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True Love is rare…herpes sucks

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Happy couple outdoor, summertime

 

True love is rare. Life is short. And human beings have incredible powers of self-deception.

There’s a regular at my bar who has herpes simplex and is having difficulty finding love. I like the guy. He has an interesting story. (I believe everybody has 1 great novel inside of them…if they only took the time to put it down.) I’m often his shrink when the bartenders are busy.

Joe Smo wants to find true love again SO MUCH…he’s 31 and has been dating like a fiend. But it’s difficult when your pool is mostly limited to other people who have annual outbreaks on their private parts. Luckily, there’s a website where people with herpes can meet. It’s called OKputrid. (Joke.)

herpes forever

Joe has an ex-wife who has full custody of their two kids. In his early 20s he traveled the world with an Emo band (until they kicked him out for inadequate keyboard skills). When he met his future wife she was in college. They fell head over herpes in love (she was ok with him transferring the venereal disease). Joe was now about to join the military. During basic training his future wife wrote him everyday (41 times). They moved to Hawaii together and life was going to be perfect and wonderful amongst the cool, island breezes.

hawai

Then Mrs. Smo got bored. Perhaps she was a little too excited to begin with? After having two children…things changed.

Obviously, my perspective is biased through the storytelling-lens of (often drunk) heartbroken Joe, but I can read people and situations fairly well despite a lack of details, and it sounded like Mrs. Smo became a cruel, conniving, rapacious cunt.

She lied, cheated, and deceived. She brought men back home who were “just friends,” flirted with them in front of the kids, and stayed late at their apartments. Poor Joe was still desperately in love with Mrs. Smo and didn’t know what to do. He still wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. And think of the children! Joe grew up in a broken home and didn’t want the same for his boy and his girl. But this rapacious cunt was treating him worse and worse. The walls were closing in…the fuse was getting shorter…

short fuse pic

Begin soap opera violent drama. Joe lost his shit. He took to the bottle. There were fights, yelling, the police were called. Joe was almost kicked out of the military, but due to a previous flawless record, he was demoted to a desk job at a gym.

Mr. and Mrs. Smo went to court. Joe lost the kids. Now he struggles to see them once every couple of months. This past Valentine’s Day, he was in the bar by himself muttering under his breath and in tears, texting his ex-wife nasty things.

We all know the justice system favors the mother in these instances. The judge doesn’t care about Joe catching his wife kissing another man at 1am on a street corner when she said she was just taking a dog for a walk. The judge cares about Joe screaming in the middle of the night, waking up the neighbors, and throwing plates against the wall. YOU RUINED OUR MARRIAGE YOU SELFISH WHORE!

Now Joe is trying to find love again. But it’s difficult to meet someone spontaneously and then have to drop the herpes bomb. How soon should he tell a girl? 2nd date? 3rd? As they kiss in the elevator?

Yesterday, he told me about a promising date in which he drove to Delaware (2 hours) to go on (they met on the herpes site). He thought the girl was pretty and nice, but the fire wasn’t there. Joe wondered if he would ever find the kind of love that he had with his first wife again, where they just KNEW it was right and jumped right in.

Hmm, but how they did know it was just right?

First, I told Joe that love is rare. He may have found it in the past, but he has to be prepare to never have it again. Perhaps the first love was a byproduct of the reckless hopefulness of his youth?

It’s a pity that our society says that everyone can/should find love. Marriages that work and deep, true love are the exceptions, not the rules. I think if we all thought this way much suffering would be alleviated and more love would be found.

Then I thought:
Yes, Human beings are masters of self-deception. How easily it is for many people to convince themselves that their significant other is the “one.” I think much of it is biological.

If you read my Death on Wednesday Morning philosophy post, you will remember that I discussed peoples’ mental susceptibility for religion and believing in God. There is also a susceptibility towards lock down love. The first person you consistently fuck and date IS THE ONE NO DOUBTS OR QUESTIONS ASKED. Life is nice and pleasant that way if both people are on the same, simple page.

“You got the blinders on?”
“Yes, you too?”
“Yes. To the grave!”

This lock down love susceptibility goes hand in hand with religion. People who marry their first loves have also fascinated and confused me because I wonder, “How do they know what they like if they haven’t dated other people? How are they not curious? How do they separate the good qualities of the person with the pleasurable, love-blinded show in general? Why do they throw away their life on the first person who comes around who is nice and makes them feel good?

Because not only are people afraid of the dark, most people are afraid to be alone.

But hovering above self-deceptions and the rarity of true love is this: time is short and the clock is ticking. You can’t keep on saying “the grass is always greener on the other side,” and never get to the other side!  The phrase “nobody’s perfect” is often a justification for people to reconcile to themselves their shitty partners. But if you keep searching and discarding rather than compromising and accepting your entire life, pushing and pushing…what’s the point? Maybe Wilma with all her flaws would have made you happy…

I’m not a relationship guru by any means, but the last cliche thing I told Joe was this:

You can’t be desperately pining for love. You’re either gonna scare the great girls away or attract ones that are gonna be bat-shit crazy and hurt you again. You have to get yourself right first before anything will work.

“Yeah…you’re right, the problem is, after a date, I’m always worried if the girl had a good time or not.”
“Nay, Joe Smo, nay. A part of you can think this, but the bigger part has to ask yourself whether YOU had a good time. Whether the girl resonated with YOUR standards…which brings me to my final two points…

1.) Standards/values: Relationships are confusing and complicated. And timing plays a big part. But I think all you can do (or at least I’m gonna do) to navigate this fog is know deep down how you look at the world, what you value, and who you are. Those things take time and effort to understand, but the better you can grasp it, the better chance you have of recognizing someone who is similar/has reached similar conclusions about life. For example, I value curiosity and someone who never stops learning, hard work and striving towards something…kindness, intelligence, reflection, strength, endurance, exploring…these things are personal to me, are unspoken and felt, and don’t pass away with time.

2.) Patience: I may never find what I consider “true love,” but I’m willing to wait. There’s a chance I may die before I find this person…but I’d rather wait and search than settle for someone who doesn’t share the things that make me who I am.

Joe paid the check and left the bar. As he walked away I thought, “We pay for things we do in this life. If someone destroys you like Joe’s ex-wife and you survive it, I really believe you are stronger and better on the other side. When someone/something fucks you over…something inside broadens/opens up. I hope Joe figures out who he is, deep down, and finds someone who can set him on fire…

“But Jesus Christ,” I couldn’t help but mutter under my breath, “I’m glad I don’t have fucking herpes.”

doctor herpes

 

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Report: Humane and Sympathetic Liberal Arts Student Has Rude Awakening Upon Working Typical Job in Fast Paced City

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New York, NY: Jeremiah Kanini, a cashier at a clothing department store located in Union Square, was recently transported to Phillips Ambulatory Care Center for a psychotic break down. At 2 p.m. this past Friday Jeremiah was having a heated discussion with a customer concerning a 1 inch square ketchup stain on the right sleeve of a cotton sweater. The customer was making a scene, screaming bloody murder, and attempting to return the product which they had stained the night before. While the customer was poking Jeremiah aggressively in the septum, Jeremiah collapsed and began having unconscious convulsions on the ground. At the hospital, the nurses recorded Jeremiah’s borderline incoherent mumblings: “I thought people were good, don’t judge, no such thing as free will, help others, culture and society are responsible for peoples’ actions, we’re all connected, unconditionally love your fellow man, Buddha, give everyone a chance, be kind. Everyone do good. Do good. Do-” Jeremiah, a government and sociology double major with minors in environmental studies and philosophy, had a 4.0 GPA at his Alma Mater. He was volunteering at a non-for-profit called “Free Hugs and Puppy Pugs not Dirty Slugs or Yuppy Uggs,” but couldn’t pay his rent, so he started working at the department store. When he woke up on Saturday the doctors interviewed Jeremiah concerning the incident. Jeremiah replied, “I never thought people could be so…so mean, so conniving, so petty. Are some people just…just…inherently evil?” When Jeremiah left the hospital and returned to the department store, he learned that he had been fired from his job. We have been attempting to get a hold of Jeremiah for the past 12 hours with no success. If you have any information please call 867-5309. Our swelling hearts go out to you Jeremiah, wherever you are…

 

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An Aspiring Actress

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When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen I would occasionally visit a dive bar called Tobacco Road, located across from the Port Authority bus station, where the bartenders wore bras and the patrons were unshaven and grumpy.

tobaccoroadnyc-2
One night I was drinking Guinness and reading Chekhov short stories when a bartender struck up a conversation. She was named Alexa, had gratuitous make-up, platinum blond hair, and lingering ghosts behind her eyes. She noticed my book and told me she was taking acting classes. They were currently performing Chekhov’s play, “The Seagull.” What a coincidence! Did I know it? Yes, I’ve read it twice…now tell me more about your acting dreams. A couple of beers later she gave me her number. We went on a couple of promising dates (bustling coffee shop, leisurely lunch, evening stroll, etc.) We got along well…one night after a dinner date we kissed passionately outside of her apartment. When I stepped back I noticed tears in her eyes.

“We can’t do this anymore,” she said. “Why not?” I replied.
“I’m…I’m engaged.”
“Then we can’t do this anymore. I had a lot of fun, though.”
“I really like you. I didn’t mean to lead you on. It’s just…my fiancé, we’ve been close friends for years, he’s…he’s such a nice guy, he pays my rent, and…I don’t know. I’m so stupid. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s alright. You know I’m a waiter and a writer. I won’t be able to pay your rent for at least ten years.” She did one of those choking laughs. We hugged each other for a minute and parted ways. A week later she came to the restaurant where I worked, Hallo Berlin, for the first time with her fiancé.

44th10aveloc
Hallo Alexa. Hallo fiancé. His name was Bill and he was a portly investment banker with thinning hair and a friendly handshake. Alexa talked rapidly, laughed frequently, and told Bill I was a regular at her bar. I’ve never been a regular at Tobacco Road. Bill left a big tip, they walked out holding hands, and I never saw Alexa again. What a funny girl. This actually has nothing to do with the following story, I just had to get that off my chest.

When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen I would occasionally visit a small park on 43rd street between 9th and 10th ave and read next to my bulldog: Hank.

img_1529
The benches were uncomfortable and it was often cold, but I frequently felt stir crazy in my apartment. Furthermore, Hank liked to be out and about after a stressful day of waiting at home while I was enthusiastically pushing wiener schnitzel. To stay warm and relieve my lower back, I’d often walk around the park with a book in front of my face. I was like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

belle

Youth is fleeting, and I can already feel my 20s slipping through my greedy, twitching fingers, but those nights in the park were some of the best nights of my early 20s. I’ll savor them for the rest of my life. I traveled the world inside my head, became close friends with dead people, and felt waves of sadness, love, frenzy, and joy. In addition, the pieces of my first novel were finally coming together, and it felt glorious to be an aspiring, hopeful artist creating a masterpiece that would someday be rejected by almost every literary agent and publisher in the country.

On many of those nights, there was also an old woman who would sit in the park. All she did was stare at a building across the street. She was quite large and looked like an elderly version of Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter.

dolores_ambridzh

For a couple of weeks I would acknowledge her with a head nod when I left the park, but that was it.

One night, though, she came over to where I was sitting.
“I see you here all the time. You read a lot, don’t you?” I looked up. She had bleary, blue eyes, a pallid face, wispy gray hair, thin lips, and a wide smile.
“Yes. I do.”
“My name is Millie. Mind if I sit down?”
“Not at all.” I moved over and she slowly lowered her bulky body and twenty five scarfs to the bench.
“And who are you?”
“Jack.”
“What are you reading?” Her voice was loud, abrasive, and I could already tell that her personality was forward and brash.”
“The Kolyma Tales. By Varlam Shalamov.”
“Ah, the Russians, I like the Russians. Chekov is my favorite writer. Do you know Chekov? What are the Kolyma Tales about?”
“Fragmented stories about the Gulag Labour camps. Very bleak. Very dark. I like Chekhov too. Shalamov’s work is actually described as a more brutal, violent Chekhov.”
“Ahh. Never heard of him. Why do you read so much? Shouldn’t you be on your cell phone? Watching TV? On a computer?”
“I-”
“You must be a writer.”
“Yes.”
“You know, I wrote a book.”
“Really?”
“Yes, back in the late fifties. When I was an actress. It was published by a major publishing house: Ballantine Books. Which is part of Random House now. It’s called Ingenue. That means young actress in French, but also means innocent and ingenuous. You can buy it on Amazon. My full name is Millicent Brower. Spelled M-I-L-L-I.”
“Hold on. Let me put it in my phone.”
“You won’t actually buy it,” she laughed. “I don’t know what I’m saying.”
“No. I will. And I’ll read it.” We sat there in silence for a minute. The night wind passed softly through the surrounding trees and Hank woofed at a passing poodle.
“How long did you act for?” I asked.
“Ten years. It was hard. Very hard. I was in Studio One in Hollywood, but I never made it. It’s tough being an actor. Real tough. People don’t understand.”
“No, they don’t.”
“I stopped acting in my 30s. Not long after I published the book.”
“Why?” She laughed again.
“You know, it’s hard to say. I guess I stopped when I married my husband.”
“Did he tell you to quit?”
“No. He didn’t. George encouraged and supported me.” She had a distant look in her eyes and I could tell she was delving deep into memory. “But life moves fast. Very fast. You wouldn’t believe it. One day you say I’m not gonna go to this or that audition, then your beauty’s gone, and if you don’t have a reputation, nobody cares. Nobody will give you a chance. How old are you?”
“Guess.”
“33.”
“23.” She laughed once more.
“Oh, you wait Jack, you’re young. Time will keep moving faster and faster. I’m 83 now. I remember being 23 yesterday.”
“Hmm. Was it difficult publishing a book? Did you have to send it out to a lot of agents and editors?”
“No, not at all. It was easy. My book was accepted by the second publisher I sent it to.”
“Hmm. Well, I’ll make sure to read it.”
“Please do. You live around here?”
“Nearby. On-”
“I used to live across the street, in that building, right there, with my husband. He died 10 years ago. George was his name.”
“Ah.” She slowly stood up.
“Well, I’m getting cold. It’s freezing out here. Aren’t you cold? I better get going. My back has been killing me. It was nice meeting you, Jack.”
“Yes, it was nice meeting you too, Millie. See you later.” She shuffled away.

Later that night I ordered Millie’s book and read it within the week. Here it is…it’s been out of print for a couple of decades:

ingenue-millie

Holy shit! I remember thinking. This old woman used to be beautiful! For some reason, it made me feel sad. At the time, I remember reading an article about what it’s like being an aging, beautiful woman. The author described the difficult, confusing, and painful transition. For years, a beautiful woman receives incessant attention from men, and in some spheres gets whatever she wants, then it all gradually fades away. It’s not easy adapting to the new lifestyle of being comparatively ignored and neglected.

When I finished reading Ingenue I remember thinking it was one of the worst books I had ever read. Art is subjective, of course, but I personally didn’t like the protagonist and how she looked at the world. She was annoying, demanding, and always complaining. “I’m late for this. Person A won’t give me that. Person B is mean. So many chores. My socks are dirty. Etc.”

But despite my severe criticism of the book as a whole, there was one passage which moved me deeply. I had a feeling she had written the entire book with this single passage in mind. The novel should have been a short story. Two-thirds of the way through, there was an explicit rape scene. It was brutal and wretched. It felt real and I’m convinced it actually happened to Millie. The protagonist was raped by her acting manager. She didn’t know how to deal with it or resist him. She was an aspiring actress and this was the only way she thought she could get ahead.

For weeks I waited to see Millie in order to talk with her about the book. But she was never in the park after that initial encounter. Not long after, I moved to Brooklyn. Since she was 83, I assumed she had died.

When I moved to Brooklyn I threw away her book and mostly forgot about Millie Brower. In fact, when I started writing this post, I couldn’t even remember her name. For hours I wracked my memory and typed random “old woman names” into google: Phyllis Ingenue? Agnes Ingenue? Finally, I got it. Millicent Brower. She actually has an IMB profile and a Facebook too. Her Facebook occupation reads:

“Writter at Sel Employed”

One afternoon I left Brooklyn and traveled to Hell’s Kitchen for an errand I can’t remember. I was clean shaven, cheerful, and wearing a tie. It was a hot day and I walked through that park where I used to read next to Hank. I was flooded with memories. Was that Ingenue writer woman still alive?

As I turned the corner of 43rd and 10th ave, I saw Mr. Biggs Bar:

mrbiggs-1

And as I passed by, I stopped in surprise. There was the Ingenue old woman whose name I couldn’t remember! Sitting by herself outside! What a coincidence! My friends and family know I have an uncanny talent for never forgetting a face. I frequently spot people from my distant past in public. It’s either borderline savant or insanity. So when I saw this old woman, a part of me wasn’t actually that surprised.

I walked over to the table.
“Hey Ingenue.” She looked up quickly in shock. “Mind if I sit down?”
“Ahh. Not at all.”
“Remember me?”
“Are you…the…the writer…with the bulldog?”
“Yes. Good memory.” The people around us stared in disbelief. What was this young man wearing a tie doing sitting down with this wizened, old woman?
“I read your book.”
“Really?” She smiled and her wasted, pallid face blushed pink.
“Yes.”
“How’d you like it?”
“It was…pretty good.” I ordered a Guinness and drank it fast. It was a strange conversation with many pauses and I hardly remember what we talked about. We oddly never asked each other’s names. I think we both thought we were supposed to know. She still lived nearby. Where am I living now? Brooklyn. Am I still writing? Yes. Am I published yet? No, not yet. Isn’t it a nice and sunny outside? After I finished the beer I paid, then stood up.
“Well, it was nice seeing you,” I said.
“Yes, it was nice seeing you too.”
“Have a good afternoon.”
“You…you too. And thank you, thank you so much for…for sitting down with me. This has made my day, my week.”
“No big deal. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye.”

I walked to the corner and waited a minute. Cars passed by. And before I walked across the street, I looked back at Millicent Brower one more time. She was looking down at the table. I could hardly see her face. And to this day, I don’t know if my imagination was playing some cruel trick, but I think I saw her shoulders shaking. It looked like she was crying or about to cry. When the crosswalk changed I turned away and walked toward wherever I was about to go.

 

 

 

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Sober vs. Drunk #1

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sober vs. drunk

Sober:

Tickle your ass with a feather?

What did you just say to me?

It’s particularly nice weather.

Drunk:

Stick a feather in your ass.

What?

It’s fucking raining.

A One Night Stand I Don’t Understand

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This story is extremely embarrassing and compromises my masculinity, but one must take no self-conscious prisoners in the glorious and noble pursuit of truth.

It was 2am on a Wednesday night. I was going home after a strenuous restaurant shift. While passing the subway shop in the St. George terminal I saw a pretty woman in formal dress walking ten steps ahead of me. Despite the friendly beckoning of the Indian man who works the graveyard shift at the subway (we often joke with each other that neither of us sleep, that all we do is work, give each other high fives, and he gives me free cookies) I merely acknowledged him with a head nod and kept walking. For some reason, in my exhausted, lust-shredded mind I thought, “Walk past that woman, just walk past her.” So I tightened my grip on the straps of my jansport…and increased my gait.

Once outside I passed her on the right and looked at Manhattan across the bay. Mission accomplished. But wait a second…what did I even do? “You’re an idiot,” I thought. “But don’t look back.” I walked faster and admired the lights of the skyscrapers in the distance. Someday, Manhattan, I will return. A feeling of conviction and power rose within me. That’s my city, the greatest city in the world, the city of fleeting chances, intensity, insanity, wretchedness, riches, loneliness, clashing and thrashing, thwarted and realized dreams, desperate hopes. It was a hot summer night.

“Hey, do you have a cigarette I could bum?” a feminine voice behind me asked. I turned around and smiled.
“No, but if I did, I’d give you one.” Yes, she was also pretty from the front…she looked Jewish. She had curly black hair, green eyes, and a nose ring. A quote from a story I read in the morning came to mind:

“It was a touchingly beautiful face, just as always the beauty of Jewesses is of a peculiarly moving kind – a consciousness of the deep misery, the bitter scorn, and the evil chances wherein their kindred and friends live, brings to their lovely features a certain aching tenderness and observant loving apprehension that strangely charms our hearts.”

I read too many books. I slowed my gait and she picked up hers.
“Why the hell are you wearing khakis?” she asked.
“I just got off work.”
“Where do you work?”
“I manage the bar in the Whitehall ferry terminal.” Now we were walking next to one another. I thought this was funny and felt strangely at ease.
“But why are you wearing khakis.” She might have been drunk, but she also seemed like a spark plug of a girl and peculiar. Her strong tone of voice and acerbic mannerisms struck me as flirtatiously inquisitive and feisty.
“I told you this already, I’m walking home from work.”
“Wait, do you live on Staten Island?”
“No, Brooklyn. I’m taking the long way home.”
“Oh my god, you’re hilarious. But really, you live, like, close by?”
“Fifteen minute walk down Richmond Terrace.”
“I’m down Richmond terrace, too.”
“Let’s walk together. I’ll protect you from any strange men you might meet.” She laughed.
“But wait…why do you live on Staten Island?”
“Cheap rent. Short commute. View of the water.”
“I mean…but why do you live here?” She was starting to get on my nerves. But I thought I’d at least get her number.
“I just told you.”
“But who lives here?! It’s such a shit-hole. I hate this place.” For the next five minutes she basically kept repeating how much she hated Staten Island and commenting on the ridiculous fact that I was wearing khakis. Then she stopped in front of some shadow-shrouded stairs.
“Hey, wanna come inside and smoke weed?”
“Sure.” I knew I wasn’t going to smoke weed…I rarely smoke weed with strangers anymore because I get the fear. But yes, I’d gladly follow a pretty woman into her apartment and see what happened.

Let me pause and say this kind of thing never happens to me. I’m not a strikingly handsome guy. Women have never fallen into my lap. I’ve always had to spit incessant, shameless game for a woman to think I’m attractive. The only time something remotely like this ever happened was in Atlantic City five years ago. My friends and I were taking an elevator up to our room and three, drunk girls joined us. One of them pointed at me and said, “You’re really cute. Come to my room in ten minutes: 2678.”
“I will.” Ten minutes later I’m sweating outside 2678 with a throbbing heart and a condom in my back pocket. The door opens to reveal an old man in a bathrobe, “Who the fuck are you?” I walk away.

Inside, the pretty Jewess’ apartment was a mess. Piles of clothes were scattered all over the floor. Weed paraphernalia littered a low table in front of a couch. There was a record player in a corner and abstract art on the walls. The apartment was spacious and looked large enough to accommodate two people. Ah, yes, that’s it…perhaps I’m a rebound. I’ll take it. 

We sat on the couch and chatted about innocuous things. She worked for airbnb and didn’t like it. Her boyfriend moved out months ago. She still kept saying how much she hated Staten Island and asking why I lived here.
“I refuse to answer those questions anymore.” A wave of fatigued washed over me and I almost passed out. I had pulled an all-nighter the night before and was averaging 4-5 hours sleep a night for the past month. Sitting on the couch and not moving made me realize how exhausted I was. Should I go home? No, of course not. There was a lull in the conversation and she said:
“I’m usually more witty than this,” We were sitting very close to one another at this point: now now now. I clumsily kissed her, then she pushed me away. I’ve played this game before. I leaned back, put my hands behind my head, and relaxed. Again, I almost passed out. She smiled and stretched out on my lap. I massaged her breasts. They were large.  She climbed on top of me and took off her shirt. Her body was nice. Better than expected. I was now fully awake. Most girls I’m attracted to don’t have large breasts, so I took this opportunity to play with them: lift, knead, grasp, flick.
“I’m gonna go take a shower,” she said.
“I’m coming with.”
“Alright.” We strip and step into the tub. Her eyes widen when she sees my body. With clothes on I look skinny, but from all the running I’m fairly muscular and girls are usually surprised when they see me naked.

While showering we kiss and play with each other. We also laugh and joke about things I can’t recall. At one point, though, I do remember her saying,
“You’re so weird. You’re like a dad.”
“I know. You’re not the first person to tell me this. I like being weird.” She kept leaning down and rubbing her butt (which was also nice) against my pulsing cock. I was consumed by lust and tempted to take her in the shower, but thankfully the voice of reason shouted: no way are you taking this strange woman who brings a stranger back to her apartment without a condom.

For a moment, while sucking on her nipples (which were on edge of being pancake nipples…but still very nice) in the shower, I thought about the silly absurdity of this situation. While on the ferry boat back to Staten Island I was thinking about working on my novel for an hour then blissfully passing out on my comfortable bed…now here I am, in a bathtub, gently rubbing this stranger’s clitoris while her nipples are in my mouth. How drastically our lives can veer in a different direction.

We dried each other off and walked back to the couch. For a moment, my vision faded while walking through her apartment…my desire for sex was fighting valiantly against fatigue.

We cuddled and kissed some more. I retrieved a crumpled condom from my jansport and put it on. She played “hard to get” again and playfully denied me, but we both knew where this was going.

I flipped her on her back and mounted her. I put it in and began slowly thrusting. She turned on her side and closed her legs more…I think to make herself tighter? Then something extremely embarrassing occurred which had never happened to me before…

I went soft. While inside her.

I pulled out. She climbed on top of me and I became hard again. I slipped it in. But after a couple of thrusts…

I went soft again. While inside her.  The Horror The Horror. 

She sighed and laid across my lap. Her smooth, round butt was inches from my face. My limp penis refused to respond. I ran my hands along the beautiful contours of her ass. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Here was a pretty woman who wanted to fuck…and my penis was letting me down. Like an idiot, I said,
“I’m…I’m really tired. I haven’t slept a lot lately.”
“Excuses.” She wiggled her butt. My mind continued to spiral down in confusion and loathing. What was wrong with me? This woman was hot! I wanted to fuck her, but…but…but…

I passed out. I woke up an hour later with her butt still inches from my face. She was asleep facedown on the couch and snoring. I gently lifted her off my groin, walked over to my jansport, pulled out a business card, and left it on the table.

Outside the sky was gray and the birds were chirping. Believe it not, I felt happy. One of the many reasons why I enjoy New York City so much is the innumerable possibilities for wild things to happen. I arrived at my apartment, slept a few hours, and went to work.

The next day she texted me. We flirted through texts for the next week. One night I was walking home and saw her sitting outside her apartment with a man. He seemed to be pleading with her about something while she looked disinterested. I asked her about it via text message the next day (“Was that your bf?” “He thinks he is. He wants to be.”)

Not long after I lost my phone and almost all of my phone numbers. Our conversation was lost. I’ll most likely never see her again. I do remember, though, the last thing she texted me when I told her she wasn’t that witty:

“Whatever you say, noodle dick.”

Touché…pretty Jewess…touché…

 

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Miss Tina Tinder, Lessons Learned, and a Horrifying Realization of my Shameful Past as a Boy Toy

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Author’s note: This is a fairly intimate essay that I wrote in a notebook for my own attempt at self-awareness. I did not plan on ever posting this publicly. But the girl in this piece sent me a text not too long ago: When are you going to write about me? So I typed up my scribbles, sent her this essay (half as a joke), and asked her permission to post it. To my surprise, she said yes:

On October 1st, in the year of our lord 2016, I swiped right and had a match, a blinking heart, a glimpse of possibility. She was pretty, pale, and had a dog filter. Our initial conversation went something like this:

JW: Are you a dog or a human being? We have to get that question out of the way if this is going to go anywhere.

Tina: Last time I checked, human. Hahah I definitely need to stop using that stupid filter.

JW: It’s just confusing. I’m not trying to pick up somebody else’s shit on a date.

Tina: Hopefully you won’t need to.

JW: I’ll bring doggy bags just in case. You know how people put on a show on tinder.

Tina: I feel like I need a first aid kit and a can of pepper spray when it comes to tinder.

JW: Don’t forget your taser, blow horn, and portable lie detector.

Tina: Ahhhhh, the lie detector, that one I’d like to use.

Additional witty banter, subtle flirtation, innocuous questions, etc.

We exchanged numbers. Before we met a week later, we must have sent 10,000 text messages back and forth. They became quite raunchy and explicit (See James Joyce’s letters to Nora Barnacles). In my search for a serious relationship I deluded myself with this girl and wasted A TON of time. But through it all, I came to 3 realizations:

1.) I need to get the fuck off tinder (which I eventually did). And if you’re also hoping for a serious relationship, you should too. It’s an addicting, silly game. I’ve met married couples who met on tinder, but this outcome is extremely rare. The pool of people on this app has become too large, especially in NYC, and it’s infested with lust-hungry men who don’t have the balls to meet women in other ways, so they harass them out of weakness, and most decent women refrain from taking it seriously. Was I one of these men? Perhaps, in some sense. But I stupidly had the hope of meeting someone promising through this app. My excuse to myself was that I was too busy with working and writing that I didn’t have time to meet women in other, more organic ways. Tinder was so convenient, so easy. I could develop a fast, superficial relationship via texts while taking dumps in my apartment, or whenever I felt like it, then on my 1 day off a week meet up. On top of this, I’ve always been arrogantly proud of my texting skills. I can play with words and ideas all day. I’m better with words than I am at life. But all in all, it’s a waste of time.

2.) BEWARE: If you are above the age of 27, you are probably like me and have very little idea just how good the next generation is at texting. This is especially applicable for people with babies or young children. BE PREPARED. Tina has had a cell phone her entire life. She grew up playing this message game. I’ve never seen anything like it. Her speed and wit were incredible, seemingly beyond her years. A couple times I wondered, am I being cat-fished?

catfish on tinder

Because texting is its own language. How much you say, your ability to read and respond to sarcasm, how much to say, timing, balancing edge and lightheartedness, insult and compliment. This girl was on another level. My bias aside, the girl wielded her phone like a god.

3.) So why did I waste so much time texting this girl when I understood the superficiality of tinder? She wasn’t THAT special looking. Perhaps it was her nerdy-glasses look contrasting with her seductive, pant-less, mirror selfie? Perhaps it was her Midwest childhood combining with new girl in the big city persona? Perhaps it was her silly, youthful energy? I thought and thought and thought…then it hit me:

No, it wasn’t all that…

I’m just an egomaniac.

When Tina first started texting me she did something which I thought was natural at the time, but now I understand the insinuation in which she gripped and throttled my being:

She was J.W. Kash’s first, #1 fan. She read my blog posts and ASKED me about them in detail. She liked my writing. She wanted me to sign a book and send it to her. Right in the beginning of our conversation she stroked my ego like I was a cute, little kitten and it felt so…damn…good. In my arrogant, oblivious mind I unconsciously thought this was natural, DESPITE her being the first person in the past 6 years to give serious attention to my writing. I’ve received a compliment here and there, but nothing like this. Oh no, this flattery was unprecedented. And not only was she my first fan, she was an attractive young woman who liked to read novels! My Achilles heel! Days after texting, she was referencing my posts. So of course we must be compatible. Of course we want the same things. Of course she must be genuine and intelligent, because only genuine and intelligent people will ever enjoy my genuine and intelligent writing. Very sick and sad, but the bitter truth.

It was me who first crossed the bridge from texting to sexting. She was telling me about all the Netflix shows she liked. I replied,

“If you’re trying to Netflix and chill, just tell me.” Then I made some stupid joke about wrestling during breaks between shows. She asked about the nature of this wrestling. Etc.

I even downloaded Snapchat for the first time so we could send each other saucy snaps. Could my degradation have sunk any lower?

We picked a day to have lunch. I organized my schedule to make this happen. The night before our expected rendezvous she got drunk (I wish you were here right now so we could, etc.) and was hung-over the next day. For 8 hours she kept postponing out meet up, until she eventually canceled. This unreliability is a deal breaker for me, but the claws of fandom were already in. I willfully ignored it.

Tina even openly discussed how she wasn’t right for me, that she didn’t want anything serious while I seemed like a serious guy. “I just got out of a long term relationship a month ago, I just want to have fun. I just want to get high, party, and do stupid things. Why do you even like me? I’m such a mess. You’re gonna hate me.” This frivolous outlook on life has always struck me as foreign and odd. But I respected her honesty and, again, I couldn’t get over that she was my first, #1 fan. I even had silly visions of me rolling blunts and us going on a picnic in Central Park. I don’t even smoke weed anymore.


On a Wednesday night she was high in a bar in Midtown (she gets high every day.)
“Can I come over?” she asked
“Yes.”
“Well, I don’t know, I don’t feel like it anymore.”
“Why not?”
“Do you really want me to come over?”
“Yes.”
“I’m so high. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Okay.”
“You’re not going to like me in person.”
“You’ll be fine.”
“I’m so nervous. I shouldn’t come.”
“Alright, don’t come. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.
“No, I want to come.”
“Alright, come.”
“What’s going to happen when we meet? I’m on my period, so we can’t fuck yet.”
“Okay. That’s fine.”

Eventually, I screen-shotted bus routes, texted the directions, and she took a bus at 2am to Staten Island. No surprise she got lost and ended up in the middle of the island, miles away from my apartment, at 3am. Her 360 rotating snaps had the captions: “I’m living in a horror film. Help.” I paid for a cab to pick her up.

When she arrived I went downstairs in my bathrobe, glasses, and flip flops to make a good first impression. No doubt I resembled a nerdy version of “The Dude,” from The Big Lebowski:

Dude 3

It was a strange experience. There had been so much build up for the past week that we both knew (and discussed) the inevitable let down of meeting in person. Both of our expectations had been wildly out of control.

In the elevator I looked more closely at her face. Her nose seemed restructured and the edge of her eyes were peculiar. Ah, yes, that would explain the frequent use of the dog filter. She did tell me that she was born with deformities and had experienced many surgeries (+25) growing up. I still thought she was pretty. In fact, I liked her MORE now that I saw her facial scars in person. I tend to be attracted to girls with scars, both inside and out.

 


In my apartment we sat on my bed and talked. I felt relaxed, but as usual spoke too much. I could tell she was disappointed in the dull reality of JW Kash. In person, I’m scatterbrained and boring. My writing and texting conveys a much more direct, confident, and interesting person. “Who’s this guy?” she seemed to be thinking. Despite her obvious disinterest, after 30 minutes I felt the urge to kiss her. The old mental battle: “You never know if you don’t try,” bombarded my thoughts. I made a move and she turned her head to the side.
“No, not yet.”
“Alright.” I sat back and we talked some more.

Then it hit me: what did I just I do? What am I doing? We can’t date. She’s told me already that she doesn’t even want to date! And if hooking up isn’t my main priority, why am I wasting so much time?

Tina talked about her crazy friends, getting high, her mean boss, her desire to become a groupie, the fact that her ex-boyfriend looked just like a famous rapper. She was a nice girl, but fairly self-absorbed. I refuse to ever judge someone quickly or harshly because of their age: people develop in different ways at different rates, progressing and regressing in turns. But I realized with Tina that we were on two, different planes. These planes were exasperated by the inherent inadequacy of conversation and the inability to express 1/100 of what we feel (opposed to brooding, reflecting texting). So much of real conversation is what you DON’T say. It struck me that she perhaps hadn’t lived enough “life” or had enough “experience” to really judge the superfluous vs. essential in a conversation. And I don’t mean “life-changing,” wild experiences, I don’t mean traveling the world, meeting the Dalai Lama, or seeing a family member die. I mean years of taking out the trash, years of mean bosses, years of being late and feeling anxious, years of waking up hung-over, years of washing dishes, years of paying bills, years of forgetting things, years of mundane, dreary shit. You can’t teach those years to anyone, they just happen. They shove your ego into a little corner and say, “Shhhh, quiet little one, the world is a lot bigger than you and your feelings.” Many people, like myself, resist this humbling, this deflation. Many people never experience it.

Tina and I hugged and she left around 5am. We would never see each other again, although she would text me sporadically over the next couple of months.

After the encounter I sat on my bed for another hour wondering what the hell just happened. I realized that the only way I could date Tina is if I reconciled myself to mundane conversations about how messy her room was and Chance the Rapper. Perhaps if we were high all the time it wouldn’t matter. Perhaps if we had tons of great sex it wouldn’t matter. I wondered: how many relationships exist out there where one person can barely tolerate the chattering of the opposite sex? Yet through other factors (physical appearance, wealth, comfortable social status, previous obligation, etc.) the person endures an incompatible personality. Tina WAS nice. Tina WAS physically attractive. Tina WAS adventuresome. Maybe I could deal with her self-absorbed, rapper-worshiping, partying-obsessed personality because of her other, positive traits? No, that wouldn’t be fair to her. All relationships involve compromise, but in the beginning there shouldn’t be such cold and ruthless calculation.

It was then I felt a wave of horror. Tina was almost the same number of years YOUNGER than me than my ex-girlfriend was OLDER. I began flipping through my memories, like an investigator scanning old files for an unsolved case, with the questions: “Was I MY ex-girlfriend’s Tina? Did my ex endure my self-absorbed, superfluous babbling for other things (well, he is nice, he is adventuresome, etc.)? Did my ex condescendingly look down on me and my youth like I was doing to Tina? I pictured moments of my ex sighing and rolling her eyes at particular things I said, getting annoyed and frustrated at my hopes and eccentricities. I pictured the end of our relationship and all my mistakes. Meanwhile, there I was in the middle of it all, a selfish waiter with literary dreams of grandeur. Someone who was barely paying his rent. Someone who struggled with restaurant work. Someone who was frequently late, severely sleep-deprived, and an idiot. Why did my ex tolerate such boyish traits and antics? Why did she stay with me for so long? She was a respected, hardworking professional in her field and had a group of loving, caring friends. Her apartment was clean and organized. She had a job that was 100x harder than mine, but rarely complained. And despite her belief to the contrary, she had her shit together. I did not.

I thought about my recent, juvenile criticisms of Tina, about my belief that she was self-absorbed and hadn’t experienced enough “life,” to be conscious of the superfluous. Then I remembered it was ME who was sending 10,000 text messages and saucy snapchats. It was ME who was waiting for a tinder girl at 3am in his bathrobe. It was ME who didn’t know what he wanted. The mirrors of life, with such bitter reflections, were being cruelly thrust in front of my contorted visage.

My god, I thought, as a glimpse of dawn appeared outside of my faded window, Was I once…a useless boy toy? Am I still a boy toy? Fuck. I need to get my shit together, fast, before it’s too late…*

*Author’s Note: It’s a work in progress.

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Politics in Sport and Passion in Literature

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During my junior year in high school I switched from team sports (soccer, basketball, lacrosse) to running. There were many reasons for this change, but one of the main ones was to escape “athletic politics.” I was a prankster who could never sit still with  a natural dislike for unmitigated authority. I also had an adolescent disdain of ingratiation.

I have a fond memory of my first soccer practice freshmen year. We were done for the day and putting the equipment back in he shed. I had the bright idea that I wanted to kick a soccer ball as high up in the air as I could. But my drop-kicks were rarely predictable. When I kicked the ball it when flying back behind my head, into the field, and smacked our coach in the face. His glasses and baseball cap both fell off.

“Who the fuck just did that!?” he shouted.
“Me. I-”
“Ten laps around the field.” Kicking a soccer ball into the face of your new coach isn’t starting off on the right foot.

With team sports it is often difficult to predict “all-around-skill.” Yes there are the seen factors of points/goals scored. But what about hustle? Getting back on defense? Closing the gaps? Staying on your man? Boxing out? Preventing a pass? Getting a ground ball when everyone else was tired?  I was never good at scoring points. I didn’t care that much and usually didn’t have the confidence to take the shot. But I was fast and worked hard.
So I was never a “star player” and didn’t get as much playing time as the guys who scored points. There were a handful of coaches who saw my “hustle merit” and put me in as much as the scorers, but most coaches didn’t care and I often sat on the bench. Of course my teenage mind exaggerated the injustice, but my subsequent success in running and realizations concerning the fallibility and favoritism of high school coaches makes me understand that I often didn’t get as much playing time as I might have “deserved.”

I switched to running because I was tired of sitting on the bench. Here, the game was simple. Run fast: get playing time. Hard work paid off. With basketball, I could practice all summer on my jump shot and have a coach who didn’t like my attitude and never put me in. With running, I could practice all summer and if I was the first one to the finish line, the coach had no choice. I was in.

Now, my competitive running career is (temporarily) over. If I earn enough money from the pen before my youth has withered away, I’d like to take another stab at running sub 1:50 in the 800 meters and sub 4:20 in the mile, but this is unlikely. Literature has taken precedent. Great literature takes years.

Of all occupations, writing is one of the more “just.” You put your work out there and if people like it, they pay for it. It takes a long time to establish a voice and a perspective, but once you have it, nobody can take that away from you. Art keeps many people (including myself) alive. If you can establish a connection with a like-minded audience, then all the circus bullshit of office politics becomes irrelevant.

But again I’m confronted with a similar feeling I had in high school. I’ve written a book and many stories yet I’m still “sitting on the bench.” Perhaps I’m actually a shit writer? Perhaps I should kowtow to the scorers?

Yet, when I go into a Barnes and Noble and read the fiction that’s been recently published, or peruse the NYTimes fiction bestsellers, I think, “Is this really what people are buying and praising? This stuff is boring. This stuff is crap.”

Whether I’m weird, insane, or strange for criticizing these recently lauded books (I think I’m the only person in the world who’s read all of Tolstoy and thoroughly enjoys dub-step music…perhaps my view of the world is too strange/odd to garner empathy) there’s a beautiful consolation for the aspiring writer: the words are out there to judge. Hand me a book that’s sold millions of copies or hand me a book that’s written by a Nobel Prize winner…I’ll know whether the author did something great…whether they closed the gaps, got back on defense, and hustled.

The impetus for this post were two pieces I’ve read in the last 24 hours. The first was as essay published in the New Yorker by George Saunders called: “Who are all these Trump Supporters?” It’s one of the most poorly written essays I’ve read in a long time. The subject matter was interesting, but the writing was boring, stuffy, and incompetently erratic. Yet George Saunders is considered one of America’s leading writers and will likely be praised and published in the New Yorker many more times before he dies.

Another piece I read is by Herman Melville called: “The Piazza.” The writing is also erratic, but with purpose, intelligence, and intensity. Melville was considered by the “literary elite” and the reading public at large as a hack writer for most of his life.

So amongst the glowing or scathing reviews, the prizes or lost obscurity, the publications in revered magazines or little blog posts, the six figure books deals or friendly pats on the back, the hemming and hawing, the noise…the words on the page will always be there…they will always reveal an artist’s soul.

You can run, my friend, but you can’t hide.

Hasidic Jews: A tale and some gedanken

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hasidic jews

For a year I lived in Do-or-die Bed-stuy, Brooklyn on the border of the largest Hasidic Jewish community outside of Israel. There are between 90,000-100,000 Hasidic Jews in North America and 25% of them live in Brooklyn. Of these Brosidic Jews (Brooklyn Hasidic), 90% of them would blush, whisper yiddish curses, and turn away when I’d sprint shirtless through their tightly-knit, amply-covered communities. And 95% of the chaste women would shriek, clutch their wigs, and huddle on the opposite side of the sidewalk when Hank would strut and swagger past their cloistered, crowded homes.

During this time I worked as bartender for a place called Wray’s in the hood (outbreaks of violence were frequent…WHY YOU LOOKIN AT MY GIRL?!) and as a busboy for a restaurant called The Runner. On my walk home from both of these places I’d pass right through the center of the Hasidic community. One time I stopped to buy a loaf of wheat bread for my daily pbj and didn’t have enough money. WHAT TO DO? The Hasid cashier said it was fine and let me go. So much for the stereotype of Jewish stinginess…then again…I’ve had numerous people tell me that I look Jewish (my nose is slightly big and my red hair becomes a curly afro). Whatever the motivation, I still left the kosher grocery store with a warm feeling in my heart. And I returned the next day to pay back the difference.

A week after this friendly exchange I was walking home late on a Saturday night when I was accosted by a Hasidic Jew. He was very short, on the cusp of midget, wore spectacles, and had a long, gray beard.

“Please, please help me!” he yelled.
“I…I’m just walking home. I’m tired. Leave me alone.”
“You’re not Jewish, are you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes! Please! Five minutes of your time. Please.” I thought of the Hasid generosity from the week before. I believe that acts of kindness ricochet in life..so you know what? Fuck it. I’ll help this devoutly Jewish man.

He led me into a building, into an elevator, and we traveled up to the place where I might be murdered. He didn’t tell me why he needed my help. He was emotional and kept talking incoherently (my fatigue and apprehension might have been blurring his words), “We’re here visiting…at a friend’s place…can’t do this…”

We entered his apartment. The place was freezing. Three children squealed and scattered into dark corners. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. I was ready to defend myself against an ambush.

“Follow me,” the man said. He led me into a bedroom which was connected to a kitchen. A butt naked woman was passed out on the bed (just kidding). I saw a women timidly poke her head around a corner. The man opened a closet and pointed at a button. “Please. Turn it off.” I looked at the switch. It was for the air-conditioning. I pressed the button. “Thank you! Thank you!” I learned later that it was The Sabbath and that Hasidic Jews are not allowed “to do work” during The Sabbath (which includes using electricity). The man offered me cookies before I left. “No thank you.” In my mind I though they might be poisoned. Nonetheless, I was tempted. I like cookies.

I’ve always been interested in Jewish culture. My high school was 1/3 jewish and growing up I attended many Bar/Bat mitzvahs. I’ve dated a couple of Jewish girls. So…to temporarily quench my curiosity concerning the Jewish culture, here are the haphazardly-picked fruits of my research-labor on the this extreme sect of Judaism:

hasaid jew 2

Who’s hungry? For dinner we’re eating…white tablecloth!

Hasidic Judaism was started 250 years ago by Baal Shem Tov:

Baal Shem Tov

True dat Baal…true dat. Everybody around me stuntin.

Boys and girls are segregated at an early age and never participate in activities where the sexes are mixed. Dating and falling in love are as foreign to them as it is common to our wider culture. A mate is arranged through the aid of family, friends, and members of the community who act as a shadchan, or a marriage broker. Before the arranged marriage, the prospective pair engage in “sit ins” where they talk to one another for a couple of hours. Then they get married and spend the rest of their lives…

For boys, learning the Torah is the main the objective. They often spend 10-14 hours a day praying.

They average 8 people per family. They are strong proponents of birth control and planned parenthood.

They live each day according to the 613 commandments.

They thrive under and enjoy this framework for living: what to eat (no pork or shellfish), no mixing dairy with meat, what to wear, respect parents, etc. It’s nice, comfortable, and easy following a prescribed framework for living.

Western culture is considered shameless and dangerous.

kim k

 

Modesty is very important. “What secures us and others.”

So what about the women wearing wigs? All Hasidic women must cover their hair…even at home, in case of an unexpected male visitor…hair is the crowning glory of a woman…hair is sensual…she wants to keep her hair for her husband.

So what about the men and those funny, curly sideburns? Those are called payots:

payots

Check out my payots…ladies

They exist because the Torah says, “You shall not round off the pe’at of your head.” (Leviticus 19:27)

What about the funny hats?

had hat

Covering your head is honoring god.

Marriage is about eternity.

“We don’t marry the one we love. But we love the one we marry.” Those two sentences, I think, encompass why some people can become so extremely religious.

During the reception the men and women are segregated.

What about Hanukkah?

Hanuka-Menorah-by-Gil-Dekel-2014

Hanukkah is celebrated because of an ancient, Jewish victory over the Greeks, when the Greeks wanted the Jews to assimilate. Meanwhile, us Christians celebrate a fat man squeezing his way down a chimney in the middle of the night to eat cookies.

The most fundamental theme underlying all Hasidic theory is the immanence of God in the universe.

Hasidic masters exhorted their followers to negate themselves. They want to create a seamless bridge between physicality and spirituality, body and soul, earth and heaven.

A feature common to all Hasidic sects is the view that secular education is a threat to their traditional values.

In Hasidic Jewish schools words are blacked out in textbooks such as dinosaur, universe, and gymnasium…why? Those words would bring up subjects they don’t want to talk about it.

I watched an interview of a man who left his Hasidic community. He said the thing he missed most was a sense of belonging. “Who’s gonna look after me if I’m in danger? No one.” When you’re in the the Hasidic community people are looking after you, caring for you.

In another interview of a couple of people who left the Hasidic community, the question was raised: How do they keep you in? “Well, they say things like, ‘The Gentiles will kill you.” But believe it or not, they don’t usually say it’s forbidden to leave. It’s more that they stress: why would you even want that? The lesson of the Holocaust: stay as insulated and isolated as possible.

But wait…why is the word gymnasium blacked out of textbooks? Because gymnasium means exercise…exercise means body (the rude and callous flesh)…and exercise means secular, western culture.

So if you practice Hasidic Judaism…you’re frowned upon if you run?

To each his own…but not for me.

 

The Devil

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There’s a regular at my bar who I believe is the devil.

He sells tickets for boat rides to the Statue of Liberty. He lives with his mother who pays the rent.

The devil (let’s call him Danny) is 26 years old. Danny always wears a baseball cap representing his favorite hockey team (The New Jersey Devils). He has manicured facial hair, fake-diamond earrings, and expensive basketball shoes (which he bought with money he stole out of his mother’s room).

After an hour or two of selling tickets in the morning, Danny gets sick and tired of the daily grind and comes to the bar to drink beer. He spends all his money on drinks for himself, on strangers that listen to him talk about himself, and on girls who aren’t interested in himself. He does this 5-6 days a week.

While in the bar Danny likes to play his favorite song on the jukebox. This is it:

Danny knows all the lyrics and likes to dance (sway and snap fingers) and look at people while he says them. I’ve heard this song over 50 times.

Danny says he doesn’t get drunk.

Sometimes, I see Danny standing outside the bar hitting on girls. He always uses the same line. “Hey girl, are you trying to get on the boat?” Believe it or not, I’ve heard numerous girls respond with the same retort, “Is that the best you can do?” Danny invariably mutters under his breath, “Stupid bitch.”

Three, recent experiences with the devil which provoked this post:

1.) A week ago Danny was telling me a story about “some faggot this morning that butted in on a ticket sale I was trying to make.” Danny wanted to beat him up or say something, but decided the faggot would have started shit and that it didn’t really matter.

Ten minutes after telling me this story, I saw Danny walk outside bar. He passed a senile, homeless, insane old man who was sitting on a vent. This old man is a regular in the terminal. It’s obvious that he is out of his mind, decrepit, and on the edge of death. I saw Danny pause next to the old man.
“What did you just say to me?” Danny yelled.
“Mumble-gurgle-mumble.”
“Are you talkin’ shit to me?”
“Mumble-gurgle-mumble.”
“Fuck you! Who do you think you are?! I-” Police eventually arrived and led gesticulating Danny away. No physical violence had occurred. Danny returned to the bar. “Yeah,” he said to me. “I told that man what was up. I don’t take shit from nobody.”

2.) Most of the time Danny is friendly, gregarious, and outgoing. He frequently puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Yo, bro, I got you.” Danny does charitable things like help arrange tables and push in chairs after other people have left. During the Copa soccer games he approached groups of strangers and cheered whenever they were cheering. Despite these acts of altruism and festivity, Danny never leaves a tip.

Two days ago, Danny arrived in the afternoon and apologized to me for not arriving at the bar earlier.
“I had to go the hospital,” he said.
“Why?”
“My brother has this disease…ah…—–disease.” (I can’t remember…I don’t like talking to Danny.)
“What’s that?”
“It’s when you’re real short, like a midget…and can’t understand what people are trying to say…I mean he understands English, but he doesn’t really know how to act with people-
“He can’t read social cues?”
“Yeah yeah, like he’ll be with a group of people who don’t like him, but he won’t know. I have to be like, bro, they don’t like you. And so his body is real weak too, and my mom just found him bleeding in our house, and she called me and was like, you should go to the hospital to see your brother, so I did.”
“That’s good.”
“Yeah, and his medical bills are so much money, bro.”
“I bet.”
“So you think you could buy me, like, two shots of fireball? Cause you the manager and can hook me up?”
“No Danny, I can’t do that.”
“C’mon bro.”
“No.”

3.) Yesterday, a simple experience occurred which was the catalyst for this post. Danny was intoxicated (to everyone around him, but not to himself) and gorging himself on Wendy’s hamburgers (his daily meal). When I walked by he pulled me aggressively towards his chair. This was unusual for Danny. What was he about to say? His bleary, empty eyes stared vacantly at my forehead. His smelly breath invaded my nostrils. The sparkle of his crucifix necklace twinkled in my eye.
“Yo…yo…yo bro…I gotta tell you something.”
“What’s that, Danny?” He paused for dramatic effect.
“I’m not meant to be a regular person.” A shiver crawled down my spine and rotted in my stomach in a pit of disgust. I didn’t reply and walked away. It was at this moment I thought, No, Danny, you are not meant to be a regular person…

You’re the devil*.

*Two months after this post I discovered that Danny has a daughter. She’s 6 years old.

 

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Marijuana

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Marijuana is fun. Like candy or masturbating. Warning: if you’re part of the rapidly dwindling camp that still believes cannabis should remain illegal, please leave my blog and never come back…loser.

You may be thinking this post is about to promote the glory and joys of the halfling’s leaf. Nay. In the last couple of years I’ve come to a gradual conclusion concerning the chronic and my life: it’s just not my thing. Or at least I use it very, very sparingly, on rare and special occasions, either by myself or with select individuals.

Before I explain my loss of interest let me emphasize: I hold zero judgements concerning people who use weed habitually. I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly in the past, have close friends who use it everyday, have had girlfriends who have used it, family members, etc. But I’ve dropped it from my life for the following reasons:

1.) As a writer, my mind is my workshop and my future means of income. Just as a serious, endurance athlete can’t be crushing candy and fast food consistently and perform at their best, I can’t be submerging my mind in a pleasurable THC bog on a frequent basis. Dope isn’t like it was in the 1970s…today’s strands are 50x to 70x more powerful. When you blaze you go a little insane. Then, after the insanity subsides, my head is in a daze for a week. I can hardly put my thoughts in order. My writing suffers. The vibrancy of my perceptions and emotions are dulled.

2.) Memory loss: everybody knows the space-cadet-forgetful stereotype of the stoner. For me, this is terrifying. I like my memories, the good and the bad. I use them to create art. And perhaps this is a character flaw, but I enjoy (even if it’s an illusion) mental control.

If you feel pain or have a past that haunts you, herb can be a brief release (until it all comes rushing back when you’re sober). If you’re trying to be aware of what’s around you and soak in life to the last, bitter drop…then drifting in a cloud will not be valuable or amusing.

3.) Energy decrease. Again, people know about the stereotypical stoner-couch-lock and loss of motivation. Of course there are exceptions: I’ve met productive, professional, active stoners. But would they be more active without ganja? Who knows? But I’ve observed a subtle, insinuating part of reefer inside of myself…if I’m smoking it more than occasionally, I don’t try. I don’t care. My life blurs. My will sags. I don’t like that.

Let me reiterate: I am not condemning the use of Sticky icky, I’m only, to understand myself, elaborating on my own decision to refrain.

Being a human being is fucking difficult. Someone commits suicide every 20 minutes. We all have to figure out ways to get through the day/our lives. If burning tree fits into your formula for well-being, enjoy it.

People have discussed with me Bobo bush’s positive affect on creativity…sure, it does jostle your mind, but so does reading a book or traveling someplace new. If you want to create music like Willie Nelson or Kid Cudi, smoke away. But if you’re trying to create something in a different vein or learn particular things about yourself and life…I’d suggest you treat bud as an irregular getaway rather than a key to inspiration.

Three, final points:

1.) The clock is ticking. Mercilessly. Perhaps in the future when I’m an established scribbler I’ll let myself indulge more with grass. But right now, while I pay the bills through restaurant labor, sleep 5 hours a night, and am fighting to publish stories, I can’t afford to numb myself with blueberry yum yum.

2.) What if you miss it? My experience in life is severely limited, but already I’ve had the entire course of my life veer in a different direction because of a small and simple (seemingly innocuous at the time) movement, thought, or emotion. Ever been with a group of people when someone decides to go back to their apartment to smoke kush? Or have you ever invited someone to hang out when they decide to stay in and get torched instead? What if THAT night would have changed their lives for the better if they decided to leave the bong? Of course I’m amplifying the significance of everyday experience, but as a writer who realizes that a passing perception can ignite creativity…when the way something sounds or looks might be used 3 years later when you’re sitting at a desk…when a phrase or a glance is fodder for the pen…you can’t let yourself be blindly, blissfully hovering in a haze.

3.) That all being said, I can still roll a mean, fat blunt (see above).

 

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