King for a Day

This old-school self-inspecting Livejournal throwback post is narrated by Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge of XTC. I don’t care what else you do today. Download “King for a Day,” if only because it’s my favorite song. Isn’t that worth something?
XTC – King for a Day
XTC – The Disappionted

Everyone’s creeping up to the money god,
Putting tongues where they didn’t ought to be.
On stepping stones of human hearts and souls,
Into the land of nothing for free.

I found out today that I have a mouse in my house, a phrase that I like a lot, but a state of vermin-infestation that I’m not too fond of at all. (Stephen: “One day Dr. Seuss had a realization like that and it led to a wealth of literary output: ‘My cat is wearing a hat!’”). I was washing dishes that have been in the sink since 1976, and I was heard to scream, “What the shit?!” when the little fucker scurried across the kitchen floor and launched its little black self into a tiny, we’re talking teeny-tiny hole under my cabinets, which is doubtless the door to Mouseville. Or Mouse-Yale.

I don’t want to kill one of the Rescuers. I keep having these fantasies that my entire house is filled with mice; that if I ripped off the fabric covering the back of my couch there would be a cornucopia of mice climbing over mice, like a machine made of mice, nightmarescape style; that there are mice scurrying through my desk building a Town Hall; mice between the springs in my bed waiting until I fall asleep to get a good look at me and have a good laugh, put their noses right up against mine and titter their pipsqueak Bob Newhart titters. And as much as I love mice for their fuckin’ outrageous cuteness, their tiny spasmodic noses and presumably incredible senses of humor, I can’t help but feel that this mouse somehow symbolizes my ineptitude at being alive, or at least, being responsible. And, for that reason, I want to tear it in half with my two hands and fling its guts at a blank canvas, then wait a couple days until they dry and turn black, and then call it my masterpiece. But I won’t. I’ll get some of those humane traps that don’t work and engage in a lengthy war-game with the mouse until, finally, I give up and fucking move.

I’ll get in my car and drive somewhere far away and start a new life. But here’s the kicker. There’s a motherfucking MOUSE IN MY CAR TOO. I thought somebody was pranking me when I opened my glovebox and it was completely full of shredded napkins. But then, my friend Julie got in my car and said, “you have a mouse,” and that was that. I had a mouse. It chewed up my car registration. Completely. The only part that still exists is the corner that says “car registration,” and that’s how I know it chewed up my car registration. I cannot escape my own invented symbology.

The disappointed
All shuffle round in circles.
Their placards look the same,
With a picture and a name
Of the ones who broke their hearts.

Did you know that you can drop a mouse out of a plane and it will hit the ground, get up, and run away? Resistance is futile.

Everyones licking up to the new king pin,
Trying to get way up with a smile.
"Sing for your supper, boy, and jump to a finger click."
Ain't my way of living in style.

A couple of days ago, one of my friends got into Yale’s comparative literature program. I’m really happy for him, but the spiteful part of me (my heart, probably) was hoping what actually happened was, a Mexican called him and told him “you’re going to jail,” but it sounded like Yale, you know, cuz he was Mexican. But nope. A man named Pericles called him and told him, “you’re in.”

My hatred of Yale cannot be overstated, for however many reasons. Because it’s twenty minutes away from where I lived when I loved my life with the wholehearted, almost vocational dedication of an upper-crust preadolescent, before the financial problems, before the bullies and the idiots and the frat-satyrs pissed on its magic. Because Harold Bloom taught there, and he looks very much like Jabba the Hut. Because everybody I don’t want to leave eventually goes there, like it’s some kind of Neverland where they’ll never die and come visit me once a year, ageless and throbbing with youth, while every year I get a little older and a little closer to being dead without having touched god’s face with my fingertips, smile lines cut into my face with age’s broken spirits-bottle. Because it’s got secret societies, and the argument could be made that all I’ve ever wanted is to be in a really good secret society, one that simulates the world and vastly improves on it. Because it’s got secret societies, and the argument could be made that the only thing I really loathe is the elitism that asserts that some people deserve things that other people can’t have. Because Yale is a cool name. Because Yale symbolizes (there’s that ugly word again) everything I want for myself but cannot get, because fuck me, who the fuck am I? Not Yale material, that’s for sure!

The disappointed
Will bear me on their shoulders
To a secret shadow land
Where a sombre marching band
Plays a tune for broken hearts.

I’ve been thinking all day about one of the strangest standoffs I ever had. I worked, for six months or so, with a girl whom I completely fell for the day I met her (and, incidentally, about whom I, the other day, accidentally invented the greatest epithet ever: "gravity-cunted"). It’s a crush that never really subsided, but has become kind of abstracted and diffuse. It used to be a beam of light, and now it’s the shine of a disco ball, bouncing into patterns but shapeless and formless and in the background, sort of like the way I feel about Jesus. Anyway, every month or so I would ask her out, and she would say yes or no or shoot me down or not but it would never lead to anything as such, other than one mega-awkward kiss, because I was a cowardly lion and because… well, if you saw her, and you know me, you would know (“Indeed, the whole of her body gave the impression of having been chiseled by a master engraver into a life-sized slab of creamery butter”). One day, I sent her an email that said, “You know, I realized why I like you so much. You’re the only person I’ve ever met who’s all at once a pretty girl, a beautiful woman, and a hot chick. Fake date soon?” She called me the next day, clearly pissed off, and yelled at me about something completely unrelated, a job that I'd told her I could get her if she wanted it. "I can live my own life" or some bullshit. Then she logged on AIM and lambasted me for about a minute and a half (“I’m flattered, but I’m not interested” – NEVER SAY THIS TO SOMEONE, IF YOU’RE A FUCKING HUMAN BEING and you don’t hate their fucking guts) and then told me, “I’ve actually started dating somebody else.” Then she said she was going to go clean her apartment. Well, I went and bawled my fucking tongue and half my brain out of my head on my bed (which is saying a lot, because once I went through a patch where I didn’t cry for seven years) and tried to fall asleep. Then, at 11:30 that night, right after I’d managed to drink myself passed out, she called me and asked if I could still get her the job she'd yelled at me about that afternoon (“I just got a bill for like $200”). I’d already told the person she "wasn't interested," I said, and she hung up, dreamy and flustered, seeming to have no idea that what she’d just done to me was akin to cutting out my eyes and pissing in my ocular cavities, to paraphrase Phil Hartman. The next morning, she called me and asked if she wanted to go get coffee that day – I now realize that this was her great conciliatory gesture – and I can’t say no. So I went and stood in the rain in front of the Java House. She was fifteen minutes late, and playfully mocked me for wearing black, like I was so sad – which I was, and the fact that she knew it is exactly why I was so in love with her. We went in, and I think she bought my cup of coffee for me, and she charmed the crap out of me, as she always did, but I wasn’t about to take it lying down, so I did that thing that you do, that last-ditch thing. I had a professor describe it once while he was teaching Milton. He was talking about Satan in Paradise Lost, and he said he was acting: “Like you act when somebody’s broken up with you. You let yourself go, you stop showering, you stop brushing your hair, you walk around acting all self-piteous. But the girl doesn’t care, you haven’t made a dent in her armor. All you’ve done is wasted your own time, and made yourself look like a fool.” I started describing, to her, my general misery and malaise, and she challenged me to list the reasons my life was so bad, and the things that were wrong with me. I did. Then, she offered to list the things that are good about me. I deferred, but she insisted. “You have really good skin… You have really nice bone-structure… you’re really good at telling stories…” then she totally ran dry. All three of which, by the way, are exactly, to a one, the only compliments I could ever get my notoriously uncomplimentary harlequin (and I mean Harlequin like the Batman villainess, not harlequin like the comedia dell’arte character) of an ex-girlfriend to give me. I started digging my thumbnail into my palm, because that’s what I do when I’m about to lose my shit. So she walked me, caffeinated and philosophically powder-kegged, back to my car, where, for some reason (it was an apropos reason, not some batshit looney reason), I grabbed my ankle in one hand and swung myself around as fast as I could in a tight circle, hopping on one foot. She said I had good balance. Good balance. Then she left.

Well, the way that were living
Is all take and no giving.
There’s nothing to believe in.
The loudest mouth will hail the new found way
To be king for a day.


Anonymous said...

doug you are so wonderfully entertaining.

D said...

Thanks, anonymous!