Ponder

Ponder

Lost Innocence and Childhood: Stop Fantasizing Against the Inevitable and the Irrevocable

1

girl with cigboy with gun

Last night a regular at my bar (“The Devil”…see People at my Job) pulled me aside and shoved his stinky-booze-breath in my face,

“Uh…dude…you should check out the bathroom…big problem.”

I opened the door and discovered shit smeared on the wall and shit-covered toilet paper all over the floor. I put on gloves, got the mop bucket, held my breath, and cleaned up the mess. Then I watched the security camera.

Two boys were the culprits. But wait a second…they were still sitting “with” their family at the restaurant! (Separate table though: telling.) I thirsted for some type of revenge, but I’m a manager and wasn’t about to make a scene, so my tactics for releasing rage were limited. Perhaps I should let the whole thing go? My nostrils were still quivering from the stench. Nay.

I approached the low table of adults and half-kneeled next to them (same plane of eye-contact, manager technique, disarming) and said,
“Are your sons feeling alright? Are they sick?” The parents and grandmother looked angry and confused.
“No. Why?”
“Well, fifteen minutes ago they went into the bathroom and smeared their shit on the wall and left shit-covered toilet paper on the floor.”
“Nooo, not them.”
“I watched the camera. It was them.” They paused and looked at each other.
“Ahhhhh, oh, yes, ____ wasn’t feeling well, we’re sorry.” They weren’t sorry. I had observed them since they sat down. They had sent food back twice and complained unnecessarily to the server. They were wretched, despicable human beings. The grandmother’s hideous face was lined with wrinkles of bitterness. The father had beady eyes, a hitler mustache, a pointy chin, and struck me as a prick. The mother was obese with sagging cheeks, bleary eyes, and wispy hair. The mother blurted:
“And?” The father added,
“What do you want?”
“Tell your sons that it’s inappropriate to smear their shit on the walls of a public bathroom.” The father nonchalantly leaned to the side,
“_____ and _____! Tell the waiter you’re sorry.” The boys hadn’t been listening.
“We’re sorry Mr.!” I walked away. Nothing had been accomplished.

Twenty minutes later I was working upstairs when I received a text message from a bartender:

Customer wants to talk to you.” I went downstairs and saw the mother leaning against the bar.
“How dare you,” she said. “Never have I gone to a restaurant and had a waiter complain about me and my family. My son has special needs. He’s not stupid. He’s smart. But there wasn’t any toilet paper left and he didn’t know what to do. I’m writing a bad review as soon as I get home. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Sometimes, in life, I wish I was more of an asshole. Because if I was…I’d have been prepared for such an attack. I’d have lashed out with my opinions. I’d have been quick to the gun. But I’m not. Despite being socially pounded in the ass by NYC and restaurant environments, I look for the best in people. So I stood there, in disbelief, wondering if this woman was being serious at first, then letting her rant because what would fighting against her have accomplished? I knew there had been two full rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom in which her son/s had spread their feces, yet I let her shout, nod in satisfaction, and leave.

Twenty minutes later I found a server crying in a stairwell.
“I’m leaving,” she said. “Transfer all of my tables to Caitlyn.”
“Why? What happened”
“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m leaving.”
“Was it that table with the two, shitting-boys?”
“No.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“No.” She doesn’t know that I had a crush on her when she was hired, but that it faded away due to time, the seriousness which we take our jobs, her comments implying being devoutly religious, and the social barrier of manager vs. server. Again, if I was an asshole I’d probably have ignored this barrier. But I wouldn’t put a woman in the pressured, difficult place of choosing between job/livelihood and pleasing a man above her. (How many millions of women are put in this kind of wretched situation everyday?)  Besides, she had developed a crush for a bartender. That’s why she was crying. He was drinking after his shift at the bar and hitting on her too aggressively. There was a regular there who liked her, too, and was also hitting on her. Then there was a drunken, idiot saying inappropriate things about her yoga pants. The three guys were all sitting in a row next to one another and chuckling. (I learned all of these details later.) She just wanted to go home.

An hour later the only barback/busboy arrived at the restaurant. He hadn’t shown up for work the past two days and wasn’t responding to phone calls or texts. The police showed up, though, looking for him. Long story short, his girlfriend had put a restraining order against him. She had stabbed his ball sack with a box-cutter (did I want to see it? No.) He had slashed her ear.  He had spent a night in jail. Here’s the paperwork. He’ll be in for work tomorrow.

At 1:45am I’m sitting in the ferry terminal waiting for the boat. I’m thinking how my life is a ceaseless grind, and yet there’s no way that my perspective is unique. Other people must be going through this sort of thing too. Other people must be coping with daily depressions.

But am I paying for wrong things that I did in my past, or am I being somehow prepared for obstacles in the future? That’s the problem with justice: you never know which direction it’s coming from. Are you being punished for what you’ve done? Or bombarded by senseless pain and confusion so you’ll be ready for what will arrive?

You ever hear someone say “I wish I was a little kid again”? Ever watch a movie or listen to a song that laments lost innocence and lost childhood? I couldn’t help but fall into the fantasy as I sat there in the terminal. What happened to my joyful innocence? How did I end up here?

But after indulging my childhood memories….here’s what I realized/was reminded of while sitting there: the problem, the ridiculousness of such a desire…when you’re a kid, you’re a leech. Between the ages of 0-20 (depending on your family environment) you’ve been provided for, allowed to play, given a fantasy world. Of course the memories are often rosy and nice when you could lounge with stuffed animals, draw in coloring books, and play games without worrying about the implications and support of such a lifestyle. You could smear your shit in a public bathroom without consequences. But that’s not reality anymore…that’s not life.

I think the sign of a mature mind is how fast you move on from the pettiness and problems of the daily grind. I’m not very good at it, but I’m getting better. Because while sitting there in the terminal and telling myself to stop fantasizing, I began to look around. Already the stress of the previous shift was melting away and the events that occurred seemed funny. I was looking forward to going home.

 

Subscribe:

What is the opposite of paranoia?

0

everyone-is-out-to-get-you-eyechart-tshirt

My idea for this post came from reading a funny article from The Onion (2 min read, worth it):

Anxiety-Ridden Man Rightly Ashamed of Every Single Thing He Does

While reading it, I kept asking myself, how does someone act and think who is the exact opposite of a paranoid? What’s the opposite of paranoia?

Answer: Pronoia: a neologism (relatively new term) defined as a sense that the universe is conspiring on your behalf, that others are conspiring behind your back to help you…that the world is set up to secretly benefit people.

(Take note of how much more has been researched and written about paranoia than Pronoia).

The word Pronoia is also the name of a Greek goddess, an Okeanid nymph of Mount Parnassos, the wife of the Titan Prometheus. Also known as the goddess of foresight. Here are two Okeanid nymphs:

merm01

13286740-b545-0132-46b4-0e9062a7590a

I had a BIG schoolboy crush on Arielle growing up. One time in the shower I…I digress.

Anyway, here are some writers’ opinions on the idea:

“I am kind of paranoid in a reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” -J.D. Salinger as Seymour Glass

Phillip K. Dick, in is posthumous published book, The Exegesis, suggested his own Pronoia (as referred to by his perceived protection by an entity called V.A.L.I.S.: vast active living intelligence system) was based on an “intelligent analysis,” of his mystical experiences, and was not, “reflexive or mechanical in its nature.”

Pronoia is a theme in the 1988 novel, The Alchemist, (which has sold 65 million copies, coincidentally the same as Salinger’s, Catcher in the Rye). An older man tells the boy protagonist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I thought the novel was boring.

Some may think this state of mind is stupidly optimistic or dangerously unrealistic.

head in sand

You put your head in the sand and it feels so good, so calm, so gentle, and so peaceful…but you’re still stuck in the sand and deaf to the world which is writhing and screaming around you.

As Dr. Fred H. Goldner states in his 1982 published paper, Social Problems, “Pronoia…is the delusion that others think well of one…mere acquaintances are thought to be close friends, politeness and exchange of pleasantries are taken as expressions of deep attachment and the promise of future support…”

So, like everything, there’s a destructive extreme.

And similar to my post, “I deserve this!” there’s a gray area which we have to navigate through trial and error, learning and changing, to avoid the extreme. Believing the world is straining to please and help you can be detrimental because you don’t do anything about it. You bask and wallow in an illusion of smiles and praise.

In reference again to the “I deserve this,” post, when it comes to temptation and our vices, it’s better to err on the side of looking at YOURSELF in a paranoid light, suspicious of your animal cravings…(do I really deserve this pie? This beer? A two hour nap?)

But when looking at the outside world it’s better to err on the side of Pronoia. Yes, that car just cut me off…but probably because there’s a cop ahead and they want to prevent me from speeding and getting a ticket. Absurd and insane…yes…but is it as absurd and insane as uselessly fuming or engaging in road rage?

have-you-ever-noticed-that-anybody-driving-slower-than-you-is-an-idiot-and-anyone-going-faster-than-quote-1

95% of problems are self-created. And 95% of people blame the world for their mistakes and issues. I’ve noticed this especially with restaurant employees…some of them, when criticized, immediately look for something else to lay the blame on: it’s the customer’s fault for being so needy, the chef’s fault for cooking so slow, the owner’s fault for not paying me more, the manager’s fault for not teaching me well enough.
ANYTHING but themselves. In the short term they want to get off the hook, but they end up stagnating and not improving in the long term.
*
There’s a certainty I daily repeat to myself which nothing can alter: I will support myself through writing books. This conviction burns inside of me. Each rejection I receive pushes me higher and the longer I churn in this void of day jobs and midnight scribbling sharpens the axe of my prose and whittles aways the superfluous.

I feel intense gratitude that my family and close friends don’t openly root for my literary success. They’re intelligent and aware enough to understand it’s a lonely battle that must be fought without a cheerleading squad. But my pronoia knows, deep down, that they’re looking forward to my publication…cause as the Philosopher Wiz Khalifa once said, “You know if I ball then we all gonna stunt.”

wiz-khalifa-onifc_1

Each morning, according to my Pronoia, when I finally fall into a fitful sleep, the lords of the literary world meet in a video chat:

“Is…is J.W. Kash ready yet?”
“No, not yet. Tomorrow we must send him 12 rejections from online journals, one saying he should his prose is pathetic and that he should give up, and later that night he will have an employee insult him and walk out, then he will shovel vomit out a sink.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little too harsh? Shouldn’t we give him one more acceptance…to reignite his belief in himself?”
“Too harsh? Belief in himself? Have you read his stupid, selfish blog? The poor boy thinks he has something to say! That he can write! Oh no, we must crush this little belief. He has many more obstacles to face, many more.”
“How many more?”
“Thousands. Years of them. Everything in his life will fall apart, his close ones will start questioning his life choices and showing disdainful concern, he will be consumed by regret…then, only then, will we let him build it all back.”
“Yes sir. Years it is.
“Years (demonic chuckling) YEARS! YEARS!”

Then I wake up from a nightmare in a daze of exhausted doubt. And with 26 buck-naked jumping jacks and a trick of the mind turn it all into grist for the mill.

 

Subscribe here: