Why to Read this Short Nonfiction Account of the Writer Himself

Monday, January 16, 2012

You may not get what the relevance is here, why you are being told what you have not yet been told about someone you have not yet met, and if this is the case, I ask only that you note that the Writer Himself will suffer the same perplexity the morning after his own aggrandizement of his mere sitting before the pocket of uncluttered space he has cleared on his coffee table of unopened beers and half-drunk glasses of tequila, ashen joint butts and a homemade pipe, to scarf his first Big Mac in months, a large fry with eight (ge) ketchups, a Sprite to wash it down, because it comes with the meal, you know, it’s cheaper if you get the drink too, while penning in red the basketball bracket’s matchups and sequels and culminations with a sense, fueled undoubtedly by a Guinness and shots on a stomach encased only with the remaining peanuts and caramel of a Snickers, that he knows, that what he pens is inevitable, that the clairvoyant universe-sense that the fuzzy edges of society posit is at the moment available to him and not to be skeptical about, because, as the visionaries describe it, in a way that can only make sense to those who have experienced it and make them sound freakish to those who have not, when you tap into the unity of time you feel it beyond a shadow of a doubt, along with a sense fueled by that sense that the present moment is somehow itself a center, a focal point for past events, for the stop at McDonald’s that brought him his feast, where he stood leaning against the counter, basking in guilt for the cashier’s spectacular English, and surveyed the whitish tiled cafeteria, where sat the saddest patrons he could think of, one man with a face defected at birth staring with unreasonable intentness at his sandwich even as it neared his lips and was gouged by his teeth, one pale young woman crouched at a window seat aching with an incomprehensible, chronic loneliness, and meditated on the sheer despondency of the scene, an observer of it all, until it came to him, Jesus, that he, too, was here, and was he one of those people, three drinks in, outfitted in an argyle sweater, casting his glassy gaze upon the clients as if he were not one of them, as if he were not seeking some sort of impure solace at two a.m. from the most shameful fast food restaurant of them all, God, was he one of those people, no, he couldn’t be, he thought, having a been and having a will be that depended so much less on this than these people did, yeah, like a St. Patrick’s Day among colleagues, friends, Guinnesses in front of them bought by someone he didn’t know, a game of Gaelic football on the television distracting them at lulls in the repartee, timeless as Jack put it, as if it could have been taking place any time in the last forty years, middle-aged men in short-shorts tackling each other, receding hairlines, how for some sports the market is so small you can do it part time and be the foremost in the world, like boomerangs, how at the anticlimactic finish of the game, the few fans rushing in strands from the stands, these blokes shake hands and say, comically, “See you at work tomorrow,” a layer atop the  shark-toothed crooning of the Pogues, who he’d uncannily heard of the first time just a week before, which he wanted to tell someone though it wasn’t quite interesting enough to be said, because you never want to be the sort of person who says everything that’s on his mind, do you, because the end of that road is like the boy who cried wolf, and how quickly a person can become irrelevant, though he needed not worry, he knew, because these were good friends, despite the occasional lack of forthrightness, because forthrightness is hardly a virtue anyway, people are people, and it took him a long time to learn that silence was often more powerful than words, at least that you were thought more interesting that way, preferring to vocalize only when the collective brainstorm snowballed to the point where laughing and sharing and speaking was communal and truly unabashed, or by way of gestures like buying a shot for Jack when he was hesitant to do the next one, waving him off and handing a test tube of Bailey’s and something down to him, these masculine confirmations of comradeship, loopholes in the kind of unspoken friendship he was finding himself with, having preferred to be more loquacious in the past, possibly to the dismay of those who settled for nuance, subtlety, actions louder than words, like simply coming tonight in the haze of exhaustion that enveloped him as his roommate explained with enthusiasm the outdoor loveshack he’d rigged up out of the old mattress that had been sitting beneath open windows for months, years even, straddling the gap where they kept their trash cans and lessening by half the space they had to dry their clothes, made complete by a single lit candle along with the sort of pose one takes when one is trying to imitate a reclining model, hands on the back of his head, knee up, when all he wanted to do was eat some goddamn food, God he was hungry, after his Chinese teacher, who he found out doesn’t even have the internet, used her bare-walled rooms, the spare kitsch of her knee-high dresser top, her cassette tapes, to demonstrate how to describe one’s quarters, a thrust into the minutes outside their official lesson which, when they went into her bedroom, he imagined as an alarmingly indirect come-on, until he reminded himself that her short-haired mother was asleep in the next room and she asked if he wanted to see the tapes of her drama group’s performance, and he was polite, and they ended up sitting on her hard couch for forty-five minutes listening to Chinese he didn’t understand and the admittedly dear singing voice of his teacher in a charmingly amateur blackbox, but it was late, and he was hungry, and there were beers to drink, and his courteous raptness soon gave way to a manifest keenness to go, manifest to him at least, expressed as it was in nearly the same body language as before, though the second he imperceptibly donned such a pose he began considering her standpoint, and what might have led her so eagerly to share her however-long-past performance with him in the yawning darkness of a Thursday night, on St. Patrick’s Day, which she didn’t even know existed, and to manage an unawareness of his undisguised-if-less-than-glaring itch to depart, whether it was some sort of ulterior loneliness buried beneath her chipper daily manner or an actual incomprehension of the things that drove people’s lives like his, like posters on the wall, instantaneous contact, freedom to bring people back and sleep with them, to be an irremediable slob four days out of the week, though you had to consider that she was free in so many other ways, an actress, a pianist, even if amateur, noodling in art as artists do, giving it her all on a stage only friends and family watched, and rather boldly exhibiting her work to whoever expressed a peripheral interest in it, even the Writer Himself, whose steps toward the performing arts consisted only of a phone call between huì and kěyǐ asking him whether he’d be the one-man audition for his friend’s friend’s firm’s tea commercial, after which his teacher herself received a call and he stepped into her bathroom to relieve his wheezing neurons as much as his bladder and for the first time, possibly ever, felt that he ought not lean his face on his hand so as not to sponsor the development of any more acne, and that his sideburns were a little dire, and, primarily, that having a lesson so late was bad for his physiological well-being, as he did feel some throat-soreness coming on, the kind that orange juice may do nothing to stop, which was in turn bad for his appearance, something that was now no longer his own concern but that of someone else, as if he was beholden to the firm that would capitalize on his European nose and white skin to the point that salubriousness, brightness of cheeks, richness of eyebrows became his duty instead of a by-product of a happy procession through life, keeping himself together became a responsibility, the root of which was happily passed off to an outside source, presenting him with a sense that someone else wanted him, that he was important, that he had to watch out for himself in ways he had, for the better, never thought of, an excuse outside of his own nerve-endings that allowed him to resent whatever caused him discomfort, like the late-night extension of a wearying Chinese lesson, or the unsure circles he walked afterward about his apartment, debating foggily whether to go to the tofu stand down the street or eat at the bar, deciding on the latter after minutes of waffling, only to be disappointed as an unhatably ethnic woman shaking a martini tossed him the brusque words “Kitchen’s closed,” and the kind bouncer, more of a doorman, shushed him for the benefit of the neighbors and pointed him to a nearby 7-Eleven where only a Snicker’s bar called to him, one without the high-beam memorableness that other Snickers bars had had for him in the last five months, consumed in states much like the present one that lead him to consider transcendent his situation, and the material circumstances surrounding it, whether the chocolate bar or the Big Mac and large fries and Sprite he digs into atop his coffee table, by which time the notion of dutiful self-worship birthed by the earlier phone call has faded and what is left is simply, though not simply as he sees it, a sense, which maybe in fact isn’t from the alcohol now that he evaluates his mental state, though then again maybe it is, that the previous minutes and hours of exhaustion and impatience and hunger and laconicism and comradeship and snowballs and sadness all both culminate in and are erased by the physiological sensation of the McDonald’s in his throat, the thick pen in his fingers, the blood in his temples, the emptiness of the off TV, the spot he’s cleared for his focal event between the ashtrays and the beer, the fwoosh by of scooters and cars outside, the scratch of the coffee table beneath the bracket, the foam on the bottom of his toes, the rubber between them, the collision of the present with the past in an abrupt microcosm whereby all that has been lost can be regained, whereby mild dissociation in fact does grant something of a salvation, whereby the forlornest part of the night births the most lustrous perception, which will after the benefit of seven hours of sleep become quite as silly-seeming as it does to you, reader, at first glance, an impression that ought to be trailed by the flash of awareness that you share that point of view with the Writer Himself, yet in the same way are decoupled from it when under the influence of the sort of thing that can convey you to a different state, in his case alcohol on an empty stomach, in your case letters on a milky page, which allow you instead a deeper consideration of the events at hand, of their transcendence in a world where every event is quotidian, and of the ability of the differentiation of mental places to tap into truths that your normal, logistical self may not authorize, demonstrating that, you know what, you are the Writer, in a way, and that what happened to him is supremely relevant, and that in that case, my friend, you’d better read the goddamn story.

Sunday, January 1, 2012