Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Always the Bridegroom, Never the Bride

For the past six months or so (or maybe it just seems that way), we in the Hudson Valley have been enduring very high temperatures and punishing levels of humidity. Everyone’s lawn has turned brown, and neighbors who would ordinarily be taking one another jars of homemade preserves are instead poisoning each other’s cats. This afternoon, the heavens seemed finally to agree that we’d suffered enough, and let fly the hardest rain since Nancy and I, in Seattle on January 1, 2000, turned to each other and burst out laughing at how hard it was raining. Of course, in my neck of the woods, a thunderstorm almost invariably means a six-hour loss of electricity. I have written our local supplier of power, Central Hudson, suggesting that they adapt the slogan You’re only the customer; fuck you, but have not yet heard back from them.

Unable to use my computer or even watch TV this afternoon, I headed with my new iPad to the nearest Panera, over in Fishkiill, but decided on the way, strictly on a whim, to apply for membership in one of the local outlaw motorcycle gangs that have proliferated in southern Dutchess County since it became the crystal meth capital of the American northeast. I considered both the Senseless Violents and the Gazin’ Lesbians, but decided in the end to apply for the Multiethnic Miscreants because their policy of inclusiveness spoke to my own high regard for tolerance, because I’d heard that they didn’t compel their members actually to ride motorcycles (which I’ve always understood to be even more dangerous than exhilarating), and because I was pretty sure the Gazin’ Lesbians would dismiss my application out of hand by virtue of my sex. Only words, you know, have gender.

The club’s membership secretary was called Hank. We met at his place of business. He was in the business of removing tattoos with lasers. He’d missed the same spot under his chin that I commonly miss shaving, but it didn’t make me feel a greater kinship. I suspected he liked a lot of music that I wouldn’t like at all, and, conversely, that he didn’t regard the Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas as a work of sublime genius. The teardrops tattooed under his right eye suggested he’d killed a couple of fellow prisoners at one point. He had an unusually gentle handshake.
I told him I hadn’t actually been on a motorcycle since the late Ron Reinberg gave me a ride to class from the dormitory in which we shared a room, platonically, in the late 1960s. It seemed to delight him to be able to tell me he hadn’t even born then. I hate when people make me feel old, or short, or fat.

He asked if I’d ever killed a man. I had to admit that I hadn’t, though if Dick Cheney or George W. Bush stepped off a curb right in front of me while the light was amber, I wasn’t so sure I’d have braked very convincingly. I admitted I didn’t hold with Johnny Cash’s posthumous canonization, or Lester Bangs’. I shared my negative views on people over 55 who try to demonstrate their hipness by wearing Ramones T-shirts. His own T-shirt celebrated Korn. He yawned and fondled the human skull ashtray on his desk.

I told him this wasn’t shaping up as much of a blog entry. He told me not to be so hard on myself. The important thing was that I was on my way to achieving my goal of writing 300 new little essays over the course of the year. Who cared if almost no one was reading them? Steve Crawford was reading them, and others not employed by the federal government.

He asked if I had any weed. He didn't even pretend to need it for medical purposes; that's how badassed these people are. I admitted I did not. He said the recruitment committee would contact me within 72 hours with their decision regarding my application for membership. It’s now been 144, and I haven’t heard a peep.

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