“As I was saying,” my friend continued, “your problem is that you’re afraid of making shit.”
“No, I’m not,” I replied with a smirk as I returned from the bathroom, “I make shit all the time!”
“You know what I mean,” my friend retorted, rolling their eyes, “you’re too much of a perfectionist.”
“Woah, hey now, that’s not true,” I insisted, “I know my shit stinks, ok?”
“Well, that’s a start, but I’m talking about your art,” my friend clarified.
“I am too!” I implored, “that’s why I don’t ever share anything…”
“… because you don’t think it’s good enough,” my friend reasoned.
“Hey, shit is shit, okay?” I explained, “polish it up all you want, but it’s still shit.”
“To you, maybe,” my friend assured me, “but that’s just because your standards are too high.”
“Look,” I said as I looked my friend directly in the eyes this time, “I’m just not comfortable with putting out any less than my best, okay? It’s not about standards, it’s about artistic integrity, ok?”
“Artistic integrity,” my friend mimicked in a mocking manner, “here, let me show you something…”
My friend raised their hand, signaling for the waitress who quickly made her way over.
“Yes?” the waitress asked, “what can I get’cha?”
“You don’t by chance have any chocolate cake, do you?” my friend inquired.
“Sure do!” the waitress confirmed with a smile, “now, will that be one slice or two?”
My friend looked at me. I looked back at my friend. The waitress looked at me. I averted my eyes. My friend outstretched his hand to me as if to say, “well?” I squinted my eyes back at my friend. I looked back at the waitress, shook my head, and said “no thanks.”
“So, just one slice then?” the waitress asked my friend to confirm.
“No,” my friend said, “better still make it two.”
I went to protest, but my friend cut me off by saying, “let them eat cake, right?”
There was an awkward silence that hung in the air as I glared at my friend.
“Alright, two slices of chocolate cake, coming right up,” the waitress said, finally breaking the tension as she turned and walked away.
“I said I didn’t want any,” I complained, feeling my brow furrow as I did.
“And you’re not going to get any,” my friend replied, “not with that attitude.”
We sat in silence for the next minute until the waitress returned with the two slices of chocolate cake. She stood there for a moment, weight shifting from one foot to the other, with a plate held in each hand.
“So, am I giving both of these to you or…” the waitress trailed off, waiting for a response as she looked at my friend, then to me, then back to my friend.
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” my friend said, “you can just put them down over here.”
The waitress set the two pieces of cake in front of my friend and then produced two forks from her apron, placing one on each plate.
“Just in case you change your mind,” the waitress said to me, winking, before walking away.
“But you’re not going to change your mind, now are you?” my friend asked me.
“What’s that?” I replied, suddenly overcome with emotion as I watched the waitress walk away.
“Pay attention,” my friend commanded, “this is your problem. You have no sense of perception.”
“Okay, go on,” I sighed, rolling my eyes.
“Now, what we have here,” my friend said as they outstretched their arms, with each hand open palmed towards a slice of cake, “are, for all porpoises in tents, two identical pieces of cake… in so much as they were cut from the same cloth, so to speak… you following me?”
“Porpoises in tents?” I questioned.
“Okay, good, you are paying attention,” my friend smirked, and then continued, “now, being that these two pieces of cake are identical, they should therefore taste the same, correct?”
“Sure,” I replied with a yawn, “what’s your point?”
“My point is this,” my friend said as he picked up a fork and jammed it into a slice of cake… and then jammed it in again, and again, and again, until the piece of cake was reduced to crumbs. “This piece of cake,” my friend continued, “is how you view your art, while the other piece of cake is how I view your art, and yet…” my friend used the fork to grab a bit from his cake as well as a bit of the crumbs from my cake, took a bite, and declared, “they both still taste the same.”
I stared at the two plates of cake, sighed, and said “I feel like this was a waste of time… and cake.”
“Nonsense,” my friend declared with a shit eating grin, “I got to have my cake and eat yours too!”