Ritual Confessions

February 22, 2008

Okay, the soda machine anecdote

Filed under: Uncategorized — elissakaren @ 7:23 am

Well, way back when, during our engagement, my one real issue with Nick was that he would often answer a question one way, then flagrantly reverse himself, sometimes in the very next breath, without appearing to notice or care that he was being completely inconsistent. I wasn’t the only one who was bothered by this; it drove George insane as well.

On this occasion, Nick and I had just entered the 92nd Street Y for some evening event. We were in the midst of a hot discussion about some state of affairs at work. Both Nick and I had wildly fluctuating feelings about the company, but we were rarely on the same wavelength at the same moment. If I was enraged at George, Nick was defending him and urging tolerance. If I was feeling particularly grateful to have the man for a boss, Nick was fantasizing about splitting open his skull. At this moment, Nick was angry at him. I don’t remember the circumstances, but I do remember him saying, “Well, let him fire me then. I’m not quitting.”

“Why is that?” I asked. “Are you hoping for unemployment compensation?”


“Why won’t you quit?”

“I will quit. I don’t need this bullshit anymore.”

“Nick! You keep doing this. You say one thing with absolute conviction, then when I try to clarify your statement, you say the opposite. What the hell is that about? You literally do it every single day.”

We had moved to a little corridor off the lobby, where there were vending machines. As usual, I needed my fix, my wretched addiction and lifeblood: a bottle of Diet Coke. I slid a dollar into the vending machine and continued my rant.

“So why does this keep happening, Nick? I just want to understand it, because it’s making me crazy. Is it a language barrier? Is it that you’re not understanding my question, but pretending you do? Is it that you’re just telling me what you think I want to hear, then changing your answer because I didn’t like the original one? Is it that you’re not really paying attention? Is it that you’re not smart enough to keep your own information straight? Goddamn it!” And here I started pounding the panel for Diet Coke, because the machine had taken my dollar but wasn’t yielding my soda. “What the hell is wrong with this infernal fucking thing? It took my dollar and it’s not giving me my goddamn Diet Coke!”

Nick was leaning against the wall and after I’d kicked the machine for good measure, he looked down at me with just the hint of an indulgent smile. When he spoke it was clear that he wasn’t wounded by anything I’d just said, wasn’t angry, wasn’t insulted or provoked or even really affected one way or another. His expression was merely calm, and kindly, and faintly amused, and perhaps a little sorry for me. As in, the poor creature, look at what a frenzy she works herself into, and for what?

He nodded at a sticker affixed to the machine, on which the price for a bottle of soda was printed quite plainly. “Diet Coke is a dollar fifty,” he said.



  1. That’s priceless! 😀 How did you keep from killing him?

    Comment by Shawn W — February 22, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  2. I actually kind of fell in love with him all over again right then. I still consider it one of his finest moments.

    Comment by elissakaren — February 22, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

  3. I saw that one coming and I’m so glad you shared it with us!

    I guess he told you!

    It sounds like you two are doing well and that he was indeed paying attention, especially at that moment. Glad you were, too!

    Comment by Corina — February 22, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

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