everything is fine/it wasn’t all that bad

September 20, 2008

The difficulty behind this current presidential race is also due to the issue of age, and considering this race in particular, it is perhaps the worst time for such a dichotomy. We are torn between either the fifth youngest or the oldest man to have ever achieved the presidency. Oh, and no fat chicks.
Idealism, even hope, is considered a quality of the young and naive. Realism, even cynicism, is considered a trait of the old and the stubborn. These two men are not meant to be representative of their age, but the criticisms of either are inclined to indicate that Obama is only on the verge of wisdom, and that McCain is on the verge of death.
Like Palin, I find that Obama has a slightly unfair advantage. Not because of the fact that he hasn’t done as much as the other runners-up (that would be a disadvantage), but because he has had less time, therefore less opportunity, to make terrible mistakes. If one had to choose between avoiding a poor choice within a forty year span or a twenty year span, they’d choose the latter, but only if they could.
Take the relationship between age and wisdom, and how they are considered or supposed to be synonymous. Take the twenty year old, the forty year old, the title and expectation of it. To me, it has proven to be misleading, a general exaggeration.

It reminds me of the adage “If you’ve sold out by the time you’ve turned 20, you have no heart, and if you haven’t by the time you’re 30, you have no brain.” I’ve always liked that one, still not quite sure how much I believe it.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that I’m an ageist, that would be too narrow a classification, although looking back and in daily life, I have noticed that many have managed to get very far along in life without knowing many of the crucial things that I had once thought were guaranteed with age. I can say that with age comes a type of certainty that becomes harder and harder to sway. It’s hard enough to change a 27 year-old’s mind. A 72 year-old, nearly impossible.
Age for me has mainly been defined as the amount of time an individual has had to figure things out as opposed to being a 38 year-old automatically having granted 38 years worth of knowledge or wisdom. But, I don’t think that’s exactly what older men mean in terms of natural wisdom. The longer the life, the deeper the human condition, and therefore there is a degree of wisdom that cannot help but come with age. Yet, some are wise beyond their years, many quite the opposite. I find it difficult to qualify what I cannot measure. Ageism, sexism, and racism are only a few methods in which others desperately find a way.
As for knowledge and wisdom, it is no longer a matter of what information or experiences are kept away from people, it’s a matter of how little they want to be informed or experienced due to it being too much work, perhaps too taxing mentally or emotionally. Information, experience, all for the taking, aside from the hassle. Wisdom can be consciously avoided. Age can not.
McCain has a great deal of wisdom, but unfortunately is not [allowed to be] the same man that he was in 2004, although he was only 68 at the time. We all know how kids can be in their 60’s. Perhaps he is the same man, but his campaign has become so determined to win that they have gone astray of what had once made him such a great and qualified politician. As for Palin, perhaps it’s too harsh to refer to her as an awful person. Her politics, on the other hand, command a traditionalist sense of ethics that echo well beyond her years. It’s as though he represents the exuberant age of the candidate and that in her way of thinking she is the representative of old-time wisdom. In this, they would be the arrogance of the elder. Awkwardly, two become one.
The difficulty in this has been created for us, and beyond the political, the personal, the sentimental, all judgment rests upon the individual.
Obama and Biden have remained as seperate men in agreement and mutual sense. They are not opposites. They do attract.
It might not matter. I find it to be a very frightening time and believe that, first and foremost, it’s the people that are to blame for allowing things to go wrong, myself included. That such distraction has occurred, that such conjecture has been allowed to appear necessary, and that even today we must therefore participate, is testimony to how much we all ironically have to learn, in the hopes of wisdom.
We Americans are a very proud people, so recovery will be painful. We feel a sense of entitlement in nearly every thing that we do, both right and wrong, and afterward have an even harder time admitting to our mistakes. I call it the “everything is fine/it wasn’t all that bad” mentality, where a person makes a decision with such assuredness that they fail to question its possible negative motives or outcomes. The point is to stay convinced that “everything is fine” for long enough that when the decision’s flaws become irrefutable, the decision is far enough into the past that its place in the then present can be reinvented to suit the liking of the decision maker. Therefore, “it wasn’t all that bad”.
And, respectfully, in terms of wise old men, a bulk of their most important decisions have been incredibly poor within this decade (upon others). Our current predicaments are mainly the end result of those poor decisions, but it’s the fault of the public for assuming that their age and wisdom are altruistic to their being qualified. Batons eventually must be passed when those in charge of our well-being can no longer grasp our modern world. And the next. This applies to both parties.
McCain has at times been unfairly judged due to his age, although all nominees have been unfairly judged for their more blatant qualities. In spite of his age, McCain appeals to me as someone who has our best interest at heart and does wish us well.
That aside, my last shred of flexibility was gone the moment he chose Palin. Such a dangerous thing to do. In a sense, this has become a battle between the heart and the brain, an experiment to see which can live best without the other. By choosing her, the McCain campaign has shown itself to have plenty of one, but not enough of both. It’s irrational, but as we age, we grow to recognize what works.

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the joys of simplicity

September 9, 2008

This week has been about Governor Sarah Palin. Of course it has, in the way that it would have been about anybody just recently chosen as vice presidential nominee. This should supposedly apply to both parties, but has applied more to her in this particular case. Americans love suprises, although it may be more appropriate to say that we like twists. Considering that we do not vote for vice-presidential nominees, we are only granted a threadbare sense of prescience concerning who is decided upon, and the more threadbare the prescience, the more room for either party to thicken the element of suspense.

It was supposed that (considering the dire importance of this election) both Obama and McCain would not meddle with the more manipulable sensibilities of the American voter. Either presidential nominee was well within their right to choose from the many qualified, but I had thought that it was understood that the urgency of this election had disqualified any left field inclusions.

Perhaps the choice of Biden could be seen as a reaction to the McCain campaign’s claims of Obama’s lack of experience. For him to have chosen as fresh a face as his would have further solidified this. Yet Biden, in spite of his long history in politics, seems a logical choice, an apparently decent man, with only one useful scandal to his name.

But, what is most important is not the fact that he is an apparently decent man. There are plenty of people that lose their wives and children in car wrecks, there are plenty of fathers of four (now three in his case) that commute to work. These details are reference to character, but his qualifications are well-pronounced and (after the Republican National Convention) indisputed thus far. I don’t remember any of them going after Biden. Perhaps Obama was such fair game that it was all they needed. I have doubts.

Wait, I take that back, Huckabee referred to Biden. Aside from linking it, I’ll just paste it out:

—————————————–

(from factcheck.org)

Too Good to Check?

The biggest whopper of the night may have come from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who charged that Palin “got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.” It may sound like a great line, but it’s not true – not even close. Palin garnered 651 votes in 1996 and 909 votes in 1999 in her two races for mayor of Wasilla, according to the city. Biden, despite withdrawing from the race after the Iowa caucus, got 79,754 votes in the Democratic primaries.

—————————————-

As far as Biden’s qualifications for the vice-presidency, those things can easily be found online, and his accomplishments aren’t quite flexible enough to misconstrue. Although, much like Obama’s lifelong achievements, critics are so desperate at this point to find scandal that they’re reduced to bastardizing virtues. In Biden’s case, it is important to recognize his past plagiarism controversy. This is something that is as important as we make it, something too flexible to determine his worth. Yet it is enough to affect the national view of his character, if used.

Obama has made a good choice. It was a complementary choice, a logical choice, and it represents the ambition of a campaign that acts according to its own certainty and operates with method as opposed to strategy. Not according to the desires of the Democratic party, but in the best interest of our nation. After the Republican National Convention, the Obama/Biden ticket is arguably as bipartisan and independent as a person could be likely to vote for. This argument had only been formidable beforehand, imposing as of now.

McCain’s somewhat random, obviously reactionary appointment of Sarah Palin is simple. It is a mistake to confuse ‘simple’ with such things as basic or practical. While his campaign has set ultimatums in terms of whom she will speak with and under what circumstances, her purpose will remain obscure. It is insulting that someone of such fearlessness could be kept apart from the press due to their lack of sensitivity.

Considering her maverick reputation, box fresh, it seems awkward that she would need a promise from the press to not be mean to her.

But her holding out on interviews is strategically wise, tried and true. If you had watched the Republican National Convention, the most intelligent thing that they had done had been to dismiss the media. They had dismissed them as being biased (simple presupposition). The Democrats had not done this.

Manipulable sensibilities. Left field inclusions. These are the joys of simplicity.

Her holding back on interviews, holding back on specific confrontation, is testament to their approach. I’m watching her give a speech in Riverside, Ohio as I write this. At the convention, she and they had made as strong and as critical of statements as the Democrats had made, and both sides had stretched the truth at times (both may argue their understanding or recollection of it soon enough), but the Republicans, namely Giuliani and Palin, had been unnecessarily full of condescension and ire, and had delivered far more damning half-truths.

But, the brilliant strategy on their part was their nullification of the press. Both sides were inclined to run their mouths, but it was the Republicans that had manifested media distrust, therefore isolating the newly converted. The barely converted will also do. The committed would be for anything, the newly converted are what must be sanctioned. So, discredit the press, and then make negative generalizations (and lies, if you must), and simultaneously…

Exemplify your simple life. Many of the people watching (of either party) don’t know how the more complicated things work (things that vice-presidents should know, for instance), and it isn’t too shocking that most Americans don’t care. Regardless, people win elections with most Americans, and therefore winning them is dependent on what Palin’s nomination has just previously reinstated: character and the culture wars.

Sarah Palin is a mother of five. She is a member of the NRA and the PTA. Her husband is a snowmachine racing champion, four years in a row. She enjoys a good mooseburger. Things such as these, although intriguing, consist of a bulk of her identity, lately.

Holding her back from the press is more than adequate. The more time that she spends away from them, the better. This allows time for her to soak and settle in. Her most literal of statements can stay severe, free of scrutiny (discredited media). Her inadequacies can be set aside in the meantime, granting enough time to admire her spirit.

The uproar is her energy, and they are willing drag it out as long as possible, because the essence of her nomination is to motivate simple people. But, what are simple people? They are not stupid, nor are they uneducated. They are merely too occupied with their daily lives as mothers or husbands to recognize the relationship between a pack lunch and the U.N.

You see, what you do is allow it to ruminate, allow viewers to see only her most domestic and rudimentary characteristics and create a barrier against the people that opinionate beyond her own words and presentation (much of which is already cumbersome and obscure). Allow these viewers enough time to apply their simple life (their simplicity) to hers. A majority of people don’t understand “what Fannie and Freddie do”, and she doesn’t seem to, either. But, that makes her all the more endearing.

Why? Because of how easy it is to digest, how much comfort it gives a person to know that they can go back to what they were doing and stop worrying about all of that nonsense that far more qualified people will take care of (the irony of the term “elitism”). The joy of simplicity is that it allows people that would rather not consider these frightful difficulties and alien painful realities the comfort of settling within the residual. PTA, mother of five, juggling a family budget, no nonsense, gals like us. It would be best if she could just avoid interviews or perhaps even speeches until the end of October. This has already been an attempt to catch people off guard. Such a delay would further grant the people even less time to make sense of it, and who needs sense? Who needs time?

The more frightening thought is that she allows hockey dads (and so forth) the illusion that anyone could do it, that any joe has the ability and worth to affect the daily lives of a nation. This is more than a position of high esteem, this is a breath away from the big red button. To help her win, they have portrayed her as an unlikely lottery story, the ultimate normal. Our prosperity is not dependent on the strength of those running, but the weakness of us.

So, ask us. Are we weak?

orgy of the dead

June 19, 2008

A throwaway, a movie I was talking about with Richard the other day:

 

Once, I worked in a grocery store, one without pride and subsequently without shame. If the deli can charge seventy-five cents for a cup of instant coffee (fresh-brewed every morning) and if the meatman knows just how much barbeque sauce it takes to cover the greenness of chicken, we’ve got a loser. And, I have worked for this loser. Well, only this one, but enough of one to account for all of them. I wish I’d gotten laid more often then (or at all), because the red apron would have added something to the big bang. I feel the same way about kilts. I’m not sure which sexual fantasies involve Scotsmen or bagboys, but I would have reinvented the subculture, make no mistake.

It is important to a majority of businesses to have music playing, nothing too obvious, perhaps something familiar, something to lightly occupy the customer and fill the moments that they don’t spend thinking of products, something to bide their time. The easy and obvious choice is the oldies station. Those that don’t like it are at least adjusted to it and able to stand it, and those that do have something to hum along to all over again. Well, if you were to listen to an oldies station five days a week for seven months, you’d start to notice a pattern. That’s the nicer way of saying that you hear the same fucking songs over and over again. This was the period in my life that I realized that I love The Mama’s and the Papa’s and that I absolutely detest Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. With a seething passion, I hate them to this day, among other things.

Well, that was eight years ago, and although the oldies stations have slowly seeped into the classic rock stations since then, assuring many that they are becoming their parents, it’s roughly the same damn thing. I’m almost positive.

I work in catering, so for many events (weddings, especially) there are certain songs that hired dj’s play. If you work enough events, you become accustomed to an average array of safe party songs. The same code, nothing interesting enough to be obvious, songs familiar and nostalgic enough to be unanimously accessible. Brick House, YMCA, That’s the Way (I Like It), a lot of music based in the 70’s (my favorite decade), a shitload of disco. Say what you will about disco, but what I love about disco more than any other form of music is that it is only about one thing, if that. It very well may be the first form of music to be about…nearly nothing. I mean, I can’t think of one single disco song that had a message or ultimate purpose, no sense of self-improvement or realization or even rebellion. That may explain why the simultaneous punk movement was such an antithesis as it was at the time, although I think the punk movement has proven itself to be nearly as ridiculous. But, punk was trying, trying very hard by the look of it, and disco wasn’t trying at all, so I guess disco wins. Wow.

I was telling Richard how interesting it would be to make a movie about the history of AIDS. “The Life of AIDS”. “The Story of AIDS”. I am a hypochondriac of sorts, nothing clinical, but if I see a freckle I had never noticed before, I consider the threats of carcinoma. If my foot goes numb, whatever the circumstances, I think of diabetes and the threat of amputation and blindness. I often worry about a number of things that weren’t important yesterday. For that reason, when I hear That’s The Way (I Like It) or I Feel Loved or You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) or Get Down Tonight, AIDS occurs to me. I think of the age where AIDS was becoming a man, before he lost his innocence. I feel as though I’m there watching it come into fruition. Hell, even Bennie and the Jets makes me think of some L.A penthouse, a woman in a loose white dress with bleached hair and cocaine rib bones trotting to the piano, everyone drugging and fucking and wasting their time. I think of everything that could be shaken off. And I think of AIDS.

The movie would start in small places, studio apartments, promiscuity in urbania, but solitary at first. People have argued about where it really began. I had heard the ’man fucking monkeys’ legend, but I don’t buy that at all. It’s too obvious, too simplified. It’s a perverse story engineered for us to separate ourselves from the responsiblity and familiarity of it. And especially the empathy of it.

It would continue. Condos and apartments, walls within seperate homes, back alleys, notorious public parks, hothouses, bars, and clubs. The film would treat the AIDS virus as if it were a young fresh kid making its way to the top. The late seventies would be its coming of age, the early eighties would be it’s rise to fame, and the late eighties would be its response to sudden bad reviews. The nineties would be its struggle to exist amongst the hostility of the supporters that had suddenly turned on them, and the oughts would be their efforts to reclaim their career.

Quick shots, no main characters, meandering from situation to situation, a wealth of careless sex acts interspersed with random intimate ones. Dirty needles, blood transfusions, widespread confusion and ignorance. Women and men too thin in hospital beds and gurneys, pneumonia and flatliners. As little dialog as possible. A long series of music videos set to the progression of a terrible plague. You could never find the funding to make a movie such as this. Not suitably. Even if you could, how would it end?

Does it end with a cure? Is it negligent to create a fictional cure to something that people cannot currently survive.

Perhaps the seventies was its coming of age, the eighties its college and party years. The nineties was when it had had to settle down, pick a career and make a family, fade into obscurity. In our time, it is on the verge of its mid-life crisis.

____________________________________________________

“Everyone had done their best to forget who he had been, ashamed of listening to his hits and of having recommended them to others. No longer a household name, shunned by the public and forgotten for the impact that he had made, he didn’t let them bring him down. He set out to touch people in such a way that he would be remembered forever, a voice that would resonate from generation to generation in joyful unison.” 

The Harold Oberman Story

____________________________________________________

 

I think of that era of decadence and sexual liberation and how ironic it is that the AIDS virus, which plagues us to this day, made it’s appearance at that time. I find it to be very unfair, because the United States was in dire need of sexual liberation, and the AIDS virus set us back in such a startling way. This is the milk truck on the tracks, where it may not have derailed the train, but had caused a great deal of damage and cost many lives.

The sexual liberation movement has only begun to regain the sealegs that it had had. This setback is not an act of God. This setback is the reason that there is no God. This setback is a big case of bad luck. There isn’t an element of fairness because there are no just desserts. Retribution requires balance; we do not have balance, and probably cannot. I apologize if you’re disappointed.

The fact that it has gone on so long, so well and effectively, is testimony to the casuality of modern man, as well as casualty. When it had first begun to rear it’s ugly head, everyone had been inching away from it, ignorant of its power, distancing theirselves the same way that we unfortunately do today. Even Reagan had dubbed it as just desserts, the end result of a terrible personal mistake. The straight world had dubbed it as a “gay cancer”, a delusion so desparate that they cast their own fate to the wind. We’ve seen the consequences. The gay world, namely amongst men, had been too stubborn in changing their ways even after their friends had begun dropping like flies. We’ve seen the consequences.

But, I find it difficult to be hateful or even spiteful toward these people and how they have behaved. How were they to know that this would happen? What were they supposed to do? Things come creeping into our lives so easily and so often, what is there to do so that we can prepare ourselves? Is there anything? How could anything of such magnitude crash into us and us be prepared?

Whereas the bubonic plague’s fruition was due to the thrashing of an ignorant civilisation, the perseverance of the AIDS virus is due to the hubris of our modern world.  

Perhaps the AIDS virus is still paying off its mortgage. But, the mid-life crisis statement still stands. I think it’s time for a comeback. The generations before mine have struggled with this, have watched people die miserable deaths, and once we’ve seen those close to us do the same, perhaps we will come to. Rinse and perhaps repeat. I can safely say that we have forgotten the struggle and the threat of this illness. I forget why. 

He’s going to buy a sports car, sleep with a barely legal teen, and strike a blow to the establishment, just like when he was young.

Perhaps the movie would end with a bang. I wish we could do the same.

______________________________________________________

More more more…how do you like it, how do you like it
More more more…how do you like it, how do you like it

Andrea True Connection

______________________________________________________

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG2ixYJ79iE

fly on the wall – wallflower on the window

April 12, 2008

fly on the wall – wallflower on the window

Perhaps I am thinking into this too much, but I am watching people that suffer such a strange existence and want to pay tribute to them.
If you ever watch morning shows, and I can’t imagine anyone with any true sense or purpose doing so, you notice the people that stand around holding signs and wanting to be on television. People from numerous walks of life and innumerous locations taking time out to stand outside and, well, just stand there. And smile. And wave. And stand there.
I am confident that they are not aware of how strange a situation they are a part of. We’ve all heard of Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame statement, although I get the feeling that most of us have only heard ‘of’ it.
I cannot say whether or not he had meant that this fame would be honest or even palpable, but at the very least, he was expressing that fame is disposable and would continue to be even further as we ran out of new ideas and points of interest. His prediction was even more safely assumed because he realized that in a world continually churning out too many people and brand new faces, the spotlight would be forced to expand. The light will become more broad and the light will become more dull.
So, I think of these spectators, how unimportant they are and how important they want to be, all of us wanting to be discovered, taking the time out of our lives and vacations to stare into something of even the mildest importance so that we can entertain the possibility that they will let us in. Morning shows that employ the desperate poster board crowd are wise in doing so; it gives the impression of appeal and that people are interested. As I write this, they are interviewing a doctor as to why people yawn.
I have always found it to be distracting, these poor, poor people. Perhaps I am being too hard on them, but considering the scope of fame in the age of information and the evergrowing simplicity of taking a photograph of a stranger’s genitals with a cell phone in the restroom of a public library, perhaps they are unknowingly correct. Perhaps they are ahead of the game, and once the scope has exploded to ridiculous proportions, they will manage to achieve a sense of fame while it still means something. The rest of us will just have to be ordinary people.
He was definitely onto something, and was wise and righteous in exploiting it. Warhol was a man whose career was built on placing and refabricating images that would otherwise be mundane. The brilliance behind him was the recognition and expression of how easily we worship things that are ultimately unimportant in every way. In that sense, he was almost a nihilist, and I don’t blame him.
Patricia Carter’s shining moment was when she was able say hello to her daughters, Hope and Carla, and to every one in Carlsburg, North Carolina. She had made a poster, ‘Hello to the Carters, we finally made it.’ written in glitter glue and black magic marker. At that moment, she was at her most radiant. Baby, she was a star, and we will try to remember her.
Warhol was dead a few years before the fame machine had begun going into overdrive in cannibalising itself, before four cylinders had become six and so forth.
Reality television alone has thrusted the undue capacity of strangers upon us, unrealistically enforcing the starpower of random nobodies. Even as droll and boring a person as he was, he definitely would have expressed delight in this. Perhaps the current state of fame is his opus, and the ever increasing descent is in itself a Warholian masterpiece, philisophically.
But, in return, he had rendered himself unimportant, not a brilliant artist, just a guy that had pointed something out and had taken advantage of it. Others have followed his lead, and fewer and fewer of us will draw the shades. I guess that insignificance cuts both ways.

i am not a dangerous person

April 8, 2008

i am not a dangerous person

 

(cradled, crazed, and addled)

 I had started washing the dishes and it was 7 p.m., roughly. There was a knock at the door, which is uncommon. I have had this problem in my life for as long as I have lived away from home. I do not receive mail, with the exception of bank statements and perhaps three or four cards from loved ones for one occasion or another. I do not receive junk mail or catalogues or periodicals or those envelopes stuffed with useless coupons. I don’t even receive spam. I’ve heard many a person bitch about how troublesome it is, how heavily it weighs upon their lives in its little way, and have never understood how or why those responsible want nothing to do with me.
I never get a knock at the door. Rightfully so, because if I’d anything to offer, I’d offer it elsewhere, but as much a disturbance as it is, it’s kind of a special occasion for me. Both sides of my brain are in instant opposition, with one side saying “Oh, God, what is it?” and the other saying “Ooh, I have a visitor.” I opened the door to see a young woman with a young man, late teens to early twenties, he rather handsome and taller, the both of them clean and decent, and the both of them white. I mention this because, thinking of it now, I have discovered that I am inexplicably more suspicious of the white strangers that show up at the door. I can’t quite explain it. Every stranger within handshake is immediately under suspicion at the door, all possibilities being examined and all dangers taken into consideration, but the white ones are the most deceptive.
I had at first assumed that they were new neighbors. They looked the part: newly married, the woman pregnant with child (early second trimester), the both of them young and primed for the reality that comes slowly creeping in. I always pity the sort, but am determined to be nice to them. It turned out that they were here to sell magazines, each subscription granting them a number of points resulting in a trip to Paris, Rome, or one other place, were they to hit 15,000. They told me that it was their last day, and that they were at 14,072. I knew that they were of full of shit, but I understood. They handed me a laminated pamphlet listing all that they had to offer. I had said long ago that if I were to have any three magazines on my coffee table, I’d determined which combination would be most relevant to my personal character.
Playgirl, Ebony, and Cat Fancy.
They had none of the three, unfortunately. In all honesty, Ebony is the only one I would get any use out of, considering that I detest soft-core pornography, have no pets, and have always wanted to know more about Mos Def. But, regardless, I’m too broke to buy 12 of anything, but wished them the best of luck. Like any door-to-door outfit, they lingered, the gentleman making off-hand remarks about how tired they were, how hard a beat they’d had, prerequisites to me inviting them in, granting them more time to convince me that a magazine subscription would make a great gift, hoping that I don’t realize that giving gifts in early January would make me look like an asshole. The gentleman asked if I smoked, and I told him that yes, I did. I gave him a cigarette, she pulled out her own, and the three of us just stood smoking together. We conversed, circumstantial type shit, where they’d come from, where they’d recently been, and unknown facts of the peddling industry. The gentleman suddenly put on a thirsty face, asking if I had some sort of bottled water. I imagined that he was making a last ditch effort to get into the house, a predator in its final throes. You see, if I didn’t happen to have a spare bottle of water, I’d have to give him a glass of water. It would be mighty awkward to give him a serving of water that he can’t carry away with him. The natural conclusion for an unsuspecting fellow is to let them in, to let them get comfortable. Thankfully, I had cans of Dr. Pepper. Otherwise, I’d have been screwed. The lady herself was not thirsty, and the both of them remained outside.

Four months ago, I received a knock at the door, which is very uncommon. I looked through the peephole and saw a single white male, late 20’s. I opened the door and he started with the whole “getting to know you” horseshit, hoping to win my heart before he went in for the kill. It turned out that he was selling newspaper subscriptions. He was fresh out of rehab, and the selling of newspaper subscriptions was part of some sponsorship or promotion or whatnot. He had just looked tired at first sight, but the whole “fresh out of rehab” bit not only saved me the trouble of deciding what to think of it, but also set forth a tale of retribution, of second chances. People don’t mind buying a candy bar to fund a Girl Scout uniform, but there is very little to make a person feel more smug than to feel that they’ve saved somebody, if only for a moment. It doesn’t matter if the story has holes, if the salesman wears his eyes like a Basset Hound and smiles like a fox, if they have a story of woe and soulful hopes of salvation, it’s hard to pass that opportunity to blow some cash in their right direction. Not to say that I doubted the guy. Who knows? But, the point of interest for me was what happened after I’d made it clear that he was shit out of luck. He’d had me for more than five minutes, outside the door, of course, so he was still optimistic and perhaps determined to not blow his five minutes for nothing. I imagine that the worst thing for any door-to-door salesman is to find the man that gets no junk mail, spam, or visitors, the old lady with fifteen cats that wants to chat as much as the salesman pretends to want to. He started in with this “Come on, come on, man.” type of jive, realizing that the sympathy hand had folded. I continued to reject him, and…
“Just buy some!”
He said it forcefully, and I doubt that it was part of his pitch. He had gotten impatient and desperate. It was like a knee-jerk reaction, and whether or not it was intentional, it worked. I was taken aback and could feel myself reaching around and trying to find a pocket or a drawer. It was strange, how subliminally effective such a yelp had been. I didn’t give the fucker a dime, of course, and he hadn’t noticed my reaction, I’m sure of it. But, ever since, I’ve thought of that unsaid salesman out there, the one that lures its prey into the clearing, vulnerable and cozy, and then shouts “Just buy it!”
Anywho, after he’d left, I was left with my own thoughts, which goes well every other time. At the time, I had had no doubt that he was fresh out of rehab, probably due to something meth or coke based, perhaps heroin. He was only rather thin at the time, but as he’d said, he’d ‘just’ gotten out.
I’ve known dope fiends in my time, and remember them to be notoriously cunning and untrustworthy within their inner most recesses, and beyond. But, I wouldn’t wish door-to-door sales upon anyone. In fact, other than situations such as his (newspapers, candy bars, perhaps magazines), I couldn’t imagine that people were still putting themselves through the same hell to sell vacuum cleaners, lawn care, or God. Were I fresh out of rehab, I wouldn’t be able to do this and keep my cool.
‘What if he gets desperate tonight’, I thought to myself. ‘You never know what they’ll do, man. Remember that one time? Remember that one guy?’
I remembered him today, but not until much later.

I tend to be suspicious of anyone standing outside my door with a product that could easily be phony, as urgent as a criminal or perhaps salesman, and hoping to have a sit and chat with me, to push their product from within and maybe, just maybe, get a scope of the place. It would be different were it a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon. The devout have this twinkle in their eye. It simultaneously exudes a sense of happiness for someone who has found such balance within their life and exposes the creepiness of that balance. If they don’t have that twinkle in their eye, and if I’m not kind of put off the way that I usually am by it…they still don’t get in, but they had a better chance.
But, here they were, today, the gentleman trying to peer his way in, to sit and have a beverage before he and she toiled further into that good night. I went inside to get him a Dr. Pepper, not closing the door entirely, just a crack. Halfway to the kitchen, I realized that if they wanted to bust in and take the stage, they very well could. They looked clean and proper, but even novice methheads are frantic without their fix, and although a group of methheads is terrible, partners are far more dangerous. Their sense of solidarity is far more intrinsic, although every bit as fake. I walked to the kitchen to get him a Dr. Pepper, but on the way, I opened the silverware drawer to find a knife. The first I pulled out was a half-foot in length, and nothing close to what I’d been looking for. I couldn’t fit in the pocket of my pea coat, so I put it back, strangely embarrassed with myself. I was nervous, and knowing that I couldn’t hold such a knife, I looked furtively at the door, hoping that I had time. I reached in again and found another. The shortest of them all. At a mere three inches, it may not stop your more dangerous of villains, but it fit in my pocket, it was serrated, and I had to attend to my guests. I couldn’t grant them enough time to realize that the jig was up.
I came back with two Dr. Peppers. I handed him the one and asked if she wanted the other, but she was still not thirsty. I gave them their pamphlets back, empathetic, almost lovingly, and wished them the best of luck. They were a friendly couple, the both of them courteous and eventually gone, and I was relieved.
As the night went on, something came to bother me. It took awhile, but I slowly realized how dangerous I had been, that I had been a terrible threat to the two of them. I had a paring knife, hardly suitable to protect myself. If I were to incapacitate the gentleman, I would have had to have stabbed him multiple times or to have slashed at his neck, somewhere bloody and sensitive. When dealing with an imminent threat, your only choices are those most immediate and final. But, the immediacy for me was manifested on my own. I’m distancing myself, I should rephrase.
It is strange how the people that lay safe within their homes are continuously threatened by the others that knock on their doors or rape total strangers nearby. The unpredictability of an evening stroll or daily life is the end result of a thousand bad stories. I’ve heard personal stories told to me by actual people that have endured car jackings, kidnappings, and rapes. And I, like most others, have been on edge, not over the fact that these things occur, but because they happen so unexpectedly and to people that don’t deserve them. I am well aware that life is not fair, but it’s almost as if having a horror story of my own would be a rite of passage, that until I am raped or assaulted at random, I haven’t yet paid my keep or crossed over, asking “When does it come?”. The dramatizations of these situations are as vivid as a fantasy. It’s as if the potential of chaos is so awkwardly frustrating, that it bleeds into simplicity, turning us into different people. So, were you a simple man or woman, selling life insurance door to door, you may be wise to carry a weapon or to at least determine how a pamphlet or vacuum cleaner could be fashioned into one. For me, the desperation and deadliness of those of us threatened on the inside and the depravation and deadliness of those threatening from the outside have proven equal to me, cancelled out. Those of us are still in the right, but I wonder. How many times have I met a stranger with a knife in their sleeve or a gun in their bathrobe, smiling at me and making small talk as they handed me a cup of sugar or accepted my casserole? Who are these dangerous people, and how will we be rid of them?

Tina had noticed that the gentleman had been surveying knives from his silverware drawer through the crack in the door. She had said that they should get away as soon and as carefully as possible. The gentleman had emerged, a Dr. Pepper in each hand, making small talk and painfully friendly. He had been obviously kind, unassuming, considerate, the both of his hands in either pocket of his pea coat. Neither of them were sure which pocket the knife was in, but the both of them knew that the knife was real and intended for them. Jeffery Thomas Rhodes and Christina Hayley Martin edged away from the maniac, ready to run if the moment had demanded.
At 3:07 of that morning, he had sworn to never set foot in Rome upon realizing the cost. It had all become too dangerous for him. And he had hoped to never feel that way again.