Sunday, January 26, 2014

in which 'foisted', 'dickensian', 'tupperware' appear and you are delighted

***1/ 4 / 14

First time in avalanche.

My tears. My sobs. My plastic face.

Not from sadness, yet. Nor from self-pity, yet. Nor yet from anger. Yet, when utter frustration slipped on that first clod of ice, the doomed escarpment crumbled and all else followed in sheets of blinding white. 

It finally happened. I snapped. It became too much. Not too much to bear but too much hold in and far too face-contorting to grin through.

It happened a couple of weeks ago before Christmas.  While trying to make a simple, declarative, sentiment-neutral statement to one person, a second person entered the room and engaged us both in a new conversation for which switch I was ill-prepared.  It wasn't difficult material from this additional voice that ratcheted the exasperation, in fact, the new material promised to be more interesting than the bland fact-divulging effort I was in the middle of; it was the additional voice itself that clicked the ratchet.  A voice requesting response.  A response requiring a change of tone. For the voiceless, changes of tone are not readily toggled. Without tone, we need italics and emoticons, at least while we hone our unwieldy pantomimes or fashion crude sign languages one unrememberable charade at a time, at least until we learn to write again with comprehensible intention--sarcasm, sincerity, just-joshing, etc.

You may detect just such an exercise underway. What you cannot detect is that it has taken me 60 minutes to peck out these five paragraphs or that I am now sitting up so I can go eat lunch-- because I'm on a touch-screen using a finicky finger and a languid brain :) 

[25 mins: corn dog accomplished. You might be detecting a trend in my fleetness in general.] 

Whatever headway I had made in the original "conversation" began disappearing step by step behind me, getting swept away by the new curiosity too quickly for me to keep pace. I have tried to accept this reality with grace; however, except toward a maintenance of my fraying sanity, whether gracefully or indignantly is moot. The voiceless’s petulant demands to be understood sound too much like his airy affirmations that he already has been. Nod through the screen if you follow me ;)

By the time I realize I've lost sync with both of my garrulous interlocutors, it is too late to reestablish my participation.  Their attentions have been turned to the other; what little level of grace I may or may not have had in the tank starts to sputter, the petulance rises indistinguishable from huffs of assent.

But I wasn't finished. And the unwatched pot began to boil. And the revolving door was stuffed at each go-round. And wasn't that the very same lightning-split poplar we passed an hour back and isn't the sun westering, the crows laughing, a demon ascending, my soul . . . doesn't it . . .

I snapped.  Not out of the blue.  Nor even the gray.  Not quite out of the pitch.Yet certainly from a new and curious darkness.  I cried, kicked the clod. I sobbed, sheets of white. I hid my face.   

***1/ 20/ 14

I played some big time football as I kid coming up outside of Richmond, VA. The streets were hard and the cul-de-sac was harder.  And if it wasn't for the hard knocks, I never would've made the team. I was undersized. Then again, so too were many of the greats. Among the laity: Zacchaeus, Lucky the Leprechaun, Tattoo.  Tiny Titans to their causes. Sycamore appreciation, first period participation, airways awareness. Among the relevant examples: Tarkenton, Jurgenson, Flutie. Diminutive Colossi of the gridiron. Like me all of these men amongst typically more statuesque men played quarterback which made all of us pretty big deals. Now, if any of these men were ever homecoming king two years running, all of us would also have been pretty enormous deals.

Nah. Being king was mortifying.  I hated it. Secondarily, because it was unannounced, uncoveted, and foisted upon me unwittingly.  Primarily, because it required a lap around the track in back of a "float", which doubled every other day of the year as some booster's backfiring Chevy pick-up, alongside an average sized prince and princess and an Amazon queen.  Two years running.

Playing football was brutal. I hated it. Tertiarily, because of the games--cold, wet, early in the morning. Secondarily, the practices--hot, dry, late in the day. Primarily, the equipment--in all climates, at all times, brutal. When shoulder pads are as wide as wide as you are tall, your blindside is effectively a 300-degree cone of doom.  If to wear your off-the-rack helmet necessitates a slathering of Vaseline on your forehead to keep from pulling your nape off in the donning and face off in the doffing, you might want to stick with little league, better yet, with your swing-set fighting off TIE-fighters in your X-Wing.  And my personal least favorite . . . the mouth guard. 

For the uninitiated: a tutorial. The mouth guard guards the mouth. From the inside out. In much the same way that a sock and duct tape guards your mouth from yelling for help from the trunk of an abductor's Lincoln. The mouth guard is plastic of a dubious plasticity.  It hugs the roof of your mouth caressingly (not all jabbingly), it glides over your teeth, soothingly (not at all squealingly), eases along the lingual passage, unnoticeably (not at all asphyxiatingly), then just when you're on the brink yogic relaxation, it settles in gently (not all disgorgingly).

So . . . I have to wear a mouth guard at night these days. 

Anxiety makes you clinch your teeth. Excessive salivation makes you grind your teeth, and yawning without sufficient facial strength to govern a yawn makes you clamp, clinch, and grind.

So . . . Blue, 42, Omaha, hut hut hut. Jonathan, you're running the wrong way! Yeesh! Who got chicken pox and made him king?     


When I was coming up, we lived on the hard times side of the tracks where you had go back across the tracks to get to a swimming pool; unless you knew the Hoitytoits whose veritable mansion sat atop the highest cul-de-sac in our subdivision, the owners of a legendary above ground pool. But you didn't know them from school nor did your mother from Tupperware parties.  Get over it, go to your room and play pick-up sticks. And pick them up this time.

The Dickensian side of tracks, people, where the sandboxes haven't been freshened since some brother combination took the initiative to flood the allegedly "perfectly good sand" to see if,  it was so perfect, how come it turned to mud. You're not getting sand until next summer, so you might as well get over it, go to your room, and play with your toes, for all your father will care when he gets home.

The derelict, dilapidated, decrepit side of the tracks where if you came home with holes in your jeans, you might as well not come home unless there was blood or shreds of flesh in evidence nor even disembark the school bus if you had "jumped off a cliff just because everybody else" was using Saul the Saw's box-cutter to deliberately slash your jeans in order jumpstart the fraying process. Just keep going. No fruit roll-ups. No Fraggle Rock. Just don't bother.

I offer these caricatures of reality so you can imagine my unease when I bought a brand new pair of jeans last weekend with prefab welts made to resemble the early stages of Saul's craftsmanship or artificially worn-thin knees only three or four real life encounters from being sent to my room.  I supply these postfab "memories" so you can understand my angst when coupled with the earlier-recorded fact of my reluctance to shell-out for a new pair, whether on principle or for assurance of need.

Truth be told (if only as a novelty in this section), my guilt is mostly fabbed, the pang of it alleviated by the dangling 75% off tag which suited my thriftiness and by the stitched Sears Roebuck & Co. tag which tickled my unfancy. Because when I was coming up a luckless orphan slogging the fetid quags of the Hinterland, one only went to Sears for spare tires again and to have ones vacuum repaired again.

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