Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Loving the Dead

Wesley was not the popular kind of necrophiliac. The popular kind of actress was the one who slept around and flashed her cleavage on magazine covers. There were hundreds of heads of state around the world, and yet the world only recognized a couple war-makers. Uninformed stereotyping harmed his passion. Wesley never touched a corpse improperly. He touched them with care, embalming, smoothing wrinkles and dabbing around their eyes with industrial make-up. There was no sexual intercourse. It would get him fired, and that wouldn't be love. That would be rape. He was a lover of the dead, there to ready them for that last encounter with their families. They didn't need a one-night stand with some stranger at the mortuary. They needed support. Sometimes supportive undergarments, but usually just a man who could take care of them. They'd all forgotten how to tie a Windsor. He'd do it around his own neck before slipping it around theirs. Pulling the knot tight was the most intimate he got with them. They deserved more than a clip-on, and he never left a bruise. That was love.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins for Him. 5.

There's an audio version of today's story. To listen either click the triangle to the left for the stream, or click this text to download the MP3.

It was to impress a girl. Blonde, with glasses and a white coat buttoned all the way up to her chin. A fetish of mine, hard to explain. I’d have been head over heels even if I hadn’t been restrained in the position. She was the newest therapist to try building a career on curing me. So I told her.

I was born to a lower middle class family. Mother died in childbirth. Dad held it against me. I tried time and time again to get him to laugh, but he wouldn’t crack a smile. He’d only crack me across the mouth. This famous grin of mine? His handiwork after I tried to run away and join the circus.

It was all lies. I don’t remember the first thing about my childhood. Considering all the chemicals I’ve inhaled and blows I’ve taken to the head, is that really a surprise? I just had green hair and turned it into an easy gimmick. But this girl wanted rhyme and reason, and I wanted her.

We traded answers in the style of Silence of the Lambs. She asked where I learned chemistry, and I asked why Karl was the funniest Marx brother. My questions were to get her to laugh – let her hair down. She was so uptight, so driven by career that she’d forgotten how to have fun. I actually invented the first squirting flower to get a rise from her. The second one, I used to melt the lock of my cell.

Now it turns out that if you shackle my hands so I can’t strangle a girl, I’m charming. More charming when you think I once tore dad’s trousers during a prat fall. More charming when you hear he broke my nose for it. More charming when you see some hulking hero drag me in, my bones broken and him as grim as the reaper. I’m still grappling with Daddy. Get it?

I didn’t. Went straight over my head. When I escaped I hammed up the humor. Defacing all America’s tuna. Blimps that sprayed psychotropic laughing gas over football stadiums. And I let myself get caught. Twice, then three times. Why? So that I could go back to her.

The third time? She slapped him! She held me in her arms and ordered the guards to kick him out or arrest him. She didn’t care how many people I’d killed that weekend. And with my bloodied cheek cozied up to her chest, I didn’t either.

Fools fall in love. Dead men hit the ground. We were the type to just keep falling. We had sessions while I was still in traction – physically incapable of harming her. What a joke. I’m comparing this to my first pie in the face, and she’s laughing so hard she has to take off her glasses. I got her to take ‘em off, and let me tell you, if there’s one thing that strikes me harder than a blonde in glasses, it’s one who takes them off and dabs at the corners of her eyes like she isn’t sitting the ICU with a sociopath.

Such a girl, woman, lady, doctor, is not the sort of person an asylum wants working on my sort of case. They relieved her that afternoon. I heard her yelling in the parking lot. Everybody did.

I think only I heard her coming back that night, though. She’d developed this bounce in her step during our relationship, something only the doctor and patient would recognize. I also recognize the beeping of an armed bomb. She blew open the wall to the ICU and busted me out. Had a wheel chair, an escape car, and a grenade launcher. That’s a keeper.

I’ve kept it up ever since. The comedy because it’s fun, and the Daddy thing because, well, it’s the story of how we met. You want to know the truth? She is my origin.

Unless I’m only telling you this to get on your good side. You look nice today.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Good Thomas

Even if you had an opinion on where he should go, you had to concede that Good Thomas was in a tough situation. His best friend of twenty-eight years and his mother dying in the same week, and the funerals scheduled for the same day. The woman who had given him life and all those morals, versus the childhood friend who grew up to answer every time he was stranded somewhere and needed a ride, including all three midnight calls from the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma.

But while you’d sympathize to his face, everyone still judged him for which service he attended. His sisters were furious, while Charlotte’s sisters were gracious and listened to all his lamentations about how sweet she’d been. Locals gossiped that this confirmed it, the old it, the it of a secret affair between the two. Him kneeling and whispering to the casket didn’t help matters.

Well maybe Good Thomas’s mother wasn’t actually dead, a cousin suggested. One phone call disproved that. Charlotte’s mother stewed on it, not approving of such disrespect from a son to the woman who had given him life. She seemed nearly as angry at him as she was broken up about the loss of her daughter, and refused to see him. When he brought over a drink for her, she batted his hand and he deferred right out of the church.

Twenty minutes later one of Charlotte’s sisters caught him waiting by the roadside, calling a cab. He reckoned he’d fly north and catch the end of services back home. She asked why he’d come anyway.

“Why come at all? Why not just pay respects to your mother?”

“These were the two most important women in my life,” he said. “Summons came the same hour. I got no break over this, and it came down to one thing: if they were both alive, what would they want? Charlotte would have told me to go to my mother's funeral. Mother would have demanded I stay at hers.”

“Of course she’d want you to go to your mom’s. So why didn’t you?”

“Because that speaks to their characters. Charlotte being the more giving of the two, she deserved my attendance more. And if that’s unacceptable to my mother, I don’t really have to explain it to her."

Charlotte’s sister didn’t agree. When she repeated it, they didn’t become much more agreeable, though thought it was funny. The kind of humor Charlotte would have laughed at. They had to wonder if it wasn’t a joke he’d made up to whisper at her casket, and kept it instead of saying why he really came. They couldn’t know – only three people really could guess, and two were dead, and the third was in the air flying to New York.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: A Decent Candidate

There is an audio edition of this monologue. To listen either click the triangle at the left to stream it or click this text to download the MP3.

I am informed you are only hiring intellectuals for the position. I wish you to reconsider. An intellectual is a poor model as an educator because he is required to deceive. He is charged with only presenting to you how he is competent, and further charged with convincing you that this is all he is. He is constantly sure, even though any idiot can tell you no man is competent in all trades. I will have you know that the candidate from Yale, however confident he appeared in your interview, spent ten minutes looking for his car keys after exiting this room. Now I have twenty-two years experience with Latin American Literature, and we can have very long conversations about the ramifications of politics on Miguel Angel Asturias, or vice versa. Other candidates can host similar conversations. Yet I will admit to you these things: that if I sleep less than six hours a night I forget the year; that I have an inexorable fear of headache medicine, believing some former administration patented the chemicals for brainspying; and that I pathologically misspell “restaurant.” I admit my insecurities as well as my ignorances; in the upcoming field questions, I will likely know nine of ten things you ask, but in the classroom would tell the student to look up the tenth. I am not an intellectual and have no desire to become one. I am too honest. The foolish man acts like he knows everything, the wise man pretends he knows nothing, and the decent man would like to share the few things he’s been fortunate enough to learn.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Is there a High Road?

[The bar hums as people mill out. Some patrons search for their debit cards, while most grumble about how terrible tonight’s open mic was. DARKLOSS VON ALUCARDIA SOULRIPPER sits in the middle of the usual booth, dressed tonight in a trendy fishnet shirt. DARKLOSS is writing on a yellow legal pad. GARY sits to DARKLOSS’s right, wearing a designer t-shirt and jeans that are designed to look like no thought went into them. SAMID sits to GARY’S right, wearing a designer t-shirt and jeans that are designed to look like no thought went into them and give them impression he likes trendy music. AESLING THE SUCCUBUS sits to DARKLOSS’s left wearing one of the flowing white harem dresses from a DRACULA REMAKE that she got for surprisingly little on eBay.]

Darkloss: What about romantic relationships? [He does not look up when asking this question.]

Samid: Highroad? Anything to do with the differences between the genders.

Gary: Lowroad? Talk about anything to do with sex.

Aesling: Say ‘fucking.’ Anything to do with ‘fucking.’ It’ll demean them more.

Darkloss: [Reading as he writes] Lowroad: anything to do with fucking.

[DARKLOSS writes all of this down, including his next question. He appears to be taking dictation of the entire conversation.]

Samid: Do you have a race, ethnicity or nationality?

Gary: I’ve got this. Lowroad: make fun of those who are not your race, ethnicity or nationality. And highroad? Make fun of yours.

Aesling: Is “You Might be a Redneck If” highbrow? I think both roads are pretty dumb here.

Samid: It’s highroad. The alternative is a white guy saying, “You Might be Hispanic If.”

Aesling: I guess you’re not going to find Hegel in stand-up.

[THE PLANET PLUTO orbits over to the table. Though it is an oblate spheroid, it has a designer t-shirt tacked to its equator, one that still has the discount tag attached. It pauses to listen.]

Pluto: What are we doing here?

Aesling: We’re making a how-to list on stand-up comedy.

Gary: The really obvious, generic stuff that fills up almost all of it.

Pluto: You guys saw? That chick sucked tonight.

Aesling: Shut up. We already did the difference between the genders.

Samid: Just had a child? Lowroad: talk about taking care of it for the first time and how this blows your mind, overwhelms you or whatever.

Darkloss: Highroad? Act like it’s just a nuisance or doesn’t matter. Cool-Dad it.

[DARKLOSS resumes writing. PLUTO wedges into the booth next to AESLING and across from SAMID.]

Gary: Do you smoke? Low road: bitch about not being able to smoke anywhere you want.

Samid: What’s highroad?

Pluto: Anecdotes about when you were high?

Samid: Making fun of yourself is a played but viable topic.

Gary: Make fun of yourself. Low road: your habits, job, relationships…

[There is an awkward silence.]

Aesling: The problem with this is the absence of a high road.

Darkloss: I’m putting it down tentatively.

Pluto: What about current events and politics?

Gary: Oh, Samid and I got this one while the open mic comedians were on. Lowroad? He, she, they or it is some variation of “dumb” or “mean.”

Samid: Highroad? Same as the low road, but sound angrier.

Gary: It’s only a perceived highroad.

Samid: But they’re all only perceived highroad, and we think seeming angry might even transcend stand-up. You can go from Lenny Bruce milking indignation all the way to Noam Chomsky being the world’s most quoted intellectual.

Gary: We also did pop culture.

Samid: Have you seen a movie, TV show, book, website, piece of technology and/or celebrity lately?

Gary: It’s actually all low road. Just slander it. This thing’s fans are dumb. It’s dumb. Reading is boring. Nothing on TV is ever good. Too many kids on Facebook. I’m on Facebook and it’s annoying.

Pluto: [To AESLING.] They’re like a tag team.

[AESLING does not appear interested in PLUTO’s advances.]

Aesling: I think there’s highroad here.

Gary: What?

Aesling: Admit you revel in that stuff. Bill Hicks only ripped on Cops after he confessed to watching it all the time. Everything’s dumb and you love it. That’s class.

Samid: For the classless.

Darkloss: If we’re doing Hicks, what about religion?

Aesling: Religion has to be in there. Not only is it the most popular topic, but stand-up comedy has become religion for atheists. They get to stand on an elevated platform above a paying congregation that comes to listen to what they want to hear, cheers at the pauses and gets thrown out of the building if they disagree too much.

Gary: Hey.

Samid: I like it. Instead of communion wine, there’s a two-drink minimum. Lowroad? Point out something implausible that happened in the Bible. It’s amazing how many guys think they’re the first to say Noah’s Ark couldn’t happen. That was clever, when Mark Twain did it in 1910.

Pluto: What’s highroad? Pointing out something shitty that a Christian did?

Aesling: I’m uncomfortable with the highroad being the eighteen thousandth pedophile priest joke.

Samid: We could say the high road is an original thought.

Darkloss: [Reading as he writes] Highroad: Sam Kinison.

[When everyone turns on him, he pulls the paper towards himself]

Darkloss: I have the pen. Fuck you. He made fun of his beliefs. That’s balls, that’s highroad.

Aesling: I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe all—

Samid: This can’t go for all religions. Islam does not get the same treatment as Christianity.

Gary: Because we’ve never heard of it before and we’re afraid you’ll blow us up.

Samid: That right there? The lowroad.

Darkloss: [Not looking up from the pad.] There we go. Islam. Lowroad? Essentially anything Gary has to say.

Samid: While highroad is pointing out that not all Muslims are terrorists, then making a bunch of jokes relating to terrorism anyway.

Aesling: And their mistreatment of women.

Samid: I’m picking up the check, dammit.

Aesling: I was actually talking about Gary and Aryana. Or are we still not talking about them?

[Gary looks down. There is another awkward silence. One that will lasts several months until the next time one of these Strange Company things happens again.]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins For Him. 3. (Re-Upload)

Some folks had trouble listening to this monologue originally. I've re-uploaded it. To listen you can either click the triangle on the left to stream it or click this text to download the MP3. Please let me know if it works for you.

So you want to know who I really am. Everybody does. But I’ll let you in on it, and just you. Ever heard of a guy named "Elvis Presley?"

I know what you're saying. "Not another theory about how the Joker is Elvis!"

Sorry. It's all true. The charisma. The fabulous taste in wardrobe. Before I appointed myself court jester, I was The King.

At first getting crowds to go wild was enough, but eventually a guy tires of shaking his hips. Less of a slap and more of tickle man, I was. Nobody really got me, so I ate. Out of boredom, depression, a cadaver – you know, what you do when you have too much money and not enough friends. I was under the influence – twenty peanut-butter-cheeseburgers a day, not an illegal substance at the time – when a tour manager said I had to turn it around and mentioned this radical weight loss surgery. I figured, what the Hell? I’m barely conscious anyway!

Turns out a heavy guy who loses all that fat is left with a lot of spare tissue, and they tried to trim me up. It also turns out that back-alley plastic surgery in the 1970’s was not the most efficient or sanitary affair. The blood loss destroyed my complexion and my smile was irrevocably altered.

When I saw what the doctors had done to me, well. I ain't nothing but a hound dog.

Throttling my third medical attendee, I realized this was what I’d been missing. Not just making them squeal from the stage, but getting down there and laying on some hands. The transition into a new life wasn’t hard; half my impostors looked more like me than I did, and the screams of my new audience were so much more interesting. Let me tell you, singing Jail House Rock in Arkham Asylum is an experience to die for. Or at least get maimed on an operation table for.

This sort of thing's not that unusual, really. One of the Robins used to be James Dean. Get me a cheeseburger and a crowbar, and I'll tell you which.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins For Him. 4.

You can listen to this monologue by clicking the triangle on the left to stream it or clicking this text to download the MP3. I got completely carried away with this recording, but decided not to do it over. Hope you like it.

“I feel so bad for you people. You’ve broken my jaw twice. My knees? Three times. I can dislocate both shoulders at will thanks to you. It still hurts, but it doesn’t matter like it used to. You think that nightstick scares me? A cattle prod? What are you going to do that you haven’t done so many times that it’s numb? You poor people. You’re gonna-- you’re still afraid of being bitten. You’re afraid of a razor on your neck! Puncture you and you squeal. But you could sink your canines into my larynx and I’d giggle. You sad tall people are still so scared of suffering. You’re going to die, you know? You’re going to suffer. I’m not going to tell you the combination and in fifteen minutes, this place will flood with gas. It in invades neuroreceptors, making them fire irrationally until the brain chokes on its own warning messages. The internet tells me it’s one of the worst ways to die. I feel so badly for you, because you’re scared of that.”
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