What Do You See?
Heard joke once:
Man goes to the doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says "But doctor... I am Pagliacci."
Good joke. Everybody laugh.
Roll on snare drum.
~Rorschach, The Watchmen
Woke up once at 8:00 AM. Sun was glary through blinds. Went through my morning routine. Showering and flossing were both involved. Walked to bus stop. Felt the hairs on my arm stand on end and brush the inside of my jacket in response to the cold. One girl waiting for the 9:05 to campus would have been pretty had she not hit puberty quite so hard. Acne scars marred her otherwise gorgeous countenance. I couldn't stop staring at her-- face forward, jaw set stern against the morning chill and my stare. I began to wonder if she was bitter over it. Up until her metamorphosis into a woman, she probably received attention in buckets. Now she didn't elicit a second glance from anyone besides me. Life had given her a gift of incredible value and then removed it piece by piece. Like a kidnapper with his hostage's fingers. I've still seen worse.
Sitting out front of my first class, I spoke with a stuttering woman. She asked me if I liked Harry Potter without any prompting. I had only read the fourth book. I told her what I read had been good. She said she'd never read any of them. She only asked because that's one of those things people talk about. I continued talking despite awkwardness. She eventually got around to something about being spanked. I got the feeling she didn't get to talk to many people. Her manner was squirrelly, and she tripped over every third word like clockwork. She is thirty-something and alone and lonely. I am twenty-something, but I can relate.
I went to lunch on Franklin. The homeless had started to dress warm. I pass by them every day, inured to their begging. They ask me for money, even when I have earphones in. I only know because I sometimes walk with the sound off. They know I don't give anymore, but they ask anyway. "Spare change?" They've reduced their begging to two lazy words. After lunch I was accosted by a new woman. She asked for change as I waited to cross an intersection. I told her I was very busy and put my earphones in. She screamed at me about Louisiana. About how I'll be in her place when a hurricane as bad as Katrina hits NC. I wondered whether her story was true and continued on, not looking behind. I decided her anger separated her from the other homeless on Franklin. The rest wouldn't care if you hit them with a cattle prod. At least she felt something. Too bad she felt entitled to the money I held. It's not even mine.
(You don't want to read this paragraph.) I thought about the Groenes and Joseph Edward Duncan. Joseph Edward Duncan bludgeoned three people to death: Brenda Groene, her boyfriend, and her 13 year-old son. He then took Brenda's children, eight and nine year-olds, Shasta and Dylan, and brought them to his cabin. There, he sexually assaulted them repeatedly. He made videos in which he hanged Dylan to the point of death, only to give him slack so he could hang him again, masturbating all the while. He got Shasta to drag an unconscious Dylan over a campfire. Then he killed Dylan with a shotgun, chopped him into pieces, and got Shasta to burn his body.
Nothing feels right. Every day I put up with this cosmic joke. I can't imagine there's a good, Kind Mr. God up in Heaven waiting for Dylan to be molested and tortured and finally murdered. I can't imagine some higher power waiting to explain to Shasta once she dies that everything she did in the charge of her captor was for the greatest good of the Universe or helped make the good in the world stand out. Wow, that's some good good now that the Groene family was murdered. She's going to have big problems. There's no way around that. I look out at the world and see all the little cruelties staring back at me reminding me of the bigger ones. The girl at the bus, the lonely stutterer, the justifiably angry homeless woman. The big, human-driven cruelty I can't explain. The kind of cruelty that wraps itself around the pyloric region of my stomach and squeezes until I feel like vomiting.
There's a convicted child molester on the street adjoining mine. I think about that every day, too.
I'm done for now.