The Voices

I’m not crazy.  You have them too, these voices.  You know the ones.  They give you conflicting depictions of the world, tell you to do things you’re not sure you should, and generally wage an all out shouting match inside your head.  It can be deafening, surely, but listening is often a form of entertainment and an interesting way to learn about yourself, to play armchair pshychologist with yourself as the subject, to voyeuristically watch yourself scampering on the wood chips in your hamster cage.  Certainly hearing these little voices in your head is an exercise in self-analysis.

Like the voice inside your head that you hear when you’re driving on the highway.  Your eyes roam, scanning the horizon, as you remember the in class lessons of your adamantly Indian driving instructor.  You look at various road signs for fractions of a second at a time: speed limit 65, Reno 248, beware of horny toads hypnotizing at bachelor parties.  You’re not sure about that last one and rouse yourself awake with a jerk, but then your gaze settles on your hands, which are firmly gripping the steering wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.  Then the voice:  “Psst,” it whispers loudly. “Hey, you realize you’re only 2 inches from a certain demise, don’t you?  Turn the wheel by 0.4 radians counterclockwise for 3.7 seconds and you will plow into oncoming traffic, hitting that eighteen wheeler with its load of unwanted VHS cassettes head-on if you’re lucky .  Turn the wheel clockwise and you’ll plummet to your death into the San Leandro valley.  There probably won’t be a big fireball like in the movies, but I’m sure it’ll be quite spectacular nonetheless.  I’m not saying your should do it or anything, I’m just making an observation.”  At this point, the voice has gained some confidence and is speaking loudly. “I mean, you don’t want to do it, do you?”  This is stated very matter-of-factly, like a spinster librarian questioning your choices, and therefor your taste in books (and your life in general), at the checkout line.  The question echoes in your head, the word want repeating itself until it starts to lose meaning.  Want want want want want. You hate this particular voice, so you turn on the radio, but Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb comes on, further fueling these demented suicidal thoughts.  You do the only thing you can and start to whistle circus theme music overly gaily until you disgust yourself with the gayness and forget about the prospect of certain vehicular death.

There are less morbid voices too – the ones that keep you in check, that keep you dull and normal.  In the express checkout line at the grocery store, 3 people back from the register, you notice the cute cashier with the pierced eyebrows and the tattoo of bacon running slightly above, and parallel to, her collarbone.  You can’t help but be turned on because you are simultaneously seeing bacon and cleavage, your two favorite things in life, in your line of sight.  You start thinking about things you can ask her.  You want to ask her if she has eggs, sunny side up, tattooed on her tits.  You feel like there’s a joke involving scrambling eggs associated with that comment, but can’t quite come up with it.  Or better yet, you want to inform her that her Grand Slam comes with a side order of sausage and slyly smile at her.  Then the voice:  “Come on man.  Don’t be a douche.  She’s probably very insecure about the bacon tattooed to her skin, you probably shouldn’t say anything about it, let alone make a Denny’s joke,”  Like it’s some sort of birth defect over which she has no control and not, in fact, a drawing she chose to permanently imprint on her body.  The voice spoils your train of thought, so you settle on something inconspicuous.  You will ask her if she’s had a busy night.  The the voice again: “Really?  You’re going to ask her if she’s had a busy night?  Like, I know you want to come off as the interested and caring guy at the cash register on a Friday night with his half-off whole roasted chicken and his bottle of Jim Beam that he cradles like a babe, but of course she’s busy.  She is exactly as busy as any other girl working the express checkout line at any Safeway store along the west coast.  Just let it go, she won’t like you. You’re ugly.  You smell funny.  You have that one tooth that sticks out in the wrong direction, so don’t even smile.”  You end up not saying anything to the cute punky chick.  Still, you are secretly thrilled when she tries to pronounce your last name, Mr. Sea, um, Monde.   You get all excited  when people (particularly girls) pronounce your name like they think that it is exotic when, really, it’s not.

The real problem arises when you haven’t seen anyone for a while, when you’re sitting at home with no one to talk to, when lack of human interaction gives the voices free reign over your head and they start having conference calls with their eses in Mexico.  Soon enough they start brainstorming ideas, hatching diabolic plots, hypothesizing on what your life would be like if you had been a variety of farm animals instead of the human you are.  “Well, I’ll tell you this much,” says the gossipy aunt voice, “if he had been horse they would have turned him into glue long ago, instead of bothering with all this fancy leg surgery stuff.  Can’t run? Can’t fuck?  On to the glue factory with you.  Mmhmmm.”  You count your blessings that you are a human being, then immediately feel bad for all those poor, unfortunate racehorses who break their legs and can’t even be put out to stud.  Then the Jewish rabbi chimes in, “Weeell, I guess he could still be a Jew if he were a pig, as long as he didn’t eat himself or any of his pen-pals.  The pig is a dirty animal.  I guess that would make him a dirty Jew?”  Immediately a picture of a tiny piglet dressed as a tiny Hasidic Jew pops into your head, complete with side burns, black wide-brimmed hat and serious black frock, and you can’t help but laugh.  Your voices can be pretty fucking funny at times, but they are also awfully overwhelming.

You want to keep moving, fast, to keep the voices fading in and out, incoherent and babbling.  But the longer you run the more voices will gather, wielding torches and pitchforks at the gates of your mind, waiting patiently but demanding attention eventually.  They will not be denied.  Hear them. What do you have to lose, other than your sanity?


3 thoughts on “The Voices

  1. I’ve always said (in reference to myself), that obsession breeds art. I will now add that honesty breeds entertainment. Thank you for sharing.

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