/ Journal /
(previous save 10/3/1989)
Incompetence: in the Army, break the broom and be rewarded with nothing to do. Look at these guys. they think they’re clever. They’ve outfoxed life. You’d see the sly pleasure. There’d be a remnant of it the next day under the glaze of boredom. Then, for the next twenty years, just the boredom and the growing belly, a mind stunted beyond recall. I’d rather sweep the floor. Sweep it all day. Hard. Needlesstosay, the incompetents, once perhaps deliberate, now just what they are, were always the first to be promoted. We all went E1, E2, E3 by the calendar. Then Mel, for example, went E4, E5 by the same calendar, and … I’ll bet that’s about as far as he went for the next twenty years.
When they saw that I made few errors in the induction forms they thought they’d have Mel show me how to do the orders so there’d always be a backup without Bea ever having to have to do anything again in her life other than be supervisor. Bea said no one had ever learned it faster than Mel, who had learned it in two months. And sure enough, what ever it was that Mel was doing looked totally impenetrable. By the end of that day I was able to see that what Mel did with the orders was 90% correct-the-error-you-just-made. Now, an error loop can be a beautiful thing, and it strikes me that it’s just as likely, to far more likely, for the entire universe, all of existence, to be a complicated error loop, than an expression of insight or invention. But the errors weren’t the army’s intention nor were they Mel’s; he just couldn’t do it right. I soon saw that these “orders” were a code for: Whitehall Street Induction Station recruited x men today (the date being yesterday’s), inducted y, sent m to Fort Dix, physically examined n, failed o, etc. It was a tally. The code was simple enough, it was just a bunch of very non-aesthetic abbreviations. Was this where the PFCPDQseeCO came from? Very likely. It was Wheel of Fortune in reverse: which letters can we remove and still remember what we meant? It also occurred to me that Mel might be making all those errors not just because he couldn’t type, not just because he was a little spastic anyway, but because he didn’t have the faintest idea that the OD he kept missing he might miss less if he realized that O was short for “orders” and D for “of the day.” I pointed it out to him from my trainee’s chair. “huh?” he looks at me. “wow.” He does it right. “Is that true Bea?” Bea confirms, looking none too kindly on me. Who knows how many years it took her to see that? She used to do those orders herself. Two seconds later another od is buried in a string. I try to help Mel interpret the string, admitting that I’m guessing on most of it. Guessing or not, I can reproduce the string with my eyes shut a minute after seeing it the one time for a few seconds. Not by visualization, not by memorization, but by interpretation, however pseudo. The pseudo part has nothing to do with the method’s accuracy. Anyway, Mel becomes completely unstrung. Leave him alone. He learned it by rote and he was doing it by rote. He was doing just fine until I confused him. The best they’d ever had.
The next thing I know, it’s my job to type the orders everyday. Mel is moved off to do something else. (At least I don’t have to hear him shrieking: I wanna hold your haaand. That’s a new group, he’d protest my pain: The Beetles, they’re good. How could I ever had come to even half agree after that introduction? It took the art of A Hard’s Day’s Night, Lester’s Running Jumping Standing Still Film II to do it.) What a mistake on my part. I hated typing the orders. To me, it was the army at its absolute ugliest. Anyway, I do it. My world collapses. I’d found a modicum of happiness thus far at Whitehall St. Do the daily case work. Sometimes a fair amount, sometimes hardly any. Even at its heaviest, there was plenty of time to have coffee with Phil, stand about with Michael. Go to the men’s room and come back to find one of Michael jokes protruding from your Olympia. Cutting the orders was the same amount of work everyday, and it was supposed to take all day. So I do it. It goes to Bea for checking. An hour later she tells me: it’s right. I think she was glad. Now she had nothing to do for the rest of the day. I think that had been it: Mel to do it wrong till noon, Bea to find the mistakes till midafternoon, and again Mel, Bea, Mel, Bea, and at last run the stencil through the mimeograph machine, praying that there enough plastic left after all the liquid plastic correction fluid, that the stencil won’t just disintegrate. What would come off the mimeograph machine upstairs would be unreadable, but it would be right. jam the printed copy onto the bus with the men and ship both off to Joisey. Today’s men, yesterday’s tally.
The next thing I know, Mel has been moved down stairs. He’s recruiting. He gets E-4 and 5, bonuses, passes. I’d be E-3 for the rest of my life, for the remainder of 20 if they could keep me enslaved for that long. Somebody had to do the actual paper work. They had a whole staff of civil service employees whose job it was to do it. I think we privates were just supposed to be a cushion for emergencies. (the army being boom and bust, boom and bust: I was drafted in the Berlin crisis and arrived at WHS in a nice slump, then Cuba, and boomboomboom out of all proportion.) But once our crew arrived, and didn’t disappear AWOL immediately as all previous crews had, then the civil service retired. That girl, (Margaret? not all ugly yet, still a nice black rump) who sent me the crude cartoon of the pussy with shit berries alternating with diarrhea plopping and dribbling out of the lower hole, and the caption, “If you like to eat it, smile,” looking at the clock till noon when she could disappear to the bar for lunch. Then be truly useless till five o’clock and she could go back there again. A grown woman, still confusing sex and excretory functions. No doubt she had been able to do the forms until we arrived. I couldn’t imagine her ever being able to do them again.
So Bea has me cutting the orders and cuts me off from Phil to do it. Right again, no mistakes, the next day. Funny. I was soon and gratefully relieved of that duty. What can have happened? Bea must have feared that it would be the end of her whole department, the large staff she supervised. As long as they did it wrong and took all day to do it, they had a huge budget. And now they had a dozen permanent PFC slaves to do even that. But, please, not fast, and above all, not right.
No wonder Napoleon saw that he, with a young army of 20,000 could beat any older army of 80,000. It wasn’t just the artillery. Though for sure, that counted too.
Now, of course, this, my enslavement, as always, was all my own fault. I refused to let them tempt me with a commission. What if I had? Would they have loved me any more as an officer? Not on your life. The key ingredient isn’t competence. It certainly isn’t intelligence. Oh, sure they want those things, to serve them, not to lead them. Heller gave us the skeleton key. You have to like us, the Colonel tells Yossarian. Not actually like us, we don’t care about that. How could we tell, anyway? Long as you keep your mouth shut. Pretense is fine. How do you know that we’re not just pretending? But you have to pretend as one of us. Even if you’re a Colonel, a general, even if you have five stars, you’re still serving the Commander in Chief who is of course serving … not the public, there’s no such thing, but yes, civilization, the arms contracts, the sugar growers, the packagers, not just those who want just an infinity of pavement and oil slicks, but endless wheat fields and tenements of cattle, machine fed, all fat and sick protein, but marketable, and geese with their feet nailed to boards so we can disease their liver, no that’s the frogs who do that, I’ve got the wrong civilization, but it doesn’t matter, we’re both led by the same voice. you’ve got it, the true voice of the hotel in The Shinning.
What the hell, I’ll go on. One thing reminds me of another. Being processed. Being handed that test from 20th generation disintegrating stencil. Unreadable. They should care? Reading isn’t their thing.
This is their ahem intelligence test. Four parts. Vocabulary and reading comprehension, math with some elementary physics, and tool recognition. I must be leaving something out, because it was definitely 4 sections of 25 questions each, all multiple choice. Maybe the vocab and reading were two sections. Maybe the math and physics were two sections.
My friends had gotten out of the draft by cheating: notes from psychiatrists. The army probably didn’t want anyone who had ever even heard of a shrink, let alone gone to one. Say you’re a fag? How could any body but a fag say that? The real fags lie, they want into the army. The army must know that. It does have a mind, however low grade, primitive, and unholy.
Then I had heard of the Princeton grad who had failed the intelligence test. My options were narrowing. I couldn’t do that either. I couldn’t lie. I still imagined I was honest at age 22 or so.
So with a corner of my mind as I take their inkblot intelligence test, the parts I knew were redundant enough to be clearly inducible however blurry, I thought to myself, which of these would I miss if I were deliberately failing the test? You’d have to be subtle. Missing too many would prove you were cheating. But like this one here about water pressure behind a dam, missing that would be subtle. Which wrong answer you give would be important. a college dummy might go for the size of the reservoir rather than the height of the dam; I’d try missing that one. get the vocabulary wrong by fine shades, not wholesale just don’t speak the language. Anyway, to be gross and daring, I think I picked about 15 I might miss. Though of course in fact I answered them the best I could, fairly confident that I had made no errors whatsoever in the three sections I knew. The remaining 25 questions on screw drivers, philips heads, allen wrenches, drill presses, and I never did figure out what all, I was far less sure of. Since I’ve never seen the test in any but blurry form, even after being there for two years, I can’t know how many of those machines I wouldn’t have recognized however clearly they were depicted. Most in that section I didn’t even guess at. It isn’t as though I were trying to do well. Just not lie. Since I got an 83, I’ll say that there were 17 I didn’t answer at all. Phil also got an 83. I don’t think I ever asked him what he did with those tools. Would Phil have known about dams and such? Who would know that who hadn’t taken physics at least in high school? It certainly wasn’t common sense.
So, since I didn’t recognize the majority of their tools and machines, I wasn’t in control of the whole test. I don’t know which ones there I might have chosen to miss deliberately. And if I hadn’t been assigned to Whitehall St, I don’t suppose I would ever have learned what their real standards were. But I remember very clearly my surprise in learning that my best efforts to deceive them would still have resulted in a score way over their requirements for officers candidacy.
Is anyone really that stupid? Stupid is the wrong word, but there are no right ones. There’s no such thing as a totally uneducated person. Even a wild child. We just can’t judge what their education is. We see their resistance or immunity to ours. Or their and our difficulty in dealing with each other. Is everyone in civilization to some extent a broom breaker? Our leaders can’t really be as stupid as they seem. But what intelligence does a Bush have? It must take extraordinary cunning to be always up for promoting this group no matter what and willing or even anxious to damage that one no matter what. I’ll say this for him: he probably is genuinely a Paul Hogan for Republicans. I doubt that he has to synthesize those values.
Music is typically made by musicians who, given their choice, would rather be playing something else. I don’t doubt that Verdi in his day was played by musicians who’d as soon have been playing country tunes. The studio musicians doing the Chevy commercial: Two might prefer jazz, three Mozart, four country music. But it changes in time. Now there are members of the Philharmonic who really would rather play rockandroll, when rockandroll was once played by people who’d rather be playing jazz or at least Gershwin. Or at least just plain rhythm and blues.
What values does anyone have? Much of my life I thought that the stuff of the constitution was good idealism. Now I see it as all vines held up by other vines, but now seeing a better purchase over there. Wait, here’s more light. No, this tree, has the better chance. yes, that’s light there, but that bough is about to break. Ah, but if I crawl out there, yes, it will break, and I’ll fall into shadow, but my tendril will have hold of that tree there that has that delicious empty spot higher up. It isn’t light that I want now, but the juice that my tendril will send me down in the nice cool of the shadow. Think of the ecstasy of the root in total darkness, communicating with both water and light. That fool comes and cuts me out, throws me into the ravine. Pulling up six foot lengths of root. He doesn’t know how deeply I placed my children.
There’s nothing that sees the whole. Certainly not I. If I did, how could others keep showing me more of it?
What do I see that others don’t see that they might need or care about? A different mix. A better balance. Less paranoia. A much more fun schizophrenia. Knock on the doctor’s door even though you know that’s not what he meant. It’s what he says, and fuckem, he’s enslaved you. Not that not being a slave is an option. He’s a slave too. With different wages, in a variety of ghettos. Those ghettos have servants. Schools, police, Mercedes to bind you with. Valuable slave. How else can we pursue our delusion of cures for things? Oh, sure we know we’re not immortal, but if we can cure a,b&c, and then m,n&o, surely x,y&z will follow. And then … Meanwhile, we must sacrifice ABCDEFG!@#$%^& … We’ll approach immortality. How can we quarrel if LIFE got sacrificed?
We on Earth can sacrifice LIFE, or large parts of it, but can we sacrifice it beyond Earth? Can we ever really kill just the Earth? We haven’t yet.
The school didn’t kill me and the army didn’t either. Neither did Hilary. My father didn’t and neither did my mother. Am I killing the vines?
Brown’s law of public medicine: when a concerted assault on a disease has it practically dead, it is the assault, not the disease which will die. (I have no qualms about calling myself a disease here; it’s another aspect of Life. It’s just semantics, name calling, what our highest reality is about, but arbitrary, which way the light is shinning. Where you want to put the darkness, or where the darkness has put you.) When I see no more vines, I’ll stop cutting them. Dick stopped far short of that. And so may I, since I haven’t actually arrived yet at not seeing any more. And I don’t really want to kill the vines, just reverse their dominance over that particular stand of trees. [10/3: miracle of miracles: I still haven’t found anything on kenilworth, but seeing this passage, i must say: the vines are all gone. i actually finished something. within a few weeks after finished the model revised. finally walked the burm and not one sprouting root remained. more will come, no doubt, but present visibility was zero, and double checked the following day.]
And I don’t hate humanity. I just want to prune it. I want it to want to prune itself. Of course it already wants to do that and is doing it, but a very different pruning. One less riddled by the old hubrises. Free of hubris? What do I imagine we are? I don’t have to make Oedipus’s father’s mistake. That mistake has already been shown us. And I don’t have to make Oedipus’s own mistakes either. Maybe I make them anyway, that’s what the myth tells us … And I’m certainly not trying to make no mistakes. That would miss the myth altogether. Neither do I want to make any deliberately. I want to use the vision I have, and to improve it. It may be better than the best the 1% of 1% of human vision has ever been, but it’s still just human vision.
Last night (toward 5 pm, before I slept to within an hour of dawn), reading Alnilam, … wow. I thought Dickey was being a little precious, a little self-indulgent, a lot presuming on our indulgence, and off the mark in his dead reckoning and celestial (meaning earth bound) navigation, when, wham, I see it coming … revelation through the diseased senses of a blind man, one none too good by any standards (even his strength; some woman on the tube the other night could bench press 325 lbs; Cahill is awesome at 300) I hope I’m not wrong, but at 300 pp into it, it begins.
So Freddy’s Nightmares tells one public, while Stephen King, in his high school writing!, tells another much of what I have to say. But only by hiding in trash. We can tell the truth here because it’s obviously nonsense. We’re wearing our foolscap.
Bateson writes the truth, but only as science, what we are already holding at arm’s length and in a kind of contempt. That’s only for intelligent people, freaks, people so unlikely as to be harmless. At their worst, they can advise the President, advise from musical chairs, fired as often as hired … except of course when one is destructive enough, then he can become a kind of J Edgar, controlling his hobby horse till his death, giving presidents a hard time.
I’m not missing anything I can’t do without. Money? Foodstamps are keeping me richer than past kings. Women? I’ve let some erotic memories and experiences and dreams creep into my id file in the last year. I think Dyan broke the barrier, not that I imagine the barrier had been absolute, I just remember last Feb, thinking, hmm, I haven’t written any of that stuff much before. But then I hadn’t written much of any stuff before word processing. Why shouldn’t it add itself if it wants to?
But here’s a clarion memory. Brooks. Months of pleasure and ease. Back to a life of promises, some of them fulfilled. But then, the usual. Hell on wheels. We’re driving back to Hilton Head where she is supposedly going to let me work, sponsor me. Ha. I’ve already seen her capacity to do that. How could she, when she doesn’t know what work is? She wants results, kudos, a little star light, not a nuclear inferno. We’re in a motel. She’s in the bath. It’s a crummy motel, whatever the amount on the bill, and the shower curtain is glass and not removable. I pull it back to lean in and ask her something and leave it that way. Now I can stare at her pussy without her knowing what I’m doing. I stared at it with heavy emphasis on her age as I had other times stared at it with heavy emphasis on her extraordinary beauty. The legs are unbelievable for her age, but they’re still her age. That body that your whole generation grew up watching being sung to by Perry Como. That you’ve known for decades, selling Doans pills: the oldest working model in the country, the ideal adult female. There’s the pussy, sitting there in the water. That’s it. That’s the trouble. Take your time, because it’s your last look. You’re giving that up, just as you’ve given up cigarettes and booze and careers and all those traps. I wasn’t vowing eternal celibacy, but I sure was hyping myself into putting DonJuan behind him. The dick has its purposes and we serve them. Do we have to serve them past 44? I’ll serve my muse. And if no one wants it, that’s their problem even more than mine. Not as long as I can stay alive and work.
Ok, so work includes trying to get something published. BUT, something of mine published. Something I mean. Tailored, pruned a little, with an audience in mind, sure, that should be good for me, but my audience. If that’s none, then none. If it’s always none, so, it’s a vanity. So what? So what else is new? I’ll take that right.
In the Vietnam years, I pledged to let the govt get as little of my money as possible. I pledged the same about Hilary. I never meant them to get none. I never meant her to get none. I certainly never meant Brian to get none. Though that in effect was the result. I overdid it. Avoiding much, I avoided practically all. It’s easy to make money if you show that you’re on the take but will spread some. I never spread enough. Or I spread it in the wrong order. I wasn’t greedy enough to satisfy people who’s own green was exponential. The goal is never the goal but instantly becomes the mere launching pad. The hell with that. Not me. It’s a carrot they hold before you on a stick. Do this, and we’ll be happy. Do they know they’re lying? No, they’re in the grip of civilization. The most addictive and destructive of anything we’ve invented yet. Drugs and all, aren’t the addiction. They’re the latest crutch we keep addicted by. The dolts in the ghetto don’t understand that cocaine is how you keep taking over banks. If you don’t have the raw madness by itself sufficient, then even a banker needs a little coke to maintain his insane insatiability.
So I get furious at publishers and agents for merely being civilized. Dear Secty Stevenson, I write the UN. Blah blah about these Buddhist immolations. And I get back a fat package about communism. Dear Cop, how do I find the cab company whose coked driver stood on the pedal in reverse trying to back hump Hilary’s VW while she was in it pregnant? Call soandso who’ll tell you to call soandso until someone finally tells you to call me again, full circle, so I can tell you … Do I really imagine that the ideals of discourse, the knack of taking tests successfully, understand the question before saying whatever you want to say so you can say it and still appear to have answered the question, etc, do I really imagine that anyone ever meant any of that? Except as a discipline for its own servants. Be truthful says the judge to the accused, his own bench a hallmark of the mass hypocrisy. Only slaves are required to tell the truth.
Ok, so that’s my enduring neurosis. I believed them and still believe too much. For longer than average. So, I’m an idiot. So what? I now claim that too as my right. Would I do what I do if they ever put any real force to their threats? Probably not. Most people bend just from the threats.
GBS on Wagner. Siegfried is a hero going into the fire to rescue Brunhilda. Because he’s not afraid of fire? No. Because it isn’t real fire. It’s semantic fire. We don’t want heroes. We won’t like you if you do. We call it hell. It’s where we put people we haven’t controlled. But we can’t even really control putting them there. It’s really voluntary. you have to let us put you in hell. you have to believe us to be burned. Voodoo is the true religion. Our magic is limited by you.
Maybe that should go into DB.
But we do want heroes. Heroes are all we want. We don’t respect the people who obey us. But we have to put our respect into myth. Jesus can be a hero. Luther. All the prophets. Samson, killing himself (hardly himself any longer) just to get at the Philistines.
God is what we’re always wrong about.
The Sanhedron is what we pretend to respect. Caesar is who we really want to have the power. We’ll give it to a pope insofar as he’s caesar himself. And deny it to Francis.
But what did Francis need with it? He was born rich. Like Siddhartha. Sure, you feel sorry for the poor. Not because they don’t have any money. But because they’re still susceptible to the hogwash that they need it. They’re the most susceptible. Why else does OTB put the biggest gamble away whatever you’ve got billboards on 125th Street?
Oh we need things all right, things have been taken from the poor. Not tv sets. They never had them to begin with. Not Mercedes. They never had them either. Not jobs. Who in their right mind would want a job? We need what’s been taken from all of us. Trump can buy a farm if he wants one. A big farm. 10. 100. But he can’t buy a hunting preserve. Not one big enough for 250 people to dig roots on, maybe to catch a rabbit. Not one big enough to have serious competition on it. A lion vying for the same rabbit. Not one with enough water holes that only some of them would sometimes be poisonous. Naturally poisonous.
I’m enjoying it here in Florida. An alien ecology to me. It was in Lexington and on Mt Desert Isle that I learned what little I know about what’s edible. I walked around and around the other day not finding a thing that I dared substitute for wild thyme, or parsley, or watercress for my clam sauce. I haven’t dug and eaten a clam since I was maybe 14. The fish I caught in the Glades were loaded with Mercury. So at my age I don’t care if I go insane. I wouldn’t feel totally betrayed if I got aids. Not that it’s likely.
How wonderful the way recent civilization, and maybe civilization always, has given up its painfully acquired taboos of self-preservation. If even the church talks about chastity anymore, it’s in a voice so low and weak that even I don’t hear it. Fuck one person. if there’s disease, it spreads to one. both of you die. your children don’t last. the group avoids the disease. oh, it’s not immune. of course not. it’s doing the best it can. What more should it do?
Oh, that’s an oldwives tale, we say, picking up every disease we can. but that’s ok, look at how much more money we can now give to doctors and therapists. what, liberalize the laws that gave us all this? how else would the social workers cut themselves deep into the pie? I told you that college would make you more money. this way we get more and more police to give more and more parking tickets and fence the junk themselves.
How did I, with my old habits, avoid all the diseases that were there all along? kings had syph, how did I know Martha didn’t? How have I not been mugged? just luck? maybe there’s more to it than we or I know. I know some of how I make people avoid me. Do I know it all? of course it always was, or at least used to be, that women were always safer than men, and young women safest of all. I always liked young women. And never obvious sluts. Only once have I ever been with a woman I even suspected of being a whore, and then only once, a girl I already felt I was taking a chance with, had already been with several times. then she tells me that she was thinking of augmenting her miserable income. the only way she could think of. Once. That was the last time with her. About the rest? That’s something a man can’t really know. Another of life’s clever discontinuities.
I even actually was attracted to an outright whore once. Driving back to the Miner’s trailer in winter. She’s tall and slender. Nice hair, nice face, nice smile, a pleasant voice. She flags me over. I roll the window down a bit. She leans right in, smiling, fun, pleasant to be with. How would you like a nice blow job? she asks, those words exactly, smiling expectantly. As a matter of fact, I would have, and from her. If she’d spread herself over me at the same time. But I said, no. Oh, she says, smiling doubtfully, why not? Cause I don’t got no money. The very truth. What? Invite her back to the frozen trailer? If she wasn’t looking to limit it to ten minutes or less, her pimp would have been. What if I had had some money? Would I have broken my streak? Well, I haven’t, with the one possible exception already mentioned. Besides, even when I have six or eight hundred on me, I still regard it as none. I can survive for months and months on that. I’ve now been here three months on less than $500, $200 of that going to the warehouse.
And of course there are disadvantages there too. Whores are supposed to know about cleanliness. All these ads for mouth wash. One ad the other day shows an ass while talking about her breath. In a country without bidets. Hilary raised that it’s dirty to think about, not raised how to be clean.
Cecily. What a downer to find toilet paper matted into the public hair.
Yet something changed. Once upon a time, you could expect a C- (Bowdlerizing K. 2016 07 30) to stink of at least some left over urine. So, it’s just piss. Nothing dirty about that. It’s not nice, but it’s just piss. Then there were girls you didn’t dare get too close to the ass. Not inside. Then suddenly, pussies everywhere were cleaner. Was I losing my sense of smell? More used to it? The pheromones, the lust, taking over the revulsion of the inexperienced? No, I really think they were cleaner. Just like suddenly, in the mid 60s, a half way decent blow job became a norm you could expect. Then there were those so flooded with who knew what chemical that you might as well have been kissing a new baseball. Maybe that was the handwriting on the wall. Look out. The change is good on the surface only. Tomorrow it will seem even cleaner, and be loaded with spirochetes.
Suddenly I have a different memory. How many times have I lusted for some extraordinary tit, maybe not even big, but extraordinary in some way, the girl’s carriage or how she wore her blouse, maybe even smaller than normal, but sexy, big thrill when you get it in your hand, bigger when you get it in your mouth, the next day, or the next week, however long it took, and the thrill instantly gone, replaced by this stupid unresponsive flesh. One nibble of Undine and she was practically coming, her excitement going straight to yours, but so many breasts just this dumb rubber. And on to the pussy after all, where you usually go straight, not bothering with anything else. But now you’re with a pussy and it’s dumb rubber too. Hell, have your own orgasm and get out of there. You could have jerked off with less trouble.
It was a long time before you ever met one of those (whereas with the tit, it was never anything very out of the ordinary, the extraordinary part how you were so attracted in the first place), but alas, you met more than one. Do some women never grow into being sexual? That’s got to be your schtick with the unfuckably young, not that by now they’re not fucking somebody at 12 or 14, but never you. That is, you never fucked them. A squeeze, a pat, a definite signal addressed to their femininity, and leave them alone. So you don’t know. Will never know: is there an age at which there is no responsiveness? I’ve had my cock grabbed by eight year old girls, but I still don’t know if there’s any voltage in a twelve year old clitoris. Not that one or even five experiences would answer that. might as well leave it at zero, morality apart.
And the crazy thing is, it isn’t at all as though I had zero experience with girls under 17. It’s just that all my boyhood experience was non-erotic. Sexual for sure, but intellectual sexual. Curiosity. How funny how nervous and awkward I was the first time I ever kissed a girl. It was Babs. It was autumn and cold, and I fumbled and hemmed and hawed and actually asked her if I could, protesting that it was just curiosity. She said yes, and then pulled quickly away. My nose was dripping from the cold and I must have dripped on her.
Now Babs was a girl whose pussy I had held my eyeball within an inch of a couple of dozen times. Had stuck blades of grass into it. Babs was the most regular of all my six, seven, eight year old harem. She retired and Nancy took over the role of most regular, Nancy then assuming the ages that Babs had been, before I retired myself, and Nancy would have had to find someone else to look at her. (She must have done a great job, because the last time I saw her, she was positively the greatest, most beautiful, dynamic, and sexiest belly dancer I have ever seen, married to the owner of a string of clubs, and wearing diamonds the size of costume jewelry.) Babs was even the girl I had decided to try intercourse with. And today I have no idea which of us would have been the main author of that idea. We were in my basement. We took off our clothes. She played a bit, as usual with what she liked to call “her turkey skin.” She stood against the wall, and I tried to stuff my poor peanut into the flap at the base of her mons. I had seen what I had seen of her vagina often enough without especially distinguishing it. Our knowledge was wholly surface. Or only a grass blade deeper. Getting no where and beginning to sweat, I think I tried a little deeper down. She spread herself, trying to help still standing, there was that acrid attack from her ass hole, but I persisted. Of course neither of us had ever heard of an erection. And there was still nothing inside that turkey skin. It was still quiescent and up inside my higher body, wholly unknown to me. We finally gave up with renewed protestations of how much our parents must love us to have done what they did.
I don’t remember whether it was a year or two or three or four later when I said to Babs in my living room, the two of us alone, Babs, something’s different. Very different. You want to know what it is? And she ran from the house. But somewhere in there I asked if I could kiss her with those disastrous results. A complete ingenue. Two complete ingenues.
Then, with the exception of Carol, I kept my body to myself till the seventh grade.
Carol must have been at the end of the sixth grade. No earlier than fifth. We’d climb up to the roof of the garage and she’d confide her fantasies. She wanted to try a Kotex, like her big sister. She wished that everybody was dead and we could do anything. Dr R’s fantasy is Carol’s. And everybody’s, I’m sure, because I certainly recognized as much as heard what Carol was saying. We’d go down and into the garage and sit in the car, when the car was there, or just use the empty garage the rest of the time. She was curious about how I could live with something so huge all the time. I explained that I didn’t know where this thing had come from. It was new. And always went away eventually. She wanted to see it normal: something I never succeeded in showing her. Now, Carol, quick. But by the time we got to the garage, the intruder had taken over. She never touched it. The balls must have been there too by then, also still unknown to me. Or had I fallen on my bicycle bar by then? It must have been around then some time. And I never touched her. I don’t remember either of us as having any hair. That girl, a classmate of Beth’s that Beth foisted off on me, had the beginnings of public hair, very disturbing to me, and I was very uncomfortable as she had me climb on top of her, Beth looking on. Whatever she wanted, my efforts weren’t very satisfying to either of us. I don’t think to Beth either.
Neither Carol nor I touched each other. And I had never touched myself. The thing just came, and went. A marvel to Carol. A marvel to me. A marvel to … was that Bisset too? my tent mate on the boy scout outing.
I remember being challenged to a peeing contest by Alden. Alden was small, and his dick too proved to be tiny. Can other guys be so small? Well there was the challenge in the scout tent. Bisset and I don’t remember who and me. Little Teton, Middle Teton, and Grand Teton.
And once that summer was past, I never talked to Carol again but that one time as seniors. I had organized the concert, the other Carol was my date. I didn’t like her and wasn’t attracted to her, but I had determined that I would ask to the prom only a girl from the class, not one of my usual far away girl friends. Carol had no date, and I asked her to be my date after the concert as an opportunity to invite her to the prom.
I had gotten Ellington, and our egregious principal had blown it. I had gotten Basie. Ditto. Closet racism from SSSHS? Don’t know. Lennie talked me into trying R&B, and I got Bill Hayley and the Comets. $600. The principal blew that too, so maybe it wasn’t just racism. So I went to the concert in Hempstead to shop. Chuck Berry. Fats Domino. Berry wasn’t available. So I took Mickey Baker and Sylvia, The Cadillacs, and the Valentines. After the concert I had gone to the club in Hempstead where they hung out. Fats at his table, full of a succession of women, not all beautiful, not all fat. Me at mine, talking to whoever. Berry didn’t stay. Normally, I went next door to Slim Gaylard’s place, but he had been closed down. Caught making his own gin. After my concert, Carol and I went to Gaylard’s place reopened by somebody else. More of this damn rock and roll. Who should show up, white people three through six, but Carol and Dottie and their dates, two guys from Brooklyn. They come over. Oh, Paul … this and that. Big man. I lean back in my chair, and drape an arm around each of them. Carol doesn’t do anything to kick me over. My hands fall lower and lower. How can I never have asked either Carol out or Dottie out or both of them out after that? Prime bottom. Either as delicious as the other.
They go back to their dates. Carol and I got to the car. Windows still rolled up, I start to ask her to the prom. And Carol blows the most virulent fart I have ever been cooped up with. I asked her anyway.
In the seventh grade I was in love with Arlene who gave me the run around. I become close to her close friend, Dorothy. But Dorothy loves Horace. So Dorothy throws that birthday party, inviting only me and Horace Bisset. Brayshaw shows up, all washed and dressed up and carrying a present, totally embarrassed to discover that it was a very private party, helping us to demolish all the food her parents had bought, eating some, but throwing most of it out, and letting the ice cream melt and pouring it down the drain, before he left. Dorothy gets undressed. Fucking girl hadn’t even bathed. Dirt visible on her seventh grade tit. Well there went my desire. And Dorothy wasn’t very attractive anyway. She shows us her father’s porno collection, of which I think he was the photographer. Handled Dagmar for tv. That collection was as ugly as she was. Dorothy wants Bisset’s dick. He’ll have no part beyond looking at her. Well, I may as well get something out of this. Quality, not quantity, Dorothy insists. That really pisses me off. Then she digs down into my drawers to give me a squeeze and I just about faint as she nails my nuts directly, fingers pinching together. I went back into retirement till I was 15.
Then there were those few years of my disappointing the girls by preaching at them when they wanted more. “What are you waiting for?” “I intend marriage to mean something.” Then what was I doing with my hand in their coo? I didn’t even take it out anymore, for the longest time. That minister’s redheaded daughter from Queens doing the honors herself. Then she pulls the same shit on me as I’m about to suggest she take at least that a bit further. Nope, that’s enough. She pulls down her dress, sits up straight, and looks straight ahead, not even seeing that, yes, I’m putting it back away.
I’ll never know how I kept it put away through all those marathon necking sessions with Sheila, limping home after the church camp weekend, bowlegged, my mother crying her concern, Dr Nielson’s diagnosis strangely slow to form, now that I think back on it, finding no rupture, never having seen me before. Not knowing that my balls weren’t normally the size of grapefruits with a third huge coconut growing from one side of my belly. Some conduit swollen up like the first filling of a frankfurter balloon and forced up into my abdomen, the two weather balloons giving it no place.
I was at least a year into college before I ever let anything happen or sought it to happen. Beth’s sorority sister. “Do you want me to take my pants down too?” “No, that’s all right.” Then at John’s party, the awful one, the one that lasted two weeks till the refrigerator door blew off its hinges from the rot inside, fermenting filth all over the kitchen ceiling, but the first night, Brian costumed as a Jackson Pollock painting revised to an abortion when no one but me got it, but I’m still not remembering her name, she pukes all over me, then she pukes all over my mothers car. I try to clean it up a bit while it’s still all wet. Then she wants me to fuck her. Oh, god. Then she’s all over me. I’m more willing for the second one, though she’s still on top. So that was over with.
Then by the time I met Jackie, I was ready to be a bit more the normal male, coaxing her, bowled over by the aroma as she took her pants off, not at all pleasantly, but still aroused, still going forward more by commitment than lust, the lust much crimped, and still somewhat crimped as she took me first in her mouth, the aroma dissipating, and forever thereafter, just normal.
Now, I never smelled a pussy like that before, and never again since, including hers. And I’ve been with I don’t know how many black women. Sure, their smells are a bit different. And so too Coney Island Jewish. Or vegetarian. Never again like that first shove in the face from Jackie. It could have made an exploding sound and not have seemed stronger.
So, was that just me? My inexperience for all my lifetime of semi- experience? Or might not Jackie too have been hot enough to explode? Now that I remember it, I wasn’t that quick to fuck her. Not only was it not the first night I met her, I don’t think it was the second. Maybe not the third. Now I remember going home, sore as hell, from humping her, me out, her in, and in a dress coarse like burlap. Very nice dress, but not designed for rubbing cock over. So there was another time I was practically limping, and Lorraine, the one who claimed to be Karouac’s wife, no one ever contradicting her, asking if she could share my bed. Sure. Aren’t you going to get undressed? Aren’t you coming to bed now? A, sure, but … I’m awful sore. What did you do to yourself? And she applied Noxema to my tatters. Very gentle. A woman always proud of how the dykes sought her. “These long thighs.” Her own words.
So remembering back like this, I see that I didn’t just jump into Jackie, however much I loved her from the first. I don’t doubt that the single article of clothing that I’ll die remembering to be the most erotic of all possible will be the wool skirt she was wearing when I went to visit her in her Boston apartment. Subtle, autumn colors. Not designed to be so especially erotic, like Dyan’s incredible wardrobe, but just covering, accenting, making even more plush what is permanently in my mind the original world champion bottom. She started to take it off. No, not just yet. I undressed the rest of her and she undressed all of me. And I held her and caressed that skirt. Stepping back, now to start to loosen it, she instead reaches inside my arms, the same caress only in miniature: finger tips tracing the round of balls. The Platonic original caress. I had already made love with Jackie dozens of times, the last time, the time we got raided by the cops, being easy to quantify, the mystic seven, just completed when they all but broke the door down. But that embrace in Boston was the first ever after I had so missed anybody for so long. A couple of months. No easy feat to a newly broken in, first time in love, still teenager. Not that I called it love, not yet. I had nothing to compare it to. It’s in retrospect that I call it love. I had to not be in love with an awful lot of other women before I adjusted my vocabulary to say that I had been in love with her.
What am I doing? All that shit I wrote about the army I wrote when I was too tired to do anything important, making time till I could try to sleep, when it would be less light, less baking hot, a chance to sleep till dawn. Too restless tired to read Dickey. Too muscle worn to go and out pull vines. And now I commit more hours to an erotic early autobiography? In an id file? I slept like a champion. I’ve waited days to be in shape to get back to Mrs. Bloom and whether I should shorten and simplify her first stint in the chair. Or to Denouement. I’ve got to reach the point where I can just say, here, this is finished, I’m happy that it’s complete, that it’s good enough, not just good enough, more than good enough, but to me good enough, to just send it out. Clerical work. They send it back, I send it out. Mid-point in tennis, no winner, no loser, not yet.
Do I no longer care about anything of mine being public? What I’m doing here is certainly easier. No possible disappointment from no one’s reaction. No revision necessary. No rereading likely.
The public isn’t the only or even the main posterity I think of. My devotion, what devotion I’ve had is to a possible public, hidden in space, or hidden in time, in a hoped for future. What Abel was in math. Oh, I don’t mean so important. And I can’t even judge his importance, not being a mathematician. But still, like that. Tired of referring to Van Gogh or Blake. Van Gogh’s contemporaries probably being just as capable of seeing his passion, raw, naked, but being trained against such nakedness. That’s not brave, not courageous, not even desperate, just rude, unseemly, infantile. And indeed, it’s thanks to those contemporaries that we can see the contrast.
Or just one of those little footnotes in science as well as literature. Orthodoxy has it that no one before soandso did such as such, yet here … And Lucretius is cited for flux or Democritus or somebody for atoms or Eritosthenes for round and big earth. Or course those guys were famous anyway for other reasons. Which is probably why I am able to remember them without looking anything up, and even so, still have a name wrong. But there are others. My graduate studies were filled with them. Really obscure exceptions throughout the history of literature. You think nobody did thusandsuch before Dickens, but here … Especially with “romanticism” which you can trace back and back and back until it loses any possible meaning you might have thought you started out with.
What the hell. That’s what wants to flow, I’m not going to stop it. At least it’s something. Now I hope it will keep running on and pick up some of those tatters of Christianity and standard theology that have been haunting me recently as things I still haven’t fixed anything on. little notes to the id file that haven’t even gotten added to that multitude where I sure don’t remember what I meant to remind myself of. And then never get back to even try to hammer out. So some tap me on the shoulder repeatedly. But there are others, more shy, and just as important to me.
I tell BK he can read these as he wishes. He’ll disown me for some of it, if he hasn’t already, some he’d get a kick out of. The fart story I realized as I wrote it came up in some other connection, on the drive to Key West, maybe it was the same connection, we were talking about juvenile sexuality at some point.
I’ve said all this: I’m going to go back and color two major memories of mine that shouldered their way in here. Shiela. She was 14, I was 15. Don Nielson said that my blue balls were a case for the medical books. In fact, I can now bless the fact that I kept it in my pants. If I had fucked her, she’d likely be one of the girls I’d have long forgotten, rather than one I remember with great pleasure.
Denton Lake. Not the two week camp of the summers, but a three day weekend mid year. Shiela was from East Moriches, way out, but still Long Island. When I was 16, I drove out to see her again. No warning, just showed up. Didn’t know her number. They may not have had a phone. I think not. No address. Just started asking around. Oh, sure. Big house. You can’t miss it. But before I start remembering that: Denton Lake: arrive Friday evening. Have some group discussion. Why are you a Christian? Because my parents are, the girl from New Rochelle answered, really pissing the guy off. That’s not the right answer, student. I don’t think I said much. Shiela didn’t say anything. Quiet, way back in the corner. Looking my way. It was after it was over that she approached me. Then we sat together at dinner. Then we walked in the woods. Then we necked till lights out. Locked back together at breakfast and throughout the day. Fred, the trombonist and Ray Bradbury fan from Mineola, is flirting with Beverly from my church. Through all the seminars and prayer meetings and recreation time and dinner and vespers we’re locked together. Maybe it was Fred who suggested that we pretend to go to bed and all four of us sneak back out and meet as soon as we hear the counselors snore. We do. The girls are soon there too. Fred and Bev go off toward the lake; Shiela and I wind further and further away till we get to the birch chapel. All night long. Kissing and hugging and caressing the outer body. Me getting at her breasts, but never touching her pussy, never till the second or so time I drove out to see her. She never touched anything but my back and shoulders and I never hinted that she should. Never thought that she should. All I thought was that this was something and already something we shouldn’t be doing. Sneak back into bed, just in time for be called up, and right back to Shiela at breakfast. Then, it still seemed awfully early to me, but her ride back to Suffolk County was there. She talked the driver into taking me by way of RVC. No, no, we go the Northern Parkway. Shiela prevailed. Then the driver had to talk everybody else into it as well, cause I was expected to go in another car. So five or six little kids had to be crowded into the front seat so Shiela and I could neck in the back with I think only one other squashed person. So we necked all the way from upstate to RVC. In the midst of which, some of the odd discomforts I was feeling started to do very strange things to me. I found my right leg climbing higher and higher up the rear car door until the only way I could stay alive was to have it out the window, my crotch spread open like a quilt. I must have looked plenty weird, but Shiela just kept hugging and kissing me. They finally drop me off, or try to. I couldn’t get out of the car. Finally, I’m standing on the side walk, on my feet, waving and waving and the car is driving away, lots of little waves, but Shiela’s arm way out the window and flagging up and down. Christ. I couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t walk. My right leg could only stick way out to the side. It wasn’t my erection that was doing it. That never went down my right leg anyway. It was something else. Oh, god. This was weird. It was uncomfortable, but not pain exactly. Except in so far as fear is always a kind of pain. I finally figure out some way to sort of roll sideways, catch up and roll again. Figuring how to get up the front steps was something I can’t remember how I solved, only that I finally succeeded. My mother and Don were in the living room. Gasp. Paul, what’s wrong? Don, could you examine me? Something is very odd. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I didn’t even have an erection by the time I disembarked. I sure didn’t have one by the time Don told me to drop my pants, then had to help me. I remember distinctly my no fear of it suddenly popping up with him there. That part was blessedly over and I sensed it somehow. Maybe I hadn’t even had one in the car after a while. But I had never before been so often erect as that Friday, with Saturday being most of the long day and 99% of the long night, the symptoms bursting by Sunday afternoon. Home around 3.
Don feels here and there. I jump a mile as I see he’s about to touch my balls. He finally gets me to stand still. Like talking a colt into being shoed. He feels. I cough when told to. He begins the whole thing over again. Finally he says: Ah. … I have only one question now. Did you keep it zippered up? Yes, I did. The truth.
His prescription was hot baths. It was a week before it occurred to me to add my own prescription of masturbation. Why didn’t I think of that before? Well, once it was done, I couldn’t. No way I could be touched anywhere around there. Not by me either. Finally. It took me all that time to realize what it was. Don’s jokes about “honeymoon cystitis” meant nothing to me. It began to occur to me as I stood naked in front of the mirror daring to touch for the first time. And I don’t mean my dick. I mean the lump. This hard balloon on the one side, lower right of my belly. I pressed it. Gently. Then harder. I almost fell over. My right ball swole right back up to where it had been. Then the left, already about seeming to burst, blew up even larger. Christ. I let go. And watched the balloon swell back up on my belly. I had three outsized balls and their excess air, or whatever was connected. I tried it again without falling over. I touched my balls for the first time. Could have been the first time I ever touched my balls. They weren’t something I played with then. Babs had played with that area when there wasn’t anything there. Certainly not feeling. I can’t remember her ever playing with my dick. Trying to help me stuff it in her, yes. It was the turkey skin she liked to pull.
Anyway, I tried again. I touched the balls. However much, wherever, I pressed in, the same puffed out somewhere else. So that’s it! It’s semen. Or has something to do with semen. So by the time I went to bed that night, I knew what I would do. Not that I had never masturbated at 15. I may have been slow to figure that out, and even a little backward in how I did, even though I had seen Lennie Resnitske do it back in the 7th grade or so, I wanted to puke, I almost fainted, he had me cornered, trapped, seething with discomfort, and then THAT. No, that wasn’t anything I wanted to imitate. But I had discovered it by then and knew it well enough, it’s just that there was no such urge having repressed whatever urges I may have had while so already boldly necking with Shiela. And then the sensitivity was forbidding. Anything but erotic. No urge about it. My decision was slow to come and cold blooded when it did. I was very careful. Though instantly knew it was the right relief. Not that it felt good. It didn’t feel anything. Anything but relief. I was slow and careful. I didn’t come anything like instantly, maybe surprising in retrospect. But when I came, holy mackerel. No heights. No ecstasy. Not even the usual meaning of release. Just the boil lanced. The dam, not burst, but blessedly open. Flow, flow, flow. I couldn’t believe it. I had to get up, not just to mop up the flood, but to look in the mirror. Swelling was still there. I waited a bit and did it again. Ah. Finally. Actual feeling. I mean sexual, erotic feeling. It worked again for the first time. Not normal exactly. A tachyon to a photon. A different realm of ecstasy. Like the first discovery, but ten times more so. I had to then jerk off four or five times a day for another week before I was anything like normal again.
So do I tell any of this to Shiela the next time I see her, a year or so later? Nope. Never have. And I went and looked her up again in 1976 or so. A widow and on her second husband. Fourteen kids of her own as she had been eldest of the same number. The girl 16. “I hate to think what she might be doing, when I remember what we were doing at that age,” she said. I didn’t correct her about how her daughter was two years older than she had been.
When I do see her for the second time, I drive to East Moriches. I see a little gas station and candy store is open, but I’ll look for someplace a little bigger to ask. I see two really cute girls walking down the highway in the other direction. I glance back. Bobsey twin adorable bottoms in identical tight blue skirts. I’m in another town without seeing another store, so I turn around. I ask at that store. Unlike most “you can’t miss it” directions, the house really is easy to find. I still don’t know that it’s the right one, until I see Mother Hubbard’s kids spilling out of it. That increasing the probability that this is the DeLongs most satisfyingly. Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m looking for a Shiela DeLong. Does she live here?
SHIELA! And kids scatter back into the house. She comes out looking curious, white blouse and blue jeans, twice as adorable as I remembered. I’m introduced to her bulldozer father. Hi. and he leaves us alone. Let’s go for a drive. We get into the car. Kids climbing all over it. Actually, let’s just sit here, she says. My mother was busy and she wants to meet you. She’ll be out after a bit. Anything she wants is ok by me, so I’m happy to say yes, but Jesus, do I want to get my hands on her. Suddenly, “what kind of car is this?” Chevy, I answer. ’52 or whatever it was in this year of 1954. “I have to see,” she says, getting back out. “Hey, that was you! Did you drive past here when you first arrived?” Yeah, I didn’t know where you lived. Wait a minute: I saw two really good looking girls walking back this way. “That was me and my friend, Soandso. What a cute guy, we said to each other.”
You were wearing a nice blue skirt. Very sexy. Both of you.
“Right. Those are our Mr. Soandso skirts. Our teacher. We drive him crazy with them.”
And the siblings climb all over the car. I must have looked as I felt, a little antsy, cause she says, “Don’t worry just because we’re in my driveway” (if you can call a drive way something that’s on several acres); “you can do anything you want to the same as if we were parked somewhere else.”
Well, I almost half believed her. My embrace wasn’t altogether inhibited. But what followed wasn’t altogether free either. Not even by my somewhat reserved standards. She senses that too. Unbuttons her blouse, frees her tits, and comes back into my arms. Then she decides that that’s still too restricting, excuses herself for a second, unhooks the bra, somehow gets her arms out of it too, and throws it in the back seat. There she says. First time I’m looking at her breasts in broad daylight. Mmm. So we start in and I forget where we are.
Till the footsteps make me jump. Oh my god. Her mother is walking toward the car. She’s completely unbuttoned, the bra is just sitting there on the back seat. I’m spastic and paralyzed at the same time.
I told you. Don’t worry. My mother knows it’s you. She wants to meet you.
Uh oh. Remember that now, it sounds like the shotgun would have been the next step. But it wasn’t that way at all. Her mother smiles her way into the back seat. Nice to meet you. Nice car. Etc. She picks up the limp bra and holds it in her lap. Visits for a few minutes, and goes back to the house, taking the unused bra with her.
Can we go driving now? If you want to, but the kids will be disappointed. They like having you around. Even that sounds like an uh oh, repeating it here now, but it wasn’t. I never heard from her. She never bothered me. She was just always glad to see me when I showed up. Never seemed to be tied up or doing anything else.
Big family French Canadian in a very small rural town and protestant somehow. I don’t think East Moriches is that much bigger now, though that big house on those big grounds sure isn’t there any more. When I decided to look her up in 74 I checked the phone book. Not that she’d be a DeLong anymore, but the parents could tell me how she was and what she was up to and convey a hello. Six or eight DeLongs in the tiny book. First I think, forget it, then I decide to try one. Sure enough, it’s her brother. She’s moved to near Bayshore now, but no doubt would like to see you. Her number is … And I got the news of her first eight kids, the father’s death and then the second husband and the next six.
The last time I saw her other than as a married woman, was bizarre and maybe not so good. We had one of our stupid marathon parties out on Dune Road in West Hampton. Roger is whiskey drunk and running naked out of the waves to flash the poor manandwoman beachcombers. Everybody’s really bad. Enough of them: I’m going to see if I can find Shiela. I’m only a little drunk. Sheila wants to meet my friends. Sure. I can show off too. Really stupid mistake. I still don’t know if they really were going to rape her, but we had to get into the car and lock the doors. Brian removed the rotor and we were stuck. Finally he let us go. Charlie came to chauffeur me so I didn’t have to watch the road. Stupid. Drinking whiskey out of a bottle while with Shiela. Ugh. I think she had one pull to be sociable.
But still Shiela is one of my all time favorite erotic memories. One time in the car, I don’t remember which time, she was on top of me, humping me like crazy, and kissing non stop. The sweetest saliva I have ever tasted was drip-run running down into my mouth. She had the sweetest tush. Her jeans were loosened and I had my hand under them. No need to go under the panties, they had so many holes in them. Very poor family, however big the house and grounds. Her pussy absolute sweetness to my probing. Her perfume on me long after. I don’t think that pussy would have bowled me over if I ever had taken those pants off. Of course they were mighty air-conditioned. I got more fingers through the same hole without feeling anything tearing.
I still feel the loss of the juices, however voluntary the loss. I still bet myself that she had the best tasting cuny of all time. But all that ever dripped into me was from her mouth.
That’s what I would still like to tell her: about my record blue balls and my adult-life-long fantasy of her 69ing me from on top, her juices dripping down into me. I’ve always bet myself that she’d be one of those rare women who squirt when they come.
But I never will. She’ll still be married and have eighteen kids and her sixteen year old will have her own nine or ten by now.
Jackie’s the only other one I’ve made any effort to keep much track of. Though it was she who made the first effort. I visit her in Boston and we turn the apartment rank that weekend. I call her at Christmas. Pick her up in Tenafly. She’s reserved. On the way home she tells me she has to break it off. Doesn’t want to become too involved with a white guy. Marriage this and kids that. Huh? Who said anything about marriage? Or kids? But I don’t answer that. I’m stunned. Really hurt. Bewildered. She really seems to mean it. I don’t even make any further effort to pet with her. Didn’t expect to get laid, taking her home to New Jersey. Didn’t even need to. Just so happy to see her. More than any other woman before or since, I suffer torment trying to picture her. Was she really that beautiful? Couldn’t possibly be. It was my invention. I’d see her and she’d be pretty, but I’d be disappointed. Devastated. And no, never. I could never remember how beautiful she actually was. Always twice, ten times, my memory. And now she’s telling me no more.
It’s maybe a year before she calls. Old friends. Not trying to start anything up. In fact she’s seeing this guy. She really likes him. I’d like him too. Would I like to go to the Gate with them? Nina Simone. Sure. The fucking guy is white! And I couldn’t stand him, fucking hippy. He didn’t know music. All talk. And Jackie was so nice. She really did like the guy. Now in retrospect, was she doing this to torture me? Maybe a little, unavoidably, but not really. She wanted my opinion. Which I withheld. Or tempered. Me also tortured trying to figure out, wasn’t that Chief Bey on bongos, or cunga? Out of costume and way toned down? No chief on the name. Not the same guy I saw with Herbie Mann, a one man Africa revival, ten years before anybody but Dizzy and Yusef Latif and a couple of those guys had gone African? Some of the greatest hand drumming I had ever heard, that night with Mann.
Five years go by. The phone in 440 rings. Paul, that is you? I just saw a Knatz in the phone book and thought I’d see if it was the same. She’s on the West Side. We go across and down the street to Teachers on Broadway. Fish. The next time it’s I who call her. Another five years? We’d said something about how we’d probably always call each other every five years. She’s put on a couple of pounds. She’s just wearing her nightdress and house coat. A little belly, but that staggering ass. Her breasts pert, the same but looking a tiny bit smaller with her extra couple of pounds in her waist. Her apartment is full of guys. I’ve had to take her into the hallway to give her a good squeeze and to suckle a bit. She’s always lets me have her breasts and nuzzle her pussy a bit, but I’ve never fucked her since Boston.
Paul, so you’re married, one of the guys says, back in the living room. I say yes, and hold up the hand with the ring he had noticed. Jackie leaves the room. For an hour. Comes back and stays in the corner dabbing her eyes. It occurs to me that the smiling, friendly, observant guy is protecting his dear friend from getting herself into another sticky position. Without knowing the details, it seems that that’s what Jackie must always have been doing.
She quoted Ayn Rand at me that awful night, claiming to be pursuing … ahem, retch “enlightened self-interest.” Just what she doesn’t seem to have been consistently good at.
A minute late another guy comes walking into the apartment. Let himself in. Little guy, black stove pipe hat. Christ, it’s Ornette! With what René told me, that’s two of my old girl friends who’ve wound up living with Ornette Coleman. And Gatja making headlines a few years ago with Clint Eastwood. Hmm.
About the warmest I ever felt for Naomi, even after sleeping with her for three years, her never out of my 118 St place, was when she told me that she had had a fantasy about Horace Silver. Good girl. Good taste.
Would Alice have known Ornette from a hole in the wall if I hadn’t taken her to the Gate, sitting her practically on top of Elvin Jones, Trane introducing the world to his Greensleeves, going crazy? and I’ll never forget the astonishment on Elvin’s face when she left with me after how she’d been looking at him! I trained her. Had her in the Five Spot the night Mingus was playing to himself, me and Alice the only witness not counting the bartender, and then Percy Heath walking in and making himself invisible at the dark curve of the bar, when Roland Kirk, the unknown legend from Chicago (Lunzer, Frank Lunzer, it took me a second to remember his name, he had told me there was a guy in Chi who could play as good as anybody, blind, never left Chi), this Kirk’s first night in New York, and he is led into the place by his entourage carrying a dozen instrument cases, and asks to sit in. Kirk blows everybody away. Mingus is berserk. Pounding his base. Kicking it. Kicking the railing. Playing triple time, then not able to play at all. Spinning his bass around and around and using it as a drum. “You play with me, we make a million dollars, one or two weeks.”
Lunzer, that character. I saw him with Alice once too. He had invited me to visit him on Fire Island anytime I wanted to, but when I showed up with Alice, he found no place for us. We wandered around and finally slept on Levy’s porch, her not wanting to fuck, the only time I can ever remember, though finally, she did anyway.
I wonder if Lunzer is alive. If he kept out of jail. If he ever did a tenth of the things he said. He did deal. That’s a fact. Which didn’t make him the hash kingpin of Spanish Harlem as he claimed.
But it was Jackie I was talking about. So Ornette had been living with, sponging off her for years, not that I blame him, he was famous and still starving. And uuuh the blues that he could play. I have three that I play from the REAL book. Wow. I enjoy playing them more than I ever liked listening to him. The Greatest Genius of All Time, Lunzer announced in … 59? 60?
Funny: however much that was a phrase of mine, although there’s Lunzer with the exact same words, I mostly associate the phrase with Bobby Fractor. For years: Bird is the Greatest Genius of All Time, all of us said so. Then suddenly Bobby switches Trane into the spot. Then Monk.
But the last time I saw Jackie, she was still in the same place, still the same phone number SC4-0111, I wrote it first and checked it second, not having looked at it or used it in 16 or 17 years now, and I’m wrong only in how many 1s after the 0. She’d had it forever, but she was living with some old style boy friend. Black at least, but controlling her every move. She couldn’t do this and she couldn’t do that. She still had the same job, bleeding money from NYS Council of the Arts for her school. Maybe I should write her a note. She was, what?, two years older? 52 now?
Oh yes, the cops. It’s our farewell evening. She’s going back to Boston College. She’s going to take me to dinner. First a little affection. Shit, I just realized. I bet I don’t have any of her old letters! What would I have done with them? “Poignant moments.” I’ll never forget it. That’s right, she wrote me the bad news, a hint at least, before I saw her at Xmas. Now the apartment on 112th Street was: the front door, a little 25 watt yellow flame bulb, a long hall off of which were the kitchen, the bathroom, Billy’s room, the living room, and then L’ing around to my room and Bob’s room tucked way in the back. My room was huge, would have been the dining room, except that it was my room. So we’re in the living room. Put on a little Bird. And go to my bed room. Much affection. I can change records, undress her, find everything I need to do all in the dark. No problem. There’s a big wall between the pairs of windows in my room that the bed lies against. So also no problem. Even when we stand up, when we’re acrobatic standing, whether she’s head side up or Head side up, still no problem, even if the lights were on, or it were day light, it’s a big wall, never any reason to think of shades. We’re on the top floor. A big distance over two court yards before there were any other buildings, a fair amount of air space for old Manhattan’s old west side, and sometimes fair light even if never any view. So we fuck on the bed, on the floor, shaking in the middle of the room, all but hanging from the light fixture. Change the record. Smoke a cigarette. Have a beer. And fuck some more. Well, I’m sure neither of us expected to be taking so long, she was supposed to take me to dinner, and it was 12 or 1 in the morning, and I was just lying around resting. Not ready for dinner yet. Very happy to be with Jackie, not even sad yet that she was leaving. She wasn’t leaving. She was right here. And looking absolutely adorable. A little dry, but she was often a little dry. I’d spit into her pussy, not having learned eating yet, she’d lubricate me with her mouth, though I never once came in her mouth, nor did I ever suggest it or try to. No, I loved to fuck her. And between fucks, I caress her. She had a totally different kind of orgasm from being caressed. Like Myron and friends, with a joint in one hand and a Kool in the other, the two related but not related. Or like I’d want a cigarette in the middle of a cigar. Jackie liked fingers differently. Needed both. So I’ve come seven times. And she’s come … who can tell? Ten or twelve for sure. And I’m not even thinking whether we’ll do it again. I’m not going to push anything. No need. We’re just together. That incredible body. Her being so good with the gentle brushing of finger tips after. And at receiving. If I ever learned good feedback with a woman, that was with whom. All of it being different but not better or less or less important, just barely touching her with finger tips being a largo to allegros elsewhere.
There’s a knock at the door. Huh? Nobody’s knocked in months. It’s the summer. Anton is away. Alan and Peter’s apartment down stairs is empty. Those Julliard girls, if they’ve even moved in yet, I haven’t met yet. It can’t be anybody. But it’s a knock and I carry a towel or something with me even though I’m not going to open the door but a crack. Tell them they’ve got the wrong place. Just a minute, I say. I put the chain across, hold the towel on myself, and ease the door open an inch.
Boom. The door bursts in on me, the chain snapping. I see a blur of blue and a flash of a badge, I’m helpless going up into the air, more blue blurs by me. “Jackie, somebody’s coming in,” I yell. I find myself held high up against the wall, the cop holding me pinning my legs with his body as he hold my arms immobile against the wall. When he’s satisfied that his partner in all the way in and gone, he lets me down and just leans against me. I still can’t move. I don’t think I could have if I had tried and I was too shocked to try.
They’re just a couple of kids, the other cop calls from my room. Slow steps back our way. Jackie is holding her trenchcoat wrapped around her, the collars closed up around her neck. She’s looking sheepish, and is totally adorable in her bare feet and bare legs and Victorian trenchcoat. The cop precedes her, blushing deeply. “Don’t worry, pal,” she’d found the coat before I got there.”
“What’s going on?” I ask. Not even very indignantly. Still a teenager, not yet any big thorn to authority.
4:41. The black clouds have been rolling in, rumble rumble, lighting from high up to all the way down, though at a distance. A few rain drops. A lot of wind. I judge the direction and half close those flaps. And it’s over. What’s with Florida this year? We’re way down in rain fall. It threatens big, and then nothing. Come on. We need it. Even with normal rain fall this state is seriously endangering the aquifer.
What’s going on?
Uh, now both cops are blushing. Mumble, fumble. Don’t get us wrong. We were young once ourselves. But, um, we see she’s not a professional, and we um apologize, and er sorry to interrupt you, but uh, can’t you at least pull the shades down?
Shades? The lights are all out. It’s totally dark in here. How did you know anything? Nobody could see.
The first cop taps the little 25 watt bulb. Like a movie, kid. All over the neighborhood. Still, we wouldn’t have done anything. But the complaints.
Sure. It was all young kids, see. The parents kept calling. Couldn’t stop the kids from watching. Kept trying to pull them back to the tv.
Then I remembered. A summer of hearing it across the courtyard. “Shaddup and watch television.”
Couldn’t you have waited a bit? Jackie suggests. We were about to go to dinner.
Honey, the cop guffaws. You wouldn’t believe how we’ve been stalling. We’ve been watching you for the last six hours.
The cops apologize their way out. And that was that. Not too much passion after that. We got dressed. The only place open was Rikers. Jackie didn’t even spend the night. Nor had she planned to. Promised not to. I’ll be fine, she says, and only lets me walk her to the subway. Standing there, her trenchcoat lapels now spread properly down&outward. It must have been September. Her shoes neat, and her socks, feet together, her hands in her pockets. One more kiss, just a little one. Hardly a brush over those lips. Those lips. I mean full. As pert as her breasts. I kiss her eye lids once more time and step back. Totally adorable. She turns, and walks down the subway steps, as elegant as 5’2 or so can be.
Jesus. Slept till five. Write personal memories for twelve hours. Dinner. Good. My first gumbo in months, cooked on three burners while it’s still 95 outside. I could try bed at 9 or see if the Lakers can win one. Could be Kareem’s last game. Midnight. Close in four games, leading in four games, can’t win any. Fine. Detroit was miraculously turned away often enough last year. Should LA win when Kareem can’t make the sky hook? But then I still don’t sleep. Try, sweat. More Alnilam and it’s 5am. My life a totally out of control eccentric flywheel. What’s the point of thinking that I could have worked all that day? I didn’t. Or I wrote what came to me. Had fun. Maybe my own experiences are better or more interesting or no less irrelevant to what anyone wants than DrR’s anyway. Except that I’ve never been interested in writing anything personal, merely me. Whether that me is good, bad, or indifferent. Or, it is personal, of course it’s personal, as the Godfather says to Michael, it’s all personal, but why bother if it’s not also public? What possible diary even of Jesus could be what his Sermon on the Mount is?
Nearly impossible to understand nearly 2000 yrs later.
Job nearly impossible to understand nearly 3000 later.
The Ancient Mariner so impossible not to understand that no one understands it 200 yrs later. Kenneth Neal Cameron, NYU so proud to get him, addressing himself to GB’s point directly in 1965. That can’t be what this great poem is about: that’s trivial. It’s too obvious. Kid stuff. Exactly professor. And NYU hired you, not a kid. Perpetuate the blindness at maximum difficulty and expenditure.
Everyone could be fine at a cost of $20,000,000. Every everything can be even more fucked up for another $50,000,000,000. Only Dick and Jane will have a sinecure. Which do you want? Dick and Jane chose for us. Shoot the others in the square.
There’s literature (including movies, tv, journalism) that tells the truth, or tries to. Or rather that’s a possible ingredient in literature. A fraction of a percent?
There’s literature that flatters us: little Bobby figures out the mystery that has the cops stumped. Wait, gotta revise that, Bobby lets Jane go too. She beats up all the heavies. Wow, and only nine years old. And Spot finds the treasure. 99.999%
And there’s literature that tells us how to behave. The fork goes on the left. Work for big corporations. It’s gauche to give furs. It’s not so important to hate catholics anymore, and you can even soften up a little on east Europeans. Scout around and see what we have against Persians. And what names can we call people who don’t share our own blindnesses? Strong overlap with Cat II. 99.999%
Yet in much of it, the discontent at our own convenient fictions comes glaring out. For every nine cops shows there’s a tenth in which the cops are all crooks who get paid twice. Who says blue collars can’t drive a big car?
The big truth, the truth of our discontent, of our knowing our own lies, not truth like E=MC2, comes out in the trash genres. Sci-fi, once, the gothic before that (the fear, quite correct, that the church wasn’t altogether dead and buried, and neither were all those French aristocrats), now horror. Comic books. Garbage, easily passed in through the window however locked the door of our fortress. Not defended against. Kids’ stuff.
Thinkers like Freud get attacked but also noticed, because they ride up on rising professions. Are there any doctors today who would dare be so honest, so crazy, so dirty, so paranoid? Actually have a chance of stumbling onto or penetrating something we keep hidden?
I don’t believe that there’s much in the social sciences that’s a mystery to be penetrated as there is in the physics, in pleroma. We really are very far removed from our physical selves and its matrix by being semi-sentient beings. No, in human matters, what’s hidden has been hidden deliberately. I don’t mean by a Freud, no, just by a lot of Hoovers and Johnsons and Nixons and Bushs. And popes and mothers and … everybody. I don’t mean deliberately like we attribute to Satan, no just a kid glancing at his school mate’s work and then looking innocent.
How do you see your own blind spot? It’s what I work on. When I get glimpses of mine, I’m staggered at its scope. Yesterday morning I had an insight. A method, how to catch your shadow. I make a note. What’s not become this note. But it’s shadow again. I don’t know how I caught it. Or even if I did. I thought I did. I thought I had the formula.
Beg had half a dozen readers. Ooo, to this sentence, or wow, to that idea, abstracted from it. But not one even merely polite thing said about the whole. Embarrassed into averting their eyes. No way to juge whether anyone actually read more than enough to be confused or frustrated or put off. Did anyone, even one, get to the business about seeing the comet coming? See it as symbolic even? Try selling a cyclotron to a follower of herds. Take the best photographs of the 20th cen to Napoleon’s Louvre.
Hoyle’s great point about Einstein as a caveman. What did they need with math? What other talents did he really have? His genius would have been as invisible as it was useless.
Do I really want my work to be discovered by a survivor of the annihilation of most life on earth? One who somehow still valued science? Such a survivor might give less of a shit about dangers unprotected against. Try selling the same photographs to someone who has just as fine an organ or instrument as eyes for infrared or microwaves. Why should he be impressed by Cartier-Bresson?
What would the French today think of old documents they found critical of the Maginot Line? Suppress them, of course. They probably have them and have done so.
Fuller’s work was mostly ignored when we didn’t see its use and largely stolen when we did. Yet we finally gave him … say 10% of his due. Making him one of the richest professors in the world, an object of jealousy and hatred by the careerists. Daily japped by a thousand Emiles. Yet we did let him talk and partly listened before it was altogether too late. Now his points are on the nightly news as though Dan Rather had just thought of them. Madison Ave uses them. They’re two thirds toward clichés already. They’ll be outright clichés before they’ve done their work.
Why should I give a shit about seeing behind and above and below and into other dimensions among people who can’t and don’t want to? Except for military purposes or industrial spying, selling more rear view mirrors? Because I see what I see. Blindness is neither beautiful nor acceptable to me. Except, of course, blindness where the blind knows he’s blind, missing a sense, coping, finding equivalents, compensations, substitutes, other values, gaining perhaps another kind of vision. Not blind, but using limits.
I don’t think publishers have anything outright against the .001% in literature; they’re just looking for and can only recognize the 99.999%. But might there not be a .0001er in publishing? I’ll bet there are a hundred. They’re flooded. They can’t possibly have time to really read. Not the way I insist on for myself. That takes great sacrifice. Raymond isn’t even painting now. A good artist. Trying to stay alive.
Why aren’t more of us committing suicide? I applied to three colleges. By the time I was in my mid-twenties people were applying to 500 med schools and being turned down by all. Then another two hundred. They’re all doctors now. 500 applicants for one job? What the computer has done for my writing, it’s also done against it. Mass mailings. Donna, getting it back and sending it out. The publishers expect to see it come back and come back. Who’s paying for it? I might as well cut a finger off as buy another stamp.
So fuck me. I came here and said I was going to do just that. Fluff it up and send it out, and send it out, and keep sending.
But now I feel buried under a ton of shit. I’d just as soon pull vines. Dick appreciates it. Will he appreciate it next month? Next winter? Does the post office care? Give me free stamps?
We’re schooled on stories of Daniel Boone and Mike Fink, shooting bottle necks behind their back. Sgt York. And then handed an assault rifle. Pin them down. Fill the air with lead. Fire power. No body can bother to aim. The weapons aren’t even designed for that. So you have an army full of mental Daniel Boones with assault weapons. Do any of them still think well of themselves?
I can’t stand it. I want to be a sharpshooter. Send it to Harper’s and have Harper’s take it. Or at least indicate that they have some idea of what they’ve seen and rejected. They sure don’t have to take it. But I don’t want pamphlets about communism in return for my point about religious tolerance, ask for a recommendation and get a “pass.” Pass on what? Being a human being? Ah, but what is a human being? A human being is a creature trained in literature and given a tv, storied on shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand, on not hitting below the belt, on virtue being your shield (shield against what? there are no lions), but sent to bomb from the air, miss, and bomb some more. You want to sell art, see 20 galleries a day. Not me, I see one a month. And so, I have no stamps. Adapt? In a culture going the wrong way? Just die and make someone happy that now they’re closer to a majority? Or kill. Individual life isn’t precious to me. Now the society should be damn careful that the convicted rapist is really the rapist, damn reluctant to execute. It’s just a society? But an individual? If I make a mistake, so what, I never said I couldn’t, but why shouldn’t I kill?
Playing god, say those who push the buttons for megadeath, who remove habitat every time they consume another Sunday of ads.
So maybe evolution is doing as well as it can with us. Maybe being wired for sharpshooting in a world in which only fire power is endorsed is what will turn us into the very anthill the solar system is waiting for. maybe it’s in a set of blueprints the finest ever designed. it’s still not my blueprints. I have to go along? I have to go quietly? I can’t sabotage the mechanism if I can? Well, I have mostly gone and mostly quietly. Enough.
The publishers are the mechanism. They should accept and pay for and reward sabotage? Not likely. But it’s all I’ve ever sent them, isn’t it? All I want to. All I will. And still I’ll send it.