Contributor: Egbert Starr

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Some of the losers looked around and saw the other losers. They had all lost. And they had all lost, and been losing for a long time. Once, for sure, they had all begun as all begin: like small, hairless, practically featherless birds begin cracked open in their springtime shells, practically pretty much the same. Now some had beards, and others had hand-me-up-skirts that girls half their age could wear with aplomb. But these? Like Mennonites that were not Mennonites, like young girls who were old. They continued to plug into electrical sockets where the electricity was free, and, like me, kept spending down the principal of their meager inheritances until they were dead or there was nothing left. Awful things were overheard: glassy-eyed conversation between two look-alike chaps over "Garamond" or something about a garbled font name. The women, who'd whelped a couple of kids along the way, could pull off a pretty convincing simulacrum of middle-class play-date talk with another female on the other end of some 4G cell phone elsewhere, arranging their days like bankers who'd made fortunes and stashed the loot on-island. Some kid making a macchiato was spouting yesterday's nonsense about Godwin's law while doping the top of my coffee with a smudgy swastika impression. The five-spot I gave him I didn't bother with looking at the change. Somewhere in the miasma, you could hear what must have been a reference to Pete. From Beacon, right? Who must have been Seeger, right? And Bob, who must have been, well, I'm not saying. The only folks who'd had a thing going for them were a couple of young ladies making public talk too loud for public talk over a mosaic coffee table that had no picture in it at all in its broken colored chips about 403K's that'd be full of money in three and a half decades when they were fat and divorced and done being mediocre in their teaching jobs, as from the general sound of their discourse, I could tell in a beat they both were going to be for thirty-five years. "Hey," I heard my friend go. "Hey." She pointed with her head to get out of the coffee shop, and I didn't feel like killing myself anymore.

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At a certain point, one's anonymity-obscurity, that second greatest of all gifts, turns out to have served its purpose. Not doing so betokens narcissism and vanity. And so, I think it's time to let go of one's pretty darlings.
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