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The Actual Are
I am very tired. I couldn’t really tell you why. I suppose we’ve been gigging a lot, and for some reason, my pills seem to be hitting me pretty hard recently. I just feel as if I were a lazy shit when I wake up at ten, head to the couch and put on whatever is on in the morning on ESPN, and then pass out on the couch until two. Of course, with my job, I’m out until five o’clock every night (or morning), but still. I feel bad for wasting the day due to a chemically induced coma. Wow; that’s all unnecessarily melancholy. Here’s a funny word: Flerblegurble! OK, so it’s not a real word, but whatever. Let’s move on.
I was getting gas recently before a gig, and I was wearing my gig uniform. Yes, we have a uniform in my band. Blue shirt, black vest, black tie. I get to wear black cut off shorts, but I think that’s because I was an asshole about it. See, I only wear shorts. I’m that guy in the winter with a hooded sweatshirt, snow in his beard, smoking a cigarette outside of some establishment that has kicked people like me out for doing something perfectly legal, and shorts. Metal kid to the end, I suppose. I like to wear plugs that Dave made me (www.mysticmetalsbodyjewelry.com) which have a handicapped symbol in them. You know, the guy in the chair facing to the right. I’m sure you’ve cursed at him a thousand times when you went to pull into a spot that was a crippled spot but you didn’t realize when you started your turn in and you just thought it was a boss spot right next to the door of the mall department store on Christmas Eve. They match the shirt. The plugs I mean. And it gets some good attention between sets where Dan and I can make jokes about my physical state and hand out business cards for the band. Marketing, kids. So I’m wearing these plugs and I’m getting gas at a Wawa. The kid pumping my gas (because I live in Jerz and it is unlawful to pump your own gas here) had pumped my gas before, and we have a ‘hey how are you’ kind of relationship. He mentioned my plugs. I gave him a Mystic Metals card (because apparently all I do is hand out cards for various businesses that I like), and then we had a brief, $40 worth of gas pumping time conversation.
As a quick side note, I was just outside smoking a cigarette and this came to mind: If you have team gear made by Victoria’s Secret, I hate you and you don’t deserve to share the joy of winning a Commissioner’s Trophy. Especially if you don’t know what the Commissioner’s Trophy is. Extra especially if you have the Phillies’ shirt that says “Designated Kisser” on it. We’re an NL team; we don’t even have a designated hitter, idiot. Victoria’s Secret is that she’s a dumb woo girl and I hate her.
So I’m talking to the gas kid. He says he likes my plugs, and asks me if I’m really handicapped. I tell him that I am and explain what spina bifida is. (www.sbaa.org) He calls me an inspiration for having such a positive attitude about it, which to strangers I mostly do. And then I say this: “You have to own what you are, man.” Then my pump clicked, I payed him my $40, parked, went inside for my Red Bull, Fiji water (fuck you, Dan for getting me on Fiji water), and two packs of USA red 100’s. Then I sat in my car like a creep and read on my Nook for forty-five minutes.
You have to own what you are. That’s what I usually say to people about the handicapped thing. About many things in life, actually, not just the handicapped thing. I am not a huge fan of keeping elephants in small rooms. And things like a handicap can be elephants. I would much rather someone ask me straight out, often in ill chosen words, than have him dance around it ever so carefully as to not offend. When you are extra careful is when you most often knock shit over.
But the statement, you have to own what you are. It makes me think, and even though I say it very often to people whom I don’t know, I never really thought about all of the layers of it. Topographically, it’s exactly what I mean. What you are is what you are and you ought to have a happy marriage with it. And that marriage, like any marriage, isn’t always going to be of the happy variety. Thing is, divorcing yourself from what you are is either not an option or a great injustice to that thing, which demands respect and ought to be respected. That’s all well and good and pretty simple to understand, but there is another layer that I kick around a bit.
What you are. That’s the the important part of the statement. What are you? A doctor? A mother? A handicap, a minority, a woman, a man, a homosexual? This is often how we identify, isn’t it. If a stranger asked you right now, “What are you?” how quickly would you respond with your job? Or say you are a parent or wife or husband? But is that what we are? What are you? I am black. What are you? I am white. What are you? I am gay, I am strong, I am a writer, an actor, an office slave, an engineer. Are we these things, or are we a thing whose qualities include these other elements? You have to own what you are, but are we, in actuality, these things; or are these things the regalia of what we actually are? And if so, what is that actual thing? How do we describe it?
Beneath the jewelry, the plugs and labrets and captive beads, beneath the ink that lives quietly and obediently between the layers of our skin, is that actual are that is left to go undescribed so very often. What is the actual are? I have had in my youth neurologists of all flavors in a very eclectic manner of venues tell me that I am not my body. Especially at Children’s Hospital. That is all well and good (which is the second time I used that phrase in this blog because what I am is apparently a bad writer), but none of them ever told me what I actually am. Telling someone what isn’t is bereft of the information that person is looking for. If I gave you directions to the bookstore and told you what streets not to turn down, you’d still not know where the bookstore is. I know you are not your tattoos and jewelry. I know you are not your jobs and your hobbies. I know you aren’t even your relationships and likes and dislikes. But that that doesn’t answer the question of what you are, does it.
You have to own what you are. I suppose that my response to all of these strangers over the years has been a bullshit answer. It sounds good, for sure, but what does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything in that context, like so many pop rock lyrics to which woo girls like to sing along. (I’m looking at you, Train. Drops of Jupiter my ass. That doesn’t mean shit, man.) So at the end of the day, if you have to own what you are, I suppose you have to know what you are first. Our brains (and I’m sure my beautiful and brilliant primatologist girlfriend can more explain this) need a something tangible to attach its questioning fingers onto. What is it? It’s that thing that does that or makes that sound or hunts me or feeds me. But abstractly, what is it? What is that thing that happens to do all of that? What is that thing that is handicapped as well as being whatever it is? What is that thing that is a spouse or a president or a cobbler or a plumber or a heterosexual or a democrat or a republican? You’re born as a thing first, and then that thing adopts the other qualities, doesn’t it? I want to know what that thing is, and then I suppose that my response to strangers about my handicap will make more sense to me. Still, the bottom line is that my plugs are awesome and Dave is an artist and you should go by plugs at www.mysticmetalsbodyjewelry.com so that his son can have a lunchbox and a backpack for the new school year. You want Vinnie to succeed, right? And if you don’t, (to steal a quote from Greg Gutfeld) you’re worse than Hitler. Stay beautiful, kids.
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