THE ACCORDION THEORY
“The Big Bang is out,” she said. “Expansionism is so in it’s on PBS. Cosmology.” “I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know much about that.” “Or, it could be like an accordion,” she continued, “going in and out, except coming in it comes to a point and disappears. Then it bounces back, and later at the point of maximum expansion it starts back.” She stopped. It didn’t mean anything to him, just a girl talking while they sat is his car. After four beers he had a look she recognized. Probably gas, she decided. Or boredom, or a plan to keep her talking and see if anything happened. Fine, she liked to talk, it helped work out ideas. But not monolog. “So okay, what’s your idea of how the universe operates?” “By chance, I guess. Or you can believe in God, which I can do in a limited conditional way.” “That’s cool, that must make a lot of stuff simple. Not really simple, simple to accept. I just can’t get my arms around God though – ” “Yeah, it’s a biggie. Plus it draws idiots. But well, math’s not my thing so my uh, universe, has to be simple. You say there’s a good mathematical possibility of this accordion idea?” “Not proven, none of them are proven, that’s what the course is about, cosmology it’s called. It’s a grad course. You have to have the calculus to get in, both kinds.” “I’m going to open my flask,” he said, reaching to the glove compartment. After a swallow he offered it to her.” “Just like that? Room temperature mystery booze, ladies and gentlemen, not hiding behind ice cubes and mixers or chasers. Courtesy Humanities Hank.” He just smiled blandly, and she panicked a little. Then she felt an obligation to have a drink at exactly the moment when it also seemed like a good idea. Looking ahead she saw that letting him make a move could have unpredictable outcomes. If she was going to let that happen, the mover would have to understand what she liked to talk and think about. Her mind was made up on that. “You’re fucking in love with the universe,” he said. “You get off on all the possibilities. I never went out with a girl who thought like that. Like you.” “And?” read more
“Yeah, well,” he said. “It's cool. Last year I wasn’t okay with things. Lately I’m in a good mood and with me that’s like everything; I don’t kid myself about myself. I just want to like doing something so much I can spend my life totally involved with it, whatever it is. Like you are about the universe. I understand about expanding to infinity and contracting to nothing my own way, to me it’s like breathing. I don’t need math to see that and from what you say, math can’t really prove it, or unlimited expansion or the Big Bang or any of the ways it got to be here for us.”
The for us got her and she almost lost it in a laugh. “I missed the game, she said. I was fucking the teacher, she thought. “Did you get some good minutes.”
“Yeah, seven points three rebounds. I just like to do it, it doesn’t go anywhere for me like it does for some of the guys. I know the game and stay calm, that’s my thing. And kick ass if some new guy screws the team around.” “Have you thought about politics? I don’t think Clinton knew a lot of math and physics but it didn’t stand in his way.”
He tapped the flask again and offered it to her. As she took a sip, he reached into the back seat for a re-sealed bottle of Perrier. Also room temperature. Donald was definitely not Dr. Peele, Harry to her, from who she need a solid A and a reference. Donald wasn’t worried – that was the basis of his appeal. Yes, Dr. Peele had been worried, she just hadn’t figured it out until now. She didn’t condemn it or like him less, she just liked the novelty of not caring too much. It was like a mathematical insight into the fundamental nature of existence. That was it – he could tell which buttons would work and what not to bother with. Like an animal in the forest. Not the jungle, he wasn’t a jungle guy. “Why politics?” he asked. “Actually, I did think of it. Nobody else does. Business is just as dirty and you don’t get to affect anything except how much money you get and what you can buy. There are so many assholes in politics, if you look half-human people will consider you. And my cousin would give me a job. He’s just a state rep but he’s cool and I’d get to see what it . . . smells like.” He passed her the flask and she sipped again. A guy who thought about politics. “What is this we’re drinking, anyway?” “Grain alcohol and apple juice. Do you like it?” “Until you told me. I think I can almost feel the universe breathing.” They both laughed. “I’m not gonna fuck you, you know,” she continued. “I like you, but I’m not fucking you. I’m in kind of a relationship I think.” “You’re not? And you’re in a relationship? I need a drink, this is terrible. And it’s going to cost me twenty dollars I was planning to spend on gas. I made a bet.” “You made a bet? On me? Now I need a drink.” “No, don’t get pissed, of course not, just a joke. I’m sorry, I’ve been drinking.” “Me too. So you graduate and go to work for your cousin?” “I could. Or I could go to go for my Masters, they’d give me an assistantship.” “Y’know what? You don’t need math, Don. You’re like a hunter sniffing the wind. I think I will have another drink.”
“You sure? It’s stronger than it seems.” “I’m sure. Actually I like it. And this nice flat Perrier goes with it perfectly. It’s hard to believe we’re both taking the same course.” “An experiment. I don’t know anything about art, but it was that or music, and I’m basically tone deaf. My grandfather’s a Brit, he says he knows two tunes – one them is God Save the King and the other one isn’t. She laughed. “And you take after him?” “You’re interesting to talk to, Layla. I can’t talk to most women.” “I don’t believe you. You’re so – Clintonian.” “He wasn’t the worst. Even my father says that. He was always horny, but he balanced the budget and no war. They brought him down and look what we got. Better guy now,
but he doesn’t have the moves. He can’t take over the game, and that’s the gig. History is a hopeless degree but you get to see presidents for sure.” She smiled and felt warm. What did Dr. Peele have that Don didn’t? Frontal lobe hypertrophy, and not even the whole lobe. A little power, but not going anywhere very exciting. Over thirty, not going to be the next Hawking and write a big book, even if it was wrong.
“You live off campus?” “Yeah, I get enough of guys at the gym.” “Let’s have another drink and go to your place. I think there’s probably carbon monoxide coming up from that muffler and just sitting for so long gets to me.” “Sure, it’s early yet. I wonder if anyone thinks the universe hatched from an egg. If it’s organic.” Her laugh was long and deep. “Does anyone ever tell you you’re funny, Don? “No they think I’m serious. I am sometimes, on the court, I want us to win. And if I’m writing a paper or in an exam, but generally not. It’s a strain keeping it up all the time, don’t you think?” He started the car. “I think it’s mainly a habit being serious. My family has it, it’s just there. If you’re uptight you’re doing something right, that’s the given but they never ask where it came from. I like, I laugh at the wrong time. I laughed when I had the accordion idea. And when you said it was like breathing.” Or what we’ll be doing in a little while if you don’t do something dumb and I don’t change my mind.