Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Basically, I got by by the skin
of my teeth  -  always. Really,
I never cooperated and never
went along. I lied when I had
to. Other times, I just made
stuff up. Like that Mark Twain
quote I've used here before :
'I remember everything, even
the stuff that didn't happen.'
But what I tell here, honestly,
is real and did occur. To me,
it all went under the heading
of 'sticking to my guns.'
Unfortunately, I do think
that was one trait instilled
in me by my father. He'd say
'Stick to your guns, don't
let anyone make you back
down.' (He forgot to add
-  'even if you do, make
it look like it was your
own doing.' Yeah, yeah.)
It always baffled me;
my father used to tell
me 'When I was a kid,
you know what my
buddies used to call me?'
I, of course, didn't know.
He'd say  - 'Stonewall',
like Stonewall Jackson'.
Huh? That was a new
one on me. I'd heard
of Stonewall Jackson
as a military guy.
I guess he flubbed
up enough by being
bull-headed and
stubborn, to get in
(or out) of a few
grand skirmishes. By
'stonewalling.' I guess
that was the name of
the tactic. But my father
always connected it to
his demeanor while
'playing cards' with
his Bayonne buddies.
Who knew? From the
way he spoke, the
connection was always
beyond my own
comprehension. He
seemed to mean having
a 'stone face', I'd guess,
while holding out playing
his poker hand. If that's
'stonewalling' well then,
yeah. I never liked cards;
had no interest and just
got bored  -  whatever
he meant.
I never really implemented
any of that strategy or tactic
stuff. I just did it, whatever
'it' was. Oftentimes I was
instantly embarrassed by
my own foolishness. In
the very normal sense, I
was not reflective at all,
and thought about nothing
of gain or 'promotion,' as
'getting ahead' was called.
I was a long way off, in
my own world that had
its own references and
meanings. It was all very
difficult and never worth
explaining. I often became
the instant 'outcast.' And
never quite knew why. One
really weird time, one of my
younger cousins decided he
wanted me as his sponsor,
or whatever it is, for his
Confirmation  -  that's a
Catholic rite, a sort of
'coming of age' thing for 
boys. Girls too, I guess.
It's one of those 'mimic'
rites that Catholics go 
through to prove they 
operate in some deep,
dense tradition Its Jewish
equivalent, I suppose,
could be said to be a Bar 
Mitzvah. Both are silly,
primitive and false rites.
Anyway, I didn't wish 
to do it, my parents, and
my aunt (his mother),
pressured me. Anyway,
against my better 
instincts, I got involved.
Driving me to one of the
rehearsals, like the day
before, just my uncle and
myself in the car, (he was
a tough guy type), he 
turned on me. Out of 
the blue. 'What are you 
doing here anyway? 
You don't fit in; how'd 
you get involved. you 
shouldn't be here.' Then
he went about why I wore
sunglasses (to hide behind 
because I couldn't face 
others), how it was a
psychological problem 
I should have treated, how
I should just leave the rest
of them alone. In general,
just a real heel of a speech;
nasty, and disconcerting too.
I really didn't have the nerve
or the gumption to throw
back at him, and didn't
know what to do. I just felt
raw and trapped, yet again.
All that does (did) is add 
to the feelings I already had
about them and their stupid 
society and ways. I didn't
stand up for myself, let him
rattle me, and go on about 
his shit. I didn't ask to be 
there; his own kid had
initiated all this; I went
along, like a jerk, I guess
for peace. My uncle was
most probably right a rain.
I should have just walked
away from the whole 
stinking bunch. But, 
anyway, as it turned 
out, that was it for
me, forever.
So, to continue with my
life I went abstract. I made
sure nothing made sense. I
knew everyone else was 
off-key, off-center. Not 
quite right, and I agreed 
to live with that. New York
became, then, very 
welcoming to me. That's
 just how the place was, it
was made for that. It's how
I am right now, to this day,
but well-developed, at better
at it all. I always felt I had a
gift. That's all I'd call it. It
took a lot of work but I've
reached a happy pinnacle.
Funny, if you can look at
it as such : Just today, I 
went into a chain-coffee-shop,
the kind where the baristas
wear name tags, and this guy
in front of me, serving me, 
had a name tag, in all serious,
that read 'Germz'. He looked
maybe Turkish, Greek, or
Mediterranean maybe, 
somewhere. Can you 
imagine though, running
around with a name tag 
like that? Germz? How
outlandish s that. There's
an absurdest edge to 
everything. That stuff
is all part of the air 
around me now. And
then I run across this 
extremely white-faced 
boy in the earliest of
early morning. Dressed
in stylish black, obviously
worked over, to get 'the look',
but capping it off with the
strangest complexion I'd 
seen in many a year  -  not
albino-white, which is 
more a flesh-yellow 
anyway. He just looked
as if he'd been stuffed in a
pillow case and then stuffed
in a closet for two years too.
Never seeing the sun. Part
of today's trick is that the
very 'fabric' of things  -
as dire as it all really is  -  
has now been given over 
to 'lightness' instead of 
depth. Maybe I should 
have told my uncle that, 
even way back when.

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