Sunday, August 2, 2015
THE DANCE OF DIABETES; NO PRESSURE/SELL: FROM: THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE, CHAPTER 22
I tried to spit in the face of diabetes at eleven. My old man took me to see a guy who used to work for him, John Smalls, a boozer, a diabetic, a funny fucking guy until he went blind and demented from the rotgut he was guzzling. “That’s you,” my old man said to me, “if you keep fucking around; keep eating that candy, keep ducking outta school, keep fiddling with all those young cunts you been rubbing up against; keep it up and you’re gonna be in a bed just like this one, tubes comin out yer cock; keep it up.” It smelled bad in there: sickly sweet and antiseptic And this neo-Nazi doctor he had me see echoed the death sentence and my mother screeched it so loud it became part of my neural network.
But it didn’t stop me.
There are other forces more powerful than death. And being called “a punk” was one of em.
I laughed at it. Fucked with it. Shot junk behind it. Made it all up as I went. Wrote and published and nodded and played the junkie poet renegade role and made good at it until it just stopped, laughed, blew a fart or two and decided to unmake me; unmasked me; left me naked, broke, and alone. Then for penance maybe, maybe for amusement, it gave me a way to go by speaking with these old fucks who are just as resistant, just as stubborn and had me depend upon them for my continuation. Everyday I spoke with myself. And everyday I was spent. What I never thought would apply to me, did: live this life in the exhaust system too long and you become an end product before your time, come home bone tired, eat something quick and usually tasteless, and get up the next day to do it again. Each night never knowing how you’ll summon the will to get up the next morning to do it again while the question why? is never adequately explained, and it goes on and on and on. It seems like your life has no other purpose except to fuck with you.
Yet, without my consent, I was drawn to some of them and some of these old folks and not so old folks who were saddled with tragedies, great and small, from an early age, I spoke with. Sure, some reminded me of my mother or my father and some reminded me of myself, but some were human, too, all too human. They hailed from all parts of this patch-work quilt of a country and had nothing at all in common, except their shared misery.
And they were all whittled down to the barest of spirit. They might be pencil thin or had so much flesh hanging down and off the sides of their bodies that it flapped with a strong breeze, but they’d all just about had it. If they had to look into another mouth they’d pull the trigger, or cook another meal; palpate another cirrhotic liver or drive some screaming kids to an elementary school filled with madness, lies, and aberrant shooters; their fires wet; their bullets inverted; their shoe heels worn and crooked from bodies bending without their will or intention; their spouses dead; their friends dead; their dreams a film loop of regret and resignation; if the bathroom was any farther than what it was, they’d shit in the bed; if food prices got any higher they’d catch and eat the mice that ran around their apartments or homes; if their children were any more distant they would sew up their cunts and checking accounts; if the doughnut hole any bigger they’d suicide through it; if the landlord evicted them they’d sleep wherever their bodies told them to; their heads were jack-o-lanterns. The music that had kept the electricity on was frayed trying to move through wires that knew nothing of fiber optics. Each had done their time and still they wanted more of it except they’d be hard pressed to think of a reason. The captain had kept them in the dark all these years; their eyes now too dim from cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinopathy, to discern a destination. God was a sleeping pill that long ago lost its potency.
We do our very best to brick up the holes. There’s an invisible upsidedown umbrella that we carry to catch the cement from our labors and the salt water from our failures. However, even English umbrellas can fuck up, even the construction of every painstaking stitch could have its own “give” and a little wetness will get through to you.
Nothing is lost to memory and no trauma goes unrecorded. Not only isn’t it lost, but age has burnished it into a well oiled and well-told lie. The world softens around their edges, the colors prism and the prison we find ourselves in, is mistaken for safety. A few take-off to a hunter’s cabin deep in the woods. Here they are free, free to fuck corpses or build bombs. Most are mathematical or Biblical perverts who’ve ceded control to nature—our most violent progenitor.
I was much more pedestrian in my violence: if I couldn’t get-off by slowing killing myself, I made others miserable instead—without ruffling too many feathers. I’d done most of my damage without losing too much of my shine.
What I choose to call, “love,” was a thousand instances of fear. And disease and death and suffering and silence bracketed by those fears was home; they were as much a part of my day as breathing. There was not an easy minute in nearly sixty years when I didn’t think about my blood sugars and that would send me tripping off to the wonderful world of diabetic complications which would then meander down the primrose path of gauze pads and sponges which tucked me in at night beside a slow odious, hideous and horrifying death: before eating… while eating…after eating…before fucking…while fucking…after fucking…before going out… being out…returning from being out; before work…during work…after work; descending to the subway…in the subway…exiting the subway; feeling a headache coming on…having a headache…not knowing if a headache is a real headache…a fake headache…insulin shock…high glucose…low glucose…stomach pains from too much glucose…ketoacidosis…poisons…toxins…first pecking and then gnawing at my organs; flash bulbs going off in my eyes…pain riding my optic nerve…earaches…backaches…stiffness while going to class…in class…after class; making chicks…kissing chicks…shooting hoops…shooting pool…shooting scum…getting high…being high…coming down from a high…thinking about it…noting it…gauging it… worrying about it…testing it…sticking myself…pricking myself, licking blood droplets off my fingertips, I thought about it…and thought about it…and thought about it some more. A test here…a unit there…half unit here…two and half there…five is too much…easy…take three… maybe four…three and a half and test later. In nearly sixty years of doing this shit, I’ve never missed a shot once—late once or twice, but never missed one no matter how drunk or drug addled I was. There was a German railroad inside my head with Adolph, singing lead soprano, and Goering, Goebbles, Himmler, Spear and Eichmann singing chorus. I was in a Ring cycle all right, jumping through a glucose hoop.
pgs 134-137, Chapter 22, From: THE DEPARTURE LOUNGE
© 2015 Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015