Wednesday, January 20, 2016

7710. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt.138)

(pt. 138)
Every so often I'd learn a few things, just
from obvious observation : sometimes it's
better to just leave things be and not disturb
a current situation; it's often advantageous to
take, and complete beforehand, each and every
preparation for an upcoming and expected project
or problem. Getting broadsided, because of sloppiness
or apathy, sucks; it doesn't hurt anything to be as nice
as you can be, to others, and to yourself too. Those
became the sort of things, a kind of Poor Richard's
Ben Franklin Almanac kind of junk, that were more
important to me than the usual pandering you'd read
in 'tips for success.' You know, stuff like having your
shoes always shined, wearing a neat and proper tie,
crease in your pants, coordinated look, not speaking
tawdry or out of turn to superiors or those who'd be
hiring you.  Yes, that's all OK, and obvious, but not
worth the skin on a groundhog. It's just meaningless,
a support mechanism by some jerk who's expecting
you to feel good by having him telling you things you
already know. I always steered clear of all that.
Which wasn't always easy once I was set in back at
home. My father's most dense reading matter always
seemed to be Parade magazine, some schlubb of a
rag stuffed inside the Star Ledger every Sunday. 
What an insidious bunch of crap  -  filled with the
sort of tidbits I just mentioned. Movie-stars, TV junk,
totally lame articles and off-the-wall stuff boosting
both America and the present culture  -  they called 
it that  -  which they claimed was around us everywhere.
A total bunch of fecund bullshit, written for nothing more
than to continue the regime that already had scrunched
people like my father and mother underfoot long ago.
You certainly didn't want this stiff to grow; you wanted
it to die. Well, it didn't. That was my father's complete
intellectual input, weekly. I went nuts every time I saw
or heard it referenced or talked about, as 'authoritative'
stuff no less. They'd run bastard articles about Generals
Giap, Khan, Theiu, and Ky, complete fucking American 
puppets and rulers of Vietnam, real scums, for whom 
they expected American boys  -  yeah, like me  -  to run 
after and die for. They'd extol the Kennedy's, and their 
kids, and Marilyn Monroe, never telling you they were 
screwing each other. All lies and misleading crap  -  every 
word. With your Sunday eggs and toast no less. Stupid 
ass comic strips too : Hatlow's Family Circus, Beetle 
Bailey, Dick Tracy, Sir Lancelot, all went 
on and on. These comics were used an information 
interdicts to put go-along messages in dumb American 
heads. It was so obvious to me I wanted to cut its nose 
off. You simply can't convince people of their wrongness
when they're convinced of their rightness. It all went 
together back then, and probably still does. Yes, I admit  - 
and I saw it all coming  -  that it blew up in all their faces
in a few years, the entire, rickety mess, crumbling about.
Dead people, bodies everywhere, riotous kids, hippie louts,
runaways, whores, hookers, and drones  -  all the young
people who used to be the children of people just like my
parents. A complete, ass-sucking basket-load of perverts.
Culture-chasers. Fake culture-chasers. Wouldn't know a
Bach from a Cock, but could mouth all the words to
'C'mon Baby Light My Fire' as if it were Holy Fucking
Grail. I knew that  -  at least in the seminary  -  I hadn't
been subjected to that level of intellectual graft and
corruption. There was still some idle dignity left, and 
it was given to us. I was sure glad of that. A person first
has to learn some discernment and breeding and grace in
order then to get around things and start making real noise;
good, genial, correct intellectual noise. I knew these jerks
around me, these new high-school skanks singing Beatle
tunes and exploring their girlfriend's bodies to songs by
Jagger and Richards, didn't have a blind-man's clue about 
anything except the next night's TV schedule. You can't
go around making histrionic noises about changing
society and demanding new things if you've got absolutely
nothing wise, real, or backed by a legacy of something, in
your head. Everybody all of a sudden wanted to be Elvis.
They turned out to be, instead Englebert Humperdinck.
False, weird, name-stealing geeks.
I was home home again, home again, bippity-boo, or however
that thing went. I used to hate, as well, as those old adages and
nursery-kid sayings, like that one. There are actually adults
who'd go around using them. My mother was always singing 
crazy dumb ditties like that. 'Froggie Went a'Courtin', 'When 
I'm Calling You', etc. Never a clue. Maybe I was missing a
fun gene or something. Back when I was still in the seminary,
there were a few times when, instead of having my father or
my family drive me back to Blackwood -  a big noisy hassle
actually  - I'd take a bus from New Brunswick. What was cool
about it was how the seminary, like after Thanksgiving, or 
Christmas, those two anyway (days we actually got off for 
a day or two and were allowed 'home' if it was doable), they'd
charter a bus, have it parked behind the old taxi stand in New
Brunswick (under the overpass behind the train station  -  this
was the old New Brunswick, when it still had real rows of
stores and pizza joints and little eateries and retail junk. It's all
gone now, Johnson and Johnson having come in in the late
70's and wiped their ass with the whole town, tearing down 80%
of the old downtown to leave a putrid, white-towered, sterile,
office mess that's somehow still there). Anybody within rocket
distance of New Brunswick and headed back to Blackwood  -  at
most there could have maybe 30 kids, from varied places  within
30 miles could take advantage of this bus, though few actually
did. I always rode a fairly empty bus alone, unbothered), could
ride along. My father, after some cursory goodbye-agains to
my siblings and mother, would jump in the car, with me, and
a few times my Uncle Joe too, and drive me to New Brunswick. 
They start talking about New Brunswick and stuff and then they'd
always get around to asking me weird questions. My father always
got different when his brother was around  -  more talkative, hokey,
inquisitive. To be honest, mostly I think they always wanted to
know what we kids did for kicks, with all those priest guys around.
I figured they were more interested in who whacked off with whom
than anything else, but I never had really anything to report. They 
thought it was a big joke, and my uncle, and then father, would make
sure, before I left, that I knew what a waste of a life they thought 
I was entering into. I knew damn well that, to them, that just 
meant no women, no girls, no loving, no kids. I hated that, and I
could never understand how stupid grown men could stoop to
messing around with ideas like that. They missed the entire point
of my eradicating their shit from my life, to put it bluntly, and they
just continued to go on about it all. Yeah, bye, see ya next time,
maybe Easter, maybe in the Summer.
I'd get on that bus, in the half-dark, and everything would
suddenly feel all right once more. I was alone. I was singular 
again, by myself, tending my own domain. I didn't have to 
hear any cockamamie crap from people who read comics and 
pulp. I could rule, free, intellectually, and conceptually. The 
bus would grind off  -  I loved the noise, the feel, the travel. 
The smokey gray little city of New Brunswick would go 
swaggering by, and we were off to the NJ Turnpike, for one 
big smooth ride. Tiny light on above my head, if I was to read
or whatever, on the Turnpike, and we'd go on down to exit 3
or whatever it was. Once we got off the Turnpike, again that's 
where love and happiness of the real world began. One after 
the other, we'd pass these tiny little podunk South Jersey towns,
decorative lights, pharmacies, police stations, Dairy Queens 
and diners. Everything in a row, lonesome, quiet. Somehow
serene, but you knew not too  -  in any of those homes could
be some guy beating up his spouse, or a kid punching his
mother, people hungry and poor, or fat and sedated. Sex on
the couch, or sad crying upstairs, alone in a room somewhere.
All I ever got was the warm creeps, good creeps, but creeps
nonetheless. Not knowing anything, I'd always assume the 
worst. At least the roads were clean and smooth, and the
lights worked  -  for the rest, I just did not know. Like an
immigrant, my understanding stopped at the water's edge.
My uncle and my father notwithstanding, (true confessions 
time), on any given street corner I was looking, looking out
that bus window, just as much for Wisdom and Understanding 
as I was for the most beautiful, singular, all-mine, girl in the
world. I would have jumped right off that bus, right through
the glass, if that's what it took, to get her. Everything about me
was ripe for love and ripe for the picking. Looking back at it
all now, it's so difficult to understand my predicament. 
Cloistered like a seasoning ham in a smokehouse, in some
lame-ass seminary on a long sandy bullshit road, waiting hand
and foot on every crank-twisted religious fantasy that was
handed to me to believe in, I was a lost soul. Let me repeat
that : a lost soul  -  in the middle of all that Godhead and
Godhood too. A lost soul, pining for something that
even then didn't yet exist for me. A true, new world, just 
around the bend  -  a Magellan bend of blood and water
and ice and fire, that my leaky ship had yet to endure.

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