Finished Lolita, boy howdy, how that book haunted me for a week. It tantalized the demons in my mind to play and pick at my insecurities; I will never write something so poetically beautiful in form but I may write something as abhorrent in theme. I’m still too attached to it to write properly on it, but I will say this: It is long, it is dense and it is full of uncomfortable amorality on the side of the narrator. In spite of all that, though, it is an incredibly pretty prose and a strangely addictive read. More than getting through it for the sake of reading, I consumed it as an act of exorcism. It was a loving act, though, and I enjoyed most every moment of it. That said, I’m glad I can now go back to reading something a little lighter, or at least brighter in tone.
The two brute’s eyes lit up slightly, their shoulders tensing in preparation. Mace shifted uneasily, his hands grasping the steering wheel with a white knuckled grip.
‘Well, seeing as you’re new, kid, we’ll give you a chance. Say hello, and give me a good hello hug, or me and James here are going to show you exactly what happens when people don’t respect our friendliness. Alright?’
He said it with a voice that reflected none of the small shivering frail little frame he had, it was a simple word stated with confidence. Gone was the shy awkwardness displayed in front of Mace, replaced momentarily with an unexpected strength. Kevin and James, shocked and insulted, looked to each other and back to Merv. Mace’s fingers gripped the steering wheel so hard they shook violently before his anger ripped them away and propelled him out of the car into the scene. The thing with high school fights is that most of the time they’re a false alarm. A lot of talking and puffing out of chests, more ‘will they won’t they’ than your average sitcom romance, but when they do happen it’s over after one or two hits. As it was, Big Mac was too late.
Kevin was never the same again. What happened in those few seconds has burned itself an image in my head so bright and vivid it might remain there long after I’m dead. The two beasts either side of Merv moved at once, dancing their practiced choreography, with James moving to hold Merv’s arms behind his back to give Kevin free reign. As they moved, Merv calmly and without looking either way, ducked under James’ arms, sweeping his leg out in a large arc into James’ unprotected shins. James began to tumble. As he did, Merv placed his moving foot on the ground and jutted one elbow out, using his momentum he drove himself upwards, hard and fast. His bony little elbow, covered by a thin layer of skin and surrounded by no visible muscle, became a pointed bullet that thrust itself into Kevin’s unsuspecting throat. Kevin was lifted from the ground and fell backwards, unable to throw his arms out to protect himself for sheer surprise. In one fluid movement this little broken leaf of a boy had felled two mighty trees. The two bullies lay on the ground out of pain and shame, one wheezing loudly while the other whimpered quietly. Merv then, with an air of nonchalance that should accompany only the mildest of actions, walked towards Mace. Big Mac stood and stared, unable to find the words to describe what had taken place.
‘Um, if it isn’t too late, can I get a ride? I don’t think I’ll like the bus very much after all.’
Mace regained his composure, nodded and smiled, walking him to the door. It remains, to this day, the only time I saw the many faces of my brother and, reflected therein, an example of the smallest action can insight the biggest change. I never did take the bus to school, but after that day, I would never have been afraid to.
‘Hey kid, you alright?’ Mace yelled at him through a half opened window. The kid stood silent, glanced quickly at us and then back. In spite of the cold a small flower of red blossomed on his pale cheeks. Then Mace turned the car off, we all looked at him wondering briefly if he had lost his mind. A fear he seemed to confirm as he stepped out of the car and walked up to the kid.
‘Are you new, kid? What’s your name?’
‘Merv..’ He barely got the words out, either because he was painfully shy or the cold was trying to sew his mouth shut with every slight breeze.
‘Alright, Merv, we have a kind of deal here where I drive my bro and his mates to school. It’s warm and everything, do you want a ride?’
Merv looked at him and then away again, before slowly shuffling himself away from Mace. I figured after this Mace would come back and we would wait awkwardly for the bus to come. Instead he just stood there, his brow furrowed into a look of worry. He turned back to the kid.
‘Look, kid, Merv, I’m just trying to help you out. It’s freezing out here, and the bus can suck even on a warm day. If you want to suffer through it, that’s up to you. Don’t blame a guy for trying to help out.’
Mace gave it a second before shaking his head and returning to the car. I looked at Merv, he stared at me for a second, his face a picture of confusion and thought. Mace, sitting back into his seat, stayed silent. None of us spoke.
A few kids began to show up after that. The funny thing with kids our age is how quick we can be. Most days you could throw a brick at our head and we’d scarcely notice unless it had a pair of breasts attached, but when there’s a new kid at school he’s spotted faster than the brief flash of a nipple ever could be. Among them was Kevin.
As far as I know, nobody was aware the real reason I asked Mace to drive me to school except Kevin. Back before high school Kevin and I had been friends, best friends even. Puberty changes people, though, and as luck would have it Kevin got hit hard and fast and early. Over a summer he evolved from the short, curly haired nerd-to-be into a stocky bulldog of a boy, his hormones as full of rage as his acne was pus, which is to say a lot. He would tease me with his knowledge of the secrets I had shared as his best friend until I would retaliate, and then proceed to beat me to tears. So when I found out he was going to the same school as me, I begged my parents to drive me at any cost. They declined and all hope was lost. Until Big Mac, hero of the modern age, decided he could do it. High school had been good to Kevin even with a face full of white heads, he had built himself a reputation forcing anyone in his way to the ground and stepping over them without a second word. Merv was, as far as I could see, pretty well fucked.
I watched with trepidation as Kevin spotted this new potential plaything standing in the cold, probably wondering if he had yet frozen solidly enough to be shattered with a punch. Kevin nudged his friend, or lackie if you prefer, and pointed to the newcomer. The two giggled and moved forward. They stood either side of poor little Merv. They didn’t move, they didn’t speak, they simply waited. Merv quickly stole a glance to his left and his right, taking care not to stare too long. He seemed, if it were possible, to shrink to an even smaller and more frail size. After a moment, Kevin spoke.
‘We’ve been standing here for ages and you haven’t said a word. That’s pretty fucking rude, don’t you think, James?’
His friend, James, replied.
‘Real fucking rude. In my house if I don’t say hello first thing I get a good whack on the ass, did you know that?’
‘Sounds about right, so,’ And Kevin looked directly at the new kid, ‘Are you going to say hello or what?’
(To be concluded..)
I can’t imagine the hell it is to take a bus to school. Most kids do it every day and you can see it on their faces in class. The weariness that slowly fades from them as the day moves and slowly returns to envelop them as home time approaches. They dread it. I can see why, classrooms can be chaotic but they have a ruler, a leader, someone who will presumably call a kid on his wrongdoing and punish them. On a bus, though, it’s all survival. The only rule is stay on the bus. Beyond that is decided by the strongest or the smartest or the funniest kid. Or at least the one who has the most expensive phone.
That’s why I have Mason. Big Mace. Big Mac. That’s what we call him, my friends and I. Parents always seem to think driving their kid to school is a hassle, like they would rather fire the kid out of a cannon to the playground but can’t afford it. Mace loves it. Maybe it’s because he’s a brother and not a father, or maybe it’s because he’s awesome. I don’t think that’s it, I think the real reason is the looks he gets from the other kids as he drives past them. It’s teeth-chattering cold outside, they’re all standing there half asleep, half dead, folded arms, visibly shaking and he drives by wearing a T-shirt, warm from the heater going full to the point we’re practically sweating. The jealousy is palpable.
Big Mac, Mace, his job doesn’t start till midday. He has no reason to get up so early but he does, every day, just to drive us. Just to wait till the bus pulls out so he can overtake it at max speed. Just to watch the kids on board stare at his car, weeping internally, their eyes as green as their lips are blue. One of the kids mooned us, once, just pulled his shorts down and sat on the window. It was so cold I thought his cheeks might stick to the glass. Mace just laughed and put his foot down. He’s always so cool when stuff like that happens.
It was particularly cold the day we met Merv, every blade of grass was so hard with frost that walking across it sounded like gravel. Tiny little Merv. We were waiting, as we usually did, across the street from the bus stop. Joking around, mostly, asking Mace for stories of when he was in high school. He never told any, probably thought we’d try to imitate his behavior. He was probably right, too. We were about a half hour early which is a good five minutes before anybody else showed up. Usually, at least, but not today. Today there was a kid here. He was so thin and so frail looking, he could have walked over the frozen grass without disturbing it.
‘Oh man look at this kid, is he new?’
‘Shit he is not going to survive the bus, look at him, they’ll tear him limb from limb.’
‘That’s if he doesn’t freeze to death before it gets here.’
‘Hey shut up, would you guys?’ Mace piped up, and we went silent out of shock, or maybe respect. He sat there and watched the kid for a few minutes before putting the car in gear and pulling out to slide in next to the bus stop…
(To be continued..)
|—||Jim Morrison on Ray Manzarek (via cafeparaacordarosmortos)|
the comfort of a warm night.
I was never really one for history, growing up. Preferring always to look ahead, to anything new and shiny, adorned by colours and adored by my friends. History was a foul curse, conjuring images in my head of black and white worlds full of horses, wars and men without gameboys, who could live such a life? What I liked most, if I look back to it, was finding something new before someone else got to it and learning everything there was to know, that I might be the one to show at school the great new thing. As I grew up and the internet became more prevalent in the homes of my generation it became more difficult to stay ahead of each other. As a result I found myself drawn more to specific subjects rather than anything new, video games, movies, music, the usual stuff. As I became more enthralled with a specific subject I would delve into it’s past to recover every bit of information available (before ultimately getting bored – that usually took about a week, but I retained the info.) So much so that, by the time I was seventeen, I had come full circle from always looking ahead at what’s coming to digging up the past for what had happened.
With this obsession with the past growing rapidly I became more ravenous for knowledge and understanding than ever before, to the point that now I find nothing in the world more interesting than people’s pasts. The way it shaped them and was shaped by them. Their stories, once the dusted pages of dilapidated books appear to me now as glowing tomes of secrets. So when I was informed that my grandfather, a man I had met only twice before (and had been entirely too young to truly comprehend at the time) was to visit, my excitement grew quickly. This man has a reputation in my mind, words used for him have included ‘brilliant’ and ‘genius.’ Terms that are handed out on street corners today, but were not so easy to obtain back then. Finally a chance to learn this man’s past and, in my own weird way, perhaps about myself.
Unsure what to expect or how on earth to prepare I settled for simply playing it by ear, charging in and seeing what would happen. He arrived at my work near the end of my shift, a short simple-looking man, slightly disheveled, with thinning hair (but, I noticed with absolute glee, not completely bald.) He had in his ear a bluetooth headset, this was my first clue that this could be very interesting: Here we have an eighty year old man, fully aware of the function of technology that confounds those half his age.
I said hello and, after rushing through the last of my duties at work, sat down with him and my father. It’s an incredible experience to be one of three generations sitting at a single table. I noticed similarities – the two older men share the same nose and blue eyes, all three of us with similar eyebrows and understated cheekbones. We shared gestures, all talking with our hands as much as words to some degree. We all, while entirely within each other’s attention, would absent-mindedly fidget with anything our hands happened to find. Though it was at first a little awkward, soon enough we found each generation helping another to understand a third, a dynamic that set itself so strongly it would allow us all to communicate almost effortlessly for what would be two and a half hours.
And talking began. I, being the youngest, with the most to learn and the least to tell, said little of myself preferring to listen and comment on the stories of the other two. What amazes me about the man, my grandpa, is how he uses and has used his brain to it’s fullest extent since day one. His common sense, his memory, his problem solving, none show the slowing of age, if anything he’s as sharp as I’ve known anyone to be. Going back to his knowledge of technology, he amazed me with his first hand knowledge of the very first computers and calculators. This is a man who was programming before that was really even a thing. Such is his understanding and love of numbers and technology that he told me he runs a computer with an operating system from the very early nineties. I asked why, to which he replied ‘because I’ve almost got all the bugs out!’ He told me a few of the simpler fixes, ones that would go unnoticed by me or most of my fellow computer users but not over this man’s head. Partly because, like myself, his hunger to gain knowledge leads him to the beginning and end of the things that fascinate him. Partly because, unlike me, when he sees a problem he tackles it with a methodical enthusiasm, finding the best and most thorough solution before moving on to a new project.
And he does love projects. Always busy calculating, he was a gifted accountant from a young age. He has never forgotten a number, he demonstrated as such with a series of important numbers that I would have forgotten instantly. Old licenses and the like. As well as an amazing knowledge of those numbers: One of which he loved because in binary it is represented as a series of only ones without zeros. He informed me that on his current trip, his car has been using eight percent less petrol because last time he had a passenger – his brother. That was no estimate, this was an example of the way his mind is endlessly working and working out numbers, patterns and mechanics.
What truly struck me was how this man showed none of the cynicism I had expected of an older person. He seems to have within him an insatiable appetite for knowledge, both gaining and imparting it, and an almost childlike glee in those acts. When he tells a story, and he does often (and quite well, the man knows a good punchline,) he enjoys every moment of it. I only wish I had more chances to learn about this man, if only to see if there’s a subject on which he isn’t inherently knowledgeable. The man is an inspiration and, I hesitate to use this word without irony, a bonafide genius.
Your eyes see the earthy brown of a tree
freckled by the speckled leaves of green
the caramel and apricot scent in the air
left in the wake of your fiery hair
your cheeks like great hills in your skin of soft sand
welcome with warmth the caress of my hand
You, stop scrolling, we need to address some things about Hyperbole and a Half writer Allie Brosh. Think calling her the voice of a generation is going too far? Bullshit. This woman is one of the most real, relatable, creative, funny, and vulnerable writers of all time. From the pants-wettingly hilarious God of Cake to the needed-to-said-but-everyone’s-too-afraid-to-talk about it Adventures in Depression, Allie’s posts have genius pacing and are fantastic at highlighting the wonderful idiosyncrasies that make her who she is. She’s willing to let us in to aspects of her life that she doesn’t even understand so that people going through similar things can feel less fucking alone in a world that vilifies and over simplifies the complexities of mental illness. Allie doesn’t smile for you, or hand you bullshit platitudes because that. Doesn’t. Fucking. Help. She’ll laugh when she’s damn well ready to laugh and she’ll cry when she damn well needs to cry, and you’ll do both with her because she speaks to the parts of all of us that we thought were too weird and too complicated to be understood.