Sam's Little Larks

by Sam Van Wetter | 2/25/16 7:29pm

WOKE SAM and SLOWPOKE SAM are waiting for the shuttle to the Skiway.

WOKE SAM: So, uh, did you find your bike?

SLOWPOKE SAM: Seriously? You’ve started the column this way, asking that question, so many times this term.

WOKE: Hey, that’s not my decision.

SLOWPOKE: What’s that supposed to mean?

WOKE: Like, I didn’t decide when the column would start. We’ve been chattering constantly to each other since, what, September? We just keep talking. We don’t decide when they start listening.

SLOWPOKE: Who?

WOKE: The audience.

SLOWPOKE: We have an audience?

WOKE: Well, not technically. They’d only be an audience if they were hearing it aloud. And unless someone out there is performing readings of our transcribed conversations then no one is technically listening.

SLOWPOKE: Oh, phew. So no one’s watching us?

WOKE: They’re watching someone they think you are.

SLOWPOKE: Who do they think I am?

WOKE: Doesn’t matter. They’re just readers.

SLOWPOKE: The readers are listening?

WOKE: In their minds’ ears, I guess. They’re listening to the voices in their heads read our words aloud.

SLOWPOKE: What do we sound like?

WOKE: It changes week to week.

SLOWPOKE: It changes?

WOKE: Yeah, sometimes we sound serious, sometimes we have lisps, sometimes Jared the hot custodian has a cold and—

SLOWPOKE: If it changes, that means there’s time between when they read us.

WOKE: Right…

SLOWPOKE: Does that mean they…

do… do we have a readership? A consistent readership?

WOKE: I wouldn’t go that far.

SLOWPOKE: But, I mean, someone cares about us? Our storyline?

WOKE: Such as it is. Maybe.

SLOWPOKE: Do… do they like me?

WOKE: Whoa —

SLOWPOKE: Us. Do they like Sam?

WOKE: He — we — I have no way of knowing.

SLOWPOKE: Isn’t there a comments section online?

WOKE: I think most people read the hardcopy and there sure isn’t a comment section there.

SLOWPOKE: People read the actual, physical D?

WOKE: That’s what I tell myself. That, and whatever piece of shrapnel program they use to moderate and post the comments prevents people from singing their heartsongs of appreciation and rapture.

SLOWPOKE: I think you’re probably right.

WOKE: So do I.

SLOWPOKE: They think we’re hilarious.

WOKE: You buggity better bet they do!

(They sit quietly, thinking of the masses of people in stitches at the conversation they’re having. They feel good for their service to the community. They know they’re funny and now everyone else knows it too.)

WOKE: So, uh, your bike?

SLOWPOKE: I don’t know, man. I’ve lost the thread.

WOKE: I thought it was a piece of paper.

SLOWPOKE: No, I mean I don’t know what we’re going on about.

WOKE: What do you mean?

SLOWPOKE: It just seems like every week we’re bantering the same lines without getting anywhere.

WOKE: What do you expect? It’s a serial. We can’t just, like, reveal it all at once.

SLOWPOKE: Why not?

WOKE: Listen, if people knew now that this whole bike investigation was just a ploy for my attention they’d stop giving us any of theirs.

SLOWPOKE: But we’re hilarious! And beautiful, kind of! And melodious to their imaginations!

WOKE: Yeah, but they think there’s some kind of conclusion. So we better reach it.

SLOWPOKE: But you just said there’s no —

WOKE: It has to feel like a conclusion.

SLOWPOKE: I want to talk about something other than my bike.

WOKE: Why?

SLOWPOKE: I told you. It’s vague. And it reminds me of my shortcomings as a human being. I don’t think many people seek out that kind of treatment voluntarily.

WOKE: No, my dad just gives it to me.

SLOWPOKE: Exactly. And you’re not my dad.

WOKE: Uh, true. So what else do you want to talk about?

SLOWPOKE: I don’t know.

WOKE: Come on. We’re Dartmouth students. Do you have any group projects going on at the moment?

SLOWPOKE: I don’t do those.

WOKE: How?

SLOWPOKE: I got a doctored doctor’s note that says I’m allergic to collaborative thinking and it gives me migraines.

WOKE: Wow, I think I have that too.

SLOWPOKE: But you don’t have a doctor’s note.

WOKE: Well what else is new?

SLOWPOKE: I don’t know. Finals are coming up.

WOKE: Is that it?

SLOWPOKE: That rain was really wet.

WOKE: Oh, did you figure that one out yourself?

SLOWPOKE: I read it on Yik Yak.

WOKE: Jiminy, is this what the art of conversation at Dartmouth has come to? Weather reports via everyone’s favorite social banalities app? Come on, your interior must be more rich and faceted than you’re making it out to be.

SLOWPOKE: Oh, probably. I read a lot of think pieces on the internet that I could tell you about.

WOKE: And this is why we need to invent adventures to serialize. Otherwise we have nothing to talk about.

(They sit in an uncomfortable silence. This stretches on a while.)

SLOWPOKE: Have you ever had a maple cookie from KAF?

WOKE: No.

SLOWPOKE: Oh.

(More silence)

SLOWPOKE: They gave me one today when they were out of asiago rolls.

(More silence)

SLOWPOKE: Weird, right? I mean, tasty. Absolutely delicious. But not very similar to a cheese roll, right?

(A more persistent silence)

SLOWPOKE: It was super funny.(They sit together quite quiet. They think about all the funny stories they’ve ever heard. They wonder if they recall them well enough to retell and make funny still. They decide they probably cannot, especially as most of the stories they’re remembering didn’t actually happen to them. They are the funny stories of friends and family and there’s something lost in the retelling when it’s not your memory. They acknowledge this. They stay quiet.)

SLOWPOKE: Do you ever worry we’ll run out of things to talk about?

WOKE: Of course not. We’re always having a lively banter in his head, aren’t we? He just has to sift and find the most interesting bits.

SLOWPOKE: Okay, well what if we’re too interesting? How does the conversation end?

WOKE: I don’t know. I assume there’s a word limit or something.

SLOWPOKE: But what if it just cuts off at an inconclusive, unremarkable part?