The 8th of July 1972 – El Paso, Texas

(found amongst the scraps of an spent firework)

Would you just shut up about the chili, Brad?

It’s not a thing to worry about, Brad. It’s not. So just drop it already.

Do you think everyone’s lying to you? Is that the kind of person you are, Brad? Every time someone gives you a compliment, every time someone smiles at you, you think they’re lying about something. Why is that? Do you think you’re a piece of shit, Brad? Because maybe you are. Maybe you are, but that doesn’t matter right now. That doesn’t make you any different.

Because people were telling you the chili was good the whole time. Marcy and John and Maxine all asked you for the recipe. Do you think they were lying? Do you think they said that just to make you feel better? Because, and know this, they don’t care about making you feel better. They don’t think about you enough to want to make you feel better.

And then one person says or whispers something about how the chili is bland, and you freak out. You didn’t even hear Dennis say it. You didn’t. You saw his lips move. You tried to read his lips from across a table after you’ve had five or six beers. Brad, you’ve got to shut up about the chili. Brad, you’ve got to just shut up.

Do you think anyone cares? So the chili needed an extra teaspoon of salt or something. So what if you burned the walnuts in the Waldorf salad you brought to Linda’s Memorial Day BBQ. Nobody remembers. Nobody’s thinking about that. They’re not thinking about you. They’re barely thinking about themselves. They just want to listen to Britney Spears and watch The Big Bang Theory or whatever. They don’t think about giving you validation. They don’t.

Here’s the thing, Brad, here’s the thing. You’re not special. See, you’re barely anything – just like the rest of us. You can walk into a room, and nobody’s going to notice you. Nobody’s going to look for you and point you out and hold you above everyone else. They’re not going to do that because you’re not special. You’re not. You’re nothing, just like the rest of us. You’re just one of us, not some mini-movie star, not some undiscovered celebrity chef. Nobody’s out to get you. Nobody’s trying to sabotage your self-esteem with false compliments or harsh criticism. Shockingly, to everyone else, you’re just another person. You’re just another person, Brad.

That’s just the way it is.

I liked the chili anyway, Brad. I thought it was pretty good.

See you at next week’s block party,

Patricia

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