Sunday, August 13, 2017

9832. RUDIMENTS, pt.41

Making Cars
Getting to somewhere from nowhere,
that's the major premise of whatever
else this chapter brings in. When I was
born  -  the few years later I mean, when
you actually, as a person, begin to recall
things  -  everything had a sudden import.
That's not a good thing, because youth
and growing up are supposed to be fun
and light and carefree. All I ever saw,
by contrast, were anguish and conflict.
It seemed, by parental decree, that that
was the ways things were meant to be.
I was little kid, but all around me were
these dark men and women, shadow-like
and always  -  it seemed  -  in a half-light
of time and expectation. Querulous with
each other; always striving. I don't recall
it, but my father used to tell me how, in
those earliest years, he worked at the
American Can Company factory, welding
barrels or 50-gallon drums or something.
He said it was brutal, fast, hot and steady.
The welding rooms were 100 degrees; he
was constantly sweating, everything was
hot and gruesome. Most the rest of my life,
I'd pass that can company factory numerous
times a month. It was vacant, expansive,
and most of the glass was gone. It stood
abutting the lower ramp of the Pulaski
Skyway, on the right, as you descended
the Skyway to enter waiting-traffic for
the Holland Tunnel. So, yes, I had plenty
of time to see it  -  even if you approach
from the Turnpike instead of the Skyway,
all traffic converges right there. It's an
automatic audience. 50 years later now,
to my time, it's slowly becoming high-loft,
futzy studio condos and you can see the
people inside with all their fancy furnishing
and couches and adornments and even
telescopes and things by the restored
glass as you pass by, or, more likely,
wait. The stunning contamination (yes,
contamination), of time and the world
together have joined to shred any
memory right there that may have
leftover for me of what he spoke about.
The validity of the dead, I believe,
stops at their own exit-door.
I can talk endlessly about this stuff, write
about it anyway, because any conflict or
anger that my father once had is now all
prevalent just as much in me. God knows
I try to overcome, try to be the nicest, most
forthcoming person I can be. To counter
all he's done in that regard in the other
direction. I fought and I struggled and I
refused to be like that  -  perhaps that's the
ultimate Oedipus conflict, except I certainly
never desired my mother. Good God, that
was another boat-load of problems entire.
I never knew, just couldn't, what those
crazy psychologists and such were ever
talking about. I just never knew where
they got their information, and  -  quite
frankly  -  never ever came across a kid
who wanted to wipe out his father so he
could sleep with his mother. It all seemed,
like all these guys were, some sort of
unresolved Jewish problem that they were
trying to foist off on everyone else. No
American kid I ever knew was twisted
up or hankied over their mother like the
Jewish kids I met. Hovering, over-weening
maternal stuff : all those Philip Roth,
Portnoy, Woody Allen type things : too
bad for them, that was Jewish stuff; not
normal. Anyway, for all of them it's been
all good; entire careers have been made, 
and riches too, over the re-telling of 
endless Mommy stories. A short view
gives long morals  -  a long view gives
short morals. Take your pick.
A lot of the anguish of my father  - most 
of which got passed on to me and for the 
same damned reasons, stuck. Poverty, mostly.
Yes, a burden  -  actually, his was more 
understandable because, without much
going on in the skills and education 
department, he really did stick with all
that sweat and hard work and at least took
something away  -  as he used to put it
his 'five little rabbits and nice little house.'
He was always calling us his little rabbits,
but it never worked precisely because mostly
we were never all there together, and also
because, due to a large gap of like twelve
years between the first two ( me and my 
sister), and then three more, quickly in
a row, much younger, it was always more
like two families, not one. And if we were
rabbits, he was the one doing all the rabbit-like
propagating, not us. My mother was involved
here too, but she was usually so far out on the
periphery of these sorts of heavy-handed father
things that they never said much in response.
Hell of a rabbit hutch, if you ask me.
I was saying how his 'burden' was more
understandable than the version of it I had 
to shoulder. Mine was just a form of rank 
stupidity. Every time I got near to doing 
anything right, I'd just chuck the whole 
routine over some ridiculous pique about
something and have to begin all over
somewhere else or doing something 
else in some other sort of way. Entrepreneur 
bullshit aside, that 'ain't' how careers are 
made. I sure had my moments, and my
desperate calls for help to; but no one
ever came to my rescue. By the time the
mid-1980's had rolled around for me, it
was all screwed up. I'd gotten myself
saddled in deep in a regular, real 
professional job, paycheck, advancement,
always working, contacts, accounts, people
to answer to and people who (sort of)
answered to me too. Every so often I'd
just get overwhelmed and begins some
screaming crazy antic that would put
everyone else around e for forty-five feet
off. I hated every minute of every minute.
(Yes, that's ho I wrote it). One time I took
a fit, swore off the job, said I quite, was
never coming back and would never be
heard of again, jumped in my company-use
van and took off. Company van? Oh shit,
wrong vehicle. I drove around a while,
calmed down, drove back in, gave my
usual humble regrets, and (I guessed)
was back to work in idiot-ville.
Until one day, really, I just wasn't. That
day, I forget, I just walked off the job
mid-morning and walked all the way 
home, a six-mile head-clearing trip.
That was that. It was 1991, I think.
I had pretty much had it with everything
of the normal world : commitments, the
other people I had to deal with (money-
grubbing print sales-people and brokers;
people who wanted to live like TV
millionaires but would do nothing really
tangible to advance that except try and
have others do it or them. If you're ever
going to hang a printing broker, make
them bring their own rope; otherwise
they'll try to charge you, on their way
out, for the rope you're about to use.

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