I got home and I sat in the bathroom, my baggy pants around my ankles and when I was done, I was like, man, I really just want to put on some shorts. But you can’t just shuffle like the fucking Penguin to where the shorts are from the bathroom. You put the pants on. You do the belt a lil, maybe not all the way. Then you go and change into the shorts. But you don’t just leave the pants in the bathroom at the base of the toilet and shamble ass nekkid to the shorts drawer. There’s a WAY to do things, dammit. One foot in front of the other, motherfucker.
Thinking about that made me want to write for some reason. Probably because I’m good and crazy. And I haven’t written in forever. But I think it was mostly because of my uncle.
I was talking to him tonight and I swear it started with us talking about Camaros and Chevelles and Chevy Novas but it ended with him calling me a socialist and us arguing about the flag on top of the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee not being racist, except, you know, everyone thinks it is, so it is. Perception is reality and all that.
He’s always been on this philosophy kick about how humans have a reason for existing in the universe and that we don’t do what we want because we’re afraid. And I told him that I fear writing because I don’t want to write something stupid. But beyond that, what I didn’t say, is that I don’t know what value I could ever add to the ongoing conversation that humanity has with itself. And why would humanity even care? I mean, there’s ebola, people. EBOLA!
The answer to that, from people pushing the writing thing, is that at least you’ll always be the best writer there is that can write from your own head sapce. So if I see, oh, another sunrise, let me come up with a way to describe it that no one has used before because sunrises are pretty, you know? And sure, shitfuck tons of people have described them and that doesn’t make them any less prettier. I guess. But each way is somewhat unique. Maybe. But I don’t buy it. Not usually.
I read this article about the first space walk, the one the Russians did. Dude said he felt like a grain of sand out there, holding on to a cord of some kind, floating some feet away from his craft out in the big bad nothing while his suit was puffing up for some reason. “Grain of sand,” you’re so original dude, I thought at first. But you gotta give that guy his “grain of sand” description. That’s the truth. Give it to that 80 year old former cosmonaut who had to release oxygen from his suit through a valve because the suit was puffing up for some reason and he wasn’t going to be able to get back in his craft. Ain’t nobody Yeatsing it up when floating in space takes your breath from you. When the vast comes to kill you, you can have your “grain of sand,” bro. You earned it, like the eyepatch that comes with a lost eye.
I think, in that way, in the way that stories like that can immortalize you, it’s easy being a hero.
I’m no hero. Just a dude. Along the way, I’ve become a bunch of other things, too. A bad person. A father. It’s nice to have this gift, though. The weird ability to fill an empty page with words and it usually make some sort of fucking sense. And if I’m honest about it, there are times I will write in my head. I’ll get an idea and write a scene or a line in my head. The astronaut needed to leak some O2. I sometimes need to leak words. I’ve been doing this for an hour now and I don’t even feel it. Well, maybe in my neck, from craning down over the screen, but the whisky will make me forget.
I asked my uncle what he wanted to be growing up or what he’d do right now if money wasn’t an issue and he didn’t have to make sure he kept a roof over his head in case his kids ever need a place to go. Were the great big anvil of parental burden not placed over his coyote head by the road runner, what would he do? He said he’d try to find the truth about why we’re here. Who put us here? What is our purpose? What was HIS purpose?
I laughed because I don’t believe there is a truth. Maybe there’s an explanation to the system but it doesn’t mean we’re free of the system. We can’t all be Neo, if any of us can even do that. You gotta put your pants on and walk out of the bathroom because damn it, there is a smell and there are places in the house that smell better. And you want to put on shorts. If we could see beyond the barrier of this universe into the place beyond, we could never go there and survive. I’m certain.
I’ve found that the truth is more about what you do after you find out whatever the fuck it is than the thing itself. Like the act that crystallizes a man into the vision of a hero instead of a casualty. Grain of sand instead of dead in space.
My uncle influenced me in a way no one else in my life ever did. I don’t know if he did it on purpose. I think some of it was me. I’m just naturally a cynical “nah” sorta dude. Out of all the people in my family who were brainwashed by the religion, I was dense enough to resist the Jaysis waves. My uncle’s slight influence tweaked me just so, too. He let me watch Reservoir Dogs when I was way too young. Heavy Metal. Ghostbusters. National Lampoon’s Vacation. I’m pretty sure the first tit I ever saw was because of him. That’s no small thing. I mean, I think it was a pretty regular sized boob, but you know what I mean.
And he was right about me liking beer more than soda one day. Eventually. Though soda can kick a headache’s ass and beer just brings ’em sometimes.
And classic rock. Classic rock is awesome. All music is, really. It all turns into classic rock at some point. Ask Nirvana. They were alternative at one point.
One time, my uncle told me he had this book about a dude who knows the truth about the way things in the world are put together physically and he can walk through walls and he can take a bullet out of a person. I asked him if it was magic stuff and he said, no, not really, it’s about the way the world works. I wanted to read this book and he said, I really shouldn’t because your aunt and your dad and all these people are gonna be mad because these things kinda go against the religious stuff you learn and I don’t want to get in trouble.
I already didn’t really believe in the faith based bullshit machine I had to sit through multiple times a week with drool sliding down my neck, but he wasn’t gonna give me the book so I just let it go. Many years later, while in Portland, Oregon, I found that fucking book in a used book store. I knew it was the book just from the description.
I was happy to feel like in this cold hard universe I’d found something magical or that it found me. It chose me, that little hunnert or so page novella about the dude with the plane that never wore down. And the other dude who learned from him. I felt a little vindicated at the time. Like my choice to ignore the churchy stuff was right and here was the proof. The thing my uncle tried to keep from me ended up being mine anyway, three thousand miles away. I left it all behind and won. I ran so far away.
I only now realize that whatever I was looking for in that book, it’s the same shit people look for in a bible. The truth is it was just a fun book and it made me try to move things with my mind just like every fucking comic book I’ve ever read. Now it’s just another book on the shelf.
This is a long one. I don’t know what got into me. And I’ve come back to it over and over because it kinda doesn’t make sense. But it does to me and I guess that’s ok because sometimes it’s just about getting it down. Maybe it will make more sense later.