the almighty pen vs. the mutated time traveller

“Never had I felt so good. It was better than masturbating. I went from [wine]barrel to barrel. It was magic. Why hadn’t someone told me? With this, life was great, a man was perfect, nothing could touch him. …We sat on a park bench and chewed the gum and I thought, well, now I have found something, I have found something that is going to help me, for a long long time to come. The park grass looked greener, the park benches looked better and the flowers were trying harder. Maybe that stuff wasn’t good for surgeons, but anybody who wanted to be a surgeon, there was something wrong with them in the first place.”

Bukowski, Charles. Ham on Rye Ch. 22

Words can become as trivial as the spec of dust on your allegedly clean computer screen, or become as paramount picking up the low-fat sesame ginger dressing because that’s the only one your skinny girlfriend uses, and you got the full-fat last time, and soyaki sauce, which was way off, before that. Our brains in their 3 lb. glory,  process these words with the brevity sometimes quicker than lightning and swifter than the Santa Ana winds. All the RAM and CPU can’t match that [yet]. Words aren’t dull, in fact, if you let them drive the car, they could take you to place you’ve never been, where you don’t feel pain, where you never doubt yourself, where you’re not angry, regardless of anything you’ve been through.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the kind of power we have with the way we can use words. You can get accepted to college, even with shit grades in high school, if your letter of admission was compellingly written. But sometimes… you can even slowly kill a person with the content and context of those little words.

I’ve always hated using words to cut, scar, and impale others. But I happen to be very good at it. It feels like playing a tough level on Angry Birds, where you plan out which birds you’re gonna use to hit what, figure out the trajectory, launch your fowl, and watch that level fall to pieces. It feels good, every move you made worked, and you get 4 stars. It’s the same thing when you hit someone with words, and sometimes with the right words, they stay inside the other person, years at a time even. You might have forgotten about it by then, but they haven’t forgotten your thoughtful parting gift. A venomous snakebite burning through ones very core. No one can help them, words of comfort, distractions, copious amounts of drugs and booze, it’s still there. They try to forget about it, ignore it, sticks and stones, even though you stabbed them in front of a crowd like matador because it feels good, but nothing’s the same to them anymore; grass isn’t as green, sky isn’t as blue, jokes aren’t as funny. You might as well have actually stabbed the person, but then again, reducing a person to the degree is like a gift that keeps on giving. Someone gave me a gift a few days ago, but I know how long it’s going to stay. My pop gave me gifts years ago too, still cherish them.

When you drink, your inhibitions are lowered, and felt invincible. You felt perfect, and you couldn’t give a fuck if someone disagreed, life felt good, you were untouchable, and everyone loves you. That was me, everyday, since two Christmases ago. I’d have two dollars in my pocket for my lunch break, and I’d debate about getting a Reuben sandwich or 211 Steel Reserve everyday. It’s 8.1% of “uuuggghhh,” but I eventually stopped debating, and 211’s stopped tasting like a can of the sweat inside your gym shoes. I didn’t think I had a problem, I was only 22, for Christ’s sake. But I started drinking alone, and I knew that was a sign. I ignored it, because I thought I would be smarter about it than others. Like I was the one person in mankind that wouldn’t develop a problem. Here’s the thing, when you’re drunk, you think every thought and idea you have is a good one. I had great ideas and wonderful thoughts, throughout the day. Charles Shaw kept me company at night, and I used to kid myself that it was okay because wine was classy, ergo, so was I.

I’ve been detoxing and quitting for almost a month and a half now. I relapsed twice, but I didn’t get anywhere near my usual stage; enthusiastic hand gestures, crowd gathering, singing along to songs, making up words to songs I didn’t know, and one step short of blasting myself in the neck with a tranquilizer dart. Quitting the drink requires complete abstinence. That’s because the problem only persists due to the person’s inability to moderate consumption. For me, the habit was that I constantly and consistently needed that feeling of being untouchable, everyone loving me, feeling like I really was perfect, feeling like life really was perfect. The reality was I was none of those things, and life wasn’t perfect, but it can happen spontaneously to everyone. I just constantly needed the consistency. Naturally having an addictive personality doesn’t help either.

Lately, I’ve been going through withdrawal. I’d get the shakes, I’d be awake at all hours of the night, apathy, a general disinterest in things, and most of all, irritability. I felt like a complete deuchbag, I was rude to people I didn’t know, said hurtful things to ones I did, I actually hated myself for it, and never wanted a drink more. Even started thinking it was the real me, I hadn’t been completely sober in so long, I had no idea what I was really like. At the time, I didn’t know I was going through withdrawal. I just thought I was doing weird things. The withdrawals are there to coerce you to into getting back on the wagon. This time, I’m winning. I have no idea how long this period is supposed to last, but I’ve been trying to avoid my friends, (whom drink on an Olympic level) and it gets quite lonely at times. I have 3 to 5 roommates whom I love them very much, but I’m avoiding them too, because I don’t want to be mean to them,

Then it happened. The gift I mentioned. “Dr.83” said detoxing is make-believe because it’s not in a medical textbook. Went on to say I’ve always been a drunk, and I can never be anything other than a drunk. Then Dr.83 went on to gloat about how he/she didn’t have a drinking problem. That after a wild night, he/she can rest and not drink the next day. Basically, Dr. 83 denounced any point to my existence, but didn’t do it by name. I’ve omitted Dr. 83’s illiberal name calling, which was a clue in discovering I was the addressee. Fuck yeah I was pissed. I wanted to drink, and fire back some razor-sharp posion-tipped words to demolish Dr.83  like I had been. I had so much dirt, I didn’t even know where to begin. I didn’t drink. I was up the whole night though. Those words ringing in my head as I wrote a 22 page Atomic Bomb of vengeance, I even went back to specific paragraphs because I thought of something even more cleverly damaging to say later. Shit, I even dedicated parenthesized sentences to be hilarious commentary by the director and writer. What I thought was best of all, I didn’t do it like Dr.83, the straight up attack-the-anonymous-guy-referred-to-as [insert racial name] technique. Oh no, I did better, I agreed with Dr.83. Agreed and retorted not just Dr.83’s existence, but every tiny aspect of Dr. 83’s existence, and all with a lighthearted tone, with jokes. Writing the response had been the most passionate I’d felt since I’d quit drinking.

I finished writing it at 1:14 in the afternoon the next day. Every one of my  joints were exhausted to the point of creaking like an old floorboard, I was out of cigarettes, and it was past noon. I saved the file, and wanted to make sure I had a cigarette in my mouth when I clicked publish, a Camel Wide regular was the only cigarette that would do the trick. I slugged through the apartment, I had the geographically farthest room from the from the front door, no one was home. Everyone had slept through the night, woke up, gotten ready and left, hours earlier. I bought my smokes at a place farther than where I usually went, and walked back thinking about how I should do it. I’d have to change into something regal, like an 19th century fop, after all, this was my masterpiece, my 9th symphony. It was going to be glorious. Then I saw an old man at the crosswalk across from mine. The man looked decrepit, bald on top, slouched, expressionless. He looked like he got lots of gifts in his day, and it had worn him down along with time. As we walked past each other, neither of us turned our heads, we didn’t lock eyes or smile or anything. I was too proud of what I was about to do to give a shit about the old geezer.

On my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that guy. I thought if he’d been like me and fought back, he wouldn’t look so withered, pathetic, and useless. Then I thought, what if he did fight back, and as a result, he became withered, pathetic, and useless. Was that a sign? I didn’t believe it. I kept marching back to the battlefield. Outside the front door, that old bastard was still in my head. Then I realized, I was gonna be an old bastard one day. Withered, pathetic, useless, and time only moved in one direction, as far as I knew. I lit a Camel. I stood there until the cigarette was done. I decided not to send or publish it. I was going to take that old fucker’s place and on my way there, I decided I didn’t want to feel so much hatred during my trip. I didn’t want to feel lots of things, but hatred was by far the one that would guarantee loneliness. During withdrawal, the loneliness is constant while accented with apathy, and was the part I had the most trouble with. I didn’t think I was the bigger person for stooping to Dr.83’s level or anything, but now I felt lighter, happier that I decided to sing over cursing, and I owed Dr.83 my gratitude. My thanks was not publishing my epic, and the vengeance will be fulfilled another time, by another medium, just not me. I’m going to stay sober and be kind instead. Yeah, that’d work.

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1 Comment

Filed under non-fiction metaphor, stories

One response to “the almighty pen vs. the mutated time traveller

  1. This is my first honest attempt at writing again after that agonizing “what-the-hell-is-the-WORD?!” booze-detox phase. Don’t focus too much on the “words” bit in the first few paragraphs, I was on a limbo with keeping that in because I wrote that crap when I was having an anxiety attack, and trying to keep it cool. But this is it. I just hope the response isn’t, “is this it?”

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