Internal Dialogue 2: Free Time

Author’s note: As in my previous internal dialogue, I’m spicing this one up by making it a conversation between me and good ol’ Honest Abe.  Please note that I do not actually believe I am talking to Abraham Lincoln.

When I got to the bar, our sixteenth president was already sitting at the bar, nose buried in a large mug of beer.  I flop down heavily on the stool next to him.  “Ugh,” I announce loudly, voicing my opinion of the world in general with a single snort.

Lincoln glances over at me.  “Oh, it’s just you again,” he comments without rancor.  “You know, you seem to imagine me up a lot for these sorts of things.”

“So?” I shoot back.  “What’s wrong with conversing with an imaginary version of the Great Emancipator?”

Abe shrugs back, taking a pull of beer.  “Nothing, as long as you pay my bar tab.”  He sets the glass down and turns to face me.  “So, what’s up, holmes?”

“Holmes?”

“I’m trying something new,” he says.  “Just because I’ve been dead for a hundred and fifty years doesn’t mean I can’t learn the new words all the kids are using!”

I decide not to correct him.  “Okay, you know all about my work, right?” I begin.

“Sure,” he responds.  “You work for Habitat for Humanity, rebuilding peoples’ homes, fixing them up when the residents aren’t able to afford it.  Noble stuff.  Could have used a few of you back after the whole war thing was finished, going around fixing up the South.  Might have alleviated a little tension, now that I think about it.”

“Yeah, exactly,” I say.  “Noble stuff.  Helping out people in need.  Except that’s the problem.”

“They aren’t in need?” Abe guesses shrewdly.

“Exactly!” I exclaim, thumping the top of the bar for emphasis.  The bartender glances down at me.  I wasn’t originally trying to attract his attention, but I figure I shouldn’t waste it, and order a beer.  Next to me, Lincoln holds up his empty glass, waving it back and forth in the universal gesture for a refill.

After I’ve taken a long swig of alcohol, I resume my complaint.  “Most of the time, these people that we help are at the house while we’re working,” I explain.  “But they aren’t usually doing much!  I’d expect them to try to help us, you know, since we’re doing all of this work for them for free, basically no strings attached.  But instead, we get nothing from them!”

“Maybe they don’t know how to help, though?” Abe guesses.

“Then they should ask!  It’s really not hard, in most cases – if you can move a paintbrush back and forth, you can help out!  But instead, they just sit around like lumps, eyes glued to Maury on the television!  They literally just sit there, watching TV, for the entire day!”  I slump back in my seat, frustrated.

The President considers this for a minute as he sucks the foamy head off his beer.  “So you’re frustrated that they’re just sitting back and not working for themselves,” he clarifies.

“That’s pretty much my complaint, yeah.”

Lincoln sets down his drink, already nearly halfway empty.  “But hold on for a moment.  What do you do when you get home from work?”

“Well, I relax,” I respond, taken aback slightly by the question out of left field.  “You know, take off my socks, recline, catch up on my TV shows-“

“Aha!” Abe cuts me off.  “So you also spend your free time lazing about and watching television!”

“It’s not the same!” I protest.  “I’m doing it after a long day of work!  I’ve been productive already!”

Abe waggles a finger at me, in what I find to be a rather insulting manner.  “It’s very similar, though.  We all need to take time to relax, and most of us choose to immerse ourselves in TV to serve as a distraction from the real world, a place where things really do work out at the end of the half hour.”  He pauses for a second. “Well, almost everyone does this.  I don’t, first because television wasn’t around back in my time, and secondly because I’m a figment of your imagination.  But you get the idea.”

I finish off my drink.  “I still disagree.  I’ve earned my time of zoning out.  People need to work harder!”  Lincoln starts to wave the bartender over once again, but I hold up a hand in protest.  “No more for me.  I’m headed home.”

“To do what?” he asks.

I shout back over my shoulder, “To relax!”

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