I came to a pretty shocking conclusion today while sitting in the back of a cop car: I’ve grown a little too accustomed to the sweet life. I’ve indulged, lately...I’ve gotten doughy and lethargic enough to be considered basically inert, and my once fiery temper has completely exploded, creating a heretofore-unapproachable level of fury that has my mouth saying things that are going to get my ass killed; even I’m appalled at what’s coming out of my mouth, and I usually adore everything that I say. Take this morning, for instance: upon figuring out that I was fenced in on all sides by a marathon of some sort, my initial thoughts of, "wow, that’s great; I wish I could run a marathon", were quickly replaced with pangs of uncontrollable anguish at the traffic-cop who was less directing traffic and more stopping anyone in a motor-vehicle from moving. So, after turning off my car, I got out and asked him why. "Why what?" "Why am I not allowed to get to the highway?" "Marathon." "Yes, I see that; what I don’t, or didn’t, see are signs telling me that I should have prepared myself for a half-hour wait, or signs detailing some sort of detour to avoid this ridiculous mess." "Please go back to your car, sir." "When you’ve decided to wave me through, I’ll gladly go back to my car...but as it stands, I see about a hundred runners coming down the road here, and you still haven’t told me about the lack of proper signage." "If you won’t go back to your car, sir, we’ll put you in mine." "Was it a lapse in judgment, the lack of signs? I mean, it’s not like this was some spontaneous 'jog-off' here." "That’s it - get in the car." With an escort, I got into the back of the cruiser under my own power; as I waited for someone to come talk to me, I realized that I was aiming my frustrations in the wrong direction - not in this case, but in general. An older officer arrived to find me deep-breathing in the musky aroma known only to the back-seats of cruisers and taxi-cabs. With a smile, I said: "Surely, there’s a better way to go about this." "You could have stayed in your vehicle." "I don’t mean this, I mean drivers getting pigeonholed into an intersection with a concrete-median down the middle that prevents any kind of u-turn." "The Boxing Day marathon happens every year, using the same route, and you should have thought about that before you left the house." "Y’know what? Streets get closed every year too, but there are signs that say 'do not fucking enter' before you get to a big pothole and then thrown in the back of a cop car. Well, they don’t say that exactly, but you get my point." "Officer Grabel is just doing his job." "Do you find it funny that there is a marathon benefiting the heart & stroke foundation going on around hundreds of cars that are pumping noxious gasses into the air?" "Not particularly, but I see your point." "I’d say I’m sorry about picking on you guys for decisions that aren’t yours, but I’ve served many a burned hamburger in my day and it‘s not I could just grab the cook during the dinner rush to explain himself to the customer...well, I did that once, but it was a special occasion." "I’ll pass on your complaint." I know he was just paying me lip service, and that’s when it hit me: this clown isn’t going to have a coronary over something like this - I, however, am if I keep jumping out of my car and working myself into a lather over inconsequential bullshit. Either way, I was totally zen once I finally made it through...what does that mean?
It is now, officially-speaking, X-Mas. I am celebrating with a can of Coke and a cigarette; the girlfriend and puppies are celebrating by sleeping, and they are doing so, by the looks of things, soundly. I gave my employers a three-month window to replace me, a window that will be shutting come January 5th, a window through which they’ll be watching me ride off into a sunset of complete and utter joblessness. With equal parts ignorance and bravado, I’m going to try writing...for money. I have no prospects, no connections, no clue...but I do have a novel I’m working on called, "I Will Kill and Eat Chaos", and I’m ready to join the galaxy of frustrated novelists who believe that the world owes them something, that through a combination of sheer talent and breathtaking originality money will start overcrowding their mailbox like maggots on a kitty-cat-carcass, that if the book tanks it will be because those reading it lack "vision" and certainly not because it sucks. So, if you happen to be in the publishing business, in any capacity, beware that knocking on your door...it’s me, and I’m ready for you fuckers. You’d better be ready for me.
The entirety of my adult life has been spent assuming that 95% of the people I’m going to meet are going to be assholes on a sloping, gradient scale from mousy & passive-aggressive to bitter & unwaveringly idiotic. If this past year of teaching has taught me nothing else, however, it’s that dealing within the age group of 16-23 (for the most part) produces almost the exact opposite results. Does this mean that my assumptions are wrong? No, sir...it means that what people allow age to do to them is wrong. Everyone but the youthful will tell you that youth is good (and young’uns will tell you that too, but without resonance; indeed, what in the world do they have to compare to?), but forget to mention that aging is fun, too. Sure, the body is breaking down, and it takes more to spark the imagination because it’s been exposed to almost everything at least once...but now the stories you tell have a legendary quality to them: I remember when I could, only six years ago, lift a gigantic spool of cable that weighed twice what I do over my head and onto a loading dock - this story has now graduated to spool after spool of high-density steel-ribbon thrown like sacks of feathers onto the eight-foot-high, sharpened-edge of a platform guarded by Cerberus and a wall of fire while dodging exploding bullets shot from a wall-mounted, motion-activated tommy-gun. I was so fast I raced myself driving a car and I won; I was so clever I took half of Hell from Satan in a poker-game; my eyes were so good I could watch the earth rotate; my hands were so good that I could catch you falling asleep... The only thing more fun than doing something rad is telling someone how rad it was. Every story told is in the past - it’s just a matter of how far away you allow it to be. Young people know this, but end up getting it squeezed out of them by responsibility & "maturity" once they hit 30, and it’s a shame.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? -Satchel Paige
Don’t allow the linearity of time dictate your age - punch a clock, literally; take your time back.
"Well, aren’t you full of holiday cheer!" I’m ALWAYS full of holiday fucking cheer, year motherfucking ‘round, and it’s a goddamned shame that I seem to be alone in that regard. Honestly, you’re unlikely to find a more polite, understanding human being on the planet than me in my capacity as "customer" because I’ve had many of those "customer-service" jobs and they suck, so I empathize. But to assume that because I’m nice during the month of December strictly because "‘tis the season" is not just incredibly patronizing, but also a reminder that come Jan. 1, everyone else will go back to hating their lives, trying to lose those fifteen pounds, and treating others with the disdain I usually reserve only for those who’ve wronged me in an outright fashion...it’s bunk. Bunk I say! A thought: what if instead of wishing each other a "merry fucking x-mas" (as I do, constantly), we shorten it to "merry fucking"...go get yourself some and call it a holiday. That’s something I could get behind, if you know what I’m saying.
I see marriage the same way that I see breast-augmentation surgery: good when it’s going well, inescapable without lawyers and whole lot of hassle when it’s not. I don’t believe in marriage, much to my girlfriend’s chagrin; all her friends tell her that I’ll "change my mind" eventually, that I’ll give in to societal/family pressures and "do the right thing"...but, unfortunately, this will not be the case. Ever. A side-story to illustrate: basketball was my life in high-school, and when I jumped to the senior team, the preferred hazing ritual was the shaving of a mohawk (before they were cool) or a friar-tuck into the rookies’ heads...hearing this, and looking at my luxurious mane of shoulder-length hair, I went home. Soon enough, there was a ring at my doorbell; my buddy Mike, hair all fucked up, stood on my porch with a senior member of the team and asked me to come back on the coach’s behalf. I told them I wasn’t getting myhead all fucked up, and the senior guy, after a pause, said, "you DO NOT have to worry about that." Back at practice, sitting with the coach and getting glares that could melt steel from everyone on the team, I was asked if I wanted to be the starting point guard...and I spent the rest of my illustrious high-school career that way. The team couldn’t freeze me out (usually done by not passing the ball to the offending player) because, being the point guard, I always had the ball. There was a grand "everyone-who-ever-went-to-my-high-school" reunion the year after, and when the older players came back to see that I had shaved my head of my own volition, I think it broke at least two of their brains; the others were livid. They would tell me how much shit they took for even attempting to shave my head, and I would say, "that’s what you get for being assholes," and laugh at them like they had their collective ass-hair caught in a mousetrap. The point, if there is one in this mucky puddle of nostalgia & sanctimony, is that the harder one pushes, the harder it’s going to come back. House, kids, monogamy? Cool. The antiquated, unnecessary, superfluous tradition of marriage? Nope; not even once. You can see, clearly, why I've been fighting girls off with a pointy stick...
I am a baseball fanatic. The Toronto Blue Jays have been my team since I knew what a team was, and though it was time & geographical convenience that brought us together (we’re the same age, the Jays and I, and I’ve lived an hour from Toronto for most of my natural life), it’s clear-eyed understanding that pulled us apart. I herby disavow the Toronto Blue Jays. There are a plethora of reasons for my desertion, but let’s just say that the cut-fastball that broke the bat-handle of my loyalty was the signing of David Eckstein, a perennially sub-par, hilariously mediocre shortstop who throws from the hole like an eight-year-old, relegating John MacDonald and his brilliant glove-work to the bench. Granted, Johnny Mac pops out hits as frequently as Rick Astley at this point, but that’s what the number nine spot in the order is for: the all-mitt, no-stick shortstop who makes plays in the field that leaves even the most jaded sports fan yelling at the TV for a replay. So, I go forth into the 2008 season teamless for the first time in my memory...and just so everyone understands the severity of my disgust, I am canceling my cable package; no more cartoon network, no more comedy, food, or discovery channels, no more Blue Jays. Sigh; breaking up is hard to do.
coffee stains my teeth
nicotine stains my lungs
Tom Waits stains my ears
i could abstain...
i would complain
anger bruises my face
ideas get loose
ideas to lose
ideas to bruise my mind
i will complain some more
into the last hours of December
not to forget,
but to remember
Does this mean that you’ll add me on to the whack of daily-prayers you already burden god with? Kind of like getting invited to an insipid party because I was within earshot when you were discussing it? Or do you mean that you’ll, as a separate action, pray specifically for me? You would take a second after finishing your other prayers, to let god digest all the self-centered ramblings of your own continued good fortune, and then start all over again with me as the main topic...something like that?
Or would you say, "oh, and there’s this other guy I want to pray for, too"?
What if you’re praying for me because I’ve offended you a great deal? Like, say I tell you, historically and scientifically speaking, with gobs of common sense thrown in for laughs, that your god doesn’t exist...and even if he/she/it did exist, well, he/she/it doesn’t like you; you say, doubtlessly hearing the devil’s cackling voice wafting up through the hellfire of the inferno, that you’ll "pray for me".
According to Billy Graham, heaven is only 1600 square-miles across! That’s right - heaven is the distance between Vancouver & Phoenix! Do you really want me, the guy who told you that heaven, hell, god and the devil are the figments of a long-dead theologian’s imagination, taking up space in your Shangri-la while the rest of you are moshing for shoulder room?
You should, of course, because otherwise it would be incredibly boring...but your logic, if I can call it that, seems to be less cracked than fully broken.
So, knock it off. Or, at least admit that what you’re doing isn’t for the pray-ee, it’s for yourself.
A group of children came around the corner of the convenience-store to see, mid-shot, my behind-the-back bank of a Tic Tac container off a brick wall into a garbage can from about 10-feet away; one of them said, "nice shot!" Having not been witness to my earlier attempts from long range (two 20-foot set-shots that, at best, dinged the bottom of the can), I said, "are you kidding? I’m only connecting on 33% of my shots!" The kid replied, with a smile beyond his years, "practice makes perfect." You should’ve seen their faces after I went inside the convenience-store and came out with more Tic Tacs.
I’m in the midst of reading Vincent Bugliosi’s Outrage, the story of the OJ Simpson trial, and it’s fabulous...but that’s not the point. No, sir. Yesterday, I’m reading about the deep-cut Simpson sustained on his left middle-finger, and about how the prosecution was inconceivably-lacking in their handling of this as it pertained to the murders, and I take a break and wander over to my brother’s house to help him install a new front-door handle. During this process, I push out the incumbent bolt-lock and shear fifteen-to-twenty layers of skin off my thumb-knuckle against the splintered-wood of the door. This becomes a big, bloody mess that I’m containing with my mouth’s vampire-like lust for seeping blood. It’s not a bad cut, just bloody, so I bandage it up and go about my business. Today, I’m at the mall and notice a couple of people looking at my hand, which I’m used to, as big-box department-store-employees assume I’ll be stealing something...this isn’t whining, this is the experience of hundreds of shopping-hours spent shadowed by customer-service do-gooders who just happen to be restocking every section of the store that I shop in, at the exact same time as I shop in it. In this case, however, they’re looking at rivulets of blood as they drip across the back of my hand; I notice this and head home to re-bandage my bloodier-than-expected wound. Re-bandaged now, I go back to the book; I read more about the incriminating cut-finger evidence against Simpson, and I see blood speckled at the bottom of some pages; I look at my bandage to see it trying to grip through the inherent hand-sweat and flaying around the edges, and make a note to change it again once I go to the bathroom, where the bandages are kept. This eventuality comes sooner than later, except that after I’ve pulled up my pants, the bandage is nowhere to be found. Nowhere. I sit here typing this naked, having incredulously and meticulously gone through every scrap of clothing I was wearing this morning, through every nook and/or cranny in my apartment, through every hiding place the dogs might have for such a tasty treat, and I’m flummoxed. Crazy going slowly am I...
I gave myself a full 48 hours to mull over The Meltdown, and have found, unsurprisingly, that there is no way I can tell this story without coming across as an actual lunatic; I have justifications, as you will see, but they aren’t exactly of the concrete variety for any right-thinking individual...the best way to encapsulate it is that I just snapped, and everyone is still around to tell the story. No harm, no foul? This little yarn begins on Saturday with an early-morning run to the coffee-shop before I started my workday; my coffee-shop is cursed with inadequate parking for the dawn-break rush of caffeine-addicts, so I took a back-road to circumvent the vulture-like circling for a spot commonplace on a Saturday morning. I found the road blocked by three parked city-trucks, a number of city-workers, and a one-man snow-shoveling vehicle that twists in the middle like a caterpillar...here on in, this machine will be referred to as a Bobcat-Lite. Normally, with no "road closed" signs present, the workers will run around a little bit and then notice a car waiting to pass, getting out of the way with a modicum of expedience. However, as cars started piling up behind me, as I busied my mind with other matters assuming the blockage to be temporary, my pre-coffee daze allowed me to let FIFTEEN MINUTES tick off the clock - I double-taked the clock so violently that I had to go over some mental math to prove the possibility that so much time had been stolen from my life. I slid my car into park, opened my door just enough to half-stand, and yelled, "move your ass!", followed by, "what the fuck are you doing?!" Here’s what they were doing: the grey-hair-mulleted foreman of the crew was snapping multiple digital-photos of a couple of asshat crew-members throwing salt on the sidewalk while the dipshit in the Bobcat-Lite twisted and wiggled his vehicle, doing little circles in the street and laughing with the photographer-foreman. After I yelled, Mr. Foreman gave me the finger, lit a cigarette, and continued laughing and taking pictures...this as the line of cars behind me snaked into the previous intersection, the occupants beeping and yelling out of their windows. This, of course, is when I snapped like a city-worker’s neck under a car tire. My car already parked, I turned off the ignition, got out, and walked over to the Bobcat-Lite, whereupon I lunged onto it like a puma onto a slow-footed antelope; feet on the base, hands on the roof, I shook this machine with the full force of my 178-lbs...I knew then that I had already gone too far and started to fully enjoy myself, thrusting my face to the sky and yelling "ATTICA!", craning my neck to scream "AT-TIC-A!" at the beyond-surprised Bobcat-Lite driver, shaking this glorified motorcycle until it was a stiff-breeze from tipping. I jumped down, and all frivolity had ceased, obviously...the only sound evident was my adrenaline-soaked panting. The beast inside the Bobcat-Lite pulled himself from the machine, and he was, almost-literally, TWICE my size; all I could envision was one of those meat-hooks he had hanging from his arm-socket swinging and belting me into a coma, so I did what any insane person would have done in that exact same situation: I screamed, "FREE JAMES BROWN!" at him. To say that confusion followed would be a tremendous understatement; meat-hooks looked as though I had short-circuited his brain, stalling as he did in his advancement upon me; mullet-foreman tried to ask me something but I screamed obscenities at him until his body-language told me all I needed to know about how unhinged I looked. I made mention of how children playing hockey in the road at least get out of the way when cars approach, that these mentally-stagnant fuckjobs had less collective mind-power than a group of twelve-year-olds, the fairly-benign task of getting the fuck out of the way being too much for them to translate into action. There was a pause, as absolute a silence as that street may have ever witnessed, and they left. They just left...reminiscent of the cop-incident a while back. Meat-hooks got into his Bobcat-Lite and creeped down the alleyway behind the coffee-shop, the foreman and his salt-dispensing jackasses got into their respective trucks and, seriously, peeled away like a bunch of street-racers on a Friday night at Burger King. I was left standing in front of a phalanx of beeping cars who were still in need of getting wherever it was they were going, sweating and stunned that the events turned out as they did. Every day, incompetence rears its ugly head in the social-network of life, and if someone were to try and list such examples their hand would cramp up and their pen would run dry before they had even gotten through the previous week. This, though...this was the asinine behaviour of cushy-job-holding fucking morons who know that, above all else, the city would take the brunt of complaints against them, that they would get paid regardless of how poorly they did their jobs...I’ve thought this incident over long and hard since it happened, and though I feel a little guilty about losing my head, I can’t say I would’ve handled it any differently had I been fully-caffeinated and in a more logical state of mind, which, I believe, says more about my own mentality than I care to get into... Moreover, if I was wrong in attacking the Bobcat-Lite to make my point, how did life return to normal directly after? Why did no-one call the police, why did the city-workers just leave, why did people in the coffee-shop smile at me while I waited for my turn in line? Is it because of the belief that "the ends justify the means"? Dangerous territory, that line of logic is...I think that’s why I called this "Meltdown" and not "The City-Workers Whom I Righteously Attacked". Maybe, as my brother said, I’m in need of "marijuana-therapy"; I’m of the mind that maybe, just maybe, I need to knock this shit off.
The air is crisp enough for me to watch the steam of my breath as it catches and vaporizes the mist of snow that falls in a twirl of slow-motion rain all around me. I see this and realize that my sudden need to urinate is palpable; my normally hot, impetuous blood is being slowly evicted from my veins, replaced with the acidy, dispassionate pee of my over-burdened bladder. Parent-flanked children are grabbing at the miniature snowflakes in wonder as I push through gravity and walk towards the nearby washroom as though carrying nitroglycerin in my pants. Purposeless teenagers lounge on new-look restaurant seats and impede my progress with their aimless dawdling, as does the slick tile that apparently wasn’t meant to carry slippery boot-soles across its length. I, however, persevere and am immediately rewarded with a stream of yellow justice that rivals the output of a hammer-hole in a dam, a flow that seems to drain the paleness from my face, restoring me to my apple-cheeked glory, allowing me and my cheeks to once again be kissed by the December mist without worry of possibly-impending social-awkwardness.
The opportunity to engage in some guilt-free tomfoolery rarely presents itself...but when it does, when even your conscience is begging you to take up the cause, you have to turn to that conscience of yours and say, "it’s okay, conscience; get up from your knees and get ready to feel that sweet, sweet release of humiliation at someone else’s expense". Especially when that "someone else" is a group of white, sideways-hat-wearing, shit-talking, pot-smoking dipshits who’ve just spent the last fifteen-minutes hollering about "bitches" and being "thugs" even though they aren’t old enough for either. Gloriously, one of them asks me for a smoke: Me:
Oh... [opening pack to reveal seven cigarettes] ...I can’t. I’m going to need them. [pause] I have to go to an execution later today, so I’m a little stressed. Another Dipshit From the Group:There’s no executions in Canada, man. Me: [turning to face him] There sure are; the government reversed their opinion on capital punishment in June. [frown] You didn’t hear about that? Yet Another Dipshit From the Group:[scrunching up face] Really? Me: Yep. In fact, I could really use some of that shit you were talking about, y’know... [I hold my pinched fingers to my pursed lips] ...to take the edge off. [they try to figure out how to they could tell if I’m a cop] It’s going to be a long day. Dipshit Who Asked For a Cigarette:
I’ve only got a little bit left. Me:
Who’d you get it from, Marco? Dipshit Who Asked For a Cigarette:
Nah, man. Josh. Me:Josh? [grimace] You know he cuts his shit with grass-clippings, right? Another Dipshit From the Group:[making sure we‘re talking about the same guy] Josh? Me: Mm-hmm. And in winter? [pause as they lean in to hear] Shredded bonsai-tree leaves. [they all pull out their stash and hold it to the light, looking for imaginary foliage] Oh, well. Thanks anyway. [I get into my car and watch them angrily dial their cell-phones; I shift it to drive as I hear one of them yell "Josh, you motherfucker!" at what had to be either a surprised teenager or some hardcore gangster who won‘t take kindly to being called a "motherfucker"; I smoothly negotiate the cracked and brittle parking lot exit, cackling]
The word "clusterfuck" isn’t nearly strong enough to describe what happened with my soon-to-be-former employers today. Nor does the imagery of a monkey fucking a football, a frequently-used simile, convey the pure, unadulterated sense of spine-shivering chaos permeating this rancid job and the shit-fed morons who run it. Idiotic? Nope - that would give the impression that some sort of thought was involved. It was like watching diseased squirrels quarrel in shrieking-tones while slap-fighting, or a herd of giraffes slam into a bridge that wasn’t quite tall enough to get under, or maybe even a sadomasochistic otter biting at its own flesh with hurried, piercing snaps while other less courageous otters sat around masturbating in a circle-jerk of otter-voyeurism. Despite the assurances that I would "no longer have egg on [my] face", my employers proceeded to fry up a bevy of omelets and drop them on me from a two-storey high-rise. I’m not talking about one singular fuck-up here; I’m talking about an epic series of horrifically mismanaged events that have, just today, merged into a monolithic Fuck Mountain of Incompetence. The fact that these people are supposedly functioning members of society, with families & houses & vehicles, does nothing to eclipse the theory that they all seem to be mentally-handicapped; their motor-skills look to be working properly, from what I’ve seen, but their brains seem to be getting by on some sort repetitive muscle-memory system that precludes logic and any smidgen of common sense from entering like trying to push a football into a closed fist. I’m not even angry as much as I am amazed that any one of these clods is capable of clothing themselves. Today was a calamity of such unfathomable proportions that I want to throw an office-building off a cliff and piss fire on the rubble.
I am perennially dehydrated; luckily my skin hasn’t yet shown signs of my complete lack of water ingestion, all smooth and supple like a bar of soap after a single use, but it won’t be long before I wrinkle up like a raisin out in the sun being squeezed by vice-grips. The only water I manage to drip into my system comes from osmosis during a rainstorm, or in the coffee I drink, the caffeine of the latter dehydrating as it hydrates, essentially canceling itself out. I’m supposed to drink, what, EIGHT glasses of water...a day? Ridiculous; I’d have to permanently affix a catheter to a mobile piss-containment-unit to have any chance of living a normal life...as it is, I’m taking piss-breaks every forty-five minutes due to the coffee I swill like juice from the fountain of youth. Although: a few years ago, after a truly prodigious night of hell-bent binge-drinking, I showed up at my girlfriend’s place to finish an ugly fight that had led to the binge-drinking in the first place (and let it be said here that I’m giggly and contemplative when drunk, so I don’t mean "fight" as in "fisticuffs"); replacing one’s daily allotment of water with alcohol isn’t ever the smartest choice, but doing it umpteen days in a row? Yikes. The fight was over quickly, more than likely because I was in such bad shape that the girlfriend’s maternal instincts luckily overshadowed her probably-justified anger towards me. We decided that sleep was the answer to this and many other things, and I awoke with an overwhelming NEED to, um, poop. I stood up and immediately sat back down, concerned because that action made everything go dark; my resolve to poop stood me back up again and bathroom-bound I bounced off the walls in the hallway like kernels in a popcorn-maker; I was still drunk, yes, but this was different: bits of the apartment were lit as though by candlelight, but I had many blindspots directly in front of me, and I knew from clicking the bathroom light on that all the other available lights were off...even in my state, I knew something was wrong. Then, on top of that, I couldn’t do my thing, poop-wise; the world spun around me a kaleidoscope of muted light and sinking darkness; I called the girlfriend and muttered what I found out later was gibberish to such a degree that I sounded possessed; 911 was called, and paramedics arrived to find me barely coherent on the couch. After the night’s events were explained, mostly by the girlfriend, one of them crouched down and said, "you’re massively dehydrated." I must have looked like he was speaking an alien dialect, because he continued, "have you even tried drinking some water?" I shook my head, and there was a glass of water in my hand before I even fully understood who was talking to me. As glass after glass of water slid down my parched throat, the second paramedic told me that feeling the urge to shit (my phrasing) was a symptom of dehydration, and that if I had put my head between my legs while sitting on the throne, I would have felt better almost instantaneously. Huh. Despite the fact that these paramedics were intent on taking me for a ride to hospital, which was unnecessary at that point, as we had bottles of Gatorade to go with our endless supply of water, they were very informative. Nowadays, at the slightest inkling of weirdness, I go and drink a giant glass of water...be it a stubbed toe or encounter with a particularly heinous homeless guy, I drink water to make sure my head’s on straight. You’d think, at this point, that I’d imbibe water as a preemptive strike, but no - I’m a pain in the ass of reactionary decision-making, and stubborn to boot. How is it just now occurring to me that I’m a complete and total asshole? I just drank a big ole glass of water, that's how.
oh my god!
it’s etched into your features;
you knew now
what you didn’t then:
it takes more than good cabbage
to make good coleslaw
you need finesse
you need guile
you need your predatory instincts in the grocery aisle
you don’t need god
nor help from the slack-jawed
you need mayonnaise outlawed
the flaw in your reasoning
is your blame on the seasoning
but you will do what you do
you will "go with god," indeed
I will reel back in horror
I will wink and nod and plead:
"spare them the mishandling, both
that poor cabbage and those you feed!"
HeyZeus was a hungry fucker, cursed
created with nothing more than commoner jism
his slender length, the makings of an x
died for your sins
fried up some skins
pronunciation is a cross to bear
too long one way
too stubby the next
no hope for east nor west
verticality points to heaven
get him some pizza
hey hey hey...Zeus!
Why does it take a limping Canada Goose to remind me that I still have my health? Because I’m distracted, that’s why. I watched this poor goose struggle to keep up with the pack this morning, getting snapped and jeered at by his more savage brethren, and it made clear the distinction between fighting for survival and rushing to get a goddamned coffee. As I watched the gap between him and the herd widen, I was surprised by the wingmen (so to speak) who hung back with the gimpy-goose, flanking him and providing relief from goose-on-goose violence when he periodically succumbed to the strain of forward-motion. My friends have long understood my annual hibernation come wintertime; for all intents & purposes I am incommunicado, and those who have been swayed by the winds of disinterest have lost my phone-number...
What an unbearable pity. What an unnecessary use of sarcasm for a perfectly legitimate reaction to my sloth. If this pimp-rolling goose has taught me nothing else today, it’s made me realize that winter be damned - I want my own posse back.
A little-known underground cabal exists, a seemingly benign group of people from incongruous backgrounds scattered throughout the population in numbers that can only be described as "frightening". They spread their insidious message not with words nor overt actions, but with their gait; they are a continuing threat to both time & space, a nightmare of possibly-unintentional perception-skewing... They are the WalkFasters, and they must be stopped. Sure, it’s easy to brush them off as eager-beavers, these UpQuickers, but the sad truth of the matter is that they are forcing a unhealthy change in the general understanding of time vs. distance; these anti-dawdlers are speeding the whole world up one breezy, fast-paced step at a time. You can hear them from their vernacular: "I’m right on time," they say, glorifying their clock-minded astuteness; "I’m never late," they say, a smug satisfaction setting fire to the kindling of my lazy sauntering; "I’m a punctual person," they say, flaunting their aggressive early-birding, subconsciously prepping for the inevitable, where all WalkFasters eventually end up in the twilight of their lives - trapped in the endless-loop of mall-walking madness. I know of what I speak - they already count my girlfriend and my brother among their ranks...
[A black luxury SUV parks across three parking spaces and a gaggle of tittering teenagers emerge and walk past me towards the pizza place] Me:
You’re a fucking idiot. Idiot Driver:[stops tittering; looks at his friends to make sure he has an audience] What’s your problem, man? Me: My problem is that you’re a fucking idiot. [pause] It’s pretty simple, really. Idiot Driver:
Your mother’s an idiot. Me: [suppressing a laugh] Tell your dad I’m sorry about leaving those bite-marks in his ass last night. [The teens freeze, and then run into the pizza place] ... [A Big Shot tells a lady who is strapping her child into a car-seat to get out of his way] Me:Excuse me, sir, but I’m giving a seminar and I’m wondering if you’d care to attend? Big Shot: [ignores me as he tries to shove his bulk into his car] Me:It’s called, "How to Not Be an Asshole", and I think you’d really benefit from it. Big Shot:
[surprised; annoyed; curious; still wedging his square-block into a circular-hole] Really. Me:
I can give you step one right now. Big Shot:[playing along] Really? Me:
Yep. Big Shot:All right - what’s step one? Me: Kill yourself. Big Shot:[enraged but stuck halfway into his car] Oh yeah? [tries unsuccessfully to pull himself from his car] What’s the next step, tough guy? Me:
[pause] Why don’t you take care of step one, and we’ll talk about the rest later. ... [Three gregarious youths are playing football near my parked car; the ball squirts through a pair of hands that are frozen from playing in winter-weather and hits the front bumper of my car] Me: Nice catch. Slippery Hands:[gingerly retrieving the ball] Sorry, man. Me: [smiling] I’ll make you a deal: I won’t call the cops if, and this is a big if... [pause for effect] ...you let me show off my cannon. Slippery Hands:[relieved] Uh, sure. [I take the hard-as-a-brick, slick ball and pathetically wing the ball one-third of the way to his buddy] Me:
That’s POWER right there, my friend. Slippery Hands:[embarrassed for me] Um, yeah...seeya dude. [he scoops up the ball as he runs back to his friends; they laugh and continue their horseplay, and this one encounter alone equalized my karma from the other two]
Listen to disc 1, track 2 (aka "Static") off Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, roughly coinciding the point where Godspeed You! Black Emperor state "World Police and Friendly Fire" (at least on the liner-notes) with Tuesday, November 27, 2007 @ 3:12pm in Hammertown, at the corner of Mohawk & Magnolia, and you will feel the swell of a high, powerful effervescence while watching garbage-cans and their disconnected frisbee-lids bound across your lane, a wall of caramel-coloured leaves brushing in on you sideways like you had entered the confines of a rotating hourglass, a once sunny sky suddenly slate-grey and preposterously looming like the terrible memory of some long-past misdeed, a cutting wind tearing into the umbrellas and slacks of peaceful old grocery-shoppers as they fight for verticality...you will be awe-inspired to feel awesome for the rest of your days. Do it now.
There’s no other explanation. She’s a cute country girl with a priceless but fading naïvety who knows more about raising cows than she does about raising hell...but don’t let that blue-eyed, sweet-cheeked veneer fool you - she is a motherfucking wrecking-ball to the olde Victorian house that is my computer. She is a filthy virus, a cancer, a plague of shorting circuits and system failures, a pestilence to the cyber-world that I am frequently cut-off from.
Neither of us understands it, but a moose on the highway doesn’t realize he’s dangerous either.
At least the girlfriend accepts that she’s a hazard...and though we don’t have the technology, nor the wherewithal, to fully ascertain or even grasp the reasons why, I do have my suspicions:
She is a robot.
This explains the accounting job, the relentless cleaning of all things house, the click-click-whirring glitches in her speech patterns, the unapologetic logic of her grocery lists, the startling efficiency of her days off...she’s a cyborg-refugee-starchild from a doomed planet of cyber-revolutionaries who hasn’t yet been assimilated by our woeful computer-technology, and for that I’m thankful.
For the many times my internet-connection has gone kaput after she’s left the den, however, I am not.
1. A lamentation with a twist of sunshine
2. An utterance both decrying and praising; an exaltation of short-lived disappointment.
3. A completely made-up word to un-ambivalently express my prowling frustration and limitless optimism: The tricycle I wanted with the big red banana-seat has been rented to someone else, but there’s a roller-coaster nearby? Vonderjah! I need an interweb-ticker telling me how many visits I’ve had in the same way I need a boot stuffed in my ass: not a lot, but better that than a harpoon. In obsessively checking my dwindling visits, I quickly become a slave to the myriad ways in which I could increase my traffic, a sucker for blog-directories that bring in as many new readers as I would myself by yelling off my balcony, a chump reciprocating links for no other reason than to display some half-assed cyber-community’s piss-poor logo...
Vonderjah; the time is right, after 4367 visits, to forego the tracking, to let the comments do the talking, to allow myself to mistakenly believe that millions upon millions of people are reading my shit, hour after hour, cutting and pasting the funniest bits to send to their friends/acquaintances/enemies like those morons who send chain-emails about how God makes one’s life complete, or picture-heavy displays of Bad Women Drivers/Redneck Ingenuity/Church Signs/My Cat Unraveling A Ball Of Yarn, or "send this to seven friends before you get hit by a bus and shit upon by Jesus"...
I’m going to write anyway - what difference does it make if anyone is reading?
Imagine you’re me. Take a look at the picture on the right, give yourself a big fat mouth, a mighty superiority complex, and a dynamic feeling for follicular fashion. Now, instill 15 years of mothers pulling their children away from you on sidewalks, of squinty-eyed parents asking where, exactly, you were taking their daughter on your date, of one particular mother, as you were leaving to get some ice cream cones, making you promise that you wouldn’thurt her daughter... Go ahead; I’ll wait. Good? Good. Now that you’re me, imagine walking into a coffee-shop with the singular intention of using the washroom, in this particular case a slightly secluded one-john affair, only to find a five-year-old peeing with his pants around his ankles when you fling open the door. What do you do? I’ll tell you what I did: I let out an "eep!", kept my hands where everyone could see them, frozen in the same pushing-motion I had used in opening the door, and backed slowly away from the washroom like it had threatened me, which, in a sense, it had. What I can assume to be this peeing-machine’s dad saw me backing away and went rushing in to see his son. The kid came out cheering - "I did it myself!" - but the father took a long hard look at me as he dragged his son past. I, of course, still had to use the facilities, so I masked my fear with a casual strut, did my business, and emerged with a fist-pump like I had just won the Super Bowl...I, too, had done it myself, but nobody seemed happy for me, as there was no laughter in the coffee-shop that day.
Brace yourselves, ladies & gentlemen - grab some cake, a handful of napkins for the mess you’re going to make, and maybe a glass of champagne; come, please, and celebrate this 150th pittance of nihilism with yours truly. Now, isn‘t this lovely? Can’t you feel the ambience? On to the show: The 150 Greatest Fictional Characters. Am I expecting arguments? Did this take me a solid week of research? Did my right arm just cramp up from excessive mouse-use? Oh, yes. Enjoy, as always, in increments of ten for easier reading: Ace & Gary
Akbar & Jeff
Mr. Blond Herman Blume
C. Montgomery Burns
Calvin & Hobbes
Eric Cartman Holden Caufield
Cool Hand Luke
Daredevil Alex DeLarge
JR "Bob" Dobbs
Victor von Doom
Barry Egan The Eradicator
Professor Hubert Farnsworth
Faust Felix the Cat
Tobias Fünke TS Garp
Groo the Wanderer
The Headless Horseman
Hellboy Ren Höek
John the Savage
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
Charles Foster Kane Rabo Karabekian
Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore
Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski
Lobo Madman Magneto
Marvin the Martian
Ulysses Everett McGill John McGuirk
Randle P. McMurphy
Mentok the Mindtaker
Papa Smurf Det. Frank Pembleton
Pepé Le Pew
Bender Bending Rodriguez
Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez Vic Romano
Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero
Principal Cinnamon Scudworth
Phil Ken Sebben
Alan Smithee Snake-Eyes
Capt. Jack Sparrow
Leopold "Butters" Stotch
The Swedish Chef
Senator Howel Tankerbell Ted
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
Gen. Buck Turgidson
Vladimir & Estragon
Trent Walker Walter & Perry
Dr. John Zoidberg
T. Herman Zweibel
*There’s ONE female on this list - can you find her?
a bookmark misplaced
a receipt jammed in its stead
"I thought you saved my seat?"
it appears you were misled a place in line held fast
for when the going gets slow
unless the turn comes quick
then: "Adios, amigo!" a curious addition, this
superfluous at best
designed for 149
so it’s 150 and then some rest
Bella, one of my puppies, has a dirty crotch, and this would bring her great shame if she was capable of feeling that particular emotion. As it stands, however, she is not, and dislikes the cleaning of said crotch immensely, as does my girlfriend. "I’m scrubbing that thing like you wouldn’t believe," the girlfriend says, after the fact, "and it just feelswrong...like I’m some sort of pedophile." I mishear: "A petophile?" "What?" "Honey, that’s not petophilia; Bella’s three-and-a-half." Pause. "That’s more 'unwanted touching' between two semi-consenting adults." The girlfriend, once laughing, is now tired of me. I tell her that, if anything, she should worry about being charged with 'aggravated poochery', and she tells me that I can clean Bella’s crotch next time. Sigh.
It was like someone had clandestinely dropped a stick of dynamite in that kid’s pants. One second he was squealing "mom!" and demanding a snack, the next I was wiping goo off my leather bomber jacket and scooping an eyeball out of Suzie’s ice cream cone. The blood was EVERYWHERE! Pools of it sat dripping from the clutch-marks the kid had left in his mother’s dress, in the cup-holders of nearby convertibles...it even filled the finger-holes of my custom-made "Bad To The Bone" bowling ball, for god’s sake! My mouth was hanging open at the time of the blast, as Suzie was telling me an "incredibly unbelievable" story about Carol & Tom, our next-door neighbours, and I was miming my disbelief, despite the fact that said yarn was neither "incredible" nor "unbelievable". As a result, I found myself shooting little almost-vaporized bits of kid from between my teeth while I picked bone-splinters out of Suzie’s back. Despite the base-level grossness of spitting out human-gristle, I wasn’t three picks in before I realized that Suzie and I were speaking at a normal tone, that we weren’t competing for air-time with the wailing pleads of a child desperate for Heavenly-Hash. It was suddenly quiet for the first time all morning. Even the mother of the exploded child, immobilized at first, seemed to be standing a little taller after a quick bathroom-respite, no longer hunched under the psychological-weight of a child-sized bullhorn permanently set on "shrill". It’s a sad thing when a human life gets snuffed out, I suppose...still, it was nice to have a conversation at the ice cream store using my indoor-voice for once.
I threw myself across three unoccupied desks yesterday, leaving a jumble of faux-mahogany furniture and aluminum legs akimbo to extricate myself from...all to prove a point I was making that had nothing at all to do with what I was teaching.
Though the class enjoyed it, I fear I’m becoming a caricature, a cartoon-version of my already cartoonish self. As long as you’re willing to slightly hurt yourself, laughs in a large group are abundant. However, these pratfalls are the physical manifestations of my desire to get certain points across, regardless of how little importance said points may carry. In fact, the more mundane a point, the less it actually matters, the more I feel the need to make it clear... I tried to reference the dead baby with the twisted head and dead eyes who crawled across the ceiling inTrainspotting, but upon hearing that none of my sixteen-year-old students had ever even heard of the movie, I collapsed to the ground; this was not for their benefit, but because I wasn’t then able to get across the analogy I was making, which was, in and of itself, incredibly valid. How could referring to a scene from a film about heroin-addicted Scots to explain the perils of not making a blind-spot check not be valid? In my mind, teaching, like many things, is like playing baseball: if you aren’t worn out, filthy, and ready to fight the umpire by the end of it, you haven’t done your job. Suffice it to say, not a lot of other teachers share my philosophy...
Parking-lot pacing, I finish my cigarette and wing it towards a nearby sewer-grate, punctuating the perfect-shot swish with my usual dramatics: an over-exaggerated fist-pump signifying victory on all levels. I turn to see a troop, nay, a legion of teenaged-girls staring at me, their eyebrows raised, their contorted faces betraying their disgust at my exuberance. "What," I say, "you’ve never seen a feat of skill so breathtaking?" Silence. "It’s okay to be stricken," I continue. "I understand that you don’t get to see something so awe-inspiring every day." More silence...finally, one girl collapses into an "oh-my-GOD" that would have, were I fifteen years younger, made my nuts shrivel into Altoids. They, as a group, turn and begin their snickering, giggling walk away...one, on her own, turns back and spies me throwing her a brassy wink. She immediately relates this to her friends, and collectively: "EEEEEWWWW!!" Me, getting into my car: "Philistines."
Get in an empty elevator with a pepperoni stick. Step 2:
Munch quietly as a gruff, worn man covered in drywall-dust and monstrous finger-calluses gets on with a grunt. Step 3:
Finish your pepperoni stick in the silence of the elevator-ride. Step 4:Just before the door opens on your floor, look at the gruff, worn man and say, "I think I just ate one too many pepperoni sticks." Step 5:
Walk down the hallway to your apartment serenaded by genuine, tension-breaking laughter.
Thursday, November 2, 2000 - 4:35 am A splintered chair leg sits amongst the rubble of discarded lime-wedges and red wine-stained gouges in the hardwood floor; strawberry-daiquiri mix is vibrating as it slides down the unvarnished metal of the constantly-whirring ice-maker; the cheering of virtual Blitz 2000 fans is timed immaculately with the flickering images of a pirated porn-station on the big screen; the dull, fuzzy rattle of a broken-speaker is choking Eddie Vedder’s attempts at singing Nothing As It Seems while headlights of cars u-turning bathe the interior of the bar every fifteen minutes or so; the congealed remnants of a poorly-planned "Chili Night" litter the bathrooms with a pseudo-Mexican flavour, and the smoke I exhale seems to exude from every orifice. I am fully aware of how interchangeable these nights are, at this point. Days, weeks, months bleed into each other as a singularity, a frenzy of alcohol, incoherent conversations, and bad judgment-calls; I know the seasons based solely on whether or not I have to put the patio furniture away at the end of the night. Some, namely the management, have called into the question my "drink first, clean second" mentality...however, the five Jack & Coke’s I’ve imbibed at this point call it something completely different: Humanitarian Self-Indulgence. Is it more of a psychological-necessity for me to drag the stinking, rotted mop across the scarred bar floor, or would that time be better spent unwinding with a drunken bout of crack-machine strip-poker? Should I try to recoup the 30-some IQ-points I’ve lost this night by catching the early-morning news feed from Los Angeles, or should I refill the fucking ketchup? Please. ... Living the "high life" is easily romanticized, especially in retrospect, but as with anything that takes you high, you’d better get off before it crashes down. Last Monday, it apparently all came crashing down. I was not around for the Last Days, the drunken reverie, the looting, the physical end to that particular time in my life, no... I said my goodbyes to that lifestyle long ago. RIP
What do you think about the way JK Rowling handled the whole Dumbledore thing? Me:
Handled? Christian Housewife:
I mean, she kind of left us in the lurch with that remark. Me:Um, though I’m no fan of the Harry Potter books, I believe that all she said was that she always thought of Dumbledore as gay. Christian Housewife:
Yeah - Dumbledore’s gay now. Me:Now? Christian Housewife:Do you think that’s right? Me:
I don’t think that it matters. Christian Housewife:
All this time I had my children reading those books, and now, after it’s over, she tells us that he’s gay. Me:[failing to see the point]
Well, I know a lot of people who wouldn’t have let their children keep reading those books if we had known that.
Are you serious?
Christian Housewife:Well, now she’s promoting homosexuality.
Me:No she isn‘t.
Imagine an artist paints a picture of a boat but he titles it, "The Spaceship". Is he then promoting the exploration of space, or is he just calling a boat a spaceship?
How am I supposed to explain to my eight-year-old daughter what "gay" means?
Me:Some men like men more than women, and vice versa.
Easy-peasy, nice and breezy.
THAT’S fine, but tell me how I explain the sex part?
Why do you need to explain the sex part?
My daughter knows that guys don’t have the right holes...
Sure they do. They just happen to be useless for reproduction, that’s all.
When you teach your daughter that sex is for procreation, then gay sex makes no sense.
Right...IF that’s the way you’ve explained sex to your daughter.
You didn’t tell her that it was fun?
I don’t want her knowing that it’s fun!
Yeah, you’re right.
She’ll NEVER figure that out on her own.
[long silence follows; then:]
D’you think she has an inkling?
Me:True, but kids grow up so fast these days; maybe she’s figured out that to create the brood of brothers and sisters she’s surrounded with wasn’t quite the sacrifice that you, possibly, made out to be...at least not during conception.
She doesn’t know anything about sex.
Well, who’s fault is that?
She’s eight. Years. Old.
Yes, and you’re worried about gay men having sex.
She might as well be asking about erectile-dysfunction, as far as I’m concerned.
Christian Housewife:Well, THAT would be easy.
Experience rears its ugly head on that one, huh?
Oftentimes when I smoke, I pace. If I’m not pacing, I’m crouching like a gargoyle against a wall or some sort of lean-to in an effort to provide myself with lower-back support. If it happens to be raining, well, I continue my smoking & crouching, though I do so under a ledge...the same ledge, invariably, that others must walk under to avoid said rain. When the above scenario comes to life, I employ the Lean Back: I straighten my upper-body and they pass with a nod. What a wonderful façade. I’m creating no new space at all, of course, but courtesy is implied with the Lean Back; an incoming pedestrian must still trudge around me, but a wordless understanding is reached because I’ve at least acknowledged their presence...I just can’t seem to get out of the gosh-darn way, gosh-darn it! Of course, they’re all muttering about what a lazy asshole I am once they pass me, but for that brief second when we exchange smiles, I am the King of Courtesy. It feels good to help people...it really does.
Jes, I know ju are ad-miring ze eyebrowzsss, even weethout ze evidences of zere arch-ed beooooty; zese are, after all, joost wordzsss... Fear no, dough, az only SEEING ze eyebrowzsss iz like only HEARING ze fireworkzsss - a gross and inelegant undereztimation of the many senses zese eyebrowzsss teekle. Ju must FEEL zem, must roll around in zere dense, booshy love-a-liness to trooly grasp ze sensory-overload, ze com-fort...eet is like the voondrous hugging of a thousand pussy-weelows. Doonot be saddened, darling...one day, sooooon, ju will feel ze fainting-powair of zese eyebrowzsss an ju will drop as though felled by electro-shok; zen ju will be at one weeth ze eyebrowzsss, becose it will be doze eyebrowzsss that catch ju... Yesssss, and as ju fall een love, zey will catch ju and catch ju again, until zere is no more ju to be caught.
Wet, sloppy pseudo-snow makes me shitful with rage. I seethe and excrete waste-matter over those flaky, undecided drips of winter and their inability to define themselves. Make a choice, winter. For once in your goddamned, miserable, rotten life, figure it out and fucking stick with it. No, don’t hurry...we’ll just sit here, wet, and decide for ourselves whether or not to bask in the glory of your little floating wisps of doily-paper, or to shake our fists at the sky to languidly combat your bullying of the sun into hibernation. Don’t fret as to my pulsating sarcasm, please...take your motherfucking time.
I walk into the restroom of this coffee-shop I rarely frequent to find a man in his 40’s washing his hands in the sink and crying. And I mean crying. Gobsmacked, concerned, and a little frightened, I ask him what’s wrong...and in this little kid’s whimpering, sucking-in-air-while-trying-to-talk-and-sob-at-the-same-time voice, he says, "it hurts." I look him over - he’s holding his hand under the rush of water from the tap, just heaving fat puddles of water from his face, and I see no blood in the sink, no evidence of mangled digits, no anything but a middle-aged man with graying temples wailing like he caught his ankle in a bear-trap. "What hurts?" I ask him. "My finger," he moans, my sympathy waning ever so slightly. "I caught it in the stall door," he continues, motioning towards the offending door with his sloppy, glistening face. I lean in to take a look at this terrible injury, and he shows me an index-finger that all the markings of being squeezed...somewhat. It was summarily unimpressive, truth be told, and the man must have agreed, quickly explaining that it "looked much worse a second ago," as a way of justifying his over-the-top agony. "Mm," I said, nodding and making my way over to the urinal. "Tsk," I said, absentmindedly whilst peeing. "There’s danger lurking around every corner." And like that...he was gone.
There will be a time in our existence when air is revealed to be the cowardly, back-stabbing, glory-hog cousin of that goody two-shoes helium; The jingle-jangle of jingles jangles the nerves of even the most jingoistic; The term "cornerstone" was repurposed from it’s humble beginnings as sporting-slang for when the mob had cornered a heathen to stone; "Mind-warping" is caused by concentrated, if not constant, heat and endless sitting, much like a record...and, like a record, if the human mind is spun at 45 rpm, the warping will even itself out and fancy little harmonized melodies will emanate from the ears in chipmunk-voices because the human mind isn’t meant to be played at that high a speed; Sharks make better doors than windows - this cannot be said, however, for jellyfish, or, as they‘re known throughout the ocean, "The Slimy Windows of the Sea"; The tune of "Banana-Nana-Fo-Fana" was originally the opening-music for The Blighted Gorge, a shoddy, "blue" night club act from the ‘50’s that had entirely different lyrics: Die, Die, Doe Die
You might as well fucking die
My, my, you’ll die
Dead Due to the immense dislike of not only this song, titled "The Killing of Fear and The Harbinger of Retribution" but also their act-closer, "Ghandi Blew Hitler" (the music later becoming the backbone for "Summer Lovin‘" from Grease), they were chased from New York City and drowned off the Jersey shore...or so the story goes; Seribim u bonn valiswalstic jong-jong "hemoglobin" whazzy istism gimcrack jizzle-whut; There is evidence to suggest that one of Franz Kafka’s most notable works actually began as a story detailing forbidden love in a prison, changed only due to time constraints and the unfortunate discomfort of those he read it to - thus, "The Penal Colonoscopy" was reworked tirelessly.
You knew going in that the doctor’s office wasn’t the most painless of places to write - flummoxed mothers prying information/symptoms/something out of their sick children so they can give the doctor their armchair-physician’s opinion... Is it uncommonly hot in here or are you feverish? Is that girl’s voice horrifically jarring or are you hyper-tense? Is that woman hovering over you or are you paranoid? Fuck that. The thermostat is blasting hot air out of the vents like a jet-engine, that girl’s voice could crack concrete, and that woman is READING WHAT YOU’RE WRITING?! ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? Calm; calm down. Think of yourself as operating on one battery’s power in a two-battery system. The more effort you extend yelling at simpletons, the less you’ll have in reserve...which could most certainly make for one hair-raising drive home. Relax; think of your accidental foray into a poor-man’s sensory deprivation chamber, when you slid in the tub and found yourself submerged in bubbly-water but for your nose...remember? No noise, no nincompoops, no nonsense...just a welcoming placid bliss. Are you cool? Yes, the doctor stared at your tattoos when she rolled up your sleeve to take your blood pressure, but you’re 128 over 80, and that discovery was punctuated with a "perfect" from the doctor, so you’re good. Yes, she prescribed some anti-anxiety pills and asked that you get a cardiogram & some blood-work done, but they’re precautionary...so take it easy. And I mean that - no more of this 8-cups-of-coffee-a-day business, no more smoking like you’re hiding a coal-burning stove in your belly, no more speedballs shot into that overworked vein just below your left ankle... Wait. That’s someone else. Who am I talking to?
Hey, did you hear the one about that guy who checked himself into the hospital yesterday, complaining of dizzy-spells and a massive headache? The doctor told him that he was suffering from "exhaustion". "You‘re goddamned right, exhaustion!", the man exclaimed. "Was I exhausted before or after I spent three hours in your waiting room?" Ha, ha. After I turned down the IV, citing my irrational fear of needles and my alternately rational need to be at home, the doctor gave me three horse-pills that read "Advil" and I staggered back to my abode. Miraculously (or medically, in fact), my headache was gone; lingering, however, was the general, full-body fatigue that left me on the couch watching a blank TV screen after my A Mighty Wind DVD played out... WebMD ascribes "overwork, poor sleep, worry, boredom, lack of exercise," as reasons for fatigue, and check one to five...I’ve got the whole set! Add in unhealthy doses of dehydration and hot sauce, and I’m in possession of the whole Exhaustion Enchilada. I checked, though: the doctor tells me that I’m not neurologically crazy...which is one step away from not being crazy crazy, and at this point I’ll take it. With a side of Advil.
"How do I start this," I began, more nervous than I thought myself capable, "without the customary clichés that are commonplace when meeting a celebrity?"
Mr. Coupland averted his eyes, smiling briefly, and continued signing the copy of Girlfriend In a Coma that I had pushed towards him.
"Everything I think to say comes out in my mind’s eye as horribly contrived and/or completely inconsequential." Mr. Coupland finished his signature and closed the front flap of the book.
"For one," he said, smiling with what seemed to be very little comfort, "I wouldn’t really consider myself a celebrity." He stood and looked over my shoulder at the dwindling lineup of autograph-hounds. "For two, as far as clichés go, I’ve heard that one before as well." Mr. Coupland sat back down and smiled again, but with a humour that was lacking in his previous smiles. He shook my hand, thanking me for something or other, and basically "next"-ed me out of the way. I tried not to let disappointment get the better of me as I wandered to the back of the line. I had come late to the book-signing with the hope that Mr. Coupland would have some time to actually converse with me, and here I was picking up and putting down books, trying to look busy, waiting for the opportunity and a second shot at communication.
Half an hour went by, and Mr. Coupland had caught me idling at the back of the bookstore...so, feeling a little bit like a serial-killer, I got back in line. As the line progressed, nobody else came in for autographs, leaving me the final fan. Mr. Coupland was catching little glimpses of me making my way toward him, with nobody behind me, and after each signature his eyes seemed to widen. I was going over in my head the ways in which I could be seen as the NOT-so-overzealous type, and how I could persuade him into a little chat.
I was creating and discarding clever reasons for why I was back in line by the time I got close enough to Mr. Coupland to feel his fear; he had flagged down an employee, and the back-and-forth whispering really stuck in the craw of the two people waiting to get books signed in front of me, their moment interrupted by the unusual nods towards exits and nods in agreement. I had my mantra down pat and was just about to unleash it upon Mr. Coupland when, after finishing the last signature, he sprang backwards from his chair and bolted through the back door, leaving open books and empty coffee-cups in his wake. Temporarily paralyzed before realization hit, I quickly put everything together and focused on where he would be heading. I made a jab-step-fake towards the door Mr. Coupland had escaped from, forcing the employees back on their heels, and was confident that momentum would carry me the opposite way, out the front door, with a good head-start if the employees were to chase me at all. Sure enough, once I was outside I was unfettered, free to resume my Coupland-catching.
I figured Mr. Coupland would be in need of a stiff drink to calm his jangled nerves, so I sprinted down a back-alley, shoving my newly-treasured book into my jacket-pocket, desperate for my short-cut and sleuthing to bear fruit while NOT damaging my book. As I crept along the gravel between two disheveled houses across from a local watering-hole, I caught sight of Mr. Coupland entering said watering-hole, and decided that I needed to creep no more. Surely the promise of lamp-post-lit security would allow Mr. Coupland to see me as the fan I was, and not some maniac to avoid...but like he had some sort of sixth-sense for perpetuating misunderstandings, he saw me step from the shadows of the alley and froze, holding open the door to the pub and the possibility of conflict resolution. I smiled broadly, attempting to comfort him with my toothiness, but it became apparent that he was weighing his options; I took a cautious step in his direction, and he remained frozen...but before I could take my second step he had taken off down the street, arms pumping wildly, almost skidding out into oncoming traffic as he turned toward the lake. Sighing, I chased after him, resolving not to smile again in a similar situation.
I was well behind him but I could follow the flat, wet sound of his shoes slapping the sidewalk up ahead, and by the time Mr. Coupland reached the lake, I had narrowed the gap between us to ten feet. I figured that, since he was slowing down visibly at this point, I would make another attempt at communication:
"Mr. Coupland! There’s nothing to be afraid of!" I shouted.
"I still love you!"
Somehow revitalized, Mr. Coupland all but dove into one of the grassy-areas that separated the lake from the street; unseen from the street, this grassy-patch was surrounded by green, flat, treeless land, and it must have looked to a novelist unaccustomed to running like an escape...but I knew differently. I waited street-side for a bit, in case Mr. Coupland had designs on doubling-back on me, eventually stalking into the grassy-area while ambush-proofing myself as much as possible. I calmed myself further with the unlikely scenario of Mr. Coupland attacking me; he was a hippie born too late, a lover instead of a fighter, a wordsmith but no warrior. I would probably find him cowering somewhere, curled up and fetal, and would need to be as gentle as possible so as to not frighten him any further. I only wanted to chat, and once that great immobilizer of conversation was absent, once the fear was gone, we could have that chat.
A big, warm smile lit up the front of my head at exactly the same time as something clubbed me in the back of it. I hit the soft dirt with a thud and violently kicked my legs out behind me to either stun my attacker or to push him away, resulting in a second thud into the woodchip-pile behind me. I leapt to my feet and found Mr. Coupland brandishing woodchip-covered pants, a face-full of rage, and a thick tree-branch held aloft in what looked to be the back-swing of a mighty wallop.
Before I could explain anything, my left knee exploded and I fell crippled to the ground. Mr. Coupland tried to get up and out of the woodchip-pile but kept slipping.
"Stop following me, you freak!" he yelled, holding his weapon as aggressively as he was able while still attempting to gain a foothold. "I couldn’t follow you if I wanted to, Mr. Coupland," I said, trying to speak clearly while lying on my chest. "You’ve obliterated my kneecap."
"And if you even try to get up," Mr. Coupland screamed, "your head’ll be next!"
He was really angry.
"I was just a little disappointed with our meeting earlier," I said, abruptly getting the nauseating feeling that my leg was bent funny at the knee as I turned onto my back. "I had envisioned us getting along great because I love your work and it means so much to me."
Mr. Coupland was looking at my mangled leg as I talked; he gently put the branch down as he tried to keep from turning green. "Life’s full of disappointments," he said, his horrified expression as obvious as his voice was calm. For the first time, Mr. Coupland didn’t see me as a threat; he asked me my name as he crouched down beside me. I answered, "Ryan," and he nodded while opening up his cellphone.
"What did you want to talk to me about so desperately, anyway?" he said, and I waited for him to finish his phone-call with 911 before I finally had my conversation with Douglas Coupland.