Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clean Asshole; Standup Comedy for the Election Season

Hello there world!

Most mornings are a stew of puttering, reading, sometimes writing, mostly fingering an iPod or iPhone, cooking cleaning straightening. I do monologues in my head when there isn't some printed word to guide it. Sometimes they're pretty funny.

Of course I know I would never have the courage actually to attempt a standup monologue; especially one meant to be funny! My memory turns to mush, and I don't think standup works if you read it.

Yeah, well so one morning I had this asshole thing going on in my head, a series of one-liners stringing themselves together flawlessly, and of course I won't be able to reproduce it here. Writing just simply can't be the same thing as standing up in front of a challenging crowd, or even just a few people. There's too much time to think about the choices, the words, the flow of the thing. And that wrecks it.

But I wonder, you know like most people maybe I can sing better if I'm mocking someone else's singing. A Jim Carrey kind of thing, or maybe Tom Waits who Picasso-like left behind all hint of beauty in the vocalizations, and so it's beautiful, right? Some people have the gift to write out dynamics, to put words on paper into a flow of the sort you would have heard had you been there.

I told my daughter I didn't want to make any remarks at her wedding. I wasn't sure I could avoid making a fool of myself in front of so many intimates. I wasn't sure I could hold myself together. I said I'd say something at the rehearsal dinner which I was hosting. It seemed more natural.

One morning in my usual daze of puttering I decided I had to write out my remarks, as a bulwark against my lack of confidence in a good delivery. I liked the result, but according to an Internet search it would take at least 20 minutes to read (I have a thing against reading aloud to myself, can you tell?).

So I ruthlessly crossed out whole sections, leaving in the parts I wouldn't read to give a sort of context still, for my delivery.

In the event, the rehearsal dinner wasn't held in a private space, but more in the corner of a noisy restaurant, and so just being heard was going to be difficult. There was no possibility to read my considered remarks, and so I had to wing it. After what I hope was a warm welcome to everyone, and an invitation to feel free to order more wine and beer and be merry, it went like this;

See, I had no idea about clean assholes until I read John Updike. I still don't quite believe that licking them - assholes - is part of the repertoire of love we're supposed to bring to the table now. Ew!

I suppose I've eaten assholes in China. Gross! Whatever. There is that thing that happens in love, a kind of synesthesia, where pussy tastes like heaven - I never really did get the fishy smell references - and I suppose that shit must taste good too. I think I wasn't transported enough to try it, which is a failing of mine, but on the other hand fingers, toes, earwax, spit. That happens!

Which, speaking of transportation, is there a law against blow jobs while driving? Well I guess what's the point really. There was that funny scene with Robin Williams, right, Garp maybe where swallowing a load took on a whole new meaning. My grandmother drove into the back of her garage once, but that was maybe because my grandfather had tried to kill himself. What would John Irving have to say about that one? I mean he can't even read!

But I was really thinking about wheelchairs, how once I'd broken my leg just before said daughter was to go College hunting, and I was getting beat up on crutches chasing after the backward-walking student guides. On the way back to Buffalo, we  stopped at the Rock and Roll museum, where my two daughters jumped on the possibility that putting me in a wheelchair would obliterate my control over our time and rhythm in passage.

As I recall, they had a ball whisking me away where I might linger to read a footnote. But what I really remember is the stink at asshole level. (laugh pause)

I don't know why nobody writes about this! At first, in the crowd at the entrance, I remarked to myself how often people must fart and that it must be heavier than air (which contradicts methane global warming explanations) and so it hovers around our feet.

But you know, I change my shirts a lot more often than I do my pants, and now finally, I apply deodorant under my arms. I'm not aware of any for a man's crotch.

As a young man I had terrible body odor, but I also had an aversion to anything artificial, especially including deodorant. Mom made fun of the Odorono ads of her own youth. I think I didn't see the point to washing my clothes all that often either. People among my classmates would be assigned to speak with me about it, and still I remained adamant that it was their problem and not mine. What an asshole! Right????

In my defense, we've all since finally learned that the soaps and deodorants which I grew up with were responsible, by killing of all the benign bacteria, for unbalancing the body's equilibrium. Ditto plastic clothing, which gave no harbor for the little bugs. Horror of horrors though, I think I wore no undershirt, and my boxers were often made of nylon, just for the ease of washing them out in the sink really, and they lasted longer.

Anyhow, I suppose people in wheelchairs have no voice anymore than blacks do still really, or women. Or they write about it all the time and it's just not that funny, right? I mean who wants to talk about asshole smells? We don't look down on wheelchair denizens. We don't look at them at all.

Yeah, so you know once when I was hacking around Europe on - no kidding $1.34 a day, I'm anal like that - back when $5 a day was a miracle book, I landed on the lovely Isle of Capri. Some friendly Americans with a kid my age let me stay with them in a little pensione on the water. In my memory it was a garage with a picture window and a bit uncomfortable for me, socially.

Next day I wandered about the island, found a place to skinny dip, which was basically how I washed when I could, and then bedded down at the very top of the island, which somehow I could do without anyone taking notice. Those were the days! I don't know, maybe it was a graveyard. I habituate those on my travels.

The trouble was that sometime after midnight the skies let loose with a massive thunderstorm, which quickly rendered my down sleeping bag into something less than a handkerchief for warmth. Still I waited out until morning, to get dressed and head back down the hill, through all the little alleyways where the clatter of daily life was just right there and no privacy about it.

Somehow I got back to the peninsula, must have been Salerno on a map now, and somehow for some reason probably relating to money, I walked up and over yet another hill, and along the cliff to Positano. Mostly I remembered debates with myself about plunging over. I mean it seemed a pretty good idea at the time. Thank God it was sunny!

But I had a Eurail pass - must have - and the goal was a long distance train to warm up and dry out and sleep. No-one really objected when I spread my sodden sleeping bag along the baggage rack. I guess I wasn't quite the craziest American these Italians had ever seen.

Taormina seemed a good stepping off point. Somehow a little pensione run by a little gay dude seemed affordable, or maybe I stayed there because it was free. The guy was friendly, hung out my sleeping bag, and overall was solicitous and comforting to me. But I knew enough Italian to understand what he was planning to do with me, bragging to the froo froo cocktail crowd where he showed me off maybe. I must have splurged three weeks' budgeting, but I needed a place like home. I might have sold my ass. I truly don't remember. There was certainly no overt transaction.

Somehow it was a good idea to buy a sack of wine, climb up to the roman ruins and muse about catharsis, and then sit on a rock which overlooked the entire city, all of whose voices I could discern as I finished off the entire bottle's worth.

I was snotty sick, and now I was sodden drunk and my happy host welcomed my condition again with all solicitousness and offered a bath which sounded like heaven, and then he pounded my asshole, which was clean by then. The only thing I could think to say was that it felt like taking a shit, and I wanted it to stop, but it wasn't all that bad and I was in no condition to fight. Fair trade.

So next day I'm on the train to Syracusa with all this semen seeping out my ass, which I really really didn't like at all and I don't get why people take that, and then somehow I decide to wash my hair in the frigid water from a tap toward the end of the station. I mean no-one was around, and I'd seen women washing their clothes out there, and I cringe to think about it now, but it wasn't like I was washing out my asshole, though I must have wanted to.

And then, you know, I'm sitting around the city and these two Canadian women sit down by me for safety really, telling me how the Italian men just wouldn't stop propositioning them, and then this pair of American sailors come by and they regale me with how all they do is smoke dope on the top deck and listen to the same rock and roll I used to listen to on the swim team, where the coach got put away by Dad on the school board for child-sodomy and pushing dope on the team, which explained way after the fact why the joke on me was circle jerk, which was true in a way since I was a known boy-scout, although without the Internet who could know what a circle jerk was??? I was out of the circle, always.

I mean the navy couldn't even afford fuel, and these guys hollowed out the life-jackets for Chrissakes, to stow their weed. Whatever, right? So these two Canadian women, who were plenty cute as I recall, wanted to come with me to the graveyard where I intended to sleep. I mean, whatever, sure, and you know I sleep naked, so somehow I remember exposing my bright red nylon boxers.

In those days I actually did sleep the moment I was prone - not like now when I don't sleep at all - and so the next morning these two women were all pissy with me, and I gathered really they'd wanted me to at least make moves on them.

But I'm clueless like that, and it's taken me until just now to realize I'd been raped and why would I make moves on anyone, right? I still don't know how I cleaned my asshole, which was probably part of it too, right?

But next day on the train over to Palermo where I learned about the mafia in real time, they were pointedly talking loudly with these same two Navy dudes now on the train with them about the sex antics they'd all be up to that night. I mean it was for my ears, although they weren't even acknowledging my existence by even a glance.

Fuck, Canadians were having an easier time in Europe than I was for sure, and these two didn't need to be sleeping out in a graveyard, and I had my true love back home anyhow, who would come and live with me while I tended bar and she drew stolen baths for me at the Grosvenor Victoria on the charwoman beat, lots of opportunity there for sure, right? which was how I cleaned my asshole those days, every day, since the room we let had no pipes and only cold water in the hallway from a lead one and a heater which ate shillings or you got none. Those were the days, and you know I think the fucking was pretty good, although I have no specific memory, but I certainly wasn't doing any rim-jobs. Maybe she would have come if I had . . . ? (laughter pause)

Whatever, right?

Upstairs from us were these guys we called the mad-bomber twins, because there was no other way to decode them, although now I look back on it they were probably pounding each other up the ass. I was like eighteen years old and I smoked a drooping pipe with Balkan Sobranie, which I can still taste just talking about it, and man that stuff was foul. And I've got something against eating shit, right.

Her brother and I, my girlfriend's - no shit! scoped out pubs on the one day off we each would get. He was there to dodge the draft, because his Canadian University afforded working holidays in the Commonwealth, and I just tagged along for the ride, so to speak, as did my girlfriend, and we did hitch-hike around the Emerald Isle, until I left her for the Isle of Skye which she wanted and me to go back stateside to get ready to go back to school. I mean her parents wanted to wring my neck, which I don't know why they didn't. I mean as a father now I would. I'd make the little bugger eat shit is what I'd do.

On that trip I did steal two things - the only time in my life I remember doing that, but these two times are etched in my brain. First was a single banana in the crowded bustling market in Palermo where I got my education about the mob, and I could taste it and wanted it badly but it broke my money rules or maybe I just didn't have any, and I can still taste it.

The other was a tin of shoeshine from Monkey Wards I think, right around the corner from the Whistle Stop Inn where I rotated among the four bars because I kept mine clean, and I'd somehow brought (and stored in the trainstation???) wingtips form the US which got dull with sloshes of beer and I didn't really think I should have to pay to shine them, but I wanted them shined, right, and I can still taste that too, sense of smell, and I think I kept that tin across decades probably. Out of guilt or cheapness, same thing maybe.

The only shoes I had with me were waffle stomper mountain climbing boots, but I mean really heavy and stiff ones which were embarrassing in the museums because they squeeked, but I did mostly walk everywhere, which doesn't explain the license this one old museum keeper in Florence maybe felt he had to prod my dick through my jeans as he was using the other finger to point out features. Really??

So, see, that's why I'm not a big fan of identity politics. I'm more of a class and class-marker kind of guy, which is probably why I wasn't attracted to those Canadian chicks at all and later married an Italian below my grade, truth be told. I've only had one really good cuddler and she dumped me 'cause I wasn't cool, I'm pretty sure, but I mean she sure did know how to screw, that one who got away, and boy did she ever come all over the place. With too many guys than my shrivelling ego could handle, which is not a cool posture for sure and I'd have left me too.

Well whatever, this brings me to today, this old guy who, I mean it's not like I can't get it up for Internet chicks about my own daughters' age, but that's not really sex. That's just jerking off which has no synesthesia associated with it at all. I mean you can take your virtual worlds and shove 'em, as far as I'm concerned. I only give a shit about the real deal, and I'm not worth having any more.

But my own mother smelled like death at the wedding, and I really really wanted my lovely daughter and her stunningly wonderful beau to make it where I never did.

So I would never have delivered this goofy standup, right? Do you think it would have gotten any laughs?

Nah . . . . .

Tales out of school, once I had this professor whose course I was bombing and he took me for a ride, and I thought he was going to pry open the mysteries of literature, and I still remember how he dropped the truism that sex and eating are the only renewable pleasures which I thought was profound, I mean he was fat and I only just now realize he was hitting on me. Hitchhike, go to class, it's all risky to give someone that much power over you, right?

So these days I keep my asshole plenty dirty, which is mostly a function of how many times it takes to move the shit around the curve and evacuate since, as you know, I really don't like the feeling of something up my asshole, which is why I pick my nose too come to think of it. It's probably why I go to the extreme effort it takes to jerk off now too, seems like hours and the reward is a lot less than hot water on itchy skin, which, however, I do less often because it raises the electric bill probably. What an asshole!

Anyhow, about a year ago now, around new years of course, I paid for a highly subsidized gym membership because I'm fat and I lose my breath easily and they have a pool and it's just a short walk from where I live. I went once, and I came back into the locker room and some old guy - probably younger than me, but I still don't look at myself that way, which is something wrong with me for sure - some old guy is talking loudly about this woman sharing his lane and what a fine rack she had that he could espy from underwater.

I had some internal fight or flight thing which took hold of me, and I wanted out of there fast! I called my sister who actually pioneered women being on that self-same men's team back in highschool, and unlike me she still swims. I couldn't find the words or figure out why, but - and I'm feeling guilty about this because I'm fat now and I really should swim - I told her that I just didn't feel comfortable in the locker room, and I was having a hard time going back. I thought maybe it was a kind of homophobic vibe going on.

Back when I worked in Buffalo in the gorgeous Electric Building, and just after Buffalo had hosted the World University Games, I bought a membership in the Olympic-grade swimming pool now attached to the community college. I could park at the Electric Building before work, walk to the pool, swim a mess of laps, and go to work.

At that hour, the pool was full of Buffalo's power-elite, and I would hear about which first-person married man was schtooping how many hot babes behind her back, and you know it was locker-room talk and no-one was going to say anything about it. There was one guy who soaped himself up so thoroughly each day that he looked like a snowman. I myself swam in a speedo with burgeoning gut, which just makes me cringe now to think about it. But I was disciplined.

And now I remember back to the locker room in highschool, which must be where I refined my outsider status. Circle jerk, remember. But I was getting some back then, and maybe I was the only one. Nah, those stories couldn't all be made up . . . .

So when I hear Trump, it triggers me.  I really don't like being pounded up the ass. If some people do, that's fine with me. I don't really like to think about what other people do in bed or wherever, although if they want to do it as a show, I apparently can't not watch all the time, which doesn't distinguish me very much I think. I watch airbrushed women, just like you do, and it doesn't pleasure me much to say so.

Mostly, I'd like to be able to cuddle with men, but that's not going to happen in this life time. I'd like to be able to cuddle with certain women without the tension of sex over it and that's not going to happen either.

It's also not going to happen that we let Trump represent us as a people in any way shape or form. I say fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

I'm not talking about his supporters. They're angry just like you and I are, grasping after some kind of certainty and finding it in some narrative or other that congeals all those things which scare them. Hell, in my early mornings if some aspect of the complicated cloud-connected devices I work into my day isn't working, my mind spins into Internet Down, identity hacked, end-of-the-world apocalyptic true believing. I get it.

I have the self-same fear that everyone else does. But I don't think I'm out to get mine. I lead a simple-enough life - one which I think the entire world could share without a stretch. I'm surrounded by folks who dream about a bigger house, or paycheck or better car or faster devices, and I do have to suppress these urges in myself because to me it really is a zero-sum game and we shouldn't throw so many people into prison or so much food away.

As Trump would say about his dick, "I'm fine!" I like my life. What I don't like is insecurity about health-care costs, about keeping my job no matter how hard or well I might work, and about the state of the planet just now. I think I have a lot of company in that, and I think we need to cuddle up a bit and talk openly and honestly and not against one another. That's what I think.

Now I'm off to another wedding. I don't think it will be the fairy tale of my own daughter who has to conjur from whole cloth what she never did experience in her own life. We were not great examples of undying love, her Mom and I. Although my niece's model was even worse as far as I can tell. We all do it in our own way.

We had co-ed shower rooms in my day back in college. Not a bad idea to my way of thinking, no matter what the Carolinas think about it. Unless you're an ape, it's not really about sex all the time, and sometimes it's nice to be open in public without fear. Nah . . . .

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