Ah, I know. Friendship bracelets.
Told my coworker I’ll make a list of “calmer” games for the kids to play at the refugee camp, something we can do sitting down so their energy level doesn’t get too crazy; especially since yesterday smiley little amir mohammed, with his tiny toothless grin and big sparkling eyes, chucked a fat rock against the head of two-year-old Dameer and broke the kid’s face open. I carried this bleeding, screaming child all the way across the yard of the refcamp and surely everyone’s thinking, great, this fucking American just beat up an Afghan child. Not like that’s anything new. They know NATO for dropping bombs on kids and families all the time, without much discretion. I’m just a micro of the macro. Nobody actually said anything.
Duck duck goose. The silent murderer. Telephone. Down by the banks, but not that one, because the English is too difficult. Most of them aren’t at that level yet.
So the next day we load up the van and go, and I bring a sack of embroidery thread in 8 or 9 different colors with a tiny pair of scissors. Tape would have been nice but we didn’t have any, so we tied the strings to the table or held them taught by hand.
The plan was to teach the kids to braid, if they didn’t know already, and make friendship bracelets of three different colors. They all wanted to keep the bracelets for themselves, so there wan’t a ton of friendship going on, but companionship happened anyhow. We sat at a wooden picnic table in the center of the park area outside of the camp; kids between two and five, then some older Iranian woman, and one ancient Afghan great-grandmother of Asiatic heritage, wrapped in shawls, spoke only Persian, sat methodically braiding an elaborate chain from my coworker’s hand. He seemed to be falling in love.
Chasing beauty can be one’s permanent life pursuit. Chasing money is less abstract and equally achievable. Beauty is easy to find because it lives in dirt, in sorrow, in the separation of families, in the distance between young lovers, toddlers whose mothers have been killed in an airstrike and the community which rises to raise them, tiny hands braiding bracelets, wrinkles in brown skin and handmade trousers torn from jumping a border fence. Beauty is the most difficult thing to bear because it is temporary and somehow born from some type of hardship. Beauty is pain, blooms like flowers in the gut, and can never be fully destroyed. To chase one is to suffer the other.
Toddlers playing, a paper airplane. Shrubs uncomfortably pruned. Old fella passes, rounded spine and balding head in a striped polo. A kid falls off his bike. Couple on a bench, her head in his lap. Tricycles on the pavement. Youths in matching shirts. Enthusiastic Hungarian chanting from somewhere over yonder. Older guy with long silver hair walks in strides and carries a half-sized pizza box. Wears glasses. Definitely an intellectual. Does walking in a city make a person more intellectual?
Bike kid’s gettin cocky with his stunts. Wealthier folks are probably at the gondola-lookin restaurant in the park’s center. Seated chicly in appropriate white outdoor chairs. Sipping on Cold Drinks With Ice, as Fancy People are wont to do. I hate them all.
A small broken log all alone on a patch of dirt. A german shepherd that has never been allowed to run free in its entire lifetime. The shepherd has given up on feeling bitter and simply allows itself to enjoy the freedom to eat whatever human food it begs its masters for.
Greasy-lookin hip kid eats a sandwich as he walks. Four hippies gathered in a corner. Fifty percent of them are wearing those enormous hammer pants that seem to magically sprout on hippies. Skinny man in pink shirt and khaki shorts reads the Bible on a bench with his chihuaua.
Mom took the kid’s bike away and now he’s pissed as fuck, screaminng, crocodile tears, arms folded round his chest. Still wants cuds from mama doh, even though mama is the one to blame.
A girl on the bench with long black hair. She looks like me, but clean and proper, taking in the sun. Standing, slowly meanders towards me. Kneels down, meets my eyes and licks her lips. Pushes me onto my back and undoes my shorts, pulls my leggings down, kisses me over my underwear. Nobody around us notices. I’m fine with that.
Lola, trae la pelota. Lola. Lola. Lola, trae. Trae la pelota Lola. Trae. Lola is a small, shiny black girl with floppy ears and a real perky tail. Her companion is more of a setter/street mutt mix, light brown, huntin dog size, too excited to control itself, barking like a maniac. Owner cries out Coco!
Never trust anyone who names their dog Coco.
Been hearing a lot lately from Europeans grateful as hell they don’t live in the US — talk of bigwigs like Boris Johnson renouncing his U.S. citizenship over tax bills from the states, in spite of never having lived there; gaffs at incredible student debt, astronomical medical charges and the general way the United States milks its citizens as cash cows as soon as they reach proverbial adulthood (though, like a patronizing, overprotective parent, won’t trust them with a drink til three years later.)
My distaste, as a citizen, has only grown since I left four years ago. Though not ungrateful for the luxury my citizenship has afforded me — ease of travel with my passport, for instance, or the ease of obtaining a new iPhone every two years under my family’s costly mobile contract, or the high-quality education that ironically led me to escape the holy land of capitalism in the first place — I still feel more emburdened by the things that define Americanness, the debt intended to enslave me, the brute sense of entitlement that follows like a stray dog until you learn to strangle it off, the intuitive affront at things deemed less civilized, that which is dirty, that which is poor; the social obligation to pretend to be nice until you’ve gotten what you want out of someone, to bend over backwards for the customer who, under sacred capitalist doctrine, is always right.
Capitalism has founded a culture based on for-profit falsities, people taught to swindle as a means to an end — a pasted-on smile and a high-pitched “How are you today?!” that, as we all know, is never intended to invite an honest answer. Like most of my friends without affluent parents, I’ve spent years sucking sacred customer dick in the service industry, tolerating patronizing verbal abuses of all those Good Christians who, you never know, might just be having a bad day — so don’t take it personal (if you do, you’ll be fired or worse — sued for inflicting emotional distress.) It pains me to envision forcing myself back into that industry; never again could I felate a customer for the sake of my job unless I go into literal prostitution, which pays better anyway. Fire me for self-defense or a refusal to bullshit, if you must. I’ll find another shit job, there are millions like it out there. That life is a mere mirage of living.
Then there’s the debt. My humble 22 grand used to be enough to keep me awake at night, until I decided it was a social tool to oppress and subdue me (which it is.)
Consider Noam Chomsky’s take:
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.”
I sought an education and was charged an inhuman amount as punishment. I do not, have never agreed with this system but have had no choice but to consent — rape at gunpoint is still rape. Seeking education is not a crime; a society which values its citizens and its future must encourage education and install incentives to seek it out, not punitive consequences. The USA has made its priorities quite clear, and they do not coincide with my own. At the risk of sounding like a cocky piece of shit, nothing is more valuable to me than my time, my youth, my vivacity — I refuse to devote the years of my 20’s, all this vigor and passion and potential, slaving away on the corporate ladder, or behind the sales counter deep-throating spoiled white people just to pay down my interest fees. They can tack the debt on me, but they don’t own my hide. Hit me with the consequences, USA. Threaten me with total financial ruin — the way I see it, with all this debt I’m already there. My years are mine. If I am so free, as a citizen of this Great Nation, then free I shall be and far I shall roam, unburdened by chains, financial or otherwise. The debt’s not going anywhere, so I’ll worry about it later on. Right now, I’ve got other priorities (marrying a charming, wealthy Canadian is relatively high on the list. Canada HMU.)
Eric wants to know about teaching English. He has a lot of questions about his new career and can sense that am a minefield of answers. He is correct, but he is also a white boy with a ponytail and I don’t feel like educating another one of those right now.
We’re sitting on the floor of the Malaga airport, right in the way of everyone crossing Arrivals. He squats flat-footed and I’m sat atop my rucksack, chatting because I can, because my bus is a ways out, and because I must keep my mind active or risk prompt collapse from jetlag.
“This airport is evil. See the benches?” I gesture so Eric can see. “They put the bars on there to prevent sleepers. You gotta sleep underneath on the granite. I like it though, you can put your luggage there as a sort of guard wall. Block the masturbators.”
Eric is astounded that I have said “masturbators” aloud. He is from the East Coast of the United States and he moves pianos for a living. His ears are gauged, like mine. I assumed he would understand these things for some reason, a rookie mistake. “Masturbators? In the airport?”
“Oh, they’re everywhere, airports included,” I nod with affliction. “But that time I was out in the open, on the ground behind a cement column. The masturbator was facing me, sat on the bench. I woke up to him there watching me sleep. There was an airport worker down the way, saw the whole thing. Didn’t do shit though.”
“Wow,” says Aaron. “I don’t think I know any girls that’s happened to.”
“You do, dude. I promise.”
It’s possible Bators are more common in Europe where freedom is an actual thing you can feel and live, not like in the states where it’s a mythical idea like World Peace or Equal Rights. The Bator is an unfortunate by-product of the knowledge that one may do as one pleases without threat or fear of punitive consequence, paired with the painful dilemma of being a horny old fuck.
To be fair, now, there is certainly something about a good vista that just makes a person want to ejaculate. I’ve definitely rubbed a couple out on the tops of mountains before. That shit gets me hard. I’d bet money a lot of these dudes are just extreme nature enthusiasts (don’t worry, I don’t have any money.) I don’t need to hurl myself on a bench and crank it while watching a stranger sleep, but maybe it just depends on the particular stranger or whether or not I’ve taken my meds that day.
I tell Piano Guy about my full working list of Bators — the Guy On The Cliff, Shirtless Park Guy, the Guy On The Lookout Bench, the Guy Downhill Looking Up, the Lurker In The Meadow, Sleeping Bag Guy and the assorted collection of Brazen Beach Fellows. Piano Guy, having gotten exactly 0% of the information he had been hoping to extract from me, has heard enough. “Wow,” he says, “that’s terrible. I’ll keep an eye out so I can do a quick getaway if it ever happens to me.”
“Yeah, it won’t.” I get to my feet and heave my pack back on. Fucking white guys with ponytails don’t know shit about life.
he was at once somehow equally handsome and perverse, with a bit of a hunch from habitually lowering his height to interact with those around him. a life full of forced bowing as if bound to some socially obligatory servitude.
yet this servitude to others, it touches us all — forms a grid, a matrix to which we attach ourselves and from those fixed points create an extended reality. we have shaped it upon the play ground which was provided by mother nature. she threw down the backdrop and now is watching the scene unfold. the grand comedy. cheers Ma.
this net above us is held in place by our own hands and those of our neighbors. in public we expect things of people, and we reaffirm these expectations by accepting that things should be expected of us in the first place as a natural reality. we reinforce that reality by engaging actively in it regardless of our stance(i.e. being “anti-capitalist” but continuing to purchase new items)
peer pressure is the weight of the collective stare of a given population as it turns and questions everything about you in an instant. it is heavy. it is painful. It is a weight that serves to keep us in our places by allowing us to force manipulated behaviors onto others: with narrowed eyes we say, “because you are different, i doubt you.” that type of prohibitive garbage.
who knows. cosmic crap. remember to keep in close contact with friends and not be an asshole.
había un calvito con miedo de todo
con ojitos que brillaban al sol
quería irse lejos, pero temía estar sin la madre,
quería ver el mundo, pero temía viajar.
quería cocinar, pero temía aprender cómo,
quería amar, pero temía su corazón.
quería ser más sabio, pero temía irse al cole,
quería salir fuera, pero incluso temía el sol.
con suerte un día el calvito
se dejó caer de la cuna
y pasito a pasito
aprendió a caminar —
luego se puso pelo y
como dicta la naturaleza
tras su milagro mas asombroso
se atrevió de ser hombre
y el calvito se creció.
send some more pics of your
stumpy pink dick while you
hold it at the base with your
unwashed sheets and empty
walls in the background and
the the tv tuned to some
sports channel that
shit gets me so
wet i just