Monday, December 7, 2015

7555. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 95)

(pt. 95)
I never got too unsettled by things. The way
we grew up was pretty steady and without too
many surprises. In ways that just aren't done
anymore, we stayed unified as a group while 
adhering to a small sense of self. I think now,
for kids, the sense of self comes first. It's an
idea of entitlement, in a way that everyone
getting a trophy is a reward due each. Or
not getting left back in a grade. No one fails
in the old sense of 'failing' anymore -  it all
becomes negotiable, something worth a
compromise. That's fine at one level, but 
in the end all it does is undercut any meanings
that one is supposed to get from events. It
all becomes just a big, schlocky glass of some
bad chocolate milk. I never much liked chocolate
milk, even though it was pretty clear-cut there 
where your choices were. In my day anyway :
you had the powdery, Nestle Quik kind of stuff, 
which often left harsh residue at the bottom, a
powder soot which hadn't dissolved; or you
had the more intense Bosco version of it  - a
thick, rich syrup that  -  if played right  -  also
left some of itself at the bottom. Chocolate lovers
would say, 'oh good!' I never was a chocolate
lover, in any way. I guess there were Bosco people,
and Nestle Quik people. For such a divide, they
fight wars.
Back to being unsettled : one time something 
happened to me, after the train accident -   well 
after it  -  but for all the life of me these many years later 
I can exactly recall who said it to me. I remember it was 
my Confirmation sponsor (a note here : the Catholic 
Church has so many dumb layers of fall-back parenting 
that I never was sure what they were so worried about. 
It was unsettling  -  Baptism God-parents, then 
Communion sponsors, and then, finally, Confirmation
sponsors. These were all supposed to be adults who'd 
swear to take care of you and bring you up right of 
your parents died or whatever -   they'd keep you in 
the church, etc. To my mind it was stupid, and just a 
way for the crafty church, 'Our Lady Of the Perpetual 
Gimmick', to get more and more adults involved into 
its fluff), who was a cousin of my mother, no one I
knew at all. A guy from Spring Lake, Charlie Archiello,
I think, he said to me, after someone had mentioned 
something about the train wreck and my recovery and 
all that, 'You don't get lucky twice.' I think that was how
he said it, maybe 'You can't get lucky twice.'  I don't
know. I was twelve, mixed up in still another boring
church ritual, with adults I didn't know and with no
real clue as to what was even going on (why couldn't
these church people just leave others alone?) and this
guy's almost threatening me with downfall? You can't
get lucky but once? Is that what he was meaning to say?
Telling me my quotient was then somehow up? Wasn't
that what 'luck' was? That you could get 'lucky', even 
twice or more? That was the idea of Luck! You got
lucky! What the hell was this guy's problem? I'd
already been hit by a train, had spinal fluid leaking 
out my ears, half my stupid body all cracked up, then
hit in the head with a baseball bat and knocked out, then
run down by a car in a very minor bicycle mishap. And
more. And I was out of luck? I thought already that I was
unlucky. No longer, I decided, did adults make any sense
except their own self-serving gobbledy-gook. I had had
enough of that for sure. When he came over that day, early,
we were outside, I was anyway, painting the white picket 
fence. It was wood, and it took paint maintenance to keep
it looking fresh -  my father was fairly fastidious about that.
We stopped, and went inside I got cleaned up and dressed.
He presented me with a gold Hamilton wrist-watch. Pretty
nice, twist-o-flex band. I was told in no uncertain terms that
Hamilton was a great name in exclusive watches, take care 
of it and all that. And two hours late I was told I had no luck
left. Makes a gut want to run away.
Not too many of my other friends were mixed up with all 
this church stuff. My friend across the street, Jim Yacullo,
his house was, for the most part Godless. No church stuff 
there. My other friend, Ken Lackowicz, I never detected any
church input there either. Donald and Richard Florio, none
that I knew of. Barry Wynne, nothing. Everywhere I looked
no one else was getting chucked into all this church-fires stuff.
Billy Zellner, yes, he went to Sacred Heart Catholic School in
Perth Amboy. Ken Kaisen had some hook up with a Ukrainian
Church in Carteret. Harold Witt, nothing; Frank Strohlein, 
nothing. It seemed like I was bearing the brunt of this stuff.
I never balked, just kept it up. Some of my best friends were
Christians; others not. My answer to all that  -  little known  -  
was prayer. Even after that Godfather guy had left, and I was
waiting, day by day, for my real luck to expire, I took up
prayer as an idea. It was like writing, or like meditating. In 
order to pray  -  really pray  -  time had to stop. Like real stop.
Only a one-minded devotion to it could succeed  - you 
couldn't be doing anything else. If your mind wasn't at it
110%, it wasn't going to work. I found it was pretty cool to
stop time like that, just zone out and disappear, even though I
could still be seen. It was like the presence of non-presence,
like what I read about in the book  'Autobiography Of a Yogi',
which was a pretty good book in my opinion  -  took me a long
time to read it, but I was glad I did. Wound up meaning a lot to
me. I don't know how I stumbled on it, but I did. It was published
in 1946, and written by some Paramansa Yokananda person.
Attaining God realization. The Law of Miracles.  Some pretty
heady stuff, but I stayed with it. The guy's photo on the cover kind
of annoyed me  - it was a little too boy/girl for my taste, and I was
never sure where they were going with that idea. Stopping the
realization of what you are doing, re-focusing the light and energy
concept of each moment into the fulfillment of personal goals and
impetus, that was all prayer, nothing of luck about it. You can't do
two things at once. It was all about One-Mind. Stop-Time. Pray
your Avenel ass off. It's nice, as it goes, to be in church, yeah,
but it doesn't in the long run matter. The body AND the world,
man, they're both better churches without a brick or a window!
It makes you wonder what people are up to : who was doing
what behind the closed doors of these little houses. Were
people talking and communicating anything real to each other?
Was there a spiritual presence to nay of these homes and
domiciles where families and friends played and stayed?  If
that was so, then we kids were basically a pretty aberrant bunch:
Jim Yacullo going through his mother's underwear drawer;
Larry Walker, week after week, stealing pocketfuls of candy
for Boy Scout meetings; each of us, skipping church to smoke 
cigarettes in the portables' alley at School 4, then pretending
to have been there by lying about church. Speaking of luck,
how long could any of that last us? Thank God we weren't
old enough for girls yet  -  they'd have been pinned to 
the ground wihout mercy. Avenel boys? Every one
pretty much turned out to be a pussycat.
'Give 'em Hell From Avenel', as the motto went.
I think not.
Whatever luck I may or may not have had, I sure wanted
it to last around a little more. I wasn't ready for some
Cyclopsian perfidy to take me out. I was just getting started;
some jaded Country-Club Groundsman wasn't about to put the
jinx on me. I wanted to call him a glorified janitor for rich-people's
grass and get on out of there. But I didn't. I probably even thanked
him for the watch.

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