The Unswung Bat

Thursday, February 19, 2004
 
Teaser

Famous people don't get to ride streetcars on mornings when they had to wake up early and are nursing a headache born of a restless night. They can't rest their skulls against the window of the moving vehicle and in the vibrations broadcast by the steel wheels and metal rails discover the thinness of their bones. Nor can they smile for no other reason then that this vibration isn't unpleasant, and that the dirty windows and a cloudy yellow-gray morning turn sharp sunlight into feathers. They have to travel in a kind of seclusion, surrounded by tinted windows and personality. The impulse propelling them through their agenda is always a matter of image, never one of bare-boned necessity. It is sad that they are insulated by this layer of superfluousness. I remember thinking this before I moved to L.A.

Sunday, February 08, 2004
 
Down Goes the Shaving Head

Remington electric razor remington electric razor

A weasel chorus rang in Paul's head and he sang along under his breath as he paced the length of the St. George subway platform, eastbound beside the westbound tracks. He'd chosen a crowded time of day.

The moment he picked was perfect, and this was his way. He moved when there was the least resistance, and possibility peaked. The crowd eased up around him as the rush from the tunnel broadened from a whisper to breath. They were far enough away that no one would try to grab him when he moved, that they would have second thoughts and that would be all he needed.

Only the Remington
gives you the comfort grip


When the human perimeter was as wide as it would get with the train at the perfect distance, its headlights just filling the mouth of the tunnel, Paul lept onto the tracks. His body was stiff, and bent, arms at his side, fists tight. The brakes of the train started to wail and Paul heard some people shout, but most hung their mouths open without knowing to scream until the others clued them. Then the platform erupted.

Paul saw the train charging him, saw a black man in the corner of his eye. The man was fat, wore a sweater and a lighter jacket than most. Paul didn't have to look to know his expression was bleak and wide-eyed. He'd been tripped by the same doubts as everyone else: 'is he really doing it?' If he hadn't stopped for that thought, the man would wonder, could he have grabbed Paul? And truth be told, if he'd lunged without thinking, and was lucky, he could have. Now he stood with one foot on the edge of the tracks and one foot not far enough behind, stretching his hand to Paul in a desperate way and yelling.

"Come on, man! Come here!"

Paul raked his arm as if flinging him away, and this was all the dismissal the man needed, terrified as he was and alive with the first thrills that would grow into guilt. Paul could almost hear nothing but the train.

That's how the Remington
gives you a closer shave


And with the train immediately before his eyes the air was sucked from his mouth and blasted across his face, tearing at his hair and clothes, making his shirt slap him madly. One headlight was in front of him, like a baseball. It flew in.

Cleans you, thrills you, may even keep you from getting -

He felt the pressure of the last breath before the fatal push and the one headlight became his world, he leaned forward singing through his teeth, and in an instant was gone in an explosion of drops of light that flew in every direction, whirling, spiralling, through walls, pillars, and people without leaving a mark. They passed through the man who had stood by the tracks, passed through the train, through legs, stomachs and brains and dipped, curved and faded out leaving flash traces in the eyes of bystanders. When the train ground to a dead stop there was nothing there.

The panic that had shaken across the platform was replaced by an unusual calm that no one experiencing it could explain. It made the police interviewing these relaxed witnesses feel as though there were things crawling in their heads. There was no flattened body on the end of the train, nothing under it but tracks. No marks but the broken glass of one lamp that shattered upon impact leaving a blackened collar burned around its housing by electric sparks.

There was nothing to be seen, and no conclusion to be drawn. Everyone went home and left the story to rumor, which could do no harm. But some of them as they went, who had been touched in the right way, in the right place, were singing under their breath.



-- --

I don't know how this blog turned into a many-person diary, and it kind of sickens me to look back on it, since that's exactly what I didn't want when I started it with the goal of writing more. I'm not going to quit blogging, I like most of this page, but I am sure as hell going to remember why I'm here and what has no place here. I shoulda known better.

In the meantime, I'll miss Max's blog but it was probably about time for it to die, and hopefully I'll be starting work on a magazine with him soon, which is a much better use of the internet. The guestbook remains open for signing but don't expect this page to be taken over by . . . rage cookies. Or any other kind of cookies. It's mine and it belongs to what I write, that's all.

 
Battér Up!

I am a tricky trochee


I may have been grasping at straws with the last post, but it sure seemed like something was going around. The point is, none of that is at the top of my list right now, because it'sa my birthday and this blog is just a little thin page so I's'm gonna jot down a bit about that.

Andra's bringing a cake, which must have been interesting for her because she never cooks. I cook. I like cooking. She Paints, and acts on the Improv team, leads the environmental network, can craft any kind of item from a mug to the Taj Mahal with her bare hands and maybe a sewing machine, is pulling an A+ average and does all the chores in her house because her parents work and her brother's a full-time engineering student. So normally she doesn't sweat the cooking. But for today she wanted to make a cake.


It's a surprise for my parents, so I've been making up excuses to them of why I didn't want a cake this year. It was tricky, but I can be one smoove operator. Smoove like silk.

There's chicken cooking upstairs alongside a pork roast and green beans à l'oriéntale, which means yummy. I did my best to iron my new Andratastic t-shirt today, despite not knowing how to work an iron and generally harboring distrust for irons and iron-related things, such as boards. But I think the shirt turned out pretty good. For those of you who don't know, it says "Mr. Bovee-Begun, Expert," which is as fine a title as is to be had. My Magic 8-ball says so, too.






Saturday, February 07, 2004
 
All Right

What the fuck is going on the the shadows? Where is everything coming from? What is this shit? Why do all these good people keep getting buckled by something I can't see? Show me, people, because Chloe is a good person, Ben is a good person, Alison and Dave are good people, Nick is a good person too. None of them perfect or blameless or angels and neither am I, but for fuck's sake that's what makes angels such a nice idea, isn't it? IS there something going on in the shadows?

When I say good people I just mean anyone who acts like they are a human being with emotions and maybe friends. So they're everywhere, but if I can get along with someone, that makes them one of my favorite people in the world, without any strings attached. Not even if you want them.

I don't, for one, want to make anyone feel that their positivity is mandatory, that my world hinges on their presence, or that I'll hate them if they have a fucking bad day, or bad month, and don't want to smile or show up. And I'm not just thinking of one person when I say that. I've had fucking bad months too, and were it not for a couple of people who were willing to be decent about it, I would have been a broken wreck at times. I wish I always knew how to be a good friend. Thanks.

There's a theory, a model I guess, that billions or trillions of angels exist and each one is a separate species, and that's what humans aspire to, that kind of specialness and individuality, but we aren't like that. You aren't. I'm not. Roll over.

We aren't Victorians, either. We don't need to hide everything that hurts us and maintain a veneer. Nor do we need to be ashamed about hiding some injuries without maintaining a veneer. Put it in a cast. Wear a big ugly eyepatch. All I know is that something really fucked up is going on and since no one will show it to me all I can see of it is the fact that it is almost systematically hurting a lot of my favorite people, very badly. Clue me the fuck in. Right now.

 
I Just Can't Get Enough x2

Stick around long enough and it's bound to happen. I turn twenty in a scant twelve hours. Excuse me, what I meant to say was:

I turn twenty in a scant twelve hours!

What a weird idea. Of course I don't get any wiser or more mature on a regular schedule, but I sure as chips get older. I'm not sure if there's any such thing as hell, but I am quite sure that I'm eating chips right now. Sun Chips, mmm. I went through a similar thing when I turned sixteen, only I didn't have the chips back then. I certainly don't feel like some twenty year-old type. What are twenty year-olds like? They're all sort of casual and think they know shit, plus they've got their bacheloresque squalor living, and probably some kind of hair thing going, maybe they go out to the movies but they don't watch as much tv as they used to . . .

Oh shit. Oh shit piss fucking obscenities. Obviously by the time I was halfway through that sentence (the last sentence of the previous paragraph, lest you get confused), I knew it was me. But I didn't know it when I started it.

Luke used to say: "I'm seventeen years old, but I'm fucking thirty." He called it the effect of the gifted program. Makes you old beyond your years, less prone to getting roaring drunk and breaking shit and jumping off things. I guess he proved himself wrong.

Way back in the day of Freeman's class, approximately grade seven, me and the homeboys, which I guess means me, Max, Matt, Nick, and Avi 'cause we shared a table in class, were perplexed by the notion that we could - nay, would - turn into teenagers. Avi was the first to key into the absurdity of anticipating it like that. He imagined a twelve year-old, not unlike ourselves, only with sunglasses and hairgel, and maybe some kinda teenager-type jacket, walking along snapping his fingers and singing a little song that went:

"One more month, one more month, and then I'm a teenager . . . "

Nobody sings shitty songs like Avi does. Such timbre.

Twelve more hours, Twelve more hours . . .

Because you see to us, teenage was the third phase in life. You had your little tiny preschool phase, and then the cool phase we'd been in for a while, when you appreciate the ninja turtles without a trace of irony or nostalgia, grungy rock don't impress you, and you wake up early on saturday mornings for the cartoons! Not to mention going over to your friends' houses and probably acting out crazy games loosely based on those same tv shows, but guided by minds too loosely anchored to society to appreciate the clichéd or important parts of the plots, so really you're just making it up as you go along. And, if you're like me, you probably end up hitting each other with sticks. Me and Sam called that Sacred Space Fighting. And it kicked ass for miles. We used broomsticks whenever we could.

Byron was here last night, slowly turning twenty too, but I'll beat him to it. Remember back when Byron and Leora and me were in the same class, and small? I remember. The same house on Wayland Avenue was where they lived, and every once in a while when I went over there we'd drink juice, probably apple juice, out of these red orange yellow and green plastic cups that flared out on top, and eat food that was delicious because it wasn't at my house. That's another thing, food was always good when it was at someone else's house. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches appealed to the palate of the conoisseur, instead of just sticking to it unpleasantly like they did when your own parents made them, and you couldn't believe - or at least I couldn't - how plump the spaghetti was, and how squishy the meatballs, when you had dinner at a friend's house.

It was cool, because we would eat quickly and make jokes and talk like little morons with no manners and maybe we would wash our hands afterwards. The kitchen was sort of bright and the table was a slab of wood and Byron and Leora both had these huge lisps so that L's were W's and there were cats. I didn't have any cats, and I also didn't have Crystal Quest, but they did, oh did they ever. so after lunch we would go downstairs and boot up the Mac and play some real old school video games. Later on there was Power Rangers Scrabble, the premise being that Power Rangers were stupid so the idea was to fill up the board with bad words. I think Leora invented that.

Awesome.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004
 
Paradise Restaurant, Part Two


For some reason I favor the notion that the girl is Doug’s sister, the man some boyfriend. The scene, gawkishly posed, is unplaceable. Under perfect lighting, soft and beaming, their clothes looking like they just happen to match, with hair meticulously combed into line with some apparently universal gender standard, they stand in front of a robin’s-egg sky of a backdrop. Clasping two stalky red flowers in her hands and showing an expression of dutiful joy, the girl looks like someone sending her brother news of a romantic addition to her life, who for his part doesn’t seem that interested in the photo.

I assume Doug was already living abroad when it was taken, and decide to ask him about it, but he doesn’t come. Instead, his wife, whose name I never knew, patrols up to the table and asks with the same unsmiling face as Doug if I’m ready to order. Realizing I’m holding the menu I put it down and order the same thing I always do. She takes the laminated menu card and walks away faster than she came.

The food comes quickly from the kitchen, a positive result of the belief that anything can be fried. In the meantime I’m thinking about my own sister, which I haven’t given myself much time for lately. I first heard about her engagement through Mom.

I remember: a special dinner I’d come home for, on Mom’s insistence. Just the three of us, because Janice couldn’t possibly travel back to break the news.

They made me sit through the whole dinner before revealing the occasion. First came the greasy smoked oyster spaghetti Dad loved to cook, then a salad of crisp tomato wedges and lettuce stung my mouth with sour vinaigrette. Rum-soaked pears on vanilla ice cream were dessert. When I realized we had eaten the same meal for Janice’s last birthday at home, they could barely keep their mouths shut.

When Dad brought out the champagne he finally made the announcement, and we drank a toast to Janice and Chris before calling them to send our congratulations. The wine teased my tongue where it had been stung by vinegar.

Now, Mrs. Doug Yee brings my food, a plate of glossy brown noodles with threads of egg and vegetables, a springroll on a separate plate. She sets a steel teapot in front of me that I let steep while I eat.

Later in the meal and with the tea poured, Doug appears by the table. “Your meal all right?” he verbally scribbles.

I nod, “It’s good,” and he takes the teapot to refill, even though it doesn’t need more.

When he comes back I point to the photo, leaning after my finger, into the question. His frown turns curious.

“Who’s that?” I ask, flicking my eyes between him and the photo. He traces my stare, searching the artificial jungle for the object of my questioning. He sees the hanging door bells and newspapers piled between the superfluous plastic pots. Then he points.

“That photo?” His eyebrows arch, the apogee of his expressiveness, and he shrugs. “Just a picture.”

Then he leaves me with tea and the tasteless noodles. I finish quickly, suddenly conscious of a bulbous goldfish watching from the cheap watercolor hung beside me. Strangely unwilling to talk to Doug at the counter, I leave money on the table and go, with the idea of not coming back.

The bells slap and tinkle as I leave, and a boy and a girl keep smiling into the restaurant, exactly as before.



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