ole ritin of buddy don:
more chapturs frum crap notes
wurk has been verr busy of late to the point whar im a'gone half to wurk saturdy n sundy. me n miz bd will be over in man hattan to hep out with sumthin called new york city cares. tiz sumthin they do ever year, witch they git a bunch of volunteers to wurk together on spiffin up skools n parks n playgrounds n the lack. whenever they ast fer volunteers, we gut no choice but to add mitt how we cum from tennessee n that makes us volunteers by birth n choice bof.
innywho, i aint gut time or much energy lef fer ritin n i regret it. to cover the spot till i git thru this tuff projeck im a'runnin, i figgerd i could put in a few more chapturs frum that novel name of crap notes. i put in the furst chaptur yesterdy, so here's a few more to give ye a better idee bout it.
I was born in a little boom town known as the City of Science. A few years before my birth the town was really booming: There was a war on — the son of the war to end all wars — and it was decided that America needed a boom to end all booms. Where else could America turn but the City of Science?
My little home town came through with flying colors. Before long America had the boom she needed: the Atom Boom. This has been followed by several other booms. The Hydrogen Boom. The Cobalt Boom. And now, the Neutron Boom. If I understand it correctly, this last boom is the most insidious. It kills its victims with radiation. The death may take as long as two weeks. I believe the victim really dies of bloody diarrhea.
Which only goes to prove the wisdom of replacing alchemy with science: Instead of transmuting the base metals (man) into gold (something divine), we can turn him into a dying pile of bloody crap. Is it any wonder I am mentally constipated?
But I digress . . . I was born during the last whimpers of another famous boom: the Baby Boom. That, in itself, is in no way unusual since my generation is the largest America has yet seen. What is unusual is that I happened to be born at the junction of two booms: the Baby Boom and the Boom of Technology, vibrations of which still have our little town shook up.
Now what exactly was the result of such explosive timing? Well, to begin with, there were many babies being born in the City of Science all at the same time. And the hospital officials in the City of Science, being so greatly affected by the general mood of experimentation and efficiency, for which the town was even then known, decided an efficient and experimental method for coping with these babies was necessary. So they built a sterile environment made up of small cubicles. One baby was assigned to each cubicle. Since people are known to be filthy — and what I'm doing right now (other than writing) is the ultimate proof of this — it was decided that the babies born at this time in the City of Science would not be infected by human hands. Instead they would be placed into their sterile cubicles and administered vicariously by nurses using technology developed to handle the crap (uranium) from which the aforementioned booms were made: mechanical hands.
In other words, after managing to make our way into this world, we were immediately treated with the same deference usually reserved for radioactive materials. We were not held. We were not touched. We were fed bottles by mechanical hands. We were changed by mechanical hands. We were watched by mechanical eyes and monitored by mechanical ears. This insanity went on, so I understand, until some of the babies began dying, for no known scientific reason.
What a blow to the hospital officials in the City of Science! Mother could not (yet) be replaced with a machine.
While I was a baby, however, the mechanical substitute was still held in high regard. As far as I can tell, I spent the first week or two of my life — during which my mother was recovering from the drugs given her to help her through labor — being mothered by a machine.
What a conception! What a grand design . . .
Perhaps I am making much ado over nothing, but the details of the first few days of my life have always bothered me. My basic character was molded during these few days. Why else would I feel such a deep revulsion toward my own mother? Why else would I find it almost impossible to hug her or to tell her I love her?
Ach! Just writing about it bugs me. Just to imagine hugging her bugs me.
And notice one other thing: I feel right at home programming our computer. I am the mechanical designer. Sometimes I feel like a mechanical monster.
Ah . . . another boom! Crap has landed. One small crap for mankind . . .
Yes, the City of Science is still with me and I with it. There I was born, fashioned of its materials and experiments, programmed for its purposes . . . and sometimes it is only my crap that reminds me I'm alive.
I wonder if I should tell you about Tracy yet? I must admit the prospect of dedicating words to that lovely lady fills me with excitement (excrement?). Coming as I just have from her unmerciful teasing . . . perhaps I could describe the girl?
Her hair reddish brown, cascading into curls and splashing onto her shoulders, her eyes grey-green, her legs long and her breasts small, her smile sarcastic and her nose too long and quite crooked, her voice soft and her thoughts sweet, but not too deep . . .
This can't go on . . .
My system fails when it processes her data.
I'll never forget my first meeting with her. It was nearly three years ago. I'd been working here at the Onion for about three or four months. (I must call this place "The Onion" in order to preserve its anonymity. I have no quarrel with my employers and wish to avoid discrediting them with any shortsighted remarks I may make.)
At that time I worked down on the floor as an operator. I was a member of the hourly caste. My job was simple. At the beginning of the shift I assumed my position near an assembly line. There I was treated every two minutes to twenty "units" — which I dare not describe for security reasons (after all, I am "Q" cleared) — which I was responsible for placing into a certain machine which would subtly alter and improve the "units" before dropping them into a box. The line had been timed to run at just the capacity of the average worker. Woe be unto him who works either too fast or two slow. Twice per shift the box reached its capacity and was replaced by an empty.
This position was known as the Whipping Post. I earned the position for the obvious reason: I wore a beard. Never in the thirty years that the older operators and the foremen had worked at the Onion had anyone had the audacity to wear a beard. So great was my offense that my punishment lasted the entire six months I spent "on the floor."
In order to prove I had developed a sense of the ironic, I shaved my beard after being promoted over the heads of my fellow shift workers. This irony deepened when I learned that Ralph had spotted first my beard, then my mathematical gifts.
"I knew you not like all those other white people," he told me over coffee, months after bringing me upstairs. "You a radical."
"Don't thank me," he answered. "I just knew how easy it is to control the mind of a radical white man."
Don't misunderstand me: My spot at the Whipping Post was not the worst spot in the plant to work. I could have been sitting on Hell's corner — the spot where the "units" were loaded onto the line, a miserably hot location — except that another deviant had seniority over me (at least, that is, in the eyes of our foreman): He was black. He'd been sitting on Hell's Corner for nine months when I arrived and had never even worked his way up to the Whipping Post. I guess one's complexion has precedence over one's facial hair style.
The Whipping Post had one advantage. There, according to the dictates of a thirty year old tradition, new employees began their operator training. While training the new operator, the older one could sit back, relax, chat with whomever was being trained, go to the john at will, you name it.
It was only during the few days of training that the operator sentenced to the Whipping Post received any respect from his fellow shift workers. That respect came in the form of envy and was expressed by cutting but playful remarks, such as "Eat my meat, Hippy," or "Lick my ass, Faggot."
To my great good fortune, therefore, when Tracy came through to be trained, the operator chained to the Whipping Post was yours truly. As always, rumors describing several different people preceded the appearance of the one girl who actually had been hired. The reports I'd heard were so varied and poorly expressed that I was genuinely surprised when Tracy turned out to be just a beautiful red head who'd spent several years of her life working in a hosiery mill. I'd been warned to expect a blonde or a brunette, a stripper and/or a divorcee, a short man, a black preacher, or even a hippy. No one mentioned a beautiful red head.
Her arrival cut short the more imaginative rumors, but her training under my close supervision sparked a whole new set of rumors which, sadly, were untrue. They've persisted in making the rounds of the everpresent grapevine, but they still are, most unfortunately, totally false. (Iam working on the problem, believe me — she's such a delightful creature.)
At any rate, shortly after her materialization redirected and redesigned the rumors which give most of the operators something to put into their minds and mouths, her training began.
At first her serious silence unnerved me. I'd show her how to push the "unit" into the machine, suggest she copy me, and try to begin a small conversation.
No way, José.
She'd mash her lips together, wrinkle her brow, and try to push the next "unit" into the machine. Again and again I tried to bring up some subject about which we could converse, but she was too serious about her work. I learned later that she'd spent several years doing piecework at the mill and that neither her financial situation nor her bosses would allow idle conversation. So I gave it up. After assuring myself that she could handle the line, I began taking advantage of the freedom associated with operator training.
After lunch, however, her serious silence broke into an even more serious — and remarkably aggressive — conversation.
When we got back to the line, I stuffed a couple of sets while she got herself ready in the ladies room. I've never understood the necessity of fixing one's face before engaging in physical labor, but every woman who has ever operated here at the Onion has felt the need of a short repair of the mask before resuming her work.
When Tracy emerged from the ladies room — and her efforts to beautify herself did have stunning results — she waltzed over to the Whipping Post, stopped about six inches from my nose, and said,
"I'll bet you beat your wife. Has anyone ever told you you look like Rasputin?"
She'd leaned forward to deliver these mysterious lines, and in so doing, she allowed me to detect with utmost certainty that she wore no bra beneath her baggy overalls.
Needless to say, I was struck dumb.
She wrinkled her crooked nose, smiled her sarcastic smile, took the "units" from my hand and began stuffing them into the machine like an operator with thirty years of experience.
I searched my startled mind for something to say and several times grabbed breath and opened my mouth, but no words came out. Finally I surrendered to silence and leaned back against the line to watch her work. After she finished stuffing the last "unit" of one particular set, she turned, faced me directly, and again leaned forward, as if to speak.
Oops. Suddenly I realized I'd let my eyes wander back into her baggy overalls to gather data from the sight of her small and terribly ripe looking little breasts. She straightened up and laughed.
"You men are all alike. I hope you got a good look at the lumps of flesh that seem to fascinate you so. It's your last."
I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Rarely have I ever been so embarrassed. I needed a hole to crawl into, some place to hide.
And you know what I did?
That's right. I excused myself and headed for the crapper.
Ach and ach ach!
Already these notes are proving their worth by revealing portions of my character of which I was largely unaware. To wit: I've already let loose several thoughts about Tracy — for whom I reserve a deep and abiding infatuation — but I have yet even to name my wife. A meaning lurks within the refuse of these words and their strange order.
If the emotion which we commonly refer to as "love" existed, then I would admit I "love" my wife. Why, then, have I launched into an account of my first meeting with Tracy before even mentioning my wife's name? Could it be that I have gazed too deeply into "love" and its various, fleshly objects? Could it be that "love" is just a nasty little habit, nothing more?
Perhaps I try to capture Tracy with my trap of words because I know there is no such thing as "love." Tracy's as good an object as any. So is my wife, but Tracy doesn't put me to sleep with habitual affection.
Still, there is something to be dealt with here: I owe you a few words about Anna, my wife, the life I in-habit.
Never fear: I will return to Tracy (who teases me) after I've explained the amazingly complex set of coincidences that led to my marrying Anna (who "loves" me).
That story will have to wait until my next crap, however, since this one has been a short, one-grunt effort.
The series of coincidences to which I alluded during yesterday's crap began, I am convinced, with my early nursing by the mechanical hands of the City of Science. From that point forward, my independence from my natural mother — or, for that matter, from all things natural — began asserting itself. This assertion of independence assumed its most basic form: running away.
This fact should not be underestimated since my behavior provided me with a very important clue to this whole mystery: to accomplish anything of any worth or significance, one must be able to stand alone. You will see how important this concept is a little bit later . . .
Believe it or not, I ran away from home for the first time when I was two years old. Here's how it happened.
My father was a special agent with the FBI when I was born. He was assigned the task of watching the Communists. This in itself requires a word of explanation.
As everyone surely knows by now, the boom to end all booms, which, like yours truly, was born in the City of Science, caused quite a bit of excitement when it actually worked in a wartime setting. Not only did it spawn excitement, but it caused no small amount of well-deserved International Envy — especially in Russia! — when it proved its super powers by demolishing a city in a single boom. It was, indeed, the boom heard round the world, and nowhere was it heard more clearly than in Moscow. The people in Moscow — our enemies (we always reserve the right to name our own enemies), the Communists — decided that they, too, must have a boom equal to our boom. I guess they tried to make one, and I know, from what my father tells me, they tried to steal ours.
The people in Washington, therefore, decided to watch very carefully all of the people from Moscow who might be after the secret of the boom. Though I was too young to understand it at the time, I now know that these shenanigans kept the world on edge for several years after the son of the war to end all wars had ended. At any rate, my father was one of the chosen watchers.
The people from Moscow were very clever according to the people in Washington. After being watched by any given FBI man for as long as a couple of years, they'd catch on to the fact that they were being watched by the given FBI man. (I know it all sounds terribly complicated, but that's just the way things are when you're fooling around with big booms.) Since my dad had been watching the Communists in and around the City of Science for two years by the time I was born, he had to be sent elsewhere to watch other enemas . . . excuse me, enemies.
Are you confused? Good. You see, these booms are extremely confusing by their very nature. They can drive you to the very brink . . . of insanity . . . or something. Add this to the clever stupidity of our friends and our enemies and everyone ends up watching everyone else and suspecting each other of everything.
At any rate, it was decided by someone to whom my father could not appeal directly that he would have to leave off watching the Communists in and around the City of Science and move to Chicago. As luck would have it, we had plenty of enemies in Chicago who needed watching also.
My mother had nearly turned twenty by the time I entered upon the scene. She'd spent most of her life barefooted and barely fed in the hills of East Tennessee. When she and my father met, she presented him with her tale of woe and a bill from a shoe store. This played the part of her dowry. As far as I can determine, Dad has yet to pay off the bills my mother has run up over the years in her attempts to keep her feet (and body) covered and our bellies full.
My mother just couldn't adapt to Chicago. My brother Arty was born a little over a year after I was, and since each of us was hyperactive, we quickly drove her mad. My earliest memories of my mother are those of her rages. She felt that her chief duty to her husband and children was to keep the house spotlessly clean. Arty and I proved uncooperative in this venture, provoking the strangest response in her: When driven to the limit by our messes, she would empty drawers, hampers and garbage all over the apartment. I can see her now, screaming, red-faced, hunched over a laundry hamper, tossing item after item over her head as she made her various points concerning her peculiar and unfortunate fate.
All of which frightened me into leaving home at the age of two, taking along nothing more than a neighbor's tricycle.
Of course, I didn't get far. But I began to feel certain of one thing: What I desired most of all was to be alone in the world.
I would say more, but I finished my crap around the time I wrote of us moving to Chicago and my legs are falling asleep.