Friday, August 31, 2007
Irreversable (2002, France) is a movie written, directed, edited, and photographed by Gaspar Noé. It stars Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel. Several reviewers declared it one of the most disturbing and controversial movies of 2002, due to its explicit depiction of rape and murder. Much like Pinter's Betrayal, the events of the movie are portrayed with a reverse chronology.
So, my pal Josh and I were standing around drinking and talking about movies and this one came up. He'd said that there was no other, more disturbing movie. I thought of Pasolini's Salo... at first, and then Un chien andalou...In a Glass Cage. But he held to his own and told me to just rent it.
So I did. I was all alone in my apartment, at night, lying on my couch, coiling in revulsion as image after image of human carnage spun backward into the inevitable scene that, for me, undeniably cinched it for Josh.
The scene is with the thoroughly convincing (and by this I'm not sure what I mean exactly, as at times, certainly here, i simply do not understand the differences between acting and real life) Monica Bellucci.
I watched as in a darkened Paris tunnel, she is, at the risk of sounding thoroughly redundant, raped savagely. And the scene just goes on and on. And on. And then something happened to me. Out of nowhere, i nearly jumped up and off of my couch. I, quite literally, let out a gasp and scream utterly involuntarily. I actually had to get up and turn the dvd off for a while. Suffice to say, this movie fucked me up!
John Cale has written some of the most beautiful, most intellectually challenging, and flat out rockin' music I have ever had both pleasure and displeasure hearing. And even though he's a raging cunt with an ego larger than his tour bus, (see footnote) he still, for me, remains one of my favorite songwriters of all time. His melodies are truly unmatched, his sense of literary tradition in lyrical narrative is brilliant, and his imagery will make you think you're floating on a soft silvery cloud.
footnote; Mr. Cale did an in-store performance in San Francisco and nearly threw a record at a very sweet friend of mine when asked for an autograph. Total cunt!
Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 romantic comedy which tells the intertwined stories of an extended family, told mostly during a year that begins and ends with a family Thanksgiving dinner. The movie was written and directed by Woody Allen and stars Mia Farrow as Hannah, with Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest as her sisters.
The movie's ensemble cast also includes Allen, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Max von Sydow, and Julie Kavner. Daniel Stern, Lewis Black, Joanna Gleason, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus all have minor roles, as do Tony Roberts and Sam Waterston, whose are uncredited cameo appearances. Several of Farrow's children, including a pre-adolescent Soon-Yi Previn, have credited and uncredited roles, mostly as Thanksgiving extras.
I think I have seen this movie more times than any other. It remains as vital to me today as it did the first time i saw it. Michael Caine's bumbling, ham-fisted Lothario, along with Max von Sydow's crusty and bitter cuckold, stand out with me notably. And I, a fellow hypochondriac nearly run for my computer to look up symptoms of insanity, laughing hysterically when Woody Allen self-diagnosis himself as having a brain tumor due to a temporary hearing loss. And of course, who could miss the inimitable Dianne Wiest, shoveling cocaine and mumbling her endless litanies of insecurity and self-hate while clothing shopping with the always clueless Mia Farrow.
I think, if I were counting, I've now seen this movie at least 15 times.
Cries and Whispers (Swedish: Viskningar och rop) is a 1973 Swedish film about two sisters who watch over their third sister on her deathbed; both afraid she might die, but both hoping she does. The film was written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. It stars Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin and Liv Ullmann.
This movie is one seamless and truly sublime psychological experiment. you wait, along with all the others for death. And then, when it comes, nothing really changes. until finally, suddenly this big slug to the belly comes and you nearly double over with grief. And it's exactly like that in real life, which makes this movie both masterpiece and miracle. How the hell does he do that? Unlike other Bergman movies, Cries and Whispers is saturated, thanks to long time cinematographer Sven Nykvist, in a deep crimson that envelopes and wraps around you like a death shroud. Which brings us back to the miracle part. The thing is, you've had it wrapped around you the entire time, you warm yourself with it, you subconsciously attempt to obscure the inevitable. But then comes the sock to the stomach and life is knocked right out of you.
For anyone who has not experienced the inscrutable pain of loss, this movie will either comfort you, or leave you wishing you were dead.
1. A FIVE-PANELED SCREEN
varnished in thin
the high dunes unfold,
a smudged sketch
for a folding screen,
with cloudy ivory,
of grassy jade.
(The wide bay's
oddly still this morning,
despite the white activity
at its edges, just beyond the shore's
a huge, silvered-equipoise.)
The fog is thinking
of burning away, but for now
(unhemmed, like petals
of a white peony)
slide and tear
across this portion
of sky, sheets
of smudged paper
hung from heaven.
Trope on trope!
What I'm trying to do
is fix this impossible
shift and flux, and say
how this fog-fired
by sunlight filtered
through the atmosphere's
wet linens---a green
you could almost drink!
No trick of light
I'm talking about
but defiant otherness:
this sky's all
to fold the screen away.
Do we love more
what we can't sat
As if what we wanted
were to be brought
that much closer
to word's failure,
where desire begins?
What I love about language
is what I love about fog:
what comes between us and things
grants them their shine. Take,
for instance, the estuary,
raised to a higher power
by airy sun-struck voile:
gunmetal cove and glittered bar
hung on the rim of the sky
like palaces in Tibet---
white buildings unreachable, dreamed and held
at just that perfect distance:
the world's lustered by the veil.
Or else I love fog
because it shows the world
as page, where much
has been written, and much erased.
Clapboards lose their boundaries,
and phantoms of summer's roses
loom like parade floats lost at sea.
Is that what it is,
This evening the thin fact of it
appears a little at a time,
veiling the heights:
clocktower and steeple gone
in roiling insubstantiality.
I take fog as evidence,
a demonstration of the nothing
(or the nothing much)
that holds the world in place
---rehearsal for our roles
as billow and shroud, drift
and cloud and vanishing act?
And, between these figuring lines,
white space, without which
who could read? Every poem's
half erased. I'm not afraid,
if feels like home here,
held---like any line of text---
by the white margins
of a ghost's embrace.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The moon of the desert is just like any other, capricious. It’s there one moment, the next it’s gone, making its nightly appearance as nonchalantly and inconspicuous as possible.
But come a Bomber’s Moon, the Joshua Trees, the roadrunners and jack rabbits all dance a fiery moon dance on a pink stage painted pale with silver blue curtains in a sky suitable for a desert follies. The cactus shadows are so ridiculous and lit up, you’d swear it was the multi-colored exaggeration of a cartoon. You can hold a giant tumbleweed up into her light with only two fingers and see all the way through it, each prickly briar and twisted branch as sharp and as vivid to the eye as the thorny crown on Christ’s head.
She is a beautiful and mournful desert moon.
We would leave the house just around four in the afternoon. First making sure the jerry cans mounted to the side of the jeep were full of fresh water, we’d put on trashy old clothes, grab our coats and kiss mama goodbye. I’d always think about that movie Shane each time I’d kiss her as the fear of abandonment swelled mighty and unabashed within me.
The cold night air would bite and blow through the wing-shaped window on the passenger side of the jeep, perpetually broken and stuck in a resentful angle which shunted chards of cutting bitter air in, directly in line with our faces, our ears and noses numb by the time we arrived. The ride itself was really quite lovely. The flat, never-ending violet slabs of earth, the mountains way off in the distance like a magnificent caravan of purple-gray elephants roving the plains. But the closer we got to them, their chiseled bluffs and raw rocky ridges resembled more bloody chunks of meat turned to carrion. Ultimately, my father’s lengthy streams…oceans of consciousness would destroy the serene beauty and magic of the moment, and once again, the only thing we could think about, my brother and I, was that damned broken window.
This was our primary objective. We had a small window of time with which we would try to load up scrap aluminum into the back of the jeep. Sounds easy enough I’m sure. Who hasn’t picked up a few beer and soda cans along the road on a cool weekend afternoon to earn a little extra cash? Easy as spittin’! Well, let’s just say that in our case, it was never easy, it was never cool, and it was certainly never beer or soda pop cans.
The first time I remember ever going out to the desert with my father and brother I was just around ten. My brother Kimbo had started going out about three years before I ever had to, so that would have made him around eight his first time.
We drove quietly through the surrounding town, old banditos hawking tamales on street corners while the tiny stores closed up for the day. Once we arrived at the outskirts on the jagged plain of the desert, its vast flat floor dotted with giant alkali dry beds regretfully reflecting nothing, we sat and we waited. The bats, turning cobalt from the setting sun circled dangerously low, but were no match for my brother, loading his finger pistol, picking them off one by one, dipping dramatically, then ascending once more. Then we drove down into the dry beds, their surfaces cracked like the hands of an old man in water too long, and set up our makeshift camp. But this was all an act. A ploy if you will. We, my brother and I, once the jeep finally stopped, would immediately go to the back of the jeep and remove a burlap sack full of tin cans, which we would then line up and use as targets for shooting practice. My father brought along a .22 rifle and we would take turns cracking off a few rounds, just long enough so as to create a believable scenario, just in case anyone spotted us out there and got nosey. We’d stay there for a while, finishing off the sardines and crackers my father brought along, blowing up tin cans, until finally, my father would say the word. Waiting for a sign…waiting for her.
And then, suddenly, there she’d be! Miraculous and lovely! She was always so very beautiful. She had the face of a child, woken to a totally new and exciting world each and every day. She would look down on us, catching the glimpse of a single…solitary cactus blossom. And then, as if that single cactus blossom were enough to make and to keep her happy and content for the rest of her life, she would lift her brow, and then she would smile. And when she did, she did not only marvel at a single desert flower, she smiled, and that smile, lit up the world.
She was the misbegotten moon of a child.
Quickly, we gathered up all of the punctured aluminum cans and oily sardine tins, being very careful not to leave even a single clue as to our presence. We would keep the binoculars out for surveillance purposes. Nervous and excited, we’d scurry back into the back of the jeep, as my father gently fired her engines, careful not to rev to loudly, as it would surely roar and echo across and into the canyons.
Then even slower, and with practiced stealth, we would crawl down deeper into the depths of the desert. Up and over mountaintops, the jeep inching, at times nearly vertical to the mountains themselves, as if defying gravity. Many years later I would have this recurring nightmare. I am stuck back in the jeep, smeared up with grease and nicked and bleeding from flying sharp metal, completely perpendicular to the mountain, somehow floating. Then suddenly crashing! I would awake and recall the place and the time, but I would not believe any of it ever happened.
Once we descended from the mountains and entered the forbidden valley below, suddenly our stomachs would turn, and we would abruptly go into a state of alert only the prey of predator animals should know.
Once the headlights were killed and the engines calmed to a low purr, we were engulfed by the stillness and dark all around us. From hereon it would be flashlights only. The first time I ever went, I was told by my father to look the other way, to ignore it. I don’t know if this was done as a means of protecting me from my own overly active imagination, what for me would have surely spelled certain doom, or for morally conscious reasoning. Reason being, to render me unconscious to its morality or lack thereof. At any rate, each time we came to these dark crossroads, I would reach down into my pocket and pull out my flashlight. I would hold it straight up and out the broken window and the white beam would naturally gravitate to its exact position. In bleached out, military stencil, the sign read;
This is a military Installation
Warning; Impact Area
We would creep along the hogbacks of the dry desert floor, hi-beam, hand-held flashlights like white arms reaching out and over the rocky terrain, feeling our way like blind men, crawling like crabs. One false turn would mean disaster. We could just as easily fall two hundred feet down a deep gorge of mountain, thrown against its jagged sides like a tiny toy truck as we could move a single inch. Our minds were trip wires and a single fly lighting on an eyebrow could cause a much regretted and even fatal error, that is, if we weren’t alert as we were, to even flies.
Once down into the open belly of the valley, now miles away from the highway and our makeshift shooting gallery, we were faced with two major obstacles. First, there was time. We had approximately three hours to get the job down and to get out. And second,
And much more importantly, The United States Marine Corps.
Heavy gauged aluminum at that time was going for around twenty-seven cents a pound, which was a pretty good price. I we could manage somehow to get around a ton, it would be a pretty good pay-off. When profits were finally divvied out, I usually came away with around fifty bucks and Kombo would get around seventy-five. I never was all too good at mathematics, but I knew that a tube of butter split three ways, was enough for everyone’s cornbread. Now, if a ton sounds like a lot, then you would be correct. But remember, like I said before, we’re not talking about beer and soda pop here.
If you, if anyone, could just see, firsthand, the incredible capabilities of even a single bomb, you’d be truly amazed! I once stood at the rim of a bomb blast in the middle of the desert that formed a crater larger than my high school football stadium. And there are all sorts of different types of bombs, which through the years, I learned a great deal about. There was what was called Cluster Bombs, which when dropped from above, released five hundred smaller dart-like bombs, and could destroy an entire city block. There was something called Iron tails, which upon impact, released deadly shrapnel. Pop bombs, smaller explosive devices used for smaller targets like trucks and/or cars and Dragon tails, five hundred pound dummy bombs. All of these bombs were either entirely or partially constructed of heavy gauged aluminum and steel. Once detonated, their twisted alloy carcasses were either left out of the desert to be eaten alive b y the earth’s ravenous alkali, or to be dismantled and hauled away by desert rats, my father, my brother and me. Some of the bombs had massive wing-like units mounted onto them, which would act as guiding mechanisms and could direct the bombs into certain and very specific targets. These were the ones we wanted most, as the fins to the guiding systems were solid hi-gauged aluminum and weighed close to seventy-five pounds each. Enough complete sets of these and we would have a full load in no time. Complete sets were, however, unusual and very difficult to find, as the explosives tended to destroy the guiding mechanisms upon impact, twisting the aluminum wings, half an inch thick, into incomprehensible shapes and sizes.
When I first started going out with them, I remember my father had us both picking up the shell casings of spent copper ammunition. But that was back when copper was worth scrapping and could fetch a fairly decent price. Back then, at first that is, it was, for my brother and me, somewhat of a game. We loved the excitement and the clandestine nature of it, and Kimbo and I would race each other to see who could load up the tiny penny colored shells the fastest. Of course, Kimbo always won, as I spent most of my time rubbing my eyes raw from the dry hot desert winds and gunpowder from the copper casings.
“Never ever go any further than twenty yards away from the jeep!” My father would repeatedly warn us. This was the one safety measure he insisted on, in the case we were ever spotted by the marines, we could then make a beeline for the jeep and race out of the dark and blasted bomb drop area. Kimbo and me would carry the jagged-edged and extremely heavy aluminum back to the jeep and try to arrange it all into some twisted and mangled geometry, while often, my father would stand on the hood of the jeep with the binoculars and keep look out for marines. Kimbo, obsessed with all things military, would call out to our father while we cradled the aluminum between us, “all clear General Rommel?” My father, turning 360 degrees, surveying the vast panoramic vistas would respond, “All systems clear soldiers…carry on!” There was however, the time things did not quite go as planned.
We were, what with the constant prodding of my father’s verbal mule whip, way ahead of schedule and had about an hour before we would have to drop everything and get out. The marines started bombing usually around ten o’clock at night, so if we were careful, swift, and made proper use of our time, we could have a complete load and be a couple miles up the public highway with our shock absorbers weighing heavy come midnight..
Kimbo and I were just about finished digging a complete set of Iran tail fins out of the hard ground when suddenly we heard something. Our ears turned suddenly much colder than they ever were before. We heard something far away, in the distance. Then we realized, and without a doubt, that it was most definitely some sort of aircraft. The wind whipped up and around our ears as we turned to my father mounted atop the jeep. He held the binoculars up to his eyes with his left hand and with his right, motioned for us both to be still and very quiet. We froze and did not move a muscle, our eyes wide and black. Then, once again, all was quiet save the wind, so we chocked it up to a far away echo rumbling through a canyon or the savage cries of a bobcat ripping into a kill. We looked to our father for the cue to resume our work. But then, just as we started digging, out of nowhere and streaking across the sky, an F-15 fighter jet’s scream heralded its ominous approach as our ears collapsed resoundingly with its thunder. I fell face first into the hole and onto the cold metal belly of the bomb, my cheek flush with it, my mouth now bleeding and full of dirt. Quickly I turned my face upward, just in time to see an electric streak blaze across and into the black ink of the sky. Then, looking up from the hole, I saw Kimbo standing right at the edge of it, completely straight, his mouth agape and astonished. I didn’t know what to do next. But before my next thought could even reach my shattered brain, thankfully blood and adrenaline getting there first, another fighter tore across the sky, cutting a deep slit there, piercing my eardrums once more. I slowly stood, my ears full of sand and static, and for some unforeseeable reason, reached down and began pulling at the bomb again. Neither of us thinking, Kimbo jumped down and into the hole with me, and together we finally managed to get the fins off of the bomb, up and out of the hole. Standing stiff as statues, holding the seventy-five pound fins between us, suddenly the ground shook from a horrifying boom, and all at once, our eyes turned ablaze, as a jet fighter launched into an all-out barrage of fire against some target just on the other side of the hill from where we stood. Luckily then, finally, we snapped out of it. We dropped the metal to the ground, and ran like mad back to the jeep. When we got there, a sudden chill overcame us. My father was gone. Out of breath, we looked around, surveying the immediate area, when we realized the he, my father, had broken his own cardinal rule, and as far as the eye could see, was nowhere to be found.
And then it happened.
Approximately half a mile away, up near a hillside embankment, an old service truck set out by the marines for target practice, which earlier Kimbo and I had been playing on, became just that. Again, suddenly the F-15’s appearing out of nowhere, and just as easily and effortlessly as swatting an insect, strafed the landscape with fire and shell, instantly demolishing the otherwise full-size truck, as if it were a fly. With the inferno raging in my petrified eyes and the charred stench of rubber tires, I immediately started thinking about our shooting gallery earlier that day. I never liked shooting guns, that was my father’s and Kimbo’s thing. Guns always scared me. But now, I started thinking about the bullets and the tin cans, comparing them to what I saw now.
Neither Kimbo nor I knew what to do next. Neither of us could drive, though given the circumstances, I’m certain our improvisational skills would have been quite impressive and we were both prepared to drive the jeep ourselves.
Then far away in the distance, I saw something, somebody. It was my father and he was running for his life. He was so far away I could barely see him. He blended into the blue sand as if a tiny grain himself. When he finally made it to the jeep, he jumped in, slammed it into gear and immediately turned on the headlights. My father had hoped the pilots would somehow see the beams, and the bombing would miraculously cease and desist.
We flew across the mountains, gorges and cliffs like they were nothing at all. I looked back and I could see pieces of the demolished truck sprawled everywhere. Some of the pieces were still on fire and from a distance looked like tiny gutted fireflies. I quickly turned away and looked at Kimbo and my father. They both had a dead cold flatness in their eyes, but their skin was shining and strangely alive.
Once we were out and onto the open highway, safe from getting caught in a place where we were not supposed to be, not to mention annihilated, I sat in the back darkness of the jeep and I started thinking. I thought about a lot of things. I thought about how dangerous and how stupid it was to be doing what we were doing. I thought about Sodom and Gomorrah and that woman who disobeyed God and turned around. I wanted to turn around and look back. I looked out the front window of the jeep, through the immediate carnage of dead mosquitoes and crickets, and I lost myself in the purple, celestial sky. But I could not resist. I turned slowly and watched the varying degrees of purple turn from red to orange and finally into pale yellow. Turning, I looked up into the sky behind me, and directly into her face. I looked at her cool and indifferent smile tilted toward the earth and I realized that not only was she the beautiful moon of the desert, and the innocent face of a child, but she was also a burning torch of a murdering people, and that the same light which lit up the ground for us below, was the same light that guided magnificent killing machines above. She was also a bomber’s moon.
Nyoko could not stop herself from playing with the tiny white thread stuck to her black nylon stockings. She pretended her tiny fingers were a bobtail kitten’s paws, approaching the loose thread with stealth aplomb, giggling each time she missed. But then she suddenly stopped giggling and reprimanded herself. Nyoko firmly believed that sixteen year-old ladies who laughed too much on public trains showed a certain lack of sophistication, and she wanted more than anything to possess a certain air of grace. Indeed a few late night passengers on the Inokashira line watching her antics thought that she might not be quite right in the head or even a bit deranged. Each time the thread would move slightly, Nyoko would sit up straight in her seat, tap an orange painted fingernail to her front teeth, tisk out loud and then giggle. This entertained Nyoko greatly for a short time, but as usual, her short attention span always won in the end, and once again she found herself sitting with her legs clenched together tightly, as if she was pressing flowers between them for a book of sweet memories. Always the daydreamer Nyoko, remembering yesterday as if today. But for now, there were no tiny white threads or kitten’s paws. There was no pressing together of peony or morning glory. For Nyoko, ruddy cheeked and teetering on exhaustion, there was only the polyester blend of ill-fitted business suits rubbing against her face as she nervously made her way back home after a night of drinking and flirting with fast talking boys. One boy she liked very much. His name was Taku and he was from Shikoku where his family was rice farmers. He spoke with a very pronounced stutter, which often caught her off-guard and made her want to laugh. She had to constantly remind herself to not laugh, so finally, for fear of hurting his feelings, she had to ditch him completely and go to another club. Working her way through to the exit, Nyoko could not decide what would hurt the boy more, laughing at his speech affliction or deserting him altogether. She’d read in a foreign magazine recently that Tokyo trains had no smell. The article hinted that the antiseptic grace of nothingness was a peculiar Japanese phenomenon and that subway trains, whether empty of riders or packed like sardines, was pleasant to the nose at all times. Not so for Nyoko. Often, her highly acute sense of smell drove her mad. For instance, she could presently smell every scent on board the packed train, from the decaying teeth of the elderly to the stained fingertips of the fat gaijin in the corner with two cartons of Gauloise in her cloth shopping bag. Her limit, she promised herself earlier that evening would be three Jack Daniels with soda water. Nyoko knew her limitations, or better still, what became of her when not strictly applying them. But by the time she entered La Fabrique in Shibuya, she’d gone well beyond it, and was already rationalizing yet another whiskey. Whenever Nyoko found herself engaged in these gambits of reason, she would get very angry with herself. She would almost always think of an old teacher she’d hated at La Garenne, a boarding school she’d attended in Switzerland. The old woman was constantly quoting some dead poet or Marxist corpse. Once, when she caught Nyoko chewing gum during a history lesson, she made her memorize a quote from Dante Alighieri. It infuriated Nyoko, as the teacher not only made her memorize the quote but also made her memorize the proper spelling of Alighieri. So each time still, whenever Nyoko questioned herself on matters of the heart, she would repeat and repeat in her head, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in time of great moral crisis.” But now, her head was feeling heavy and she needed to be in her bed. She’d considered attempting to remove a well-worn copy of In Cold Blood from her bag, but she would have to maneuver considerably to even get to it, let alone manage to read it at all. She was surrounded by and pressed in by late night janitors coming home from work and party hoppers who’d just made the last train of the night. Even in her drunken state, she looked around at the desperate faces scrambling to get onto the train and found it all most uncivilized, no small amount of enmity arising within her. Then she saw him. He was a foreigner. His skin was brown like The Yamamba, the mountain witches, but evenly toned, not muddy like burnt amber. Creamy like cocoa and very smooth. He was Persian, he had to be she told herself. Nyoko held on tightly to the hand straps above her, just tall enough to help steady her for balance so that she did not topple over and onto two young men asleep in the seats below. She looked up quickly, just long enough to catch the chocolate colored man turning toward the window. She liked the way the few tiny black hairs grew on his sharp chin. It made him look even younger to her she thought. He could not be more than twenty. She wondered why he would be in Tokyo and not teaching Farsi to American children at the international schools in Iran. She imagined him wearing his prayer gown and cap, his lovely almond eyes closing reverently to God Allah. And just then he caught her eye. Nyoko turned quickly, once again considering going for the book, so as to create a sort of imaginary camouflage or wall between them. Instead, she slowly turned again toward the man, noticing now that he had somehow managed to move even closer to her. Nyoko could see that the man was very slowly working his way through the many people. She wondered if anyone else saw. She could see that he was cool and swift, but very graceful. He was now only two people away from her. One of the people separating them was a very large woman who wore a brass badge on her navy blazer. Nyoko wondered if the woman might be one of those crazy Mormons from America, but turning, she saw that the lady was a concierge at one of the fancier hotels. She was very impressed with the woman. To be a woman with a job of such prestige and acumen was a rare thing and a great honor in Japan. The other person separating her from the Persian was a young man with Down’s syndrome. She wondered why such a young man would be out so late unchaperoned. She smiled at him but his face made no change. He breathed through his mouth, which made him look more grotesque, like one of those hideous green rubber masques children wear at Halloween. The train came into another station, which allowed the configuration of people to change once more. And now the young Persian was right next to her. Nyoko kept her face pointed down and stared at the woman concierge’s large feet. She wondered if a woman in such high position might not manage to have less utilitarian footwear and perhaps invest in something a little more stylish. She tried desperately to occupy her mind on something else, something other than the man directly in front of her, now pressed, like everyone else, up against her. And then it happened. Suddenly, Nyoko could feel his hand now flush against her stomach. Keeping it still there, very still, he held it long enough so that she could feel the warmth of his palm radiating into her. Then he started moving his hand slowly in a light circular motion. Nyoko kept her head down, but lifted her eyes slightly, so as to see if anyone else could see what was happening. Satisfied, or perhaps suddenly indifferent, Nyoko closed her eyes and concentrated on the man’s touch. And then suddenly, the great barrier of cotton and civility lifted slightly and she could feel his actual fingertips touching her small round belly. She had to press harder on her eyelids now as this sent a bolt of tickling pleasure straight into the center of her body. She could feel the man’s fingernails as he gently prodded her navel. Each time he would put his finger in it, Nyoko’s toes curled. This made Nyoko giggle but the man quickly lifted his other hand to her face and gently stifled the laugh by touching her lips. It was then that Nyoko lifted her head and looked directly at the man. But just as she expected to meet his glance, and through his large sea black eyes go deeper into another part of him, the man turned his head the opposite direction as if to deflect any mutual communion with her. To Nyoko’s surprise, she did not feel spurned, nor did she feel sadness. This was, after all, a complete stranger. Instead, Nyoko only lowered her head again, closed her eyes once more and continued to concentrate on the man’s touch. And then his hand swept upward, and she could feel his fingernails once more tracing the soft under curve of her breasts. She wanted him to cup them and stop teasing her with his finger, so she pressed closer into him, nudging his finger away. To her surprise, the man’s hand was not so easily guided, and instead of holding her breast the way she wanted, he went directly to her nipples. Nyoko’s breathing suddenly stopped, and then like the apnea sleeper, as if suddenly remembering to breathe, she took in a large gulp of air. The man continued to look away, as if reading the gaudy advertisements, his face as still and unmoved as a pond covered in ice. Then he began to pinch the very tips of her nipples, quickly rubbing them afterward with his thumb. He gathered up one breast in his hand and pressing it flush against her ribs, he gently squeezed it until the mounding flesh protruded between his fingers. Then he squeezed them harder, his hand coming away from her skin, leaving a distinct handprint from the rush of blood to the surface. Nyoko could scarcely hold back the thrill rising within her, so to avoid reacting and subsequently being found out, instead she bit hard into her bottom lip, inviting pain, keeping her pleasure in check. Nyoko’s head was still bowed to the floor as the Persian worked her breasts masterfully while still looking nonchalantly away. But then, something very strange occurred. The train came into a new station, and just as the doors opened, a cold rush of air hit her, sending an icy gale throughout her entire body. Shuttering, it was as if Nyoko suddenly awoke from a dream. And just as she opened her eyes, suddenly a most palpable shame descended on her and her entire body turned in on itself. The Persian, feeling the rebuff, still cupping her breasts, with great apprehension turned his face down toward her. But Nyoko could not look at him. So quickly, the Persian removed his hand from her breast and pulled away from her. Nyoko paused for another moment and finally looked up at him. But she found herself suddenly incapable of not showing her disgrace. Then, all at once, as if to appease her and to half-heartedly admonish her of her collusion, his face suddenly becoming disdainful, he looked at her as a master might punishing a dog, turned abruptly, and walked out of the train and into the station. As Nyoko ascended the steps into the cold night air, she pulled her sweater tighter around her. She could hear dishes clattering and she could smell someone frying aji. The freezing air seemed to trump her intoxication and all she could think of now was what had happened. As she quietly walked past her sleeping parents, Nyoko recounted again and again the matter, working herself up into a state inexplicably, until finally the storm inside her head subsided, and she fell into a deep slumber.
I am an artist. I have rules. I live by them. Without them, I would be nothing. Worst still, ordinary.
I’d just left the record store and was halfway down the block when I first saw him. He couldn’t have been but around 16. I’d always loved skater boys, especially the scraggly ones, but this kid was too much. His dirty blond hair was completely buzzed off, which to me is the perfect haircut for any guy, regardless of age. He had pale semi-blemished skin and a crooked nose. I followed him another whole block before I saw it. As he slowly cruised down Haight Street on his skateboard, passing the stupid shops peddling Jerry Garcia’s image on everything from t-shirts to cigarette lighters, he nodded to some of the little shit pigs camping out on the sidewalks spare changing. He was wearing a pair of cut-off shorts and his open button up shirt was flapping in the wind, exposing a smooth but taughtly muscled stomach. I love the new fashion the skater kids have “appropriated” from blacks, wearing their pants or shorts far down and off their hips, revealing a hint of boxer underwear. That shit gets me fucking crazy. But this kid, casually rolling down the streets of hippie heaven, had his shorts down really low. I could never figure out what the fuck kept their pants up. I like to think some delicious protruding knob, the gravitational anchor of his father’s loins. His shirttail was sort of covering it, but each time the wind would whip it up and out of the way, I could see it. His shorts were revealing his entire ass! But this kid did not have on normal underwear. Well, they were normal, but they were so threadbare he might as well have had nothing on at all. And the kid’s ass was fucking perfect. For a skinny kid, it was quite round and full. I could see the fuzz formations on his ass cheeks the cloth was so thin, curly cues of fine golden hair coming up from his tailbone.
I did my best to keep my distance, but I had to get closer. The closer I got, I could see his ample buttocks bounce as he rolled over cracks in the sidewalk.
I am an expert at my art, the art of passive aggressive touching. I hear it’s all the rage in cities like Tokyo and Mexico City. The object is to touch without letting the touched know. I have perfected my art. I practice my art in three distinct styles, each culminating into the next. I call these styles, respectively; The Art of The Touch, The Mistaken Touch, and Screaming in The Wind.
The boy stopped in front of a tattoo parlor for a moment and then went inside. He was perusing some large catalogue at the counter as I entered.
Level one; The Art of The Touch. You must be absolutely certain to get it right. This is the most crucial of all three steps as it establishes, that is to say, sets the foundation for all the rest. I noticed below the counter that there were more drawings, examples of tattoos the shop displayed for potential customers. I was less than four feet away from the boy who stood in front of these drawing. I moved in quickly. Still some four feet away, I bent and kneeled down so as to present myself to the boy peripherally, to make him think that I was a potential customer shopping for tattoo design ideas. I slowly approached the boy while still bent down, and waited for the boy to turn. I knew that he wouldn’t turn to his right, as I was right next to him, looking at the drawings. This meant that he could only turn left, the desired direction. I waited, and then when he turned, I reached out as if to touch one of the drawings but in doing so, I casually brush the palm of my hand lightly across his buttock. Sometimes the subject notices this slight friction, but not usually. I have been doing this for a long while, and as I have stated, it is an art.
But like any artist, I, will admit, that once begun, the art becomes obsession. Like Picasso, Van Gough or Rodin, it becomes a starving; a thirst that must be quenched, and I will not be satisfied until all three steps have come to their fruition.
I continue to act as if I am a genuine patron of the tattoo arts. Eventually the boy tires of the place and leaves out the front door. I wait a count of twenty-five, watching to see which way he goes, and then do the same. As I leave the tattoo parlor, I hear the girl behind the counter ask me if I need help which I ignore completely. I look up the street and see that my boy has traveled some distance. I have to high tail it, which is not usually my method, but this one is fast and well worth the extra effort. From a distance of about forty feet, I see the boy cross the busy street, weaving through cars, then go into a bookstore. I wait for traffic to clear and do the same.
Level Two; The Mistaken Touch. I follow the boy throughout the store, still keeping a safe distance. He browses the shelves, looking at the covers of very typical books for a boy his age; Naked Lunch, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a small volume by Beaudelaire. I cannot take my eyes off of his ass. It is too delicious and inviting. I see him now making his way back toward the front of the store. But first, as I would have predicted, he stops and looks at the magazines.
Again, more predictability; Skater and hip-hop magazines. Then the dirty devil reaches for a smut rag, but is instantly angered as the shop has sealed the naughty periodicals in plastic. I stand right next to the boy with a very respectful copy of Architectural Digest in front of my face. He puts the dirty magazine back onto the shelf and mutters aloud, “fuck!” I instantly lower the magazine just as the boy makes eye contact with me and flashes a quick and devilish grin. I think I may swoon. But I also may have jeopardized the next level of my work. Acknowledging my presence to the boy by looking directly at him could have compromised any further proceedings, but it was a risk I was willing to take. Besides, the smile was well worth the chance. In that second’s glance, I saw that the boy had a full set of braces on his teeth.
Then the boy pops his skateboard up from the floor and moves swiftly toward the door. I know I must move fast. I watch and wait again to see which way the boy turns. Again, I must time the next move very precisely. I wait by the newspapers at the entrance, watching him. If the boy goes right, I know that I will go left, and if the boy goes left I will go right. He goes left, so quickly I move in. I time it so that once the boy turns, I must be right on his heels and with my arm closest to him, I reach out, and once again brush against the plump object of desire. It is very important to keep moving. The subject usually, that is, almost always, feels the second “brush-up” and usually stops to see what has happened. I have perfected the art of swinging my arms in an exaggerated fashion so as to create the illusion that it is my natural gate, that is, the way I walk, to project the idea that I might have touched him accidentally. Of course, if you’ve been doing this as long as I have, even though it is tantamount to plain stupid to turn to see his reaction, I almost always do anyway, relishing the innocent yet bewildered look of confusion. The subject is very fast in these instances and usually looks directly at the offending hand and then to see the person to whom it is attached. If played correctly, they usually shuck it off to accident or more likely than not, convince themselves that they weren’t touched at all.
I continue walking for a while in the opposite direction, so as to throw the subject off, hoping to eliminate any suspicion he may or man not have. I usually go for a count of thirty to forty, but this kid is fast, so I stop at twenty-five, turn around, see the kid crossing the street again, and then continue his direction.
Level Three; Screaming in The Wind. By now, you are insatiable. You are Picasso’s eyes! You are Van Gough’s ear! You are the cunt of Camille Claudelle! You cannot be satisfied. No amount of rationalization or common sense or civility can pull you out of the dizzying pleasure you are experiencing, knowing that you have succeeded in your wicked, clandestine acts.
But there is still one more level. More often than not, one does not even attempt this third and most brazen of levels. But today was different. Today, I knew, without a doubt, that I was willing to take it all the way.
How the hell did this kid get away with it? I mean, showing a little flesh is one thing, but his ass was quite literally and completely exposed. Oh I know nowadays kids like to show off, but boys are usually a little different. You might get a peek at a little fuzz on a stomach, or a pit shot, or heaven help us, a little ass crack, but no kid, and I mean no kid, rides a skateboard in the middle of the day down a busy street like Haight Street, with his ass out like that!
I keep my eye on him. I do not let him out of my sight. I see that he is now waiting for a bus at the corner. I cross the street and mix in with the rest of the passengers and wait. This could be very dangerous! There are at least forty people on the bus. But you do not care. Again, once you have committed to Level Three, there is no turning back. And so you position yourself behind the subject, and you wait.
I see the boy reach for the rope to indicate to the driver he wants off at the next stop.
I am anxious. There are two people between him and me. As the doors open, the kid jumps off of the bus and steadies himself on the sidewalk. I step off the bus and hesitate, watching his movements. I feel the wind. The storm is upon me. I must turn into it and face nature’s unbridled, brute force. As the boy turns, I walk directly behind him, and in a third and final gesture, I reach out and I brush once more against him. And then, the boy turns and looks me directly in the eyes. In that brief moment, everything comes streaming back to him. The undeniable look of recognition registers and suddenly, the tattoo shop, the bookstore, the magazines and the smile…you! There you are again. Once more. The kid turns to me and he screams. He screams, “what the fuck! Who the fuck are you…and what the fuck do you fucking think you’re fucking doing!”
At this point, the kid could crack me right across the snout with his skateboard for all I care, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters. I have succeeded all the way to and past Level Three; Screaming in The Wind. The boy, suddenly turning savage, his innocent smile twisting into some mutant battle cry. “…You fucking faggot! Who the fuck do you think you…” Suddenly the sweetest music pours through me. I stand there and let it wash over me. I don’t do anything but stand there and take it. The people look at me and then at the kid. They shake their heads. But I don’t care, it was all worth it.
Finally, the winds subside. But the boy is still there. He looks at me one last time, and then he gets on his skateboard, pulls up his shorts, turns, and flips me off.
As he rides away and quickly disappears, I sit on the curb, and relish the life of an artist.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
ONE NIGHT THE FAT GIRL WITH ONE BROKEN CHA CHA HEEL
THE NEXT NIGHT OR THE SAME NIGHT THE BOY WITH GREEN EYES OF STEEL
THEN THE FAT GIRL NO THAT GIRL WHO WAS NO KIND OF GIRL AT ALL
PICKED UP THE SAME PHONE ALL ALONE TO MAKE A CALL
ON POLK STREET WHERE FOLKS MEET IN THE CITY BY THE BAY
THERE STANDS A PHONE BOOTH THAT PEOPLE WALK BY EVERYDAY
FOR FOUR SOLID NIGHTS I WATCHED THEM ALL COME ONE BY ONE
THEN THEY’D ALL DISAPPEAR THE MOMENT THAT THEY WERE ALL DONE
I SWEAR I SAW MANNY DOMINICAN KING OF FAKE PEARLS
WHOM I’VE NEVER SEEN WITHOUT TWO OR THREE PRETTY YOUNG GIRLS
CRYING…NO SOBBING…RIGHT INTO THE SAME SAD PHONE
WELL I’VE CERTAINLY NEVER SEEN HIM CRYING AND NEVER ALONE
THERE WAS FRANK WHO WOULD THANK YOU AND QUIETLY ROB YOU BLIND
AND KATIE WITH COGNAC TO WARM YOU WHEN THE NIGHT WAS UNKIND
ONE BY ONE ALL OF THEM EVEN SOME I’D NEVER SEEN
DIRTY SAD FACES WHOSE TEARS COULD NOT WASH THEM CLEAN
I THOUGHT I WAS SURELY LOSING MY MIND WITHOUT DOUBT
OR MAYBE THE VICTIM OF SOME SAVAGELY CRUEL BLACKOUT
JUST WHY WERE THEY CRYING THEIR HEARTS BROKEN OPEN WIDE
WERE THEIR HEARTS BLACK AND UGLY AND RUINED DEEP DOWN INSIDE?
SOME WHORES ON THIS STREET WERE DISCREET WHEN GIVEN THE CHANCE
WAS IT THE DEVIL CALLING TO OFFER THEM ONE FINAL DANCE?
OR WAS IT UNREQUIETED LOVE WHO’D TURNED ITS COLD CHEEK ONE LAST TIME?
WAS IT SOMEBODY’S BABY, SOMEONE’S MAMA AT THE END OF THE LINE
FINALLY I WALKED TOWARD IT AND I PICKED UP THE PHONE
THE STREETS WERE SUDDENLY EMPTY I WAS ALL ALONE
I LISTENED CLOSELY BUT THERE WAS NOTHING ON THE LINE
I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS I WAS HOPING TO FIND
I SET IT DOWN GENTLY AND QUICKLY I CROSSED THE STREET
GOT INTO A CAB AND LISTENED TO MY OWN HEARTBEAT
AND THEN TEN MINUTES LATER I WAS SAFE FROM ONE THING I KNOWFROM THE SADDEST PUBLIC PAYPHONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
“One would certainly think that there could be no doubt about what is to be understood by the term sexual. First and foremost, of course, it means the improper, that which must not be mentioned.”
From The General Introduction to
Psycho-Analysis, Sigmund Freud
The bathroom. The big yellow bathroom. The one right across the hall from my sisters Gumpy and Ruffle’s bedroom. The one two doors down from my mom and dad’s. The one with the lock.
Today, “I, Morton T. Willow, will achieve greatness!”
Everyone is gone. So it seems. My eyebrows twitch, then knot, as I consider the whereabouts of my father. I convince myself finally. He has to be visiting my Grandma Ruby. My somewhat hesitant deduction reduces me to inevitable doubt and I pause. Was there not a ten-pack of baby Pepsis inside the refrigerator just this morning? Whenever he visits Grandma Ruby he brings her the Pepsis, ten diminutive bottles in red, white and blue cardboard packaging. He brings them to her every time. Pepsis, peanuts and dipping snuff. W. E. Garrett & Sons, sweet mild snuff to be precise. Her eyes water. Sad. They droop wide and weighed toward the shiny tin can. Her hand shakes as she fishes up a finger load of the bitter pulverized rust. She drops it succinctly into the fat pink pocket of her moist bottom lip, while simultaneously plunging the salty nuts into the black bottoms of the tiny Pepsi bottles. When she’s finished with the Pepsi, which she holds dear and with great allegiance, denouncing Coca-Cola like communism and sin itself, she knocks the stubborn soggy peanuts from the bottoms of the bottles and they fall into her bottom lip which now looks more like a muddy catcher’s mit.
I’m frozen, recalling how she’d close her eyes and say she loved the stuff more than anything…next to The Lord. She used to use the empty bottles to spit the brown tobacco juice into whenever her lip got too full of her marvelous Lady Nicotine. Once, my retarded cousin Bertrand, nic-name of Thumper…(not after Bambie’s loveable lagomorphic friend, but for the fact that this little turd was quite fond of thumping his casaba-shaped head hard against kitchen doorways and linoleum floors.) …drank an entire bottle of my grandma’s murky spit, mistaking it for the cool refreshing all American beverage. We had long since given up on the idea of cheaper…generic brands of pop, and never did take to lesser soda brands. There is a space in the fridge where the Pepsis were. Plenty of noble tastes for common soda drinkers. He has to be at Grandma Ruby’s. They say nothing is worse than nobility without money.
My mom was working the swing shift at the textile mill way out on the other side of the country line, and I had no idea where anyone else was. But I knew one thing, nothing is this easy. Nothing is ever this easy. I should start from the beginning.
When I got home from school that day, I first went to the front door, which was of course, locked. I could easily have forced it open and no one would have known. No one but my father of course, and he’d have torn an inch of hide off my ass if he’d seen so much as a single scratch, not that my ample backside couldn’t have afforded it, as he was always saying. So I had to go around back, past our ferocious german shepherd Jobber. My clever father had salvaged a very long piece of airplane cable from the desert, and had somehow managed to connect one end of it around one of the giant eucalyptus trees on the side of the house, stretching it approximately forty feet, then running it directly into Jobber’s makeshift dog house, constructed of an upside down old wooden work table on which my dead Grandpa Perky once made beautiful objects d’art. (Pretty green grasshoppers fashioned from old railroad spikes, with arms and legs made from bent, filed-down carpenter’s nails, with shiny ruby red glued on eyeballs.) So Jobber’s leash was connected to the 40 foot cable with a brass ring and he was free to walk from one end (the giant euch) to the other (the “doghouse”), so far as the airplane cable would permit. I always liked our dog Jobber, stupid name aside, and furthermore, I always thought he liked me. But I could never understand the way he acted sometimes. My father said he had a spirit in him, a spirit of canine retardation deemed necessary in the eyes of God, never missing a cue to proclaim the infinite presence of our lord and savior.
Whenever I would come home from school to an empty house, which was rare if ever, I would always have to sneak through one of the side bathroom windows out back. We only ever had one key. My father liked it that way. One key.
My theory was that if anyone, regardless of whether they lived there or not, came around to that side of our unoccupied house, it did not matter. This would set Jobber off every time. He would go plumb shit-crazy! Somehow, the fire rush of adrenaline got the best of him, rendering him shortsighted at best, unable to recognize me or any of my brothers and sisters, he would turn into a big slobbering black hairy mess of a deranged creature, running at you as if rabid, tearing up the gravel and dog shit, his chain connected to the airplane cable, making this chink chink zing chink chink sound of hell fire at rapid advance, the frequency of which got higher and higher as Jobber ran faster and faster. It sounded much like one of those tiny toy rings you blow into…zzzing!!!
He once bit my sister Ruffles, wringing out a hunk of baby fat from her back ham hocks, which secretly thrilled me, as I’d begun thinking Jobber only hated me. My insecurities abounded, ran amuck, controlling my every emotion at such a young age, affected by everyone and every thing. Yes, even dogs. Finally, after the Ruffles biting fiasco, my father, with great trepidation and moral consternation, got rid of him altogether, and Jobber went on to become a local hero and prize possession of our city police department, only to be put down eventually for repeatedly shitting on a statue of Helen Keller in the foyer of the public library. A week after Jobber was gone, my father said, with tears in his eyes, “didn’t like the flies he attracted anyways…retard dog!”
Finally, I managed to get to the back porch. Completely out of breath, the smell of dirt, fear and dog shit in the air, I had to now get myself up high enough to reach the bathroom window. But first I had to get through a waist-high swamp of dog food and old T.V. Guides. I knew from past experiences that I couldn’t stand on top of the deep freezer, as last time I tried, I nearly electrocuted myself, throwing me like an unwanted flounder back into Jobber’s stupid and slobber wet fury. So this time, I lifted myself up to the window, distributing my weight onto the electricity meter, which could have broken completely off of the wall, if I did not balance my flabby rump proportionately. Somehow, finally, I managed to shimmy into the window. Of course, the toilet lid was perpetually lifted and I more than once found myself plummeting head first into a less than inviting commode, mouth wide open, not so eager for an impromptu baptism.
So once I finally got into the house, I immediately yelled out for whomever might respond. One does not normally roam about all unannounced, even in their own home, not knowing whom one might run into. As if an intruder might reply suddenly, ever courteously, “oh just in here…tipping the tupperwear…pilfering the pewter!”
I was just about twelve. Just about puberty. Yes! With a capital “P” for Pathetic! About to blow, anytime! Anytime! An over heated gasket. A hot inner tube left out in the sun all day. With all the queer energies my body seemed to be storing, my bones and joints ached all the time. I could feel my body giving way to growth itself. Since last summer, I’d taken to rubbing vitamin E oil onto the backsides of my knees, due to the strange and sudden formation of thin red lines fissuring their malformed ways up and down my legs. I’d grown nearly an entire foot that year and the unexpected growth spurts had sinisterly marked the occasion with the bitterness of summer’s stinging stretch marks. Now, here I was, a year later and a whole foot taller, shamed and backed up against invisible walls, with the tiny pink, sometime red, maggot lines, thinking to myself, how, with these long ugly striations on my even longer legs, I must have looked like some wild exotic African animal. Which, of course, rendered me an immediate candidate for an adolescent hunter’s shameful tag in a hateful gym class safari. The vitamin E cream I thought, was like salvation in a greasy tube.
It was also at this time that my mother had taken to the very first of her now infamous collecting frenzies, and the very first was, of course, Avon.
“Ding! Dong! Avon calling!”
She collected it all. Avon perfume, Avon soap, Avon cologne, Avon lipstick (though she never ever wore any!), and even Avon bubble bath. Which I, more often than not, would sneak, then secretly bury the empty pink bottles in the back field somewhere. Once, noting my fondness for all things soft and smelling of lily of the valley, I will never forget, my mother bought me a piece of Avon soap. It was shaped in the seemingly innocent guise of Snoopy, which I loved very very much. So much that I took it to bed with me only to awake hours later in the middle of the night, bawling my eyes out, having rubbed them with my sticky stinging fingers. It took me a while to really appreciate anything she gave me from that night on.
She collected Avon jewelry, assorted Avon toiletries, and at one particularly ill-conceived period…even Avon clothes!
But the greatest and by far longest lasting of my mother’s frantic and unstoppable collecting crimes was the now infamous Avon perfume/cologne/eau de toilet glass decanters. She had them all. Race car decanters, baby doll decanters, bird, dog and cat decanters, bi-centennial commemorative decanters. Decanters of every shape, size, motif, ilk and/or manifestation the mighty Avon Corporation could dream up. She quite literally had thousands! But worst still, incredible enough every last one of them was filled with the most vile smelling scents you could imagine. I remember, it seemed like there was only ever three standard scents that they ever used. Of course, these three scents had hundreds of different names; Sweet Misty Night, Gentleman’s Wardrobe, Amber Musk, the list just went on and on ad nauseum. Yet all were cleverly marketed in many different bottles, atomizers, and flasks, made to seem somehow separately alluring and altogether individual. But anyone could tell the difference. And it did not matter what sort of bottle it was in, when it came to malodorous distinction and the mighty Avon Corporation, there was always only three varying but obvious differences and they could be summed up as follows; one was the chemically reproduced varicose lilac of a cranky old woman’s sour mouth, two was the whiskey breath of a cowboy gambler trapped in stale smoke and old silk, and three…ah yes…three! What of the third? The third scent which somehow miraculously redeemed all of Avon’s non-differentiating and manipulative camouflage was called simply, Wild Country. It was my father’s favorite. Honest. Virile. My favorite too. Her largest collection was the Avon car collection. She had them everywhere. Every square foot of the house and in every corner; plastic cars, glass cars, chrome plated…displayed all along the valance of the front living room windows. Like one long traffic jam of every make and model, from studs bearcat to Rolls Royce silver shadow. In the springtime she’d make me get up on a chair and one by one take them all down and hand wash them in the kitchen sink. Every week, one of the neighborhood girls who sold her the stuff, would come flying down the block, some deranged human stork clutching hold of one of my mother’s newest babies. My mom would be all aglow every time one of her new “pretties” would arrive.
My father would bitch and moan constantly about my mom’s spending, always saying she should give the money to the church. Though secretly, every Sunday he’d reach for the Rolls Royce, full of the manly Wild Country, and dab a little on his neck. My mom would smell it on him and say nothing. He was always happiest when complaining. He would never allow her to know he took the slightest pleasure from the toilet water, and likewise, she’d never let on that she knew he did.
Her collecting did finally get out of control. I think it’s because she never owned anything as a kid, growing up the daughter of a poor Arkansas farmer. She’d talked the neighbor girl into selling them to her on some makeshift payment plan. Truth is, the only reason the girl agreed was because she had a mad crush on my older brother Virgle. Whenever she showed up, my mom would blush at the new and precious deliveries in her hands, as would the girl when she saw my brother. And even though my brother couldn’t stand her, he called her muy gorda, he did finally screw her once when they got older. Afterward, he refered to her as not just a whale, but a sperm whale. My father would just sit back, his bible on his lap, and laugh brazenly at them as they browsed all giddy and chattering, thumbing through the luscious and glossy new ordering catalogues.
My mom was just like a little girl, and the collection just grew and grew like a cancer, until finally, there was no more room left in the house to display them. So finally, in the end, my mother just took to looking at her new arrivals for maybe a day or two, and then packing them away, wrapping them up in toilet paper and old milk cartons.
But now, I am looking for my favorite.
My very special favorite.
I am a hunting dog on a blood trail…sniffing it out.
I was getting more and more nervous. The seconds became minutes, long horrifying endless minute. My time alone was precious. Very valuable. Very rare. I knew that Ruffles or any of my other brothers and sisters would be crashing down and into the toilet any second. No, I did not as a matter if fact have the common courtesy to unlock the front door. If I had to suffer with the window, the dog, the toilet and all the disgrace, then so did they!
I found myself pacing back and forth in the hallway, out of breath. I was really getting nervous now.
I couldn’t find it!
I felt winded and socked in the belly. My legs were going weak and rubbery. Then I really started freaking. My mother had moved it! She’d moved my favorite! Just where in the hell could it be? No! surely not! She couldn’t have! Could she? Might she have packed it away? I thought, now starting to get buggle-eyed, “I’ll never see it again!” I was just about to give it all up. My heart slowed to a jake-legged jog and then suddenly, finally, miraculously out of nowere, I looked up…and there it was! Smiling…smiling libidinously back at me. Shining. White. Waiting.
This was the object of my infatuation.
It was a small glass decanter shaped like, of all things, a football. A brown glass football-shaped cologne decanter commemorating some ancient Superbowl or Rosebowl or whatever! Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe that I don’t know which…but then, that part, that is, the brown glass football part of it, was not exactly my love’s paramour.
It was a small, approximately the size of my fist, white plastic pedestal in which the brown glass football cologne decanter was displayed.
Quickly! I am really sweating now! I run into the kitchen. I reach for the ultimate of all kitchen catch-all drawers. Being careful not to pull the whole thing out which I have done many times before, spelling certain disaster. Running my wet jittering palms over wooden and metal rulers, chewed-up erasers, bent paperclips, rusty lids to old Mason jars, dull protractors and full bottles of white glue dried out and solid as soap, then I…ouch! I stick myself with the protractor. Quick…look! No blood. I suck my finger. Old Reader’s Digests, a fast glance of Bonnie Franklin of One day at a time on the torn cover of an old T.V. Guide (always hated her!), flour covered rolling pins, splintery ice cream sticks, crusty band-aids and about a dozen double A batteries busted and dripping black grainy fluid…
Then I see it! I grab what appears to be a brand new bottle of Elmer’s Wood Glue. I wonder whether or not the wood glue will work as well as normal Elmer’s Glue…no time! It will have to! I rush back toward the dark hallway, quickly checking out the living room once more, making sure no one is asleep on the couch or on the floor. I run to all the bedrooms. Good! No one is home.
I go into the big bathroom. The main bathroom. My mom and dad’s bathroom. The one with the lock on the door. The one whose lock sometimes worked…sometimes didn’t. There was a trick to the thing, and as much time as I’d spent in there, I had, of course, mastered it.
Once inside, I sat down immediately on the toilet and got to it. I took out my shamefully floppy twelve year-old dick. Laughable. I thought to myself, at the age of twelve, could this be even average? Average surely was not laughable. But to even call it a dick was like…like calling a pigeon a falcon, a snowball a storm, a twig…a tree! No, this was…this was a goober. Like a peanut. Like a dry-roasted Planter’s Peanut. How I longed for what the guys at school called dicks, puds, schlongs, cocks! I was twelve fucking years-old, pathetic, pitiful, and hadn’t grown so much as a single hair on my balls! Let alone my goober! And every single time I said it, or thought it, it just made me angrier. I had seen them. I saw them nearly every day. I made a fucking point of seeing them, every single day. I would linger, slowing up my pace in the locker room, sneaking peeks at the 8th and 9th graders…at the god damned 7th graders! My grade! Springing forth like…like god damned Spring! Black and wirey. Blonde and downy. Curly and coiled! Fantastic bushes red and on fire! Sprouting like forests from their dicks, their cocks, their balls, underneath their arms…some even had it growing right on their asses!
I worked my…what I convinced myself was surely…at least…average-sized penis…goober into solid and steadfast fruition, but even then it only stood half crooked like the steeple of the Baptist church on Juniper street. Now more frustrated than ever, ever alert to the happenings outside the door, I stood up quickly, pulled off my dirty Dickies and Sears combat boots…and then tried for it again.
“There! Done! Now to begin.”
First I went to work on all the hair brushes and combs I could find. Of course, the lid to the Elmer’s Wood Glue was stuck and clogged, so that took even more time. Any one could be home any minute so I frantically work at it with a bobby pin. Then I thought I heard something. What was it? I listen, the floor cold under my feet. It was nothing I somehow decide. Paranoia? I listen closer. I tell myself to knock it off! I’m freaking myself out for no reason.
Then, standing before the mirror, I take it all in. If people were cartoons, surely Thomas “tip” O’Neil, former Speaker of the House of Representatives would be a tall white-haired Fred Flintstone, ABC news anchor Ted Koppel would be Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman and I, pathetic, post-embryonic blob of hairless protoplasm would be the human incarnate of that god damned fat ass fucking Harvey Comics’s Baby Huey! I put the ump in the frump and the dump! Disproportionate and drooping. Boy titties! I had boy fucking titties!
Shaking. Pissed! I squeeze a small dollop of the plae yellow glue and I…I see the radio. Music! Yes! Brilliant! You’re a god damned fat fucking genius! Perfect I thought, just in case someone does come home and things get…too loud. Mask the proceedings. I turn it on, the dial barely visible from all the toothpaste spatters. Finally…AM Radio! I can’t get anything good! “Idiot! You’re being too picky! Stupid! Hurry man! Hurry!” So I settle for Little Tony DeFranco and The DeFranco Family singing “Heartbeat, it’s a lovebeat”…fuck! Am I really listening here? Do I really fucking care? Sappy. Syrup sweet. But loud! Louder!
Then, standing directly in front of the mirrow, I take the glue, and I start to rub it…rub it slowly. Slowly because it is so thick…wood glue…under my arms,,,my smooth hairless underarms. “Not enough!” I squeeze more. I rub more, under my now sweating pits. Something…now something…sour! Then I take an even bigger squeeze into my hand. Somehow thicker now. Kinetic energy stubbornly now turned sloth. Then I reach down, down under my balls, watching myself in the mirror. I slowly slide and slather the thick stuff from my asshole to my belly button. But I need more glue! Still more! Then I turn and reach for the hairbrushes and combs. I frantically start pulling out all the hair that I can. Old hair, young hair, black hair (my sister Ruffle’s) gray hair (my mom’s maybe?). I work up a big fat ball of it and then piece by piece, slowly, strand by strand, then clumsily clump by clump, I start sticking it onto my body. My arms start getting weak. Heavier. I can barely move them. The glue under my arms has mixed with the sour wet sweat, dripping down my arms and onto the side of my body, my ribs and my ass. Each move of my arms becomes slower and slower. Then they started to somehow adhere, creating a sort of dirge of suction, slowing me down considerably. Again, I look into the mirror. It is not enough to satisfy my needs. I NEED MORE HAIR! Then suddenly, inspiration!
I unlock the door, look both directions down the hallway, and am out of the bathroom and now suddenly in Ruffle’s bedroom. I pull open her clothes closet. Half a dozen Styrofoam decapitated wig-heads painted in mock beauticious horror spill out and onto my cold bare feet followed by two eyeless and viscerated ragdolls. Then I see them. All of them. Naughty and naked. I lick my lips, feasting on their long plastic curves, staring hard at them like greasy meat on a bone. And then I grab as many as I can carry and quick tail it back to the toilet.
I am now in the hallway. I’m in the hallway now and completely naked. For a sudden and very brief moment I do not care. I could be butt ass naked dancing in the oval office with Dick Nixon for all I knew or shooting pool with Minnesota Fats, nothing, and I mean nothing, that very moment, meant anything at all to me. The moment. The moment! I rush back into the bathroom and slam the bathroom door shut which sounds as loud as a prison cell. Then I reach up into the cabinet. “No scissors! No scissors!” I realize that the nearest and I think only pair in the whole house are back in the kitchen. In the same aforementioned god damned catch-all drawer! Now the moment becomes a complete unthinking frenzy! I reach over for another palm full of the yellow glue. I know now that risking the trek all the way back to the kitchen would spell certain doom. I stare vacantly into the mirror and feel something snap in my hands. I reach for another…snap! Then another. Before I know it, my feet are littered and piled high with the plastic carnage of at least ten headless Barbie dolls, their stumpy necks now hollow nubs. Not removing my eyes from my own gaze, I glue the blonde hair nervously but strategically into place.
What matter color? I needed hair damn it! What matter synthetic? I needed hair!
And then the final moment. I had been, I must admit, eyeballing it for quite some time. Up there on top of my mom’s curio cabinet. Ostentatious. Regal. Sitting quietly between my father’s carnival glass circus clowns and the tiny ceramic Cupie Dolls glued to pennies. I reached down to my overalls in a heap on the floor with other assorted towels and dirty rags and fished it out of the deep denim pockets.
It performed its job well. It disturbed no one, yet awaited me. It sat up there holding the stupid glass football. No one understood. I was the only one. It was as if I, and the thing, were one. Amidst all else, it might have been as if a tiny grain of sand. Superfluous. Gratuitous. No purpose. Wasted and rotting. But I knew. And it knew.
My dick was now very hard. Yes! That’s right! My dick! Mighty…well at least as much as I knew…average, but nonetheless a dick! I looked into the mirror and for once, I loved the way my body looked. All that…all that hair! I was a man now!
“God damn all! Would you look at the size of that cock!”
Determined and vexed now, I spat into the cup of my hand, glossed over with glue and sweat, and rubbed it onto the shiny head of my massive tool. I loved the way my dick felt. I loved it. The thing. And it loved me too. It was perfect! I lifted it to my mouth and spat gently into the small…average sized hole, and then carefully stuck it onto the head of my glorious manhood. It felt warm. It felt slick. It felt magnificent! It felt…odd.
Oh I’m not so deluded and caught up that I forgot that for a second. But that’s what made it so sublime. I had a plastic Avon product, no not even product, a plastic accessory to a product manufactured by the Avon Corporation, stuck onto the head of my …and I know…my God…I know exactly how odd it is!
But I love it. The smooth…smooth plastic. A perfect plastic fit.
Faster. I go faster. It does not go any further down than an inch or so. Even that is perfect. I don’t want it to touch any other part of my body. Just the head of my dick and my hand, my hand which seems foreign and more odd than the thing itself.
Now faster…and faster still. I am having a grand time! Faster! Faster! Now harder and harder! Rubbing harder. Loving my body. Loving my hair. And I am thinking now. I am thinking of the burly chest guy…the guy with the hairy chest inside the T.V. Guide. Advertising! The Peck Buster! Bigger…better pecks…with the Peckbuster!
Now I am him! I am certainly as hairy. Perfect and formed patterns of virile proclamation. I should be in T.V. Guide! What a chest! You men of men! Just look at all…look at all that…hair?
Suddenly horror! I look into the mirror again. I do the singularly most mentally deranged double-take. I can not believe what I see. I forgot my chest! I forgot all about my chest hair! How stupid of me! How absolutely idiotic! Of all things…my chest? What the fuck was I thinking? But not to worry. I look to the floor…everything’s just fine…I…but then I see…that is… I realize…there’s no more hair! There is no more hair! I scramble for the brushes and the combs. Cleaned out! My eye twitches and coils. I look down at the massive pile of Barbie bodies.
My neck starts aching. My knees pop. But still, somehow, I continue. Pump…pump…pumping.
Then a brainstorm. Genius even! I dig deep down into the trashcan beneath the sink. There, beneath used toilet paper and cardboard tubes…I pull out a monstrous ball of hair! Dark brown…perfect! More gray…perfect still! Suddenly I can taste the industrial strength hair spray my mother uses to shellack her proper middle-aged textile worker’s helmet.
Working up quite a suction now. Pump…pump…pumping…
The bottle of glue is now nearly empty. I rub what is left of it all over my chest, then begin to untangle the massive ball of hair, distributing it into appropriate…allocated areas. Chest to collar, and of course…a now happier than happy ever could be happy-happy trail…down to my newly grown…man-made manly man…area.
Once again, I look into the mirror. Now, I am a man. I am now looking at a big hairy man. I begin to wonder, “what would I do with such a man? He’s so handsome. All that…hair!” I reach out and I touch the mirror. Reaching out. He is so beautiful.
Then suddenly out of nowhere…I hear…someone! Something! Something is coming down the hallway! But it’s too late! I turn, and instantly, the bathroom door opens wide, and standing there is my nine year-old retard cousin Thumper, with his stupid wet mouth, shock horror…frozen open! I remember then, that in the sudden rush to get the additional hair from my sister’s bedroom, I’d forgotten to re-lock the bathroom door. My mongoloid cousin (The one who drank my grandma’s tobacco spit. She called it bug juice!) is just standing there. He’s wearing a green bathroom towel around his neck pretending to be superman (Super Squiggy! My older brother used to call people with Down’s Squiggies because he thought that the guy who played Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley had Down’s Syndrome) and he is holding an open package of orange kool-aid. Quickly, I reach out, in full artificial bloom, slick with sweat, glue and soggy multi-colored hair and slam the door shut. I reach out to try and lock it…but now it won’t lock! Fuck! Shit! Fuck! Turds! Now! Now it won’t lock! Then I hear Thumper racing off, screaming the laughing language of a thousand deranged half-wit cousins. I still cannot get the lock to work. Standing there butt-ass naked, something like…like shame mixed with one of those big pink marshmallow cocoanut snowballs stuck half-way in my throat …I begin to panic. Now I hear more voices coming down the hall. It’s my mother! Let me die now. Let me die and go straight to a firey hell for all eternity where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth and the worm dyeth not! What in the holy name of God is my mother doing home this time of day? She should be at work. She should most definitely be at work.
I decide, at this point, to immediately abandon all of my previous efforts until a more appropriate date and time. Retribution trumps inspiration any day of the week! I run to the sink. Quickly, I turn on the water. Then I run back to the door, stamping my bare foot up against it as a barricade. I tell myself, “No one is getting through this door!”
Then I hear my fuck-face cousin Thumper again. I can hear he is talking to his mother, my cousin Glona, some gibberish…a gasp for air…him…gasp…slobber…me…I cannot make out what he is saying. Fortunately, I don’t think she can either. God bless the child. I can see from the steam that the water is now getting very hot.
Then, and for no apparent reason, I remember the time I couldn’t stop mouthing the words, “fuck me Jesus!” It’s like I couldn’t stop saying it. Some sort of turrets shit or something. I’d go to bed at night and immediately after praying I would start mumbling, “Fuck me Jesus! Fuck me Jesus!” One Sunday we all had to pray from oldest to youngest , and instead of mouthing the same exact prayer we all said in some variation or other, I said, “fuck me Jesus.” It just came out. I knew there and then that I was hell bound.
In one fast maneuver I remove my foot from the door, turn, then put the weight of my body up against the door.
And then I begin tearing at the hair. But it won’t come off. It won’t come off! I need water. Hot water! And soap! Another fast run to the sink. Hot water. Shit! Ouch! Too hot! Much too hot! Then I rub it into my chest. Soap. Into my armpits. My balls…my…my…my goober. But it won’t come off! None of it is coming off!
Then I hear another voice. Nervously…strategically I scream, “I’m…I’m in here!” It’s my soldier of fortune brother Virgle. Like cannon fire, he kicks the bathroom door.
“It’s jist me Morton! Let me in! I gotta pee!”
He kicks the door again. Still up against it, my heart pounding, I close my eyes. A slow tearing in my throat, everything slowly slides into my stomach; a child’s indignity, a crude lead ball, the shame of a lifetime, marshmallow, chocolate, shit.
My voice cracks, “use the other!”
He kicks the door again. This time even harder.
“Mom’s in there! Havin’ a smoke. And cousin Glona’s got the Squiglet in the other! Now let me the fuck in Morton!”
Just then, I think I might cry. “You…you…you… you can’t come in! I….I…I’m peein’!”
And with ever the smartass rebut, “well ‘en move the shit over…I got good aim!”
“I…I…I can’t…I…(Say why! Say why not! Why can’t you? Why can’t I?)
He kicks the door again. “why the turdin’ shit caintchu?” This time loud enough for everyone in the house to hear. “Why caintchu?”
I can hear him now leaning against the door now. A short pause. Then, “Oh I git it. I know why now Morton.”
I say nothing.
Then I hear him laughing. “Is it ‘cause ya gotta squat to pee pee?
Cackling now, “Is ‘at it Morton? Does your big ole pussy drip too much ya gotta sit it down on the shitter? Ya big ole pussy girl!”
I look at all the hair still stuck to my body, “I’ll show him who’s a girl! I ain’t no girl. I ain’t no girl! Looking down below, “and that ain’t no pussy!”
Finally, I hear him walking away. Then he stops, and screams out, “fat ass!” Ah go on ahead Auntie Eunice! Go on ahead and have yourself a real good pee. And by the time you’re finished wipin’ and dryin’ ‘at big ugly pussy of yours, I will be outside pissin’ on the doghouse like a real man! Then he chants in a mocking military cadent, “fat’s where it’s at! Dare to be fat! Having a ball with cholesterol! Dare to be fat!”
I try the lock again, still, as if toothless, nothing to grab hold or nothing to grab hold of. Useless! From the other side of the wall, I can hear someone going into my room. I assume it is Virgle. Then the door slams and I know it is him. I hear him opening the bedroom window. Now I know exactly what he is doing. Often, whenever all the toilets are otherwise occupied, he just goes into my bedroom, opens up the window and waters the hydrangeas below. When he’s finally emptied his basketball-sized bladder, he slams the window so hard it might break but doesn’t. Instead, the walls shutter, causing the bathroom mirror to fall, hitting the sink, crashing and shattering into a thousand tiny pieces to the floor. I’m still propped up against the door and know now that any second someone, all of them, will be running for the bathroom to investigate.
I’m standing there now. Slumped over. Hopeless. Suddenly, what was before my manliness…my virility personified, now appears horrifying, horrified, and in thousands of coruscating reflections at my feet. Staring up at me, slack-jawed and stupefied, some prepubescent, prehistoric, Neanderthal monkey boy. Drool dripping down into small sticky pools, a few of the ridiculous hairballs clustered in gray and brown mounds. I look like that fucking freak Chakka from that kid’s show Land of The Lost! But horror abounds, when I bend closer to see, there, staring back at me, equally deranged, bewildered…not just monkey boy…not just me…but what appears to be thousands of Barbie Doll Faces, decapitated heads, monsters multiplied and refracting carnival freak show abomination! Thousands of shining plastic come hither grins now working their wanton smiles ad nauseam.
I am frozen. Then I realize, no one has come running. Perhaps no one heard? Impossible! How could that be possible? I look down, and then up, at myself, and I decide, first thing’s first!
I rationalize, the only way one might when standing naked with a couple dozen Barbie Doll heads glued to one’s sweat slicked body and a solitary white plastic perfume decanter standee affixed to ones penile knob, and tell myself, that my family could much more easily deal with the sudden and miraculous growth of body fur and/or even Barbie herself, than with the white plastic and now not so perfect Avon product/accessory appended to the head of my…goober…penis…dick…where it ain’t ‘sposed to be!
But then my whole body stiffens and I realize…that it won’t come off! I pull at it again. The thing will not come off! I realize suddenly, that during the all too brief throes of passion and what was before nearly divine inspiration, that the Elmer’s Wood Glue I thought would never work…has indeed worked very well! Too well! Somehow it has dripped down my body and right into the hole of the plastic Avon pedestal. It has caused it to stick…stick as in stuck…to the head of my goober! I pull at it again. I keep pulling!
I hear music from my room now. My god damned brother is listening to my records! Shit! I pull harder! Harder! The music gets louder. First it’s Andy Gibb…”Shadow Dancing”…then it’s Rex Smith...”You take my breath away.” I think of the pictures of both Andy and Rex on the slick album covers. Harder! Harder! Now it’s The B-52’s! “Planet Clare!”
“No one ever dies there!
No one has a head!”
Now I wish I was dead! Barbie the whore laughs! I pull at it again. Again, and again, and again, and again!
Then my mother’s voice, “Morton? Are you okay in there?”
My voice cracks, eking out, “I’m fine…I’m fine…mom.”
Then again, “what broke Morton?”
(Pause) (Pause) (Slit my throat) (Pause)
“Uh..what broke? Uh…nothin’…nothin’ broke mom. Nothin’ broke.”
“Oh.” Disbelieving silence. “well, uh…’en hurry up in there…I got supper…and it’s gonna git cold.”
Once she’s finally out of earshot, I frantically start at it again. But the thing will NOT come off! Doomed to a lifetime of genital deformity. Like The Red Shoes. It felt…so…good at first! Wonderful! I thought, for a moment, a brief moment, it was what I wanted. Idiot! Then I remember the end of that story and think the only way they’ll be able to get it off of me once I’ve regained consciousness from the demoralization and sheer embarrassment alone, will be like the young ballerina’s feet. Chop! Off go the feet! Chop! Off goes the goober! I swallow hard. Pull at the thing harder. Harder! Harder! Harder! Harder! Then I think with all the tugging and pulling that I might stretch it out of whack! “Out of whack?” Demented! “Stretch it?” I continue to pull. Up and down. Up and down. The thing, the “thing,” as I have come to know it, is now beginning to scrape the sides. I think that I may bleed. But before I do, suddenly…suddenly something…happened. Something that I will never ever forget, not the feeling…and certainly not the way the feeling came to be.
There and then, my body, still leaning steadfast against the door, my cast iron legs creating leverage, suddenly…went weak. My breathing increased. Then my heart galloped. I thought maybe my heart was trying to work its way out of me. My throat was taught with some morbid thickness of movement. I thought for sure my heart was working its way up and through my neck. Then my head swooned. It felt heavy and light all at once. I thought that I might weigh five hundred pounds…or as light as the wind. Then my eyes began to bulge and roll backward. My muscles contracted. In a flash, my fingers and toes splayed open and out like a Japanese paper fan. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, blocking air that my lungs, at that very moment, strangely enough, did not seem to need. Everything in my body…everything in my mind was doing loopity-loops and twisting aerials in the sky, all systems on some sort of auto pilot.
And then, I looked down to the area in question, the pressure building to the point of intolerance, and miraculously, the white plastic Avon product/accessory popped right off.
Right off. I had no idea what had occurred.
And then I looked down toward the floor and noticed how the tiny chards of mockery and broken glass had somehow lost their luster. And then I saw my own face, along side Barbie’s, and saw that we both were now covered in a milky masque of some muted liquid joy, her baby blues now seemingly glues shut and glassy like water and powdered sugar. Shining. Glistening.From that day on, I would never look at another bottle of Elmer’s Wood Glue or otherwise, into Barbie’s eyes, and certainly not my own, quite the same way, ever again.