Someone asked me something the other day, and it was the worst question I’ve ever been asked: “Roland, when did you become such a sad sap?” The reason this question upset me is because I know the answer, I know the whole entire miserable story. I just don’t know how much of it to tell. On the other side of this issue is the idea that I’d rather spend my time making a newer, happier story– instead of recounting the long sad one I’ve been living these past few years. And how much of the sad story can I tell while simultaneously living my new and fabulous life, without expecting to somehow be dragged back down by the old pains? Where does the grey area live? Is there a proper equation for this type of thing? There has to be an equation, there always is. And I will find and understand it. Eventually. Because I am a finder of things, and I am an understander of things.
The funny part is that this all happened to me while standing in the deli waiting for my coffee this morning. The woman behind the counter- her name is Joanne, and I’ve been eye-fucking her five days a week while she whips up my hazelnut coffee, for a few years now. So on this one particular morning, when she asked me the worst question I’ve ever been asked, I didn’t say a word at first. I couldn’t. Nobody in the deli wants to hear about death, disease, abortion, and abandonment. So my brain (which thinks way faster than it speaks) went through the merry-go-round of my current ‘reliving past memories versus forming new present realities’ problem, and then I managed an answer to her question: “I only look this miserable when I have to deal with you, you miserable cunt.” Whoa.
“Roland, what the fuck?!” Joanne and I have exchanged witty banter for a long time now, but this came from a violent and primitive place inside of myself that I did not know existed. I had momentarily lost control of my mouth. I DON’T USE WORDS LIKE THAT.
I scrambled to justify it all to myself, while trying to outwardly display something that looked/sounded like regret. Truth is, I felt amazing and alive and I was having a hard time holding back my laughter. “I… I’m so sorry. I don’t know what… I’m really, I can’t believe.. Joanne, I…”
I was walking out the door while my labored apology was still skipping and stumbling and bouncing around the air in front of my mouth. I was slightly embarrassed about saying “the ‘C’ word” in public and I was mortified by the fact that I would have to find a new place for my morning coffee.
Mostly, though, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling like this was the greatest thing to happen to me in years. Speaking such unkindly words to a woman who has never done me any harm, well… I don’t know how to explain it. This is a very new thing for me. The bad words lately and the fantasizing about death… Oh. You know what else? I did something the other night. It was atrocious and it was beautiful.
There had been a bag of old lightbulbs hanging from a shelf in my basement for ages. None of them worked, and I was pretty sure that they were never going to magically start working again. I sometimes have a hard time parting with things like lightbulbs, because of an experience I had as a kid. I was visiting some family members out in the deserts of California, and at some point we passed by a peculiar roadside attraction. There was some poor old bastard who’d built a castle out of garbage and scrap metal in the middle of nowhere. But I was in awe of this idea. I mean, this was aesthetically magnificent, and it was completely made of busted hubcaps and shredded truck tires, burnt-out lightbulbs, rusty plumbing fixtures, all of the things that normal people throw away. I admired this man’s vision. So much so that I think he spoke to me in a dream one time, and told me to never throw away anything unless it looks broken. If it is functionally broken, that’s fine. Things don’t have to work to be beautiful. So. I kept my lightbulbs (and many things that are pointless to bring up right now) in a plastic bag.
Once again, I don’t know what possessed me. But the other night, I smashed the bag of bulbs on the ground until I knew they were all broken up pretty well. I hopped my neighbor’s fence and dumped the bag’s razor-sharp contents into the shallow end of their swimming pool. Now, I haven’t seen the water turn red yet, but I’ve been watching and waiting. As excited as I am to see the event and then the reaction, I must admit I feel very satisfied just having set it all up. Maybe I will feel even better if I don’t watch. But no, I’m watching as often as I can. From the upstairs bedroom, which has a perfect view of the neighbors’ entire backyard.
Here’s the thing though: all of this stuff is making me feel wonderful. Like I’ve awoken within myself some quiet potential to be a monster. Or maybe not even a monster. Maybe I can just be an ill-tempered joker. A player-of-jokes. A man who makes hilarious things happen. Hilarious things that may sometimes involve a little blood or emotional despair or financial ruin. I could be a superhero, or a diabolical anti-hero. Well, I don’t have a motive or a message. Do I need to have a message? Do I need to have a cause or something to prove? Or is it possible that I can just… have fun at others’ expense without thinking too much about why?
I’ve done everything the right way for as long as I can remember, and look where it has all gotten me. I’m too old for my age. I’m all alone. I don’t smile anymore ever. I dread waking up every single day. I already know that something has to be done. So maybe until I figure it all out, maybe it’s alright for me to make some mischief along the way.
And the underlying truth is the important thing here: I seem to be losing control of myself when I least expect. So perhaps letting off a little steam is healthy for now, that way I can hopefully maintain a bit of control, instead of doing something truly horrible– something I won’t be want to laugh at.
So that’s settled then. Fun. Harmless fun that may require a band-aid or two, but never anything more than a few stitches. Yes. And laughing. It is time for some fun and laughter. You know what else? I should really sell this goddamn house. I hate it here. Why am I still here? She’s never coming back, and though I never say it aloud, I know the only reason I’m still here is because I’m waiting for her. You know what? FUCK HER. I should get the fuck out this place.
I will be a one-man roadshow of cuts and bruises and minor upsets. I will… Well. Whatever it is, I will surely be something more than what I am today.