Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Forever and Ever Amen

The divorce rate has been nearly nonexistent since the introduction of marriage term limits in 4092.  The first contract marriage occurred between 470 year old trillionaire lawyer to the stars, Dwayne Burger, and Sissy Bunny, the 110 year old Girl Toy he'd gotten with his McTaco King's Big Kid's Sexy-Grande Meal.  Prior to meeting Sissy, Dwayne Burger had been divorced 17 times, and left a widower 4 times.

It was rumored the 4 wives that time forgot had allowed themselves to die of old age rather than stay married to Dwayne.  This, of course, wasn't true.  Dwayne was a kind and attentive husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc etc.  It was his professional reputation and the fact that people had plenty of time to talk that had led to this cruel rumor.  The truth was that lots of people opted out of the hormone replacement therapy that had kept Dwayne and his newest bride looking like 40 year olds despite their geriatric status.  Getting old is a lot easier when you're incredibly rich.  The 4 dinosaur wives had watched their children and grandchildren grow.  All four of these dead women had been smart, so when they got tired of being important, rich, educated, talented, and loved, they understood already that the only alternative to their boredom with opulence and happiness was bound to be a monstrous disappointment.  What do you get the woman who has everything?  A coffin.

Once a person opts out of the hormone program, we know, there is no going back.  The treatments have to begin before the 40th birthday and must be continuous in order for the chemical delivery bridge to remain intact.  This bridge is formed during the first injection.  The new hormones blend with the body's natural hormones and an artificial template is formed that continues to regenerate itself with each treatment.  In this way, the person's own hormones are doing the heavy lifting with the artificial hormones acting as a sort of renewal agent.  Once this bridge collapses, there is no getting it back.  There is no way for the ancient body to recreate on its own the younger hormones needed for the initial pairing.  The dying process happens fairly quickly, assuming of course, that the person is beyond whatever their natural life span might have been.  These 4 lovely and bored wives had all died within a few months.

Dwayne's remaining 17 wives had all initiated divorce proceedings against him.  These divorces shouldn't be held against Dwayne.  When you've got all the time in the world a vow to stay married "forever" becomes more of an entertainment challenge than a love challenge.

The galaxy record for the longest active marriage is 299 years.  This magnificent testament to marital devotion was set by Ed and Mary Love of Feenix Mexizona.  Ed and Mary were childhood sweethearts when an explosion in the meth lab that employed them cost Ed an eye and Mary her ears.  The young couple were eternal optimists, however, and took this tragedy as a reminder that life was much too fleeting to be wasted.  They married and vowed to live each day as though it was their last.  Together Ed and Mary raised 39 children on Ed's salary as a meth salesman and Mary's disability check.  The couple were on their 299th annual anniversary family reunion cruise when Mary tragically bludgeoned Ed to death with an ashtray before jumping into the ocean.

When Dwayne Burger set his sad wet brown eyes on Sissy Bunny's dark curls and hourglass figure, it was love at first sight.  Sissy, likewise, instantly fell victim to Dwayne's rakish but sad good looks and his intelligent and kind demeanor.  While Sissy was no gold digger, the obvious money Dwayne possessed didn't hurt his case.  Dwayne's chauffeured Helio-car hadn't even left the landing pad before Sissy had ripped the McTaco King time card chip from behind her ear and crushed it beneath her red and yellow patent leather boot.

Unlike Dwayne who had been around the marital grindstone a few times, Sissy had never tied the knot.  She made decent money as a Girl Toy and the hours were flexible, allowing her time to pursue her many hobbies.  Sissy Bunny had been raised to keep herself busy.  This was an important quality in a world where the safety net of retirement and then death were no longer available to catch you when you stopped wanting to wake up in the morning.  When Sissy Bunny wasn't grinding expertly against her McTaco King customers she enjoyed knitting, fly fishing, hang gliding, baking, and painting, and was only 3 lessons shy of receiving her helio-car license.

Of course when Dwayne and Sissy strolled into the Marry-Mart with a pre-nup drafted by Dwayne himself limiting their marriage to 10 years, the talking heads assumed it had been the trillionaire's idea.  He was, after all, supporting 17 ex wives and a multitude of children.  Forever is expensive, even for the very very rich.  In reality it had been Sissy Bunny's insisted upon stipulation.  Sissy didn't want her first marriage to end in a bitter divorce and she enjoyed her life too much to not want to leave herself an escape hatch.  The idea was that if 10 years rolled by and they wanted to enter into another 10 year contract, they could do so.  Inaction at the end of the 10 year period would simply result in a no-fault annulment.

Dwayne and Sissy had 3 children over the next several decades, finally letting their marriage slip into a pleasant and good willed annulment after their youngest had gone off to college.

Their innovative and common sense approach to the soul crushing banality of eternity stands as a model to us all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Loose Tooth

There's a small part in the book "The Bluest Eye" that involves a woman eating an apple while watching a movie.  It's been a long while since I read the book, so I don't remember the details, but the woman was poor, ugly, and dumb and went regularly to the matinee because she enjoyed watching beautiful, rich, and smart people.  As she's in the theater watching some dazzling performance and allowing herself to forget who and what she is for a moment, she bites into the apple and loses one of her front teeth.  I don't remember most of the book but that has stuck with me over the years.  I know a little bit about being knocked abruptly from a very short and gingerly climbed pedestal.  If I think about it long enough, I can squeeze out a tear for that woman in the story, because I can relate to that moment of hers. 

Not that I'm missing any teeth, I was blessed with mineral-dense bones and they've served me faithfully. 

A long while back, I took my cousin's daughter and the girls father to a movie after my cousin passed away.  I let my late cousin's daughter pick the movie, because her mom had just died.  She selected "A Walk To Remember", which is a terrible movie about a girl and a boy who fall in love right before the girl dies of cancer.  I'm watching this movie becoming more and more horrified by the plot, knowing that my 5yr old second cousin beside me just endured the death of her mom.  By the end of the movie, my second cousin's father was sobbing loudly.  My tiny second cousin, a miniature doppelganger of her mother, was sitting quietly and patting her dad on the leg to comfort him.  

The kid didn't make a connection between Mandy Moore's horribly drawn character and her mom, because they were nothing alike.  Her father made the connection because someone he'd loved romantically had died, and maybe he was given to more melodramatic displays, I don't know him well enough to guess.

My point here is that the things that strike us as sad are often clues about our experiences. 

I have a soft spot for staggering prize fighters.  What if Rocky had lost?  That shit is devastating for me to think about.  What if filled with confidence, pumped up and beefed out, Rocky had gone out there and given it his all and lost, he'd be a mediocre footnote within seconds.  What does that mean?  Am I a staggering prize fighter?  Maybe.  I was raised by combative, petty, and resentful people so I spent the first 18 years of my life locked in ongoing battles, and the last 20 trying to take off my pads and gloves.

So now I'm wondering if the association between what makes us sad and our experience occurs because what makes us sad is directly linked to the reality of our experiences, or because it's directly linked to our perception of our experiences.  And of course, because we're narcissistic creatures, and not robots, it's linked to our perception of our experience and not reality.  Knocked off a short pedestal again. 

What's the saddest thing you can think of? 








Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I had a whole blahhhhhg written about my freshman and sophomore teacher and my computer crashed and all was lost, probably for the best.  My freshman English teacher was an angel, while my sophomore English teacher was an asshole.  Que sera sera, anyways. 

I was re-reading Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, which was assigned to me by my asshole sophomore English teacher.  It was the first book I'd been ordered to read that I hadn't already read.  I say that not really to blow my own horn although you're of course free to be impressed, but to show that I was ready to love the book.  I knew the schools had good taste, so far Toledo Public  had loved the same books I'd loved.  Ethan Frome didn't let me down, and it remains one of my steadfast favorites.

So I'm re-reading it right now and I come across this passage right in the beginning:

"I never doubted that Frome would appear.  He was not the kind of man to be turned from his business by any commotion of the elements; and at the appointed hour his sleigh glided up through the snow like a stage-apparition behind thickening veils of gauze."

Behind thickening veils of gauze.  Isn't that the perfect way to describe both Ethan Frome and the snowstorm? 

I don't have anything against pictures, or movies, or television, or any other entertainment medium.  I'm not one of those pretentious assholes who thinks television has ruined books.  I love TV, I love movies.  But paintings, and words, stories, they all used to be worth so much more.  So I'm reading that passage from Edith Wharton, and even though it's been more than one hundred years since the book was published in 1911, the image so thoroughly sketched out by the words strikes me. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, sure, alright, but how many words have our pictures really cost us?

I think people should be aware of this changing of the guard, regardless of how casually society is treating the shift.  I don't think there's a need for pretense about these things, but I am a fan of literary descriptions and stories.  I'm also a fan of pictures and movies and shitty TV shows.

"He was not the kind of man to be turned from his business by any commotion of the elements"

Holy shit, beautiful, right? 

Before pictures and movies and television, story tellers and singers and painters were rock stars.  This is because nobody knew what the fuck was going on without some kind of descriptive, and before pictures and movies and television existed, these older media forms were it.  This was OK, our finest literary works sprang from people wanting to share a story without the use of a set and cast and pictures, because people used to have to spread their stories without those props. 

I guess I'd just like to take note of this change.  In thirty years someone will probably be "writing" about how virtual brain implant image exchangers are better than pictures, I don't know.  I just hope there are a few people then who enjoy old fashioned writing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

awe shit son

My father is a tremendously sweet guy and a genius, he told me years ago about the infatuation with death that arose in Americans after the civil war, when so  many souls were lost.  We were looking through a newspaper from the 1870's.  The entire reader submission page was made up of odes to lost loved ones or trembling love songs to the dead.  There were ads for death horns to bury with your loved ones in case they weren't really dead, churches, and cure all medications in between.  The whole thing was pretty morose.

So my genius dad who is entirely self taught tells me that after the civil war, people became obsessed with making sense of death, because there was just so much of it going around.  The most pressing problem that everyone wanted to busy themselves with wasn't figuring out how to stay alive so much as dealing emotionally with all of the inevitable death.  It was all over the place, dripping into cribs and gliding over windowsills, creeping silently down streets and alleys and hiding in the crevices around door frames.

One of my great uncles dropped dead the other day.  That's two in the last month and a half.  These losses weren't emotional events for me, understand, they were both very old and I didn't know either of them well, although I spent a nice two weeks visiting with the formerly dead one some thirty years ago.

People claim that when they're faced with death, their whole life flashes before their eyes.  I think that whenever we're faced with anyone's death, our whole lives flash before our eyes.  We're narcissistic bastards, after all.  So when my second great uncle in a month bit the dust the other day, I immediately started thinking about MY life.  Because I'm a narcissistic bastard human being, and not a robot.

I like my life alright.  I'm being stripped of ancestors by time and that's fine, that's how it's supposed to go.  I will be sad when my dad goes, because the world could always use more sweet and smart men.  My brother is sweet and smart though, and while he's not related biologically to my dad he's in as good a position as any to maintain his legacy.

My dad paints a little, the first time I tried acid I stared at a painting of his for hours.  This was 1990 and the picture hung in the two bedroom duplex he shared with me, his friend, and a village of mice.

The painting looked 3D, of course, the imagery was astounding to my acid addled brain.  I've looked at the picture in the years since and although it's not impressive I can still dredge up respect for the painting based on that night spent sitting in front of it gasping at every shadow.

Hey I'm just trying to say that the only death I'm afraid of is my dad's.  Everyone else in my family can fuck right off.  My dad's death won't kill me, but it will effect me.  You know?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cary Grant

Cary was a fat slob with wide hips and overly zealous oil glands.  His name was Cary because his grandmother had thought his father resembled Cary Grant.  "You had those dark brooding eyes of his right from the start, oh what a handsome man!" she'd exclaim, leaving red pinch marks on his cheeks.  In truth, his father had looked more like Danny Devito, who also has dark brooding eyes but is decidedly less traditionally handsome.  This wasn't his grandma's fault, she'd only seen Cary's father once from a distance when he'd picked his mother up for a date.  Cary's grandmother was an eternal optimist and positive thinker. 

When her daughter escaped through her hospital room window after giving birth and his grandma was asked for a name for this brand new boy, she replied "Cary Grant Howard" without missing a beat.

Cary's childhood was as uneventful as the childhood of any fat boy with a girl's name.  He fantasized about losing weight and becoming a karate god, about his father coming back, about his mother coming back, about winning some contest that would make him rich and respected all at once, about his grandmother's cancer going away.  That's what hopeless and pitiful people do, they fantasize.  "Rich interior lives", is how it's kindly put.  Cary Grant Howard had a rich interior life. 

When people like Cary Grant Howard happen, there isn't an upside.  You have to just let them exist, like watching a vase fall over in slow motion.  His life is such a depressing cluster-fuck of abandoned hopes and cruelties, there's not really anything to be done.  This kid with B-cup boobs and a severe acne problem is listening to Megadeth in a greasy yellow Ocean Pacific tee shirt and these are the best times of his life.

Anyways, lives are long as hell.  I don't think we really consider when we're in the middle of them, as I am, just how long they really can be.  Maybe Cary will become a karate expert and maybe he'll lose the weight, who knows?  When he's sixty his acne won't be a problem, and there are plenty of fifty year old guys with tits, right? 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I was ten, i desperately wanted to be twelve, because I thought that when I was twelve, I'd be cool.  When I was twelve, I thought fourteen was the magic number, then sixteen, then eighteen, then twenty one, etc etc. 

For some people, fifty and sixty are the magic numbers.  At eighty, what does anything matter?  At ninety, we've all "made it", so we're all sort of the same, or close enough.  

I don't really know where I'm going with this.