from AN ADVANCED COURSE IN BEING LOST
One thing I have never figured out is if I am just very dumb or if my head simply has no patience. (Either way, I fear the results are rather similar.)
-- Joe Brainard, from a letter to Ron Padgett
Toothbrushes nowadays don’t fit in the toothbrush holder. Only just the very tip. So there is my stumpy and precarious toothbrush, its soft head flaring, leaning back like it’s about to sing something.
I appreciate afresh the steel grating on my windows. Because it’s not just about keeping out thieves. It’s also there so I can’t throw myself out of the window on a whim. Statistically speaking, below the 4th floor you are likely to survive and above the 4th floor you are likely to die. And how could I ever possibly live anywhere on Earth but where I live now: on the 4th floor. I suppose this could mean “narrowly managing to die, after some time” or “the worst thing short of”.
Waheen the hustler has joined me at my table. I didn’t invite him, he didn’t ask. I sit always at the same small high table. I think he is using it to remain standing up. Waheen is immensely tall and lanky, painfully gaunt and prematurely gray. His eyes are mad and gentle. He’s very sexy. He looks like he might die tonight. A fresh Pacifico arrives for each of us. “Waheen’s got a cock like a horse. Absolute monster cock,” says the bartender, who wants to be helpful. Waheen adjusts himself strenuously, by way of demonstration. Do you understand? It’s not that I want to be good. It’s just that I must stay simple. I shrug, Waheen grins, downs his beer and drifts very gently away, like an abandoned boat. Quickly, before anyone sees, I grab his beer and, as devotees yearn to drink the water with which their saint has washed his holy feet, I drink the precious last half-sip.