The High Road

I remember seeing the 1978 Robert Altman film “A Wedding” in 1978 when I was 9 or 10 and thinking that adults acting like children seemed a little unrealistic, even for the movies. Adults were supposed to know better than to get themselves into farcical predicaments; these self-excavated holes of egomaniacal indulgence that were impossible to escape from without surrendering to the very fears that made these adults dig the trench of delusion in the first place. Right, I was a JOY to be around as a lad, just ask any of my teachers when they get out of rehab. Years later I watched the same movie again, this time as an adult whose realization that no one, men nor women, ever really grows up, thinking it was just OK in the scheme of Robert Altman Attention Deficit Theater. I always thought that Geraldine Chaplin and Natalie Merchant and Gloria Vanderbilt were somehow the same person in different reincarnations. Google it.

This just reminds me of the overall grey area real time dread everyone around me is predicting “for at least four years.” If I were at all an optimist I would feel a tickle of shame for giving zero f*cks about the state of government, but as an overgrown child who’s:

  1. seen it all
  2. unseen it all
  3. fucked it all
  4. snorted it all
  5. laughed  at it all
  6. cried for only some of it
  7. given up hope for most of it

I really can’t be held responsible for my lack of enthusiasm for the future. You’re right, it’s the world-weary gaze of exhausted opportunities passing by at a speed just fast enough to escape my half-hearted attempt at grabbing it by the _____ and bringing it back to where it once was. Well, I’m not sure if I was ever very optimistic. Looking back at my life I’ve always bathed uncomfortably in dread and rage, even as a lad with everything going for me including the future. “He’s smart but doesn’t apply himself” my teachers would say. “He’s prone to shortcuts and easy ways out.” I remember getting busted using a calculator on a math test when I was in the 4th Grade. I don’t remember what I said in the aftermath, nothing witty like “I’ll have to take off my pants to count to 21.” I always sought the easier way out of everything. Why go the hard way unless you’re into that kind of thing? Being back in New York reminds me of all these gems of retrospect. Looking back I wasn’t the worst kid Catholic Charities ever marked up and sold on. I never really destroyed anything unless you count the time I cracked the windshield of my adoptive mother’s Cadillac with a basketball. At least I was playing with a ball and not a doll @nohomo. Well, there was that other time I cut the power to all of East 71st Street for a few hours in the winter of 1976 but that was my little gay friend Ramie’s fault, I was just in the wrong power station at the wrong time. Still got blamed. Point is: things could have always been worse, which is my go-to philosophy of today. The end of the world could be any moment and I’m not spending my last moments of cognizance worried about four more years of:

STANDARD OPERATIONAL BULLSHIT

Oh no, not me.

My adoptive father used to say my adoptive mother looked a little like Carol Burnett. I never thought she did, although the character Ms. Burnett played in the Altman film “A Wedding” kind of reminded me of many women of the seventies, upright citizens flowing in the Judy Blume wifey wonderland of appearances over appetites. Everyone else comes first… that’ll get this gal into heaven. Another reason why I’m grateful to be a man. I don’t have to care about anyone else’s feelings or what anyone else thinks about me or my lack of adult-like amenability to harmony or convention. Ladies, you keep yourselves locked up in the multi-way mirror of wasted opinions and platitudes. YOU hold the key to the lock on your own freedom. Fag Hags listen up: how many _____’s should you give about what other people think?

LESS THAN ZERO

Ms. Burnett’s character in the Altman film, a married lady named Tulip, the mother of the bride, nearly succumbs to the extramarital longings of Daddy Bear Pat McCormick but sees the error of her sins before she’s even committed them and likely carries the guilt of what she didn’t even do for the rest of her life. This hits close to many women I am sure. That’s what’s really fucked up, feeling guilty for anticlimaxial lust only experienced within the corroded confines of the heart.

It’s been said before so this is nothing new, but the high road, that is the road least traveled and endured for purely selfish reasons, is not as structurally sound as it’s been in the past. Instant gratification via the ENTER button has all but washed away any hope of the high road being a journey of timely enlightenment and savory satisfaction at doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s just easier to tell the asshole in front of you to fuck off. The visceral momentary high that comes from verbal aggression has been, for me at least, much more gratifying that trudging the high road of happy, albeit unfinished destiny.

Tulip, wherever you are girl, forget about guilt. Much like voting in America, it’s a complete waste of time.

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