Spell the Seventh
So As Pursue What Might Actually Matter
1. I remember the one bedraggled therapist I could ever afford. In Chicago, years ago. To her, I described peeping, very late at night, into the window of a solitary man staring at his computer and wearing only boxer shorts. A man who turned, just then, to sip his beer: the man who saw and caught me. Jumped up, stormed outside, hauled me in, tugged down his shorts. My therapist was completely dismayed. She said, “That’s NOT how it usually works.” In the same way, please excuse: my life has been a long tutorial about how glorious it is to be unprofitable and drop out. Keep in mind that I was well-remunerated, responsible, and self-sacrificing for a significant number of years. Married, in other words. A solid decade, if you figure it generously. For which I was viciously punished. Why censure me for being irresponsible? Why not chide God for being misleading?
2. Because it is his essential function. Something just next door to being. He is the taker of notes. (To say ‘someone’ goes too far.) He takes notes for a test which is inconceivable, for a performance that will never arrive -- or else is ongoing. A test on artichokes and infernos, on drag queens and onions.
3. As far as I can tell (aged 43) there are two primary things that make middle age dismaying. The first, of course, is watching people fall apart. I watched people fall apart when I was young but it wasn’t until later (now) that I realized it would be everyone. Me, too. The second thing, generally less recognized, is: no one ever figures anything out. Or rather, they never figure out the thing that would make a difference for them. They figure out other things, other people’s things, even major things -- but never the thing that would make a difference for them personally. Almost never. It’s there, right there, so obvious, so clear -- no use. They, I, she, you. Can’t can’t can’t can’t. This turns out to be significantly more devastating to watch than the inevitable demolition.
4. I remember laughing at the rugged, dark-haired boy who told me, when we were both just 17, that HE WASN’T GAY -- he just liked to have sex with men. He must be gray-haired by now, or bald, and does not imagine that I apologize to him most every day.
5. For once, the explanation is simple. A cross-eyed 7 year old with bifocals and a limp takes refuge in perpetually studying. Because he is praised for it. Because it is so oddly soothing. A skittish gimp-legged kid finds the one thing he can manage and hammers away at it relentlessly. Because all else is so entirely too large, too loud, too bright, too complex. He takes notes, he takes notes and notes. A ritual, a tic, a grudge. The blank cards make their appearance in third grade. Originally they are emblazoned with monsters. Little has changed.
6. Two whole hands (I got big hands) and so thick I couldn’t even get those same hands around it. But that was only the most famous part of him, which he gave to everyone. What I loved most was his broad soft mouth, reeking of cigarettes. The way it made me feel I had been chosen. Though really it was only (yes, always this) that he was glinting high and I happened to be there and reminded him of something we both half-remembered, from some bear porn in the Nineties.
7. In short, I seldom see the point of writing things that aren’t a little dangerous. Embarrassing works too. For small talk, why not attend your local bar? Do you struggle to accept your acceptable thoughts? And so, therefore.
8. Navratilova retired. Did Navratilova stop playing tennis? Of course not. Navratilova simply ceased to compete publicly in tournaments. Navratilova remains an icon. Navratilova continues to have a good time.
9. This is a public declaration to the effect that I will be retiring as a cocksucker. Naturally I will continue to suck cock. This only means that I will be stepping back (or standing up?) so as to pursue other interests. My primary interest, occupation and identity will no longer be as cocksucker. I act for privacy and for patience at this time of turbulence and transition. My subsequent career path is not yet clear. Literature is one possibility. (Hard as it is to imagine without sucking dick.) Ecology remains the only path that is currently defensible. That, or public health. Maybe I’ll just switch to getting fucked in the ass? Anyway, it is time for something different. I had assumed it would be cocksucking start to finish. Yet evidence of boredom had been lurking. One night I went to Rawhide: Big Dick Rick was there, running through his Big Dick Rick Routine. Evidently he’d been pumping. Though my jaw was sore I did my best, and as I did so I thought, True, it is enormous, it is entirely enormous, but -- is it actually all that interesting? Big Dick Rick: I would have loved him, but that was not an option. I got up and caught the last ferry home. When I woke up the next morning I discovered we’d lost David Bowie.
10. Other people’s revelations: Actual goodness is entirely unrelated to one’s popularity at the grocery store. I am not the king of Mesopotamia; neither did I model my life on Christ. Sharing is a catastrophe I might well survive. Not for ages have I looked 23. Of course I am a therapist: I enjoy looking down on people. Jacking off is just a cheaper way of getting drunk. Awakened, my ass. Tears, like song, are a reliable means to control conversation. Another year at the call center will not put me any closer. He doesn’t love me and will not ever; moreover, who cares? One more will not be any closer to enough. What matters is getting down to the actual work. Morality is not a magical process accomplished simply by averting one’s eyes. The problem is not that I’m fat. The problem is not the leg. The problem is not that white queers don’t want Asians. Vodka could very well be the problem. Porn or perfection, ditto. There is almost never any time. Fuck the neighbors. You must allow at last the pain to meet the air.
11. I remember how it seemed to me that they were in charge of the world. Or, at least of its pleasures and doors. Now I see them: with their pedigrees and grooming needs, the militant luxuriant shrubbery, and I think, Oh look, they are still here. I continue to marvel at what they have been able to do, with razors and injections, with weights and creams. The Exquisite Gays. I remember how terribly it mattered, that I could not be one of them. This was before I understood: disqualification is a potent form of blessing. I am no longer a mongrel, locked on the other side of a glass door. Instead: an animal outside in the dark, mortal, uncorrected, unchecked, wild. Glancing at the shine of the dinner party before I lope away, continuing on beneath the waxing moon, busy in my own pursuits, in search of my own prey.
12. My father, with satisfaction, at sunset with his first red wine, says that I’d been a pretty smart kid, actually, after a slow start. “But then, you had to be,” Dad says. “You had to make up for having a crippled leg.” “No. Actually,” I say. “I didn’t. Have to. But I sure thought I did, didn’t I?”
13. Although the Orthodox Hindu/traffic safety quadrant of my personality may yet retain reservations, it appears that perfect temporal happiness consists of dotting chicharrones with hot sauce and lime and swigging a Corona while riding through the jungle on the way to the beach, the angel at the wheel, my hand on his thigh, teasing him about his boner, feeding him a chicharron as the car swerves and Blondie shouts out MARIA!