Monday, July 9, 2012

the mother of all exile

            I lost my nerve last Wednesday. It was nobody’s fault. It just got up and snuck away while I wasn’t looking. It was a shame. I’d grown fond of my nerve. It was something I could depend on.
            I called the Bureau Of Lost Emotions to see if they had any leads, or if maybe they’d picked up my nerve and were holding it for me at the station. What station? I’m not sure if there even were such a thing. That’s why I was calling.
            “Hello, yes. Well, you see, I’ve…well. It seems my nerve, well, it’s been…um.”
            “You’ve lost it, haven’t you?”
            “Well, in a manner of speaking…”
            “Okay. Just stop that mumbled hesitating. It’s not getting us anywhere. So, what I’m going to need from you is your name and the first letter of your favorite beverage.”
            “How do you spell that? W, a, h? That right?”
            “Okay. So, Wah. What was that letter, the one for your go-to beverage?”
            “Got it. That’s a pretty common one. You better believe it. Yep. Get that one quite often. As you’d figure.”
            “I would?”
            “Of course. So…”
            “I don’t think you understand…”
            “Don’t tell me what I think! You’re the one going around all namby-pamby without any nerve, okay? Got that? Let’s not fuss over what I do or do not know or understand, because you, my dear Wah, do not understand jack about shit, okay?”            
            I hung up the phone. This wasn’t helping. The BLE was crossed off my list of numbers to call.
            I was practicing saying, “I love you,” in my room by myself. I was saying it to my Hare’s-Foot Fern, to my collection of Harvard Classics, to whatever was on the television, to my Bad Lieutenant poster, to creases in the wallpaper and thumbtacks. I said it over and over until it sounded just right, like I meant it. 
            It was a shame that at long last I still had no nerve to speak of. I missed it. I wanted it back dearly. I started humming that song from The Graduate, and then I started trying to sing it but couldn’t remember the words. I sung, “Where have you gone Emma Lazarus? The poet of exile has left and gone away. Oy oy vey.” Way too much dust was residing in my head’s inbox. Going outside seemed like the most edifying of options left to me.
            The dizziness came on with a touch of nausea and a dash of borborygmus. I heaved. I swayed and moaned. A car going by was blasting The Doors. I hate the fucking Doors. It was then that I noticed the No Parking sign bobbing back and forth by the curb. ‘That No Parking sign is going down,’ I thought. ‘And apparently, so am I.’
            I went down hard, meeting the concrete with a quick thud. The world must’ve been out of mercy, at least for me. I gave up. Soon all was black and easier to manage, and I was more comfortable.
             I woke up lying near the gutter. Luckily the gutter was dry. I counted my stars. All came up decent enough. As I gave a gander to my surroundings I noticed a woman on a bench near me in shorts and a t-shirt who was coating her arms and legs with what at first I thought to be suntan lotion. But upon further inspection I realized it was a bottle of hand sanitizer that she was squirting into her palms and slathering all over her skin. This made me want to pass back out into the blackness. But I couldn’t, so slowly and somewhat surely I got myself into a standing position. ‘No more dallying,’ I told myself. ‘Strictly sticking to business from here on out.’
            I started singing, “Strangle me. Do, dah, do. With your hands, strangle me, strangle me. Oh, dah, dum, duh.”  A few strangers walked by and stifled smiles. A cop patted a blind man’s dog on the head. The blind man told him to, “Quit that. And mind your own damn business, Officer Chump. That dog ain’t for petting.” The cop walked over to where I was doing my gawking.
            “Just who do we got here, huh? Buddy? What’s this guy over here up to?”
            “Just browsing.”
            “That right? Well, could you do your shopping around somewhere else? This ain’t no business opportunity. Go ahead, move on away.”
            I walked fifty paces to my left. I was very officious in my movements. There were no pigeons in my way. My strides were of the serious kind--no sags of wasted effort, no jumpy steps or mistimed clops of shoe. I was on my way.
            A commercial came on in my head: “Nifty SugarClumps will fill your bowl with delight. These Cuisinart-inspired rich flakes of snowy gooeyness do not go soggy or light, but instead stay crisp and hard throughout their float in any type of milk or milk-substitute liquid of your choice. Refuse the rest. Say hello to the best! Nifty SugarClumps! One scoop of white, two scoops of high-fructose-corn-syrup based near-grain/oatish/floury mash mixture, three scoops of delight! (this message has been brought to you by Nifty SugarClumps Inc&Ltd Corp)”
            After the commercial break was over, I decided to head to The Hottest Magazine Shop In The Planet! to see if my old friend July Tuesday was working. I’d been trying to get them to change the “In” on their sign to “On” for quite a while, and wanted to see how things were coming along.
            It turns out that The Hottest Magazine Shop In The Planet! was closed. I’d forgotten that it was a weekday. They were never open on weekdays. A Wurlitzer organ was playing Old Black Joe from inside of a sewing factory down the street. I didn’t feel much like singing along, so I got out of there.
            So many people. So much time. So little left to be lost.
            I went back home. I opened up a can of sardines, cutting my finger on the edge of the can’s peeled-back top. “This stinks!” I screamed. “This really, really stinks!”
            Something soon was rapping on my bathroom door, which I’d absently locked from the outside. I shivered. I winced. I let go a bellowing fart. Who had I trapped in there? And why? How? Whereto wended thou, my fair dignified one?
            Well, shit. My head is bending low.

            The End