Bouncer: Reincarnation and atoms at Cha Cha Cha

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so that means that every atom that has ever existed is still with us today. That means that even when you are cremated, your atoms will carry on somewhere. That means that the orange your mom ate when she was pregnant with you, the one that was grown in a Florida orange grove, might have been fertilized by the organic components that once made up Ponce De Leon's perished posse. Maybe some of those nutrients combined in your fetus and helped form your uvula. Maybe, since your uvula is in the back of your throat, that is why you always did well in high school Spanish.

I started thinking this after talking to my dad, who is a physicist. Living forever with a consciousness does not sound appealing, but existing forever as a mass of molecules that move from place to place? That might be kind of cool. It seems the Hindus are right: We are all reincarnated. It's just that we are probably more likely to come back as a link in a strain of proteins in a potato than as a noble cow.

While sitting at the large, round, loud, and centrally located bar at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission, I couldn't help but try to figure out what the folks around me would return as. In general, the crowd here is pretty cool. It's too far off the beaten track to be full of tourists. It's chill enough to have its own set of after-work regulars. But it's festive enough to have birthday celebrations hither and yon, and I usually suggest it as a place to meet friends who are in town for one night. My only beef with this place is the hosts who seat you. They are always rude, aloof, and bafflingly uninterested in their exciting career in restaurant ushering. It always bums me out when I arrive, ready for a fiesta, and the person who greets me at the door is a butt. This has happened enough times at Cha Cha Cha that I feel entitled to mention it.

But back to analyzing my surroundings. It's hard to say whether this place is good for loneliness, or if it only adds to it. If you go alone, you will find yourself surrounded by revelers, which can either make you feel more alone, or make you feel a part of the action. Like life, it's what you make of it.

On this night, I decided to be part of the celebration, at least in spirit. To my left were three guys, possibly old friends. They were drinking the requisite pitcher of sangria with beer chasers. They had close-cropped hair and Gap-ish ensembles. They were on their way up some IT ladder, or perhaps they were law school students. They looked smart, at any rate. If I had to choose, these guys would all be cremated. They didn't seem the burial type.

That brings me to my next point: If you are buried without embalming, your energy stays in a box in the ground, man. Maybe in a few hundred years your atoms will leach out, but only into the soil of the graveyard, and you will be forced to exist among the dead for all of eternity. (Or at least until the next period of evolution, when machines rule man.) And don't even get me started on sealed coffins: Creatures that thrive on an airless environment will go to town on you, causing major gas buildup, which will eventually result in a putrid explosion. It's God's way of saying, "Oh, hell, no! You ain't gonna hold onto them atoms, mofo."

If you are embalmed, your blood will be drained into the sewage system, which means that it will eventually be put to use in another life system, so keep that in mind. But, as I said, these guys were probably going to be cremated.

To my right were two young women drinking margaritas. One was talking with her mouth full, which wasn't very ladylike, but it was the topic of conversation that really got me: oral sex. She doesn't like doing it, but feels she has to. Her friend nodded somewhat disingenuously. Either she really liked it, or she rarely got the chance to see whether she would enjoy it.

I voted for the latter. She was the one who was always unlucky in love, by the looks and sounds of things, and would probably meet a bad end by her own hand. Her body would be discovered a few days later in her car, which she had driven to a secluded spot before shooting herself. Flies laid eggs on her corpse; they turned into maggots, which then nourished themselves on her decaying body and carried their new protein strains made from her old protein strains to the next dead body to make more flies.

Then I got really deep. What if thoughts and words were made up of some tiny molecules we can't detect? The people around me were entering me on a molecular level, and my molecules would forever be fused with theirs. Oh, shit. Why couldn't I be sitting next to some cute guy at the Casanova? Then at least I could be fusing with someone I'd like to sleep with.

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