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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

3/22/2005

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
All-True Historical Indignities Stretching As Far As the Eye Can See; Through the Sky, Over the Horizon and, Lo, Perhaps Even Into the Gooey Center of Time Itself
1975 – Before my mom became a lesbian, she... she...

OK, I think I need to go lie down. Feeling faint... Just typing the words "before my mom became a lesbian" has drained all the life right out of me... Seriously, all the mitochondria in my body just burst like so many rotten pomegranate seeds. Really. It sounded like bubble wrap.

...Alright, I'm back.

Anyway, before my mom became a lesbian she dated a squat Puerto Rican dude named Ray who kind of looked like what would happen if Ron Jeremy fucked Fred Flintstone. And that's it, ladies and gentlemen, that's your indignity for this week! "Before my mom became a lesbian she dated a squat Puerto Rican dude named Ray who kind of looked like what would happen if Ron Jeremy fucked Fred Flintstone." Enjoy, and please don't forget to tip your bartenders!

Ha ha, not really.

During this time, my interests were focused toward stealing other people's stuff (like $50 in collectible silver dollars) and burying it in the yard, peeing in weird spots (like behind my bedroom door, or in the clothes hamper) and trying to convince my Lite Brite to come to life as a murderous, subservient robot. Occasionally I'd also take mail out of the neighbors' mailboxes and tear it into little shreds, but during an unsuccessful interrogation regarding this little hobby the phrase "federal offense" was made known to me, so I did my best to reign in that urge, at least. Also, one of the neighbors who I targeted for this practice had a teenage daughter with a nubbin for an arm, and she scared me.

A lot of stuff scared me, actually. Lightning was about the worst. This isn't a good phobia to have when you live in Gainesville – seven months out of the year there's a thunderstorm at 4 p.m.

Once, after imagining I saw a bolt of that stuff strike our driveway during an intense storm (who knows, maybe it even happened), I totally freaked out. Budding antisocial tendencies and pathological cries for help aside, I mostly tried to avoid the adults in my life; a sound practice that to this day I recommend to children of any age. But this time I really wigged: hyperventilating, screaming, running around in circles, crying, flapping my arms, the works. I was completely hysterical.

I remember everyone thinking it was pretty funny at the time, which is understandable. I certainly didn't think the coming of Ragnarok was so funny, but then at age six I wasn't taking as many drugs as my mom and her friends.

It was after this pathetic little display that Ray decided to toughen me up a bit. This was to be accomplished with chores, discipline and beatings. First step: get me to make my bed in the morning. This was no easy task; even at six I knew that I was just going to fucking mess it up again that night, so why bother? Then, as now, I wasn't so much a fan of wasted motion.

Ray, however, didn't view bed-making as useless effort. The discipline of it mattered to him, the symbolism... Yes, the symbolism. I think it symbolized him being a big, fat, Puerto-Rican douche-bag bed-Nazi.

As you might imagine, I didn't put a lot of work into the bed. This really chapped Ray's ass. We went back and forth on the issue a lot. And one morning he just hauled off and whacked me.

This was surprising. I stood there, stunned, and considered this new negotiating tactic. This wasn't the response Ray had hoped for – no doubt he figured a good smack would instantly turn me into an efficient, obedient bed-making machine. Or maybe he was just a prick? Anyway, he doled out a second one. This just started me bawling. Frustrated, he busted me a third time. This caused me to cough up a huge wad of snot, which flew out of my nose and landed on Ray's arm.

Both of us stared for a second, amazed by the size of the glob. Then, the pause over, an enraged Ray started yelling incoherently and smacking me in earnest.

I fell back on the unmade bed as he whaled away. My mom stood in the doorway, watching. I looked down at that huge, green goober smeared all over Ray's arm and felt a warm glow deep down inside. The blows didn't hurt me, not one bit. It was all totally worth it.

Some time later, Ray would drag me to a meeting for devotees of some yogi or maharishi or other fake-ass rip-off artist. Ray was a big fan of that mystical guru kook shit. At the meeting everyone was all hugs and good vibes. Incense was burning and they sang devotional folk songs and banged tambourines and played sitar records.

I surveyed the scene and experienced my own kind of enlightenment, one likely quite different from the common goal of the assembled attendees. But it was enlightenment nonetheless: I suddenly knew my destiny, my purpose in life. Why hadn't I noticed it before? It was all so clear... I was put on this planet to fucking hate hippies; hate them with an intensity that would melt diamonds.

Hey, what's the statute of limitations on fucking up people's mail, anyway?

1983 – After visiting my dad for the summer, I decide that I don't want to return to Gainesville. I move in with him and my stepmother in suburban Palm Harbor and prepare to start high school.

It was in Palm Harbor I discovered the redemptive possibilities of personal reinvention. Freed from the baggage of going to school with kids I had known for years and the attendant threat of having my current actions judged in relation to my past, I threw away my Led Zeppelin records and began slowly transforming myself into the 100% hardcore punk kid I had secretly wanted to be.

In a nice dovetail, I also discovered the widespread moral bankruptcy of life in the subdivisions. For example, the first kid I met there would eventually get sent off to prison for rape and attempted murder. (It would've been proper murder, except the chosen method involved tying a cement block to the victim's feet and throwing her off a bridge, and the rope he used was longer than the actual depth of the water, so she just swam to shore dragging that thing.) (He was really good at Defender, though.)

Another example of this troubling suburban amorality was the Tom phenomena. My first day on the bus, the other kids seemed excited. "Hey, we’ve got a new Tom!" someone yelled.

I took my seat as they began chanting: "Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!" The bus driver smiled. After a minute or two, it dawned on me that I was actually Tom. Weird. The other kids seemed so happy, chanting away. Maybe this was some kind of special honor, or greeting for new kids? I smiled and waved, acknowledging the attention.

Turns out Tom was an actual person, a guy who lived in the subdivision. Despite having a wife and kids, he'd cruise around the neighborhood in his car with a cooler full of beer that he'd use to try and lure teenage boys into make-out sessions.

Later, my dad and stepmom would ask me how the first day of school went for me. "Eh, not so good," I said. "They call me Tom." I explained the situation, and was surprised to learn they already knew about Tom. Turns out everybody knew about Tom. Fuck, they chanted his name on the bus: "Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!"

This sort of dark-underbelly shit found a kind of focal point for me in the music of a hardcore punk band called the Dead Kennedys. At their early best, the Dead Kennedys played short blasts of furious, psychedelic thrash that specialized in satirizing the hypocrisies of a society that lived in pristine houses with well-kept lawns and went to church every Sunday while simultaneously raising psychopaths and turning a blind eye to the Toms of the world.

Back in seventh grade, I had scored a copy of the Dead Kennedys 7" single "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" from a taciturn, gangly pothead kid named Clyde. The record just blew me away. I was a fan of groups like the Clash, the B-52s and Devo, and in comparison "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" sounded like getting sucked into the engine of an airplane. It was so fast and so loud that it was flat-out disorienting. Today, of course, with all the new advances in musical velocity they have, it just sounds kind of quaint.

Not long after my first semester in high school, I snuck this prize over to Lou Ricardo's house, where I and our buddy Mike Maresca were planning to sleep over and play some D 'n' D. My plan was to convert them to the punk-rock cause. Late that night, after Lou's folks had gone to sleep, we put the record on and spontaneously started beating the shit out of each other. It seemed like it was over before it started. Then we did it again. And again. Half hanging off Lou's bed, my lip swollen and my legs tangled underneath my sweaty friends, I knew for the first time that I was totally gay was as happy as I had ever been.

I just saw Mike this last weekend, the first time we had hung out in more than a decade. He still plays in punk bands. "If you hadn't brought that record over to Lou's, and I had heard Slayer or something instead, I would've ended up being a metal head instead of a punk rocker," he told me. I was proud.

Of course, it's tricky to be a hardcore punk kid when there isn't actually any hardcore punk scene. We were isolated, and only picking up partial, cryptic signals from the punk-rock mothership. We knew, for example, that punks were into anarchy, and that the symbol for anarchy was an "A" with a circle around it. I had enjoyed some exposure to Gainesville's hardcore scene before my move, and with the authority this bestowed I explained that true punks drew this symbol on a shirt.

So one day Mike showed up to school with a two-tone blue terrycloth shirt, a nappy one with a collar. He had taken glue and gold glitter and made a giant, shiny anarchy symbol on it. It looked like he spent some time on this little craft project, too – the circle "A" was careful and symmetrical.

I was aghast. "Dude, you look like a poseur," I said. "You're supposed to get a white T-shirt and scrawl it on there all messy. That shit isn't punk." Mike just frowned and walked away. I sighed and shook my head. We'd never get a real hardcore scene going if the punks couldn't even make anarchy shirts the right way.

Mike, I'm here to tell you that today I'm ashamed. A blue terrycloth shirt with a giant, glittery gold anarchy symbol on it is, in fact, the punkest thing in the entire universe. Please accept my apologies. I was as wrong as wrong can be, and should've never belittled you. I should have run home and painted a giant pink pentagram on the V-neck velour sweater in the back of my closet and joined you; you marvelous, rebellious, forward-thinking and brave man.

That time you told me Bauhaus was more punk than Black Flag was gay, though, and I don't mean gay in the OK way where two guys like each other and kiss. And gluing that M&M to your ear and telling people it was an earring was pretty wack too.

1991 – Remember when I fucked that girl using the flavored condom that made my dick all minty and limp? I forgot – earlier that night, before the fucking, I had cooked supper for us and booted my roommate out of the apartment. I made some sort of pasta thing and had candles and stuff; the whole works, as best as someone as retarded as me could muster.

At one point during the evening I dipped out into the kitchen to get us a second bottle of wine. I wasn't able to peel off the wrapper on the neck of the bottle with just my hands, and grabbed a huge butcher knife for assistance. Somehow during the removal process I managed to put a three-inch slit in the middle finger of my right hand.

Blood was squirting everywhere, and I panicked. Not because of the blood – if there was one thing in life I was used to, it was blood squirting everywhere, so that didn't faze me. But I was reluctant to ruin the atmosphere of our dinner, as well as really, really horny.

I improvised a dressing for my wound as best as I could using electrical tape and several handfuls of paper towel. The blood was seeping through, but I had confidence that it would stop. I returned to the supper table (a four-legged folding card table with a sheet thrown over it) and with the help of the dim light offered by the candles managed to hide my injury. I kept my hand under the table and commenced to romancin', with her none the wiser.

A few more glasses of wine, though, and I became careless. She was making some point about art or politics or life or something and I leaned forward to feign interest and get a better look at her sumptious titties. Forgetting myself, I rested my jaw on my hurt hand, placing my sliced-up finger along my chin in what I thought was a thoughtful pose.

From her perspective, of course, it seemed more like I had suddenly whipped out a giant blob of blood-soaked paper from under the table, perhaps to begin some sort of ghoulish after-dinner puppet show.

She screamed.

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