please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, August 25, 2008

To George

Hey there. Just to say it, when I said "kudos, y'damn fuckhound", that was actually a reference to something that happened to me, once.

I'm not sure why I was downtown. I think it was a job interview. So I sidle up to the bus stop across the street from Powell's, and set to doing the crossword, when I am beset by a tiny woman with tight blond curls. Although she is railing in a very loud voice against all present as well as society in general, it's pretty clear she isn't homeless.
Or at very least, someone somewhere was taking care of her. Her clothing seemed to be vintage; and by that I mean, her style, if I had to describe it, was a sort of fashionable Little House on the Prairie. All the way down to her perfectly clean white socks, which she was wearing as her only footwear on the pavement that day.

I just had to do it: I can't not look, which is something I know both you and I are completely guilty of. If someone put a gun to each of our heads and commanded us not to Observe and Report, we'd both be in serious trouble, especially on the Report part.
So, for just brief moment, I flicked one eye her way. This was enough. Probably lasted a lifetime in schizophrenic time, and the reaction it got was immediate: I became the specific focus of her tirade.

Somewhere in here, as I was doing that cowardly fucking thing people do -oh, well maybe if I just stand here and enjoy my crossword puzzle, maybe this other person who is less than a foot from me, screaming at me, will see fit to go away, as reason dawns upon them, what with me being so calm and unflappable- she crescendoes finally, completing the whole thing by calling me, " old fuckhound!"

And well, it sort of made me want to say, it's like you know me, or something. Yes it's true; I've spent a fair amount of my life chasin' tail, and I've only occasionally seen something bad about that.
I mean, what the hell was our dynamic the whole time we lived in Oly? Me as serial monogamist, although utterly unable to not cheat, as was my steelo in those days, and you being a hundred per cent up front with people -I'm not going to be your damn boyfriend, and if you think I really don't mean that, that is your delusion. Consider yourself warned - with me wondering how the hell I could pull off something similar...And realizing that trying to be someone else was just never going to work, in my case. I'm me, goddamn it, whether I like it or not, and regardless of how many people thought we were secret cousins or something, we do our thing in different ways.

Somewhere in there, I learned that I was never gonna get whatever it is that I am afraid of losing from someone else. I might go on being afraid of losing it for the rest of my life, but at least I could see to it that I don't take it out on other people, psychological disorders being what they are, and everybody having them, far as I've ever noticed.

But I've left the girl back on the corner. Now, she is only a few inches from my face. I look her square in the eyes, and see that this is actually just a more or less okay person who has slipped off her meds, just this particular day. Probably the rest of the time, she is a hundred per cent manageable, and is just sharing her thoughts on this whole humanity thing with its members.
And what does she say to me, once she's sure she's got my attention? "Strange, isn't it?"

That's when I lose it. "No, no it's fucking not! Actually, it's incredibly fucking typical!" And I stalk away, with her screaming something I might have found interesting at my back. I only walked down to the next bus stop on Burnside, and hoped like hell I wouldn't have to continue my interaction with her on the bus.

But: you old fuckhound...Like I say, it stuck kinda nicely. I have found few people that genuinely don't like sex -but they definitely exist- and all that leaves is the other 98% of us. Still, a somewhat smaller number are...Well, stars of track and field, to borrow rather liberally from Belle and Sebastian.
Not to over-value that sort of thing -sport fucking for its own sake, and without shame- but it sort of stands as part of something that I hold as a pillar of my own belief system. It dovetails nicely with something you once said to me: let's not settle for Dissatisfied.

Matter of fact, I inserted that into a poem I wrote at the time. I followed it up by saying,
"and don't play that Me Good Chink Cholly Chinee shit with your captors. You don't even have any captors."
Because on one hand, every damn one of us has that thing that hunts and pursues us, and won't let us rest until we die, but only we can make ourselves truly despair.
Hm. That doesn't quite do justice to what I was actually trying to say on that one; it particularly does a huge disservice to those who literally are in captivity. I'll work on it...Something about how you owe the world your complete honesty, or something.

Meanwhile, while I was on day three or four of a seven-day work week, down at the waterfront, when I get that surprise text message of yours. I know that Kittie also -at first- had no idea what she was looking at. But then it all clicks; municipal building, two nicely dressed people tinily standing in front of it.
Ah, that's right. People I know do, occasionally, get married. I can offer, as a person who really thinks that the whole institution is a buncha shit, that you truly did not fuck up, in my opinion, in marrying this one. Quite the opposite.

Congratulations, and hope like hell I can make it out there next summer.



Blogger George Popham said...

Sorry to all the rest of the audience: Salty J, Laudron, Bee... Pertaining to Rich and my mutual history as much of it is, this comment may or may not be as opaque to you as parts of this wonderful post might have been, but Rich and I have been dialoging on various matters for 20 years as of this summer and since we discourse from where we are I have to respond at some length...

"If someone put a gun to each of our heads and commanded us not to Observe and Report, we'd both be in serious trouble, especially on the Report part."

hehehe spluter haw! heheheh. WRT, reportage: I put 'philosopher' down in the occupation blank on my application for the marriage license. (I'm party 'A' and Deb is party 'B' instead of husband and wife because of, "recent changes in the marriage laws" the town clerk told us in a disapproving tight lipped way. Incidentally, this interaction with the clerk [and not the J.P.] is actually what prompted me to say, "Oh, right we can have a gay marriage in this state, I completely forgot. Let's get the gay kind, honey." At this, the town clerk further tightened her lips and made something very similar to the Marge Simpson feeling apprehensive sound in response. This, by the way, was a few days before the actual wedding. It seems you have to have a three day waiting period in Massachusetts before you can get married [so no one commits a wedding of passion I guess.] When we went in for the actual ceremony I think Miss tight lips, sensing our general irreverence, called in the most 'free spirited' J.P. to do the job. So just to set the record straight that's how we got Marcia, who, in reality would have been happy to marry us gay if she could have figured out how. She was great.)

Um, Oh, right that was parenthetical to talking about official forms. I like to mess with the official forms a bit. My checks still read my full name and under that where you can put a title I have "High Lord of Skookumchuck." (perhaps in a year they will read "High Lord of Skookumchuck PhD" I think I once put 'metaphysical sanitation engineer' on an IRS form. Anyhow, I put 'philosopher' on the marriage licence, and when the official raised seal version came in the mail there it was, typed out by a public employee. "Wow," I thought, "it ain't no joke anymore." It's the reporting instinct you refered to above that brought me so low. I started out as a poet, but all the art kept getting in the way of my reports so I switched to the other side. I dunno if that was a good idea but I didn't have a choice, and I don't feel like I can take any credit if it was.

Part of the problem is that poets are usually dogmatic and I was no different when I lived in Oly. For some miraculous reason, I had stumbled on a way of doing things that was kinda working despite all the warnings to the contrary. I wanted to share the news, expose the lies, free the masses and so on... and like all dogmatists I got poetic about it. But, I still didn't know just how much things move and shift, how maddeningly dynamic life is, just how impossibly, skull crackingly large the number of possibilities is. And how tiny and insufficient our little brains are next to all that that surging fluid complex what-ever-it-is that is all this... Plus that massive universe of "everything-I-don't-and-can't-ever-know."

Can't step into the same river twice? Fuckin'-a! For that matter, you can barely even get in the river once if you aren't paying close attention.

Oh, and this here is another of the 400 things you mentioned I want to say something about also pertains to this point.

"Not to over-value that sort of thing -sport fucking for its own sake, and without shame- but it sort of stands as part of something that I hold as a pillar of my own belief system. It dovetails nicely with something you once said to me: let's not settle for Dissatisfied."

Nicely put. And just because you and I retired from the game doesn't mean I agree any less. And I wouldn't have quit if I didn't get something fantastic to replace it with. But my problem back in the day (a forgivable one, but a problem nonetheless) was that I thought that getting the *Right* answer and corresponding plan of action would equal satisfaction.

However, if you finally accept that you never get to be *that* completely sure you're *Right* about anything in this life BUT (contradiction though it is) you aren't even willing to be sure you're *Right* about that much, then that makes you a philosopher. Doesn't make you a good one either, it just gets you in the door.

To further complicate matters, this doesn't mean you are any more willing to settle for dissatisfied. In fact you are less willing than ever but have less to go on.

And, if you manage to internalize this to some degree, your ratings plummet, at best, and if you lack discretion there is always the chance someone will try to kill you for crimes of subversion. In addition, you lose the sense that you can take credit for anything, much less 'create' things. You really find out who your friends are, because, socially speaking you're useless to most people. And finally the most difficult aspect pertains to your continued instinct to report: in order to be accurate you now must convey that all this is a *very good* result.

However, I've developed two little mottos to help keep all this balanced in my head.

1. " [_*Excepting your real friends*_] It's not a disaster if they (whoever they are) think you are an idiot. Really."

2. "Though a 10 ton ceiling tile really could crush you at any moment. There is nothing wrong with feeling lucky and being grateful. (N.B. Gratefulness does not always require and object to be grateful to.)

The point: despite having done what may or may not have been many right and wrong things I have no idea why things have turned out as they have. I have exactly no advice. It's my job (at "the institution" as I like to call it) to pretend I do, but I don't.

The highest success I could imagine on that front would be if I could convince people on a mass scale of something that would make them less likely to slaughter each other. It wouldn't have to be anything *Right* or *True* it would just have to be effective to that simple practical end. And so far, surprisingly enough, I'm having a fantastically great time playing with that, tough I don't know if I'm making any headway.

Anyhow, and I think this is a connected thought, Leslie wrote me an email in which she said, "And I am like driving down the street with my crazy arguing inlaws (David!!!!!!!! Will you stop that!) and suddenly my Dead Moon blasting cell phone announces to me that George Nathaniel Popham is now a true and honorable HUSBAND???"

Fuckhound, Philosopher, True and Honorable Husband.

I have my epitaph; may I not need it for at least 42 more years (if good health prevails I'll take 60).

And, lastly, because gracefully expressed truths merit repeating.

"Ah, that's right. People I know do, occasionally, get married. I can offer, as a person who really thinks that the whole institution is a buncha shit, that you truly did not fuck up, in my opinion, in marrying this one. Quite the opposite."


11:38 AM  
Blogger disco boy said...

fuckin' a indeed. congrats to you and your beloved. i think yer a-gonna be just fine.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Why not interact with the rambling psychotics at the bus station? They're usually more interesting than most other people out there, not to mentioned more stylish.

4:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home