Spell the Second
To Speak With the Gods of Weather
1. If you don’t dance, no prize. You have to dance. Sorry. It’s my rule, it’s my show. No dance? Fine, OK, I keep it to me Dance?
2. Keith, king of the weeknight bartenders, stands and waits. He does not mind this surly man, who has evidently misplaced the guidelines for this particular planet. The man waves, the man grunts, Keith waits and shakes his head and finally says, very gently, as if giving a hint, “Remember -- you have to use words to tell me what you want.”
3. I still hear the sounds. I just no longer know where they are coming from. Is that a problem? I wish I could apologize to the lady with the phone, at whom I glared. Because it wasn’t a ringtone, not her fault at all. Apparently the cafe at this moment has chosen to abruptly blast Cher.
4. ALWAYS MAINTAIN A SECRET LOCATION. ALWAYS MAINTAIN A SECRET LOCATION. ALWAYS MAINTAIN A SECRET LOCATION.
5. Goals: climate crisis solved, unpopular and non-cute species also saved, dentistry, student loans, Nobel Prizes (Peace, Literature) for my own glory + betterment of humanity. Also I would one day like to be a long-dead dog, so that my family might finally love me.
6. The way some people are afraid of airplanes or elevators, dogs or the dark, I am afraid of gay men in their forties or fifties who have washboard abs, giant biceps, immaculate haircuts and are absolutely breathtakingly fucking mean. Do you also meet these men? There appear to be many of them. Clearly this is something that happens. It is by no means uncommon. These men are brutally healthy, they are accurate and correct. It is doubtless due to my weakness of character and penchant for inferiority that I much prefer the middle-aged queers who let themselves drink beer, get chubby and jack off a lot. They even seem like better people. This is the kind of slob I am: I prefer surrender to war. Any time online you see abs and not an age, you may assume that you have stumbled upon Mean Gay. Electronically, Mean Gays may easily be avoided because they tend to write online profiles consisting exclusively of what they will not tolerate. No time wasters! Face pics in first message! I am into OTTERS not BEARS! Sorry guys just a preference! If you’re not SERIOUS about being FIT we are NOT a match! Masculine only! Have a job, have a place! You be vers, clean and ready! My TIME is VALUABLE! Gotta make this happen in 5 messages or less!
7. No contesting it: I am neither stoic nor Stoic. But Marcus Aurelius wasn’t always either. But is it possible to earn partial credit, since I am seeking, also, to make use of everything?
8. I thought it was a nightmare when it came to my rescue. A dream of panic on the night of the school play. The show was TONIGHT and I did not know my lines. Not a single one. Even worse, I was supposed to be a sort of narrator. I had to provide not just occasional remarks but entire blocks of text. I couldn’t learn my lines. I could not even understand them. I wanted to scream but couldn’t; I couldn’t even breathe. Full of shame, I went to the director, a pious downtrodden lady. I told her I had failed: I could not be in the play. She looked at me with disgust. It didn’t matter that I was a child. “You tell me this NOW?” Even though it was the last thing I wanted, I ended up in the audience of the show. What I saw on stage astonished me. A crowd of actors were milling back and forth. Some of them were reading from a book. Others had their lines on cards. But -- I could have done that! It had never occurred to me that it might be all right.
9. My gentle mother was mortally ill by then, lying in bed beneath her green velveteen comforter. I told her the teacher counted to ten and, if we didn’t have our snow things on by then, if we weren’t already out the door, we couldn’t go out for recess. My brother says that at 7 no one knows their mother, not even at 17. Still, I remember her face when I told her, how it lit up the way a newspaper catches fire as she reached for the phone.
10. I remember a night at the baths in Tokyo, a small man who tugged off his blue towel to show his enormous cock. “It’s my mutant gift,” he said and smirked. Everyone’s got a gift. Mine is becoming fond. I grow swiftly deeply durably fond. Fond of all sorts of people, in middle of the road places, as well as out of the way, and in dark corners most of all. Very often I become fond of people who have no use for me at all. I am even fond of people who actively dislike me, who see me as a fool or a slut, a loser or a punk. (There is good evidence for some of these opinions.) Every now and again one of these persons will relent and grow fond of me -- against their better judgment. More often they go right on not thinking much of me at all, even as I grow more fond, as well as impressed by their good sense.
11. A secret location: A door that locks is the best talent. If you are wise, you’ll assist them in thinking you’re a loser, failure, madman, drunk. Stumble out your door at noon, as if you’d just now gotten up. Meanwhile, behind the door, your mix: poetry, dharma, mourning your dead and the demolition of the world. Read endlessly your chosen tribe of maniacs, make yr own prayers, yr holy stuttering notes. Do push-ups and drink soda water. Resist, dive deep, play dumb.
12. To himself. The lion’s share of suffering is simply allegiance to the Gruesome School. Gruesome School = addictions + resentments + to do list. Attraction of sake = after one carafe, the realization, I can drive right around this crap! Subsequent carafes, however, only reinforce allegiance to the Gruesome School. Take heed.
13. Wisdom of Keith, bartender, delivered with gin, soda, two limes. “Remember when we used to have actual seasons? Now the weather is all done with a calendar and darts. This is the end of sequence and progression. Once maybe we had actual gods. Now they just play games.”