James and Tomiko by Elaine Bonow
James and Tomiko
“It is a very simplistic argument if you can even call it an argument, my dear girl.”
“What? Simple. ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.”
“Yes. One of the most simplistic, stupid statements ever made. No one of any intelligence should have ever made such an inane statement. It doesn’t even make any sense.”
“Bullshit. You can look it up. It was thought up by the director of the OMB in Jimmy Carter’s 1977 presidency. Here it is you can look for yourself.”
“I don’t care who invented the meme.”
“It’s not a meme. People have been saying this for almost forty years and there seems to be evidence to the fact that it has become a truism.”
“Now? A truism. Why is it true? It is not true all the time. I mean logically your point of view might view something as broken and it might not be broken, or it might really be broken but you can’t see that it is broken. It could be hiding its brokenness.”
“Wow, that’s the easy way out, the passive patsy. For instance, take this glass of wine. The glass holds the wine. I can pick it up, put it back down on the table and I can do that over and over again until the glass is empty, go back to the kitchen open another bottle of wine and fill the glass again and again.”
“Yes, it ain’t broke so you just keep doing that again and again just like I said, it ain’t broke and you can keep it up year after year because it doesn’t need fixing.”
“But let’s say you had this glass for a few years and didn’t notice when it obtained a fatal flaw, a hairline crack. Meanwhile you have looked at this old familiar glass and thought it sure would be nice to have a new set of wine glasses. Ooh, hold on, hold on, better still you find a beautiful set of crystal wine glasses at an estate sale and bought them but just put them up on a shelf instead of throwing out the old tired wine glass that unbeknownst to you is about to break and spill all the wine.”
“Oh hell no, you didn’t go there. That whole scenario has nothing to do with if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. First you have to have something that is actually broken and then you have to fix it. You can’t just think something might break and then throw it out then your “meme” as you call it would be “Break it first then replace it with something better,” or should I say “More to your liking.”
“I like that idea quite a bit. It is so much better than waiting around for something to break to realized that it should be replaced.”
“But where would you stop. I mean, the statement was made in the first place was about the vast budget concerns of an entire nation that was clicking along just fine. Your thesis brought it down to the rights of things not ideas.”
“Might as well get ridiculous and talk about something like food. What if you said “If this tomato ain’t cut don’t eat it or If this cucumber ain’t ripe don’t eat it.”
“That’s just really stupid. The statement is broader that that and is suppose to encompass ideas and theories and such or I know let’s take this to another level.”
“What do you mean? Where are you going with this? I mean you brought this up in the first place, right?”
The fading autumnal light on this particular Saturday held steady outside the kitchen window. James sat at the half circle of the table across form Tomiko holding the stem of a plain wine glass half full of a light red wine.
Tomiko looked over at him. She thought to herself “they say that Black don’t Crack” but James looked tired and old and this argument was unusual for him. He was usually easy to talk to. Hell, with this attitude he’d probably argue about the black don’t crack saying it was just a white man’s construct.
I know there is a huge difference in our ages but living with him these past few months has even made me get grey hairs.
James rubbed his face scratching his fingers through his salt and pepper goatee. He thought about the days long ago when his Afro was thick and kinky, strong like he used to be.
He looked over at Tomiko, questioning his own motives, arguing such a meager point. He still found her attractive but not in a passionate way. Not like he used to, not like when they first met, not since…
Her dark eyes, her coal black hair, her pale skin now seemed like a chimera. His life at this point in his life seemed as pale and vague as this autumn day. The argument had begun to invigorate him but at this point his interest waned.
“Yes, yes, if it ain’t broke is one thing but what if it is absolutely broken, Tomiko? Broken like me.”