Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Growing Up A Witness

jehovah was the man for me for quite some time. nine years to be exact, from eleven to twenty. i walked every step of my youth based on what that cat thought was best for me. let's see, just to name a few things that were consequentially his “fault”:

-i didn't kiss a girl until i was twenty years old. (when i did spell check after i got done writing this i noticed i had put "twenty tears old" there...interesting). as a JW (jehovah’s witness), we weren't allowed to date until we were old enough to marry, and it must be within the religion. i know that age parameter can vary to great degrees, but let's see, as a JW i'd say that was generally around twenty-one years old. the reason for that i believe is that when one gives up the normal pursuits of a teen to run after god, by the time you're getting out of the teen years you're damn ready to start catching up with those things. so the JW's hit twenty or so and immediately fast track towards physical contact, since now they finally can. so i spent the formative years shoving the bible down girls’ throats, when really i should’ve been shoving my tongue. i was really, really into it, as all JW’s when they learn the religion believe themselves to have learned a secret truth. they actually call it “the truth”. i believed i was going to survive armageddon, god’s war against the wicked, due to unleash, according to prophecies in daniel and revelations, imminently. so…to get back to the late smooch…i was twenty. i had never kissed a girl. i had turned down more dates then i cared to remember, and had suffocated my desires as a consequence. but around eighteen or so along came an inkling within me to leave the religion. it took a couple years to take full root, but at twenty i decided it was time to go. it must have been about thirty seconds after that decision was finalized, my mind turned to sex. since this decision was made and i would be leaving soon anyway, i might as well get laid. so i proceeded to hook up with this girl i worked with. we did it in the back of a van. at twenty, i got my first kiss, blow job and sex, all in the same night.

-i lost my family because of the big guy too. after the sex incident, the elders (older men that overlooked the congregation) found out i had sex because my best friend in the religion andy told them. he felt obligated, as the bible says if you know of wrongdoing, but do not report it, you’re as guilty as the culprit. so andy tattled. his father, an elder, and another elder, walked up to me while i was at work at blockbuster video, jumped the line, and asked me in front of about seven unsuspecting onlookers if i had had sex. my heart stopped, literally. i had to tell them yes. a week later i was disfellowshipped, which in catholic terms would be excommunicated. what does this mean? it means I was kicked out of the religion and my parents were not allowed to speak with me anymore. if i continued to go to the kingdom hall (the JW place of worship), all the people there could not speak to me. i was allowed to sit there and listen, but no one could acknowledge me. fun times.

-i didn’t celebrate any holidays. as a sixteen, seventeen year old, no biggie. it pretty much sucked as an eleven, twelve year old. i mean, i had just spent ten years of bliss on december 25th, and all of a sudden it was yanked away. now i’m eleven and december 25th was just another day. the weeks leading up to that day at school now consisted of me constantly having to explain to my friends why i couldn’t partake in the festivities any more. try explaining biblical beliefs to your friends at that age. try telling them you can’t celebrate christmas or your birthday any more because certain passages in matthew, mark, luke and john forbid it. more fun times.

-the masturbation guilt. oh man, the masturbation guilt. wow. where to start? well, masturbation isn’t specifically forbidden in the bible by word. but the JW’s, as with many things, took some liberties with biblical phrasings and outlawed this great act. i believe it fell under “carnal desires”. now listen, i was fourteen, my body was bursting with a zillion new curiosities, and they all seemed to want to manifest themselves out of my penis. under normal circumstances, this is great. go to town. explore the seven seas, the moon, the virgin islands, whatever the fuck you need to do. do it ten times a day. enjoy yourself! but! as a JW…fuggitabottitt! i find it difficult to describe what it was like to be fourteen years old and to want to whack the doodle twenty four/seven, and to not be able to! it’s fucking insane. this is like asking a rocket, once launched, to not fly. a boat, once birthed, to not sail. a cookie, once battered, to not bake. i would be flipping through the sears catalogue, checking out the ladies lingerie, and what’s the next NORMAL HUMAN MALE INSTINCT? you know. we all know. but then the big guy would pop into my head. sex and god in the same brain process is so unnormal, so wrong, such a buzzkill. the ultimate confusion. the anti-peanut butter & jelly. all i wanted to do was release and all he wanted me to do was retard. ugh, what a process that was to calm the desire, breathe deeply, and back that shit up. put ‘er back in the garage. i could only do that so many times and the NORMAL HUMAN MALE INSTINCT would win out. sometimes i would go a few days, sometimes, weeks. if i made it to three weeks without doing it, it was pretty much a miracle. every time i did it, the guilt was through the roof. i felt soooooooo bad. i felt like i was letting god down. feeling like you’re letting god down is pretty heavy for anyone, but it’s pretty hardcore for a teenager. almost every time, right after i did it, i would pray. that visual just blows my mind when i think about it today. i picture myself, pants around my ankles, dick deflating from exhaustion, and my hands clasped in prayer position. me, asking him for forgiveness, in the glow of release, but with a ten ton weight of guilt weighing me down. it’s enough to fuck anyone up for a while, i think. all i know is, if i ever have the blessing of raising a child, i’m gonna set the wee one up. victoria’s secret catalogues, ken dolls, lotions, masks, dvd’s...whatever kid needs, kid’s got it.

people worship in a church, beg god for forgiveness. sin again, ask again. it makes no sense to me. my church is my world, and the hope that i can be as good as i can, be as honest as i can, be as beautiful as i can, and hope that those around me protect that idealism. i’m not na├»ve, and i know the world won’t necessarily abide, but at least i get to jerk off whenever i want.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Fight

She slapped him in the face really hard. The follow through broke his heart. They had never fought like this, and both of them were surprised, and devastated. Never had heat wrapped itself around them in this kind of way, this harsh, brutal Siberian storm. He looked at her and could tell the slap came out of a distant place within her he had never seen. It was difficult to say the least to see her this way, but a strange inkling inside him towards amazement took over. How honest was this, he thought? How unbelievably fucking honest is this? And honesty had always been his bedside table, it was even his major in college. He saw her face turn back again into the love he knew, the girl he spent every second of every day protecting. The blood rushed away like demons from the handprint on his face, and her soft, beautiful hand was clearly marked there now, in white. He touched the hurt, and as he did he saw her face melt into regret. She was realizing two things: she had just really hurt her lover, and she had just really hurt herself. He beamed his headlight eyes into hers, and tried to show her that it wasn't her fault. It was both of them, caught up in dangerous, juvenile waters, letting nothing become something. She began to cry from the hurt, and he realized hers was much worse than his. The blood would come back to his face, but the regret would probably never leave her heart. He worshipped the honest, sad, forceful girl in front of him in that moment, loved her more than ever before. She was his angel, and she had fallen out of her own sky for just a moment. He grabbed the hand that had just slapped him, kissed every fingertip, and smiled with his eyes. It took her a moment to accept his gesture, but she did. She closed her eyes, leaned her head against his neck, and exhaled.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Math Class

Jenny was one row over and two seats down. I silently tried to figure out the degree of the angle between us. I determined it to be about forty degrees. I realized that if we took this degree from this scenario and converted it to temperature, the degree of the distance between us would be very cold. I didn’t like that. I wished she was about three seats closer to the front of the class. Our angle would be about eighty-five at that point. If we converted that to temperature, the two of us would be on fire.

Just as I was smiling at the thought, she turned and looked right at me. She gave me the strangest look I’d ever seen – it was somewhere between lust and curiosity. Half the look was confidence, the other was doubt. I’m pretty sure the look I threw back at her could have been labeled simply as “confused”.

I tried to gain some composure, and the only way I knew how to do this was to look away. I didn’t think I’d have to for long, I figured her look would be a quick one. But when I looked back after just a second, she was still looking at me. What the hell? I spent a moment thinking I should look away, but the guy way down deep inside me that normally sleeps through every day, the guy that’s supposed to come forward in moments like these and make a man out of me, actually showed up this time. I kept her stare. I had to know where it would go. She slowly turned her head back to the front of the class. I waited to see change of expression – there was none, she kept the look the entire way through the turn.

My heart beat again, and my guy went back down below. What was that look? What was that look? What on God’s pale earth was that look?

I decided to focus on the lust part of the look. Holy crap, I saw lust shoot from Jenny’s eyes to mine! I didn’t imagine it, it just happened! My heart started speeding like it was at the Brick Yard. Jenny looked at me with lust. Jenny looked at me with lust.

Before I could doom myself and move onto the other part of the look, she dropped a piece of paper on the floor a couple seats behind her and looked at me. What? This was the oldest trick in the book. Damn, that’s hot. She looked at me as if to tell me to pick it up. The other kids around were either looking out the window towards their salvation or at the back of their eyelids for their consolation. No one saw the paper but me. Jenny kept looking at me, wondering what the delay could possibly be. My guy came from down below and screamed “wake the hell up fool!”, so I picked up the note.

Jenny gave me a very slight, sly smile and turned back around. I leaned back in my chair. Holy crap, I held in my hand, for the first time ever, the Bible. Written on this tablet were my ten commandments. Heck, if there were six million on here I’d still obey them all. The paper almost burned through my hand, it was too holy for a mortal such as myself to be holding. I could smell the Frankincense and Myrrh from it as it filled my nose with all of love’s possible history. Without looking, I opened it up and set it on my desk. I waited a few seconds, gathered the camera in my head that would remember this forever, and looked down.

It was upside down.

I looked back up and flipped it over, knowing that when I looked at it again, my future would be written in front of me. What could it possibly say? What blessed words had the angel written? I took a deep breath, reloaded the camera, and looked down again:

“This Class Stinks”

I was in love. I laughed out of sheer hatred for ever having doubted that life was nothing but the bomb. These words were defining me. “This Class Stinks” – what sweet, miraculous words these were to a boy like me. They were all the things in life I cling to – they were funny, they were observant and above all, they were simple. She was the uncomplicated angel. She was the lifeguard letting me swim without floaties.

The bell rang, I suddenly realized I might have a hard time walking. I gathered the strength and started to walk out. She was a few feet in front of me. I wondered if I should say something to her? Man, what could I possibly say in response to such poetry? She had no idea that I had sat at home so many nites and had written prose of so many kinds. She would only know what came out of my mouth right now. This was the moment I needed to throw just a few of those words at her. I needed to hit her so hard with them that her soul would bruise. I needed to stop thinking so much!

I saw her round the corner and disappear into the hall. I sped up a beat and rounded the corner.

I ran right into her. She had stopped in the hall and was waiting for me. I had just touched her shoulder with my upper arm – our first contact. All sorts of fluids and blood raged into my big toe and it became erect. I prayed she wouldn’t look down and see the bulge in my Adidas.

She spoke first.

“Wasn’t that class the worst?”

She was stunning. Her eyes were so blue I thought I saw Barry Sanders running in them. She was made from European Gods. They created her over there and shipped her to the U.S., like they did with the Statue of Liberty, and the Yugo. I had to relax and say something.

“Yeah, it was kinda like that joke about the snail. Do you know that joke?”

She shook her head “no”.

“Well, there’s this guy watching TV and he hears a knock on his door. He goes to the door and opens it up, but there’s no one there. He’s about to close the door and he hears “Hey, I’m down here.” He looks down and sees a snail. He gets pissed and throws the snail out into the yard. Then he goes back inside.”

She was actually paying attention to me. Hot.

“So a few years go by and the guy hears another knock on the door. He opens the door, no one there. He’s about to close the door and he hears “Pssst.” He looks down and sees the snail, and the snail looks up at him and yells “What the hell was that all about?”

Jenny laughed. Not a pretend laugh, but a genuine “I thought that was funny” kinda laugh. I couldn’t believe it. She looked so beautiful in that moment. Her laughter was echoing through my ears. I realized I’d never forget this moment. I would never forget first contact, first joke, first response, first flirtation. We stood there for a couple more seconds just looking at each other. There was a look in her eyes that made me realize I was longed for. That feeling was the most powerful thing I’d ever felt. That moment when you realize you are about to give away some of your secrets to somebody. When you’re about to share what’s inside you, because someone else is interested in exactly that.

We parted ways, went to different classes. But not before I had asked her to go to the movies Friday and she had accepted. We traded numbers and that was that. Just like that my life went from zombie mode to the lead role in the play. I turned to go to gym class, knowing I was destined for thirty points on this day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

grapefruits and baseball and new philosophies

she stood in front of me in the middle of her room. so many long nites had consisted of me wishing for this exact scenario. but i'd fall asleep heavy with the realization that it wasn't reality. but now, it was for real. i looked at her, and so did the sun and moon, and i heard them say to each other that their light wasn't necessary on this nite, that she had enough to bulb this evening's sky. they decided to retire for a good nite's sleep. but me, i was just waking up to her. her eyes were closed and she spun herself in a dance of contentment. the smile rose on her face, as the corners of her mouth made their way north. she was such a little girl in this moment, seemingly as young and content as i was. i felt like all boys would look upon this scene and wallow in the mud of jealousy. good! i deserve it! i was king for at least this moment. it was as if winter was soon passing, as if groundhog day was in her room, with no shadow in sight, and only minutes remained of my cold, long winter. she was ablaze, melting all the snow that covered my earth, and she was excavating for my glow that struggled just underneath darkness.

she was a hope and a kick in the stamina.

i wondered if i should try to dance with her, hold her, touch her, feel her...but standing a few feet from her was giving me all the excitement i could handle - any closer and i risked melting like a grilled cheese. so i waited, stared, inhaled her. damn, she was hot. damn, she was everything. damn, she was. she spun around again, and her smile reached its' peak. i was at a loss for everything, except happiness. i was five years old, swinging on the monkey bars, belly full of twinkies. she opened her eyes, sent me the lightning of tomorrow, and moved towards me. holy shit, this is what summertime feels like. this is what i write about in the solitude of hoping, craving, waiting, but i wasn't typing this time, i was living it. i smiled, and readied myself for that long longed for contact. would it be bombastic, as my inklings had suggested? would it be the end, the finality of doubting? god, so many questions, so little time, as she's only an inch away now...

the next morning...

i came back from the store and gave her a pack of pudding cups. vanilla. she put them in the fridge. she handed me a bowl of grapefruit and i took a bite. i hadn't tried grapefruit in years, and had resigned myself to not liking it. to my surprise, it was really damn good. she said it made her feel good, alive.

my first thought when she had initially offered it, for some reason, was the grapefruit league. the grapefruit league is what they call spring training for baseball in florida. they call the league in arizona the cactus league, but in florida it's the grapefruit. after eating some of the grapefruit, i was struck by the fact that liking it was one of those curveballs life throws at you, one of those little surprises. and it struck me as ironic that i had just thought about the grapefruit league and how baseball is literally full of curveballs. funny, that.

regardless, i sat at the table and was indeed feeling more alive than the day before. maybe it was the grapefruit, maybe it was me, maybe it was her and how beautiful she looked across the table from me, maybe it was how the grapefruit tasted just like her, maybe it was the show last nite and the cool chinese man we befriended and took out to meet our friends. whatever it was, and i'm guessing it was all those things, i was grateful. and my mind, still in baseball mode, turned to the line that mel gibson says to joaquin phoenix in "signs" when they're confronted by the alien, and joaquin is holding the baseball bat, and mel says "swing away, merrill. swing away." i think i really like that philosophy. yeah, swing away - it seems like a good way to be.

so grapefruits and baseball and new philosophies all sprung from her breakfast table that morning, and i walk home with a smile, and secretly hope that later in the day, when she cracks open one of them puddings and takes a bite, she smiles too, and thinks to herself that it tastes just like me.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

the meadow

man, killing a rabbit ain't easy. i went to furman's meadow to do some hunting with my gramps, mainly just for his company, and hopefully adulation. being a city boy, hunting has never been my bag. well, not entirely true - i sure do like to hunt down some shots of jack and bottles of bass over at cherry tavern in the east village. killing those is a breeze. but this furry little fucker hopped not twenty feet from me, and gramps and i caught his softness at the same time. gramps looked over at me and raised his left eyebrow. it was telling me to take action.

now listen, friends. i'm all about bonding with the old dude, he's my dads dad, so he's my bloodline. it's just that we're from different generations, places etc. i wanna please that cat, but when push came to shove and i was staring bugs in the eyes, killing that rabbit wasn't easy. i looked at bunny, and he looked at me, and the following ensued:

childhood rush of passion for my stuffed animals. i remembered rocky, my raccoon. his ears were softer than cotton candy, and his black-ringed eyes held the occupation of prison guard. prison being my room, but a cell i gladly enjoyed hiding away in. hiding from debbie, the step-monster, and her brutal right hook. i couldn't take one more blast from her italian temper, that blast that landed squarely on my arms, chest, or sometimes even my face. rocky wouldn't allow her into my room, there i was safe from abuse, safe from somebody two feet taller than me that liked to pick on somebody not their own size, someone that for some reason my dad wouldn't curb. rocky, my stuffed animal raccoon, protector of my innocence, king of my room. he was bigger than hate, taller than stupidity and the omniscient ruler of sweetness. this rocky, long lost from mind due to time, was now the center square in this rabbits' eyes. how could i shoot this memory, this safety zone from long ago? how could i take away this cloud of life, innocent, just bounding in the wrong place at the wrong time? i couldn't my friends, i couldn't. just as i lowered my killer instinct, the shot rang out from gramps' gun, the bunny splattered over bushes and snow, and rocky ripped into three thousand pieces.

i looked over at the old man. damn, i was shattered, but he was ice cold. cold in a clint eastwood splendor, and as much as i was shivering inside from my obliterated dreams, he looked beautiful to me - ragged, weathered, masculine, brutal...and soft. there's just something about elders, something that commands respect and admiration, even if we don't always agree with their trigger finger.

gramps never chastised me for my inadequacy. i think in fact he saw it as strength, in his own way. of course, having his own way, he could never tell me that. too strong, too manly to give away such admissions. but as we walked back to his cabin, with barely more than five words between us, i felt like his blood, proud to be his descendant. the apple doesn't necessarily fall far from the tree, i realized, and that guy was one hell of a tree to grow from.