BELOW THE WATER LINE
(pt. 107) - part A
There was always a lot of stuff to deal with.
I kept reading about ideals, and perfection,
It was all a bit odd, for a growing kid without
much bulk, to have to sift through. Bizarre
items : like, I didn't even know, still don't, if
I was breast fed, or if so for how long and all
that. Things I'd read in the magazines and stuff
in the house would tell me that - if so, or not -
there had to be repressed memories of it, desires
and all sorts of outlandish feelings and stuff. I
couldn't even remember if I even was! What's
that tell you? Girls began growing them, that
was cool. I enjoyed that - stupid schoolroom
gag questions like 'Hey! Where did you buy
that nice sweater with bumps in it?' Whatever.
It was as if, according to all these reports and
psychology things, every adult must be running
around with bizarre Looneytoons versions of
another reality going on in their heads from things
done, not done, done inadvertently, chosen to be
done, done by others, or just wished for being done.
A regular zoo! No wonder they were always all
goofed over. Frenzies of shopping and driving,
scolding and yelling - all this stuff was supposed
to be traceable back to origins, to whether or not your
mother held you, or your parents talked to you. Jeez.
half the time they weren't taking to each other, let
alone me. The only story I ever got read to me was
the one about how there's no story being read to me.
My mother would sing spaced-out songs to us : Froggie
Went a Courtin', or something. A bunch of those. Once,
someone gave me a pretty nice volume of Aesop's Fables,
some tales, each with a moral, supposedly written by
some Greek slave named Aesop (Aesop? What did his
friends call him, Aessy?) in about the year 620-560 BC,
yeah, that's BC - all about animals and tricks and races
and thinking frogs and turtles and stuff. It was pretty
weird and not presented in any fashion I was much
interested in - they were straightforward in their
telling, with little imaginative stuff, except of course
talking frogs and things. This was still back in ancient
times - a slave (not like our Civil War 'slaves', just a
regular Greek Slave which was different), in a place
where like they had their own version of Gods that were
almost people-like too, fornicating, making mayhem,
steaming and scheming, each one representing a different
attribute (funny how we get the different remnants of that
only in Brand names, Ajax, Mercury, and such. We even
use their Mount Olympus name, oddly enough, still as a
word for our own 'highest' things). It's all so bizarre. All
through school they'd just make mention of this old stuff
but never really go into it as a comparative aspect of like
what we live today - wasn't much allowed, and God forbid
if, in church, we started praying to Zeus or something. Jesus,
we'd be crucified (that might be a joke, but I'm not sure).
Ideals were supposed to be the best personification of things.
Like Plato had it, something like there being another 'perfect'
world just outside of our perception and for which our own
world and all its objects and feelings were but a pale substitute,
a distant second to the idealized perfection, of which we only
see a sort-of reflected half-glory. I never thought anything was
'perfection' in Avenel - even as I wondered if that's what he
meant anyway. The storm doors were cheesy, the cars were
mostly dented and rough, the lame houses really had nothing
to do with beauty. But I couldn't be sure if this Plato guy even
meant that - what did he have to go by in sixth century BC?
They didn't even have glass on the windows, or toasters or
swimming pools, or anything like that, so it was all too hard
to gauge. Idealized, divine beauty? Yeah, I liked girls, and I
liked breasts too. Maybe that was it, even if I could never
be sure if I'd ever tasted one. Go figure. Tough times for me.
Then I read another cool thing about how crummy people's
eating habits are - not liking greens, eating crappy food,
sugar, starchy stuff, all that. It said that all of that starts when
we're between 3 and 6 months old, and that if a parent, at that
point, started getting a kid to like spinach and broccoli and
grapes and fruits and all that, they wouldn't have any
later-in-life fat habits and things. The reason it doesn't
happen is that, in those months, the kid is usually just getting
fed from a breast or from formula, and the mother never
spends any time teaching the kid how good all that other
stuff is. If she did that, the kid would grow to like it all
when he was, or she was, grown. And wouldn't just be
donuts and Twinkies and stuff. Even for back then that
sounded too pat for me. First they want you to do that
whole back to Earth-Mother thing and stuff a breast in the
kid's mouth (which only screws him up later), and then
they decide, a week later, that because of that the kid's
only eating crap when he's 15. If I was a mother, I'd be
driven crazy with that stuff - but I didn't know any
ladies or people that even cared about it. But, anyway, it
wasn't the kind of stuff the neighborhood mothers sat
around jammering about. I never heard. My mother would
have her same little clutch of nosy neighbor ladies coming
around often enough, or she'd go there. Everyday, it seemed,
at like one PM, during the Summer anyway, when I was
home to notice, there'd be Mrs. Kaisen, or Mrs. Fehring,
or someone sitting around with my mother having coffee.
They would just talk stuff; I never knew, but they always
had plenty going on, running over about things. As a kid,
we never cared. I remember just coming home from school,
saying hi to whoever was sitting in the other room, throwing
my junk down, and taking off again until five o'clock. I
never remember either - and it's funny - like taking time
to go the bathroom, breaking a rhythm of doing things, for
that. I remember, as a kid, how you'd see kids who had to
pee real bad, jumping and wiggling around and all, but that's
all. Others, not me. I can't remember that stuff.
In 1965, I think it was, one of the local priests at St. Andrews
took me and my friend Alex to the NY World's Fair, in Flushing
Meadows, Queens. I don't recall how it all happened, but we went.
I think it was Summer, it could have been a weekday, I just
don't remember. My friend claims to remember most every
aspect of the trip. Train ride; from the Avenel station I guess?
Money and tickets and entry? Penn Station NYC; it must have
still been the old one, before they tore it down in a few years.
No recall. I'd been there (the old Penn Station) a few times. My
grandmother would take my sister and I into NYC by Avenel
train once or twice of year, for various things : a movie, or to
walk around, buy junk. Those trips I remember well, with her.
More on them later. But not this priestly World's Fair one.
The 1965 World's Fair was kind of one of those stupid, United
Nations type 'enveloping everybody with goodness' things. It
gets boring in about 11 minutes. By those standards, absolutely
no Evil exists anywhere in the world -- a complete denial that
the Devil even exists and that, for pity's sake, this is his
kingdom. Might as well deal with it. It was all that kind of
soft racism that passes for liberal crap among rich people.
Cute little Swiss, eating their ice cream and waffles. Ubangi
natives doing their funky dark-Africa straw dances and stuff.
Native-dressed Poles and Czechs, doting on their roasting
pigs and strange brews and sauces. Inscrutable Chinese,
with their 'useless' ancient religions and customs, spirits
of the dead and all of that. All those sorts of things
are always looking backwards. It was, somehow,
always only the grand and great and enlightened
powers of the American-allied West who had
any glimpse or feel for the future - Tomorrowland,
cars flying everywhere, one piece clothing with food
pockets in the sleeves, self-transport to wherever one
wished to go, moving sidewalks, levitating stoves and
junk. Complete insensibility to any form of Reality. The
wax museum - old tyrants and dictators spouting crap at
people, while, by contrast, we get a perfectly attired and
nicely done, Abraham Lincoln, calmly talking to the crowd
from a stage-seat and reciting the Gettysburg Address,
or whatever he was mouthing, I forget. Probably had little
black pickaninnies all around swooning at him too. Meanwhile,
on June 24, 1964, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner - civil
rights workers down south - had been killed and their bodies
unceremoniously dumped by troglodyte, ignorant and
murderous rank southerners. Rioting, fire hoses, and
demonstrations, burnings and slayings, everywhere - and
not a word, except for some wretched wax Abraham Lincoln
cooling things down with pre-TV rhetoric. I don't remember,
as I said, any of this with that priest guy. All of a sudden
it was OK to look backwards? This stuff was all corporate crap
anyway - every large American war-power corporation was
shilling for progress, slime-ing up the works with their goofy
kitchens of tomorrow while screwing up, in real-time, the
entire rest of the Monsanto world with their synthetic crops
and fabrics, destroying the texture and fabric of any old culture
they could while at the same time, in this World's Fair quest
for Mammon, playing it cool and inoffensive. It was total
BS, and all these touristy types had fallen for it, big-time.
Sitting around in the outdoor lounges and stuff, sampling foods
and beers, gamboling around, checking out the international
babes and customs from high above on the stupid monorail.
I don't know what the priest guy thought of any of this - Godless
modernism and the rest, except Alex says we went to see the
Pieta - some DaVinci sculpture which (of course) fit in perfectly
with the western-culture modes of worship, sentimentality, and
sadness and sorrow - with pretenses of Vatican high-culture
as well. Except they left all that WWII stuff about Pope Pius XII
shimmying up to Hitler and refusing to harbor Jews, who were
being unceremoniously killed all around him. A real crapfest.
My friend says that all the priest was doing, most of the time, was
reading his breviary - which is like a bible of priest junk they
are duty-bound to read some forty pages of each day - doctrine
and procedure. Inside information for the black-robed wizards.