Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: I Love American Writers

"Your book ending. She is like Sherlock Holmes, except not mystery. She keeps explaining things like they are important, and audience doesn't care. Is fascinating. I love American writers."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: A Son of Rape

“I was conceived in an alley in Missouri. My mother fought him, but he broke her arm and muffled her cries with a garbage bag. If only it had happened a few years later, his blood under her fingernails would have mattered to the police. Instead they said little, the hospital charged her a ridiculous amount that she spent years paying off, and she went home to keep it quiet, until she wasn’t welcome at home anymore. I was born in Iowa.

“It was my birthday when, and you’ve got to imagine what feelings my birthday meant to her as opposed to any other sort of mother, the things… Excuse me.

“The only time I ever asked about it was after my sixth birthday. She put a candle in a Little Debbie’s Fudge Round, either because we were that broke, or because I loved them. I remember both answers on different days. As I climbed a stepladder to help her wash the dishes, I asked why she’d kept me. I remember her kneeling on my stepladder to be at level with me, and her resting a fist on the top rung. I could still smell the smoke from my birthday candle as she said she couldn’t get rid of me because she’d known I’d turn out like this. That’s what a mother told her son, so believe however much you want. I don’t think she slept for a week after my birthday. I never had the guts to ask her again.

“Rape was on my mind, not because I knew what it was, but because every child I ran into had an opinion. Did I know my Mom should have pulled me out with a coat hanger? Or thrown herself down some stairs? Did I know that any time he wanted, my father could come and take me from her? I remember having nightmares of him coming for me with a garbage bag, so I didn’t sleep a lot either, which is how I knew when Mom was sleeping or not. These children informed me that I wouldn’t have even happened if she didn’t dress like a whore, which made no sense to me, since she dressed the same as other mothers, just that she always walked on the other side of the curb from them.

“One of my earliest memories is watching two girls run away from me, I don’t even remember what they’d done, but I was lying on my back on the pavement in front of our school, and wondering why the two of them couldn’t have been aborted. I was just trying to live while everyone I knew was evil to me. What sanctity did they deserve? Even outside of their mothers’ wombs, why were they special?

“Mom didn’t allow that kind of talk. It’s very important you know that - she controlled conversations and forced you to be polite. She didn’t just do it to me; I overheard her doing it to the strangers.

“I always thought it was strange that Mom would volunteer. She worked no fewer than two jobs in a week, and sometimes four, and yet there were afternoons and late nights that she brought me to the local hospital or homeless shelter, where I’d wait in rooms the size of closets while she talked to strangers. She had… she had the bravery that changes the times. She spent our spare time counseling girls at the hospital. It didn’t matter how they were hurt. It couldn’t matter because when that program began, they didn’t think they could say they’d been raped. I think the only time I ever heard her speak that word, that actual word of what actually happened to her, was when she didn’t know I was outside the door while she was convincing strangers they had rights.

“It wasn’t fair that she died so young. Thirty-seven isn’t even an even number. She had a weak heart, the same as what killed her Dad. That’s why he didn’t come to her funeral, and I’ve never bothered to pursue why no one else from her family did. They were holes my whole life I never filled. Did you know…?

“You know, I don’t know how old I was before I met anyone who actually liked my mother. The shelters, the grocery stores and post offices where she worked were uniformly tense whenever I visited with her. I don’t remember a single landlord who looked her in the eye. Whatever you think of her decision, she didn’t deserve her son to think ‘Whore’ was her middle name, and it was adults that convinced me of that. I like to think she changed the world since then.

“So maybe her funeral was the first time I ever heard people be decent to her. A couple pews of people came, mostly young women, mostly unaccompanied, none with children. I didn’t have children either, but I couldn’t help looking for them for weeks afterward. These young women, and this one incredibly old man who needed two canes just to stand up, called her “bold” and “original” and entire sentences which would have made more appropriate middle names for her. No one cried, but there was this one Jewish lady who knelt and kissed her casket. I didn’t have the guts to ask what Mom had done for her, just as none of these people had the guts to say what they’d thought of Mom before she couldn’t hear it anymore. Nowadays, when I don’t sleep, what I think most about is how to get by, and second-most is whether I said enough to her when she could hear.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Gyration Narration

“Jesus, what’s wrong with you?”

“Hang on, hang on… it’ll pass.”

“Are you dancing at me? What the Hell is that?”

“It’s a neuromuscular syndrome. It’s complicated. My nerve-endings are messed up, and there these muscle spasms. Give me a minute.”

“It’s a what?”

“It’s kind of like muscular dystrophy, I guess.”

“It’s like what?”

“How about Parkinson’s? Not that it’s really like that, but...”

“What’s Parkinson’s?”

“You’ve never seen Michael J. Fox? Jesus. Okay, what about nerve damage?”

“I’m not really into that.”

“Into…? Listen, you ever thrown out your back?”


“Then why am I talking to you? Get the fuck away from me and get some life experience.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Request for Rare Questions

It's the time of year when I get to ask, "Have you seen my RAQ?"

The Rarely Asked Questions is my birthday tradition at The Bathroom Monologues. Until Friday night, August 31st, I'm requesting all readers leave questions they don't normally ask anyone. They can be questions about me, my writing, or anything entirely unrelated. Consider:

-What's the boiling point of Tungsten?

-What does my mother's snore remind you of?

-If he wants to avoid the conductor and skip the fare, what is the best time for a Mummy to hop the Baltimore light rail?

What you don't normally ask anyone else is entirely up to you, but please ask it of me. I'll compile every question and answer at least one per person on September 4th - my birthday.

That's how I celebrate. With my big RAQ.

Please leave your mysteries and queries in the Comments section of this post.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Abusive Alcoholic

"He was an abusive alcoholic. The man punished his liquor. Entire bottles of Jack Daniels suffered his nightly reigns of terror, and he never met a scotch he wouldn’t swear at the moment it was gone. The lucky ones were scattered on the floor, but by nine, or ten at the latest, he’d toss them to shatter against the wall behind our TV. And he loved liquor, that’s why he spent so much on it, so it’s no wonder he’d be crueler to the people he didn’t love, like us kids. I’ve heard he’s gotten much better. He only drinks out of Styrofoam cups now and seems to have a cordial relationship with coffee."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Imp and Triclops – A Love Story

“How could I not love you?”

“Have you tried?”

“Do you remember how we met?”

“I do, which is why I think you oversentimentalize it.”

“I hired twenty-five bodyguards for that cargo.”

“I could have told you it was too many.”

“The raiders ate twenty-four of them! After a week, I thought they’d eaten the supplies, too. If you’re dumb enough to kill for a living, you’re dumb enough to eat a syringe.”

“It was difficult gathering new beasts of burden and driving the lode to the hospital on my own. But of course I’d do it; I’m a man of my word.”

“You went to all the trouble of honoring your contract. So much blood, so much struggle, and yet you arrived at my hospital smiling.”

“You had lives to save with that medicine.”

“I made outrageous profits with that medicine! With all the convoy attacks that year, I was the only business for three cities in any direction.”

“That’s how a love story starts?”

“That’s how mine did. The wallet wants what it wants.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Better Responses to Terrorism

I’ve been thinking about terrorism a lot this summer. It’s easy to, between awful events abroad, and multiple shootings here in the U.S. Terrorists are a peculiar set of murderers; they are one of the few segments of the human population who it is laudable to kill. They are black sheep who bring it upon themselves, folk who perform such evil work that no one will tell you to stop hating them.

There’s a corrosive irony to hating people for their hatred, and I fear in many cases it leads to harmful reciprocity. My family mostly hails from Ireland and what was once Czechoslovakia, two sources of nightmarish reciprocal hatred. Hutus and Tutsis, Jews and Arabs, Protestants and Catholics – history can be a catalog of revenge, but there are more personal examples. Consider Harvey Pekar being beaten daily in his childhood by black children who had experienced such oppression that they attacked a light-skinned child out of instinctive reciprocity.

In that context, even feeling terribly for his victims in Aurora, the national rush to hate Jason Holmes unnerved me. Especially if the man were insane, hating him would neither repair what he did nor better equip us to deal with others like him who are out there now. These are feelings I haven’t worked out, but they’re the same that gave me no pleasure at the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The “5/1” episode of The Newsroom reminded me how out of sorts I felt that night, when the U.S. celebrated that they’d shot a man.

Helping the harmed is more worth celebrating than punishing the harmer. That is how you spread a valuable behavior; we can be compassionate every day, rather than vengeful once, and if we were violently vengeful every day the world would be awash in gore. I appreciate catharsis. I understand our long (and likely genetic) history of vengeance, and that our senses of justice vary - but under no circumstances where there are victims ought compassion to be disengaged. After the Texas A&M shooting, I wondered why it was that millions of people can watch a news program hating a killer, rather than paying attention to those directly affected who require assistance. It would be ugly to reduce this to entertainment value.

This is why I support Indiegogo’s donation drive to assist victims and surviving families of the shooting at Milwaukee’s Sikh Temple. To the cynics: this is a cleat example of good in the world. This isn’t even a Kickstarter that will get you a neat gadget or album in the end; it’s just a drive by some connected people to connect many others in gestalt aid.

This is not about judging or hating a shooter. This is about compassion for victims. All proceeds will go to paying medical bills and funeral costs for people who were caught in this terrible event. Already over 1,500 people have pledged to help with medical bills of survivors and funeral costs of the deceased.

It’s heartening that they’ve passed their original $25,000 goal to (at this writing) $155,310. But anyone who has suffered the pain of burying a loved one knows funerary costs can be immense. The United States’ healthcare system has a proper reputation, too, for disastrously high costs for dramatic injuries, even with health insurance. In this case, no wounded victim could have suspected such problems before bullets tore into their place of worship.

If you can spare a donation, please consider it. If you can’t, and plenty of people can’t in this economy, please simply consider every other way we participate in these matters. It will determine what world we live in.

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