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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 17, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 9: Guiding Fictions

When you are insane, you are busy being insane - all the time...when I was crazy, that was all I was.
 Sylvia Plath


           I snapped out of my morbid mindset once I felt it start to drizzle. I was still waiting for my friends to finish running cable to the big screen they had set up by the pool. Besides, Jeff, I hadn't seen any of them since their grand gesture atop the palm trees. I started to think that the whole "let's set up a big screen tv by the pool so we can watch football while not leaving Jim alone in his hour of need" idea was supposed to be a surprise. Because of the wall between the grilling area and the pool, I could not see what kind of progress they were making. I didn't go over to check because I wanted to act surprised. Once I started noticing the rain drops, I figured it was time to see what was going on. I'm no electrician, but I think that way back when I lived in the real world, I remembered hearing something about the combination of water and electricity not being a good one. I walked through the gate to see what they were going to do now that it was starting to rain. It was already a rough day to say the least, so the last thing I wanted to do was see any of my friends get electrocuted and then have to start piling their bodies in the back of the Comcast van alongside my dad. Besides the horror of watching a friend fry and knowing that their family would be feeling the way I was, I also wouldn't want Bill to think I was taking advantage of him and his work van turned hearse. Bill was definitely a sketchy dude, but except for not sharing his joint with me, he was being a pretty stand up guy for once in his life. That's why I decided to write off the 50 bucks he still owed me for a bag of weed that I fronted him 2 years ago. On any other day, Bill was the type of guy who would steal your drugs and then pretend to help you look for them, so I wasn't trying to push his good will.

           I walked into the pool area expecting to ruin my surprise. The only surprise was that I was the only person there. It was almost like they were never there and that they didn't even try setting up a big screen. I thought it was odd, but I just shrugged and walked away. I just figured they realized it was going to rain. Instead of walking it out through the pool gate, they must have just passed the big screen television over the 8 foot wall, then just ninja'd over it themselves. I guess that they thought that I would find it disheartening to see them carry the tv out in defeat. Since we both knew they wouldn't be staying without being able to watch football, these same guys who a few hours earlier climbed to the tops of 40 foot palm trees to show their respect must have just decided to leave without bothering to even say good bye. Made sense to me.

           I hadn't eaten in almost a  week so I figured maybe some food would not be a bad idea, so I headed up to my apartment where I assumed everyone must be. Earlier my mom and my Aunt Jeannie were making food and I saw a steady stream of neighbors bringing food over for me, so I figured there was gonna be a nice buffet set up. I walked into my apartment  to find...nothing. None of my family was there. I looked in the fridge that I expected to be stocked like the day after Thanksgiving, but it was just as empty as it was earlier. I came up expecting a food spread that would make Sweet Tomatoes look like Ruby Tuesday's salad bar, instead my only option was a barbecue sauce sandwich minus the bread. As much as I love this particular condiment, I decided against it. I could only hope that they had brought the food down to the intracoastal  area where there were picnic tables and grills next to the boat docks. The rain had stopped so I grabbed my ipod player and headed down for a little coastal social.

           I stepped outside to see that nobody was there. I figured we had got our signals crossed so I headed back to the pool area. They weren't there either. They must have walked behind the building while I was walking in front, so I went back to the intracoastal area. The only people there were 2 couples drinking wine and hanging out on the back of their boat. I walked over to the docks and realized that my friend, Mark, was there with two blondes I had never seen before. They were about 4 boat slips away from the people on the boat. The people on the boat were really there. Mark and these 2 girls were not. The 2 imaginary girls were standing on the dock and Mark was down in the water in the open boat full scuba gear. The girls were just standing there watching him. I asked the Bopsy Twins what was going on. They ignored me. I just thought they must be shy. So I turned my attention to Scuba Steve. "Mark, what the hell are you doing?" He just stared at me. In reality, Mark is pretty much one of my favorite people and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, but today he was pissing me off. I thought maybe he was still mad about me calling him a  fucking asshole earlier when he wouldn't let me in my apartment. The water was up to the bottom of his diving mask, so he was looking at me much like an alligator who is submerged up to it's eyes. I sat on a bench on the dock and turned on my IPOD. I was listening to a Grateful Dead mix. I sat there for a few minutes. "What's up, dude?" I yell over the music. He just continues staring."Okay", I say. I pose a question to both him and the girls, whoever will answer me. "What's with everybody today?" The silent treatment. I look over both shoulders and ask, "Am I like invisible or something?", not realizing that they are the ones invisible to everyone except me. I thought maybe Mark was decompressing to avoid the bends, even though I have no idea what that means. After a few minutes, I was tired of sitting there being ignored. I yell back to Mark, "Dude, are you getting out anytime soon or what?" Nothing. I heard some woman over on the boat yell, "Excuse me". She had no doubt been watching me talk to my imaginary friends. The woman was Dede Lind.

           Let me tell you about Dede. She had lived in my neighborhood for years. I had only spoken to her once a few years ago. She was living with Bill when I dropped him off the weed he never paid me for. The only reason I knew anything about this leather skinned lady was because she had been a Playboy Playmate. You couldn't help but notice her at the beach because she always wore a thong. Usually this is something that I would enjoy to pretend not to stare at. What guy would not want to look at the body of a thong wearing former Playmate of the Month...unless that month was August...of 1967. The fact that she received more fan letters from soldiers than any other playmate during the Vietnam War meant nothing to me. As much as most guys would like to add a playmate to their resume, I had no reservations about taking a pass on those bragging rights in this case. My roommate wanted to screw her, but since she peaked the same year that The Doors did, I had no interest in letting her "touch me" or "light my fire". Even before painkillers pulled an Oceans 11 on my sex drive, I wanted no part of some lady walking around in a thong with the same reckless abandon she displayed during the Summer of Love. It was clear by the way she would bend over without putting any effort into bending her knee's, she was completely oblivious to the fact that like peace, love-ins, and Twiggy, her time had long passed. It was our neighborhood's private beach. It was strictly for drinking beer and tossing bocce balls. There was no room for any sort of Beach Blanket Bingo bullshit for this Baby Boomer.

            So this lady who was a centerfold before the Nixon Administration, yells over again while I'm trying to turn down my music. "Excuse me!", she says as if she wants to bust my balls about something. I answer, "Yes?".  She just turns her back and starts talking to to her friends, probably about something exciting that happened to her during her hay day  when gas was 35 cents a gallon. Tired of being ignored, I say in my outdoor voice," Did you want to ask me something or do you just want me to turn the music down?" Nobody on the boat responds. She just keeps telling them how groovy it was watching the moon landing with Hugh Hefner. I repeat in a louder, more dickish voice,"Did you have something you want to say to me?" as if they were the ones with the problem. I realize now that she was basically saying," Excuse me! Do you have any idea that you are talking to yourself?" I can only imagine what they were saying to each other, but since they didn't respond to me, I turned my music back up, louder. I'm usually not a belligerent person, but looking back and realizing how crazy I was, I had absolutely no fear of her 2 male friends. I don't think they felt the same way since they wouldn't even look over at me. Good thing for them because I have no doubt that whatever was building up inside me would have been unleashed on them in a brutal way. Even if I had went all the way, I would have probably got off on temporary insanity. A few days later, things would get very violent on the back of their boat. Luckily, they would not be there at the time. In fact, I would be the only person on the boat when this game of death was going down.

            Mark and the girls had suddenly vanished so I sat there for a few more minutes. I thought I saw a guy I used to work with parked by the dock. I walked down the dock past the people on the boat and yelled, "Yo, Jason, what's up?" When I got to the SUV, he wouldn't roll his window down. I thought he was just messing with me, so I laughed and knocked a few more times. "Come on, man, roll down the window." After a few minutes of this, I gave up and walked away. So the people on the boat were watching me knocking on the window of one of my neighbor's SUV's and talking to the driver who was not there. I know this because they told my roommate they were watching me the whole time.

            I was tired of being treated like Bruce Willis in The 6th Sense by everybody, or nobody depending how you looked at it. I figured it was time to head up to my apartment. Maybe I would take those pills my neighbor gave me since it was getting dark and I hadn't even consumed one beer. Once I was in the lobby, I stepped on to the elevator, followed by a couple in their 20's. I couldn't tell if they were hippies or just really poor. These broke ass Beatniks were also figments of my imagination. On the way up, the elevator stopped between floors. We were stuck. After incessantly pushing the alarm button for a few minutes, I gave up and took a seat. I did everything I could to not think of the word "claustrophobia". The food stamp loving flower children also sat down once they realized we may be there for a while. I thought that maybe some music would relax me and break the uncomfortable silence, so I turned on my IPOD player. I felt it was a safe assumption that these 2 destitute drop outs wouldn't mind my Grateful Dead mix. As soon as Ramble On Rose began, they nodded their approval, as if I needed it.

            I sat there, zoning out on the elevator floor. It was a faded yellow color with a texture like that of a rock. I noticed that there were some kind of images in the floor. They looked like amazingly detailed pencil drawings, but had actually been carved into the tiles. I wondered why I had never taken the time to study the floor instead of only standing on it. It made me wonder how many things that we never give any thought to that were actually someone's creation, someone's art. It made me sad that I was probably the only person who ever noticed this person's work, so I wanted to appreciate the obvious time and talent it must have taken to do something like this. Looking closer, I could see that the images were all of people. I became amazed as I looked closer at the faces of these people. After nearly 10 years of standing on that elevator floor, I was shocked to finally realize that at some time in the past, images of my family had been carved into it, and somehow, I never even knew it. At the same time, after nearly 35 years of knowing my father, I was shocked to finally realize that at some time in the past, he had been this great artist...and that somehow, I never even knew him.


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