Saturday, February 27, 2016

7862. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 176)

(pt. 176)
I've read that the Book of Esther, in the
Bible, is the only book therein that
doesn't mention, doesn't contain the
word 'God.' To be truthful, I've never
checked that out precisely, but it was
always a curious one. In St. Andrew's,
or even in the seminary, as I've here
mentioned previously, the Old Testament
was pretty much ignored  -  it being
considered old-hat set-up for all the
new stuff. It always appeared as
unseemly and wrong to do that; like
ignoring unwisely any of the tradition
by which the rest of your structure is set
up to respond to. None of that ever really
mattered, but it just seemed strange. So
much else of Avenel went by the wayside
when stacking things up against what you
were told. It sort of just left things up in
the air; without definition.
I always liked to find out little tidbits and
think about them. It gave my otherwise
awkward life some form. We otherwise
lived a kind of rough and ragged life in
Avenel  -  I've already mentioned the 
crazy games, the banging around, the 
little fights here and there. As kids, we 
never cared for much as far as limitations 
went. No one ever got carted off to the 
hospital or anything like that. I never 
remember broken bones or stitches or
anything (I'd already had my own fill 
of all that). And then, later on, I found 
out that, in the 'medical' world it was 
considered better that kids got banged 
around and roughed up.  It all seemed 
so perfect, so Avenel-right. Here's what
I'm talking of : 'Children are anti-fragile. 
Bone is anti-fragile. If you treat it gently, 
it will get brittle and break. Bone actually 
needs to get banged around to toughen up. 
And so do children.' That was pretty 
innocuous stuff, but it so well summed 
up what was going on, unwittingly. 
Avenel was cutting edge!
One of my favorite things used to be the 
Bayway Circle, up past Linden, on Route 
One, entering the area of Elizabeth. My 
father, in doing his basement upholstery 
side-jobs, often had people from up that 
way as customers. I'd often go with
him, drafted, as it were, to lift and haul, 
to pick up or drop off furniture -   the 
usual chairs, couches, etc., using his 
'60 Chevy station wagon, seats down 
in the rear, and the rear flaps left open, 
with some furniture concoction usually 
sticking out and being roped in for the 
ride. It was far-off stuff for me, and 
exotic. Riding up Rt. One was like 
going on a major trek, and then taking 
the Bayway Circle, and using it to get 
halfway around again for whatever that 
other road is heading west, was always 
cool. I used to pretend there was, sticking 
out from my hands, holding it, an 
enormous sword that was just chopping 
everything down, cutting everything 
we passed  -  telephones poles, trees, 
houses  -  into half-height of what it 
was. Very weird now, in retrospect, 
but that's the image I traveled with. If 
I were to get heavy into trying to 
psychoanalyse  that, I'd probably 
just have to stop short, at 'psycho.' 
There was a time after this when I 
used my bicycle, on a Saturday I recall, 
to ride up to the very Bayway Circle 
I'm speaking of here. I made it, barely. 
It was pretty treacherous, in that most 
of the way there wasn't really a place 
for the bicycle on Route One, obviously, 
and the cars and trucks whizzing by 
seemed to just treat me as if I was in 
the way. (And I didn't have my sword 
with me that day). Once I got back home, 
my friend Robert Shipley, upon hearing 
of what I'd done that morning, just shook 
his 2-years-older-than-me head and said, 
'You're brave!' incredulously, as if I'd just 
stuck my head into the mouth of a lion or 
something. Hey, bones are meant to be
broken, or whatever that quote was.
I never thought straight. I never did anything 
too straight. My life was just always an oddly
erratic end run around things. I made things 
up often enough so they'd grant me a better 
solution. Like in Chemistry class or something, 
if you totally controlled the experiment, you'd 
then also have total control over the outcome.
And, in addition, you could come off like a
crazed genius of sorts to others by actually
'predicting' the outcome of the experiment 
and being found right! It was all bogus, but it
seemed no one ever detected that. Baffling!
Of course you can predict the result successfully
if you select craftily, and stack the deck rightly, 
for all the matter along the way. How 
fundamental is all that? It's relatively easy.
All those other people devising formulas,
measuring capacities and times, pondering 
the Periodic Table of the Elements for the 
sake of the rightness. Pshaw! Just do it. 
(Nike owes me money?).
'Which brings me back to Esther. There's no
mention of God in Esther? Why would that be?
Probably a mistake. Probably an omission.
You could never think it was on purpose, or
serving some other agenda. It's just a proper 
place for the same sort of twist on the simple
name of fate or place or being. Like me, here, 
waiting for a train at the Avenel station.'
That's the sort of abstract stuff that twists around
in my mind all day  -  doing the littlest and the 
simplest local tasks. I used to think I was in the
first quarter of my life  -  that was all Avenel.
Then I fled it, for the first half, and then the first
three-quarters, and that had really little to do
with Avenel. Now I find it pleasant, and reachable
to all else  -  that's all I really need now. In
the fourth quarter of my life. Yeah, right,
if I'm gonna live to be a hundred.

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