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Twisting all the bad things into good

Mar 11, 2012

CHAPTER 14. THE PATRON SAINT OF . . . WHATEVER. Confessions of a Rapid Cycling DramaHo

The world is tragic to those who feel 
and comic to those who think.

 Robert Walpole

FRIDAY. 9/10/10

           "Drama ho," I say as I lay down my last domino.
            I'm like the World Domino Champ of South County.

            As DJ approaches the table, I notice her sneakers for the first time.
            They're hightop white Reeboks with no laces.
           "You got that old school Run DMC thing going on", I point out.
           "I know. They took my shoelaces so that I can't try to kill myself."
           "Oh, okay."

            Speaking of killing oneself, I could really use a razor right now.
            I couldn't remember the last time I shaved.
           "Hey, Brian. Are we allowed to shave?"
            Sparky says,"Yeah. One of the techs has to stand there and watch you though."

           "Hey, buddy", I say as I approach the tech counter. While shredding my cheek open with an invisible razor, I ask, "Is it cool if I can get a shave?"
           "Sure," he says as he gets up.
            He has long dreads and weighs at least 300 pounds. Maybe 400. I don't know. I didn't ask.
           "It doesn't have to be now," I tell him. "Whenever you have a chance".
           "No, we can do it now." He goes into the other room and brings me a cheap razor and a can of shaving cream. I follow him to my room.
            He stands in the bathroom doorway while I'm lathering up.
            It's hard to read this tech. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, I can't tell if he is irritated or if it's just that his activities are limited while having to supervise somebody while they shave. He leans back against the doorway, looking up at the ceiling, instead of staring me down in the mirror.
           "I'll try to be quick," I tell him.
           "Naw, man. Just take your time".
           "Alright. Thanks, bro."
            Besides the Haitian tech with his kick down the door wake up calls, everyone of the guys who work here is really cool. The patients here are lucky to have them.
           "Thanks, man," I say as I hand him the razor. "Appreciate it."
           "No problem."
            I rinse off my face and pat my face dry with a towel. I check my face one last time, and then look at the tech in the mirror. "How do I look?"
            He shakes his head and kind of laughs.
            When I walk back into the rec room looking ten years younger, DJ says,"James. You look ten years younger."
           "Thanks." I say, pretending that compliments embarrass me.
            Sparky looks at me as if I'm his little boy walking out of the barbershop with my new haircut.
            He says," All we gotta do now is cut those jeans off."
            Before I sit down, I look down at my torn jeans.
           "I already told you I can't cut them off. Look how high they're ripped. I'll be walking around in little jean shorts."
           "James, besides the clean shave you look like you're homeless."
            I like Sparky. That's why I don't remind him that he lives in a tent and eats strangers' leftover pieces of fried chicken at a waterpark.
            Monica, a pretty lady in her mid forties, says,"You know who you look like, James? A young Ben Affleck".
           "I think he looks like Keanu Reeves," DJ says.
            Sparky strokes his chin, and to nobody in particular, says, "Maybe I should shave?"

            Besides the two women who saw me puking outside Walgreens when I couldn't even hold it together long enough to go inside to buy Gatorade, this is the first female attention I've had in a long time.
            It's not roadhead, but it still feels pretty good.
            As much as I'm enjoying, and totally agreeing with their "James, you should be an actor" talk, I'm distracted by one of my supporting actors offscreen.
            It's Ken.
            He has not spoken a line of dialogue yet, but his physical performance is mesmerizing enough that I can't stop watching him.
            Without looking away from Ken, I lower my voice and say to Sparky,"Brian. Dude, check out Ken."
           "Jesus Christ," Sparky says.
            You can hear the pity in Monica's voice.
           "Oh, my God. Poor Ken," she says.
            You can tell how bad DJ feels for him.
           "I feel so bad for him," she says.
            Ken's trembling like a five foot Shake Weight with glasses and a beard.
            It wasn't funny, at least, not until I just described it that way.
            A nurse is trying to help him to safely get a drink from the water fountain without headbutting himself  into a concussion. Hopefully the water is for washing down some kind of anticonvulsant. Otherwise, this dude's about to shatter.

            If Ken had ever said anything, it must not have been very memorable, or else he had just been drowned out by my big mouth. Either way, he was usually there. Ken listened and he  laughed. He used to sit alone, but slowly eased his way into eating and playing dominos with me, Sparky, Monica, Loretta, DJ, and Mikael. Occasionally, Jesus and Viv with the voice would make a cameo. Usually, nobody could understand what the fuck Viviana was saying, so it was almost like she wasn't there. Any patients that were not part of our cracked out crew were part of  the silent majority who never spoke.

           "James, those things have to go", Sparky says.
            I turn my attention back to him and the girls.
           "You gotta let me cut those jeans," Sparky says.
           "Why do you want to cut them so bad? And what the hell are you talking about anyway? They won't give me something to write with, but they're gonna give you a pair of scissors?"
           "One of the techs will do it," DJ says.
            I stand up and ask, "Ladies, are they really that bad?"

            Big Boy is taking scissors to the legs of my jeans, while I stand at the counter watching and wearing three hospital gowns tied together because I couldn't figure out how to tie one correctly.
           "Just cut them as low as you can. I don't want to be prancing around in little shorts".
           "I don't want you to either," says Big Boy, who really is being quite meticulous.
           "Thanks, I'm used to wearing Dickies that hang down below my knees."
           After a few cuts, my jeans are no longer.
           "Here ya go. Best I could do", he says and hands me my jean shorts.
           "Thanks, man".

           "Fuck, man".
            My new, and only, pair of jean shorts did not even reach halfway to my knees. If they were any shorter, the inside of my hip pockets would be showing. I really have no other option. I don't want to walk around in a hospital gown, a constant reminder that I'm a patient in a mental health facility, not a kid at summer camp.

            When I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, I never looked or felt so fucking gay in my whole life.
            My favorite TV show is now Glee.
            My favorite singer is now Britney...
            Don't hate.

            By the time I'm fabulous enough to come out (of my room), Monica, Loretta, and DJ are in their room. Everyone else is focused on the television. I take the closest seat so I don't have to sashay my shit across the center of the rec room, which is noticeably void of almost all the women.
            I'm just glad this place doesn't have a pinball machine.
            I'm so self conscious. I always have been, but this is probably closer to paranoia. Maybe it's just my hormones, or some strange "intuition" that I never had before my castration. It feels like something's up, like I'm being fucked with. It feels like everyone is ignoring me because they don't want to ruin my surprise birthday party that is about to be thrown almost two months early.
           Then I remember where I am and that these people have seen crazier shit than some newly emasculated dude who, if he did have any balls left, they would be visibly hanging out the bottom of his short shorts while he sits there with his legs crossed, questioning his previously unexplained devotion to all things Morrissey.

            I remind myself that I shouldn't care what anyone else thinks about me. I'll never see these people again after Monday, and besides whoever gives me a ride home, nobody will ever hear about this or anything else that has happened over the last week. God willing.

            It feels like I'm standing on a ledge.
            I keep pleading with myself, "Whatever you do, don't look down."
            So, I look down.
            Some mad scientist type fucker has obviously replaced the bottom half of my body with that of a woman's who is wearing Daisy Dukes and has her ugly, unshaven legs crossed, and is wearing tan ballet slippers with cute little happy faces on them that may as well be screaming,"NICE PEOPLE SWALLOW!"
            I have to stand up because I just don't even know how to sit anymore.
            Legs crossed, I look and feel like a tall, ugly woman.
            Legs not crossed, I'd probably be showing sack, if it hasn't already shriveled up, up and away.

            Either everyone was purposely ignoring me or they were actually watching television. It's possible that not every wreck in this rec room is as self obsessed with myself as I am...myself. Me.          

            When I noticed Ken sitting alone at the table, his Shake Weighting now reduced to nearly pocket rocket levels, I figured he would be a good person for me to talk at in an effort to ignore my lower half.

            This is how it must feel when some glassed up gay street hustler, who is wearing my exact same shorts and slippers, propositions a "john", or in this case, a "ken", for a "date". I just had to remember to say,"Hey, Ken, how's it going?", and not,"Hey, Kenny, how's about ten for the hand and twenty for the mouth?"

            For the first time since before my pseudo sex change, I had a thought that wasn't entirely self centered. I thought that maybe Ken had never said anything because nobody ever spoke directly to him. He was the kid in class who wouldn't raise his hand, but wanted nothing more than to be called on because he knew all the answers, if there ever was such a kid.

           "Ken, how's it going, man?"
            I take the seat across from him so he doesn't think I'm going to try to jack him off under the table.
           "Hey, James. I'm okay".
           "Yeah? You didn't look okay earlier."
            He knows.
           "I had some tremors when I got here," I tell him. "Nothing like yours. You had them really bad,  bro."
            He knows.
            I hope he also knows that my intention is not to sodomize him.
            In our search for common ground, we found it in drugs. In South County, this search always ended in the same place and it always took about three minutes to get there.
            I can picture Ken more with a beaker in his hand than a glowstick. I can only imagine what he can picture in my hand. He kind of looks like a chemistry teacher, so unless he had accidentally invented it, I would have never guessed that ecstasy had been his D.O.C.
            I mentioned my own rolling experiences before segueing into my recent adventure, something I was still trying to make some sense of.

            "Insomnia?", Ken asks. "No other diagnosis?"
            "Nope. I didn't ask for one either.I expected him to say something like schizophrenia, so when he said it was lack of sleep, I was like "okay, doc". Honestly, I don't think he knew what the fuck he was talking about."
            "What do you mean?"
            "I mean, I've heard of people being up for days on meth or something, seeing like shadows, or shit like that, but, I was like walking around in a dream for 6 days. And the shit that I remember, I can remember it as if it really happened. You know how you wake up from a dream and it slowly fades after a little while. I remember that shit like I remember us having dinner last night. It would take me 2 hours to tell you everything that I thought happened."
            Ken says,"Yeah, I was gonna say that it sounds like more was going on than lack of sleep".
           "Ken, do me a favor?"
           "Don't tell that to the doctor."

           "Are you bipolar?", Ken asks me.
           "I don't know. I don't think so."
            Ken laughs. I didn't realize I said something funny.
            I tell him, "I've been so fucked up on pills for so long that any of my emotions on a given day were pretty much a direct result of how many pills I had taken."
           "What about before drugs?"
           "Before drugs? Ken, that was like 18 years ago."
           "I think being bipolar and going untreated is what got me into drugs."
           "I've always been a moody bastard, but most people's idea of bipolar means some chick who loves you one minute and tries to stab you the next. I know it's not really like that. I might be up and down, but I've never been like depressed for weeks at a time, well besides for the last year or so."
           "Some people do rapid cycling."
           "What's that, like spinning class as therapy or something?" I ask, half kidding.
           "No, just some people can be up and down more often than every few weeks".
            Then I look right through Ken's glasses and straight into his eyes.
           "Hey, Ken. How about I jump up and down on your head more often than every few weeks, mother fucker?"
          "Jesus, Ken. I was fuckin' kidding, man. Ken. Please stop shaking. It's making me really nervous."


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