- Lost at Sea
Michael J. Seidlinger
Lazy Fascist Press
168Pages, Print; $11.95
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The Fun We’ve Had is a philosophic commentary of a couple’s rise and fall, including all the fights, challenges, and conversations that happen in between. Michael Seidlinger took the ubiquitous dysfunctional relationship, its miserable realities and foreseeable demise, and presented it all in an unusual fashion: through the metaphor of being lost at sea in a coffin. His dream-like narration reads like a novel-length poem and tells a morbid tale of a couple’s heartbreaking downfall as they learn and unlearn how to love.
Together, the couple sets off to sea in no more than a coffin, navigating through perilous wind, wave, and weather conditions; and their fights, blame games, resentment, and brush encounters with the end, such as someone falling overboard or the coffin filling with water. In the beginning, each view the laborious task of rowing as one done out of love, but as their journey presses on, they feel as if one is working harder and carrying more of a burden than the other. Resentment leads to arguments which threaten the stability of the coffin. Sharks and jellyfish circle the surrounding waters and occasionally damage their vessel. The journey is precarious and dangerous, and both understand how easily one could jump ship and choose to drown in lieu of suffering a slow and miserable demise in the wooden coffin:
Death was no closer to being a disease than love being something that you overcome. If you felt anything pure about a person, you wouldn’t surely fight to get away.
The couple’s fleeting moments of intense connection are short-lived as the ocean currents and harsh elements of the outside beat down on their middle-aged unfit bodies. They encounter sharks and jellyfish that damage their vessel and extreme weather conditions that beat down on their bodies, symbolic of all the external hardships a relationship could face, and as they continue to drift across the open ocean, their minds and hearts drift apart as well. The strain and exhaustion of their rowing journey, living under constant duress of tumbling overboard, starving, and being sun and wind burned, leads to short temperaments:
The dirtiest flicker of a thought rose from the depths of the sea entered her left ear and stayed, never exiting out the other. Why did she carry the weight of a poor and miserable man’s girth?
Seidlinger spirals the couple into a destructive cycle of blame and passive aggressive attacks borne from a place of needing and loneliness. Both individuals become frustrated by the other’s inability to listen, comprehend, and support the other; as well as their inability to say the right thing at the very right time, to apologize first, to dive on the sword for the greater good of the relationship. They lash out at each other, and analogies of their looming dissolution surface in reoccurring mentions of death:
The tether is not yet severed between where they had been and where they will soon go. But she can feel sleep getting closer, the kind of sleep only the dead can experience.
Bitterness and resentment exponentially rise as the couple rows on without resolution, each waiting for the other to say something loving and supportive and become the first to inspire the other, but neither take the high road, nor will either give up on the relationship. A clear codependency forms between the couple, and both seem adamant about clinging to their floundering bond out of sheer neediness and desperation:
A person would do anything to hold on if it meant never being lonely.
Occasionally, the metaphorical concepts cyclically drag on and fall dull. In throes of quarrels, blame, and other drama, the repeated line “Are we having fun?” battered and irked me the same way it did whenever my mom asked my family of four the very same thing as we rounded another hour of a dysfunctional multistate road trip in a compact rental car. Seidlinger’s chapters are, however, flash...