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FRANK

by Dr. Vince

Frank has two kinds of problems. The first is that he feels things. He does not feel them in the sense that he touches them, but in the sense that feeling of things seems always to be upon him. At different times, at different functions, he feels things touching him, brushing up against him – rubbing him. He wonders whether they are really there -- these things that seem to touch him – but he feels them, and so he mostly believes that they must be there.

But this is not Frank’s big problem. His big problem is that he feels compelled to speak freely to everyone about the things he feels. Really his problem is that he needs to talk to people – but he doesn’t know about anything but those things he feels – and even they are vague to him. So mostly, Frank describes the things he feels to anyone who will listen – and often he hopes to himself that he will describe a feeling that someone else has had.

At parties, Frank is a marked man and he knows it. He has watched people avoid him too many times, and he knows why. So, at parties Frank becomes the hunter. Usually, he will look for a man in his mid- to late-forties standing alone, wobbling somewhat, with a drink in his hand. Frank will approach him casually, talk to him generally, and then hone in on one of his feelings. Frank is a salesman by trade and by desire.

"Nice party," he will say to some victim. "And such great food."

He will wait for a response.

If he gets none, he will look about – silently – for a few seconds.

"Good band," he will say. "Lots of people."

If he sees anything – a turn of the lip, a grimace, a nod of the head – he will infect the conversation like mold on an orange.

"Boy – it’s hot in here," he will say. "Do you feel hot? Boy – I feel hot – Sticky – kind of like fly paper – but not exactly – not quite as slimy as fly paper – more sticky – more like glue – but not that sticky either – more sweaty than sticky – it must be the material in this suit – I feel kind of drippy and sticky – sort of tickly – you know what tickly feeling down your back with the sweat and the heat – kind of like that – but not exactly – it’s more of a greasy kind of tickle – kind of tickly and oily – but that’s not it either – it’s kind of like a tickle with bubbles in it – greasy bubbles – like chicken in the deep fry – but not that hot – more like dumplings in stew – but not that wet either – more sticky –

And on and on he will go, until his victim has the good sense to leave. And when they do, Frank will simply move on– blindly, bravely – toward a new victim. For he knows that the frontiers in his quest to describe the things he feels are boundless.

"Good punch," he will say. "Did you have any of that punch?"

And he will wait.

"Boy, how about that food. Some spread."

And he will wait longer if he must.

"Boy, I get tired after a dinner like that – I feel sleepy – not sleepy tired – more like sleepy heavy – like lead. But not really like lead either – not that heavy – more like steel – heavy and firm – but not that heavy – just heavy enough to be heavier than I should be – like an ashtray full of cigarettes –but firm – like a deck of cards in a pack – but not that solid –firm, but not that solid --

Frank has never been timed, but those who have run from him at parties are certain that there is no stopping the clock when Frank takes to describing a feeling. Frank, on the other hand, has never considered the clock an important measure of accuracy regarding his descriptions.

When Frank goes home after parties, he often stays up awake into the early hours of the morning thinking of his feelings. Often he recounts his descriptions to himself, and looks back fondly on those that he thought he nearly captured with complete accuracy. He is proud sometimes, but mostly he is disturbed. For he does not even feel that he has reached his audience. Sometimes he wonders if there is an audience. Sometimes he wonders if his feelings are not just so much need for an audience. And sometimes he thinks that he has described his feelings perfectly to an audience that simply does not understand.

And sometimes Frank thinks of the feeling he had when he was in love. He thinks of the time when he talked about his feeling of love.

"I feel in love," he said. "Not love like the feeling for asparagus or broccoli, but love – not so much a want but a need – a need with a want to need – like wanting to be home from work when you’re still on the freeway – but not with that pressure – more like wanting a second helping when you’re already full – but not with that full feeling – not full like stuffed – but full like content – like wanting to see a movie all over again just as it’s finished – but not quite feeling that it’s a rerun – more like –"

When he thinks of this, he remembers her walking away and thinks about how he must become the hunter. And that makes him think of this other feeling – the one he has never dared to describe – that feeling of needing to be the hunter at parties – the feeling of needing to describe. And he drifts off to sleep thinking about his job – about how easy it is to sell real estate.

And those who run from Frank at parties often go home too and think about his feelings – about how much he scares them. They often wonder how he gets along. But they know that he does get along – and quite well – and they wonder if, perhaps, there is not something lacking in them to make them run from him as they do. And they wonder if he is happy with his money – and if his money is somehow a result of his perverse love of feeling. And they kiss their wives once lightly on the cheek and drift off to sleep.

Frank awakens in the morning alone, and thinks about his job. He knows that the day will make him richer – but not richer – more like having money with no one to spend it on – but not really that way either – because he is someone – but not someone he can love in a different way – but not a different way – more like himself in someone else – more like someone else in himself. And he goes off to work confident that he will do well – that, at least he knows need – that need is the one thing he can almost describe – well not describe – more like want to describe –


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