Category Archives: Essays

Parking Lot

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My annoyance at your crooked parking is quickly replaced by the realization that my parking is not always pristine.

While staying between the lines is a laudable endeavor most of the time, it is not always possible for one reason or another.

Nor is it necessarily a bad thing sometimes to cross over the boundaries painted on the pavement.

It is strange that I still struggle with annoyance when you cross the line into my space though it is only one I will occupy for a brief moment of time.

The paint is faded. The lines could be repainted. Regardless they might as well be cement walls ten feet high.

I get annoyed because I have rarely entered your space nor have I allowed you to become familiar with mine.

How quickly I place my stamp of ownership on an empty place that is available for everyone.

How quickly I have succumbed to the not so subtle expectations to never stray outside the lines.

You is not I (and I is not You)

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So what’s up with “you?”

Last time I checked it was second person.

So why do I keep hearing it used in the first person?

A recent example from an interview with an athlete:

“Once you start playing the adrenalin kicks in and you don’t feel anything.”

Or

“This is what you look forward to as a competitor.”

Hmm. It’s not really the grammatical misuse of the word that bugs me as much as the assumption that comes with such misuse.

In other words rather than owning the experience, it is generalized as if I and everyone else have or have had the exact same experience.

Which may or may not be true. But it doesn’t mean that you is I.

Or I is you.

Un Reel

After the movie, I stand in the back of the theater and watch the credits roll to the gentle strains of an Irish melody. The song mixes with the gunshots still echoing in my head and my feet begin to move to the dichotomy.

Out through the doors I step onto the slick, black floor. It is slippery from a million kernels of buttered popcorn that have fallen on a million nights before. Tiny, round dots rise up from the tar a millimeter or so and I stumble blindly through the greasy Braille up the steps to the bathroom. I open the door to rickety, yellow stalls and graffiti on the walls.

Between the stained portal and porcelain bliss, I expose myself to the words in front of me and pee HOLLYWOOD IS CONTROLLED BY JEW AND MAFIA THOSE WHO MANIPULATE DARK HAIR AND BLONDE KICK THEIR ASSES OUT. When I’m done, I go to the sink and attempt to wash my hands beneath a leaky faucet. As I look for a towel, the faucet continues to drip, drip, drip, like Chinese Water Torture. The sound resonates from the tile and scribbled walls while somewhere it seems a life slowly drains away. The paper towel dispenser is empty so I dry my hands on my pants and walk out through the door. The last thing I see is the red word scrawled on the filtering portal: LIVER. Somehow I still feel unclean.

I walk gingerly back down the steps to discover the treads fixed with gray duct tape to hide the cracks and add more traction perhaps. My friend is waiting. We step out into the Kryptonite, struggle to unlock our bikes, and make our way back onto the Rock Creek Trail.

We race by the Parkway down into the woods and I in the rear imagine a phantom who rides up behind me and whispers in my ear, warm breath on my shoulder, “Faster! Faster! Faster!” until he in front is a blur and we like white ghosts fly and race wildly beneath the dark trees.

Home through the bars to shut a crying cat out who meows incessantly until I close the door and she slinks away into the shadows. I am restless and cannot sleep so I move to the darkness of the living room and reach for my guitar. My fingers stumble through D and onto a sad melody.

I play for a while until a smell reeks to my nostrils. I glance up and see those fragile flowers given to me by one who lost her father and could not bear to see them. They lie wilting now and breathe to me who sits here in the shadows, my silent fingers still on the strings, their smell of death.

September 4, 1992