The Stories We Tell Ourselves And The Way It Assists

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So I was over at my friend Jen’s house, and she was talking about her cats.  Well, specifically, her cat, since the others had been locked away from the party.
“She’s got this love/hate relationship with people,” Jen told me enthusiastically.  “She’ll come up and just ask for ghost pets – holding and wriggling her face a foot away from your hand, then she walks away as completely satisfied as if you’d petted her!  Madness.  And then, you see her now, the way she’s sort of skirting around the edge?  She grew up in a barn, I think she likes the company, but the actual attention scares her because someone must have done something bad to her while she was out on the streets.  See how her back legs are bowed a bit when she walks?”
I just saw a cat.
Now, I’m not a cat person, but it was fascinating listening to Jen describe what was, to me, a Generic Cat –  while to Jen, this cat had a history, a whole bank of quirks that were manifestly apparent.  All of her cats were like this.  When she looked at a cat, what she expected to see was a fully-formed personality expressed through various behaviors.  When she was in her apartment with all four of her cats, she was in the middle of an ongoing saga, a soap opera of cats, wherein each of these highly charged personalities were banging off of each other and creating all these crazy plots and dynamics and entertainment.
I just saw a cat.
But you know, it’s not a bad thing to get that much entertainment from a set of rescue animals.  Sure, I get bored watching the cats run around the apartment, but there’s something lacking in my interest that I don’t try to formulate stories when I look at kittens.
Likewise, I get really bored on long road trips. I put on an audiobook, and I drive, and my leg falls asleep, and it’s just really terrible.
Gini fucking loves long drives.  She doesn’t even need music.  And it took me a long time of listening to what, at first, appeared to be the strangest conversation starters to realize how she drove.  Because she’d elbow me in astonishment to go, “That blue car just cut me off!”  She was indignant.  And I was like, yes, yes, cars will cut you off in traffic, this is what happens.
But no.  What I didn’t understand is that she had passed this car on a downhill incline after tailgating it for miles in the vain hopes it would get the hint and speed up.  And then, when she finally got the left lane open, she passed – and that fucker sped up.  So she sped up, and they’d been going back and forth for the past fifty miles, never him zooming out of sight, but always speeding up at her approach, and now that bastard just got right in her face.
Oh, it’s on.
Why would you be bored driving then?  Gini had a whole WWE subplot going on here, a tale of hubris and revenge, complete with villain and hero.  Would she be able to put this arrogant laggard in his place before he got off at some exit, or we did?  Where was this man going to?  Why did he not know how to drive?
Film at eleven, folks.  Film at eleven.
I think that a lot of people’s ability to withstand boredom actually comes from being able to construct narratives.  I doubt I’d ever be comfortable sitting on my porch and watching the neighborhood, New England-style, but if you talked to those old folks I bet they’re keeping track of every jogger, every man toting home groceries, every local car, and weaving it into a narrative.
I kind of envy that.

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