A man named Garvey sedated me once, though the whole outcome could have been avoided. We’d begun feuding the week prior, a trivial dispute over the price of corn muffin mix. Stupid, right? Well, this Garvey feller sure didn’t think so. And it just so happened that his friendly neighborhood drug dealer unloaded a ton of vicodin on him that week, so he was bound to sedate me whether or not we disagreed on anything. I may live to regret having anything to do with that man, but life is a rich tapestry that deserves its fair share of intrigue.
His sister, Nancy, had her own agenda when it came to handling the G-Man. Having lived with him a majority of her life, she’d developed an ingenious coping mechanism for dealing with his ridiculous foibles. Any time he began ranting about the military industrial complex, the go-to strategy would be to bring up the time he’d run into Steve Harvey while jogging on the riverfront–near the Wrigley Building. That would immediately stop his conspiratorial theorizing and send him spiraling through all five stages of the celebrity run-in phenomenon. Turns out Garvey is this joker’s last name. First name: Steve.
Originally, Nancy had only been prepared to shift her brother’s mania away from excessive government spending, but she eventually developed a secondary strategy out of necessity. After letting Steve go on about the Garvey/Harvey thing for a couple minutes, she’s gotten quite skilled at channeling his enthusiasm into a creative jag. Now–since Garvey prefers to make ink drawings, Nancy has set up a corner in her apartment designed solely for her brother to zen out after he gets a little too worked up about the 10-second exchange that he and Steve Harvey’d had. The passion lends itself to the page as he jots up a storm. He doesn’t want to burden himself with any extra material possessions, so he leaves all his creations at Nancy’s place. Nancy has turned a tidy profit from his efforts, since Steve-o gets worked up quite often. It’s reached the point where Nancy could take a year-long hiatus from waitressing and not feel pinched for a minute of it.
So yeah, I let Garvey sedate me. Big whoop. I was hoping he’d feel bad about it and draw me a nice picture that could finance a backpacking trip through the Black Forest.
The Cro-Magnon magnate
of sponge cake diversity
reared his ugly head last night,
just as I’d exited the bath.
I said “begone, damn caveman!
Get out of this place!”
The tremors in my voice
betrayed my cool exterior.
Wearing a towel at the time,
I had no use for losing any more
He leapt once, stood still–
leapt again and planted himself;
scratched the small of his back.
After some minutes of this,
he began looking around as though
he’d never seen the place before
(even though he’d clearly been there
for some minutes).
What a nut,
I couldn’t help but think to myself.
Chernicia and her loyal band of
roving youth choir administrators
saw no choice
other than to take up stopgap freelance work.
Due to a general malaise
and rapidly-growing apprehension
toward patronizing or participating in
the performing arts (the anti-exceptionalist
herd mentality showed absolutely no signs of
dissipation as professionals of all stripes
traversed the barren corporate landscape
(a hell to be wished upon no soul)), all hope
seemed lost on the fearful.
Interest in the once-alluring
middle and high school competitive circuit
had been waning steadily for a generation or so,
to the point where even the most stalwart
paper-shuffling masochists out there
had to admit they were licked.
In this devastating climate, Chernicia figured
that some places out there
still need to enlist the services
of highly-competent youth choir administrators.
They took an oath in front of the children,
for Christ’s sake!
They vowed, on bended knee,
to make themselves
available for freelance filing (and HR concerns)
at the drop of a hat, whenever duty may come calling.
So just like that, they picked up and left–
no matter what their guts happened to be
telling them (the group’s average duodenum
could paint you the idyllic picture
where they’d carved out a sort of haven
in this life of more uncertainty than trust).
Many tearful (and gut-wrenching) goodbyes
after they developed the steely resolve
to give up their past selves
(for the children, dammit),
the brave and intrepid band set out
on their first assignment: Gurnee, Illinois.
They never did look back.
And to this very day,
rental cars and hotel rooms
still serve as their only refuge
from the vast desert of abandoned office complexes.
Spindled tickets desire not much more from their makers
than the basic recognition of their proper utility
in the overblown social experiment
known as customer ordering and service rendering.
Once stabbed and stacked, impaled indefinitely,
our punctured pals wish not to be moved
until they and their carbon paper cousins
all make the grand pilgrimage together.
When each new spent batch has been manhandled
and hurtled to the hallowed trash can (the one
with the mass-produced “Law & Oarder” bumper sticker
carelessly splashed onto it as a graffiti-hider
and exercise in pointless consumerism)–the one
that a wise old papyrus once celebrated
as heaven incarnate–contagious catharsis
sweeps through the crinkled pile.
Since all their common ancestors disappeared forever
upon meeting the can of destiny, the soon-deceased
sensibly assume that it must be a pretty swell place
to stick around for a solid chunk of time (probably
just positively loaded with recreational activities).
No panicky paper here, no sir. Delusional, definitely,
but not a hint of panic!
The more senior members of the corn-fed trophy mounting union (local 1776) always manage to find opportunities to regale their greener counterparts with talk of a simpler time–when common salmonella held a place in all of our hearts and opinion-dominated politics held sway in the public arena.
The information age was still in its infancy and the shady web traffickers used all their powers of persuasion to convince the good ol’ god-fearing people that doom was just around the corner for all non-believers (when a quick search would reveal that the sedentary nature of these chosen-by-default disciples was actually the exact behavior leading us all to armageddon).
The billionaire false prophets for social normativity laughed all the way to the bank, just the way they always had (and always would, assuming the government they’d purchased would continue to carry out their various people-crushing biddings). Nobody with enough influence could get the gears of social justice turning, due to their lack of tenure as stock market manipulators and robber barons; the folks who figured they could inspire a positive change in discourse were all too late to the party.
Or that would be the narrative that Joe and Stu want to perpetuate at social gatherings (sock hops, ball games, charity galas, what have you), usually after a beer or two. I wish they would talk about fun things instead.
Gee willikers, Ebony! I sure as sugar won’t be able to make it out to that party tonight. Look–believe me–it’s not that I don’t want to. You know that! It’s just that I have so much cleaning up to do around my place. I’ve been putting it off for ages, and now my roommate’s dad is going to be in town for a few days–spur of the moment thing as usual–and he’d rather stay with us than go to a hotel because he wants to be closer to his son. I mean, I get it, they have a very strong relationship. I admire that dynamic, but of course also resent it at the present. Why do I have to be the one to pretty up our sty before he gets here? Just because I made 90% of the mess doesn’t mean I should be cleaning a full 100% of the space. How is that fair? The displaced 10% probably represents another 40 minutes of cleaning that I’m going to have to do instead of living it up with you! Trust me, I’ve tried getting around this, but there’s just no possible alternative. The next time your brother’s having a going-away shindig before shipping out to do a tour of duty in a war-torn expanse of the Middle Eastern desert, I am SO there.
Double up the foundation dust,
trouble finding lurky lust while wincing
under beveled falls; egregious
concertina riffs agree with Wes
(our father’s postman): the passion
never does leave the feet.
Snowcapped griffins found asylums
rich in iron, poor in aprons.
Mythology holds no place
in institutions of higher psychology.
Where reprimands come for assurance,
our collective mothers grease their wooden spoons.
We may only marvel as to which grease traps
were harvested for such a folksy purpose.
You insist that I have a soul for dingers,
I retort that your trout lost its diaper yesterday.
You ask what that means, and while
seething in your stupor, I quip
“which radishes peak first?
Why, only the early growers, son.”
First draft posted on 6/11/11,
originally entitled #10