The Story So Far / 30 January 2002
This personal history was cobbled together from sentences written on this site over the past six years.
I was born on 30 January 1973 and this was before doctors had refined their public image. My parents were big proponents of hydroponics and as a result they birthed me in a large, cylindrical tank filled with deionized mountain spring water. On the way out I kissed the new bride, whom I’d just met that day, on the cheek. My freakish nature has been repeatedly studied by experts at Stanford University and they just keep scratching their balding pinheads in bafflement. I’m going to be in every history book ever written from now on. I’m a genius.
My cummerbund was branding a long, painful red mark across my abdomen and I stank of evaporating Old Spice. I was knock-kneed, probably sweaty, maybe even lit from within with the unmistakable glow of desperation. I was climbing around in this boat and you should put your money on the theory that I was pretending it was a craft made for traveling through space, or maybe high above endless stretches of postapocalyptic desert. Sound effects provided by yrs truly.
Some people get tired of eating the same thing every day but I don’t. I get sentimental about objects. I think it’s these minute wonders of science that truly make me happy, wonders that have absolutely nothing to do with human beings. I wonder what it would feel like to have tiny insects living and spawning in my bloodstream. I’m a vibrating angel of pure delight.
And that’s creepy enough, but what made it really unsettling was that whenever I stood up to stretch or go to the bathroom to cry silently about my miserable existence, she was always there, right above the cubicle wall, staring right at me with all her scary equipment and padding and supports. I strip down to a custom-built waterproof diaper and submit myself to the daily electrolysis that removes whatever minute hairs might have surfaced since the previous day.
I watched a great deal of HBO in motel rooms. I did a lot of hammering on my manual typewriter. Sometimes my grandfather would let me drive the golf cart. I’d wear thongs. I’d … I always liked using the ball-washer, you know those things?
It all started in 1995 when I was sitting in a K-Mart in Des Moines, IA, using a Magnum black marker to write long, personal manifestos on the slick, lemony, tile floors. A single tear meanders down my cheek and plunges to the open Yellow Pages in my lap, opened up to Martial - Massage. Every night I have to re-learn how to make words connect and sometimes it doesn’t happen until it’s too late.
I wish I was Ric Ocasek.
I give sardonic glances. I look at my phantom watch. I’ve developed a grace and precision that are utterly manufactured. I’m going to go shoot myself because I have the worst job in the history of mankind. I now have entire teams devoted to Hairstyling, Infomercials, and Liposuction. Will I spend my final moments in quiet, dry sobbing for a wasted life? Will I regret all of the things I accomplished while pursuing this vision? All of the great deeds, all of the little moments of happiness and contentment, all of the friends and lovers I met along the way, all of the songs and dances and smiles and chuckles of delight? Damn right I’ll regret it.
So I spoke with the hostess, whom I knew, and asked if any of her liberal friends would be interested in shooting a quick, painless orgy scene. A strip club in yet another minimall where we drank four-dollar sodas and watched vaginas open and close. We created a special technique and as a result our tongues had this one superdeveloped muscle that was lax and flabby on everyone else. Was my nonstop stimulant- and cleaning-product-fueled party life getting too much for this old man? I’ve been down that road before and it always ends up in hurt feelings and a lot of whiteboards.
I’ve spread myself too thin to be an Expert on anything. But the truth is that I like the imaginary shapes of machines and I like men that hunch and scowl and sweep instruments from their desks and are full of interesting and useless information and I like women that are giant and tense and circle errors in your work with bright red pens and say “here’s what we’re going to do.” I like everyone to have lived a life so full of yarns that they’re blasé about it.
Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been called recently by our customers: sarcastic twit, homo, fathead, the retarded family member that everyone knows about but no one likes to talk about, asshole.
I look like a wounded jackalope being given electroshock therapy. I also have these boxer shorts with an American flag on them and I spent the whole day wearing just them and nothing else except for my flip-flops that don’t have attaching straps but just the flat foot-piece that is sticky and adheres to the bottom of my sole. I’m wearing a shirt that sports Spiderman’s face, thinking it’ll make me seem less pretentious. She can easily picture how I’ll look when I’m ninety, sitting on a park bench somewhere, hunched over and squinting, my hand a palsied claw, a look of focused bewilderment on my face. This is new and different. I want to wear white suits. I should also add that, when wet, my hair naturally creates an S-shaped curl that hangs over my forehead. Why am I suddenly so fey? I wish “fey” meant what I thought it meant.
Soon enough I came tumbling after, covered in gaping lacerations, half-blind by a knocked-loose retina, but really, really clean and happy. I realize I’m eating America with a plastic knife and spork, coughing up wide-awake dreams.
I guess I had a predilection for burning houses. My tears dry up, leaving salt trails that I will exfoliate the next morning with a medicated apricot scrub. I’m always tucked away into some glossed-over past or some arctic-wasteland future, always savoring the in-between.
I am uncoiled and lax, an empty vessel, critically appraising advertisements, making mix tapes, playing an unplugged Korean-made Telecaster, honking at the kids playing basketball in the cul-de-sac, digging cat toys out from under the bureau, going commando, making ice, buying Scotch tape, skimming, shaving, squeezing.
What am I, some super-cyborg? Screw THAT and also screw YOU. I don’t get this prescription filled this afternoon I enter what they call my berserker phase. And I did the thing I’ve mentioned before where I stop listening to what people say and instead only hear the way they’re saying it, or their reaction to what someone else said. Another thing I do when I’m supposed to be paying attention to what people are saying: Imagine doing something completely unacceptable and predicting the response. Recurring themes: Incest, feces.
I dealt with this issue, as always, by pretending to have cerebral palsy.
I talk to myself a lot in the car, I don’t mind admitting. It’d be nice if my internals weren’t so short-circuited. Then I could treat these interactions as something more than experiments.
Hips are swollen, lips are parted, the airwaves are filled with colliding frequencies. I hate when this happens. Keep revisiting the same themes over and over, hammering away at the same concepts and characters, the same dynamics, the same vocabulary. And so I do my usual: a bombardment of words, trying to plug the holes, trying to blind and deafen.
The salad days are over, but the fix-your-own-taco bar days are here to stay.
I will disconnect my home telephone and use only a cellular phone which will emit an almost inaudible chirp when someone calls. The number for that phone will be sent out to select individuals in envelopes stamped with my signet ring. The phone will reside in a velvet-lined mahogany box somewhere in the back of my closet and I will answer it by saying “happy birthday!” and finish by saying “I’m done talking now” and hanging up.