknows he passed over a stretch of sand in the SUV - he remembers doingdonuts in it. Or at least he thinks he remembers it - he's getting woozyenough and tired enough that he's not sure what he remembers any more or ifhe's hallucinating. But he thinks he remembers it. So he heads off into it,trying to get to the other side, hoping that it gets him closer to the town.He was heading for a town, wasn't he? He thinks he was. He isn't sure any more. He's not even sure how long he's been walking any more. Is it still morning? Or has it moved into afternoon and the sun is going down again? It must be afternoon - it seems like it's been too long since he started out.He walks through the sand.After a while, he comes to a big dune in the sand. This is bad. He doesn'tremember any dunes when driving over the sand in his SUV. Or at least hedoesn't think he remembers any. This is bad.But, he has no other direction to go. Too late to turn back now. He figuresthat he'll get to the top of the dune and see if he can see anything fromthere that helps him find the town. He keeps going up the dune.Halfway up, he slips in the bad footing of the sand for the second or thirdtime, and falls to his knees. He doesn't feel like getting back up - he'lljust fall down again. So, he keeps going up the dune on his hand and knees.While crawling, if his throat weren't so dry, he'd laugh. He's finallygotten to the hackneyed image of a man lost in the desert - crawling throughthe sand on his hands and knees. If would be the perfect image, he imagines, if only his clothes were more ragged. The people crawling through the desertin the cartoons always had ragged clothes. But his have lasted without anyrips so far. Somebody will probably find his dessicated corpse half buried in the sand years from now, and his clothes will still be in fine shape -shake the sand out, and a good wash, and they'd be wearable again. He wishes his throat were wet enough to laugh. He coughs a little instead, and it hurts.He finally makes it to the top of the sand dune. Now that he's at the top,he struggles a little, but manages to stand up and look around. All he seesis sand. Sand, and more sand. Behind him, about a mile away, he thinks hesees the rocky ground he left to head into this sand. Ahead of him, moredunes, more sand. This isn't where he drove his SUV. This is Hell. Or close enough.Again, he doesn't know what to do. He decides to drink the rest of the wiperfluid while figuring it out. He takes out the bottle, and is removing thecap, when he glances to the side and sees something. Something in the sand. At the bottom of the dune, off to the side, he sees something strange. It's a flat area, in the sand. He stops taking the cap of the bottle off, and tries to look closer. The area seems to be circular. And it's dark - darker than the sand. And, there seems to be something in the middle of it, but he can't tell what it is. He looks as hard as he can, and still can tell fromhere. He's going to have to go down there and look.He puts the bottle back in his pocket, and starts to stumble down the dune.After a few steps, he realizes that he's in trouble - he's not going to be able to keep his balance. After a couple of more sliding, tottering steps, he falls and starts to roll down the dune. The sand it so hot when his body hits it that for a minute he thinks he's caught fire on the way down - like a movie car wreck flashing into flames as it goes over the cliff, before it ever even hits the ground. He closes his eyes and mouth, covers his face with his hands, and waits to stop rolling.He stops, at the bottom of the dune. After a minute or two, he finds enoughenergy to try to sit up and get the sand out of his face and clothes. Whenhe clears his eyes enough, he looks around to make sure that the dark spotin the sand it still there and he hadn't just imagined it.So, seeing the large, flat, dark spot on the sand is still there, he beginsto crawl towards it. He'd get up and walk towards it, but he doesn't seem tohave the energy to get up and walk right now. He must be in the final stagesof dehydration he figures, as he crawls. If this place in the sand doesn'thave water, he'll likely never make it anywhere else. This is his lastchance.He gets closer and closer, but still can't see what's in the middle of thedark area. His eyes won't quite focus any more for some reason. And liftinghis head up to look takes so much effort that he gives up trying. He justkeeps crawling.Finally, he reaches the area he'd seen from the dune. It takes him a minute of crawling on it before he realizes that he's no longer on sand - he's now crawling on some kind of dark stone. Stone with some kind of marking on it - a pattern cut into the stone. He's too tired to stand up and try to see what the pattern is - so he just keeps crawling. He crawls towards the center,where his blurry eyes still see something in the middle of the dark stonearea.His mind, detached in a strange way, notes that either his hands and knees are so burnt by the sand that they no longer feel pain, or that this darkstone, in the middle of a burning desert with a pounding, punishing sunoverhead, doesn't seem to be hot. It almost feels cool. He considers lyingdown on the nice cool surface.Cool, dark stone. Not a good sign. He must be hallucinating this. He'sprobably in the middle of a patch of sand, already lying face down anddying, and just imagining this whole thing. A desert mirage. Soon thebeautiful women carrying pitchers of water will come up and start giving hima drink. Then he'll know he's gone.He decides against laying down on the cool stone. If he's going to die herein the middle of this hallucination, he at least wants to see what's in thecenter before he goes. He keeps crawling.It's the third time that he hears the voice before he realizes what he'shearing. He would swear that someone just said, "Greetings, traveler. You donot look well. Do you hear me?"He stops crawling. He tries to look up from where he is on his hands andknees, but it's too much effort to lift his head. So he tries somethingdifferent - he leans back and tries to sit up on the stone. After a fewseconds, he catches his balance, avoids falling on his face, sits up, andtries to focus his eyes. Blurry. He rubs his eyes with the back of his handsand tries again. Better this time.Yep. He can see. He's sitting in the middle of a large, flat, dark expanseof stone. Directly next to him, about three feet away, is a white post orpole about two inches in diameter and sticking up about four or five feetout of the stone, at an angle.And wrapped around this white rod, tail with rattle on it hovering andseeming to be ready to start rattling, is what must be a fifteen foot longdesert diamondback rattlesnake, looking directly at him.He stares at the snake in shock. He doesn't have the energy to get up andrun away. He doesn't even have the energy to crawl away. This is it, hisfinal resting place. No matter what happens, he's not going to be able tomove from this spot.Well, at least dying of a bite from this monster should be quicker thandying of thirst. He'll face his end like a man. He struggles to sit up alittle straighter. The snake keeps watching him. He lifts one hand and wavesit in the snake's direction, feebly. The snake watches the hand for amoment, then goes back to watching the man, looking into his eyes.Hmmm. Maybe the snake had no interest in biting him? It hadn't rattled yet -that was a good sign. Maybe he wasn't going to die of snake bite after all.He then remembers that he'd looked up when he'd reached the center herebecause he thought he'd heard a voice. He was still very woozy - he waslikely to pass out soon, the sun still beat down on him even though he wasnow on cool stone. He still didn't have anything to drink. But maybe he hadactually heard a voice. This stone didn't look natural. Nor did that whitepost sticking up out of the stone. Someone had to have built this. Maybethey were still nearby. Maybe that was who talked to him. Maybe this snakewas even their pet, and that's why it wasn't biting.He tries to clear his throat to say, "Hello," but his throat is too dry. Allthat comes out is a coughing or wheezing sound. There is no way he's goingto be able to talk without something to drink. He feels his pocket, and thebottle with the wiper fluid is still there. He shakily pulls the bottle out,almost losing his balance and falling on his back in the process. This isn'tgood. He doesn't have much time left, by his reckoning, before he passesout.He gets the lid off of the bottle, manages to get the bottle to his lips,and pours some of the fluid into his mouth. He sloshes it around, and thenswallows it. He coughs a little. His throat feels better. Maybe he can talknow.He tries again. Ignoring the snake, he turns to look around him, hoping tospot the owner of this place, and croaks out, "Hello? Is there anyone here?"He hears, from his side, "Greetings. What is it that you want?"He turns his head, back towards the snake. That's where the sound had seemedto come from. The only thing he can think of is that there must be aspeaker, hidden under the snake, or maybe built into that post. He decidesto try asking for help."Please," he croaks again, suddenly feeling dizzy, "I'd love to not bethirsty any more. I've been a long time without water. Can you help me?"Looking in the direction of the snake, hoping to see where the voice wascoming from this time, he is shocked to see the snake rear back, open itsmouth, and speak. He hears it say, as the dizziness overtakes him and hefalls forward, face first on the stone, "Very well. Coming up."A piercing pain shoots through his shoulder. Suddenly he is awake. He sitsup and grabs his shoulder, wincing at the throbbing pain. He's momentarilydisoriented as he looks around, and then he remembers - the crawl across thesand, the dark area of stone, the snake. He sees the snake, still wrappedaround the tilted white post, still looking at him.He reaches up and feels his shoulder, where it hurts. It feels slightly wet.He pulls his fingers away and looks at them - blood. He feels his shoulderagain - his shirt has what feels like two holes in it - two puncture holes -they match up with the two aching spots of pain on his shoulder. He had beenbitten. By the snake."It'll feel better in a minute." He looks up - it's the snake talking. Hehadn't dreamed it. Suddenly he notices - he's not dizzy any more. And moreimportantly, he's not thirsty any more - at all!"Have I died? Is this the afterlife? Why are you biting me in theafterlife?""Sorry about that, but I had to bite you," says the snake. "That's the way Iwork. It all comes through the bite. Think of it as natural medicine.""You bit me to help me? Why aren't I thirsty any more? Did you give me adrink before you bit me? How did I drink enough while unconscious to not bethirsty any more? I haven't had a drink for over two days. Well, except forthe windshield wiper fluid... hold it, how in the world does a snake talk?Are you real? Are you some sort of Disney animation?""No," says the snake, "I'm real. As real as you or anyone is, anyway. Ididn't give you a drink. I bit you. That's how it works - it's what I do. Ibite. I don't have hands to give you a drink, even if I had water justsitting around here."The man sat stunned for a minute. Here he was, sitting in the middle of thedesert on some strange stone that should be hot but wasn't, talking to asnake that could talk back and had just bitten him. And he felt better. Notgreat - he was still starving and exhausted, but much better - he was nolonger thirsty. He had started to sweat again, but only slightly. He felthot, in this sun, but it was starting to get lower in the sky, and the coolstone beneath him was a relief he could notice now that he was no longerdying of thirst."I might suggest that we take care of that methanol you now have in yoursystem with the next request," continued the snake. "I can guess why youdrank it, but I'm not sure how much you drank, or how much methanol was leftin the wiper fluid. That stuff is nasty. It'll make you go blind in a day ortwo, if you drank enough of it.""Ummm, n-next request?" said the man. He put his hand back on his hurtingshoulder and backed away from the snake a little."That's the way it works. If you like, that is," explained the snake. "Youget three requests. Call them wishes, if you wish." The snake grinned at hisown joke, and the man drew back a little further from the show of fangs."But there are rules," the snake continued. "The first request is free. Thesecond requires an agreement of secrecy. The third requires the binding ofresponsibility." The snake looks at the man seriously."By the way," the snake says suddenly, "my name is Nathan. Old Nathan,Samuel used to call me. He gave me the name. Before that, most of the Boundused to just call me 'Snake'. But that got old, and Samuel wouldn't standfor it. He said that anything that could talk needed a name. He was big intonames. You can call me Nate, if you wish." Again, the snake grinned. "Sorryif I don't offer to shake, but I think you can understand - my shake soundssomewhat threatening." The snake give his rattle a little shake."Umm, my name is Jack," said the man, trying to absorb all of this. "JackSamson."Can I ask you a question?" Jack says suddenly. "What happened to thepoison...umm, in your bite. Why aren't I dying now? How did you do that?What do you mean by that's how you work?""That's more than one question," grins Nate. "But I'll still try to answerall of them. First, yes, you can ask me a question." The snake's grin getswider. "Second, the poison is in you. It changed you. You now no longer needto drink. That's what you asked for. Or, well, technically, you asked to notbe thirsty any more - but 'any more' is such a vague term. I decided to makeit permanent - now, as long as you live, you shouldn't need to drink much atall. Your body will conserve water very efficiently. You should be able toget enough just from the food you eat - much like a creature of the desert.You've been changed."For the third question," Nate continues, "you are still dying. Besides theeffects of that methanol in your system, you're a man - and men are mortal.In your current state, I give you no more than about another 50 years.Assuming you get out of this desert, alive, that is." Nate seemed vastlyamused at his own humor, and continued his wide grin."As for the fourth question," Nate said, looking more serious as far as Jackcould tell, as Jack was just now working on his ability to readtalking-snake emotions from snake facial features, "first you have to agreeto make a second request and become bound by the secrecy, or I can't tellyou.""Wait," joked Jack, "isn't this where you say you could tell me, but you'dhave to kill me?""I thought that was implied." Nate continued to look serious."Ummm...yeah." Jack leaned back a little as he remembered again that he wastalking to a fifteen foot poisonous reptile with a reputation for having anasty temper. "So, what is this 'Bound by Secrecy' stuff, and can you reallystop the effects of the methanol?" Jack thought for a second. "And, what doyou mean methanol, anyway? I thought these days they use ethanol in wiperfluid, and just denature it?""They may, I don't really know," said Nate. "I haven't gotten out in awhile. Maybe they do. All I know is that I smell methanol on your breath andon that bottle in your pocket. And the blue color of the liquid when youpulled it out to drink some let me guess that it was wiper fluid. I assumethat they still color wiper fluid blue?""Yeah, they do," said Jack."I figured," replied Nate. "As for being bound by secrecy - with thefulfillment of your next request, you will be bound to say nothing about me,this place, or any of the information I will tell you after that, when youdecide to go back out to your kind. You won't be allowed to talk about me,write about me, use sign language, charades, or even act in a way that willlead someone to guess correctly about me. You'll be bound to secrecy. Ofcourse, I'll also ask you to promise not to give me away, and as I'mguessing that you're a man of your word, you'll never test the bindinganyway, so you won't notice." Nate said the last part with utter confidence.Jack, who had always prided himself on being a man of his word, felt alittle nervous at this. "Ummm, hey, Nate, who are you? How did you knowthat? Are you, umm, omniscient, or something?"Well, Jack," said Nate sadly, "I can't tell you that, unless you make thesecond request." Nate looked away for a minute, then looked back."Umm, well, ok," said Jack, "what is this about a second request? What can Iask for? Are you allowed to tell me that?""Sure!" said Nate, brightening. "You're allowed to ask for changes. Changesto yourself. They're like wishes, but they can only affect you. Oh, andbefore you ask, I can't give you immortality. Or omniscience. Oromnipresence, for that matter. Though I might be able to make you gaseousand yet remain alive, and then you could spread through the atmosphere andsort of be omnipresent. But what good would that be - you still wouldn't beomniscient and thus still could only focus on one thing at a time. Not veryuseful, at least in my opinion." Nate stopped when he realized that Jack wasstaring at him."Well, anyway," continued Nate, "I'd probably suggest giving you permanentgood health. It would negate the methanol now in your system, you'd beimmune to most poisons and diseases, and you'd tend to live a very longtime, barring accident, of course. And you'll even have a tendency torecover from accidents well. It always seemed like a good choice for arequest to me.""Cure the methanol poisoning, huh?" said Jack. "And keep me healthy for along time? Hmmm. It doesn't sound bad at that. And it has to be a requestabout a change to me? I can't ask to be rich, right? Because that's notreally a change to me?""Right," nodded Nate."Could I ask to be a genius and permanently healthy?" Jack asked, hopefully."That takes two requests, Jack.""Yeah, I figured so," said Jack. "But I could ask to be a genius? I couldbecome the smartest scientist in the world? Or the best athlete?""Well, I could make you very smart," admitted Nate, "but that wouldn'tnecessarily make you the best scientist in the world. Or, I could make youvery athletic, but it wouldn't necessarily make you the best athlete either.You've heard the saying that 99% of genius is hard work? Well, there's sometruth to that. I can give you the talent, but I can't make you work hard. Itall depends on what you decide to do with it.""Hmmm," said Jack. "Ok, I think I understand. And I get a third request,after this one?""Maybe," said Nate, "it depends on what you decide then. There are morerules for the third request that I can only tell you about after the secondrequest. You know how it goes." Nate looked like he'd shrug, if he hadshoulders."Ok, well, since I'd rather not be blind in a day or two, and permanenthealth doesn't sound bad, then consider that my second request. Officially.Do I need to sign in blood or something?""No," said Nate. "Just hold out your hand. Or heel." Nate grinned. "Orwhatever part you want me to bite. I have to bite you again. Like I said,that's how it works - the poison, you know," Nate said apologetically.Jack winced a little and felt his shoulder, where the last bite was. Hey, itdidn't hurt any more. Just like Nate had said. That made Jack feel betterabout the biting business. But still, standing still while a fifteen footsnake sunk it's fangs into you. Jack stood up. Ignoring how good it felt tobe able to stand again, and the hunger starting to gnaw at his stomach, Jacktried to decide where he wanted to get bitten. Despite knowing that itwouldn't hurt for long, Jack knew that this wasn't going to be easy."Hey, Jack," Nate suddenly said, looking past Jack towards the dunes behindhim, "is that someone else coming up over there?"Jack spun around and looked. Who else could be out here in the middle ofnowhere? And did they bring food?Wait a minute, there was nobody over there. What was Nate...Jack let out a bellow as he felt two fangs sink into his rear end, throughhis jeans...Jack sat down carefully, favoring his more tender buttock. "I would havedecided, eventually, Nate. I was just thinking about it. You didn't have tohoodwink me like that.""I've been doing this a long time, Jack," said Nate, confidently. "Youhumans have a hard time sitting still and letting a snake bite you -especially one my size. And besides, admit it - it's only been a couple ofminutes and it already doesn't hurt any more, does it? That's because of thehealth benefit with this one. I told you that you'd heal quickly now.""Yeah, well, still," said Jack, "it's the principle of the thing. And nobodylikes being bitten in the butt! Couldn't you have gotten my calf orsomething instead?""More meat in the typical human butt," replied Nate. "And less chance youaccidentally kick me or move at the last second.""Yeah, right. So, tell me all of these wonderful secrets that I now qualifyto hear," answered Jack."Ok," said Nate. "Do you want to ask questions first, or do you want me tojust start talking?""Just talk," said Jack. "I'll sit here and try to not think about food.""We could go try to rustle up some food for you first, if you like,"answered Nate."Hey! You didn't tell me you had food around here, Nate!" Jack jumped up."What do we have? Am I in walking distance to town? Or can you magicallywhip up food along with your other powers?" Jack was almost shouting withexcitement. His stomach had been growling for hours."I was thinking more like I could flush something out of its hole and biteit for you, and you could skin it and eat it. Assuming you have a knife,that is," replied Nate, with the grin that Jack was starting to get used to."Ugh," said Jack, sitting back down. "I think I'll pass. I can last a littlelonger before I get desperate enough to eat desert rat, or whatever else itis you find out here. And there's nothing to burn - I'd have to eat it raw.No thanks. Just talk.""Ok," replied Nate, still grinning. "But I'd better hurry, before you startlooking at me as food.Nate reared back a little, looked around for a second, and then continued."You, Jack, are sitting in the middle of the Garden of Eden."Jack looked around at the sand and dunes and then looked back at Natesceptically."Well, that's the best I can figure it, anyway, Jack," said Nate. "Stand upand look at the symbol on the rock here." Nate gestured around the darkstone they were both sitting on with his nose.Jack stood up and looked. Carved into the stone in a bas-relief was arepresentation of a large tree. The angled-pole that Nate was wrapped aroundwas coming out of the trunk of the tree, right below where the main branchesleft the truck to reach out across the stone. It was very well done - itlooked more like a tree had been reduced to almost two dimensions andembedded in the stone than it did like a carving.Jack walked around and looked at the details in the fading light of thesetting sun. He wished he'd looked at it while the sun was higher in thesky.Wait! The sun was setting! That meant he was going to have to spend anothernight out here! Arrrgh!Jack looked out across the desert for a little bit, and then came back andstood next to Nate. "In all the excitement, I almost forgot, Nate," saidJack. "Which way is it back to town? And how far? I'm eventually going tohave to head back - I'm not sure I'll be able to survive by eating rawdesert critters for long. And even if I can, I'm not sure I'll want to.""It's about 30 miles that way." Nate pointed, with the rattle on his tailthis time. As far as Jack could tell, it was a direction at right angles tothe way he'd been going when he was crawling here. "But that's 30 miles bythe way the crow flies. It's about 40 by the way a man walks. You should beable to do it in about half a day with your improved endurance, if you headout early tomorrow, Jack."Jack looked out the way the snake had pointed for a few seconds more, andthen sat back down. It was getting dark. Not much he could do about headingout right now. And besides, Nate was just about to get to the interestingstuff. "Garden of Eden? As best as you can figure it?""Well, yeah, as best as I and Samuel could figure it anyway," said Nate. "Hefigured that the story just got a little mixed up. You know, snake, in a'tree', offering 'temptations', making bargains. That kind stuff. But hecould never quite figure out how the Hebrews found out about this spot fromacross the ocean. He worried about that for a while.""Garden of Eden, hunh?" said Jack. "How long have you been here, Nate?""No idea, really," replied Nate. "A long time. It never occurred to me tocount years, until recently, and by then, of course, it was too late. But Ido remember when this whole place was green, so I figure it's been thousandsof years, at least.""So, are you the snake that tempted Eve?" said Jack."Beats me," said Nate. "Maybe. I can't remember if the first one of yourkind that I talked to was female or not, and I never got a name, but itcould have been. And I suppose she could have considered my offer to grantrequests a 'temptation', though I've rarely had refusals.""Well, umm, how did you get here then? And why is that white pole stuck outof the stone there?" asked Jack."Dad left me here. Or, I assume it was my dad. It was another snake - muchbigger than I was back then. I remember talking to him, but I don't rememberif it was in a language, or just kind of understanding what he wanted. Butone day, he brought me to this stone, told me about it, and asked me to dosomething for him. I talked it over with him for a while, then agreed. I'vebeen here ever since."What is this place?" said Jack. "And what did he ask you to do?""Well, you see this pole here, sticking out of the stone?" Nate loosened hiscoils around the tilted white pole and showed Jack where it descended intothe stone. The pole was tilted at about a 45 degree angle and seemed toenter the stone in an eighteen inch slot cut into the stone. Jack leanedover and looked. The slot was dark and the pole went down into it as far asJack could see in the dim light. Jack reached out to touch the pole, butNate was suddenly there in the way."You can't touch that yet, Jack," said Nate."Why not?" asked Jack."I haven't explained it to you yet," replied Nate."Well, it kinda looks like a lever or something," said Jack. "You'd push itthat way, and it would move in the slot.""Yep, that's what it is," replied Nate."What does it do?" asked Jack. "End the world?""Oh, no," said Nate. "Nothing that drastic. It just ends humanity. I call it'The Lever of Doom'." For the last few words Nate had used a deeper, ringingvoice. He tried to look serious for a few seconds, and then gave up andgrinned.Jack was initially startled by Nate's pronouncement, but when Nate grinnedJack laughed. "Ha! You almost had me fooled for a second there. What does itreally do?""Oh, it really ends humanity, like I said," smirked Nate. "I just thoughtthe voice I used was funny, didn't you?"Nate continued to grin."A lever to end humanity?" asked Jack. "What in the world is that for? Whywould anyone need to end humanity?""Well," replied Nate, "I get the idea that maybe humanity was an experiment.Or maybe the Big Guy just thought, that if humanity started going reallybad, there should be a way to end it. I'm not really sure. All I know arethe rules, and the guesses that Samuel and I had about why it's here. Ididn't think to ask back when I started here.""Rules? What rules?" asked Jack."The rules are that I can't tell anybody about it or let them touch itunless they agree to be bound to secrecy by a bite. And that only one humancan be bound in that way at a time. That's it." explained Nate.Jack looked somewhat shocked. "You mean that I could pull the lever now?You'd let me end humanity?""Yep," replied Nate, "if you want to." Nate looked at Jack carefully. "Doyou want to, Jack?""Umm, no." said Jack, stepping a little further back from the lever. "Why inthe world would anyone want to end humanity? It'd take a psychotic to wantthat! Or worse, a suicidal psychotic, because it would kill him too,wouldn't it?""Yep," replied Nate, "being as he'd be human too.""Has anyone ever seriously considered it?" asked Nate. "Any of those boundto secrecy, that is?""Well, of course, I think they've all seriously considered it at one time oranother. Being given that kind of responsibility makes you sit down andthink, or so I'm told. Samuel considered it several times. He'd often getdisgusted with humanity, come out here, and just hold the lever for a while.But he never pulled it. Or you wouldn't be here." Nate grinned some more.Jack sat down, well back from the lever. He looked thoughtful and puzzled atthe same time. After a bit, he said, "So this makes me the Judge ofhumanity? I get to decide whether they keep going or just end? Me?""That seems to be it," agreed Nate."What kind of criteria do I use to decide?" said Jack. "How do I make thisdecision? Am I supposed to decide if they're good? Or too many of them arebad? Or that they're going the wrong way? Is there a set of rules for that?""Nope," replied Nate. "You pretty much just have to decide on your own. It'sup to you, however you want to decide it. I guess that you're just supposedto know.""But what if I get mad at someone? Or some girl dumps me and I feelhorrible? Couldn't I make a mistake? How do I know that I won't screw up?"protested Jack.Nate gave his kind of snake-like shrug again. "You don't. You just have totry your best, Jack."Jack sat there for a while, staring off into the desert that was rapidlygetting dark, chewing on a fingernail.Suddenly, Jack turned around and looked at the snake. "Nate, was Samuel theone bound to this before me?""Yep," replied Nate. "He was a good guy. Talked to me a lot. Taught me toread and brought me books. I think I still have a good pile of them buriedin the sand around here somewhere. I still miss him. He died a few monthsago.""Sounds like a good guy," agreed Jack. "How did he handle this, when youfirst told him. What did he do?""Well," said Nate, "he sat down for a while, thought about it for a bit, andthen asked me some questions, much like you're doing.""What did he ask you, if you're allowed to tell me?" asked Jack."He asked me about the third request," replied Nate."Aha!" It was Jack's turn to grin. "And what did you tell him?""I told him the rules for the third request. That to get the third requestyou have to agree to this whole thing. That if it ever comes to the pointthat you really think that humanity should be ended, that you'll come hereand end it. You won't avoid it, and you won't wimp out." Nate looked seriousagain. "And you'll be bound to do it too, Jack.""Hmmm." Jack looked back out into the darkness for a while.Nate watched him, waiting."Nate," continued Jack, quietly, eventually. "What did Samuel ask for withhis third request?"Nate sounded like he was grinning again as he replied, also quietly,"Wisdom, Jack. He asked for wisdom. As much as I could give him.""Ok," said Jack, suddenly, standing up and facing away from Nate, "give itto me.Nate looked at Jack's backside. "Give you what, Jack?""Give me that wisdom. The same stuff that Samuel asked for. If it helpedhim, maybe it'll help me too." Jack turned his head to look back over hisshoulder at Nate. "It did help him, right?""He said it did," replied Nate. "But he seemed a little quieter afterward.Like he had a lot to think about.""Well, yeah, I can see that," said Jack. "So, give it to me." Jack turned toface away from Nate again, bent over slightly and tensed up.Nate watched Jack tense up with a little exasperation. If he bit Jack now,Jack would likely jump out of his skin and maybe hurt them both."You remember that you'll be bound to destroy humanity if it ever looks likeit needs it, right Jack?" asked Nate, shifting position."Yeah, yeah, I got that," replied Jack, eyes squeezed tightly shut and bodytense, not noticing the change in direction of Nate's voice."And," continued Nate, from his new position, "do you remember that you'llturn bright purple, and grow big horns and extra eyes?""Yeah, yeah...Hey, wait a minute!" said Jack, opening his eyes,straightening up and turning around. "Purple?!" He didn't see Nate there.With the moonlight Jack could see that the lever extended up from its slotin the rock without the snake wrapped around it.Jack heard, from behind him, Nate's "Just Kidding!" right before he felt thenow familiar piercing pain, this time in the other buttock.Jack sat on the edge of the dark stone in the rapidly cooling air, his feetextending out into the sand. He stared out into the darkness, listening tothe wind stir the sand, occasionally rubbing his butt where he'd beenrecently bitten.Nate had left for a little while, had come back with a desert-rodent-shapedbulge somewhere in his middle, and was now wrapped back around the lever,his tongue flicking out into the desert night's air the only sign that hewas still awake.Occasionally Jack, with his toes absentmindedly digging in the sand while hethought, would ask Nate a question without turning around."Nate, do accidents count?"Nate lifted his head a little bit. "What do you mean, Jack?"Jack tilted his head back like he was looking at the stars. "You know,accidents. If I accidentally fall on the lever, without meaning to, doesthat still wipe out humanity?""Yeah, I'm pretty sure it does, Jack. I'd suggest you be careful about thatif you start feeling wobbly," said Nate with some amusement.A little later - "Does it have to be me that pulls the lever?" asked Jack."That's the rule, Jack. Nobody else can pull it," answered Nate."No," Jack shook his head, "I meant does it have to be my hand? Could I pullthe lever with a rope tied around it? Or push it with a stick? Or throw arock?""Yes, those should work," replied Nate. "Though I'm not sure how complicatedyou could get. Samuel thought about trying to build some kind of remotecontrol for it once, but gave it up. Everything he'd build would be gone bythe next sunrise, if it was touching the stone, or over it. I told him thatin the past others that had been bound had tried to bury the lever so theywouldn't be tempted to pull it, but every time the stones or sand orwhatever had disappeared.""Wow," said Jack, "Cool." Jack leaned back until only his elbows kept himoff of the stone and looked up into the sky."Nate, how long did Samuel live? One of his wishes was for health too,right?" asked Jack."Yes," replied Nate, "it was. He lived 167 years, Jack.""Wow, 167 years. That's almost 140 more years I'll live if I live as long.Do you know what he died of, Nate?""He died of getting tired of living, Jack," Nate said, sounding somewhatsad.Jack turned his head to look at Nate in the starlight.Nate looked back. "Samuel knew he wasn't going to be able to stay insociety. He figured that they'd eventually see him still alive and startquestioning it, so he decided that he'd have to disappear after a while. Hefaked his death once, but changed his mind - he decided it was too early andhe could stay for a little longer. He wasn't very fond of mankind, but heliked the attention. Most of the time, anyway."His daughter and then his wife dying almost did him in though. He didn'tstay in society much longer after that. He eventually came out here to spendtime talking to me and thinking about pulling the lever. A few months ago hetold me he'd had enough. It was his time.""And then he just died?" asked Jack.Nate shook his head a little. "He made his forth request, Jack. There's onlyone thing you can ask for the fourth request. The last bite.After a bit Nate continued, "He told me that he was tired, that it was histime. He reassured me that someone new would show up soon, like they alwayshad.After another pause, Nate finished, "Samuel's body disappeared off the stonewith the sunrise."Jack lay back down and looked at the sky, leaving Nate alone with hismemories. It was a long time until Jack's breathing evened out into sleep.Jack woke with the sunrise the next morning. He was a little chilled withthe morning desert air, but overall was feeling pretty good. Well, exceptthat his stomach was grumbling and he wasn't willing to eat raw desert rat.So, after getting directions to town from Nate, making sure he knew how toget back, and reassuring Nate that he'd be back soon, Jack started the longwalk back to town. With his new health and Nate's good directions, he madeit back easily.Jack caught a bus back to the city, and showed up for work the next day,little worse for the wear and with a story about getting lost in the desert
and walking back out. Within a couple of days Jack had talked a friend witha tow truck into going back out into the desert with him to fetch the SUV.They found it after a couple of hours of searching and towed it back withoutincident. Jack was careful not to even look in the direction of Nate'slever, though their path back didn't come within sight of it.Before the next weekend, Jack had gone to a couple of stores, including abook store, and had gotten his SUV back from the mechanic, with a warning toavoid any more joyriding in the desert. On Saturday, Jack headed back to seeNate.Jack parked a little way out of the small town near Nate, loaded up his newbackpack with camping gear and the things he was bringing for Nate, and thenstarted walking. He figured that walking would leave the least trail, and heknew that while not many people camped in the desert, it wasn't unheard of,and shouldn't really raise suspicions.Jack had brought more books for Nate - recent books, magazines, newspapers.Some things that would catch Nate up with what was happening in the world,others that were just good books to read. He spent the weekend with Nate,and then headed out again, telling Nate that he'd be back again soon, butthat he had things to do first.Over four months later Jack was back to see Nate again. This time he broughta laptop with him - a specially modified laptop. It had a solar recharger,special filters and seals to keep out the sand, a satellite link-up, and aspecial keyboard and joystick that Jack hoped that a fifteen-footrattlesnake would be able to use. And, it had been hacked to not give outits location to the satellite.After that Jack could e-mail Nate to keep in touch, but still visited himfairly regularly - at least once or twice a year.After the first year, Jack quit his job. For some reason, with the wisdom he'd been given, and the knowledge that he could live for over 150 years,working in a nine to five job for someone else didn't seem that worthwhileany more. Jack went back to school.Eventually, Jack started writing. Perhaps because of the wisdom, or perhapsbecause of his new perspective, he wrote well. People liked what he wrote,and he became well known for it. After a time, Jack bought an RV and startedtraveling around the country for book signings and readings.But, he still remembered to drop by and visit Nate occasionally.On one of the visits Nate seemed quieter than usual. Not that Nate had beena fountain of joy lately. Jack's best guess was that Nate was still missingSamuel, and though Jack had tried, he still hadn't been able to replaceSamuel in Nate's eyes. Nate had been getting quieter each visit. But on thisvisit Nate didn't even speak when Jack walked up to the lever. He nodded atJack, and then went back to staring into the desert. Jack, respecting Nate'ssilence, sat down and waited.After a few minutes, Nate spoke. "Jack, I have someone to introduce you to."Jack looked surprised. "Someone to introduce me to?" Jack looked around, and then looked carefully back at Nate. "This something to do with the Big Guy?"No, no," replied Nate. "This is more personal. I want you to meet my son."Nate looked over at the nearest sand dune. "Sammy!"Jack watched as a four foot long desert rattlesnake crawled from behind thedune and up to the stone base of the lever."Yo, Jack," said the new, much smaller snake."Yo, Sammy" replied Jack. Jack looked at Nate. "Named after Samuel, Iassume?"Nate nodded. "Jack, I've got a favor to ask you. Could you show Sammy aroundfor me?" Nate unwrapped himself from the lever and slithered over to theedge of the stone and looked across the sands. "When Samuel first told meabout the world, and brought me books and pictures, I wished that I could go see it. I wanted to see the great forests, the canyons, the cities, even theother deserts, to see if they felt and smelled the same. I want my son tohave that chance - to see the world. Before he becomes bound here like I have been."He's seen it in pictures, over the computer that you brought me. But I hear that it's not the same. That being there is different. I want him to havethat. Think you can do that for me, Jack?"Jack nodded. This was obviously very important to Nate, so Jack didn't evenjoke about taking a talking rattlesnake out to see the world. "Yeah, I cando that for you, Nate. Is that all you need?" Jack could sense that wassomething more.Nate looked at Sammy. Sammy looked back at Nate for a second and then said,"Oh, yeah. Ummm, I've gotta go pack. Back in a little bit Jack. Nice to meetya!" Sammy slithered back over the dune and out of sight.Nate watched Sammy disappear and then looked back at Jack. "Jack, this is myfirst son. My first offspring through all the years. You don't even want toknow what it took for me to find a mate." Nate grinned to himself. "Butanyway, I had a son for a reason. I'm tired. I'm ready for it to be over. Ineeded a replacement."Jack considered this for a minute. "So, you're ready to come see the world,and you wanted him to watch the lever while you were gone?"Nate shook his head. "No, Jack - you're a better guesser than that. You'vealready figured out - I'm bound here - there's only one way for me to leavehere. And I'm ready. It's my time to die."Jack looked more closely at Nate. He could tell Nate had thought aboutthis - probably for quite a while. Jack had trouble imagining what it wouldbe like to be as old as Nate, but Jack could already tell that in anotherhundred or two hundred years, he might be getting tired of life himself.Jack could understand Samuel's decision, and now Nate's. So, all Jack saidwas, "What do you want me to do?"Nate nodded. "Thanks, Jack. I only want two things. One - show Sammy aroundthe world - let him get his fill of it, until he's ready to come back hereand take over. Two - give me the fourth request."I can't just decide to die, not any more than you can. I won't even die ofold age like you eventually will, even though it'll be a long time from now.I need to be killed. Once Sammy is back here, ready to take over, I'll beable to die. And I need you to kill me."I've even thought about how. Poisons and other drugs won't work on me. AndI've seen pictures of snakes that were shot - some of them live for days, sothat's out too. So, I want you to bring back a sword.Nate turned away to look back to the dune that Sammy had gone behind. "I'dsay an axe, but that's somewhat undignified - putting my head on the groundor a chopping block like that. No, I like a sword. A time-honored way ofgoing out. A dignified way to die. And, most importantly, it should work,even on me."You willing to do that for me, Jack?" Nate turned back to look at Jack."Yeah, Nate," replied Jack solemnly, "I think I can handle that."Nate nodded. "Good!" He turned back toward the dune and shouted, "Sammy!Jack's about ready to leave!" Then quietly, "Thanks, Jack."Jack didn't have anything to say to that, so he waited for Sammy to make itback to the lever, nodded to him, nodded a final time to Nate, and thenheaded into the desert with Sammy following.Over the next several years Sammy and Jack kept in touch with Nate throughe-mail as they went about their adventures. They made a goal of visitingevery country in the world, and did a respectable job of it. Sammy had anatural gift for languages, as Jack expected he would, and even ended upacting as a translator for Jack in a few of the countries. Jack managed tokeep the talking rattlesnake hidden, even so, and by the time they werenearing the end of their tour of countries, Sammy had only been spotted afew times. While there were several people that had seen enough to startlethem greatly, nobody had enough evidence to prove anything, and while a fewwild rumors and storied followed Jack and Sammy around, nothing ever hit thenewspapers or the public in general.When they finished the tour of countries, Jack suggested that they try someundersea diving. They did. And spelunking. They did that too. Sammy finallydrew the line at visiting Antarctica. He'd come to realize that Jack wasstalling. After talking to his Dad about it over e-mail, he figured out thatJack probably didn't want to have to kill Nate. Nate told Sammy that humanscould be squeamish about killing friends and acquaintances.So, Sammy eventually put his tail down (as he didn't have a foot) and toldJack that it was time - he was ready to go back and take up his duties fromhis dad. Jack, delayed it a little more by insisting that they go back toJapan and buy an appropriate sword. He even stretched it a little more bygetting lessons in how to use the sword. But, eventually, he'd learned asmuch as he was likely to without dedicating his life to it, and wasdefinitely competent enough to take the head off of a snake. It was time tohead back and see Nate.When they got back to the US, Jack got the old RV out of storage where heand Sammy had left it after their tour of the fifty states, he loaded upSammy and the sword, and they headed for the desert.When they got to the small town that Jack had been trying to find thoseyears ago when he'd met Nate, Jack was in a funk. He didn't really feel likewalking all of the way out there. Not only that, but he'd forgotten tofigure the travel time correctly, and it was late afternoon. They'd eitherhave to spend the night in town and walk out tomorrow, or walk in the dark.As Jack was afraid that if he waited one more night he might lose hisresolve, he decided that he'd go ahead and drive the RV out there. It wasonly going to be this once, and Jack would go back and cover the tracksafterward. They ought to be able to make it out there by nightfall if theydrove, and then they could get it over tonight.Jack told Sammy to e-mail Nate that they were coming as he drove out ofsight of the town on the road. They then pulled off the road and headed outinto the desert.Everything went well, until they got to the sand dunes. Jack had beennursing the RV along the whole time, over the rocks, through the creek beds,revving the engine the few times they almost got stuck. When they came tothe dunes, Jack didn't really think about it, he just downshifted and headedup the first one. By the third dune, Jack started to regret that he'ddecided to try driving on the sand. The RV was fishtailling and losingtraction. Jack was having to work it up each dune slowly and was trying tokeep from losing control each time they came over the top and slid down theother side. Sammy had come up to sit in the passenger seat, coiled up andlaughing at Jack's driving.As they came over the top of the fourth dune, the biggest one yet, Jack sawthat this was the final dune - the stone, the lever, and somewhere Nate,waited below. Jack put on the brakes, but he'd gone a little too far. The RVstarted slipping down the other side.Jack tried turning the wheel, but he didn't have enough traction. He pumpedthe brakes - no response. They started sliding down the hill, faster andfaster.Jack felt a shock go through him as he suddenly realized that they wereheading for the lever. He looked down - the RV was directly on course forit. If Jack didn't do something, the RV would hit it. He was about to endhumanity.Jack steered more frantically, trying to get traction. It still wasn'tworking. The dune was too steep, and the sand too loose. In a split second,Jack realized that his only chance would be once he hit the stone around thelever - he should have traction on the stone for just a second before he hitthe lever - he wouldn't have time to stop, but he should be able to steeraway.Jack took a better grip on the steering wheel and tried to turn the RV alittle bit - every little bit would help. He'd have to time his turn justright.The RV got to the bottom of the dune, sliding at an amazing speed in thesand. Just before they reached the stone Jack looked across it to check thatthey were still heading for the lever. They were. But Jack noticed somethingelse that he hadn't seen from the top of the dune. Nate wasn't wrappedaround the lever. He was off to the side of the lever, but still on thestone, waiting for them. The problem was, he was waiting on the same side ofthe lever that Jack had picked to steer towards to avoid the lever. The RVwas already starting to drift that way a little in its mad rush across thesand and there was no way that Jack was going to be able to go around thelever to the other side.Jack had an instant of realization. He was either going to have to hit thelever, or run over Nate. He glanced over at Sammy and saw that Sammyrealized the same thing.Jack took a firmer grip on the steering wheel as the RV ran up on the stone.Shouting to Sammy as he pulled the steering wheel, "BETTER NATE THAN LEVER," he ran over the snake.
This joke was also a personality profile test... It was the subject of a recent Educational Psychology Master's Thesis, soon to be published, which investigated the way that someone responds to a webpage such as this correlates to certain personality tendencies. The research confirmed a statistically significant correlation which strongly suggests a dependably predictive positive relationship between how a person responds to this page and certain aspects of his or her psychological profile. Thus, it is called the Personality Profile Assessment Test Hypothesis.While the actual results looked at several complex factors, and depended heavily on questionnaires filled out by volunteers upon completion of their experience, I will simplify the results by discussing three main groups and their profiles. While these profiles may not be exactly fitting of each person within each group, they do strongly suggest a statistically significant likelihood of profile similarity.11% of those who see this page take their time, enjoying the joke as they read it, enjoying the build up to the punch line, and even if the punch line itself wasn’t particularly humorous, they tended to enjoy the process.56% begin scroll down to the punch line either before starting to read the joke or within a short period of time- usually 20 seconds or less. The vast majority of this group choose not to read the joke.33% read at least 1/3 of the joke, with the intention of reading it all, but then begin to question their decision and the investment of time they are making. They go back and forth between deciding to continuing or to skip to the end (this vacillating may be unconscious at the time, and happen in a matter of moments). The vast majority in this group give up before finishing ½ of the joke, and scroll to the end.People in the first group, who read the entire joke, tend to enjoy the journey of life, and take their time as they move towards a goal. When traveling, they tend to thoroughly enjoy the process, and are not uptight or stressed about single-mindedly getting to their destination. They also tend to be very attentive, patient and long lasting lovers, and enjoy intimacy and physical connectivity whether or not it is carried to completion.Those in the second group, who scroll to the end before reading more than a few sentences of the joke, tend to avoid surprises and the unknown. They prefer to have a regular schedule and not to step out of their routine. They tend to be efficient, but are often lacking in enjoyment, spontaneity and passion. They tend to be less patient and more interested in the destination than the journey. When on a trip, they tend to focus on getting where they are going, rather than enjoying the process. During intimacy, they tend to not be able to enjoy it unless they are certain it will be taken to completion. The idea of just “playing around” a while, engaging in physical intimacy without the promise of full completion is, rather than simply enjoyable and connective, considered to be “cruel” and a “teasing” and is met with resentment. This group’s ability to enjoy depends largely on their need to know what is going to happen. They tend to be more self-focused lovers, and tend not to last very long in satisfying the other partner if their own satisfaction has happened or is within easy reach. The third group, who decided not to read the entire joke after reading a third or more of it, tend to be commitment-phobic and lack the ability to move forward to completion when things become challenging. They are often procrastinators and frequently give up on tasks when they become more difficult. They tend to prefer to have big dreams than act on them in the real, challenging world. A significantly higher percentage of this group had Cesarean birth, and may not have had the benefit of that early experience of struggle and effort being rewarded with accomplishment. This group tends to not take big vacations which would take more effort to plan and implement, and tends to stay close to home or even stay home during time off. Promotions and career moves which are within reach but still require some effort and focus are frequently not fully tried for, although the perception will be they were passed up. In intimate relationships, this group tends to start out romantic and passionate, but it quickly fades and is replaced by lackadaisicalness and indifference, characterized in part by a sense of feeling it is not worth the effort to continue having a passionate, energized and complete experience during intimacy. There is a tendency to “peter out” both in intimacy and in other aspects of life, and to take the easier road, even if it leads to a less fulfilling life.
Started September 19
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