Valium Vickie

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm getting old. It may sound ridiculous, but it's true. I don't mean physically old; I've noticed some differences in myself, but nothing I'm ready to worry about just yet. And I don't mean culturally, either. Nothing that kids are doing for entertainment and recreation shocks me to point of indignation. I don't catch myself saying thing like, "you call that music? Pick up Stone Temple Pilots' Purple and then talk to me about music." It's not that in-your-face, cliche', I'm becoming my dad kind of aging. It's more subtle, but no less real.
Look, everybody lies. And I firmly believe that most people greatly exaggerate everything that happens on a day-to-day basis; however, there are limits. I have been a liar since a very, very young age and there's one cardinal rule of lying that I live by: Never stretch the story to the point where it doesn't even resemble the actions in question. I guess telling a story is a lot like covering a famous song like "Imagine" or "Detachable Penis" or even "Sex, punch, poop". Of course there's room to experiment, to add your own peculiar nuances and artistic expressionisms; however, if your rendition has streched the song so greatly that the listener doesn't even recognize the original tune, then you've gone too far. That's where me and my friends come in.
I'm not saying a lot of interesting things haven't happened to us over the course of the past ten years or so. I react to just about every situation based on the story that can come out of it. I'll gladly suffer personal injury, loss of dignity and even short jail time if it results in a tale that can be told for years to come. Squirrels stock nuts to survive the long, harsh winters, and I stock stories, so I can hopefully survive my "golden years", the years where you hobble around on a walker, suck food through a straw and suffer the humiliation of not even being able to wipe your own ass. These are the years that the stories of the past matter the most. However, only so much can happen growing up as a Catholic schoolboy living in the suburbs. The stories that I've been hearing lately have been ridiculous. This would be only a nagging suspicion of mine if it wasn't for the fact that I'm an active part of a lot of these stories. I've been listening to my friends tell the same stories for years now, and slowly these stories have morphed into urban legends. It started with a detail here, a detail there, and than suddenly it's like, "wait a second, when the fuck did THAT happen?" I don't want it to sound like it's just my friends that tell these yarns. If anything, I'm the worst culprit. But for the longest time I thought I was the only one. But it's about more than lying; it's about aging, as well. The need to greatly exaggerate even the most exciting times of one's life is a way to cope with the lack of excitement that is an inescapable part of aging.
See, I spend a lot of time talking to random characters-hitchikers, homeless people, schizoids, and any and every type of weirdo that I come in contact with. If you pay close enough attention, every bar has a guy that's a little too drunk and a little too old to be there by himself. The kind of guy that slurs his words, and gets a little to close to you when he has something to say, and laughs at every possible instance except for the actual punchlines, and most importantly, the kind of guy that tells stories that no one would ever believe. I've always been fascinated by this type of individual. How does someone get to that point? Well, it doesn't just happen; it's a gradual process, much like aging itself. My friends and I are all on the way to becoming that guy. The exciting stories are becoming fewer and fewer, while the exagerations in the one's that we've been telling for years are becoming greater and greater. When someone outside of our circle has an interesting story, we have to one up 'em by adding some new shit to a story we've been telling for years. Next, we won't even let the people finish before we cut them off mid-sentence with something like, "Oh shit, that reminds of the time we almost died on the way to Scranton," even though it doesn't have a fucking thing to do with what the person was actually talking about. Soon people will stop trying communicate with us altogether, and we'll find a permanent seat at a local dive and wait patiently like a Venus Fly Trap until some unsuspecting patron comes sauntering over to within earshot, and then, we'll attack. We'll tell them anything and everything until a brave friend comes over on a rescue mission. I'd always wondered what I would be like as an old guy. Now I know. Me, and a good deal of my friends, I'll end up being "that guy". As karma goes, I'll get to be on the opposite end of the ridiculous conversations I'll been having for years now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's not that I never do anything, I've actually been pretty busy lately. But that just never matters when the question is asked. I think sometimes it accurately sums up what I've been up to, and othertimes it doesn't even touch the surface. See, whether I've been living a life as exciting as a rock star or leading a mundane everyday experience, whenever someone I haven't seen in awhile asks that obligatory, "So, what have you been up to lately?" I always have the same answer: "You know, working and shit." The "working" part of the phrase lets the person know that, yes, I am employed as a contributing member of society, and the "and shit" covers everything else in between. If I just said "work", the person would assume that I have no time for anything other than my job (save for the necessity of eating, shitting, sleeping and pissing), and this may even cause the said person some undue worry at the fact that I've been under such a great amount of work-related stress. However, by adding two simple words to the term "work", I'm able to express the fact that my life consists of a harmonious balance between work and recreational activities (shit).
Sometimes I wish I had more to offer in terms of a response when I run into a casual acquaintance. I find these encounters painfully uncomfortable and after that a few moments of awkward silence, I end up meekly limping away from the forced conversation after mumbling something to the effect of "nice talking to you" or "see ya around". I honestly feel more comfortable around complete strangers. There's something liberating in knowing that you will probably never see a person again as long as you're alive, or even if you do, neither of you will recognize one another. It's this kind of liberty that allows me to walk up to people at a food court and ask without embarassment, "If you're not going to finish them fries, I'll take em."
However, I'm of the strong belief that you never get judged as harshly for saying too little as you do for saying too much. I happened to run into a girl I went to high school with the other day at a 7-11 convenience store and before assessing the situation properly I walked over and asked, "Hey, (name I won't mention goes here), how have you been?" And as I was refilling my coffee for the third time, listening to this girl go on and on about how she caught her babies' dad fucking her little sister and how he said it was her own fault because she's been too tired to satisfy his needs ever since the baby came along and how to think she was actually thinking of surprising him with a blow-job because he's been such a caring father....... So, with no end to her tirade in sight, I'm left there desperately looking for an out going, "why didn't I just wave to this bitch and keep walking." These are the kinds of people that can benefit the most from the "working and shit" approach to random encounters with casual acquaintances.