This is some attempted clever wordplay on Ms. White Liar’s "Turning Points", and was originally conceived as a way to introduce my softball-playing into this blog (a homerun away from the cycle, spectacular all-around defensive play, winner of the "Michael Alfred Potts Non-Gender Specific Wednesday Night 3 Pitch Softball Player of the Game Award of Excellence"...where’s the applause?), though I am well aware that nobody thinks of elbows afire or blazing, quickly-stiffening knees when they read "Burning Joints" as a headline...
To begin the metaphor, I could say that these next three things were the "burning joints" that held together my life from one incarnation to another, but that might turn out to be too mind-blowing, so I’ll instead refer to it as a "metaphive".
On we go…
1. The Solitude of My Dark, Dark Basement
What prompted it I don’t recall, but when I was sixteen...ish, I sat myself down in my parent’s dark, cocoon-like basement and asked myself all the questions I felt I needed to have answered. It seemed simple, giving out easy, glib responses to my own questions, firing off answers that I was expecting...but I wanted to trulyknow the answers, to be unafraid, in the comforting darkness of the basement, of any answer I would provide; it had to be unequivocal, so that I would be left with absolutely no doubt:
Am I gay?
Do I want to kill myself?
Do I want to kill someone else?
After giving each question its own respectful "day in the sun" as it were, the answers were, in order, no, no, and maybe.
At sixteen...ish, those answers were acceptable; I no longer have the temerity to assume that I would even becapable of killing someone if I even felt the need to do so, rest assured...but as a result of this exercise, though, no-one has been able to challenge my belief in what I was because I knew.
Funnily enough, a byproduct of this little self-analysis was a resistance to homophobia, which comes into play later on...
2. Bartending at the World’s End
I’ve tackled business-men jumping from a moving cab as they drunkenly dashed for their cars, drank on the roof during a power-outage, subdued a man bleeding from his wrist after watching him punch through a double-sided plate-glass window, made waitresses and customers cry, expelled brutes twice my size with nothing more than a pat on the shoulder and a few persuasive words, played with an alcoholic police-officer’s badge and telescoping baton, pulled my boss off a car of teenagers that he attacked like a gorilla off a vine, accidentally dropped half-eaten chicken-wings on a middle-aged lady’s head, knocked a full pint onto a guy’s lap after he made a waitress cry and made him pay for it, won vibrating nipple-clips during "Sex Toy Night" that hurt like a son of a bitch, cut off an ornery Hell’s Angels’ mechanic, watched as someone stumbled in from flipping his car on a freeway off-ramp and tried to hideout in the handicapped washroom, and intervened on countless bar-fights with nary a scratch to show for it.
I’ve been threatened by someone who was coming back "with a gun", had people attempt to "tip" me with cocaine, oil, pot, phone-numbers, and late-night return-visits, and I’ve dealt with coke-addicts drinking Red Bull-and-Jagermeister who were holding pool cues while disputing their bill...
Honestly, though? The only reason I left was because I was tired of having monosyllabic conversations with idiots; when you frequently have to use a synonym for "cretin" because nobody understands you, the result is the speedy advancement of your own stupidity.
3. The Freefall & Fallout of Big-City Film School
You’ve all seen that crazy guy yelling, late at night, in the middle of a busy metropolitan street?
That was me.
Here’s what happened:
I ran through an $8000 line of credit in three months, eating & drinking like a king; I lived in an "apartment", in the gayest part of town, that was so small that homeless people laughed when they came by to visit; I had a "girlfriend" who, instead of bringing much-needed food, would bring pot and complain if we weren’t watching Akira constantly...that is, until the line of credit ran out, at which point she figured that "things weren’t working out"; I would drink bourbon in lieu of eating, fooling myself into not being hungry, waking up unsure whether the 2:25 on my clock was AM or PM; I was up for days at a time on nothing more than coffee provided by classmates and the undying belief that I was a "starving artist".
There are plenty of juicy, good-time stories from this time in my life, but as a microcosm, the night that begat the above-mentioned yelling started with some booze; this led to sex with an acquaintance who began to cry, right in the middle of our drunken sex, about a boyfriend she had lost to tragedy not three months earlier, unbeknownst to me...which led to some pathetic drunken consoling on my part and the decision to walk her home and head to my accessible-at-all-hours Film School. I didn’t, at first, realize that it was ten-after-two, and that all the gay bars were just then letting out; I was accustomed to the hoots & hollers of Gay Town (and very empathetic to the wholesale-ridiculousness that most ladies have to put up with), but I was also, at that time, morbid, confused, and dizzyingly drunk; so, when a little yelping dipshit started calling me "princess" while blowing kisses at me, I told him to fuck off...at which point, I became trapped in a sweaty behemoth’s bear-hug, squeezing me and lifting me off the ground while the little yammering jackass spanked my ass.
I have never before, or since, completely lost my shit, but I managed to extricate myself from the brute’s clutches, and from that point on I was a raving banshee lunatic; in my mind, I threatened them with every conceivable horror I could fathom, but what it must have sounded like coming from my drunken, screaming mouth I don’t know. It worked, however, as I must have looked like some rabid, frothy-mouthed maniac...but as they backed away I watched a horrified man with a beard drive slowly by, staring at me with eyes that seemed to convey disbelief on every level, putting a face on what I saw as my own abysmal and, frankly, unnecessary bottom-dwelling.
I left the Big City after burning every possible bridge, doing so in spectacular fashion, and I ended up back at home; I lost a pound a day from shrinking my stomach, I lost my penchant for drinking, and, after holing up in my parent’s basement for a few months, I, unlikely as it sounds, lost any doubt as to my own self-worth.
This was all self-inflicted. If I can do this to myself, I thought, what is someone else going to do to me?
All of these above turning points, excuse me, burning joints, are directly responsible for the way I am RIGHT NOW; my astounding self-esteem, my boundless optimism, my bewildering over-usage of semi-colons...all are an aftereffect of the above stories.
So, please: don’t blame me for Egomania & Dipshittery; blame my various self-indulgences.