There are those times when you feel alone. Even if you’re surrounded by people, you are alone. And you alone love the people around you so much that you fear losing them. I will not lose my life and I don’t want you to lose yours either. We are humans. We breathe & fart. We have air coming out through all sorts of holes. We thrive on routine and live for play. We are nice to each other, or we should be.
Life is too complicated. We are too driven by our brains. And fear.
I fear death as much as I fear being humiliated in front of tons of people. And yet I humiliate myself and call it art. For some reason that’s okay. I allow my creative juices to interpret and embellish on my everyday experiences.
I’m reading a book, What’s Not to Love by Jonathan Ames. It is the most honestly grotesque book about male puberty and bodily dysfunction. The chapters have titles such as “An Erection is a Felony”, and “I Shit My Pants in the South of France”, and “Insomni-Whack”. The titles say it all. I am in love. With honesty that exposes the inherent imperfections of human nature, Ames has a witty sense of humor and wonderful knack for autobiographical storytelling.
One summer during my teenage years, when I was waiting for my Godotish puberty, I went away to a Jewish Camp in Upstate New York. I was in the Levi division (Levi was the name of one of the original Hebrew tribes before it became a pair of jeans) of newly christened teenagers, and to my horror I discovered that I was the only boy who still had a small, undeveloped penis and no pubic hair! So I had to hide myself the whole summer. I would quickly change my clothes with my back to my tentmates, and only showered early in the morning when no one else was around. It was nerve-racking. (Ames, pg. 8)
Several weeks went by and I didn’t hear from them and I forgot about the whole thing. In the meantime, I was busy regrowing my hair. I had done some research on the subject and I was taking certain actions. I was trying to quit coffee since it robbed my body of hair-related vitamins, and I was avoiding masturbation because I read a book on Eastern practices of semen-retention, which told me that masturbation dried up my spinal fluid and made my hair fall out. I’ve now come to see my bald spot and the bald spots of other men as the mark of Cain for excessive self-abuse.
I also purchased rosemary oil, which is very good for the health, and a rubber scalp invigorator. And I started eating lots of sea vegetables because I read that people in Asian cultures had very good hair and that their diet was rich in seaweed. (Ames, pg. 20)
These are the stories I want to hear, and want to tell. Stories that capture universal human experiences and humorously assure the reader that he or she is, indeed, not alone.
Ames, Jonathan. What’s Not to Love? New York: Crown Publishers, 2000.