I went OUT last night. And I even ENJOYED it. Sorry, I have to get the new MAIL-forged reality out of my moderately hung-over head. This text will mainly be about G, via YOU and me.
First, YOU. Consider this text a fragmentary novel. Language is fiction, whatever it says. Every subjective utterance you make sacrifices the authenticity of the thing at stake. To say “I love you”, for example, is to demean “I love you”: it thereafter becomes I-love-you, infinitesimally diminishing in meaning with each reiteration.
Please don’t read these texts (I still can’t bring myself to say the B-word) if you don’t really understand what is being attempted here. This is all disconcertingly, sleep-stymyingly strange. It is like writing a novel in public view, in real time, while being able to gauge people’s reaction to it. Unfortunately, I am a sucker, I can’t resist looking at the STATS. So Israel, Slovakia, Germany, Canada: please look away if you are only reading this out of mild boredom and curiosity. This is an exercise in more than fiction. This is a challenge, a good-old-fashioned quest: can a text find its readers in the abysmal depths of cyberspace without deliberately drawing attention to itself?
Yesterday I watched a thriller about Jesus. I like to watch moving pictures, they soothe my aching consciousness, lubricate the unbearable passage of time. The film was surprisingly tasteful. I was even tearful by the time of the Last Supper. It was such a humble little spread, not at all like the lavish feast depicted in Renaissance art. I was blubbering by the time Jesus healed the leper (I have always felt an affinity with that proto-mythical outcast). But the Ascension was a bit much for me and I did look away in SHAME at the special effects.
It occurred to me that Jesus started out with 12 disciples (a truly magic number considering its earth-moving ramifications). In our ridiculous meta times, that would translate as 12 LIKES (before inevitably petering out). My humble little text, undertaken as an exercise to extend life, started out with a mere 3 VIEWS: me, G and J. But before G, I would like to mention M…
I liked how Jesus looked in the film. I wanted to lean into him, to weep repentantly into the rectangular bosom of the laptop screen. (In an earlier text I mentioned that Jesus watches over me in my toilet; this is probably a coincidence but my stool has never been better.) My friend M looks uncannily like the classic Western depiction of Jesus. It is the first thing most people remark about him. He once drunkenly wandered around, hopelessly lost, for 5 or 6 hours in the forested outskirts of Vilnius when a car stopped to give him a lift. “I’m only doing this because you look like Jesus,” the driver said.
Every weekend, me, G and J defy and defer reality through vodka, White Russians, potato pancakes, humour, music, dancing, weeping, ranting, cooking, watching films, walking, and, above all, TALKING.
M often joins us. He is very fond of us and we are very fond of him. He told me, however, that he would not like to be a member of our “club”. He said, without any apparent irony, that we are too sad for him. M grew up in a large and boisterous group; sadness was deemed antisocial, it brought the communal mood down. Sadness, as everyone knows, is contagious (like the proverbial leprosy). G and I (though not J) are both solitary and devastatingly sad beings. It is why we are so glad to be together each weekend.
G is very young – roughly half my age. Numbers aside, she is truly an old soul (I adore that expression). G wants nothing more than to die: J and I do everything to keep her alive. The hope is that our drunken, joyous weekends will form an abiding, abstractly happy memory for her. That they will combine into a tenuous reason to live: the hope of happiness (if only to recapture the past). I have never met another human emotionally closer to me than G. It can be terrifying (and disturbing). I grew up with people forever asking me “What’s wrong?” or mindlessly urging me to “Cheer up!”. G is not depressed or ill. There is nothing physically wrong with her. Her sadness is elemental, a thoroughly reasonable reaction to her wretched childhood and the world she lives in. G is for goodness; she would put most Christians to shame. Wherever there is spiteful gossip, and there is always spiteful gossip, she jumps into the fray to defend the poor person being maligned. The word “empathy” is a bit overused these days but G is flush with it (it gushes out of her in phatic gestures; she is in a state of constant “awww”). Her empathy, which is actually a devilishly complex defence mechanism, contributes significantly to her suffering.
J is by far the most normal of us. I like to think that G looks up to J. But our weekends sometimes get out of hand. It is inevitable when a week’s worth of pent-up sadness, frustration and disillusionment is added to our volatile neurochemical cocktail. G storms off. I start ranting about how no one appreciates my writing. J just gets silently sad or panics about the future. So I became Man of Action. Over fatty fried aubergine at our local Chinese restaurant, I suggested we draw up a charter that would lay down the rules for our (drunken) conduct and behaviour. This is what we came up with (on some flimsy napkins):
- WE HAVE THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE BUT ALSO TO SECRETLY CRAVE ATTENTION. IT IS UPON THE OTHER TWO TO JUDICIOUSLY DETERMINE WHICH IS THE CASE. IN SUCH CASES, A 2-PERSON COUNCIL SHOULD BE FORMED TO ARBITRATE OVER SUCH MATTERS
- NO ONE SHOULD FEEL PRESSURED TO CONSUME ALCOHOL IF IT GOES AGAINST THEIR GENUINE WISHES.
- DRUNKEN RANTING IS TO BE CONSIDERED AS SUCH AND NOT TAKEN AS PERSONAL INSULT. THE RANTER IS PERMITTED 1 HOUR PER EVENING OF RANTING. IF THAT LIMIT IS EXCEEDED, PUNITIVE MEASURES CAN BE APPLIED.
- SULKING IS PERMISSIBLE BUT MUST BE PROPORTIONATE TO THE CAUSE AND CONSEQUENT COUNTER-MEASURES.
- X’s REDACTED MUST BE RESPECTED AT ALL TIMES.
- ALL PARTIES MUST RECEIVE AT LEAST ONE COMPLIMENT PER GATHERING.
- IN TIMES OF CONFUSION, CRISIS AND HUNGER, A MAN OR WOMAN OF ACTION SHALL BE APPOINTED EITHER VOLUNTARILY OR BY MAJORITY DECISION.
- IN CONSIDERATION OF THE FACT THAT J IS THE LEAST MELODRAMATIC PARTY, SHE IS PERMITTED UP TO TWO HOURS OF UNSOCIABILITY PER GATHERING AND IS ALLOWED TO ACT OUT OF CHARACTER.
- COOKING RESPONSIBILITIES MUST BE SHARED EQUALLY UNLESS ONE PARTY VOLUNTEERS OTHERWISE.
- REDACTED IS AND ISN’T PERMISSIBLE.
- RETARDATION IS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT EXCEPT WHEN IT IS OVERRULED BY MAJORITY DECISION.
It lacks the gravitas of the Magna Carta or the eloquence of the American Bill of Rights, but at least we put some napkins to good use. And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go make a votive offering to Jesus. Hopefully I will see you again on the other side of the weekend…