it was a pleasant sunny day strolling down the sidewalk at the edge of the beach by the water. The adjacent bike path’s traffic was slowly buildings with weekend ‘Tour de France’ aficionados many of whom who seemed to confuse occasional pedestrian traffic crossing their path as some form of momentary personal vendetta. Approaching the meander of the six lane highway to the other side of the ritzier section of the city’s center the Brahman section of the beach came into view. I knew that I was out of my depth strolling down this part of the beach. One that was unofficially reserved by some unspoken fiat for those in full flower of youth and wealth. And here was I nearly four decades past same taking my time at a pace that was annoying to all constituents of that age group! But there were no stanchions along the path to keep the riff raffia out of their zone. And my pittance of tax money was a good as the massive amounts that many of their parents declined to pay so rather than cross over under the tunnel below the big highway to an adjoining side street I rallied forth at the exact same slow maddeningly pace obliviously taking in any and all surrounding me as if it were part of a circus midway. And for someone such as myself, as I have said, being a multiple of three times the age of nearly all those before me nearly in the buff and vainglorious exposing as much well-tanned buff flesh as possible I am sure I was just as problematic. If not in the eyes as problematic as the occasional appearance of one of their parent’s in swimwear that might have exposed all the most unwanted bulges that their well-tanned sensibilities would have been fearfully abhorrent of. The current day’s propriety of this region not tolerant of an Michelin males or Pillsbury dough people.
One section demanded that all who dare not risk life and limb challenging the eminent domain of the nearby velocipede superhighway had to descend via an old crumbling concrete stairwell to walk amidst the well-heeled Lancome Bienfait buttered bun skinny thong-habited indigene. Granite ‘six pack‘ torsos supporting swollen biceps silently hard at work to garner temporal admiration within the surround of diffident maiden flesh. Their own ample Venus de Milo marbled chassis sporting sparsely covered surgically over-inflated boobies lounging like seals on the expanse of the low waist high sea wall. My own tiny, oft forgotten, ‘Johnson‘ becoming a tad nervously restless at this enfolding spectacle below I courageously descended. An navigational hazard appeared in my peripheral vision sitting somewhat draped on the treads ten steps down. A young man with his physical form lounging Etruscan couch style indifferently taking up a good part of the real estate nearly blocking egress into the teaming youthful morass below. My efforts to be covertly as circuitous as possible bruised by his verbal interjection. “Would you mind giving me a hand?“, the Apollonian face spoke in my direction. As if uttering some obscure stern quip from the more erudite unexplored postings of a lesser know ancient Greek poet. I looked back at him with trepidation as I had managed to circumnavigate his obstruction with what I took to be an extraordinary degree of stealth. What inordinate rule of the Gods had I transgressed to bring forth an utterance. Then I turned a bit and noticed that his lower limbs were quite thin and limp. His sunglasses armed continence directed its fire my way once again “Would you mind giving me a hand?” I stood there dumb as an ox. His appearance was no less than any other of nearby Narcissus. In fact, given the level of vesture and accompanying the Hublot chronometer and Roman Paul neck chain it might have been easily said that his was more than a few rungs above. “A Lift . . . in the literal sense!” Obviously considered an ox by this young man. Something though in my own private conversation informed me that this was a challenge of sorts. Not some saccharine issue of what might have been considered Good Samaritan gesture. But a challenge on the level of laying down a gauntlet with the corresponding probability of a dueling scar or worse. An act of retreat signifying cowardice. I didn’t consider that I might possibly fail to be able to lift him up. Surprisingly, up in the air he went and my back after many years of wear and teas held. I now served as pachyderm.
It was a strange career where though I was publicly scorned and privately invisible my talents at discretion and still adequate arms brought me into unimagined circles as this young gentleman’s man’s man in public. A role that I had once scorned but when actively taken on led to unofficial wealth and access to a portion of the world that I had vaguely heard of but never really knew existed. In some strange way I became the focus of a certain calling within the atmosphere of general decadence that this young gentleman traveled. Perhaps his own perverse nature as a millennial in wanting to be seen carried into venues by an aging ‘baby boomer‘ whetted some inner private fantasy of his own? While perceptibly considerable as ‘Gay’ in tastes to a casual outsider, agnostic to all things overtly sexual in practice focusing more on the regal exercise of power rather than real world participation. The demonstrated example of which led to a certain ranking of young attractive females in the environs approached were likely to approach who were willing to enthusiastically advance their desire to off participation in very forward offers of offbeat sexual gratification. Ones where I was tasked as their centerpiece. For me in those times of my scheduled performance in ceremonial entry and ultimate egress it was like reliving my own licentious young adulthood. A special status that for a while was entertaining but in light of age, stamina and reason soon became too problematic. I found myself comparing the levels of perversity’s engaged in. And to some degree found a fellow traveler in that regard from the behavior of my benefactor who only allowed himself to be engaged in an abbreviated version of some offbeat calling when it involved him ‘riding int he saddle‘ as opposed to serving as the conveyance. Humiliation having been foisted on him by the fact of his physical condition but not by current avocation to continue it through physical lip service. It was odd that like some Vaudeville performer of yore when found off-stage he treated me with a certain silent unspoken respect. An essential to his act that as it seemed to garner the affection of each audience he would not deign to tamper with or defame. The lesson that time and a variety of extraordinary experiences soon providing was that the human race as a single species was indeed a strange animal. And like any other animal in an unsure and chaotic universe had to be unscrupulously tamed and kept under tight control lest it eventually lead to the demise of it’s master.
I want to redo my past. Have a second chance to redo everything that I took for granted. Realize it as the exceptional experience I was lucky to have had! Take the time to get to know all the people that I so briefly glissandoed by on my way to nowhere. I gave traveled too far past hope and missed every deadline for redemption. A miserable wretch of my own making. The dirty little secret is there are no second changes. To get something new you have to give up something old. I can remember so much that I have given up over the decades of my existence in this realm. Too much. An emotional rubber band that now tugs so hard at my heart. So this is what growing old means? To transform your mundane years spent in childhood into golden memories. Something that might have in so many ways could have been better but now it seems that you were lucky to have had governing all the losses suffered in-between. For now it is a case of loss. Loss of memory. Loss of feelings. Loss of physical abilities that were considered standard. But now are at a premium as they have become a sure bet to fail.
When I was a child I could not imagine that the length of my mortal existence would extend farther than fifty-years old. From nineteen fifty-one plus that fatal figure placed me at 2001. The most popular groundbreaking film of my early adulthood was also named 2001. This films central actor was a black rectangle that served as a gate to another realm. It’s presence signified an entry to a very strange bizarre realm where what I personally came to know as the usual concerns of man were utterly out of place. How ironic that the narrative of this future point in time would be equivalently so bizarre and foreign to the mainstream of my intervening existence? That a decade and a half further on so many in the world would be worshiping the seeds of their own destruction at the behest of a people who have long aligned themselves with another rectangular solid of a black cube. The symbol of Saturn.
How foolish to be smitten with a love that one never had? A face that one could not for the life of them pick out of a crowd. To be brought to tears so childishly by the sincerity of actors. Yet be incapable of recognizing it within one’s midst? This must be a sign of a surrender to perpetual foolishness indeed! Yet if the tears are heartfelt then what ‘sayeth’ does that about the source? Is life not some form of sad remorseful farce if no in the beginning then certainly by it’s end? How can one look upon the beauty of another face so far removed by technologies artifice and feel so kindly? For this is a fool indeed that would be tricked to believe that they so far removed with have any part to play in the affair!
How can one know the triumph of love if they show cowardice to the promise of despair? Mere shadows instead! The ablutions of the morning not for the sake of cleanliness but resurrection from a more seductive land of fantasy illusion. Why keep writing if no one ever reads it? Is it a failing attempt at getting attention? What is there to said that has not been covered before? Maybe the explanation is that we are just here? Treading in an uncountable number of phantom steps. Human action figures that are supposed to embody what we are all supposed to desire. A peculiarity of certain persistent ‘magical’ tunes that elicit similar responses.
My fantasy of a French girl. Somehow the topic of love got lost in the bargain. My fantasy of being adept at understanding French but not so well that they catch on because I don’t want to know too much. Just enough. Nothing to spoil the illusion of white skin beauty and madness. It is her craziness that I love and respect. Respect like I do my own. You have to be crazy and alive to last in this world. When you lose that you die. Ia am currently dead! All these impossible affinities with dolls safely out of reach. Atonement for the major fuck ups of my life. A long career of bumps in the road. Of bumps in the night. Of losing my fear of too much and therefore not respecting anything anymore. Sad possibilities of serving an infernal sentence. I want to be its master and not its slave. But I am afraid that that is not possible. No longer possible.
I want a French girl! Because I know that they know how to suffer regret. Sluts all of them at heart! Ready to sell themselves to lost causes and arrogant about it. Crystal glass playthings that fracture so easily and need a lifetime of patching up. So fragile and delicate. France being the endless journey looking for what. Lost little shanties full of wine and bead and lust. Disappointment abounding as with the rest of the world for things not coming out right but just being there. For daily operas containing too many words. How I wish I could understand them all! No, I don’t. I would rather bruise my knees bloody at an altar at San Sulpice. The ritual being a way to attract my Madonna to climb down so we can go catch a drink. Those eyes so lively. How can a man not want to drown within them?
Two expresso’s! I need to talk this out. I can’t come back later. I haven’t been there at all! I want the fantasy but the woman comes along at no charge. That is the tough part. I don’t know if I am able to walk down the gangplank and never see myself again? To wake up right now and not see the same old cracks the ceiling. To turn over in bed and find a scrunched up face that has turned into what it has always been. An indifferent stranger who I have no possibility of ever getting to know. To be able to feel comfortable with. I want to marry a French girl. I once did. But, alas, as I recall now, that didn’t work out.
The security agency had recruited the two of us to carryout special missions that would require the retiring of persons of interests. The common interpretation of this euphemistically speaking was that we were to be assassins. It was common practice to secure pairs consisting of one man and one woman. This allowed for a greater level of flexibility in all types of missions where to be innocuous within the foreign environment would require quickly switching the facsimiles of identities. As every section is instructed in special skills unique to that division our specialty was to center around the use of a knife. The quick deploy of what would be considered a common everyday implement found everywhere on the planet that was essentially untraceable by any local authority was considered as strong an asset as a platoon of special op regulars. Part of the discipline involved being to detect threats that bordered not he supernatural and fend them off with everything from a butter knife to a scalpel. Out trainer was a wiry older gentleman with a neatly trimmed mustache whose general appearance might have fit into any colonial barracks found in the previous century. With a steady low voice that one might have mistaken as being significant of his being beset by slow oncoming rot of age he provided us with a credo that promised the pair of us naught but future bumps and bruises. Maybe a lesion or two?
The best way to learn this business to his way of thinking was learning how to detect a threat and promptly intercept it. Something that one had to revive in their dormant animal skills. To treat their environment like a jungle where any hostile threat was possible at any time forcing once to be ever vigilant on even the slightest anomaly that might present itself in passing. Thus our training began being the proverbial targets of the most dangerous game that mankind has forever pursued. Man and woman we both were pursued by our teacher in a regular environment bearing no arms or physical protection beyond our gift of sight and our wits to preserve us from attack. Something that might be a blow to the chin or a tackle. But more likely a form of sharply incise cut. A form of dueling scar unique to this profession that was sharp, tight, superficial and assured to heal quickly most all the time without scars. The commencement of each day in this training park was to say the least a maddening exercise when one considered that it was near to impossible to detect one’s aggressor whose level of skill was such that one literally could not detect his movement until his blade was on you.
Though the female was perhaps the most constantly aware of danger in general to the level of her entering into a constant emotional state bordering upon a constantly agitated form of paranoia. Her most general method of dealing with the assurance of this threat being to whip about twisting in a manner that resembled an energetic childish participant playing hide and seek who violently struggles to surprise another potentially nervous contestant. The more effective method that came to mind was to calmly use one’s powers of observations after quieting one’s inner being. The notion of surveilling while realizing that inner animal sense of being watched leading to some interesting results. After a series of bumps and sharp edge scratches it became obvious that our assailant had the remarkable ability to transform himself through long experience into what appeared to be thin air. With careful study of what might have concluded to be empty air a smudge or a blur would be detectable. Something along the line of the use of better trained hackles. Something in the way of slightly yellowish like some small portion of directly reflected sun became more easily detectable. The vector and speed of travel recorded in a flicker one could prepare one’s own angled of attack and mount a reasonable defense. After some weeks my partner caught on and we were both soon able to foil any incoming assault. This new ability becoming natural and signaling the end of that phase of the training.
The last incident encountered bringing a sense of chilling immediacy as to what our roles would now often frequently entertain. Having been in the general vicinity of a wagon of straw my guru had attempted to assault me coming down a narrow corridor of varied obstacles from behind. The senses now finely tuned to the point of becoming seamlessly automatic I had spun around to focus my own blade’s tip at the Adam’s apple of his neck before he could even raise his own. The expression incised upon his face betraying sign of an uncustomary frustration that I had up to this point never suspected from a customary quiet sense of fatal resolve that it had usually embodied. His voice now trembling in part from the rigor of exhaustion but equally from having his best efforts tripped up spat out a last command. “Stick it in!!“, he demanded! “Put it through my throat!” The shock of this unexpected demand took me aback. And though I did not relent from pressing the point of my scalpel into his flesh I pondered inside if this was all a case of emotions on both sides having traveled too far down the path of what was considered professionalism in this trade?
I felt the palm of a hand softly press my right shoulder and heard an authoritative voice from behind of a presence that seemed to have congealed behind me telling me to accede to my former master’s request. Though the propriety of my emotions as I had once known them were conflicted , I realized that this was the equivalent of a final test as to whether I would carry out my mission or fall short of the stated goal of it at the last instant. It was quite literally him or me! Even though I did not feel an expected pricking of sharp steel against my own frame, it was evident that only one of the two of us would walk away from this encounter. Saying goodbye to all my former notions of God and morality garnered since childhood I transcended this final threshold jamming the instrument through his rubbery thin neck till the blade struck hard into the weathered wood of the wagon gate’s edge. I was now officially birthed as the new regent having taken my teacher’s place as the reigning sovereign of this dark art. My own position in this dark art as equally secured by of my continued competence demonstrated in overcoming all comers. One day just as surely someone else eventually arriving one day within this unsure future with a greater adroitness to take my place.
My mother loved to watch, Gone With The Wind. It was her favorite movie. I can’t say that I ever understood what it meant to her. That was my failing as the perennial ‘late bloomer’. When I have seen it as of late it seems so blatantly obvious now. The frivolous nature of a young desirable girl. A seen of love based upon a foolish seen of infatuation. The fear of being left vulnerable and alone. The building of an inner resolve as a maturing woman to steel herself against any challenge. The opportunity that life provides her to prove her abilities and worth again all odds. Making her own way int he world despite the criticism of society. Discovering the true nature of love and friendship even if it seems too late in the game. And the value of home and the legacy of family that one has come from. All these qualities having their effect upon a young girl looking forward to the transition into womanhood.
She was nineteen when it appeared in theaters in 1940. I have to wonder if she viewed it first in the last preeminent movie palace still extent in the midst of the loop in Chicago? What disappointments and discoveries that lay ahead of her one might wonder if she expected? A world where war stole the possibility of finding a lasting love. The rise of career seeming to interject itself betwixt the chance for finding a home and raising a family. A brief and incidental marriage to a selfish boy that pretended to be a man leading to the disappointment and despair of never achieving the goal of harmony in motherhood. The tragic death of her mother and the subsequent loss of her father due to his grief and despair. And of course my father who in so many ways was a fit stand in for the real man in O’Selznick’s passion play. That special someone who had all the faults but at the core of it loved her and held her as the center of his universe. The most significant big budget extravaganza of her coming of age predicting in so many ways what became the challenges that she faced in the subsequent progress of her later life. How she must have viewed herself against the foil of the drama’s lead character at those many decisive junctures of her existence?
To view the film now is to catch sight of her at that tender age in the flickering darkness of the audience. A sight one rarely finds as a child of a woman that to them seemed the eternal archaic goddess known as ‘mother’. “January 17th, 1940.” To think of the date that she may have stepped into the lobby of some baroque movie palace fresh with anticipation to encounter the fresh celluloid telling her the tale of her future and destiny. How clever in hindsight for the doyens of Hollywood to fashion their plans to come within such clever intrigue. To show how a well-planned world conflict would affect the aspirations of the then contemporary iteration society coming of age and hint at how it would soon be transfigured. And in considering the subsequent ‘strum und drang‘ of this current time deposed. The players in the drama provided with both highs and lows and revealed as heroes or villains by their building legacy of reactions. The controversial aspect of the social incarceration of one and the effect of their inescapable lot in life ever-present as both tool and warning.
I have to wonder at the double edge sword the genius and the diabolical nature of those that power society so frivolously without the art form of painting the prospective progression of human life upon a screen? And then hangs it over the heads of the viewer by a thread for the rest of their existence. The audience aligning their lives to a mass hysterical narrative as opposed to finding their own way unassisted through the tangle wood of everyday chaos? Sitting here alone within the fading limelight of my own passing existence being the sole keeper of the long but now extinct narrative of my own kin I can only wonder further what the true natures of my own local players were? Their true identities reflected by the unspoken hopes and dreams that never were revealed . And somehow remained elusive never to come to pass! And how I might somehow in some small way further get to know them as they really once were.
Men want an object of focus
an island to find refuge
women want a bulwark to encapsulate them
but not to hold them back
Is life so goddamn simple?
Those long forgotten sights and smells
transcendent in time bringing one back for a moment
places once viewed for only an errant moment
caught inside within that eternally passing instant
Can there not be hope if such things exist?
Those old thoughts shared once thought mundane
Now rich roses to the slowly blinding eye
That old tune that one once swayed to
now oblivious so obvious but still so free
Still something to remind one that you once were alive.
To some there is one day when bygone spirits return to their own haunts. For many others the spectral remains ever present. The real world as I once knew it stopped long ago. Now I sit within the quiet and darkness as my only true refuge. So many times I have looked about this same room at the very same visages peering forth from picture frames. The artifacts that defined them in close proximity. A storehouse of mixed memories that slowly grows stale. When this house was full it was small and I confined myself to a tiny bedroom alone. Spending time by myself. withholding myself from those other two that more rightfully belonged here. So much wasted time between now and then that I heartily regret. Could I now begin to bear the fact of their longing they had for my company? How much can a guilty heart take? So much back and forth of the what and the why and the reasons as empty as they finally became. An unwanted rivalry I suppose for the hand of one over the hands of the other. Cold hands they would be. Not without feeling but with anticipation for the warmth that I could bring to them. That I seemed to always try to withhold. How I miss them now. Two big mitts placed upon my face with a laugh. The key in the door. Recollections traveling in reverse. Another pair of smaller hands that had care for me all my life. Their combination being so often all that I had to shelter my world. How much I turned away from that would have made all the difference for all of our worlds together as one. Yet when I think back further farther back in my life it seems defined by constant loss? So many different disappointments. Unable to be happy with that which had been set out for me in the here and the now. Spoiled! Too used to getting my way on all those little material things that seemed to ever matter. But meant nothing! Now all these things are simply stacked up blocking the entry to a road back to in gracious incident of meaningless attainment. A substitute for anything that really mattered. I am a keeper in a museum of items I dare not touch.
Penitent sack cloth of my own device. Clothes over worn to shreds as if I thought they might never age. We all have our times of glory and then decline. How foolish and unkind to deny my own? To confound the best ally I could have ever had. The ruthlessness of youth! The arrogance! An ingrate to a simple man that could not understand why his accomplishments counted for naught within my narrowed eyes. Someone who tried everything to ensnare me with the beauty his vision for the sake of giving me the gift of his insights. If I wish to recall his voice I need now only hear my own. His lessons have come back to haunt. While my own vain glories have long since crashed and burned. I see the reflection of my face with his own that is inscribed deep within it. I can no longer imagine better ventures. I look at my own physical form and note that it has begun a slow decline to fatal atrophy. Yet, I can no longer feel fear about what is in store. I have seen the worse. Felt it. This earthly world is locked away from me now. And I am nothing to it. An Autumn leaf that has gone brown and crispy curled. I have nothing anymore to give to it . Just this same old chorus September song. My ghosts as audience.