90% dark matter

I took our three kids to this science fiction exhibition.

All summer they had begged me to take them. And finally I am motivated sufficiently to plan an outing. Finally, here, I have change enough to rouse myself.

They seem a little hesitant.

Smiling and laughing as we walk to the subway, but dragging their heels; frowning and rolling their eyes as we stop off at the ATM. They ask me how much this excursion will cost. They examine the crisp notes I fold and slip inside my pocket, estimating what else this small fortune might purchase. Don\’t worry, I tell them. I still have enough for cigarettes.

The event, of course, is a dire miscalculation. They are thoroughly disillusioned. In and out of there in less time than it takes to wait in line and shovel down a cheeseburger. All the dads in there get egg on their face.

Life is often like this, I say. Let it be some kind of lesson.

Outside we recoup and gather our losses. I smoke one cigarette after another and eye up young women pushing two-year-olds in buggies. Chasing after waifs on reins.

The cigarette burns down and I am forced to seek out a bin to dispose of it in. It is far too risky just to flip the butt. My three kids lecture me on the perils of smoking for a while and grow tired of it enough to suggest we go back in to the big gallery upstairs. After all, they tell me, it is free. Jesus, dad, my son says. You are crazy to give them a bean.

Wise guy. This time around we fare much better. There is a benign recycled footwear exhibit where two of us faff about and try out odd oversize boots. And generations of antique stuffed animals; they could not begin to do this shit now, thankfully, but they remain here for posterity. For better or worse. Row upon row of pinned butterflies. Finally, we gravitate to a corner full of black yawning holes. A universe built on 90% dark matter. A shiny apparatus. Two PhD graduates lecture us on universal quantities. Shy, mildly appreciative of a reception. Ursa Major; Chandra. For minutes longer, they captivate our small community.

In the end, I think, we are all of us consumed by uncertainty.


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