Overcompensation

People overcompensate for their own shortcomings. This is a known fact. Sometimes this action manifests as a result of a latent, repressed desire with which a person is uncomfortable. Let’s explore a few these, shall we?

What if rappers are secretly raging homosexuals? There is a common theme in that particular genre of music whereby artists will denigrate one another with with slurs, proclaiming “suck my dick, faggot” or “I’m gonna fuck you ’til you love me, bitch.” Maybe, just maybe, this is because, well, this is precisely what they’d like to do. What if, when Method Man threatens to stick a hot coat hanger in your anus, he is really expressing his desire for you to put something else in his? What if gangbangs are simply an excuse for a large group of men to whip out their dicks and jerk off together? What if the girl is there only symbolically? What if she’s not even really participating, sitting in the corner, feeling bored, playing Candy Crush Saga on her phone, while testosterone-laden men stroke their penises with one hand and give high gives with the other? What if their hands linger for an unacknowledged second too long when they touch one another? I don’t know. I’m just throwing it out there.

What if people who are obsessed with love — romantic movies, heart-felt ballads, odes, even the word “love” — what if these people are actually horrible sociopaths. What if they have never felt true affection for another human being even once their lives? What if they are so unware of that particular emotion that they are forced to take all their cues from pop culture, from The Little Mermaid, from the well-publicized relationship between Chris Brown and Rihanna? That’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? Maybe they secretely hate everyone or, worse, are compeltely indifferent. What if they are simply actors playing, poorly, the roles of love-struck idiots? What if I’m a love-struck idiot? Naaaah…

What if anarchists are secretly OCD? What if they try to hide their compulsion to arrange boxes in neat rows by donning Doc Martens and smashing plate glass windows? It’s possible that they are only doing this because particular local businesses do not adhere to their understanding of esthetics and they are simply destroying these abominations of form and order, in the hope that they will be replaced with more neat rows of conforming edifices? Even political anarchists, what if they are fed-up with the disorder and unpredictability of the democratic system? What if they truly pine for a benevolent despot, a Sadam Hussein or a Pol Pot or a wise-whiskered Joseph Stalin to swoop in and bring brutal order to the masses? Not entirely unlikely, I say…

Just food for thought, you guys.

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My New Boots, Part Duh

Remember those boots I had? They were great. I could do anything in them. But their lives were short, not unlike a shooting star streaking across the sky for one brief, wonderous moment. Or a child star streaking across the red carpet in a drug-induced teenage moment of attention-driven rebelliousness and / or perversion. Or a house fly, which only lives for 15 to 30 days, eating shit and procreating at an exciting pace.

At any rate, those boots are gone. They helped me accomplish all of the wonderful things I had previously outlined, and promptly committed suicide by seppuku — synchronized knives thrust through their soles. I laid them to rest with a nondescript black flag draped over them in a local boot-cemetary that doubles as a hobo’s bargain basement. “Taps” played in the background, emanating from nowhere in particular. It was a solemn and dramatic moment. I cried.

But I have new boots now. They are magical. They will last forever. They are American-made, like all great things (see: Paul Newman, chia pets, and economic inequality). Their leather is soft and thick and brown, like the skin of a newborn Malaysian girl. Like the Malaysian girl, they will grow tougher and more beautiful with age, reaching complete indestructibility and incomprehensible beauty at the age of seven. I hope only that I am worthy of donning them.

There is a plot line in many movies and TV shows whereby a protagonist is given the gift of a pair of shoes that endow upon them magical qualities. The character, usually a small down-trodden child — a soot-smeared orphan, if at all possible — goes on to win dance competitions, orate eloquently at debates, run faster than is humanly possible. In the end, it is always revealed that the boots were merely placebos! All the child needed to do was believe in themselves, for the boots never actually helped them. It was them all along! Well, let me dispel that notion with regards to my new boots. It is the boots. I act only as the boots’ trustee. They act of their own accord and in magnificent fashion.

Speaking of fashion, these boots can make the most garish of outfits seem like the newest trend from Milan (that’s where fashion comes from, right? New York? Sheboygan?). I could don a sewage-coloured muumuu, a pair of pink heart-shaped glasses and a pea soup green vinyl belt with a penis-shaped rusted belt buckle, and I would be a trend-setting maverick as long as my new boots adorned my feet. It is generally a bald-faced lie that shoes make the man, but these boots in particular could make Elijah Wood look like a tough, masculine, post-apocalyptic, chain-swinging, hog-riding, mohawk-topped badass. Too bad the boots are mine. Suck my balls Elijah. You are forever relegated to the femininity engendered by your weak cheekbones and baby blue eyes that are always on the verge of sputtering with tears. Deal with it.

These boots could kick anything through. When I’m wearing them (I always wear them), I kick things with impunity. Bank vaults, shot puts, pregnant women — nothing is safe from the kicks of my new kicks. I could stamp out World Hunger with a swift stomp of my new boots. A single thunderous smack of the ground with my dense rubber heel would shake the Earth so completely that minerals would churn up from subterranean layers, soil across the planet would turn to the purest form of mulch. Sheep, cows, and other beasts of burden would shit themselves, further feeding the surface, leaving it lush and nutrient-rich. Trees everywhere would jolt up out of the ground, their roots spreading and grasping at the ground lest they lose their grip. Of course I wouldn’t do this. But I could.

Verily, these boots don’t abide by the laws of physics. They can, and often do, travel faster than the speed of light, which enables them to go back in time and smack Einstein right in his mustache before darting off to kill Hitler and bang Eva Braun with extreme prejudice (no pun). Not only can my new boots travel faster than the speed of light, but they can make light itself travel slower. In fact, photons, shot out of the sun and other stars, reach my new boots and, attracted by their radiant brilliance, set up shop for a few hours and have a picnic on my boots’ smooth leather surface, munching on quarks and the occasional Higgs Boson. They invite their friends over and do tequila shots until I shake them and they shoot off in all directions. It’s quite a thing to behold.

When I’m wearing these boots, not unlike my old boots (God rest their soles), I think I can do anything. I think I can beat Joey Chestnut at a hotdog eating competition simply by ingesting his diminutive Japanese adversary, Takeru Kobayashi, and a couple of extra Polish sausages for good measure with, of course, a kegerator full of thick, stout beer. I think I can have a heated argument with a black person about slavery without sounding like a complete racist. I think I can stealthily replace America’s supply of gold bullion at Fort Knox with gelt, giving out the real gold at Hannukah to small Jewish children, who will try to eat it with their tender baby teeth, much (munch) to my amusement.

I think I can do anything in these boots. I think I can read Moby Dick without being bored by the excessively encyclopedic chapters on fish and sea mammals. I think I can convince Guenevere that King Arthur was actually kind of a pansy and that truly heroic knights can only be found at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. I think I can make her burn with jealousy for an eight year-old child arbitrarily chosen to be the princess at one such dinner. I think I can change the global meaning of the term “twerk” to mean “work twice as hard”. I think I can probably twerk myself. Though I wouldn’t do that. I never have to work again.

… now that I have these new boots.

In sane

I often marvel at the tenuous
Thread that is sanity,
When we trudge through a strenuous
Existence like a gasping manatee
Slipping through a toxic sludge.

Oh this cursed state of self-aware
That has us asking
What? How? Why? Where?
And leaves us masking
Our ignorance with petty deeds.

As if the rain outside
Or the comforts of our friends
Are anything but besides
The point, meaningless trends,
For which no truths ring.

And so I remain, seeking bliss,
Blindness in dark rooms,
Though even this
Cannot quiet the pervasive boom,
Of mindfulness.

In dreams, though, we live;
We roam through kingdoms, through fabled lands,
We are overlords, we can demand: “Give!”
“Place the purpose in my outstretched hands!”
And they do.

In dreams, we are the wolf and we are the hare,
We are the predator and the prey;
We are the strands that connect everything, everywhere,
We are the brisk wind that whisks doubts away.
We are, indeed, the metaphor.

In dreams, we are unintelligible, amorphous,
Our hands blur before our eyes
While we grasp at blades of grass, themselves porous,
And yet, despite this, we surmise
Far more than we do in waking lands.

In dreams we are given a shake,
A nudge, our eyes are someplace drawn
And perhaps we know which route to take,
But we drop into the precipice of dawn,
Awake, and resume our trudge.

It always slips,
Our grip, it slips.
What remains are questions,
Like bastions
Of doubt.

drab

I’m not entirely sure why, but everything’s been so drab, lately.

The neighbours are drab. Once they all seemed young, energetic, and colourful.  They wore knitted sweaters with ironic graphics, They rode bicycles with flashing lights on the spokes, lounged in sunny yards, played Sublime loudly over the din of their laughter.  They drank mimosas and told hilarious stories of random encounters with homeless people.  Now, though, they *are* homeless people.  They trudge about with swollen ankles rolling out over their ragged tube socks. They push carts whose contents are unidentifiable and mutter obscenities to themselves. “Curb stomp that nigga”, you might hear them say. The neighbors are drab.

The cars parked on my street are drab.  Once, their candy red paint jobs shimmered in the sun. Rims shone with such intensity that one had to squint and turn away.  Shirtless men with hoses and buckets of soap stood bantering on the street and lazily wiping the hoods of their tiny red sports cars. Large black Escalades meandered down the streets, stopping occasionally to allow the drivers to holler at some fine-assed chola.  Parking enforcement was never to be found; cars were parked haphazardly in various alluring configurations: perpendicular, parallel, diagonal. Wheels were turned away from the curb. It was a veritable sales poster of vehicles.  Now, rust and tarnish have replaced the candy red paint jobs with maelstroms of vomit colouring. Groups of day labourers poke and prod under the hoods of sputtering pickup trucks in futile attempts to revive them. The street is strewn with discarded parking tickets – appropriately street cleaning parking tickets – like mounds of misshapen confetti. Meter maids with suspicious expression have replaced the meandering Escalades. The cars parked on my street are drab.

The shops in my neighbourhood are drab.  Once, they offered an eclectic array of products. From tiny purple trinkets to vegan cookbooks to locally-designed women’s jewelry to artisan espresso, everything could be found in these shops. The walls outside were always magnificently decorated – either with bright, Aztec murals portraying fertility and child-birth or with wood-and-brushed-steel elegance.  Now, shops only seem to sell unmarked boxes of Saran wrap and a strange collection of unwanted vegetables: rutabagas, brussel sprouts, and cabbages. Or else they are boarded up and covered in grafiti proclaiming CHEEZ as the king of this clearly unwanted locale. Stalls selling trinkets have been replaced with homeless men peddling stolen Sony Walkmen from their oversized trenchcoats. “4.50 for the lot”, you might hear them say.  The shops in my neighbourhood are drab.

Or maybe nothing has changed, but this emotional numbness has drained the colour from my surroundings.

Dumb things to do while high on mushrooms

I think I’m high at all times, because these ideas often materialize.  Perhaps oblivion is my natural state of mind.  Could be worse.  I could be, you know, aware, or something.  Anyway:

  1. Walk in to a restaurant with an OPEN sign hanging on the door.  Quietly eat your meal, pay for it (tipping well), and try to leave the restaurant. Observe that, from the inside, the OPEN sign actually says CLOSED.  Assume that this means that the outside world is currently closed for business.  Panic.
  2. Get in your car and drive. Granted, this might be difficult in your current state of mind, but do it anyway.  Push through the paranoia. Drive around for a while, until you hit a STOP sign.  Wait for the sign to change to GO.  Forever.  Or until the drugs wear off.
  3. Sit down in front of your TV. Start hitting the POWER button, assuming that this will cause the TV to become more powerful with each subsequent press of the button.  Become extremely disappointed when the TV doesn’t go Super Saiyan.
  4. Grab a cigarette.  Put it in your mouth, backwards.  Wait for the universe to take a drag.  Burn the inside of your mouth horribly.
  5. Eat a burrito, with a fork and knife.  Cry uncontrollably when its guts spill out onto your plate.  Rub the carne asada gingerly against your face, sobbing, and repeating the words “I’m so sorry.  I didn’t mean for it to end this way!”  Be confused when you are escorted off the premises by a burly Mexican man who is muttering the words “gringo loco.”
  6. Find a chair.  Tell it to get a job.
  7. Go to a zoo. Join a guided tour. At the lion exhibit, ask the tour guide if the lion is the least trustworthy of animals.  When she laughs at your horrible pun, jump into the animal enclosure and point an accusatory finger in a lion’s face, yelling “How can I ever trust you?!” Wake up in the hospital with missing limbs.
  8. Play the board game “Operation.” You should do this with friends.  Attempt to remove the plastic organs from the body with your tongue.  Continue doing this until your friends become uncomfortable.
  9. Attend a slam poetry performance.  Sit in a folding chair.  When a performer approaches you, slowly stand up, fold the chair, and slam his face with it.
  10. Find a dog.  Begin to flip him around.  Become frustrated when nothing happens.  When someone asks you what the hell you are doing, respond “I’m trying to find God.  Dog backwards is God.”  Repeat with a sausage, explaining that sausage backwards is Jesus.

I do not condone any of the above behaviour.  Unless you film it and place it on Youtube, which absolves you of any judgement.

I suck at poetry

#escapism

I often ask myself whether ’tis better to dwell
In that mystical half-world of imagination,
Where dreams swirl and rise like a great swell
Of the sea, or to give oneself in resignation
To a cold, harsh reality.

For I close my eyes and see a jaunty figure,
Laughing in delight in a mystical garden.
Where nymphs and fairies flit about, and men no bigger
Than thimbles scurry, shrieking, “Pardon
Me, sir, I am in a hurry!”

Lush, enchanted forests echo with the sounds
Of desperate lovers proclaiming vows
And shepards reposing on great mounds
Of earth eye their ample-girthed sows
As they amble beside them.

And overhead fly great creatures,
Dragons, maybe, with thick brown scales,
While old men with thick beards and ragged features,
Squat by a blazing fire, whispering tales
Of knights and friars.

Black plumes of smoke rise in the distance.
While vast armies of fantastic creatures sharpen
Their blades, their captains shouting with persistence
To always be brave, and true, and to hearken
The call of Hades, should they fall.

And there is a desert, too, cold and dry,
Where dying camels stumble; they are disgraces
To their charges who trudge beside them and squint and cry
And pull their shawls tightly around their faces
And they, too, will fall.

And our figure looks upon all this,
Over this dream landscape, curiously
Pinching himself as if something was amiss,
For you see, the figure is me,
And I must return to my reality.

circumspection

What’s the big deal with foreskins? Why are so many people obsessed with removing them from the undeveloped organs of young children? Why are so many other people so concerned with preserving them on the undeveloped organs of young children? In short, why all the ruckus? Yes, I’ve heard the argument for health. Yes, I’m aware that some vague and widely referred-to studies show that there is a nominal advantage to circumcision, that it prevents AIDS and other STD’s, that it is cleaner and less prone to skin disease, etc. I don’t care. To put it simply, I think it’s perverse that an entire society cares about what happens to that little arguably extraneous flap of skin of the tip of my penis, before I even know what a penis is, let alone a foreskin. I think everyone should just lay off the –

Sorry kind reader, I don’t mean to snap (snip?) at you. I think I’m upset. Let me explain to you why I am upset.

It was 1990. I wasn’t old enough to know this at the time but The New Kids On The Block were getting ready to release their album Step By Step. Even though it would sell a lot of albums, it would not be well received by critics. I didn’t care. I didn’t know music. I didn’t read newspapers. I didn’t even speak English, apart from that one phrase I heard my father utter once or twice: “sunofabitch.” I was just an almost-five-year-old immigrant Russian boy eating my mother’s reesavaya kasha, sitting atop a phone book and dangling my feet gaily.

The grown-ups knew. There were signs. The men kept yelling merrily at each other, laughing, raising their eyebrows and lifting mock shot glasses of vodka in my direction. The women spoke to each other in muted tones, my mother occasionally shooting worried glances in my direction. Meanwhile, I sat and dangled my feet like the little fucking idiot that I was. I was oblivious; if I had known how to whistle at the time, I probably would have whistled. It was in this state of reckless bliss that my father stomped toward me, thrust his giant leathery hands under my armpits, bumped me against a nearby crossbeam, and placed me on this shoulders. He might have said something like, “Opa – maybe I drink too much. Yan, you drive!”

Being a small child, I loved drives. I loved piling in next to my father in circa-1980 Oldsmobile holding on to the red plush bench seating for what dear little life I had. Seat belts? Never. Adventure was the name of the game. Drives were play time. But not on this day. This day, I was ushered with prods into the waiting arms of my mother in the back seat of the car. A large pile of ragged Soviet towels sat next to my mother on the seat. In the drivers seat sat my uncle Yan, with my tipsy father sitting shotgun. This unfamiliar configuration upset me and I cried out. My mother held me, stroked my little blond curls, and whispered “shhhh” into my ear. She kissed me lightly on the temple now and then. If I had been anything but a stupid immigrant child, I would have recognized this as the classic pattern of behaviour surrounding a sick pet being put out of its misery. But alas, I missed the signs.

We arrived at the hospital. White lab coats and green nurses’ scrubs filled my vision. Then one of the lab coats spoke. He said something in English, but I couldn’t make out what it was behind his operating mask. He kept making snipping signs with his hand. I must have looked confused, because he pulled down his surgical mask so that he could be heard better. As he did, I noticed the pencil mustache teetering along the bottom of his giant upper lip. If I knew then what I know now, I would immediately have identified the doctor as what he was – a child molester. The child molester pointed to his chest and said in his best Russian accent something that sounded like “Teeber Juda” It took me a moment or two to realize that this was his name.

We were walking down the crowded hospital hallway, my mom holding my hand while the Doktor and my father strolled ahead of us, seemingly talking shop. “I have Ph. D.,” he probably said, “it is kind of doctor, yes?” My mom, meanwhile, was making up a silly song to distract me. Teeber Juda! On syel chetyri blyuda!, she kept repeating in her motherly falsetto. This roughly translates to Teeber Juda! He ate four dishes! Normally, my mother’s irreverent silliness was comforting. But today I was scattered and overstimulated. Wait, what? I thought. Why? Why is he eating four dishes? And four dishes of what? Is it, like, a four-course meal? Appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert? Or was he eating the actually dishes? How did he do that? What was going on here?!

This was not a productive train of thought. I couldn’t think with all these bright lights. I was in the gurney. My small body was held down by a mountain of rough heated blankets and the casual hands of a large Jamaican lady, presumably (and hopefully) the nurse. I looked around the room. No one seemed to be paying attention to me. Everyone was busy tinkering with this valve and adjusting that reading. The nurse made a tsk-ing sound at a passing coworker, laughed, then yelled something about “disjuboi”. Then the Doktor filled my vision. (Teeber Juda! On syel chetyri blyuda! Teeber Juda! On syel chetyri blyuda!) He signaled that he was going to go to sleep. I was confused (why was a grown-up asking me for permission to nap?), but I was pretty okay with it. I was so okay with it, in fact, that I would to take a nap myself. With all these people around me working and joking, I decided that I was tired and wanted to sleep. So I did.

I woke up to something amiss. The enormous stack of blankets still pressed me down to the bed. The lights were still too bright. The large Jamaican lady smiled at me from nowhere in particular and hummed some happy tropical tune. My parents and uncle were no longer in the room, but I could hear the umistakable din of Russian conversion in the hall – a sound like the crackling of birchwood in an old rusty samovar. The situation had largely not changed, except that I could not feel my crotch. The area between my knees and my hips was a dead-zone, the unlikely site of some tiny nuclear war. My crotch now suffered from post-apocalyptic nuclear winter. I tried to poke myself through the blanket, but felt nothing. Naturally, I understood that they had removed my penis. This was okay. I had never really known what it was for, anyway – just this dangling piece of flesh where my weewee came out. Or, that’s where it used to come out, I thought.

I continued absentmindedly punching the area where my thing used to be until the nurse grabbed my hand and cuffed my ear. “Dontchabedoinat”, she said. My parents walked in. My father grinned and tussled my hair. He kissed me on the forehead, muttering something about being a Jewish boychik, and handed me a small golden star. I held it in my hand, turning it and examining it from various angles. I licked it tentatively, at which point it was taken away from me. My mother made small grunting noises. I was then wheeled into a private room. The afternoon sun shone in through the teal shutters and made vertical stripes along my bed. I swatted at them. This was nice; this was quite, peaceful. A cat or a raccoon plodded along the windowsill and stopped briefly to look at me. It nodded approvingly and dashed away.

Then Dr. Teeber Juda marched in. He presented my father with a clipboard, which he signed, and proceeded to point at a particular spot on the clipboard. My father nodded and said to me in Russian, “We are done! All you have to do is pee in the toilet over there,” he gestured towards the door in the corner of the room, “and they let us leave. So, go pee!” I considered appraising my father of the fact that my peeing organ was no longer available for use, but he was already ripping off the blankets and yanking me onto my feet. I swayed and grabbed onto my father’s pant leg, then slowly shuffled to the bathroom. There I was presented with a unique problem: how to pee? I lifted my gown (when did they put that on me? I thought), and examined my mutilated self. In fact, they had not cut off my penis. It was still there, wrapped in a stained bandage, with its scared and retreating tip poking out the end.

“Pee!” yelled my father through the open bathroom door. Okay, I thought. Pee. But I couldn’t remember how. Suddenly, the only skill that I thought I had perfected seemed impossible. I stared at the gleaming white toilet bowl, willing it to fill with (my) urine, but nothing materialized. Pee, I thought. I braced myself against the nearby sink, scrunched my eyebrows, tightened my malnourished body, and thought, Pee! Nothing came out, but something definitely happened inside. It felt as though a throwing knife had somehow lodged itself inside me and the only way to get it out was through that little hole poking out from the tip of my khui (a naughty word, according to my mother). I sighed in despair and started waddling back to my bed.

On queue, Uncle Yan ran in shouting, “Hurry up! I’m double parked outside and I don’t want a parking ticket!” Back then, the worst thing that could happen to an immigrant was to get a parking ticket. His house could burn, his wife could spontaneously combust, a small child could be frightened to death by his malfunctioning penis, but a parking ticket would still be the worst thing that happened that day. And so I was shoved back into the bathroom and told once again to pee.

I squeezed and writhed and relaxed and jumped and thrusted, but nothing came out. I kneeled down, stood up, shook my shoulders, held my breath and clenched my buttocks, and still the taps remained dry. Finally, after crying and pleading for several minutes, I was able to coax a drop, a single crimson drop, from my insides. Then another, and another, more painful than the last, dripped from the tip of my weewee, and finally a small stream, as from a water pistol that has run out of ammunition, cascaded into the bowl. I dutifully flushed the red-streaked toilet bowl and ambled back out to impatient hands. While my uncle peered out the window and craned his neck to see if he had been towed, my mother whisked me onto the bed and wrapped me in those old Soviet towels from the back of the car. As if I didn’t look ridiculous enough already, she then slipped a hand-me-down Spiderman(TM) shirt over my head and placed me into a waiting wheelchair.

My father pushed me out of the lobby and called for my uncle to bring the car closer. My uncle was busy making obscene hand gestures at an ambulance driver, but quickly abandoned this task (after a final game-winning flourish) and pulled the car up to the curb. Again, I was whisked into the backseat; clearly a lot of whisking was happening on this day. The car sped off. I sat in the back much as I had earlier that day – confused and with my mother coddling me in her arms. I looked down at my crotch, wrapped in a slowly staining towel, and thought, this is very strange. My father kept saying that I had a done good thing, even though it felt more as if something had been done to me. He kept saying that he was very proud. He said that god (who?) was very proud. I found it strange even then that someone was proud of me for having the tip of my penis removed.

I didn’t say anything, however, because at that moment my uncle was walking out of a McDonalds (a McDonalds!) with that coveted of American delicacies: the McDonald’s apple pie. The one that comes in a cardboard wrapper. He handed it to me and patted me on the head.

So there’s that, at least. At least I got pre-packaged pie. Was it worth the trauma of my privates being handled roughly by a child molestor with a funny name and a doctor’s uniform? Maybe?

stop touching yourself

“If you masturbate too much, you’ll grow hair on your palms” is just one example of the many old wives tales / urban legends / blatant lies that our parents tell us when we are children to try to form habits in us that they deem to be right.  The one I heard most as a child was an uncommon variant of a common complaint: “If you leave food on your plate, an angry dog will chase you down the street.”  Malicious?  Definitely.  To this day I lick my plate clean, on impulse mind you, regardless of how heavily overburdened that plate may have been.  Of course, our short-sighted caregivers rarely consider the fact that we will eventually grow up and these seemingly harmless lies will become serious neuroses.  If I was a more paranoid person, I might call my inability to leave food uneaten an eating disorder, but the fact remains that my parents did not consider that I would not always have the metabolism of  a fidgety ten-year-old and, well, I have to retrain (and restrain) myself.

However, as with all things frustrating in my life, I’d like poke fun at these mini-fibs by turning them into… macro-fibs.   Let’s hyberbolize!

1. “Stop making that face, or it’ll stay that way forever.”  And forget about just looking stupid (because it will), your disfigured face will ruin your entire life.  Your body, in sympathy to your face, will twist and writhe until it, too, is disfigured.  You will be forced to live your life confined to a wheelchair.  You will never be able to hold down a job of any kind.  Retail employers will turn your down because your frighten the customers.  You’ll never be able to lift anything with your crippled T-Rex hands, so Industrial is out of the question.  You may be able to get a job as a filing assistant somewhere, but fellow employees will complain that your presence is “just too depressing,” and you’ll probably los that job too.  You’ll become a dependent of the state, and when they cut off your disability payments  — and they will, because you’re “just that ugly” (it’ll say that on the memo you get), you’ll be forced to resort to begging.  You’ll be horrible at that, too; passers-by will cross the street to avoid catching a glimpse of your mangled countenance.  So uncross your eyes, will ya?

2. “If you sing before breakfast, you will cry before night.”  It’s true.  After breakfast, you’ll be feeling pretty jovial, sure.  You’ll skip off to school, still singing a fancy tune, but by the time you get there you’ll be humming at best.  Then the notes will go flat, and by recess you will have stopped altogether.  As your jolly mood from breakfast wears off, your friends will go off to play handball behind the gym while you watch them seriously.  You’ll speak a few words here and there, halfheartedly, but your friends (who hadn’t sung before breakfast, mind you) will be too engrossed in their playing to notice you.

At lunch, you’ll  sit quietly in the back of the cafetria, listening to your friends discussing baseball and trading Pokemon cards, but still you’ll say nothing.  You’ll nibble on your ham sandwich, think about its calorie count and lament the fact that it’s made with bleached white bread instead of whole grain.  After lunch, back in class, you’ll sit quietly and listen to your teacher drone on about civics and the importance of voting.  You’ll look at her wrinkled face and think about how close to death she is.  You’ll imagine her lifeless body, blue and bloated, on a mortician’s table; you’ll sense the acrid aroma of embalming fluid and gag slightly.  You’ll start to weep, small sobs shaking your body.  Then you’ll thiink about all your friends dead, and you’ll weep a little harder.  Then you’ll imagine your funeral, all of us clad in black silk, wiping away our tears with black handkerchiefs, and you’ll weep still harder.

Back home, at dinner, we’ll ask you how your day was, but you’ll be unable to respond.  You’ll just nod and grunt at nothing in particular.  At this point your sadness will have blossomed into full-blow depression and you’ll realize the futility of your life and become aware of the darkness that awaits us all after it is over.  You’ll undertand that God is dead, life is empty, and we’re all just worthless particles colliding in a boundless universe.  You’ll understand your insignificance, and you will cry.  You will bawl; tears will stream down your face, until your tear ducts are empty and your eyes are dry and you can’t cry anymore.

So…. don’t sing before breakfast.

3. “Be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”  In fact, if you’ve been ghastly enough to be placed on the “Naughty List,” Santa will come to your room and take what possessions you have now.  And it’s not just presents that he’ll take.  He’ll take your ninja turtles t-shirt.  In fact, he’ll take all your clothes, leaving you with a handful of rags and a length of rope just long enough to tie around your waist.  He’ll take your pillows, your bedsheets, and your mattress.  You’ll be left to sleep on a discarded sack full of reindeer dropping. He’ll take the ten thousand-piece model airplanes you’ve been buying with your allowance money and building painstakingly at your desk and feed them to his elves.  It’s a well-known fact that elves’ favourite treats in the whole wide world are the model airplanes of naughty boys.  Then he’ll take us away.  Santa will take us and move us to another city (hopefully not Phoenix), and you’ll be left here, alone.  You might get tossed into the foster home system, meeting other naughty boys who will introduce you to bad things.  You’ll acquire a drug habit, a penchant for crime to accompany that habit, and you’ll be in jail by the time you’re fourteen.  Is that what you want?

… That’s probably enough.  I’ve sufficiently scared the juvenile me for the next several months.  Also, I wonder if having hairy palms would cause it to feel like you’re getting a hand job from a chimpanzee.  Ook.

moments

Awkward moments, specifically.  Life is  full of these, but I seem to be exceptionally good at finding myself in the midst of them or, more often, creating them.

… like when someone says something to you, and you respond before you have a chance to think about what you are saying.  Happy birthday, someone might say.  You too, you might respond.  Immediately following your response is an awkward silence, and several options arise: 1) laugh uncomfortably and walk away, 2) if walking away is not possible, change the subject quickly (“What are your plans for this weekend? Oh, it’s Monday morning?  Shit.”), 3) Pretend that you genuinely thought that this person had the same birthday as you.  Neither of these options are appealing.  I blame these silly and reflexive responses on our — our in the royal sense —  lowered attention spans and re-wired neuron networks, due to ever internalized modern living.  I blame blundering insensitivity on a world where propogating of personal information is more important that real social interaction.   Admittedly, I blame it on these things mostly because I’m unwilling to admit any specific fault in myself, and also to briefly feel some sort of superiority over the masses.  Sad?  Maybe.

… or like when you spend 10 minutes at a bank machine trying to withdraw some cash; each time the words “Transaction Error:  Please try again later” flash across the screen.  Eventually you give up and let the next person use the machine because you are embarrassed and don’t want to be that guy (the one that the people in  the line will later refer to in exasperated tones when explaining to their friends why they were late for their respective engagements).  Then you look down and realize that you have been sliding your health insurance card into the slot all this time and, since you really need the money, you wait around until you can use the ATM again.  You don’t want to impose, because you are polite that way, and you wait awkwardly by the machine until everyone is done.  Meanwhile, the other users eyeball you, sizing you up as a deadbeat who is about to ask for a fiver after claiming that the perfectly functional bank machine is in fact malfunctioning.  So be it; you’ll probably never see them again — until the next time you see them at that ATM.

… or when you walk through a food aisle at the supermarket, and you cannot remember why you are in the supermarket at all, let alone that particular aisle.  A helpful and nauseatingly friendly (and possibly attractive) employee will ask you if they can help you find anything and, instead of a customary “No thank you,” you will reply “I’m… I’m not really sure,” to which, of course the employee could not possibly have a response.  She could try to be helpful, but that would only make things worse, because she could only do so by speaking to you as if you were a special needs child who has found himself impossibly  confused in a public bathroom stall (“Do you have to do Number One or Number Two?”).  You must then fixate on a particular item and dash towards it as if it had been what you were seeking all along.  “Ah!  Chives!”, you will say and hold it up like a trophy so that the employee can pity you and leave.

… or when you are at a bar, and a girl smiles at you invitingly, but you do not approach her because you are a big pussy (pardon the term, feminists).  You smile back, which is a good start, and turn back to your conversation or pretend to anyway.  You will move your hands emphatically, gesturing as if you describing a large black man’s testicles.  Your friends will think you’ve lost your marbles, but this isn’t all that bad.  At least she will think you’re nonchalant and non-desperate and that you have friends and interests, even.  Throughout the night, she will continue to smile at you, and you will smile back (that same, lopsided tightening of the lips), until eventually she realizes that you will not be approaching her and loses interest.  At bar close, you will realize that you have (almost!) squandered an opportunity and you saunter over to her while she is having a smoke outside and try to say something clever like, “cigarettes kill, but so does beauty so, I think, you’ve um, got it covered,” and you will grin pleadingly (Pleas give me second chance!).  She will be confused and creeped out by your lurching advances and ignore you until you go away.  You will thrust our hands into your pockets, square your shoulders, crane your neck as if you’re looking for someone, yell “Jeff! Wait up!” and walk towards the bus stop.

Life is just a string of these awkward moments.  It’s probably best not to dwell.

Six word novel, yes it is.

Six word novels

I’m not feeling particularly prolific at the moment; I can’t seem to eek out a insightful or even substantive sentence. But I still want to write: quite the conundrum. So I thought to myself, self I am forcing you to write. No, I said emphatically. But you must, I thought. Fine, I replied, I will write a piece of fiction, but it shall be the bare minimum of what is considered fiction. As such, here is my attempt at some six word novels. Six, in fact. It’s more elegant that way.

Don’t, said God. Do, said Satan.

Stole my girl. Killed his dog.

Speedy murderer arrested. Radar gun found.

Glass ceiling shatters; fatal bleeding ensues.

“I didn’t know she was gay.”

Think, said Satan. Obey, said God.

Here are some better ones. Please read mine first so that they don’t seem so limp in comparison.