It's a busy area. It's a crossroads of lucre, filth, desperation, greed and that old saw, that prevailing wind that is like a glue that binds us all - ignorance.
Never underestimate the allure of ignorance. It is under the banal tide of ignorance that all of us seem to swim, a school of idiots, lost, confused, and always working the angle of the ultimate commodification of suffering. We're like walking banners for the product of ignorance. We labor tirelessly to reach dividends on the wages of our disinterest, our disconnected unity, however ironic that may be.
Okay, so they are out there in the mornings, before the sun burns through and begins throwing its weight around. And I always imagine they will be gone by the afternoon, but instead, like clockwork, they grow in numbers. They are like an army of zombies who have traded in their insatiable hunger for human flesh for an insatiable desire to sit in a musky, aging car and silently ponder the air before them for several empty hours. And then what? And then they go somewhere else. Where? Home? Work? What sustains them?
I don't get it.
I keep throwing logs into the fireplace, but the damn things keep going out. I've got a shit ton of ash and I'm running out of logs.
Do you remember? What do you remember? I remember when the only shower in the house was in the basement. I remember, in fact still foster feelings for, the dank allure of the basement. Especially now that I live in a town that doesn't have any basements. Especially now that I live in a town that has such an intimate relationship to water that its mysteries seep into every facet of our practical lives. It's water that taints the air in the summer, making it virtually unbearable outside. It's water that threatens the most well-built house in a city full of very poorly built houses. It's water that gathers angrily, far too often, and organizes into a massive beast intent on destroying dreams and then beating a hasty northeastern retreat. Showering in the basement was always an adventure. It was always cold down there, no matter the season, always chilly and always damp. And worse, there were, far too often, giant house spiders that liked to hang out in the stand-up shower itself, perhaps hoping for the errant drip that worried its way into the drain on the ground. You had a few basic options in this case.
- You could try and kill the thing.
- You could try and get someone to kill it for you.
- You could shower another time.
- The squishy kill sensation when stomping a huge spider was a bit over the top for me back then. (Still kinda is.)
- In my huge three story house, neither of my parents were going to come running down several flights of stairs to sample the very same squishy kill.
- Showering another time meant putting off showering, something I didn't need a lot of arm twisting to achieve.
I want to tell you about the first girl I ever kissed. It was in the 80s, I was in middle school. She had a glass eye. For her sake I'll spare you her name. I used to ride the bus to school. It was about an hour drive. I guess at the time the only school in the area was several miles away. it seems ridiculous now since the area has grown like fucking crazy, but there you go. I'm old, it was a long time ago.
And really, the point of the story isn't the kiss, which was much like all first kisses, which is to say that it was fairly forgettable. No, this is about cruelty, because if there's one thing children are good at, it's being cruel.
On the interminable bus death ride we had the pleasure of listening to the radio. General consensus dictated that we listened to one of two stations - it was either 79Q and their Q Morning Zoo, or it was 104 KRBE, a station that is still thriving on its recipe of mundane and unchallenging top 40 hits. This girl had a tendency to be annoying, she tended to make people angry. That's nothing new. It's pretty much the province of middle school. But whenever you are an asshole, you run the risk of retribution. And retribution to children usually takes the road most traveled - that being the obvious. Physical handicaps coupled with antagonistic behavior are the poster children of cruelty.
This one is writ large across the wall like a warning sign. Anyone should have seen it coming (so to speak).
Once critical mass was achieved, it was all just a matter of timing, and thus it happened.
The band R.E.O. Speedwagon was inexplicably massive back then, and it was their song titled Keep On Loving You that was really hitting big at the time.
For those of you with knowledge of the song, I may not need go further. You have perhaps perceptively seen the savagery to come.
For the rest of you, this is what transpired.
She stepped on the bus one morning, the day after a particularly tough previous day of haranguing and verbal harassment. As she made her way up the aisle, many of the older kids broke out in a rousing chorus of, "You should have seen by the look in your eye, baby, there was something missing."
Brutal? Surely. Warranted?
I thought it was too much. I didn't care how bad she was, it was obvious her bark was worse than her bite.
I ended up kissing her one night out in front of my friend's house. I think we were sneaking beers, pretending to be more drunk than we were. It was the kind of bored thing we did in suburban Texas in the 80s.
No, there's no connection between the kiss and the cruelty. I just thought of that scene, saw it playing out in my mind for some reason, and thought I would share.
Guys used to have posters of Loni Anderson on their walls. That was like a necessity for boys who needed to prove to everyone else that they weren't gay, even though I knew the truth. Guys who liked to tear out the decks that were around their parents hot tubs because it meant they could salt all the slugs under the deck. Guys who thought putting toothpaste on their dicks would make them more palatable to the girls they dreamed would suck them. Guys who buddy up to idiots because they think it increases their tender in the world of morons.
It's nothing but full-bore ignorance.
I wonder if they sit in lots and stare. And if so, I wonder what they see.