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post #83
bio: stu
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10/10/2005
10:46

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One Ordinary Night, with Cigarettes
--Fiction. More or less.

I can't write.

Not at a time like this. But that's okay. It'd just be about myself anyway. Well, mostly about that fucking car alarm out there. Can't even hear myself think, much less make this entertaining and edifying and all the shit that the written word is supposed to be. No one's even trying to steal the goddamned thing; a strong wind knocked some snow on it. Believe me, I know. I've looked into it.

So that's what I'm left with: the whimpering wind and the omnipresent car alarm.

****

I'm smoking again. I'm not a smoker, but I'm smoking. I'm not even inhaling most of the time. I've got the cigarette out just to have something to do instead of focusing on that fucking alarm. Why won't it stop?

So what am I writing about? More importantly, what should I be writing about? I don't even know my state of mind anymore. I'm just writing this out hoping someone will figure out how I'm supposed to feel. My identity has been reduced to whatever it is you're reading right now.

Welcome to postmodern hell. Sartre once wrote "hell is other people." He must have had as hard of a time dating as I've had, but he's wrong. Hell is being stuck inside your own head. Of course, other people contribute, and hell is intensified by cheap old cigarettes, instant coffee, and a skull-tightening alarm that's quickly acquiring capital letters. A Car Alarm. Pretty soon it'll be The Car Alarm. In about five minutes it'll be the platonic ideal of The Car Alarm.

Four years of college, 16 years in the American educational system, and all I use it for is to bitch about a car alarm in the middle of winter; something pretty minute in the whole scheme of things. I mean, this is not the Holocaust here. This isn't even any holocaust. 16 years, and I know to call a car alarm noise an ululation rather than a screech. Fucking poser.

****

I suppose this is the point where I should confess that I've been drinking.

****

I should put on some headphones and crank up the tunes. My discman is right here. I wouldn't even have to cross the room to grab a CD. I think the Velvet Underground's Greatest hits is in there, and I know Paul Simon's greatest hits are within reach. Except I can't stand the Velvet Underground's female singer. Hell is being inside your head with bad cigarettes, instant coffee, Nico singing about all of tomorrow's fucking parties (when it's today's parties that are the problem), with that goddamn ululation in the background. And I'm not going to have Simon sing about the 50 different ways a lover can be left.

Besides, putting on music would be running away. It's a pride thing. I can't run away and I can't hide from this. I have to beat it. It's man vs. nature. Isn't it? Okay, a perverted sort of nature, but nature's nature.

****

This is where I reemphasize that I've been drinking. A lot. Just lining them up and knocking them back.

****

Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? I have been drinking straight from the bottle. Just me and Mr. Daniels.

And my liver, though my liver doesn't get much of a say in the manner.

And that car.

****

There are really only two ways for me win. I either need to wait until the car battery winds itself down, or go out there and beat the shit out of it with a fucking claw hammer. Smash the windows, scratch the paint with the claw, and pop the tires. Give it something to bleat about.

The problem is, my parents got me the hammer and the accompanying toolkit when I left for college. Unfortunately for me, they didn't look too closely at the kit when they bought it, so now I have the "Toolkit for Her." All the tools are a lovely toilet cleaner blue with "For Her" written on the handles in an effeminate cursive script. Getting arrested for beating the shit out of some unknown person's car would be bad enough; getting caught with a "For Her" hammer would be a fitting capstone on this shitty day. Something to avoid, if at all possible.

Just realized something. Even if I didn't get caught, the alarm would still be going off, and I'd still have to sit here and listen to it until the battery runs dry. No way would I be able to do enough damage to get to the alarm. I don't even know what a car alarm looks like.

****

I had this small toy cow when I was growing up; Christmas gift, I think. It had two little heat sensors on the bottom, so when you held it in your hands it would moo. "Moo, moo, moo. [Pause] Moo, moo, moo." Four times it'd go through that mooing shtick. It'd go indefinitely if you kept it in your hands.

Cute gift. The novelty wore off real quick though, and like most toys, it got discarded and lost. Apparently, the designers realized that the novelty would last about one lunar cycle, and didn't put too much effort into designing a long lasting battery. Planned obsolescence in a Mexican standoff with ADHD. Anyway, whatever the case was, eventually it wound up getting knocked under my bed.

By the heat register.

It sat there until fall came. The first time the heat came on one of those autumn nights, the cow started to moo. The battery had run almost completely down, and the only thing it could manage was a tortured drawn out groan. I was trying to sleep (even at 11, I was already an insomniac), and I nearly wet myself. Something was making a long drawn out droning under my bed. Christ, that's every kid's worst nightmare. I've always been afraid of the dark, but I had been trying to be a big boy. No nightlight, and turning on my lamp would require me to get out of bed to take two steps to the desk. (Needless to say, after that night I kept a nightlight on until 7th grade, when the paperboy started to make fun of me about it.)

In the dark, that was the harbinger of Death come for me earlier than expected, like a Saturday Morning cartoon by Bergman. The first horrid groaning went on for a couple minutes. I had a reprieve of about 30 seconds where I thought I'd been saved. The second moo was even worse than the first. I had been waiting for something to happen after the first mooing stopped, and when it did happen, I felt my bladder loosen. If I'd had anything to drink since supper, I would have had an even more interesting problem to deal with.

The third moo was bad, but it was followed by a blessed silence. When the second set started, I lost all hope. That fourth moo after a wait of about five minutes assured me that this wasn't going to stop. I had thought myself safe. When it started again, I began to cry. Four sets of three moos, as long as the heat sensors were activated. The heat was on all night.

It was my first and longest all-nighter, and it was the most terrified and helpless I've ever been.

That's how I feel right now. Not terrified, so much as simply impotent. Completely fucking powerless. I hate that feeling...and I've had it too much recently.

****

I suppose this is supposed to be the point where I start blubbering about the cheating bitch who dumped me earlier this evening. Christ. I'm a fucking cliché. A big postmodern cliché in a fucking soap opera with a soundtrack courtesy of a green Neon.

I wish alcohol did for me what it was supposed to. I would kill to have my senses dulled, to get rid of that sound and keep me from thinking so much. I'm stuck in the eternal problem of Hamlet (fucking English major). People are deceiving him, and he spends all that time just thinking. He's so incredibly self-aware that he just freezes, unable to act because he fully understands the consequences of his actions. Finally, he does act, and botches everything up so fantastically that it could only be the result of careful thorough planning. People just muddling through life can't fuck up as beautifully and spectacularly as Hamlet.

Or me.

Of course, this could just be me treating my life like an epic poem, rather than the soap opera that it is. This is not Hamlet driving Ophelia away from him because of complicated multi-faceted reasons that change based on perspective and preconceptions. This is not Paris stealing the fair Helen from Menelaus. This is me being dumped by a girl I love. This is me wanting to smash her with a hammer "For Her."

How utterly trite and pedestrian. "Sing, Muse, of the utterly boring and solipsistic ramblings of this poor motherfucker."

So I never told you how my situation with the cow from hell turned out. And I don't think I'm going to, either.

-Written in 2000






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