Optimism: Why Not?
Let’s look forward to it– ‘it’ being whatever dumb thing that’s happening or about to happen. Or bound to happen. Or won’t stop happening.
A bad haircut – perhaps someone will mistake you for cool? I bet the first mohawk wasn’t on purpose. Someone’s clippers slipped, over and over, and after it must have felt disastrous. But then, later– everyone is so happy just to know you (just for having it) that they name the entire tribe after your head.
A date – it sounds like a good thing, but maybe it is scary for you. Think of it this way: what is reproduction but the act of letting the future know what your deal was? It’s inefficient and expensive, sure; you don’t get to choose what information gets paid forward and, after a couple generations, what is representative of you gets so diluted and mixed up with other folks that any essence of you is inextricable. We all KNOW this, but how does it apply to dating? Well, a date is just a little baby you and a stranger make to see if one day you’ll make actual flesh children. Except, in this scenario, you have far more control over what deal you convey (a) at (b) the cost of conveying your deal to only this one person.
Think of it this way: a date is a self-contained and premature birth of a child destined to die forgotten and alone. It lives on only in your memories and, as such, can do no harm to anyone. It is a blank slate upon which, in mourning, you can paint whatever qualities you wish and I THINK this one really got away from me.
OPTIMISM: dates are fun; be fun on dates. No one cares. Everything comes out in the wash. Maybe you’ll get to make kisses. Maybe not. Going on a date is better than the alternative (not going on dates). Each person you meet is one step closer to being immortal; you don’t even need to excise small bits of their human essence to extend your post-life, just be worth the brainspace to be remembered.
A death in the family – tough one. But, how often do you get to see your family? All in one place, trying their best not to fight (hopefully); well-dressed and emotionally open enough to have a meaningful talk if you want BUT also in a context where being all stoic and clammed up is not only appropriate but admirable? It could theoretically put things in perspective, though, in my experience, that kind of perspective doesn’t last real long. But even putting aside real constructive upsides, just the chance to be humans together in one place– all of you, at the same time– is rare enough to be valuable.
A double shift – it’s been a while since I’ve had a job where this was a possibility. Even the last service sector job I had involved working at baseball games, and therefore had only a single shift — the game. But there’s a feeling I remember– from extra innings games, or working overtime, or weekends– an intoxicating sense of camaraderie matched to a suffocating feeling of enclosure, trap-ed-ness. Like being in a submarine. This feeling– half cabin fever, half “Goodnight Saigon”– is one of the better nameless, abstract, man-made emotions you can feel. And by working double-shifts it can be yours at time-and-a-half. What A Treat!
Just to break things up
A filling – well, generally they numb your mouth enough so that you can’t even feel it. And afterwards you have what is essentially (maybe?) a whole new tooth. Or at least a new tooth surface. But besides that, the whole dentist experience is one that’s pretty underrated. Probably because it involves drills plus mouths, or at least concentrated scraping. Yet where else will you get to smell what your tooth smells like when ground to smoke? It’s pretty gross, but not so gross that you want to gag (unless you think about it too hard). And now you have that sense memory forever.
We’re all just futile gleaners grabbing each object we can find and stuffing it in our dumb faces, gottacatching every ’emall– feeling/image/animal/or mineral– and enslaving it for later. I choose you Toothsmoke, you can now say, in bed, at night, alone, for no reason in particular.
Plus: soon you’ll be able to choose glow-in-the-dark fillings (I wish)!
A flu/cold – I had an actual 100% real fever dream last night and, though miserable at the time, it is a pretty amazing experience in retrospect. Except I can’t really remember/explain it now. There were two tracks, except that phrasing is misleading, because the ‘tracks’ were neither roads nor classifications.
One was constant and I was the constant, the other involved different male female combos being matched up (but I was also one of the males in this scenario). It made sense at the time– a LOT of sense– but now I can’t even remember how it worked let alone explain it. It lasted for hours, and endured through and after multiple wake-ups of varying duration. At the time I couldn’t escape it but now I couldn’t return even if I wanted. (I do want). It’s like childhood that way. Or the American Middle Class. POLITICS!/??? (It feels right, but…)
But yeah– focus on the perks. Sure, right now your body is trying to destroy itself in order to save itself and you are lumping the consequences. But (note: I’m sorry so many of these sentences start with ‘but’) a body under assault does some pretty crazy things. Waking up almost unable to breathe from a sinus cavity clogged with snot is gross and feels terrible, but think of the fun you can have trying to clear it. Or the voice all that throat rot and nose clog will give you. Some sweet rasp and a trumpet mute– it’s time to sing everything you wished you could sing but couldn’t; your voice is now no longer your own so you are not culpable for anything you do with it. Time for some sexy crank calls!
A hangover – this one is not all that different from the previous example, except, I guess, more vomit-focused. Throwing up can be real satisfying. Honest, you guys! And not even in a bulimic way. Just the way that something is coming out of you and when it’s out of you you are both keyed-up and spent, sweaty and shaking, yet, for one dumb moment, completely better. Look forward to this. Intensity, be it pleasant or miserable, is crucial and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Furthermore: Misery is underrated. Not the book/movie. Fuck the book/movie. (I’ve never actually read/seen the book/movie). But how good does feeling good all the time actually feel? By definition– pretty great– but you’re not going to live your life by what a dictionary tells you, right? If you don’t season it with some real abjectnesses, your life can get real tedious real quick. You’ll take all the good stuff for granted; feeling good will become your status quo and you will complace yourself into it like a comfy leather couch in an early-to-mid nineties rumpus room. Well there’s more to life than 56″ big screen rear-projection televisions and that Fisher Price three-in-one basketball / air hockey / something else machine.
Also death:life::hangovers:getting totally and awesomely wasted. Think of all the things you did/may have done in the lead up to this shit ending– just because they all wind up flushed down the toilet doesn’t mean they were a waste, maybe.
NOTE: it turns out I am conflating two different Fisher Price 3-in-1 products
A lonely holiday – only strangers are lonely, and if you’re lonely you can be a stranger too. When strangers hang out together, then what? A friend ship without friends. What?
Have a hotel thanksgiving. People travel; they have business that takes them out of town, even on holidays. Your nicer hotels recognize this fact and accommodate it. They accommodate the shit out of it. What must the hotel Thanksgiving be like? Are all the participants boring business types? Maybe families who are out of town for some reason other than family OR families who traveled for family but got stuck somewhere OR decided (for whatever reason) that their family was not sufferable and had to ditch out? Maybe last dance suicides who wish to get all dressed up for one last meal.
I’m having a tough time thinking of who else would be there / look for my debut novel The Hotel Thanksgiving, due out early-to-not 2013.
A mugging – if you live in a city it’s bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it– you’re not Rambo, you’re not even Rambone– so why not appreciate the experience. Ok. So it’s easy to say that having never been mugged (a) and from the comfort of not (C)hicago (where my friend’s friend got mugged three times in the year I lived there). What happened to b? It was ro–ed! Fun.
But if you can try to stay calm and succeed at staying calm– ideally with a non-pushy undercurrent of put upon exasperation– you win. They couldn’t take your dignity from you, just your money and identification and credit cards and phone and computer and camera. BONUS: you wanted to get a new computer anyway; you (unfortunately) can’t steal debt.
A phone call – it doesn’t sound frightening but for some people what could be moreso? Here’s the premise: anyone in the entire world punched in 7 or 10 digits and now they are just waiting to say whatever they want to you. Anyone + Anything + and you have no way of knowing. And when they say it you can’t see them. You can’t verify their identity– not really– but, more importantly, you lose entirely body language. This voice is sound alone.
BUT everything that applies to them applies to you as well, sort of. I mean, if they’re calling you they probably know at least who you’re supposed to be, but everything else about what is happening remains the same. They can’t verify that. They can’t read your body language. Think of this as an opportunity, then, to let your mouth do the talking. Really delight in the act of speaking. If you focus on how much fun you’re having saying what you’re saying– the sounds and the craft of it– you’ll forget to be afraid or anxious. You you you you you. You’re the only who is actually talking, as far as you can verify. Say what you want, how you want it. It’s great.
A physical – ball grabbing and butt touching are the number one and number two concerns. I mean, if you’re crazy out of shape then the results might trump at least the prostate issue– which, really, is much too scheduled/rare to get all-time anxious over. But whither the hernia check. If your doctor is a man, then some dude is grabbing your package– a stranger no less! If your doctor is a lady, Either way panic boners become an immediate concern.
BUT FEAR NOT– everyone loves panic boners! They are hilarious; they are the slapstick of the dick world. How terrible situation to be in and then to get such a non-terrible reaction. And the way it creeps up slow, fills gradually. You both know it’s– well, coming is misleading, but– rising yet neither of you can stop it nor call it out. This. Is. Happening. And that moment you share together is indelible.
Looking past your cock– you get a precise measure of your weight. What is a better and more accurate method to measure things than sliding around three metal blocks? Even Link knows it. Also, the blood pressure cuff. It’s not pleasurable but it’s not not, and (as aforementioned) strange sensations are well-worth collecting. Later: you get to talk real talk with them about what you put your dick in / what you put inside of you. Try not to be so uptight about it. Every interview is a chance to get a job.
A spider – SO many eyes you guys. Just think of how scared it must be of (all eight of) you! Or four? I mean, we have two eyes but we don’t see two of everything unless something is terribly wrong. But, then again, it seems silly to assume that each pair of eyes operates like our human eyes, so that they see four times. Stupid.
OPTIMISM: Seeing a spider means you’re not seeing flies. A spider is probably not filled with deadly poison. And if it is chances are it either won’t bite you or it’s too late. You wouldn’t want to spend the last ten minutes of your life angry, would you? [sidenote: I wonder what the numbers on that are– how many people spend the last moments of their life OR on average, how angry are folks in their last moments alive? Angrier than I am when I can’t for the life of me find my keys? I certainly hope not]
What if instead of killing it you just watched it hang out? Let it scamper. Once in high school, in the summer between Junior and Senior year, I watched a spider fight a yellow jacket. It was in my basement; I was down there pretty much 24/7 for the last two weeks, alternatingly watching A&E re-runs of Northern Exposure and Law & Order (this was when A&E’s pitch was still its class-actness) and reading Moby Dick and Candide for AP English. The spider won, but it was a real back and forth affair. It’s one of those things that I have to remind myself sometimes whether it actually happened or was just a metaphor that my memory created for my life at the time. I am 96% sure this actually happened.
It was entirely less creepy than this
A year without sex – I’d say you have time to focus on your work but you don’t go into this knowing it will happen. Usually. Right. Optimism… hm. At least it’s not four years? Uh. A lot of quality time with yourself wink nod? Errr. No STDs?
A you have no rights – I mean, srsly tho: when were you actually going to use them? I mean really use them. You still (almost definitely, probably) have all your basic, tier one, everyday, walkin’ around rights. The only time when your rights get impinged upon is when you try to take them literally, to the letter. It’s only when you exploit your rights that they get taken away from you. Just because it says you have the right to peaceably assemble doesn’t mean you actually get to do that, like, all the time.
First off, it certainly doesn’t specify that you can do so wherever and whenever you want. Secondly, who is to say what is and what isn’t peaceful? Once cops start beating the shit out of a protest that protest is by definition no longer peaceable. Ergo, they were right to crackdown. Don’t miss the chicken for the eggs; the barber who cuts the hair of every man in town that doesn’t cut their own hair is actually not a man but a merciless robot and therefore no rules apply. He rules over the town with his crazy metal hard-on that shoots pepper spray when he gets upset, or sometimes just because, and that’s why every single man lets him cut their hair– they don’t want to get teargassed. (The roboner also shoots teargas).
OR: like a corporation, the status quo is in all rights (and no responsibilities) a person, and when threatened no recourse should be ruled out.
There are no laws, not really, but you it’s not like you’re doing anything that would require them. Just stay the course and everything will be fine.