It is not unusual to recount your vague experiences when you were young at that point when you are very far past being so. As of late little persistent tidbits surface at various times of small, but in hindsight, ironic events. Wherein their impact once being discounted nearer to the time of their occurrence seems prescient of what was my ultimate destiny. Had it not been for that left turn at that early crossroads then perhaps sorts of things. And in that vein I can recall one, next to forgotten, incident more by it’s lingering visual content than the outlay of its linear narrative. The outcome of the same having been carried along ever since. One in which I at some tender age between seven to eight years old, our family unit having once again been pulled along once to a new and foreign community, found myself alone and receptive to contact with those of my old age. The setting being some older suburb of a mix of older residential prewar housing and small blocks of postwar apartment buildings. Unfamiliar with neighborhood and encountering two little girls of approximately my own age and enticed along several door down from my own new home to the second story loft of a garage. An unfinished raw wooden rafter ridden space that in the way of children was rest with old forgotten sticks of furniture intermingled with the latest hoard of play set artifacts assembled over a few Christmases and birthdays.
The strange of the setup of all those rigorously placed toy cups and saucers approximating the sort of fantasies of the future that little girls of the postwar era still tended to embody. And I tugged up the stairs by each arm out of the combined excitement of the two in capturing an avatar to stand in for their model for some undisclosed future spouse. And they unaccustomed to finding what seemed so willing a victim unlike that all too familiar recalcitrant older brother or cousin, now bubbling over with undisguised excitement to have a playmate to enact their ceremony of conjuring those fantasies known wholly to precocious little female minds. Something about its mystery to one only comfortably familiar without those rigid conventions of playground ‘bang bang shoot-em up‘ war games, now being increasingly unsettling as its agenda was unfolding. A virtual tea ceremony of sorts where all the savories upon paper plate platters and cheap plastic tea cozies were imagined in the minds of thsee hostesses. What was I expected to do so as not offend? The outlay of conversation soon turning a tad contentious as it became evident that such expected familiarity with these customs were far outside the conventions of my own family cuisine. My enthusiasm for the same so evidently totally absent. Feeling what I interpreted as a growing frustrated ambivalence from the two, I hastily departed. The palpable deflation of the moment a stroke upon my head.
“What had I missed?“, I still muse to this day if I had summoned the temerity to stay even risking appearing a junior Philistine? My first innocent session of, “I will show you mine if show me yours?” The opportunity to define the measure of the feminine mystique at the source of its waters upstream? Perhaps the flowering of a lifelong bond with one of them coming from an initial attraction starting from my own preadolescence? But sitting here some six decades later wondering about the magnitude of the loss of such usefully intimate fraternization with the psyche’s of young girls that might have provided a key to much more pleasant relations later on. Something that would have bridge they strangeness of that gap between the sexes that defied my understanding even in late adolescence. That silly little dinner party conjured by those two little witches that I left running for my life. Perhaps, sanely? Perhaps not? The flip flop narrative of life ever since a result of that reluctance? Something that intrigues but supplies no answer even to this day.
As tale that begin with once upon a times go, there was a little boy that like many others, wanted to share the joys that other little boys of his age were open to. Having no brothers or sisters he would seek out others wherever they might be assemble and being equally unschooled by such a solitary existence initially amidst parental adults seek to find some way to ingratiate himself into the midst of the local tribe of peers. This might often lead him to an initial acceptance until he transgressed in being bereft of some basic proviso that those from larger families naturally possessed. On one such foray at the well-wooded edge of the subdivision by the schoolyard that all lived within he saw a handful of boys lined up with backs to the street and all standing still with legs wide apart. Approaching on one side he noticed that they all had their pants unzipped and their pee pee’s out making great arcs, each trying to best the other in outdistancing the same. The little boy wanting to join in quickly before the reserve of these new fellows was tapped unzipped his own fly and pulled out his own member. Without any warning the others began to laugh loudly and point in his direction. All joining in a single derisive communal chanting that the fact that his own penis was too tiny to be seen. The little boy began to cry as he saw that the other little boys all had longer large penises than he and he turned around and went running home in tears.
Later that night under the covers after everyone was asleep he lay with his pajamas down and a small flashlight beam focused on his member. There like a little chestnut it slept in all its undistinguished dimensions resisting all attempts in pulling and prodding to assume a more challenging dimension. The little boy lamenting that he wished that it would grow in length even a little so that it might at least match those of the other little boys. Now as such tales also seem to go where by way of fate a magical intervention changes the fate of the protagonist, the little boy closed his eyes tight and summoned all his Christmas and Tooth Fairy wishing energies and solemnly petitioned the cold dark emptiness outside the tent of his blanket. “I wish my penis was at least as large as the biggest pickle!” The next morning to his delight as he awoke he found his wish to have been granted. He rushed to school hoping at some point to be given the opportunity to join the contest of the previous day. But on the way passing the corral of an adjoining farm he heard a great whinnying sound that caused him to turn his head and note the rapidly lengthening rate of a stallion’s cock as it bucked nervously ready to mount a mare. The spectacle of such immediate growth caused the boy to stop and think. “If I could have a larger member by wishing it then why not have the biggest?” And so once again the little boy was endowed with his wish. And so he was content that when the opportunity presented itself he would not only match but outdo any of the little boys that had so ungraciously disparaged him.
The last class before the end of school was coming to an end and the little boy’s excitement was impatiently pounding with the prospect of showing off his new asset to the small congregation that would be at the same location as the day before. The teacher was introducing them to the topic of Oceanography. There on the classroom screen much to the little boy’s chagrin were all these large mammals some of the same having larger penises than a horse. The conclusion revealing the king of all mammals in size, a whale. A frown slowly crossing the little boy’s features as that vast bulk of a blue whale behemoth filled the entire screen. “What if I find someone else who like I has wished for and received such a wish?” The little boy now thought that if such an occurrence was possible that he must have the biggest to begin with. So that night, much later under the covers, he petitioned to powers of the universe to grant his wish.
The next day in school in Science class the topic of travel into outer space was explored. The era of lunar exploration revealed the mightiest most powerful invention of mankind in the Saturn V rocket. The length and power of which far exceeded that of any much punier whale. “If an inventor can produce something this big and powerful then I will be outdone yet again!” And running home once again to figure out what might be done he stopped by a small deserted grove and gathered all his wishing energies. The sound of the roar of incomprehensible rocket engines eclipsing all activity for miles in circumference, the little boy founding himself slowly rising and then gathering up speed until he saw the fringe of the darkness of outer space and it billions of stars bedecked magnificence replacing his earthly domain. Ever gaining more and more velocity, the Moon shot by, as he headed ever more rapidly toward Mars and eventually into the proximity of the more distant moons of Saturn and Jupiter. He eyed them as he whisked past coveting a new possibility in keeping with his growing desire. “My penis needs some balls of a correspondingly size!” And since the thought of joining in the small ensemble of boys had vanished long ago in his long transit he postulated that he should have the largest member and accompanying equipment in the Solar System. And after a time as he sailed past the Ort cloud layer at the edge of the same he set himself upon a mission to continue to enlarge his assets accordingly to his boundless desire as he past into interstellar emptiness towards other solar systems and galaxies the ambitions of his envy mounting to ever increasing size. Now far beyond any sense of time and space that mankind could reckon, the little boy gradually grew so impossibly immense so that even by the calculations of the best minds of the Physicists and other thinkers of humankind, he eventually disappeared into that unknowable mysteriousness of the unbounded scale of a universal infinity.
So much for the grandiose aspirations of those that tend to wish too much in life.
He was forty-five years old by the reckoning of his own tall tale. And I was twenty-two years too young to understand it’s long winded braille.
And yet, still fly off!
Now seventy years plus and a little less now realizing that this same tale as told so far back in seventy-three. Was not really that well-versed in what it pretended to be.
That something affecting my vanity too deep as an easy way out.
All those absolute Last Tangos ever since before their passion willed out.
Those ‘she’s‘ before ‘ayes‘ now incredible to have once found but then lost.
An entire Zoo filled with female dichotomy of folly and love that turned dross.
Each one in turn a plague upon pretense of yet another one a better and a bit more.
In ninety-six yet another sad foray into despair that I so much desired to restore.
But now 3x plus three since that original brew.
To find one’s self alone and seule as if nothing then known had ever been true.
That old tale’s example of fine line betwixt existence and farce.
Became an old threadbare sail which has long since become parsed.
No more sand left to run through the fingers to fit mine own grasp.
Just bitter memories of some other’s bottled venom and bitter chested asp.
This old papier mâché mask long ago crumbled by too many strife’s.
This knowledge of art over reality now bought by the entirety of one life
A single moment without any pity to expose all the fear
Revealing that play of who was but not, yet had been all along here.
In this land of pretend that so many refer to as a society it is difficult as in any era to really know the true nature of your own reality. And consequently it become problematic to understand your own existence outside of the fictions that others routinely present. The analogous turning point in history that is oft cited of man’s discovery of how to produce fire and create something that provided powers greater than those afforded by biology suggesting the presence of another force beyond nature. The development of something called rationality which led to a dilemma of magical transformation through the portal of the mind. Humans taking on specific socially orchestrated specialized roles that would offer benefits to the whole in return for escaping the necessity of any skill above and beyond those that they were supposedly best at performing. Given human nature as described over millenia this transformation required an equally unexpected man-made force. The power to convince en masse through a universal distortion of natural reality. Thus the field of the magician came into being.
As a child in the early nineteen-fifties my own world was offered up to me via various forms of containment modeled upon the simple form of a box. The rectangular solid that depending if it had four wheels upon it, a big cathode ray tube, or had served as a transitional envion for a pair of shoes, marked out the boundaries of my entry into the physical universe. The larger spaces that enclosed this basic set of the same filtering out contact with an unadulterated more intimate connection with the infinite of the surrounding cosmos as might have been the case with a farmer’s son. I losing out on the rare perfumes of wet grass and animal manure as something that offered a sense of safe shelter to my psyche. My perceptions were guided more by the visual as directed by the ever changing cast of characters offered in ‘contrasty’ monotone from within the family television set. The degree of interpersonal conversation that had initially served as my own foundation of learned speech transitioning slowly circumspect in deference to this device as we all ritually gathered around the set at mealtimes. The magic that it offered playing on an authenticity that drew heavily from the former jungle of newsprint that had acclimatized my own immigrant forebears some sixty or seventy years previous. It’s powers to convince through the illusion of consensus spurring me on the find some small way of participating in a similar way. The most accessible medium to me being, with some ironically, the empty shoe boxes that my parents occasionally collected.
These enclosures along with other similar cardboard equivalents gave me a cargo cult of possibilities to populate a world of my own with small collections of disparate artifacts; some of which had been provided as toys and some discarded left on front lawns and by curbs. The inner surface of what had once served as a conveyance for my Buster Brown’s papered with exotic full color vistas of Elmer’s white glued magazine spreads. Their composite collage serving as a backdrop for odd collections of flotsam jetsam characters frozen into a static communal existence with other random discoveries mined from my own comings and goings to the local public school. These assemblages bringing a level of status based upon my own untutored invention of scenarios suggested by one or two store bought molded polystyrene characters that were careful placed in preeminent positions. The dress and artifacts that their forms suggested being predominantly foot soldier military or Western cowboy as that was what was generally offered to young boys in that age. The magic of being able to directly channel what was currently most popular on TV allowing me to feel the thrill of a miniature Prometheus for a while. At least until the mismatch of substances used to attached key elements in these tableau’s failed and the fell off. This slowed down Lilliputian world of static admiration of mine offered to what was becoming an increasingly more sophisticated medium setting up an impermeable envy that egged me on to up the ante and try out other then popular child based mediums.
I entered the world of colorful injection molded plastic play sets by a company called Marx. A child oriented world transitioning from a less prevalent equivalent that my father and mother once knew in that earlier realm in cast iron, tin and cotton fabric. And eventually graduating to their elder brothers called Revell and Monogram that offered what was for me at that stage a form of hyper reality in the high detail of faux effigies of collective actualities taken from study of the real thing. The icing on the cake assembled via a volatile tube of Testor’s cement being brushed on with their equivalent paint product and surmounted like a sundae by water soluble decals to enhance realism even further. The glass wall case in the basement of the local YMCA offering both inspiration and honor if one’s own personal efforts was worthy enough to deserve merit in a name tagged small space beside others upon one of its crowded shelves. My parents financing of such expenditures through occasional increases in my weekly allowance having me dabbling with latest releases of models of every category upon my own closet shelves. Those boxes sometimes empty after the parts initially within them had been dutifully separated from the residual chaotic looking enigma of emptied plastic trees and transferred over to the rational logos a fully completed model. The assembled form now too large and awkward to be housed within it’s original container. Much in a similar fashion to the effect of “I Dream of Jeannie“, once out of its context of simple light entertainment was now subliminally affecting my own notion of choice for a future mate. And of course the type of role that I would have to fit into to attract the same!
There was of course a waiting obsessions to become inducted into ranging from an adoration of the seasonal offerings in the latest new models of automobiles to the plurality of alternate mindsets subsumed by the burgeoning influence of the Playboy philosophy. The common touch between all these being the every transforming magic set forth by its main guru of the structure behind each topical facade supported by the techniques of modern advertising, one Edward Bernaise. My main current unbeknown to me being in caught in the undertow of the notion of lifestyle artfully posing under the sheep’s clothing offering the necessary utility to survive a bustling modern society. Something I joyfully embraced as those times, unlike the current ones, offered boundless success in the future to the true believers. The manipulations carried on from ‘above’ of assassination’s, meaningless wars, and planned economic slowdowns, still to come. A lifetime of varied experience enjoyed within the interim eventually bring some insight and sanity to the current appreciation of a wasteland populated by those whose only vista of the potentials of a future kept continuously in view through a small rotating vista of a pocket sized smart phone. Whatever I, and any others, caught within the prison cotton headed uniformity of an ever voracious modern society have come to know being at the behest of so many years of planned programming to waylay what we might of individually become into the bin of a collectively sense of guided faux Utopias of ‘should be‘. The notion of civilization served at the expense of those in their most vulnerable years to carry on a continual underlying televised mentality masking any awareness of the true nature of one’s self. We as a species seem fated to be caught in these types of boxes.
The bar was packed that Saturday afternoon. Five miles on foot was no longer as easy as it once seemed. The bar tools were almost all taken up along the narrow passage toward the toilets and gaming machines. Three bars tools remaining open at the gap where the barmaid had exit. A logical place to sit amidst all the purely male grunting and growling at the sports of the moment broadcast high up on the back wall. The patter about the latest contenders in the cyclical round of sports teams wrangling for another temporal privilege to be denoted the best. Best quickly being supplanted by another form of trivial competition that would for the moment be supreme. The Big guy at the bar stuck out his paw at the newest member. Softer old well worn office flesh grinding against working man callous. The palaver offered in unrecognizable rising stars and the coming season’s end competition that would close out the past year’s interest. The young female playing bartender passing through her gap sensing her salutation by way of asking the newcomer’s preference. The man having made sporadic appearances over the previous year answering by pointing to the full bottle in her grip. “The same!”, he added. The small girl halted in mid step she ceded the bottle and returned to the cooler behind her to wrestled out another glass soldier for the other unnamed party whisking by to serve the substitute bottle. Albeit a few seconds late.
Perhaps this old geyser was an oddity and not quite unfamiliar to her curiosity. Indifferent to the televised squabbles portrayed by mouth and tongue of flat screened past their prime former performers. He seemed more entertained by the ceremonies of male worship of large men going down the path towards impotence and little remaining social regard. Their drinking and the wealth of pocket required to continue it a peacock driven display of their manhood. Not so the unnamed stranger. The resident house brute a stool away asking his name. Pleasantries exchanged the conversation now took up the topic of weather. The bridge being a statistical quip noting the irregularity of the expected season for the showdown between the two best teams at the holy of hollies. The felicity of the old man’s staring in return interrupted after an interval as he simultaneously waved a tenner in the air to attract the barmaid to the fact that this one bottle green would be his one and only of the day. She asked, “Just one?” He replying to the effect that one being useful to take the edge off of so many miles on foot. Several miles more than usual no longer being as easily traversed as had once been the case. Adding that his drinking habits had descended into what was once considered reasonable by society of years past. The response breaking the plastic visage of her standard act leading to a momentary stony repose.
She offered a tiny heresy that she didn’t even like beer. The declaration and the manner that sh had delivered it revealing an insight that this was a job that she did for money not any sort of personal relish. The hairy old swollen animals along the length of the bar to the entrance a stool bound raging sea of wild beasts. This establishment a man cave bound lair for mildly voicing the discontents of the day of lives gone sour in the reflection of young men tasked to offer the best of what men were supposedly meant to. Physicality remaining here no where near the aptitude or requisite strength to even partially approach it. More rounds of beers being quickly ordered after attentive angst to slosh away missteps of their televised avatars. The old guy at the end of the bar staring unimpressed like a weed up the backside. A lighting spark of an electric more timeless connection between him and the young girl’s confession leading to an affirmation. The world the way it should be having no place in the modern world of a society gone mad on the perception of its own technical invulnerability. Something changed as evidenced by a silence. The game was revealed like the harpoon ridden back of the often storied white whale of old coming up momentarily. Yet all too soon to sound its hoary evidence of old pain back into the deep again. The heart and matters pertaining to the same getting no public airing lest it demonstrate the vulnerability of some weakness. Weakness an old man’s province. Another bar stool prone old inmate far off a testament to blunted manhood. The conversation concluding with the customary gift of advise against indulgence posed in inverted logic.
The sterling moment past, the old sage drained the dregs and picked up his stakes. His grizzly companion of the moment pressing the flesh hard once again. A tumbling rock bouncing politely past the gauntlet of beefy growlers venting their mild frustrations. Coming to rest before his doppelgänger enthroned at one of the two small tables at the front window. Both offering a wrinkle graced grin-like grimace. The table before him sporing a paper plate slice of pizza and a small plastic picnic bowl of tiny pretzels. Light fare for this old pensioner. The jovial gaoler on his way offering, “Two squares a day and all the beer you can drink!” “What a life!” The other old insect stuck upon a pin of a bar stool answering with an equally jovial nod of appreciation for being acknowledged. The bar’s interloper now outside under the cool blue of afternoon’s fade into beginning of the year’s ecliptic bound darkness. The world would assuredly tip back towards light in the coming months. A sense of assurance appreciated for that young man struggling mightily within the slow decay of another old man’s frame. Despite all the memories past of lives encountered and discarded by time he was still very much alive.
The turkey dinner stunk. He sat in the easy chair finally relieved to be sitting. The marathon of two days had come to a climax. Early perhaps, but all the same exhausted. The drill was to be some sort of sentimental ritual of fond holiday remembrance. Recollection of times past when Christmas dinner was a regular event. An event that sometimes felt like the experience was becoming overly trite. But in light of the passing of a decade and a half had returned to the status of beyond extraordinary. Unfortunately, the noble attempt had been a failure. Not a total failure though. The turkey report four days previous stated the possibility of an outbreak if Salmonella ridden turkeys. And so he had put in the freezer when the frig seemed to have a slight off odor. Later it was apparent that the smell was from a poorly chopped red onion. The result was a certain level of insecurity as to whether his efforts to thaw in twelve hours before that after testing various scenarios from washing in tepid water and chipping away ice from the interior he was risking a waterlogged bird with all the natural juices removed. It seemed at that point it couldn’t cook right. But miraculously with a liberal transfusion of butter and thyme with a few rosemary sprigs and lime interposed apple slices in its chassis.
Where he went wrong was his timing. The two Pyrex dishes of bread dressing being perfectly cooked and set upon the burners on the stove. But to his mind needing to stay warm until the point of serving when he came back from a prearranged brunch. The minutes ticking down, he dumped the two of them back in the oven with the turkey. All the way there he knew he had made a mistake. Little did he expect that the contents of both pans would turn black as a cinder! Things seemed to go downhill from there. By the time he had everything in control enough to serve himself half of it was barely edible. The subsequent cleanup of the many greasy pots, pans, utensils as well as dishes of all sizes was prophetic in scale. Now of course that world had all been restored to a former sense of prior order. One that had been in force as set by the original owner of the utensils. He had tried their use and had found a new respect for the quiet dilemma shared each year by his dear departed mother. Her expertise had been honed to razor sharpness at that point when the small family had been installed in its first new house. A one story mid-century suburban property that sat tabla raza in a brand new subdivision that had been carved from a tract of former farmer’s field. The center of town persisting to declare itself as remaining part of a bygone era when Cyrus McCormick had them among his best customers in the heyday of bountiful crops corn or wheat. Now it served as a canvas for all their dreams to erase the hopelessness of an terrible economic depression and the war that had been waged in part to defeat it.
Some of these current utensils served as important artifacts in the entertainment rituals that his two parents put forth to attract the envy and admiration of other’s of their own generation. Siblings of my mother and my father’s mother, stepfather and half sister. Those few good years when they were allowed to demonstrate their coming success that less than a half decade would elude them. One by one these sets of merry making holiday tools were deposed to storage in the back of cupboards or redefined into more mundane uses for carrying on everyday existence. Some had been handed over by his maternal grandparents and provided lasting utility as a backup for others more modern but of a lesser quality. Thus many had earned a certain nobility in his mind as veterans from former eras of celebrations that were now nothing more than the inference of old phantoms, His weariness had led him to retire not very long after the setting of the Sun on the far horizon past the apartment’s vertical blinds. He had fallen into a stupor barely able to keep his balance as he staggered to the bedroom with the intent to turn in early. The fast erratic heartbeat of drum synthesizing the aura of amplified electric bass suddenly shaking his chambers. Somewhere below or above voices were now raised in unrestrained joyfulness. Some of them perhaps as foolishly careless and free as those of his own parents had been in their heyday. The cycle of the hopefulness of life was playing itself out once again in his vicinity just out of reach yet clearly evident.
The silence about the bedroom woke him up gently to the somber droning of the melancholy of some Middle European symphony composed in the latter half of the previous century when the horrors of the second great war were still fresh. The booming music conducted by the concrete and its sudden choruses of ebullient joyfulness now gone as if they had merely a passing folly of his imagination. The impressions currently leaking from his rising consciousness telling of a solitary old codger that had joined the party. But the party had been transposed to another place and time in an appreciation of the world as it might have been nearly a hundred years back. The joyfulness of a candy emporium or bakery with fresh newly baked odors and muslin banners and tapestry’s declaring the imminence of a new year. Smiling female faces ripe for the play of mind boggling word games and the reward for the right guess in decorative party favors. Celebration and unbounded happiness having no reason beyond its appearance in the moment. His own white whiskered bald pate’d avatar pointing to the ceiling with an impish grin declaring to the entire party,”What is another name for cupcake?” His consciousness now regained within these opposing symphonies playing each in their respective low volume and he laying cat-like and rested beneath the coverlet diagonal upon his bed. Had it all been a dream he wondered as his eyes rolled slowly towards the passage door of the bedroom. The dim glow of Christmas resting warm upon it dimly reflected by relay from that still illumined effigy within the next room. The faux armature of a small tree packed with all its old family trinkets casting its still brilliant old burning memories forth from this passage of another Christmas. It’s heritage now resplendent in the first hours of the commencement of a new day soon to come to pass.
A has been that’s never been. Nobody left in the parade. Fingers no longer my friends. Eyes on the way out. Guts churning day and night. The squish squash sound of a heart over-clocking all through the night. A has been. No longer good for nothing except in my dreams. No longer of use to the users. That never been part still hanging over my head like a dagger. Like a star elusive and out of reach. Dare I reach out and cut myself on the reflection. A flesh and blood automaton to the rest of the world. No one. No more braun with a failing brain. Going to bed too early while everyone else joins the party. Listen to the silence in the room. Counting the dollars that I should have had. Wanting to pay back old debts to people who have long since picked up stakes and gone away and died. Someone of no regard that the rest of the world is no longer in danger of being aware of. Another corpse to step over. A has been. Bouncing up and down weaving right and left. Legs unsteady and light headed possibly ready to take a dive. A has been! That’s what was overheard. The truth in it from having overheard. Learning that this world has given up on me. No it is my turn to follow suit. That long low empty space behind my footsteps where a whole lifetime used to be. Now all gone. The end. Only the wait left to be endured in respectful quiet. When will I wake up? When is it time to not. No longer? A wake up call for the has been. A long night’s rest.