I’ve tried to quit smoking. I really have. There have been several times I’ve torn up a mostly-full pack and thrown away the lighter. Other times I’ve woken up with pain in my ribs, vowing never to light up again. Yet, here I sit this morning after being outside with another menthol.
It’s hard, at times, to accept the root causes for me to do something so dangerous. Other times, I just don’t care. Why am I “saving” myself? After decades of bad timing or poor fits that I’ll find someone I can share this pent-up love? I’ll be wealthy enough to travel the world and not give a flip about paying the bills? I can go anywhere and feel like a friend? As society sits right now, I doubt it. I’m being trampled by other people’s ambition and their human nature. A nature of all the vices and judgment they swear not to do, yet commit all the same. They call them “rights”.
Smoking is my seppuku. I’ve dishonored my master, America, and not bought into the aggressiveness that wins her favor. It’s a savage thought that is considered “healthy” by her. It’s a ruthlessness that she smiles upon. “Grab her! Take her! She doesn’t understand anything else!” Lady Liberty chides with rusted teeth. “You are animal! She is animal! She demands assertion!” …and so she rewards.
Reserved in nature. Virtuous in spirit. Prudence in money. Controlled in temper. These are all Holy wafers that burn upon the skull of the red, white, and blue madam. They are all treated in suspect and shied away as a Nosferatu would garlic.
I would like to remain positive. I would like to give the people of this world a false sense of hope, as movies and books do. It makes them feel less guilty, less culpable, and they can go back to their business as usual. However, I’m not sure that can happen. Bad things happen to good people.
It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday. Well, it’ll be later than that when you read this post. I seem to have ground a little too hard on the last story and find myself in a fog today. Certainly things like the laundry got done, but nothing creative. I feel like a lout when that happens. To be in the flow of writing is such a wonderful experience. It’s direction in an otherwise listless existence. There’s even a writer’s prompt I’m halfway interest in. It seems as though I’ve not the energy to answer it right yet.
I love Saturday night. It’s a night I like to be out of the house. Unfortunately, I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth spending the money to sit at a bar and pay $5.00 plus tip for a Fat Tire. Now before I hear “that’s cheaper than (location)” I’ll remind you they pay us less in the Fields. It’s a wash. I suppose I could hit the $2.00 Bud Light specials… no, I’ll go without before I go Bud Light.
The additional work is still in the searching phase. It seems if I don’t have a Commercial Driver’s License (re: trucking) or manufacturing experience, I’m out of luck right now. There is an ad for an exotic dancer. I’m sure they’re talking about females. Even if they weren’t, I’m not exactly dancing material. I even hate doing the hokey pokey.
One thing that cutting back has helped me with is cooking at home. Granted most people would get tired of baked chicken, but its time delay lets me do other things around the house. Normally, I’m the type to focus on what I’m doing with little distraction but manual work’s always multitasking. Funny how that works.
My mind’s getting to me. Where did I put my car keys?
Today I have a couple of things to say for a change! There is reason enough to believe I should break them out into separate posts, as they’re different topics. What fortune! I think I’m more excited about that fact than I am the actual material but what happens next is still a bright spot on the grey-matter-gone-black that is my mental faculties. There may have been a spider or two that scurried away as I cracked open that cellar door.
Last night was shaping up to be a real Emo-city, cut-and-not-so-dry, window-gazer of an evening. All dressed up in suit and tie from a seminar I attended that day, I went to eat dinner out. The hurried, mechanical pace of American restaurants and a waitress too young to flirt with didn’t satisfy what I craved. Fortunately I keep a book at my side, being that dining alone is a way of life here. I thumbed the pages of The Jungle before setting out for a different venue. Ho-hum. That’s not in reference to the book, just the atmosphere.
Next stop was a swankier bar downtown. I’m not entirely sure why I went there. Maybe it’s because the women dress better? With better dress though can come attitudes, especially with the clientele being employees of a large corporate headquarters a few blocks away. Just as a side note, it doesn’t take much money to gain a sense of superiority in the Fields. A yearly salary of $70,000 could cultivate a behavior similar to that seen on “The Real Housewives of…” It’s slightly amusing, as I have been to much more wealthy locations in this country, but mostly tragic… and annoying. Most annoying was the woman so drunk she was laughing like Salacious B. Crumb and loudly.
Scratching cold starts in my journal, I could only stare out the window in efforts to find some sort of inspiration. A video comment by Ira Glass found on Jodie Llewellyn’s blog was running through my mind at the time, and I felt I needed a running start to have the spirit move me. I ended up walking out with little to show for it. The gloom of a failed evening was starting to follow me. So, I did the best I could: change cities.
Driving about 20 minutes north reveals a small college town with a better tone throughout, in my opinion. I set up camp at a sports bar near the highway just to sit and read. Those are what I’ve decided to be the staples in my life right now: reading and writing. Most of the time there was being conscious of a presence sitting next to me. Cocksure and country alpha, I could feel a pissy nature emit from the turned back of a patron. Was he jealous that I was reading, or just a jerk? Later in the evening he was joined by another and his dialog only assured me of the latter. Foul with crass etiquette (i.e. spitting), his conversation covered a gamut of gems ranging from aggression to sour grapes.
Not quite ready to give up the ship, I stopped by a bar I usually visit for some tonic and whatever else I could squeeze out of Upton Sinclair. I don’t like the idea of being so frequent to an establishment that I either lose interest or wear out my welcome. Last night was not one to mull over that fine point. It turned out to be a great decision, as a girl broke my concentration with an inquiry of the reading material. After a well-received joke, I went back to reading as her significant other body-blocked our field of view. He was definitely jealous of our rapport, and I relished it like a villain.
Stepping outside for another broken promise, I had the pleasure of meeting two gentlemen from the local university. Both were philosophy majors with a interest in books. Naturally they opened up with my selection for the evening and we had a delightful conversation that ran almost an hour in the freezing cold. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Sinclair, Dick, Asimov, Kerouac, Bradbury, Heinlein, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald were all under the same roof. I could not have been happier even if I wasn’t a fan of some of the authors. The spectre of depression had been banished to the void for at least a night. Happily, I drove home content for a change.
The Tubes are as 80s to me as the fake-animal-print clad David Lee Roth, and provide Hallmark wisdom in a way only the era could deliver. I did tip my hand too much in the previous post about the strip club experience. It’s not easy talking about such personal memories, being that the Internet is so vast, but if I were on my deathbed would I appreciate not saying anything? This post isn’t going to candy-coat anything. If you are the type to either be easily offended or insulted, I strongly advise you to visit another day. I’m not the type of person to tolerate bullshit either, and this won’t be up for debate. This is simply a story of how my life played out on one Saturday afternoon in April of 1997.
I was 18, and it was a few days after my best friend’s 18th birthday. His rambunctious mind could only think of one thing, and one thing alone: strippers. He was always after ideas sexual in nature: Playboys (for the articles, my ass), video pornography, John Valby aka Dr. Dirty et al. They revolved around him in an electron fashion, only drawing closer to the nucleus with each passing moment. There seemed a sort of Christmas excitement that ran across his boyish face when he talked about it, and he spoke of it for weeks. I knew that day was coming, even though I already had deep reservations about it. Most people don’t give me enough credit for my intuitiveness, but it’s definitely there. Maybe it’s for personal use only? Regardless, I was being muscled into his quasi-wingman as we ventured to a larger city for the venue.
There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole way there. It was not something that sounded great in the first place, but like usual, I felt coerced by societal norms (e.g. “this is what you’re supposed to be like: dumb and horny,” or “why not? Are you in the closet?”). We ended up in a strip mall in Toledo, where I handed over a matinée price of $7.00 to a short man with greasy ginger hair kept in a long pony tail. The insides were painted black, lit with black lights. UV light accented all the fluorescent materials present with a thin veil of smoke drifting from the seats to the stage. It wasn’t too long ago that people could smoke indoors.
The first stripper was a petite blond with cropped hair to match. Her gaunt figure danced upon the pole to a three-set of Beatles songs. “Sexy Sadie” was her stage name, and the bits of metal from her piercings held tightly to her b-cup breasts, glinting every now and then when she’d spin. After “Helter Skelter” was over, she bounded right up to us. Being that my friend was the cause of all this, I let him buy her the brink which turned out to be apple juice. Even though we weren’t of legal drinking age, there wasn’t any alcohol on the premises. I suppose I could see why. Drunk men and naked women could present a problem. My friend and I were also required to have a drink in front of us at all times, and we chose fountain beverages for the free refills. I still remember vividly how bright and pink my plastic daiquiri glass was. It was cheap, exactly like how I felt.
After a few minutes of light discussion, we were hit up for some additional dancing at the booths across the stage. Fortunately, my friend could not turn the offer down and went promptly over there with her. I was left to watch the other two women perform their sets. I began to fidget, trying to keep a calm exterior about myself and pretend I was enjoying it. There were a few other men around, smiling at me. They were having a good time. I wasn’t, not in the slightest. I felt like I was being used, not only by the dancers but by my friend. He didn’t want to go alone, but I didn’t have that many friends. I didn’t want to cause a rift because I would feel awful in a strip club.
The air felt thicker and denser as time inched along. I felt snake-like coils move around my face and head, whispering offers of faux-affection for $40 a turn. I was even startled when an African-American dancer slid her green-tipped fingers down my shoulders. She approached me from behind. So, I never knew she was there until I was jumping an inch out of my chair. I know they meant no real harm, though. They were just trying to earn a paycheck.
So often had I pined for female ardor, it made for many a lonely night. This sadness brought to me by my peers was heightened with whispers of high school girls not quite out of earshot, providing quite the venue of criticism from weight to attractiveness to creepiness. Everyone did it though. There were several males who would make themselves feel better at my expense, but it always stung worse to hear it from the girls. I could be jumped or clotheslined or socked right in the face, but it was their words that would ring in my ears for years. Admittedly, that day in April was the first time being in the presence of naked women. It wasn’t real though. None of it was real. All of it was a delicately-wrapped lie for a price, a group of women trying to sweet talk me only for what I had in my wallet. I didn’t have a whole lot of it to start. It hurt; it hurt like the Devil. I felt ashamed, and tried to overcome a burning face at the notion of having to buy my affection. What the Hell did I ever do to require buying love?
Were they whores? Were they sluts? Only if you include the audience and me. Whether it was for money, lust, or my desperate need for belonging, we all sold ourselves at some price. My area of interest just happened to be the size of a planet, instead of a Marlboro-tainted skin shop. Those buyers and suppliers were not on my list, as I had other business to attend to. After my friend got his inaugural lap dances, we folded tent and left. Rarely have I ever felt relieved as I did that day, with the slight wind at my face and a drive through the fields of Ohio.
“Eleven past midnight’s a good enough time for anything anymore,” he thought as he raised the garage door. Overhead, the moth-spotted light flushed space with visibility and clumsily tugged at the door. The ’57 Chevy Bel Air glowed with its two-tone Tropical Turquoise tint. Clean and polished, he winced as his mind thought of the fingerprints he just put on the body getting in. “What is work without use?” He politely admonished the senator from Hygiene, and advised him to take his seat.
A quarter turn gave the car power and his displays lit up. Georgia Gibbs welcomed him. Three-fourths of a tank would be fine for a ride. There was plenty of asphalt, if you knew how to plan a circuit. Reversing out into the street, he sleepwalked with Santo and Johnny. Oxford skies cloaked while he drove the roads alone. One traveler without destination or purpose.
Absent from its day job, traffic lights stopped in conversational anticipation but were received with the silent treatment. Miffed at its foiling, a reluctant green light was given for safe passage. Safe passage from the ghosts that haunted these streets. Ghosts of the dead, ghosts of the gone, ghosts of his youth, all spun strings helter-skelter around him. Like Cole Porter, anything goes. He had driven since he was sixteen. He knew almost every inch of road in the city, and that which he didn’t wasn’t of any consequence.
He drove at night to lose himself, maybe run away. Was it mental anguish dripping from his forehead? He wiped. The smooth rub revealed nothing tangible, much like his thoughts. Another ghost. Haunting like it knows how. It hurt, but the injury couldn’t be seen by naked eyes or cleverly dressed imitations.
The ghosts drifted about. Memories of all kinds sprang forth, and most of them lamentable in one way or another. In the day it would be the zombies. He wasn’t sure what was worst. “Probably daytime,” he reconsidered, as the undead had Mass. They would all worship the space he possessed and collide violently over the possession of such.
It all became too much around a side street. His childhood home was present, barricaded by the thoughts of long ago. Spectral walls rose from the world around him and towered with malice. It took but the light October wind to blow them down about his mind and he pulled off in a small park. Disappointment was the last and heaviest brick to land. He thought of what he had done, the alternatives, and most of all he thought of the silence and its contrast to the Five Satins.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I don’t know where you are. I’m sorry I couldn’t find you. See you. Know you.” The leather-wrapped headrest gave a little to the right. Crackles and pops of pebbles underneath the tires competed with the crickets, which would win had they persisted. Moments passed and the noisemakers picked up where they left off. Life moved forward, as it always will. Burning vision pulled itself up from the steering column. It was time to go home, when Double chimed in.
“Oh, shut up!” The radio went silent with a push of the button.
I’ve put in quite a few hours with the house, and several fixtures are installed as a result. My mother asked if she could see the progress thus far, which wasn’t a problem to me. After a few day’s time, she decided today would be perfect to stop by and view it with my father. Being a respectful host and dutiful son, I waited for any sign of them before I started the heavy work on the house… and waited… and waited…
“They probably needed a nap. They like those on a Sunday afternoon,” I rationalized. I know she hadn’t forgotten, as we spoke about this last night. There have been several times in my life where she’s simply forgotten what I was doing, as she was so wrapped up in her own business. Over and over I would be questioned about where was I going or what I was doing simply because she couldn’t remember and wouldn’t write it down. She also asks way too many questions, until her dialog is nothing but question marks. I find that a little much. It’s an inquisition at that point, not a conversation. Why would you ever do that to a person?
Finally, at the six o’clock hour, I called her cell phone with no answer. I’ve stopped leaving messages, as she never listens to them. She simply sees that I’ve called and calls me back to find out what I wanted. It has frequently ended in me regurgitating everything on the voice mail I left. So, I’ve stopped.
Highly agitated, I went to work. I had house chores to do, as the remodeling had made the place very dirty. I was vacuuming with my gym trunks and no shirt, as I work up a sweat that drenches all my skin touches. After cleaning up the kitchen, laundry room, and part of the dining room, I spin around to see my mother at the back stoop. Startled, I angrily dropped the sweeper attachments and trudged upstairs to put on a shirt. No warning. Nothing. Dammit!
The visit was unpleasant, because I wasn’t happy and she was clueless about how I operate. Voicing any concerns initiates her defensive side, and I will be blamed for being absurd or mean or “on edge” or just plain wrong with what I have to say. In this case, it was simply an asinine request to call a person ahead of time and tell them when you were arriving. How foolish of me to think I would be informed of what time to stick around my house.
This got me thinking. We don’t know how to be a family. We don’t know how to be cohesive, and my family simply doesn’t know how to handle me as an adult. This is infuriating to no end as they tap dance around being a part of my life with no real work. When I say “real work” I mean remembering our interactions, remember my preferences, and otherwise interacting like adults do.
My mother would deny this flat out, but after tonight, she has demonstrated that her life uber alles, and her service to others is to satisfy her martyr complex. My father’s not a martyr, rather self-interested and prefers living in his own world rather than interact with the real world. My personality cannot have a deep, meaningful relationship with them as my desires will always play second fiddle. I need to see eye to eye with people. I have earned that.
I am metaphorically alone, and with them in a state of denial, there’s little that can be done. Acceptance is hard sometimes, but may be necessary in this situation. We can’t always get what we want, I suppose.
I’m going to make a statement that’s woefully obvious to a lot of social liberals in America: this country is still too sexually repressed for its own good. Now that I’ve had that “no shit, Sherlock” moment out of the way, I may proceed with my analysis on sex and sexuality in America. As mentioned in earlier posts, I’m from the Midwest. While the larger cities may have loosened up over the past few decades, the majority of this land is still quite scared to death about sex, sexuality, and most of all, sexual identity. Some of it is from the religion boogie man, but I have another idea on what the “darker” reason may be.
If I had a heart, it would go out to the gay people either still in the closet or living in the small hamlets of this nation. I will only use the term “great nation,” when it does something to warrant it. For example, when people come together like this:
…that means your nation did something “great.” I might have cried, provided I had tear ducts, but I use autohaemorrhaging for quick defense against terrorists and used car salesmen. I am the horned lizard of Freedom!
I was driving back from work a few days ago to hear the Hooterville (that’s my term of endearment for this “city” in which I reside) university radio station play a PSA on what I would classify as “aggressive sexual behavior.” In a 1950s sort of way, it’s the classic serpent-tongued horndog trying to get a girl to take her clothes off. One of the last lines she says is “nudity is disgusting.” I almost brought the car to a screeching stop. “No,” I thought, “nudity is not disgusting! Nudity is beautiful!” I agree forcing your will upon women is wrong. Rape is wrong. Using women is wrong. Women aren’t always the ones getting the business end of the stick, but more often than not, they are.
However, nudity is NATURE! Stop trying to stigmatize it! That’s the problem here. In an effort for the masses to feel “safe,” somewhat well-meaning citizens have decided to pour bleach all over the concept of sexuality. It makes me nauseous. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to keep this tirade past the age of majority.There are plenty of people that want to muddy the waters to avoid discussing serious problems. So, please, focus on the concern.
Aside from religion, I think there’s another reason for the huge stigma still surrounding sexuality in this country: people are truly afraid of what they really are. They are afraid to be in the fringe. They are afraid of being a “freak.” They are afraid of being left alone. The guilt of being a sexual “deviant” is enough to drive a human to repress emotions to an unhealthy level. How gross! How can we love one another, when we can’t even accept the kinks that love us?
This is why I think the pornography industry thrives in this country. They are filling a need that is so embarrassingly neglected that people are willing to pay top dollar for it. I’m also of the opinion that’s why the sex trade is a “trade.” There are men out there that haven’t been trained to understand sexuality properly, and are willing to pay for a Band-Aid over a gaping mental wound.
My point is: who cares if it’s absurd or severely unorthodox? Accept your sexual identity! The bedroom is none of society’s business. As long as everything’s consensual, relax and have a good time already. Maybe the release of fear and guilt will prevent you from going off the deep end?
After my last non-literature post, I had to think (sometimes aloud) about what life means to me, and conversely, what I mean to life. Outside of one’s self, the concept of life and living is owned by the rest of the Earth’s population. It would seem important to acknowledge the difference. With that difference, one also must acknowledge any difficulties that comes with it.
For decades, I have looked for lasting connection with people. There are a handful (considering the population of the Earth) that I consider to be “successful” in the sense of longevity. As time marches on, I’ve had to relinquish hope on plenty. Their lives are just as important to live on their terms as mine to be a part of it. I’ve also considered my love life a sore subject, which also needed reflection.
I cannot help but agree that we’re all bombarded with notions of love and romance from a very early age. The proliferation of media in the late-20th and early-21st is truly a remarkable invention, but it doesn’t come without any drawbacks. I think we’ve been lost in a mire of ideas for some time now, and only recently wise to it. This ties in with my previous blog post about blood types. All the information and philosophy in the world isn’t meant to be thrown together into an individual’s mind. It conflicts too often, and the person needs to decide what they should be in a cohesive manner.
Granted, this isn’t meant to be a rule or law. This is merely a recommendation. Far be it from me to advocate a censorship of sorts for everyone, but everyone should be a filter of their own. As my ninth grade Algebra I teacher once said, “there’s more than one way around a fence.”
So, what would I consider myself? I’m a bachelor with my own itinerary. I’m trying to let go of any notion of romance and relationships of that sort. I think it’s only for the best regarding my stress, and ultimately, my health. It’s not easy to accept such a position, but my history speaks otherwise. My actions tell my story, even if I don’t want to listen. It’s difficult and takes a Hell of a lot of courage to be alone. However, I don’t think the notion should be feared. Instead of keeping that dog outside, it’s time to let it in and give it a good bath.