The Summer That Never Was

Summer is nearly upon us, as the sun hangs above ever longer with each turn of the Earth…and yet still these are dark days. Absent is the optimism, the excitement, and the anticipation that preceded all previous summers, even those awful ones which each fell victim to their unique curses. I guess it is something that comes with age and experience, or rather the age and experience of one idiosyncratically stubborn enough to repeatedly try to get something right when they should know better.

In years past I looked forward to vividly imagined summer romances, of late night adventures, long road trips to far off places, holding hands and long afternoon make out sessions while listening to the songs where with each one you communicate something to the other person passive aggressively through the lyrics. Alas, those were summers that never were. After so many which did not fulfill the promise of my overactive imagination, I find that I now deprive myself of even the anticipation itself.

It’s like Pavlov’s experiment with the dog. One can be conditioned to salivate when the bell rings in anticipation of the perceived rewarding experience, but after so many times the bell tolls and only disappointment follows, well…forgive me if I don’t get too enthusiastic. I probably know how that story ends already.

Indeed, I find it difficult to muster the optimistic energy for more than even a single date. Imaginatively, I’m already bracing myself for all the possible negative scenarios, like a chess player using the four pawns attack, thinking several moves ahead…planning for a handful of contingencies, each one likely to leave me on the losing end. This, all before I have any idea if the person is even remotely interested to begin with. Before we share so much as our first Soy Delicious ice cream cone, I’ve already envisioned us breaking up in a thousand different horrible ways. Potential future arguments have all played out in my head. So when I look you in the eye and tell you how there’s nobody I’d rather hang out with, I’ve already taken into consideration all the negative aspects of your character, including imaginary ones that you may not even actually possess.

To this you might exclaim, “What a way to live! Why not just give things a chance. Everyone is different, etc.” Well, because I’ve done it a thousand times before, and the result has been a variation of the same thing every single time. If I couldn’t attract or hold the interest of the last few thousand girls in the face of even pitiful or nonexistent competition, would I not be a fool to think that it could turn out differently this time, especially with someone whose implicit inner and outer beauty should theoretically make them even more difficult to obtain?

I had a long talk with my ex on the phone last weekend. We discussed all our current dating prospects with which I confessed to her that I had none, other than a couple of real longshots. Of course she had to get in a bit of a jab and remark that “Most girls probably wouldn’t realize you like them, given that you hardly put in any effort.” I had to explain to her, results are the same regardless. And that when I put myself out there or display confidence, the girl will just come right out and tell me she’s not interested. At least if I’m distant and coy about the whole thing, I can maintain the illusion that she might actually be interested but just isn’t sure if I am into her. Anyway, when girls are interested, they are totally obvious about it. They call you all the time, text you all the time, and express their desire to hang out frequently. They don’t fuck around. If you have to wonder if a girl likes you, she probably doesn’t. You could always prod her to find out for sure, but I first would recommend you consider the exchange between Charlton Heston and Dr. Zaius near the end of Planet of the Apes:(1968 version)

Taylor: A planet where apes evolved from men? There’s got to be an answer!
Dr. Zaius: Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find. .

Why are girls so attracted to confidence anyway? Seriously, it makes me doubt the merits of the evolutionary process. It’s so phony. Actual knowledge and cold contemplation are so much more valuable as traits. If a clueless person A exudes confidence while he jumps off a cliff and person B is aware of the likely negative implications but gives it a shot anyway, giving some attention to the possibility of survival will they not both splatter on the ground? Which person would you want steering the ship in storm? Girls’ attraction to empty confidence combined with the seemingly endless supply of arrogant doofus men helps to explain why there are so many stupid people in the world.

So then as a consolation I am left with a plethora of casual friendships, laughing and philosophising about fashion, colors, politics and the cosmos…with nary but an already scratched non-winning ticket in the lotto of romance. Not looking forward to the summer this year. How about you?

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The Antimatter Formula

Somewhere south, where it is colder,
Where that which falls stays where it is,
You’ll find what isn’t what it is.

riddle from “The Forbidden Castle” by Edward Packard

And so we face the specter of summer on the horizon, and with it comes the maze of decisions, pursuits, personal equations to solve, ambitions to fulfill, and survival above all. None of it is easy of course. To make matters more dicey, the possibility always lurking out there…one false move and you’re dead, falling victim to the breath of fire of some mythical dragon or the jaws of life which fail to bite quickly enough in the event of a car crash… or merely an unforeseen health issue that rears it’s ugly head. Just like that…like so many others who never see what hit them, their Facebook and Myspace pages frozen in time with their final banal status updates….or in the case of this blog some token entry of subtle misogyny, potential xenophobia, and narcissistic babbling.

But let us not speak of the dangers today, for it is in the back of the mind where these things belong. The question of parallel universes and our decisions which lead us to the one we’re in, is one we cannot dwell upon. Like branches of a tree, a new timeline is formed, an alternate reality is created with each choice we make…“If you decide to stick it out with the ex, turn to page 42… if you think you’ve tried enough and would rather give something else a shot turn to page 11.” Always, the goal is to find the longest, most fulfilling adventure possible…within the options presented to you. And we must choose wisely, because we are technologically incapable of going back, and we can never meet ourselves, nor visit the worlds which may or may not exist in which we made the other choice, hit or miss.

There’s a page somewhere where we’re holding hands and petting the giraffes(I need to get there!) In some other world perhaps we never crossed paths, a misplaced minute or two, a hesitating caution or hasty impatience could have made all the difference.

As a teeth-clenching Charton Heston wondered in Planet of the Apes(1968 version) “Where in the hell do we go from here?”

Return to the Forbidden City

So I bought this “Planet of the Apes” #10 comic book (dated march 1991) from East Side Records. I didn’t actually purchase it though…When I walked up to the counter to ask how much it was the owner of the store just gave it to me. He was like “Just take it, give it a good home. It’s been sitting on the shelves for years.” And so here I am, reading it this lovely afternoon.

It’s quite good actually, and stays true to the series. My favorite part though is not the comic but the author’s bizarre little intro on the inside cover:

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Some days I absolutely hate Planet of the Apes. Contrary to what
some people may think , it’s a tough job putting together a monthly comic book(please please put away the violins and the kleenex.) Some days I plod through a story like an explorer slogging through quicksand. It’s utter hell I tell you, utter hell.

But there are other days, sitting in my office behind my Mac SE, that I can feel the grass beneath my feet, the wind rushing through my hair. All around me, I see Apes chatting away, sharing stories, telling secrets. A grand drama unfolds before me, and I’m a part of it.

Charles Marshall, December 1990

And so it is, that’s almost exactly how I feel. One minute I’m walking through the Target parking lot all set to buy some goldfish crackers…the next moment I’m wandering through a post apocalyptic wasteland. There’s very little difference between imagination and reality depending how you can perceive things. Sure, you could say we don’t live in a post apocalyptic world…but that’s because it’s been gradual so most people don’t notice. But take someone like George McFly’s 1955 self from Back to The Future….and plop him smack dab in the middle of Tempe Marketplace in 21st century Phoenix Arizona…and my guess is his reaction would be similar to that of Michael J Fox as Marty McFly arriving in the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future 2 where Biff owns a Casino and is married to Marty’s mom whom he purchased breast implants for and mostly treats like shit.

I must say, I was never really a comic book kid. I went through phases for sure, but mainly I used to read MAD books(and the magazine.) However, one thing I love about old comic books are the ads…for stuff like sea monkeys, 80’s saturday morning cartoons and various, painfully dated, long forgotten relics.

And sure enough this issue has an ad…for another comic: “Alien Nation, The Skin Trade.” I almost forgot all about that whole Alien Nation thing. Something else for me to waste my time with.

the sacred scrolls

Well, the election is tomorrow.  Sometimes I wished we lived in an aristocracy. I think that a ruling class would be preferable over a single leader able to do things on a whim… probably would rather have something like a “council of elders.” And in a system with a ruling class, there should be opportunities for moving up in class like in the middle ages either through some great deed(being made a noble) or competition in an arena, slaying a gigantic beast etc. My ideal form of government would be similar to that of the ape city in Planet of the Apes(1968 version) even though I recognize they also incorporate some heavily theocratic elements as well….

I’ll take Dr Zaius over Obama and Mccain any day.