Memorial Day 1994

Once upon a time (which so many of us assume is in the past, but could very well be the future) in a coffee shop far, far away (so far, in fact, it might be considered to be in Memphis, Tennessee) on a Sunday that was confused about its own self-image, seeing how it had become devalued by being sandwiched in the middle, between the bookends, so to speak, of a three-day weekend commemorating the inconsistent foreign policy of a barely toilet-trained democracy, a young man named Gravity Pushman, who was an anarchist comedian who moonlighted as a itinerant philosopher/busboy/ panhandler/candidate for the U. S. Senate, sat with a girl who met a Crown Victoria coming out of a Circle K parking lot who dreamt of being a mental case and thereby receiving special treatment from people who assume that they are not (crazy, that is). Like most men of mice and plan, it (the situation, that is) was better laid than executed, which might be considered a moral judgment regarding the penal (or penile) system of the above-stated Greek resurrected Frankenstein monster, but since there are no givens in the above equation, one can never tell. We were speaking of executions and putting our words into action by killing time, which Aleister Crowley affirms is the only real measure of our lifespans that we are aware of, and therefore, if you love life you mustn’t waste it.

“You know what your problem is,” he said, running an Ohio Blue Tip against the floor of the porch and putting the flame to the cigarette at his lips, “your problem is that you just cannot hang; whereas I can hang, do hang, am hanging, and probably will hang at some time in the future, for a crime I could not or shall not have committed, having been sentenced to meet the hangman’s daughter by a jury of my peers in accordance with the laws of the state and the dictates of moral society and quite possibly by the whim of several species of television-weaned autosuggestible mass consumers of misinformation on the basis of circumstantial evidence, or through the influence of outward pressures upon the existent legal system, or perhaps even through the whim of that particular doctor of jurisprudence who in his closing remarks to said jury will imply that although the proof is more in the pudding, there is no pudding like a Jello pudding pop, and ergo, primae facie, habeas corpus, pop goes the weasel.”

“You know I’m not as smart as you,” she said, “I can’t keep up with you.”

“That’s why the humans are a race,” he responded, “and all other things are species or breeds or varieties. They seem to think it’s something to be won, either by being the most fleet of foot or by answering the right question at the right time with the right intention in the right tone of voice under the right conditions to receive the right response.”

“What if,” she broke in, “what if the right wing was really the left wing, and the left wing was really the right?”

He paused for a minute to think, flicking the ash from the end of his cigarette. “You’d still have to cut the breast three ways,” he answered, “the only difference would be that the wishbone would be the funny bone.”

Thinking, hoping, and perhaps even praying that someday she might be clever, she responded in the interrogative (which she could comprehend on certain levels on certain days in certain company during certain conversations, but would be hard pressed to spell, whereas since his experience as a runner-up in the Hardin County, Ohio spelling bee at the age of eight gave him an incredible grasp of useless things such as spelling, he would have been glad to say ‘interrogative’ i-n-t-e-r-r (or maybe ‘double r’) o-g-a-t-i-v-e ‘interrogative’), saying, “Funny ha-ha, funny weirdstrange, funny intelligent, funny odd, or funny indigenous poor people exchanged for funny trees made into funny pulp print in funny papers read by funny exploitationalists passing funny money in a funny farm nursing home for the insane society?”

“You know those times when you think you’re funny,” he retorted, “when you think you’re funny, but you’re not?”

I know,” she interrupted, “this is one of them.”

“If there is hope,” he continued, “its candle might just be burning for you. Don’t get too excited, however, or the exhaust from your deep breathing, soul-searching, self-help administrating, inner-child spoiling exercises just might be enough to put us all in total darkness, which was, of course, where Moses was when the lights went out.”

“Your mother,” she responded, “must be a saint. I just can’t see how any one could put up with you.”

“All I can say to that,” he laughed, “is this: too bad it wasn’t Eddie Vedder.”

MAY 1994

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