Saturday, May 26, 2012


One of the few firmly held beliefs that I possess, is that life is at its core a zero sum game. My victories, rare as snow in Algeria, are your defeats, and your victories are my defeats. I've even managed to expand the idea a little bit and work out a points system for adding up the sums. A plus/minus 1 is a small victory something like me getting the last black and white cookie at the bakery while you are the one behind me in line wanting the same cookie. A plus/minus 2 is akin to a 10 point win in American football, something like 17-7, sort of close but clearly one team was just better that day. A plus 3 is a blow out something like me getting my ass fired so that the company can give you a raise, plus 3's sting quite a bit. A plus/minus 4 is a rout, meaning the loser was never really in the contest to begin with. Something like two people trying for same job, and the person doing the hiring is one of the applicants cousin. Not even going to be close. A plus/minus 5 (and on my scale the highest number) is an ass handing. Something close to a German panzer and a Polish lancer squaring off against each other. We all know (even the Pole) how this is going to end, badly for someone.

In this zero sum game that we call life, your score is constantly changing. Almost anything you do has some sort of consequences (intended or not). A simple act like buying a new pair of shoes may affect any number of people in any manner of ways. Ways you did not, could not foresee.  And somewhere out there in the world, someone you may not even know, or have never met is right at this very moment taking some vague action that could possibly affect you in some massive (for good or bad) way. Maybe right now the parents of the person you will eventually marry are having the sex that will bring your eventual spouse into the world in around 9 months. Maybe the guy who will find you at that ATM at 4 p.m. on a random Tuesday, get panicky and shoot you dead, is just now stealing his first car on what will become his own personal 5 year crime wave that will end with a police officer drawing a chalk outline around your corpse. 

The trouble with all of these sums is that constant change. You probably don't know to any sort of decent amount of exactitude your score. You might not even realize that it is in the minus zone.  You may be singing show tunes to yourself right at this very moment drunk on the idea that you are well into the positive zone, and really not even be close to your actual score. This isn't like your credit score or  your blood pressure. This number really counts, not just to you but to everyone else on this rock at the same time. It's not something that you have to share, in fact, if you are able to ascertain the number, you probably shouldn't share it with anyone. After all, it is quite likely that the people you would share the number with are the very same people you are taking the pluses or the minuses from.

 For most of your life, your number will probably be X, that lovely letter than stands for the unknown, the not quite figured out value that remains a mystery to us all. A goal that is just ever so slightly out of reach, the brass ring that we are all trying to grasp. The top of the greasy pole that. like Disraeli, we are attempting to climb.  X does not really mark the spot. That spot is something that shifts second to second, while you are counting hours in your day. Something like X requires a lot of attention, like an extremely high maintenance girlfriend.  Attention that you probably can't afford to pay, because you have a lot of other shit to do, like laundry, grocery shopping, drinking yourself into a stupor, or just merely going to the john a certain number of times a day. The mundane, everyday shit that we all have to deal with, gets in the way of us calculating X, and some of that boring shit even may wildly affect X. 

Perhaps not knowing the numeric value of X is important. If we were to be suddenly struck with a bolt of genius, and figure out what our X score was it might be more than we could bear. What if it was something like minus 75? Then what would we do? Would we look around at our life, take stock, and a really deep breath and think 'seems about right to me.'? Or, would we be so horrified that we would immediately 'flip the script' and begin to behave in ways that we were certain would make our X less than minus 75, i.e. making sure we dicked someone, anyone over just to raise our score closer to the positive. Or what if we figure out it was plus 75? Would we suddenly realize what a complete douche canoe we had been being to people, and 'change our evil ways'? Or would we continue to pile the pressure on other people in the thought that if plus 75 is good, then plus 100 would be even better, and those poor unfortunate bastards that get in our way deserve the pounding we are giving them?

 Maybe there is no real answer to any of those questions that appeals to us. Maybe we just have to keep plugging away at this game of Life, and hope for the best while expecting the worst. X may never be able to be reduced to a number while we are still in the game. Rapidly changing, and wildly divergent, X may be the philosopher's stone of our time. The thing that we realize would be lovely to figure out, but that if we were able to actually figure it out would take a lot of fun out of the game. Perhaps X is just made to be elusive, like a greased pig, or unresolved like the issues you had with your mother, or unknowable like the meaning of life.  Perhaps the goal is to get X to equal 0, because 0 is still a number, and it might just be, in this context, the perfect number. The closest we can get to being a good person might be getting X as close to 0 as possible. One never knows about this things until, of course, it is too late, and by then one is past caring. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mechant Loup

Today, in my country as least, is Mother's Day. The day that all of us grateful children of 'the world's greatest Mom ever, ever, get to express that opinion to the whole wide world via facebook, twitter, and maybe even taking the old bird to brunch. Of course, all these great mother's get to bask in the glow of raising such lovely, appreciative children, and maybe get a free meal in the bargain. Quite a payback for lugging us around in the womb for 9 months, a free meal a year, and maybe a flower if they are lucky.

Of the two parental units that I was 'blessed' with, I like(d) my mother the best, of course her competition was my father, and that was not a high hurdle to clear. How do you lose to an disapproving, raging alcoholic with anger issues, and not a lot of a desire to actually parent his offspring?  It wasn't a close race, and the wolf that raised me, as I refer to her as, won easily, but as I said it was not much of a contest. Good thing too because the wolf that raised me, isn't going to be featured on the cover of Time magazine as anything remotely resembling 'mother of the year.'

I have been told repeatedly by various friends of mine to call my mother today, this day of celebrating motherhood, I have, so far, refused to do that, and we are about to take a trip into explanation land.  I haven't spoken to the wolf that raised me since Xmas, for reasons that need not concern us here, I made a choice over Xmas to not go see the wolf, and to stay in the fair city in which I live. It was, in retrospect, a poor choice. At least I think it was, I am not exactly sure, but the choice has been made, and even if I wanted to, I can't change it. That is the shit part of making choices, sometimes six months or so later they finally present themselves as clear, while at the time they were anything but clear. Clearly good or clearly bad choices you made six months ago, weren't so clear at the time, else you wouldn't ever experience regret. And regret is an emotion that just simply MUST be experienced at least once in our lives.

The reason I have been told to call the wolf is that she gave birth to me. My sardonic reply to that is 'I didn't have anything to do with that, and in fact if my opinion had been asked I would have advised her NOT to have a child with that asshole that called himself my father.'  They were not a good match, and they produced, well they produced me, enough said. Sometimes when you breed a sprinter with a sprinter you get a horse that can go the distance, MOST of the time you just get another sprinter, and trust me when I say this, in the race of life, I am nothing but a sprinter.

This is to say thank you to the wolf that raised me, thank you for deciding to bear the child of a poor man, thus ensuring our life was more difficult that it needed to be. Thank you for sleeping with an asshole, that spend the majority of our relationship, calling me, in one form or the other 'a useless fat fuck, who will never amount to anything.'  Thanks for sleeping with a man who would rather drink Pabst Blue Ribbon at the bar than ever attempt to throw a baseball with the son he had waiting at home.  Thanks for moving with said asshole to the middle of the sticks, and making sure your child was socially isolated, and grew up about as socially awkward as one person can be. Thanks for sleeping with a plumber, a man who only read cheap, American western novels, thus making sure that when I did learn to read, I had no clue as to what real literature was. Thanks for the fat gene, and the short sightedness that I inherited from your side of the gene pool. Thus, making me even more awkward, and half blind in the bargain. Thanks for ignoring my budding intellect, and neglecting the intellectual promise that I showed at an early age. Thus, making sure that what could have been a brilliant lad merely turned into one of (supposed) above average intelligence, but always wondering what might have been if I had been nurtured even a little bit.

Thanks for being the wolf that raised me, a title bestowed upon you by someone (not me) that you hardly knew. The title you earned when that person, long ago, got close to your creation (me), and figured out that with all the little 'gifts' you scattered in my psyche that I just simply had to have been 'raised by a wolf, there is just no other explanation.' A title that I am not even sure you know you possess, but one which suits you right down to the ground.  Of course, most people who know me, but haven't had the good fortune to meet you, will tell me that I am being harsh with you, that you birthed me, raised me, and provided for me the 'best you could.' Well no offense wolf, but I have been told by a LOT of people who know me, but not you, who have told me repeatedly that MY best simply isn't good enough. Neither, it appears, was yours, which, in some ways, explains a great deal of my life.

It isn't all your fault, and I don't really blame you anymore. I have, I hope, long since outgrown the need for your approval, or even for your belated attempts to nurture me. It is no longer important what  you did or didn't do to/for me when I was but a whelp. The reason(s) outlined above are the reasons that I won't call you today. Those reasons are enough, though lately I have found out about one more sin of yours that made my desire to speak to you grow even less (if that's possible).  That sin will not be recorded here, but trust me it is not something I am going to forgive anytime soon, if ever. Either way, wolf, happy mother's day, the good news is that the other cub you gave birth feels a lot differently about you than I do, and I am sure she has made this day special for you. I hope you enjoyed the flowers, and the brunch. I have told you before, and I will say it again. I am sorry, but, in me, you raised a lone wolf. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

La Guerre

We are at war, you and I, make no mistake about it. This is war, not some border skirmish where we posture, bang our shields, rattle our swords, and then the square root of fuck all happens. No, this is a full blown, saw dust on the floor war. Peace is not really an option, we passed that stage a long time ago, no peaceful resolution can be obtained at this juncture. Forget calling in the peace keepers, the soft men that are terrified of their own shadows. The time for talk is over. This is quite simply war, no more no less.

The truth is I didn't really want this war, mainly because I seriously doubt I will be able to win it. I think the most I can do is to keep from losing it badly. I figure to lose, but I don't want it to be a rout or a walkover. Therefore, I will marshal my pitiful forces, inspire them with the pack of lies that pass for a call to arms. Tell them what an evil empire you are, and how for years you've oppressed me and mine. Remind them of your crimes,(even invent a few if I have to), implore them to eradicate you from the planet for the betterment of the human race, and then send them off to be slaughtered like the lambs they are, by you.

I am quite willing to 'cut my nose off to spite my face', after all it is my nose and it is my face. And so I will do just that just to keep up the appearance of being able to withstand your siege.  And I know  you, know you well enough to know you won't stop coming for me. You won't let a little thing like me get in your way. I am  merely a blip on the radar screen of conquest to you. Just one of many, one of the weaker ones even, but you will still deign to take the time to wipe the floor with me. I will quite simply be crushed, swept into the 'dust bin of history' by you, some bloody minded Bolshevik.

You probably won't even have to break a nail to win this war, and I am sure you already know that. In your chambers, surrounded by your underlings. The people you gather around you that tell you what you want to hear, the stories of your great deeds (you've moved mountains), your wonderful intellect (you've all but cured cancer), your great compassion (you've virtually ended world hunger). You already know, with what must be a very smug sense of satisfaction, that I stand almost no chance of beating you. You are probably already dividing up the pitiful artifacts that pass for my 'empire'. Handing them out like alms to a beggar to the minions you keep like pet monkeys around your golden chair.

Those hangers on, that group of people who's presence offends me the most, will be dividing up the spoils of our little war, without ever knowing the root cause. You won't tell them that the fault was anyone other than mine, and I won't be around (even if they listen to me) to tell them that you are the cherished one of lore.  They won't know which of us fired the first shot in this dirty war that we are waging, all they will concern themselves with is that who fires the last shot. That will be, if all things go according to plan, you. I will try my best to land as many body blows as I can before your superior forces overwhelm me, but we both know (and that is what makes it hurt even more) that I am Sonny Lister and you are a young Ali. This is only got one ending, it has already been written, and it does not end well for me.

However, once the smoke clears, and I (if I am able) run up the white flag that denotes my surrender. I hope you pause a moment, and ponder (you're not a great ponder, but you should give it a shot), why did it have to come to this? Why did I finally, out matched though I was, declare war?  Why would I, knowing the outcome to be predetermined against me take this final step? Seeing the odds, knowing that they are stacked against me in overwhelming force, why would I ever think this was a good plan? You may ask yourself that question, you may even think you've sussed out the answer. After all, you are the clever one of the group aren't you?  I doubt you really even care, all you'll be worried about is the victory, and basking in the glow of it. You enjoy that while it lasts, for like all good things it will come to an end, and remember this quote from Dr. Who as well, 'demons run when a good man goes to war.'