Sunday, July 03, 2005

Autobiography

It begins (Prior to birth)

The nine months spanning from my sloppy conception in early October of 1982, to my escape from what would fallaciously be seen as the “wretched womb” on July 1 of 1983, represents the insouciant prelapsarian days of fetal bliss. From a ball of twenty-three chromosomes in protoplasm to the development of all major organs a couple months later I hadn’t a care in the world. But as that miscreant devil attached to my abdomen grew, it began to whisper to me: “Ah, so you think you have everything you desire, eh?”

Being quite the precocious kid, I responded, “Indeed I do.”

“So you do not wish to know what lies beyond the cervix then?” my tempter persisted.

“It has been commanded that I shall not,” I shot back, curiosity beginning to itch at me.

“But the Realm of Forms lies just beyond that slimy gate,” sung back Beelzebub’s string. “You have been tricked so that you would be stuck forever in the cave, seeing only the shadows.”

The incessant creature got the best of me. Strong now, I swam upstream, out the orifice, and into the hands of a gargantuan in white. Instantly the light of the decrepit world blinded me as I writhed in the giant’s grasp, futilely attempting to cover my now-exposed and embarrassingly underdeveloped phallus. My only consolation was when the paladin who held me employed Hephaestus’ shears and separated the cursed serpent from me, tossing it harmlessly into a trash can. But my days of bliss were forever behind me. Two truths were forced into my young mind: That all of life was now suffering and that my insatiable desires would fuel this perpetual suffering.

The Inchoate Years
(0-5)

Gravity suppressed me for the first couple of years. Unable to do anything but wiggle helplessly in place, my fate was at the whim of Mother, Father, and the regrettable reprobate that would stop in from time to time and tickle the soft flesh of my unblemished feet. One particularly irksome harpy entertained herself by referring to my glorious toes as swine and then proceeding to try and rip them from their sockets, followed by a running of her hands up my side and into my face. If only my chompers would bust through these swollen gums, I’d clamp down so hard she’d go screaming all the way back to the husband she thrice tried to poison, that maniacal feminazi! I thought. Maybe if she didn’t prize her right to privacy so much she’d have had her own urchin to torment by now.

By the end of the second year the painfully slow process of becoming a peripatetic was final complete. With my new found mobility I roamed the modest two room house, occasionally engaging the felid foe that laid illegitimate claim to the same territory.

After many a pyrrhic victory against the cat that cost me countless epidermal, red, and white cells, a truce was reached. Now a full four years old, I had grown tired of the devastation and senseless carnage of low-level warfare. Besides, the family had moved to Chicago and into a domicile twice the size, so there was plenty of room for both of us.

Or was there? Mother, who traditionally kept a slim figure, had begun to distend from the middle. Father often placed a hand or even an ear to the midsection. “Superstitious man!” I yelled at him. “That will not fix her corpulence. Only an ascetic diet laced with laxatives will stop the exponential expansion of that belly!”

It was then that they broke the news to me. I was going to have a sister. My mind raced as I tried to make sense of it. Undoubtedly she would steal the adoration now showered upon me by my parents. On the other hand, that harassing jezebel would have a new victim to toy with instead of me. Would Sister try and stake out some of the house for herself? Or might she prove an ally in helping subjugate the cat? I was conflicted and overwhelmed.

Little Whelp in a Big World (6-10)

Sister came in my fifth year. Initially, the attention showered upon her annoyed me. It wasn’t so much that I desired the attention myself as it was the foot traffic from neighbors she brought in. For example, the Brahmin family across the street (this was Chicago, remember) had a lass my age who I do say had a bit of a crush on me. Truth be told, it was hardly unrequited. But I liked to show my affection by pulling her hair and ridiculing her menagerie of ten-armed animal deities. She wasn’t into that. Her thing was the kama sutra. I’d always had an affinity for the Stoics, having read Seneca in my earlier days, and just wasn’t interested. Besides, a delightful man down the road ran a mill using orphans from the Baltic States that I could turn to if my spirit ever fell to the flesh, and with a lot less baggage than Jasmine was sure to bring.

Sis was a disappointment for the next couple of years. Like a crack-addicted dropout from East St. Louis she spent her days rolling around on the floor giggling in a stupor and her nights sporadically crying in between spurts of restless sleep. I knew from my studies that Arab women had a paucity of personal freedom by our standards and consequently they couldn’t do much of anything interesting. No wonder their husbands beat them, I innocently thought. Have to make sure they’re still alive, after all, right? So the next time my sister started yapping, I slapped her. Abruptly, Mother’s omniscient hand slapped me on the posterior in return. “Don’t you ever hit your sister!” she screamed.

“Gee mom, stop being so ethnocentric. I’m only trying to broaden my horizons by experimenting with other cultural approaches to life. You’re so parochial.”

My retort fell on deaf ears, and I didn’t assault Sis again—I didn’t need to. She was walking! And she dug me. Suddenly I relished being a big brother. A tabula rasa that would serve as my own personal minion! Needless to say, the cat feared even the gloam now, and had become exclusively nocturnal. Having found a bigger stick, I no longer had any use for our ceasefire agreement.

Unfortunately, Galton knew a lot more about human nature than Locke did. After a couple of years, Sister’s hardwiring shook her free of my classical conditioning, and she wouldn’t have anymore of my domineering. Running an empire is expensive and exhaustive, and Sister was a relative dolt that was costing more than she was worth, so I granted her independence. I was nine at the time.

School was beginning to cramp my style. Being the quintessential male, math was a strong point. But most everything else smacked of Lake Woebegone-like praise, except no one was actually good at anything. The teachers just told the kids they were. The night soil draped on canvas that Jim made didn’t strike me as art. I didn’t see the other strengths Teacher kept telling the class Jose had even though he could barely string together a single coherent sentence. He seemed dumb as a rock to me.

I liked history. I felt an avuncular relationship with all the major players, although most had IQs an order of magnitude higher than anyone at the school. However, I didn’t like the alternative perspectives we covered. I didn’t appreciate Tenochtitlan complaining about the rough treatment he got from Cortes. His empire sacrificed people, enslaved members of other tribes, and went on conquest campaigns too. I would not have been able to shed a tear for him if it weren’t for his naivetĂ©. I didn’t like that. It was easier to think of him being lowered into the ground if I could picture him as an evil troglodyte that ate babies. So the winners write history, I thought. Let it be.

Staking out a Foundation (11-15)

Father was now a big shot at a Fortune 500 company. Charles Murray had raised serious questions about the benefits of affirmative action, so Father was able to rise up through the ranks based on his merits. And although we’re not Ashkenazi, you would hardly guess us goyim given his success. This allowed Mother to stay home and cull my crude premonitions with mothering effeteness. It also meant we had to move often. Being a romantic, each move tore me asunder. I couldn’t take the ephemeral nature of my friendships anymore, so I turned to epic video games. I could bring the systems with me wherever we moved and the characters with them. Thus my adolescent morality was shaped not by the pernicious influence of pimply-faced hellions, but by virtuous men and women battling indefatigably for peace and justice against fiends out to destroy the world. This was great for my spiritual development, though not so much for my physical development. While my peers chased balls outside, I ferociously worked my fingers on the control pad and consumed sugared treats. As my girth grew, so did my propensity to avoid strenuous activity. A vicious circle was spinning me down the road to perdition.

It would take my first job to force me off the loveseat. Eager for money to buy more games, I applied to the retirement home where Grandma lived. Realizing I was the grandson of one of her clients who was shelling out $2,500 a month, the boss welcomed me aboard.

No, I didn’t change bedpans. I worked in the kitchen, serving filth to the filth, as Mozart might say. Some of the old folks knew the Ripper was on their heels and that trying to hide from senescence was hopeless. These kindly creatures, courageously resigned in the face of eschatological answers, were laid back and generally pleasant. However, most of the moribund acted like the spoiled offspring of beatnik couples from Eugene (I had just moved from Seattle to Kansas City). The old adage that they’re “Born children and die children” rings true in my ears to this day. Previously I’d not cared for Peter Pan, devoting myself with full fidelity to The Lion King. Now I envied him, even if he had to put up with that shrew, Tinkerbelle. But the money was good so I bit my lip.

Existential Rollercoaster (16-20)

As was alluded to earlier, I’ve always been a dramatic person. While not generally capricious, my life has been marked by a couple of major shifts brought on by my own volition. As I dropped a good chunk of my savings on my first car and got my license, I elected to get in shape. Perhaps it was my affinity for my Occidental heritage that was subconsciously shaping my behavior. Now that I had a car, I started running everywhere. Shunning luxury for a healthier heart and a tranquil mind, I know I made Socrates smile.

And run I did. My lineage is traceable to northern Europe, and consequently there’s more alcoholism in the family line than I’d like to admit. I steered clear of that stuff, pledging myself a teetotaler for life without having ever touched the devil’s juice. Instead, I fed that putative addiction with endorphins by running. In two years, I’d gone from 220 pounds to one-hundred sixty. On Sundays, I lost myself on treks of fifteen miles and more. The Han better stay loyal in their seminal love affair with capitalism, because in my later years I’ll need them to have human organ and tissue farms up and running so that I can harvest a fresh pair of knees at an affordable price.

The running had unintended consequences. I was no longer aesthetically displeasing and with my charm, brilliance, perspicacity, and most of all, humility, I was able to land a gorgeous broad. My natural parsimony was neutralized by her consumerism. Instead of spending my nights in a solitary pursuit of personal edification, I was suddenly “going out” nearly every evening. The constant contact with the lumpenproletariat that attend teen soirees fostered a misanthropic streak in my psyche that burns vivaciously still today. She had me wrapped around her finger, but my heavens, was she a thrill.

All’s well that ends well. A year later, I wanted a change of name and address. The tech bubble had just burst, but I only had about half of what I would have had to throw into the market if I’d plugged my ears as soon as that Siren started her euphonious song. I’d met Aphrodite at the retirement home, and now that we’d hit the rocks I had to hightail it.

I’d burned the bridge. I made my way to what turned out to be a tremendous retail company. High school was drawing to a close. I’d met another sumptuous strumpet, and this time I went into it without any emotional investment. Using my gift of elocution, I wooed her with empty platitudes. That’s all I put in. The wallet stayed closed, with the exception of a movie or ice cream every couple of weeks. I ignored or otherwise neglected her on a regular basis, and stopped by her place only when I felt up to it. Instead of a lukewarm reception, however, I was revered. I learned something profound from this one: Women are like dogs—the worse you treat them, the more they love you.

Life was good. As I said, I was in my last semester of high school. Slated to run the school store during one of the lunch periods with another student, we alternated days and on the ones I had off I snuck off the campus, darting and dashing between and under cars to avoid detection by the brown shirts that had roamed the premise ever since the Columbine shooting, to catch an early afternoon run. Okay, maybe I didn’t act with such arĂȘte. The two security guards were jokes. One was a tubby septuagenarian easily tamed with a donut. The other was a former jockey, who, although host to several contagious zoogenic diseases, was held at bay by the gentle breeze that threatened to blow her off into the stratosphere the moment she stepped outside the safety of the building’s interior. There was no security. If I had wanted to, I could’ve single-handedly wrapped Kent State, the DC snipers, and Columbine into one and done a real number on my fellow degenerates.

I didn’t want to shoot anyone, but I did like the ROTC scholarship offer I’d managed to snag. It was off to the Douglas County cesspool for an education. The military wasn’t for me. Bailing by the end of the first year, I was free from any service obligation. While it would be interesting to fill eager ears with stories of hooded prisoners forced to listen to Eminem and other torturous tales that caused me to part from ROTC on some high-strung principle, it would be fallacious. The guys were great. The program was solid. While the thought of meeting exotic people and then killing them appealed to me, traveling was something I’d learned to despise. It just wouldn’t work.

The Future is Now (21-22 and counting)

ROTC wouldn’t work, but I continue to. Having landed a full-time position with the company I hope to make a career out of, college has become something I look forward to finishing. While I’ll miss stealing Hackee sacks from new age retro hippies, the blather of pedants, the insights of sharp pedagogues, the awful Lawrence roads, the mawkish Main Street shopping area so inefficiently designed, over-priced, and impossible to park in, the filthy homeless bums that should be exported to a blue state that wants them, and trying to hit the traffic ticket writers with my car, who knows how my plans for world domination will turn out once I’m free of this burden. If they fail, my plans for the future are modest. I hope to find a sharp woman—at least a 26 on the ACT or equivalent—and have a few kids to do my part in keeping the US birthrate tenuously at replenishment. Like the great Scipio, I will then retire to a quaint cottage in the countryside, spending my days engrossed in books and online discussions.

7 comments:

crush41 said...

Give a gradeschool writing assignment to a college senior and this is what you get. What did she expect with instructions on "how to structure an autobiographical statement"? I'm trying to progress, not regress, intellectually.

No wonder East Asia is kicking our butts!

Billy Bob said...

As "The Audacious Epigone's" father, I can attest to much of what he describes. Although it is not evident by his self-demeaning prose, this kid is a wonderful and loving son whom I am very proud of.

bjve11i said...

Sounds like kind of a douchebag to me, I'm afraid.

crush41 said...

bjve11i,

You make my point only too well. Vacuous cynicism, non-empirical, not even clever, ad hominem. No wonder East Asia is kicking our butts.

hammerhead_fred said...

Hmm. Sounds to me like someone's little boy learned while growing up (or perhaps he decided it on one of those lonnng jogs) that letting other 'ppl' see too much of what's inside might produce more rejection than we're ready for. Oops. I apologize for the dangling participle.

dave in boca said...

Gadzooks, I am also a July Oneth child, and believe a bit in Astrology, at least for talking to good-looking babes! Born in Milwaukee, worked for Amoco in Entry-Strategy in North America, Middle East, FSU where I contracted a food-poisoning in Baku that sent me into early retirement with a full disability.

Another July 1 birth is Martin Indyk, and we once shared a birthday cake while he was in Clinton's NSC. Oops, more name-dropping!

Audacious Epigone said...

Dave,

It's an honor.

Are you as self-centered as I, telling everyone may favorite holiday is Canada Day?

Or that New Years Day is but the halfway point to something truly worth celebrating?