Friday, April 28, 2006

Schoolyard Shuffle

He was one of those kids...
Always dressed in suspiciously white-stained sweats,
exuding the odor of catfood, urine and general neglect.
He had unruly red hair and an attitude to match.
He'd always get into fights
and he'd always end up with blood on his shirt...
guaranteeing a second helping of abuse from his mother when he got home.
Few of us ever invited him to our homes a second time.
Something would always end up missing.
Never something valuable or in any way important...
Knick-knakcs mostly... stuff no-one would miss if they didn't notice
the lack of dust on the shelf-spaces where they were taken from.
And he was a liar.
He would lie so brazenly, cockily and pathetically that we had to humor him.
The alternative would have been worse.
Always claiming he had some rich relative who bought him fantastic gifts
for Christmas and took the whole family for trips around the world.
In other words,
he was insufferable
and I didn't like him at all.
But he was my friend
and compared with the smarmy and greasy jocks and rich-kids
who seemed to know all the tricks and secrets,
he was a better friend than I deserved.

Fear And Loathing In Denmark,
Part The Third.

Joking Is Serious Business

She was gonna be a compassionate cop
and I was gonna be a drunk.
This was about 5 years ago.
We weren't in love, per se, really.
A mutual affinity, sure.
But not only was she spoken for,
I was a "Head for the bottom of the bottle"-kind of ingrate.
Yeah, I'm still drinking, right now as I'm writing this, in fact,
but there are levels of obliviousness, if you catch my drift.
I remember waking up after a party
at the home of a mutual friend...
I went straight for the leftover gin
as the sun was still struggling its way over the horizon.
She and I woke up simultaneously.
Four other bodies snored next to us.
We had a... heart-to-heart-mind-to-mind conversation.
The kind that, even when the actual words fade into sepia-photograph blurriness,
the meaning and importance of it lingers.
She put it so eloquently:
"Michael, I can never tell if you're being serious or if you're making a joke".

That is a sentence (both figuratively and literally)
that has haunted me since (and -before- I heard it expressed, come to think of it).

When do you cross the line?
And, more importantly, perhaps, where do you -mark- the line?

I still can't think of an adequate answer.