James David Cohn


Forty years in the wilderness and nothing to eat but this manna, aside from the occasional filet and the American Breakfast which was called American because there was too much everything.

Forty years of wandering and he got used to it, appointments and shopping and doctor visits and marriages, kids born and inoculated and raised and sent to college.

Grandkids. Grandkids!

Forty years of trying to look interested.

Forty years in the wilderness after twenty-five years of preparation: sixty-five years of putting in the effort, doing what people did with their lives, knowing there was a Promised Land out there and fearing he might only see it from afar but never enter it, and now here he was.

He had arrived alone with nothing but his clothes, not a stick of furniture as they say, which is how he wanted it: the slash and burn retirement.

“You go through life like Sherman went through Atlanta,” a wife had said to him once.

“What an overused cliché,” he said.

“Every cliché is overused,” she said, “that’s the point.”

The very anonymity of his furnished rental condo was a source of comfort to him. He walked from room to room discovering appreciatively how Someone Else had appointed it just so, with an attention to detail that said, “One day I myself will retire to this home.” The owner was two years older than he was but she was still wandering in her own desert because that’s how it is, you need a little more money and then a little more and then maybe just a little more so you can be sure that you’ll have enough, that you won’t run out, because if you run out, what then? No more filets and no more American Breakfasts, that’s what.

The wilderness sojourn, it seemed, had to be perfectly calculated, an impossibility because there was too little information and there were too many variables.

Nevertheless here he was, as promised, in a land flowing with milk and margaritas, where everyone bitched about how they couldn’t wait to get out.

“I’m retiring to Morocco next month,” said a cabbie. “This place is a dump.”

“Is there a Hilton in Morocco?” he asked.

“I think so,” said the cabbie. “In Tangier. Why?”

“American Breakfast.”

© 2018 James David Cohn