“For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me; thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; – my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: Psalm 23.”
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not about to stand here and tell you that I’m a Christian, and not just because I am a coward. Which I am. Coward? Yes, tick, sign me up. Christian? No. Those words were on my grandmother’s back door is all. How that got through the transport I’ll never know but I guess if she could get her six grandkids off a shitty planet on the last shuttle out, then smuggling a crappy old laminated prayer wouldn’t have presented Oma with much of challenge.
She said it was a comfort, that Psalm; and it was to me too, but not in the same way. I always remember the lines “my cup runneth over.” It sounds so joyful but it isn’t. It really isn’t. When your heart is too full it hurts doesn’t it? Want too much or feel too much and it will rise up into your throat and choke you to death. Contemplating overflowing cups makes me certain that joy doesn’t really exist. It’s imaginary as our dreams of home. And that’s comforting because realists live longer on Titan.
I was thinking about these words because there was this new guy at the factory and he wasn’t just overflowing into the room – he exploded. Like a firework let off in a garage. A garage with a real thin metal door so every time it collides it makes the room reverberate and sends everyone screaming covering their ears and eyes. But in a good way I guess. He made me smile a lot.
I watched him put on a show, and then another. Next day same thing. He drew quite the crowd and I pushed to the front, drinking him in but never quite joining the game. I’m not technically allowed in that room you see. Even watching was making me nervous.
At times his movements were so frenetic he became exhausted. He’d sit quietly for a while but it always seemed like the fuse was lighting itself again. Like those novelty candles. You’d think they’d gone out but the spark would be flickering back on and then the joke was on us, and he’d goad us to join in, harder and faster each time. I didn’t know what to think but I bought him a beer one time.
“I can’t stop. Even if I wanted,” he admitted, “Which I don’t” he added, looking at me directly. “Why don’t you join in?”
So I told him about Oma’s prayer.
Now normally telling a stranger about some religious thing you still have in your house might be reckless. No, scrub that. It’s more than reckless. They’d come and separate you from the things you love, peeling hooked fingers apart, slamming possessions in boxes and clawing the core out of all your days before they incarcerate you – with no hope of release. Well, they would say, you chose this – you chose it. This is what you wanted right? You were prepared to risk this were you not? Seen it too many times.
So I tried to explain, “the line I like the best is my cup runneth over; it’s about joy see? Or it’s meant to be. That’s what everyone thinks. But if you let yourself feel too much it is a waste.”
He looks at me and gets it but laughs.
“Don’t you think that’s kind of comforting?”
“So what? I should pour less in? Not remotely comforting no.”
The kid swigs his beer and looks at me with contempt. Maybe he doesn’t get it. I try again.
“Look High IQ. Being an adult on this crappy promentary requires almost superhuman levels of self-control and I know you will learn it. You’ve told everyone how smart you are.”
“You are stupid and silly miss.”
“I’m not stupid or silly you little bastard.”
“Yes you are. You haven’t thought it through at all. You’ve fitted that horrible verse to your horrible life to make yourself feel better.”
I think of Oma and how safe she kept us and want to punch him. I grab his arm as he stands to leave, “All I can think of is the stories of prisoners forced to drink until they burst – if it’s runnething overing then….. stop pouring the damn stuff in.”
“No!” He shouts.
“Yes! So what’s your solution then, Genius?”
“Get a bigger cup.” He shrugs.
He blows his fingers in a kiss to me and is out the open door. Bam. Gone in a gunpowder moment.