Monday, January 13, 2003

Loss o' vision...sightlessness...blinded by the light. We had been at the Great White House on Roan less than a month when Kurt, as mentioned before, decided he needed a haircut. At this particular moment, his chosen method of payment was not cash, but something more...ah, mind-expanding. Feeling cramped economically and professionally always seems to generate the desire to expand in whatever other directions are available, and this time was no exception. This desire would lead, later on that same evening, to seeing a thousand-petalled lotus, trying to climb out on the roof but not being able to manage it because the phone wouldn't reach that far (I probably owe my life to being born pre-cordless) and Barbara spending hours entertaining me with light-refracting objects. Not to mention a holy pilgrimage the next morning to that center of all true pilgrimage, Shoney's, where we shared the breakfast bar with an entire boys' soccer team. This led to the coining of the phrase "18-man shit." As in, "I feel like I need to take an 18-man shit." But all that came later. Much later.

First this desire for expansion, for unfurling, for growth that we could afford on our budgets led to words like, "A half? Should we each take a half, or a whole? Let's just take a half first," followed by, "Shit. That's not doin' nothin'. Let's take the other halves," followed almost IMMEDIATELY by, "Oh My Fucking God!! This stuff is kicking my ASS! AND WE JUST TOOK THE OTHER HALVES!"

It would bear mention that neither of us scared particularly easily. Nor did we tend to do things half-assedly. However, the remote prospect of doubling our current state of disintegration was still recognizable as a genuine emergency. A hasty inventory revealed to us a pharmacopoeia completely devoid of anything with sedative properties and very poor planning on our part. Speed-dialing to our favorite line of supply produced no answer. Apparently we needed to notify people to stay home on Friday nights to accommodate our unscheduled fuck-ups. A desperate call to a less favored, more sketchy, dank, windowless basement place produced a "Yeah, come on over." OK, we figured if we ran like hell we could just get there and back, and it would be worth it. But lo, when we got there, they didn't actually HAVE what we came for, so we just had to SIT AND WAIT. And try to remember how to count money when the time came.

For indeed we were in denial of our fucked-upness, at least as far as OTHERS were concerned, for in no way were we prepared reside the majority of this evening around people who were not us. Therefore, no good appearing to invite babysitting. And we had nothing left to share, which was why we were in the state we were in, but that would've hardly seemed plausible. Vague notions of having to turn my pockets inside out led to unwelcome thoughts about other, more personal recesses. Just what kind of a crowd had we fallen in with, here?

Consternation changed to abject horror when the source for this unworthy secondary person turned out to be none other than our friend that we had called first but couldn't get hold of. Imagine trying to explain this to her without insulting the other one, the one we were now dependent on for our survival, who was now almost certainly going to charge us an inflated rate. Imagine trying to deal with this sober. Imagine trying to deal with it NOT. In one fell swoop we had managed to offend and alienate a pair of people it was better not to alienate and offend. Then there was the fun of watching them deal with each other, each producing her own pair of scales, fairly BRISTLING with professional politeness. "It's not that I don't TRUST you...you understand," etc. Oh, the horror, the horror...

About that time I decided I just couldn't stand to see any more of this, so my eyes shut down. Completely, totally, and thoroughly. Granted, I couldn't have described my surroundings with any great deal of accuracy, but now I saw NOTHING. Let me say it again. NOTH. ING.

It wasn't dark in there, inside my so-called skull, but there was no input from outside. I thought at first my eyes were shut, then after much blinking and widening them as far as possible, I held my hand out in front of my face and felt of it with my other hand, trying to pick out any suggestion of a hand shape, waving it to see if the motion might be the least bit discernible as a disruption of the light that I knew had been on in the room and probably still was. Imagine what this looked like to my cohorts. Add to this some stupefied mumbling to the effect of, "Where did it go? Where did it go?" and yep, there was nothin' wrong with me! Perhaps it could've been slightly worse if I had started shouting, "I'm on fire! I'm on fire!" Perhaps.

But since I couldn't see, I couldn't count money, so I left the whole mess for Barbara to sort out. (Thank you, Barbara.) Somehow my usefulness as a talker was also affected. I mean, if I couldn't see what was going on, how could I know what to say? That whole concept of listening and paying attention seemed like something from a long time ago. I was just a protean lump of ribonucleic goo sitting on the edge of swamp somewhere, that through a little fold of space happened to coincide with this moment in this place...ugh.

When it was time to go, things started to come back gradually, and I fluffed a pseudopod out, then another and another and I re-coagulated into Barbara's car, the blue Citation that was as close to noble beasthood as anything that ever came out of Detroit. Was driving a good idea? Probably not, but one thing was clear: we had to get away from there that instant. All told, our chances were probably better of crossing the Nefud Desert with a lame camel and a half a canteen of rotgut. I remember heading down West Market with Barbara howling something like, "Go ahead, take me to jail, or kill me, just please don't shine that fuckin' light in my EYES!" At once profoundly funny and profoundly sad, thinking about animals that get squished on the roads. I mean, their last thoughts have got to be almost identical, don't you think? Then we were laughing like maniacs. Or hyenas, maybe. Louder than sirens. And the evening was still YOUNG, my children.

Watauga turned into the longest road ever built. Every so often another 200 yards or so would just SHOOT out in front of us, like a telescope. We were shrieking in unison, "Did you SEE that? How can it fucking DO that? Look, there it went AGAIN!" Every inch of progress we made down it, it was yanking back away from us, exponentially. And it was doing it ON PURPOSE. It was taunting us. It knew how badly we wanted to get back to sanctity of the Pink Room and it was grinning evilly. It did not have to let us go. That the Mental Health Center was located on this road did not inspire confidence in us, either.

Do I remember getting home? Not really. Did I kiss the ground? Probably. Does the phrase "18-man shit" still crack me up? Absolutely.

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