Let's take a trip together. Far and deep into the dark space. Let's ride to Mars and the moon. And then travel back but never too soon. Let's dive down into the ocean. Beyond where the sun don't shine. We'll hold onto each other. And be the other's lifeline. Let's walk softly in a meadow. And learn each other's thoughts. Let's fly high, drifting on the torrents of wind to faraway towns. Let's be together for all of time. Until the sun lifts no more. Until the oceans run dry. Until the gods have their way. And plan for a final day. Let me be your lifeline when the pain hurts too bad. When the loss is too great to understand. Our love will survive beyond the end of space, past the end of time, ethereal and energy, life is our love. You are here now. With me.
If you've been alive for any period of time, and accumulated any decent number of connections with family, friends, and community, you will have to deal with death. That, as they say, is part of living, or at least, being alive. It sort of reminds me of the old trope -- that I've been hearing a lot lately -- that goes something like, Don't complain about getting old, it's better than the alternative. And while I appreciate the sincerity of the sentiment, for me, it is not particularly comforting. I do not like the concept of getting older. I don't like spending time thinking about the various maladies that might soon begin to affect me. I don't like that I am noticably slower and less athletic than I was, say, fifteen years ago. I don't like the idea that references that I make to my childhood (sports, TV, music, entertainment) in the 1970s sounds like ancient history. My God, the three biggest technological advances of my youth that affected everyday living were: Cable TV available in our neighborhood in the late 1970s, the availability of 'call waiting' on your home phone in the early 1980s, and the creation of MTv in 1981. This was long before the proliferation of computers at home, and cellular telephones, etc., etc. But I digress. I don't like people I know dying. I've lost my mom, all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, two beautiful dogs, and close friends, and, soon, my father. I don't want to lose anyone else. Which, I know, makes me sound childish. But I don't care. I've had enough of death. And it's only getting started.
I'm beaten. Nothing left for fighting. I'm seething. Haven't got a reason. It's just the season. Made my big stand. Now I'm tired. Played my last hand. Yes, I'm mired. A smoldering fire. It's what we do. The struggle to live. The fight for our lives. Then we die. It's all just folly. Offered my soul. Feeling melancholy. No one left for pleasin'. I'm tryin'. Coulda done it different. Sat on the sidelines. Safe and indifferent. That's no lesson. Layin' down. Playin' with my time. Won't always be around. But that's fine. It's just the season.
We were in a good rhythm. Or, really, Sheila was in a good rythm, her head raising and lowering like a piston of the little engine that could. I, naturally, was slipping into that euphoric stupor where I don't really think, I just thank the heavens above for the unmistakable sensation that my entire body was repeatedly being immersed in her wet, warm mouth. As a result, I neither heard the house front door open, then close, nor noticed the sudden sliver of light from the hallway that peeked from underneath my bedroom door, just before it was opened and all sorts of brightness crashed the party.
"Stevie," my mother said. "Did you know you neglected to put on the lights above the garage door for me?"
With a hand pressed firmly on the comforter covering Sheila's head and half her body, I said, "No, Mother, I did not."
My mother had an out-stretched arm holding the door open, while she leaned--almost casually, I'd say--against the door frame. She looked me square in the eyes.
"Now I realize you're quite busy," she said. "But when I come home, I like the driveway well-lit."
"Yes, Mother, well-lit."
"You see, Stevie, your mother works very hard and..."
Now, at this point, the turgidity of my--ahem--manliness should have been cascading down the back side of the al dente peak. However, while Sheila, bare ass illuminated from the hallway light, held her head remarkably still under the rumpled comforter, which was underneath my equally still hand, her tongue was unexpectedly active. Feverishly active, really. Moving about the best--ahem--seven inches of me like a silk scarf twining and twirling around a snooty businessman's neck as he crosses Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on a blustery fall evening--the description of which, I imagined specifically to distract me from the fact that I was coming (bad pun intended) close to twitching, and convulsing, and, generally, having an orgasm in front of my mother, while I was talking to my mother. And the idea that in a few seconds I might unleash my orgasm face for her to see, so that it might be indelibly scratched into her memory for the rest of her days, so much so that she'd be able to easily describe it to her friends at the Wellmont Tennis Club or in Best Tresses hair salon, or recreate it for my aunts when the women in our family gather around the kitchen table on Palm Sunday, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, birthdays, etc., was... well, downright, disconcerting.
"... do you understand, Stevie. I don't mean to be one of those mothers that nags, bags, nags all the time. I just want a little consideration. That's all."
"Yes, Mother, consideration."
To be honest, I'm not sure what in the world she was saying to me, since Sheila's tongue was, apparently, getting more creative and acrobatic. My brain was at DefCon 5, as I approached the event horizon.
"I'm going to heat up some leftovers," my mother continued. "I'll pull out some extra."
"Yes... leftovers..." I barely got out.
It was happening. Yes, it was definitely happpening.
Really goddamn close...
Then just before my mother closed the door, she offered a rather formal nod of her head and said, "Some leftovers for you, too, Sheila?" who replied with a quick, if sheepish, thumbs-up with her free hand, just as I was--
"Ohhhhh..." turned into "Ahhhhh..." which then melded into a baritone-low gutteral groan, gurgle, moan, and whimper--all mixed into one gigantic clusterfuck crescendo of odd sounds.
I can only imagine--so incredibly regretfully--what my O face might've looked like.
"Well," my mother said, with more than a hint of amusement. "That was not your best look."
My head fell back into the pillow.
"Food in five, " she said.
As she closed my bedroom door.
I'm using my ten-minute writing today to offer my criticism of last night's Beat The Streets events at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden which I attended:
Setting aside the wrestling—which was terrific—Beat The Streets was run as amateurishly as I’ve ever seen at a supposedly big time sporting event. On my ticket and everything I read online said the event would begin at 6:00; the wrestling didn’t start until at least 7:05. The event should have opened up with a big match (to get the crowd going), then followed with the high school matches. Any excitement or momentum for the event at the end of one match was wasted by the long delay before the start of the following match. The lack of space beyond the mat was a joke and twice, at least, risked serious injury to wrestlers. The match announcer was buffoonish, repeated obvious wrestling rules that surely everyone in attendance knew, and made a few comments that bordered on sexist. Robbie Smith, who could have been a good emcee, was given little direction or purpose. There was little, if any, special attention paid to the wrestling luminaries in attendance (like Dan Gable, etc.). Too many times the PA system cut out or the microphones didn’t work so you could not hear what was said about a match or between matches. This was not an inexpensive event to attend and its importance as a way to showcase our sport cannot be understated. The crowd was great and Jersey-biased, and the athletes certainly lived up to their obligations; Beat The Streets did not.
Hello, m'Lady, how are you today? Sitting in a window, a half-dozen stories high, staring down at the streets below, half-amused, half-indifferent. Do you know my name? Would you want to know my name? Or is it enough to have time and distance between us. What do you look at, m'Lady? Are you envious not to be down among the masses moving back and forth, here and there, all with a purpose, even if only to waste time? Do you listen for conversations that you can not hear, do you wish to be along among the masses, or do you prefer your perch above it all. I see your smile, fleeting. I see you fix your attention in one direction, then some time later, another. What catches your eye, m'Lady? Is it the company of another, or do you use the view as a distraction to let your mind drift and dream and scheme? Is the sun warmer where you are? Does the air seem clearer where you are? Is that you are just a little bit closer to Heaven make a difference? Can God hear you? Tell me something, m'Lady, do you ever see me down here, so far below you, but my thoughts right next to you? I wish I could reach out to her. But my voice gets lost in the ether. Give me a sign, m'Lady. Give me a shred of hope that you know I exist...
Less ahead of me, more in the past. And, it seems, my best keeps getting less every day. And I struggle to be relevant. I'm worn out and worried. Trying' not to be buried. Before I hear that calling from the ether. Do they ever get the name wrong? Could they possibly make a mistake? Could I pretend not to hear them? Could I send up a fake? We live our lives on lies. I'm telling you that's the truth. Little white ones, big and dark. A big build up, out of the blue. Could they get my name wrong? On a spelling mistake? Could I pretend not to be there? Could I be lost, for God's sake? I count my blessings, as the days tick down. I collect knowledge, but forget wisdom. I know someday I'm going, know where I'm coming from?
Hello, old man, time to go. You've done all that you could. Made a family. Made friends. Made enemies. Made a career. Gained respect. And, at times, lost some. But your time has come to an end. You've aged gracefully. You've gotten everything you could from this body. And this mind. The hereafter is calling. It's a quiet request. No celebrated goodbyes. No fanfare. No big news. Just slipping away from the here-and-now, to the ether of memories. You've done what was asked of you. To live. Mostly well. Sometimes imperfectly. But who among us should judge? And does it matter at all? Memories will live on. Until someday, even those will pass into oblivion. Still, you were here. You left an impression. That impression will be visible in other people. And when they pass, they will leave their mark on still others. Like the continuous collapse of an parade of dominos moving towards the horizon. The previous one falls, knocking down the next, and the next, and the next, until it's impossible to tell how exactly the chain is moving, but we know it is moving. Ceaselessly.
Wasting time worrying. Wondering about what-could-have-beens. Wishing you'd taken a turn back there. Moving ahead, but thinking behind. Noticing the tick, tick, tick of that existential clock in the sky counting down to zero, always fretting when that zero will turn up. It's chasing you. Running you down. You don't bother stopping to smell the roses. That would keep you from moving. There's surely something more important you could be doing. Something more to achieve. Something more to possess. Something more to put on the scoreboard. And when the clock shows zero what will the scoreboard show? What will it mean? Will you have won?
It's nasty, cold storm charging in the distance. The men and women of power who are entrusted to protect us are dancing gaily in their ivory towers, acting as gourmands while the hoi poli fend off the constant barrage of societal ills, and foreign invaders looking to steal their livelihoods, and security, and sanctity. But a mass is gathering at the tower's base, an angry, vicious mass pressing against the foundation, its weight and perseverance beginning to loosen and crumble. And while any shift in its foundation is imperceptible to those blithely ignoring them at the top, the rot of cement and concrete from decades of pomposity and conceit and waste have taken their toll. Those with the power of governing, whose control also includes the Law, and law enforcement, who fumble the reins of this mighty nation and use their positions as stepping stones to celebrity and wealth, are deaf to the shouting from the streets, indifferent to the brittleness of the tower, naive that the reckoning that shocked the world not long ago is gathering acceleration. And heading in their direction.
Alfred C. Martino
Updates from everyday life as seen by me