It is a fascinating existence to enter and exit various points of view as it makes one much wiser. I have always had this voracious appetite to learn more about so many different things and people. Each time I read and explore new information I find myself convinced I am so naïve and so far behind on so many things. As you get older you start to realize it is best to quell one’s opinion because it is simply a perspective that is yearning for fans to generate a consensus of agreement…such a shallow contradiction when one calls for diversity in everything except one own perspective. So today while I was driving home observing diversity with boob jobs at the gym, puckered lips, stretched faces, matched by men in the latest “comb over” or tattoos or ornate jewelry of the 80s or steroids as homage to the vestige of who they were I chuckled. Oh life is simple and yet most, never get to enjoy the simplicity of the lyric. Allow me to indulge you with some retro muses as the old musical group, The Intruders, fill my musical conscious.
So there was this big class reunion and I thought back at the class mates and the characters and identities. I took a time travel way back and so I remember being 5 years old and going to my elementary school on my little bicycle. I was a big boy now, with no side walk wheels and cruising for a bruising. I remember these girls in my class. One thought she was the toughest girl in kindergarten. She would always bother me and then kick me hard in the shins. I always wanted to kick her back but instinctively I knew this was not acceptable behavior. So when she would build her cute little block house in the class room, I would patiently wait and knock it down just as the teacher was distracted with another student crying or screaming. Oh could I add to that crescendo and it gave me so much spiteful excitement, like one big explosion.
There were only white kids in my school and for some reason a black kid moved there in first or second grade. I did not know him but was suspicious of him because he was different. I did not know how to communicate or explain emotions at that time nor did he and so we were two young stallions wondering about the territory and the pecking order. How do you have a conversation about those emotions when you do not even know what emotion is. We played basketball against each other and poison pots. He talked with confidence and I figured that meant he was challenging me. I must admit, his big eyes in that black skin were intimidating but I never let him know that. So one day I wrestled him to the ground and we were a fighting with ferocity of a 6 or 7-year-old. Full of emotion and passionate ignorance wailing away on each other’s faces. The school playground teacher broke it up and we both got in trouble. I think we had to sit in the corner of the room that day and feel ashamed. Later he moved away and I never saw him again. I often wonder what his perspective was.
Cub Scouts used to have something called box socials and I can remember asking the most beautiful girl in my class to the box social. You HAD to bring a girl and this was really odd and foreign to me. And, I had to either wear my cub scouts uniform or I had to dress nice and I hated to dress nice as I felt that meant you were a sissy. Little did these girls know…my mom was the ballet and tap dance teacher and I HAD to take tumbling and tap-dancing. Talk about embarrassing but I did enjoy tumbling with the girls. Anyway, I had to do a skit for that box social event and bring a box lunch to share with my date. Man, I hated the words….”my date” as they seemed so corny and sissy like. I had to put black make-up on and sing some old southern ballad about the Suwanee River. It was humbling to say the least and people clapped but looking back it was probably the worst ever skit with obligatory clapping. Oh life and the growth through vulnerability! I often wonder what the girl thought of that very nervous and uptight evening.
Then there was Junior High School and I fell in love with this one girl. My tummy tickled and so did everything else. She did not kick me in the shins but she was the hard to get type and that chase was not really fun until she “allowed” me to catch her one night. Bodies touching, lightning bolts and the first kiss in the DARK. I couldn’t wait for another walk in the park after sundown…ooh man was that exciting. I bet most boys wonder if it was as exciting for the girls.
By the time I got to high school the girl who kicked me in the shins was now a total fox and I so wanted to make amends and begin a relationship but she always seemed to shine me for upperclassmen. I never did hook up with her and often wondered why. By the time I was a senior I began to march to my own beat and found other interests than girls and friends. People used to ask me to go out with them to a party and hang out but I would pass and work on something I liked doing alone. Sometimes it was just a great book I was immersed in and no one would understand that. I wonder what they thought of me during those times as I became this loner. My parents divorced and died after graduation and so my loner attitude began to soothe me into isolation. People always told me I was going to go far and they saw me rich and famous in Europe or somewhere. Did you ever wonder why people have their perspectives on you and you have no clue?
My next journey took me to a war zone called Vietnam. It was a beautiful green cyclorama filled with the cacophony of sounds. Crashing, screaming rockets, exploding ammunition as background to the human primal scream before death and loss of limb. The screaming was like a discordant trumpet haunting you day and night…beckoning you to come on stage. The orchestra of Hell and they only played the crescendo movements as they loved the redundant climax. Most of my relationships were time honored with bravado and ballsy stuff. And, most of them I wept with, as they slept next to me in the monsoon rain in the jungle. They wept in spirit in their body bag next to me in a wet rice paddy waiting for the weather to clear so a medivac chopper could rumble in with it percussion of daring grace. Those were sad transitions with no bridge or reality and once again no sidewalk wheels. Now my buddy had no Point of view…and I was beginning to realize I didn’t either.
As I returned and was discharged stateside I began hitch hiking and becoming a transient. I learned so much about diversity and points of view and I started to enjoy being the quiet observer. Yes, I stayed in my urban camouflage of beard, grime and long pondering stares. I met hundreds of people and yet met no one. My dimension was now invisible and it was comfortable.
One day an acquaintance of mine who was a big wig at a major studio had a crisis and had long forgotten me. His daughter had a car accident and he needed my help for a variety of reasons. I hitched a ride immediately to the accident scene and was blocked from the entry. I entered anyway with waving firemen. As I approached I saw the girl’s car mangled and I later found out one young girl was dead, snapped her neck. As it turned out these girls said they were avoiding a squirrel in the road and some doubted their negligence. When we went to the funeral I told the Dad of the girl driving (his daughter) the truth and he got very angry as he did not want to know. When we went to the girl’s funeral I sobbed deeply as I knew death to be so final. I looked up in my tears and the Dad of the driver was staring at me like I was some kind of weakling. He shook his head in disgust. He knew I knew and yet he wanted me to fake it all. He later sued the manufacturer of the car and won a huge settlement. I often wonder if these people understand and empathize with the finality of death…. death to others. Today his daughter is happily married with kids and living the lie in bliss. He retired from the studio as a crass and mean parent. He knows what he did. This sacrifice of justice and death was the last straw and I moved on in life. I no longer wanted my job, my car, or my metrics to define who I was.
10 years later I was blissfully sleeping under a freeway overpass one night and I remembered that it was my class reunion and it was always the first week in August in my home town. I wondered if I should put the black make up on and go back and sing that old southern ballad. And since I had adopted the homeless culture maybe I should clean up and attempt to enter the dimension that had probably pronounced me dead and invisible and see what happens when I suddenly reappear. I chuckled and thought back to the girls I played with as a child and the cowboy clothes I wore to impress them. I wonder what they would think of me now that I had lived as a street person and had traveled to other dimensions they would not dare. Their perspective may be interesting, entertaining and I chuckled at the potential responses as each would engage in tic tact toe…while they cross referenced one’s life, credits, awards and prowess. But just imagine the shock value if I showed up as I am…. homeless, with street deodorant and newspaper shoes.
So I decided to go for it. Yes, I begged and saved for the next two months on the streets and hitch hiked back to my home town. The first day I showed up at the reunion as a dirty discombobulated grounds keeper and kept busy in the background on the golf course. No one recognized me and it was fun listening to the stories of grandeur. Who slept with whom, who wished they could have slept with whom, who was rich and famous, and who was fat and happy. I so wanted to cut a big group of farts as if I had shit myself while they were talking. The cars, the clothes, the jewelry, the homes, the bragging rights of their children, their college degrees and on and on. Then I saw this beautiful lady, dark, sleek, manicured and quietly observing the crowd with some momentary chit chat to patronize her classmates of yesteryear and a past dimension. As I stared at her I could hear the mixture of old cacophony of sounds from Vietnam or was it July 4th mixed with some obnoxious background dialogue of a former football letter man being exalted by his buddy on that 40-yard touchdown he did on Homecoming.
That night I checked into a Motel Six and I wrote down a fake name. The lobby clerk did not recognize me and yet I recognized him and remembered his brother who was killed in a car accident as a DUI victim. I stared and observed his movements and persona and he became encumbered with my scrutiny and my karma. I released him and demurred to the room key he slapped in my palm. He tried to remove his hand but I grasped it quickly and watched his eyes dance in fear and I turned to leave. As I close the door I glanced back and saw him meticulously and anxiously cleaning his hands with bacteria free soap. I smile and move down the motel row where they leave the light on for you and check out my first bed in years. On my back I carried my Louis V luggage…. a plastic bag full of my shaving gear and new clothes for tomorrow. Shelf life is short on the street.
The next few hours involved an emotional stripping and confrontation process with myself and reality. The layers of denial were no longer vestiges but in fact, armor and well insulated. This process was a destructive process on so many levels and I will not creep you out with how it took place but let me just say there were lots of blood spats, screams, tears and broken furniture in this poor motel. I knew this was a breakout which may produce the wrong person from the wrong dimension butt naked to today’s stage of conditioned and politically correct robots. Life had gifted me with a real contract with meaning.
Now that I had shit, showered and shaved I had to don my new wardrobe and rehearse my stories of fact. As I sat naked in front of the room with a clean shaven look, I shared some of my stories of Life with my friend, the mirror and with some of my favorite music from Vietnam in the background. I cried and I cried and I told my “spirits” I was sorry and I missed them and I loved them. I wished I was with them and we laughed at our fun times in the Nam. The fun times were full of pushing the envelope of life but we loved it and were so proud of it. Reckless abandon was what Marines are and were about. And as I stared at my tear stained face and dark blue eyes I realized these were horror stories that would scare mankind.
They would all listen in awe but as they turned their backs and loaded into their new automotive phallic symbols, they would quietly say…” that dude has got to have a nut loose somewhere” as their wives mused quietly with discrete introspection complimented by body language.
So I decided to change my “choice” and create a new reality like we all can do in life. I was going to say that I just flew in from Italy and have been working on a Novel for a new movie and leave it at that and see what happens with people who like to interface with an acceptable menu of points of view. Sadly…I served them their meal along with their perceptions. Ambiguity is a fun maze.
The next morning, I check into the reunion and I was a big hit. I had all the guys around me asking me and comparing me to them. Some told me they hooked up with my old girlfriend or whispered such to their buddies. Some told me they missed me and respected my independence and some wanted my “credits” to see where I was on their ladder of judgment which was how they defined life’s metrics. Most avoided discussion of the Nam as they avoided that collision course with money and college in their youth. They chose trite! The ladies were all different. Some were still looking for sexual validation and some were looking for a re-visit of their youth and some were anxious to share their time honored stories of family with me which was as abstract as abstract can be. Some would slip on the ledge and reveal deep pain and loss from deaths or tragedy. These family discussions were very upsetting and I did not enjoy my veiled acting silence with dysfunctional physical cues during these cathartic conversations. Hey…. some people have no discerning radar to read “street” and yet I was a totem pole from the street and no, it was not a blue pill.
Softly lit In the background was the gorgeous lady who used to kick me in my shins. She was no longer a tom boy but an eloquent understated art piece. The lines were beautiful and tranquil and her demeanor was one of quiet solace, happy with her wisdom and her discarded opinions. She did not fish nor did she have a pole or even a hook. I casually approached her and asked her if she remembered kindergarten and she said of course. I smiled and she reciprocated. She was sitting in a lounge chair and she stood up, equal in my height. She was olive skinned with magnificent angles matched by the counterpoint of a soft spoken articulate yet warm intellectual confidence. Her eyes were sultry and she knew it and knew I knew. She looked deep into my gaze and she said……I am sorry for my assaults in school with you. A shocking admission from past decades rocked me backwards.
I smiled and nodded my head. She mimicked my head nodding in a moment of comic relief. She said her point of view at such a young age was part of a young pejorative female mind, angry with male brutes. I nodded as if it was OK. She said in Junior High you began to blossom and I knew you would win in life and then in High School you were the flower of my eye but you abandoned life. Where have you been? I wanted to say…. I have been in a body bag but I stared. She said…. I have so much to share with you.
It seemed like we stared for 15 minutes as my life’s film was a fast forward montage while I gazed into her soul. I knew better than share my horror stories and so I said I have been busy writing in Europe……and what about you. I rubbed my chin and caught her looking at my rough hewn hand and skin.
She said she had inherited her Father’s trust as he passed and she was enjoying being a spectator of life. She said that her point of view was so limiting and wondered what it would be like to dance with other dimensions. I smiled and stared deeply into her beautiful sultry eyes. After a moment, she leaned forward and kissed me with warm and intimate passion. As the sounds silenced around us she said how would you like to come stay with me in Aspen for a while. I said I brought no clothes no bag as I like to travel light. She said……I cannot wait to buy you your European wardrobe…and grabbed my hand and we walked down in the southern direction. A driver pulls up in a limousine and we enter. I look back at the crowd and they are all watching…. all the kids I went to school with and all of whom are being left again by me. I know they are used to my historic pattern but if they only knew.
As the Limo pulls into the driveway of the Aspen Mansion, I chuckle. A tall black man I think I recognize opens the door. I step outside and inhale the mountain air and a loud noise explodes in my ears. I hit the ground. She stares at me as I am prone and confused. I get up and realize a block away there is a car accident. She avoids the issue and subtly introduces me to the tall black man. “This is Sgt McPherson he will take care of any needs you have.” He looks at me and I look at him. He smiles and quietly whispers……OOOOOrah. He knows. She misses the code and then brushes off my sport jacket and grabs my hand. She coos…do you think I should kick you in the shins or perhaps just fart? I look away distilling the language and the timing. We walk to the entry way. The Intruders song, Cowboys to Girls starts playing in my conscious and I hear a zipper. I turn quickly and realize it is not a body bag but she is unzipping her garment bag. She says,” Come on, lets go relax and compare notes over a Le Montrachet, Mr. Steinbeck.” I nod and smile with quiet confidence. I ponder the “dimension” and my shelf life therein. Kinetics or inertia……I prefer kinetics.