It's been a disappointing week for many I’m sure (other than the haters but what's new). submitted by
I don't usually share my thoughts on reddit, but with the events that have transpired I just felt it was time to finally contribute to the community I've been glued to since the spring of 2018.
I started purchasing Kin towards the end of 2017 (few months after ICO). Kin first caught my attention after I pulled out of Bitcoin when the bubble had started bursting. In my mind, this was such a unique proposition and I saw no other coin that matched Kin's potential at the time. I had just been a few years out of a top MBA program and studied under some of tech industries' leaders, and to me this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
I loved the vision that Ted had for Kin. It was not just about elevating his own company Kik, but finding a way to level the playing field and elevating all the smaller players in the tech space. It is true that tech strategy has enabled a winner take all economy and has made it unfair for many, and I wanted to see something challenge this dangerous path we all are on. And over the years I kept purchasing Kin believing in its potential and what it stood for.
Unfortunately, I may have acquired way too much with the way the trial has turned out this week. I won't lie I was extremely discouraged and angry to take a significant loss. But I'm not pointing fingers at Ted and I don't think bashing this project has ever been the right response. Being a product manager in tech, I know just how difficult it is to launch straight-forward, incremental products. To actually try something potentially revolutionary and truly disruptive, well that just takes a lot of guts and grit. From a PM and entrepreneurial angle, I have tons of respect for Ted and everyone that has been involved in moving this project forward. That was quite the fight you all put up over the years, and I know a lot of pain involved.
Though it's heavy for me now, I don't think I'll end up regretting the decision to participate in this project. I'd like to think I make decent money moves with logic guiding me and emotions out of it. The decision trees I made for this project still make sense to this day. And I followed the progress and data closely - being a big believer in making data-driven decisions. But admittedly, maybe some of it was hype or emotions that made me not see this clearer. I overlooked the incumbent or "competition". Let's be real here, many of us did. But why do I say I won't have any regrets? Because how often does the common person get to participate in a potential tech revolution from the early stages. I'm not seeing any world-changing companies giving me a chance to put money in the ground stage anytime soon. Still hurts, but like I said I did my calculations and believed I took a shot at something potentially life-changing. That's how I see it.
My timeline has always been that this was likely going to take at least 7 years to figure out (without external intervention). Most major tech companies took that long to figure it out (even Bitcoin took 8 years before it caught on). So it's tough to see that we may be nearing the end of the road without truly knowing what this product can do. But I'm writing this to encourage Ted and team, and hoping they will make the right moves for the project and those who supported it over the years. I remember that former moderators/ambassadors have mentioned that Ted would "take care" of those that have supported Kin. So I figured I would bring it up as Ted goes into the negotiation/"assessing options" phase. I'm not going to pretend what's the right move or what options are available (I'm intrigued by decentralization and open source but not sure if that's even an option). But hopefully it will be made with sound strategy and without emotions for the betterment of everyone involved (even those that came in after the ICO). If Ted truly believes he has the resources to make this work knowing what he's truly up against, then great, I'll keep supporting and patiently observe. But if, the resources are limited, I hope there's some creative solution that can be achieved. I'd like to think the Kin technology is still incredibly valuable and useful, and that it can be used to the benefit of all that supported it. I also don't want to see countries outside the US to run circles around the US in crypto. Basically, I wanted to throw in another train of thought other than the negative sentiments or ideal scenarios to the discussion.
I gotta imagine that this whole journey has been incredibly tough for Ted and team. Having to sell Kik and endure trials of various kinds. No way I could've gone through that, and so you have my respect. I'm guessing the pressure is even higher now, but I hope you don't forget us in the next moves you make, Ted.
(1) One man's journey with Kin, and why my perception has not changed after 3 years.
(2) Encouragement to Ted and team to pull off something that works for everyone.
Tesla is different than legacy car companies and thus justifiably trading at a p/e of 1111. Elon and his fanboys remind me of bitcoin just before the bubble burst. Everyone had FOMO back then as well. As we all know that ended well /s. I am thinking about shorting the stock even though I don’t like trading options as they’re too volatile. Tbh I think it’s mostly young ‘eco oriented’ people who put literally all their ‘life’ savings into the stock and HODL and hope to retire a millionaire as a result. I made some calculations that even if the stock moves fucking sideways for the next 10 years and the earnings kept rising 30% annually, which is of course very unsustainable, the stock would still trade at a P/E of about 80. I mean, what do these speculators think, that it will be the next skynet or something. Even if they believed it they’d get fucked by Elon as all the interesting businesses he is working on (neuralink, spacex) are still privately owned and don’t have anything to do with Tesla. (At least not in the real world) submitted by
Tl;dr If Tesla stock moved sideways for the next 10 years and the earnings improved 30% annually it would still be trading at a P/E of around 80
P.s. English is not my first language so pls excuse my mistakes
I have taken excerpts from the following link which are relevant to why bitcoin might be the solution to many of America's problems.
TLDR: We, the 99%, do not fairly share in the fruits of our labor, yet we are consistently forced to bear the burden of corporate and institutional shortsightedness, greed, gambling and failure. https://www.reddit.com/OpenLetters/comments/h9ofta/dear_99/
A light has been shined on the American police problem, but it is just the tip of the iceberg in what are numerous deeply rooted issues concealing entrenched, multifaceted systems of oppression meant to indiscriminately maintain the status quo over the 99% regardless of skin pigment.
-End the Fed: The Federal Reserve (The Fed) is America’s central bank with questionable oversight whose name is derived to invoke and imply authority of the federal government and therefore (at least nominally) accountability to, the American people. On paper, the Fed answers to congress, which in a perfect world would be a representative body, of the people and for the people, this is not the case. Educate yourselves on the Federal Reserve and its role in previous greed driven economic catastrophes. End the Fed, stop feeding the oligarchs and the connected cronies they implant into the systems, corporations, and banks which directly benefit from the money these crooks print out of thin air at our expense. Financial institutions need more oversight, and we should be searching for solutions or alternatives. Perhaps we should gradually #OptOut.
-Banks and Lending Practices: The US banking system operates on a fractional reserve system. This requires banks to keep only a tiny fraction of the money they lend on reserve, the rest of which they may loan out and charge interest on. Banks literally make money using our money, and still assess overdraft fees and monthly maintenance fees from those who barely have enough to get by as it is (and who cannot afford maintaining minimum balances as they do not possess regular income, or are busy living paycheck to paycheck). These fees might as well be called “poor taxes” as it appears being poor is expensive. We should all vote with our money by removing it from these banks and only doing business with less greedy fee free credit unions. Historically, the banking/financing sector has been racist and biased in their distribution of opportunity to the public favoring the rich living in better neighborhoods. This is a problem, how can historically disadvantaged people for example, raise capital to start businesses, obtain reliable transportation, buy houses in better neighborhood so that their children might benefit from better education all when they are caught in the cycle of poverty (or worse yet, also affected by blatant or backdoor racism)? Socioeconomically induced inequitable access to opportunity is a massive problem in the United States and this affects the 99%, including the middle class. The richer the family you are born into, the higher the quality of education you are likely to receive, the more connected you are, the more access to resources and support for stepping into the world “on the right foot”, obtaining stable income, building/maintaining a higher credit scores which translates to lower interest rates, and in general, better opportunities. From a purely business standpoint, it is then quite understandable that banks would want to obtain the business of these less risky, rich desirables while treating others as low priority clientele (likely with algorithms to “justify” doing so). The terms of credit lines and loans extended to those from disadvantaged communities should be examined (e.g. payday loan offices that plague these communities – or credit cards with outrageous APRs awarded to those from these communities lacking the education to use them wisely leading to the destruction of their credit scores and therefore justification from banks to deny opportunity to these individuals later in life thereby inhibiting class mobility). Lenders and banks have gamed and weaponized their monetary instruments (e.g. predatory credit cards and loans) against disadvantaged communities by enabling the less financially literate to dig themselves into financial holes from which they may never recover; this is a herding mechanism which relegates and confines the disadvantaged to certain neighborhoods (further perpetuating the cycle of poverty).
Oligarchs, their cronies, financial institutions and the corporations they control have perverted the once great concept of the “invisible hand”. They intervene in our democratic processes to further self-interests at the expense of the public benefit. We are living in a system that gives us the illusion – or semblance, if we are lucky – of justice, opportunity, class mobility, and the “American Dream”. While some of these are achievable through mountainous effort, the struggle in achieving these are unbalanced depending on factors that should be inconsequential such as skin pigment, zip code of birth, and social connectedness. These coercive instruments of oppression propagated throughout our engineered society have kept us busy keeping each other compliant, fighting amongst ourselves over scraps – and promotions, grinding for our next paycheck and inhibiting our drive for vindicated civil disobedience – lest we go hungry or homeless, and have placated us with bread and games to shroud the connected few who rob us through the camouflaged systems they proliferate. We are attempting to climb an ever-growing cliff where the rich have reached the top, raised the ladders, and continue pouring grease along the slopes. Main street is not wall street. Greed has severed the relationship between market performance, our country’s production, and the average American’s plight. The rich get richer by, among other things, their ease of access to newly printed money (debt) before the wider population increasing their purchasing power before inflation takes hold, allowing them to purchase and accumulate stocks and assets at a discount (Cantillon Effect) – further increasing their political influence which they use to further self-serving interests. This has resulted in a financial and social bubble that is bound to burst violently without intervention.
We, the 99%, do not fairly share in the fruits of our labor, yet we are consistently forced to bear the burden of corporate and institutional shortsightedness, greed, gambling and failure.
The 1% have their perverted hands wrapped around our necks. We can’t breathe.
I’ve been losing sleep. I don’t think I’m particularly special in that regard, I think everyone has been losing sleep these days. A global pandemic tends to do that to people. Yet the thing that has been keeping me awake isn’t the virus. I’ve been losing sleep over an old couch I once crossed paths with.
It’s been eight years, I want to believe that I’ve put the past behind me, but being locked in a house for a couple of weeks has made it impossible to not dwell on the past. The memory of the couch started off as a fleeting thought over my morning coffee, but as days have turned into weeks that memory has grown into a distinct vision of madness. What I saw during those three drunken nights in December of 2012 has become an unavoidable part of reality. I can’t rest until I process it.
So since we have a nice little Internet campfire going here I figured I would tell you guys a story. Hopefully it will let me put this whole part of my past to rest and maybe it will take your mind off of what is happening outside. So kick back and let me tell you a tale of love and loss, of broken teenage hearts, of surviving in a crumbling world. Let me tell you a story about the couch that tried to seduce me.
I was nineteen, hung-over and heartbroken. I was also stuck in a foreign country. Well, to call Estonia a foreign country would be a bit of a long shot, I had lived there for a good five years of my life. It was in Estonia that I lived out most of my teenage years. This was where I had smoked my first cigarette, had my first drink, fell in love for the first time. I was dragged in when I was thirteen by my parents; they had business in Tallinn and wherever they went I went. At eighteen, when my parent’s contracts ran out, I was forced back home. Their business with Estonia was done. Mine was not. By nineteen I was back.
As soon as I got off the plane I turned my phone on and checked my messages. She didn’t write to me. My soul, positioned somewhere slightly above my abdomen, twitched in discomfort. It was a familiar twitch, I had felt it in the bus to the airport, I had felt it in the security check, I had felt it when I boarded the flight to Tallinn and as soon as I got off the plane the twitch was back with a vengeance. The discomfort I was feeling in my chest was a realization. It was the realization that I had emptied out most of my already slim bank account on a one-way ticket halfway across the continent to see my old high-school sweetheart who wasn’t interested in seeing me. It was the realization that as much as I consciously knew the trip was a bad idea, I couldn’t resist going. I dragged my feet towards the arrivals hall.
When it became obvious that Saale was dodging my messages I panicked. There was no place for me to crash, I had no money for a flight, hell, I had no money for food. As I boarded the plane to Estonia I sent off a panicked text message to my old band-mate: ‘Made horrible mistake. Landing in Tallinn in three hours. Can I crash at yours?’ Within two minutes there was a reply: ‘OK. Will come with Maarja. See you soon.’ Karl wasn’t very chatty, but he was always there when needed.
The two of them were waiting for me as soon as I walked out into the arrival hall. They barely changed. Karl was still a giant of man. His long hair had gotten longer and the beard he had rocked since seventeen had gotten thicker, the guy looked like Jesus on steroids if Jesus was really into heavy metal and wore glasses. Next to Karl stood Maarja, she wore a garish yellow coat. The pink streak in her hair she’d been so proud of back in middle school was pinker than ever.
“JAAMEEES! YOU’RE BACK!” Maarja yelled in her high-pitched faux-English accent before nearly tackling me to the ground. “It’s been too long honey! Too long!” She hadn’t changed a bit since I left the country. Maarja was still a pint-sized bolt of energy. The two of them made for an odd couple.
“Welcome back, Friend,” Karl said after Maarja was done squeezing me. He wasn’t one for physical contact, Karl settled on a simple pat on the shoulder that challenged my entire skeletal structure. The three of us made our way outside to catch a bus to the center. Even after living in Estonia for five years I still wasn’t used to the winters. As soon as we walked out into the sub-zero temperature I felt decidedly like a foreigner.
We caught up on the small things while we waited for the bus. Karl and Maarja had officially moved in together, the band that Karl and me started up in high-school had broken up, Maarja was in the process of getting a bachelors degree of psychology and Karl was really into some crypto-currency stuff that went completely over my head. I couldn’t get much out of me; the cold was taking a real toll on my system. Whenever I opened my mouth to talk about my miserable little life I simply ended up chattering my teeth. As soon as we got on the bus I threw myself at the nearest heating vent.
“So, James,” Maarja said as soon as we got on the bus, “You still talk to Saale?” When I turned away from the heater to face her she froze, “I mean, we don’t have to talk about, forget I asked.”
“Do I look that bad?”
While Maarja searched for a diplomatic answer Karl stepped in with his special brand of honesty, “You look very tired and unhappy.”
“Well, I am happy to see you guys and I am excited to be here, but, yeah,” I decided to get the conversation out of the way, “We tried two months of long-distance, but Skype only gets you so far. Broke up in late July. After we split we agreed to not talk for a couple of months, to give each other some time to clear the system and all that. Keeping radio silence was hard at first but after a couple of weeks I started to get used to it. I was learning to live without her. Things were starting to straighten up, I even took a stab at dating but when the holidays rolled around the loneliness came back. On Christmas I figured I’d throw Saale a holiday message. She wrote back. We started chatting on a daily basis.”
The bus bounced through my old neighborhood. Memories of my drunken youth jumped at me from every corner, most of those memories involved Saale. “Last night we got pretty drunk,” I continued, “Things got flirty. We started talking about what we would do if we weren’t half a continent away from each other. She mentioned her parents were out of town until the end of January on some sort of an anniversary trip. I offered to fly in. She told me I should. Now I’m here.”
“She changed her mind?” Karl asked.
“She didn’t think I was serious about flying over. Didn’t exactly check with her before I bought the ticket. She flipped out when I got it, told me to get a refund and then hung up on me when I insisted on meeting up. She hasn’t answered any of my messages since.” A part of me felt good to get the story out of my system but saying it out loud just added to the absurdity. I could have not bought the ticket, I could have gotten a refund, I could have not gotten on that plane. Everything could have been avoided, but nineteen year old me leaped at the opportunity for a grand romantic gesture like a hungry animal.
“Very strange,” Karl finally said after considering my story. He shot a look over to Maarja, as if she was the ambassador to all women-kind, “Very strange, right?”
Maarja’s house was the crown jewel of my high-school social life. It was a three-apartment unit that was built at some point before the world wars. This place was old, as you would walk around the little apartment it would creak, but it made for a perfect party place. Maarja had inherited the apartment from her grandma at sixteen; the Estonians saw child rearing as a fairly independent process. If she couldn’t survive on her own at sixteen she probably couldn’t make it at thirty, a bit of responsibility would prepare her for the frigid world outside. Maarja used her newly found independence to throw the biggest house parties that the neighborhood had ever seen.
Maarja’s place was perfect for booze filled gatherings. It was spacious enough to hold any drinking game we could dream up, there was a nice terrace for smoking and the neighbors were either deaf, completely apathetic about teenage drinking or both. As soon as the front door opened I was assaulted by memories.
Visions of drunken nights on the floor of the living room, of hung-over mornings of the kitchen; the old apartment breathed with the past. For a split second a wave of gratitude for a youth well spent washed over me, but then I remembered that each of those fond memories had an element I wanted to block out. Most of the fun I had in the apartment had been with Saale by my side.
Maarja and Karl still slept on an old mattress on the floor, the walls were still covered with cut outs of boy-bands that Maarja had stuck to the wall in her tweens. The only thing that changed about their bedroom was the addition of a massive computer rig on the table. There were strange ventilators and cooling tubes and blinking lights, the machine looked like something straight out of a sci-fi flick.
“That’s my mining rig,” Karl said proudly. I nodded as if I understood what he was talking about.
“Where are the rats?” I asked, noticing the empty cage on Maarja’s wardrobe. Back in the day Maarja had two rats, Fritz and The Duchess. She would keep them in the cage most of the time, but whenever the night reached a certain point of drunkenness Maarja would sneak over to her bedroom and come out with the two animals. If you saw Maarja with two rats running up and down her body you knew the night was really going to become a rager.
“The Duchess died last week,” Maarja said with a glint of sorrow, “Fritz wasn’t taking it well. Think the little guy was depressed being in the cage all alone, so I’m letting him roam around the house for the time being. Hopefully a bit of freedom will cheer him up.” As if he had heard his name, Fritz peeked out from behind the wardrobe. The albino rat raised his snout in the air, sniffed for a bit and then lumbered off to the living room. The years had taken their toll on Fritz, he no longer moved with the youthful energy I was used to, but the one part of him that I remembered had not changed. Fritz still had balls that were disproportionately giant to his body. As he moved away from us he dragged them behind him with Sisyphean effort.
“So, which hostel are you crashing at?” Maarja asked. A lump manifested in my throat. I looked around the cramped apartment. Outside of the mattress there was nowhere for me to sleep. I didn’t have any money for a hostel. “Ah, I’m just kidding. You’re crashing here. We owe you anyway,” Maarja said with good cheer.
“For what?” I asked, relieved that I wasn’t homeless.
“Financing the booze and cigarettes back in the day, might have ended up a nun if it weren’t for you,” she said with a grin. It was true, throughout high school I had been the main financier of our misadventures, my parents had foreign money and that money went pretty far by Estonian standards. More importantly though; when everyone was sixteen I looked twelve. According to the law of teen streets, the late bloomer provides the dough for those who can buy stuff without ID.
“You’ll sleep on the couch, we just haven’t had the time to get it out of the garage. How about you and Karl drag it in while I make some tea?”
Even though it was a bright winter day outside the garage was in near darkness. The only thing that illuminated the cramped musty room was a single ray of light shining in through a cracked skylight. The garage was covered in flimsy shelves that buckled beneath the weight of greasy machine parts. In the center of the garage lay a couch shaped object covered with a large, stained cloth. Karl grabbed ahold the cloth and was about to pull it away, but a thought struck him.
“James, if I tell you something will you not tell Maarja?” He asked, letting the cloth drop back down to the floor. He looked straight at me; his small eyes were probing me for trustworthiness.
“Well, depends on what it is,” I said, “Don’t need help burying a body, right?”
“No,” Karl’s intensity broke into a smile, “It is nothing illegal. Just a secret.” He strode towards one of the rickety shelves and plunged his hand deep into its depths. After a moment of rustling he pulled out a small box. He opened it. Even though the garage was dark, and even though the diamond was tiny, you could see a little glimmer. Karl’s eyes shone twice as bright.
“Wow man,” I said, realizing how quickly the world was moving on, “Congratulations!” Maarja and Karl would get married and I would be at their wedding alone. As I stood in that garage the thought that I would always be alone gushed dread through my veins. We used to joke about how Saale and me would get hitched before the two of them did. Those jokes felt cruel now. Maarja and Karl would get married and one day Saale would get married too. She would get married to someone who wasn’t me. “I’m really happy for you.”
“I want to ask her father soon. He does not like me much, but I think I can show him that I can provide for his daughter. This Bitcoin thing will be big soon James, in a couple of years me and Maarja will be rich.” Karl put the box back into its hiding place. “Promise not to tell her, yes?”
“Promise,” I said with as much candor as I could muster, but my mind was elsewhere. My mind was floating disembodied in a bright church, watching my would-be-wife get married to someone else.
“James,” Karl’s paw on my shoulder brought me back into reality, “You will be okay. I know you are worried about Saale, but you still have us. We will drink this away.” He smiled. I tried to smile back. “Let’s get this couch, shall we?”
He pulled away at the cloth that covered the couch. Enough dust flew off into the air to send us both into a coughing fit. The room danced with dirty particles. Yet from behind the veil of powder I could see it. I could see the couch.
The thing was ancient, a couch straight out of the early days of the Soviet Union. Its flowery upholstery was covered in stains that just screamed history. It was as if the piece of furniture had been used for barricades in the defense of Stalingrad and lived to talk about it. Filth filled its rumpled cloth, it stood on firm wooden legs that seemed to have survived multiple generations of being clawed at, it was as if the thing was simply biding its time until its true masters came back to retrieve it. The couch was old, but somehow in that dark garage, in that gust of earthly smoke, there was something alluring about it. It looked ratty but comfortable, even inviting. For a split second I was sure that the couch had winked at me with its cushioning. Then the dust settled and it was just a piece of furniture.
Karl grabbed one side of the couch, I grabbed the other and we started to haul the thing towards the living room. We had left the garage, but there was still tension in the air. I was still thinking about Saale getting married to someone who wasn’t me. It was still as if Karl and me were meant to have a serious discussion. Neither of us were comfortable.
“I lost my virginity on this couch,” I shared, hoping to relax the situation.
Karl grinned, accepting the levity, “Gross.”
We dragged the couch to the living room and then joined Maarja in the kitchen. Back in the day her kitchen table was the go-to place to gather before drinking and after drinking. We would sit around and shoot the shit and wait for someone to drop off the booze for the evening or the hung-over pizza for the morning. Yet as we sat there, trying to make small talk, one of the chairs was empty and it made all the difference. I couldn’t focus on anything that was being said around me, all I could think about was how Saale used to sit next to me. All I could think about were her long legs on my lap, her long fiery hair, her laughter.
“How about we sweeten the evening with a bit of moonshine?” Maarja asked, as she fished a clear bottle out of the kitchen counter, “Karl and me are going to lunch with my parents tomorrow though, so no hangovers.”
Karl cheered on the promise of alcohol, but not even drink could lift my spirits. My eyes shifted from Saale’s empty seat to the couch. All I wanted to do was lie down and fall asleep for a thousand years. “Guys, I appreciate the hospitality but I’m really tired. How about we drink tomorrow?” I said. Karl and Maarja looked concerned, this was the first time they had ever seen me refuse booze.
“Are you sure you’re okay honey? We can talk about it if you want to,” Maarja suggested. I insisted I was fine; I just needed to get some rest. That didn’t convince her, but she yielded, “Well, we’ll be in my room if you need us.” Her and Karl shuffled off to her bedroom. I laid down on the couch.
From the other room I could hear them talk. Maarja talked in concerned whispers whilst Karl spoke at full volume, it didn’t make much of a difference, even after five years of being in the country I still couldn’t understand Estonian. I could hear my name being mentioned though. They were concerned about the emotional wreck that was crashing on their couch. I dragged my friends into my mess. It was all so humiliating; I was far from home, broke and broken. I wanted to die. ‘Easy there Tiger, don’t think like that,’
a faint voice emerged from the back of my head, ‘Things might not seem great right now, but look on the bright side, at least you’re on a comfortable couch.’
The voice was right; the couch was indeed comfortable. ‘All you need is a bit of a distraction to forget about your broken heart. Some booze, some dope, maybe a bit of love and you’ll be good as new.’
It was as if the suave voice turned a switch in my mind. Suddenly the tightness in my chest eased, a burst of joy started to bubble in my abdomen. My fingers started to trace the sides of the upholstery. The voice giggled, ‘That’s the spirit Tiger, just relax, you’re fine as long as you’re here with me.’
The universe felt lighter, my feelings of dread faded away and were replaced with an electric anticipation. I needed a drink to celebrate.
I opened the door to Maarja’s bedroom. She was lounging on the mattress reading a psych textbook. Karl was watching bar graphs on the computer. “Hey guys,” I peeked in, “I feel a bit better now, how about those drinks?” They both grinned. We drank.
In the moment I didn’t give much thought to the voice in my head, my internal monologue was turned up a notch since the break-up anyway. I was used to hearing thoughts that I consciously didn’t want to consider; the silky voice that was telling me that things would be okay was a welcome distraction. I sunk into the couch and I let the night carry me away. ‘See Tiger? Isn’t it nice to be here? Isn’t life just swell on this little old couch?’
it would say. I nodded along. We drank more.
All thoughts of avoiding hangovers were let go; the liquor poured freely. At some point Maarja emerged out of her room with Fritz on her shoulder. We celebrated the tradition of our youth but the rat was sluggish, far too old to crawl around on her body. After a couple of minutes Maarja gave up on playing with the rat. She put him on the ground. Fritz simply walked around the room dragging his testacles behind him like a ball and chain. We drank more.
Karl lumbered up to his feet and went to fetch his guitar. Maarja was out having a cigarette. I was far too comfortable on the couch. Having a moment to myself I watched the rat. Fritz had spent the past couple of minutes roaming the living room and sniffing at my backpack. Yet suddenly something caught his attention, he sniffed at the air, his whiskers bouncing in curiosity. Then he looked towards the couch. The old rat sprung to his hind legs and turned towards me. It was as if his beady eyes were locked to the piece of furniture. ‘Oh Tiger, don’t think about the stupid rat. Look, here comes Karl, let’s stop thinking about stupid things and listen to him play.’
Oh and how he could play. To say that Karl lacked warmth would be an understatement, communicating with the guy often felt like having a conversation with a pile of awkwardly stacked encyclopedias, but as soon as he would bring out the guitar he would ooze personality. Somehow, with those hulking fingers of his, Karl had managed to make the strings sing the gentlest of tones. Maarja and me sang along out of key as the night went on. ‘Just like the good old days, Tiger, you’re here and you’re happy. Focus on the positives, focus on the present,’
the voice told me. I followed the advice, until I couldn’t.
It was as if a spell had been broken. As soon as I heard those opening chords, as soon as I realized what Karl was playing my stomach sank. It was that Rolling Stones song. Saale and me had danced to it once upon a time. Memories of our first night together came rushing into my mind. The Saale shaped hole in my heart throbbed with pain. I got up to splash some water on my face. Karl shifted his performance into a serenade for Maarja.
The tiles in the bathroom were freezing but I was willing to withstand the pain if it meant I could get further away from the song. I stood there, willing to wait it out, but the memories just kept on floating back. I was standing in the same bathroom I stood in the night that I met Saale. I could see traces of a sixteen-year old in my face. The music kept on building. Saale’s lily perfume filled my nostrils. I could remember the fullness of her lips before our first kiss. The images were cascading on top of each other, ripping away at my sanity, ready to plunge me into a panic attack. But then they stopped. The music stopped.
I peeked out of the door. Karl had chucked his guitar over to the side. His serenade had given way to a heavy make out session. Him and Maarja were all over each other. “Guys, I’m going to go out for a cigarette,” I announced.
The two of them looked up at me dazed and drunk. “Take the keys honey, I think we’re going to bed.”
I hoped that the dial tone would block out Maarja’s moans but it didn’t. Not only did I have to listen to a loving couple have sex, I also had to listen to world’s quietest dial tone as I was reminded that Saale did not want to talk to me. I stood out there in the freezing cold smoking one cigarette after another. It was just me, the starless sky and Maarja’s moans. Karl lasted for a quarter a pack before their bedroom quieted down. I tried calling Saale one more time and then went back inside.
By the time I stumbled to the couch I could already hear snoring coming from the bedroom. But there was another sound in the apartment, something much quieter, something I almost didn’t notice. Scratching.
Luckily I managed to prop myself up against the couch before I sat on him. As I tried to regain my balance I realized just how drunk I was. Fritz was on the couch, furiously scratching into its upholstery. He looked up at the drunken figure hovering over him for a split second and then went back to work. Those little claws scratched with the ferocity of a pup. It was as if Fritz was two years younger.
I picked him up by his scruff and tried taking him off the couch. When I lifted him off the ground the rat seemed confused for just a split second before- ‘Aiiieee’
Fritz screamed the world’s tiniest scream and then bit me in the finger. He dropped to the ground and ran beneath a nearby wardrobe. He hid beneath it and watched me.
I was too drunk and tired to care. I laid down on the couch and exhaled. ‘Welcome back Tiger, you look tired. Let me keep you company. Yes, life is hard, but if you really appreciate the moment it can be pretty enjoyable. Lie down here, let me keep you hold you. Let’s get to know each other better.’
I could smell floral perfume. I closed my eyes and drifted off to a deep sleep
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