Thursday, October 22, 2015

7329. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 52

(pt. 52)
There's a lot that goes unsaid about things, and
during my growth years on Inman Avenue, there
was that for sure : baseball in the afternoons, and
then curb-ball and stickball after supper, that's the
easy part. It was all the rest that was difficult.
Who'd want to be the one to go up and down the
street, seeing the same forty houses and their people
at any time. Nothing ever changed, except when
someone moved out or along. No one really ever
died; if they did, it was the great exception, like
that water guy in my first story about him. All the
parents here were young  -  ripe, child-bearing, not
yet rippled with disease and old age. So there was
a lot of sameness around. That sort of thing just
becomes dangerous after time : one of my friends,
name not to be mentioned here, showed me, at about
age 11  -  while on  a bus-trip to Weehawken or Union
City or somewhere to play in the VFW marching band  -
I was a small-time snare-drummer for them, and my
friend was a trumpeter - his 'trick' It was at 393 Pearl,
Woodbridge, a tiny little hall, a real hell-hole of
dark and dreary drinking men. Well, on that bus trip
my friend showed me how, if one faced rearward and
pressed one's center body firmly against the seat-back,
facing the rear of the bus, the resultant 'vibration' of
the bus's movement would give a young fellow  -  good
God  -  an erection! And who knew what else. What a
hell of a reason to ride all the up to Weehawkin, march
in the heat, and then tide back. Anyway, no one ever
said 'why are you boys straight-backed and facing
backwards?' Real knuckle-head stuff. If Mark Twain
had tried putting something of this nature in Huck
Finn, he'd have been driven out of Hannibal, MO on
a rail, and probably tarred first too. That's what our
boredom did. I don't know, also, how we did so
many things  -  after-school, evening things : band
practice in Woodbridge, Little League baseball, our
own sports and neighborhood teams and games,
Scout meetings, Cadet meetings, and more. Thank
the good Lord they didn't throw in evening religious
studies too  -  they were tolerable only in as much as
we got out of school a half-hour early for them.
Mondays, I think.
It was like our brains were always getting beat up on, by
adult tendencies. Problem was, most of the adults were
just plain, boring, borderline-ordinary plain people. Yet,
they couldn't see how stupid they were, nor how that was
manifest in the things they made us do or did for us. In like
4th or 5th grade, we (I say we', meaning three or four of
us local boys) joined, or were convinced enough to join,
this weird, little ersatz boy-scout type thing called 'Cadets'.
It cost  maybe thirty bucks for a year  -  you got a tan-khaki
uniform, a military-type shirt, with epaulets and a white
shoulder-braid, and a fake rifle, looking real, but fake, with
a military cap. Worn sort of sideways on the head. This was
out and out militarism  -  a gross indecency. We marched, did
rifle drills, cadences, all that Army sort of idiot, chicken-shit
shouting songs for left-right, left-right marching in formation
crap, all the rifle presenting, shoulder-arms. present-arms,
marching and twirling the rifle. Miltary style
shoulder-to-shoulder line-ups and call-outs. We even
had stripes and rank, structure and hierarchy. It was totally
obscene and bizarre. If Mr. Ziccardi has been talking about
it in one of his hideous classes about America's 'Rightness',
it would have been held as an example of the Communist
menace, the way Russia and China brainwashed their kids. But
here it was OK, we were supposed to be cool with it. They
guys who ran this were sickening little Hitlers. I don't know
if this was a nationwide movement thing, or just some local
lame-brains homesick for the Army. I figure now  -  just like
in the Biker-motorcycle world  -  the undercurrent here was a
homo-eroticism of men who got turned on by these reptilian
stratifications and uniforms and discipline and subservience.
Now that I think about it, they all looked gay too - and never
once was a woman ever around. I'd bet they were as freakily
faggy as those quasi-Nazi geeks at Farcher's Grove I was
talking about earlier. The sense of return-to-tribal-hatreds
feelings was prevalent. I don't know what I ever got involved.
The other really weird thing was that, on meeting days, say
Weds., with the meeting a 6:30, whatever, you were supposed
to wear your 'uniform' to your school-day as well. Which I
can remember doing a few times  - imagine today! Five or six
kids, boys, in school, wearing their faux-army uniforms, so
that they'd be better readied for their 'meeting' in the evening.
To this day, I'm still baffled  -  both by the thing itself and
by me in the doing of it. At these meetings we'd line up, 
and march around. They'd show us rifle stuff to do, with 
these fake rifles  -  showy parade stuff and rifle-handling
trucks and drills. The guy in front of us, he'd give little
lectures  -  and these lecture always assumed the tone of
 'now when you're in the Army, you'll see they don't use....'
whatever  -  it was always about our 'future' in the military,
just as an assumed thing we'd all have to do. All I can say,
people is, holy hell and forgive me all please. I never heard
of these 'Cadet' outfits, these little military-clique things, ever
again in my life  -  anywhere or any mention, after say 1959.
I haven't a clue what nightmare I was going through.
So, as I say, my life when young was many-layered :
The wild-the innocent, and the Inman Avenue shuffle,
wow, what using twisted summation of someone else's 
words that could be. You can't go home again?
(Stay tough, boys, stay tough - it's Avenel).

No comments: