Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the rooM

Ronald penetrated the rooM carefully, turning his head without moving his eyes, first to the left, then to the right, swallowing his spit before he choked on it like he did so often these days. The rooM, of course, was waiting for him.

He touched the first thing he came to, a yellow lamp situated, naturally, in someone else's coordinate system. He smiled to himself experimentally. "What the HELL do you think you're doing?" This voice originated from something surely, but he/she/it was exceedingly coy about self revelation. So what else is new, pondered Ronald.

His fingernails insisted on being noticed, so he did so. Not much to see after all -- flat, clear surfaces clinging to tubes of flesh. Stop bothering me, thought Ronald to himself. But then again, who else would it think it to?

The lamp, however, was another matter. A yellow lamp with a paper shade, a round, unevenly dirty shade, stretched smooth with wires, hiding the little screw in sun somebody had to make. Who knows how to make these things, thought Ronald. He decided to say that out loud, "Who knows how to make these things?" Nobody answered, but it was satisfying to hear those thought sounds. This is called thinking out loud, thought/said Ronald to himself -- but not out loud.

Yet this lamp, this yellow lamp, troubled him. Maybe it wasn't TRYING to trouble him, he was pretty sure about that, but trouble emanated through its shade into his secret places, slyly. Just what the hell are you, Ronald wanted to say to the lamp, and why are you hiding in here EVEN WHEN I'M NOT IN HERE? The sixty four dollar question, but he knew the lamp would never answer.

There was a mirror on the wall and if he positioned himself in just the right way, you guessed it, he could see that goddamn lamp again! This is unacceptable, he thought, I wonder if something can be done about it.

The lamp was sitting on a table. Not squatting there, not going to the bathroom, just flatly sitting there, without deciding to be sitting there, but definitely sitting there, no doubt about that. Dear God, thought Ronald, now the TABLE'S going to be a problem? Is there no end to this? The table wouldn't look at him, but Ronald knew it had tricks up its sleeve.

Ronald's rule of thumb in life was to never, NEVER trust an object. This, indeed, partook of a great mystery in Ronald's life which was how people could so nonchalantly live in a universe of objects. These things are really OUT THERE, he knew that, but it seemed like nobody else did, because if they did they certainly wouldn't be living their soap opera lives. Soap opera lives, perhaps, indeed probably, but a difference of degree can become a difference of kind. Ronald loved that turn of phrase, "a difference of degree can become a difference in kind", and was always on the lookout for opportunities to use it, such as now.
Ronald took objects VERY seriously and never treated them like they were props on a movie set. He knew otherwise. He also knew he was an object among objects, but he didn't talk about THAT to anyone -- ever.

Abruptly, everything slid into corners best unnoticed. Ronald knew the corners were there, he didn't have to read about it, but sometimes knowing isn't worth a cockroach's fart and he knew that too, even though he never bragged about it, even to himself. The problem is he was never quite sure just what the problem was. Occasionally, it crossed his mind (or something did something), and he wondered if HE might be, after all, the problem, but this particularly confused him since one wonders how a problem can solve itself. He knew he was the "one" wondering this, but allowed himself to forget it.

"Yo, Ronald!" This was his neighbor across the hall, yoing at him again. Ronald didn't like to be yoed at, but never told this to his neighbor across the hall. His neighbor across the hall had a name, but Ronald had more important things on his mind, so he decided to duck out of things for a moment and answered, "Yo!". This seemed to do the trick and Ronald went back to work. Talking objects were less interesting than immovable, waiting ones that minded their own business but never stopped watching everything, even at night.

The lamp made no move to undermine the ticking clock in the dining room. The ticking clock had its own agenda and creating the future must be no easy task. Ronald appreciated the clock's persistence. He particularly admired clocks and knew that the world would stop, just stop, with no apologies even to the bugs under the refrigerator if they ever ran out of ticks. He occasionally wondered what happened to ticks after they escaped their creators and assumed they ticked themselves into layers beyond the reach of our ears . . . ticking places, ticking, ticking, ticking, with regularity, dripping droplets of time into the future. Plus, the WINDING of clocks satisfied Ronald to no end, making him think he was the veritable first cause of the future. Consequently, he DIDN'T like to be yoed at when he was going about these essential tasks.

Ronald knew how to play the game. He was very good at playing the game. He would dress himself, do his morning tasks, and go out into play land and play the game. He would talk to people, just like people expect to be talked to, and nobody would suspect a thing. Well, sometimes they might suspect SOMETHING, like that ugly lady in the laundromat he caught looking at him when he was smelling his clothes. He liked to smell his clothes, especially right after they came out of the dryer. He felt then they would tell him their secrets, some of them anyway, but this tiresome, ugly woman, always reading a magazine, would follow him around with her eyes even though she wouldn't move her head while she did it, which Ronald thought was exceeding vulgar.

But on the whole, even though people never TALKED to him much, they didn't seem overly concerned about his venial rule breaking. Sometimes Ronald would grasshopper talk and jump from here to there, without getting a ticket first, and sometimes people, not all the time, would look at him twice, but Ronald had a bag of tricks saved for such moments. He would make certain high, friendly sounds signaling to everyone they would have no problem with HIM, or he would scratch one of his arms, either one, vigorously with a strong sense of purpose, showing he knew what he doing and was going about his business. It almost always worked, even though that ugly, magazine reading woman looked at him SEVERAL times, not just once or twice. No matter, no matter, things to do, people to see, let's keep this show ON THE ROAD!

Oh, oh, here comes the yoer again. "Hey Ronald, I'm havin a party tonight, why don't you come on over and have a few drinks, or whatever? Might meet some ladies you know!" The yoer was always talking about 'ladies', and Ronald knew what that meant. At least, I think I know what he means, thought Ronald. The yoer was black and Ronald was white. Not really, of course, but everybody says it like that so Ronald played that game too. But this lady business is odd almost beyond belief. What am I supposed to DO with them, puzzled Ronald. They're not going to take off their dresses right next to the kitchen table, are they? Ronald wasn't sure about this and so threw a word cloud at the yoer and everything returned to normal.

Time was all over the rug, as usual, a clear density which collected especially in the dining room (THREE clocks!), but Ronald just walked right though it, anticipating going to sleep. He liked to go to sleep and sometimes woke up rested, but there was always that detail about falling asleep which baffled him utterly. He thought, I'm going to sleep, so I should be able to 'watch' myself go to sleep. However, one of the many dirty tricks of the universe is that no matter how hard he tried, the MOMENT he fell asleep he would lose interest, or something, in the falling asleep process and never watch it ACTUALLY HAPPEN. This amazed him as much as it frustrated him. It's like saying I'm going to count to ten, but forgetting what you're doing after nine. Ronald smelled a rat in all this, but was never able to catch it, since every time he reached for the rat he forgot what he was reaching for.

Ronald had this problem a lot, this forgetting business. Sometimes he would forget his tasks, his necessities, and would end up sitting on a couch sliding his hands over the cushions hoping to start some fire of PURPOSE, but it never helped.

Take this present musing, this musing that's happening right now. Who's doing this? Is Ronald doing this, or am I doing it, that's another puzzle. It seems like there should be more CONSISTENCY around here, you know what I mean? But, there it goes again, who's Ronald talking to? OR, who's observing all this Ronalding? It really is a tangle, you know.

Well, the sun blew up three or four times and now Ronald's at the party of the black man. Lots of women, that's for sure, most of them black though. What to do, what to do? Should I relate to them as Ronald and put this whole business on a word stage? But, who's supposed to answer this question, see my problem? The thing is, Ronald never worries about problems like this, since he's much too preoccupied with objects, plus he's GOT to keep those clocks wound up or time will, what?, stop timeing I guess. Not to worry though. Ronald takes his duties VERY seriously.

"Hey, Babe, you live across the hall from Theodore?" Ronald punches his keyboard, emitting a crafted response to the black woman's question, "Uh, yeah." Not bad, for Ronald. The black woman looks a little more closely at Ronald and sees a fleck of something in his eye (which one?) from which she recoils, gradually. Ronald watches her ass as she moves away, hoping to save the memory for later.

Oh God, the yoer! "Hey, my man, you got to party more often, Ronald -- do you good!" Back to the keyboard, "Uh, yeah." Ronald messed up on this one since he meant to eject, "Yeah, you're probably right." His neighbor, however, had other things on his mind (naked ladies most probably), so no harm done and Ronald moves his arms around a lot to prove to whom it may concern that things, organized things, things you do in the daytime around other people while they're watching you were in synch with what was going on behind his eyes. He didn't want anyone to think there wasn't some kind of CONNECTION between all this music and jostling and what was going on behind his eyes.

Eventually Ronald left the party. No one minded or noticed. No one ever minds or notices when Ronald leaves a room. He, of course, never knows this, since he's always trapped in those cartoon consciousness bubbles writers of comic books keep their characters corralled in.

Are YOU in a bubble right now? I can't decide if I am, or not. I can, however, put this black man's party into God like perspective, peering into any bubble I choose, and for as long as I choose. Here, let's look in Ronald's neighbor.

"Jesus, where's that man comin from? There's somethin about good old Ronald that gives me the willies. That's one fucked up whitey, that's for sure, but I LIKE the sonofabitch. Fuck, he's not harmin anyone, he never complains about shit, not music or shootin up. Who gives a shit if he ain't got a full deck -- who the hell has! I got to get that man LAID, though. I'll get Sally to give him a hard on, shit, she'll show him he's just livin in the wrong HEAD. That man won't NEED a shrink after Sally sucks his brains out. Yeah, I got to get Sally after him. She's always raggin about church, fuck, this'll be her Christian duty!"

The problem is does anyone EVER get out of their bubble -- and where would they go if they did? Plus, the thing about Ronald is no one's sure he even HAS a bubble. Is he a bubble among bubbles, or something else? It's pretty hard to tell where Ronald stops and objects begin.

Speaking of Ronald, he went straight to bed with his clothes on right after the black man's party, eager to float in the amniotic fluid darkness. He could hear the marching of the clock next the bed and even counted along for awhile, losing track around one hundred when his breathing interrupted him.

Ronald's breathing was another painful mystery in his life and he preferred not to think about it, but then discovered that trying NOT to think about his breathing was ANOTHER of the many dirty tricks of the universe, since, April Fool!, it's just a DIFFERENT way of thinking about your breathing. After all, you have to know what you're not supposed to think about. Plus Ronald felt resentful beyond words that when he WASN'T thinking about his breathing, he didn't even KNOW it!

It also bothered him that the breathing continued even when he was asleep, not only unobserved, but UNOBSERVABLE. There was a time when he seriously wondered if he should get on television and just TELL everyone, "You know, all that breathing business is going on EVEN WHEN YOU'RE ASLEEP! What do you think about that?". He never did it though. He never did much of anything he thought about when all the electric suns were turned off and the blackness poured back.

But the problem about getting TOO far inside Ronald, is that you "become" Ronald, isn't that true? When Ronald starts his "I" talk -- I say this, I say that -- who the hell's talking? You see the problem? And that's not all of it. When I say, who the hell's talking, WHO AM I ASKING? Who's supposed to answer? Ronald's not really an identity bubble anymore. That's what the black lady at the party was picking up -- nobody's IN there!

Ronald cut the cord, he's not an identity anymore. He's not even a "he". He's nothing at all. There's this bubbling whateverness, but no kernel in the middle of it anymore.

Ronald is a word for pain and fear -- and sadness. It's all that's left of what used to be a person. The world was too much for Ronald and it dissolved him. But he carries on, putting one foot in front of the other and keeps his pants zipped, goes to parties, and votes, he even votes, but when someone looks at him, he never looks back, he just keeps his eyelids open. What's misleading about Ronald is that his BODY is mostly intact, giving the illusion that . . . but there's no words for the presence that's absent. Ronald is absence, a little bubble of absence.

"Now Ronald, you've just got to DO something about this apartment!" This was Ronald's mother who visited him every month or so to recycle her sentences. She had a purse full of sentences and Ronald could mentally finish them after the first two or three words -- his version of a crossword puzzle. She also recycled her inflections so in every way she was a barbie doll with a driver's license. Ronald noticed things like that. He noticed practically everyone recycles their sentences and inflections just like they had strings coming out of their bodies someplace and if you pulled them, out would come blah, blah, BlaH, blAh, or Blah, bLAh, bLah, BLAH -- you get the idea.

He also sensed he didn't have strings anymore, but never made any business cards that said "STRINGLESS". He stopped recycling a long time ago when the person he used to be got mind fucked as a boy, castrated as a man, and treated like a moron by rich people. Ronald had a unique, perfect hatred for rich people which is why he was living in a run down apartment building. He could have lived elsewhere, but he wanted to get as far away as possible from the only people Jesus ALSO hated.

Ronald's religious life had distilled down to the single, ecstatic event of Jesus whipping the money changers out of the temple, since for him, the essence of being "God incarnate" was not to be fucked over by rich people. Accordingly, Jesus was the only hero left in his life.

"Ronald, I was talking to your father and we're both concerned that you've stopped taking your medication." His mother again, of course, recycling her phrases and clauses this time, but keeping the inflections. "Uh, yeah." He knew she'd leave in another 15 minutes, so this was damage control.

And indeed she did leave, barbie dolling into the sunset, her bubble intact. Or at least MOSTLY intact, since the vortex that used to be her son had a queer way of dissolving the boundaries of adjacent bubbles and she always left Ronald feeling disorientated and fearful, which is why she limited her visits with him now to less than a hour. However, for Ronald, out of sight is out of (what's left of a) mind, so her departure is barely noticed. Easy come, easy go and Ronald has his tasks of the moment.

This dissolving thing, however, needs to be looked at, since it reaches out, reaches out, into regions unexpected. Take, for example, this writing. Oh, Oh! ON goes the red light, what's happening to our distance, our distance from Ronald?

And we do want that, don't we, this distance from Ronald? God forbid, WE get pulled into the vortex. But if Ronald's not really Ronald, is anyone really anyone anymore, you see the problem? It's all well and good for us to zoom in and out of literary bubbles, but who's actually doing this?

The bottom line to who's minding the Ronald store is . . . no one at all! Ronald's weirdness is the mere acting out identitylessness. There's nobody IN there, the black woman was right, but is there anything inside the black woman either, or cross eyed presidents, or younger sisters of rabbis or pedophiles? Billions of bipedal, mammal bodies, but zero "individuals", is that what's really the case?

No one can one up Ronald, because what we're trying to one up will dissolve us in the attempt -- and this very much includes this writing and your reading. We don't get to be writer/reader gods who put everything, finally, into objective (whatever that's supposed to mean) perspective. The name of this game is nobody one up's ANYTHING, in or out of print. This is just the way it is and trying to live otherwise is being nuttier than Ronald.