So I took my 74 year-old buddy Jimmy out yesterday and afterward we hung out in his assisted living apartment watching Wolf Creek 2. It’s a nicer apartment than the subsidized housing where he used to live, which was filled with cockroaches and its cinder block walls made it feel like a prison. I was always afraid to eat anything that wasn’t kept in a sealed container but that apartment was still more real and comfortable than the pretentious, calculated coziness of an Applebee’s. And that old place did have a stove that was nice for us cooking chili or sometimes meatloaf, which we can’t do now.
It seems funny sometimes how Jimmy’s so old but likes such vile shit as Wolf Creek and the Saw series. Last time we were together I gave him the movie and told him not to watch it until we could watch it together. But he’s like 95 percent deaf and I didn’t feel like screaming until he got the message. So when I got there yesterday he said he’d already watched it and that it was good but not as good as the first Wolf Creek but he’d be happy to watch it again. I think he likes it when we hang out together, especially at his place. So after lunch (Jimmy with Beam and Diet Coke and me with a Fretboard Crazy Train Belgian Pale Ale) and a grocery store run, we watched it with him providing a running commentary of everything that was about to happen, essentially ruining any and all elements of surprise.
“He’s gonna kill both of them,” he tattled, sitting, as always, in his wheelchair inches away from the screen. In moments of suspense, he starts rocking in his chair, bobbing his head at the television. And I can’t always tell if he’s speaking to me or just speaking his mind and memory aloud. “I think he gits her first,” talking of the old woman who gets shot in the back with an Australian military rifle. But it wasn’t true. Her husband was the first that got blasted.
But I didn’t feel like screaming at him to stop the narration (since he can’t hear) and decided to be a gracious guest and just go along with it, all the way through the part where the villain dismembers some kid, cutting off his dick and shaking the bloody thing at the camera. Jimmy and I both reacted in disgust and amusement, the same way we have over many a horror film. And it’s moments like that when I know that Jimmy, with not a lot of time left in this world, in spite of all the frustration he’s dolled out with his deafness and chronic irresponsibility, he’ll be missed, at least – and probably most – by me. For who else am I gonna have to laugh with over that kinda shit?
Anyway, that’s what you’re getting with Wolf Creek – dismembered, bloody dicks shaken at the camera. He told me after we watched the first one a few months ago his little lady friend, who’s 80-something years-old with a son who’s a preacher that takes her to church every Sunday – how she came over and he showed her the movie since it was so good. I asked what she thought of it and he said she didn’t say much.
So we watched this second iteration and Jimmy gets genuinely pissed at the Wolf Creek films since, in conclusion, they always mention how the killer was never captured.
Ripe with loathing and consternation and through his busted false teeth, Jimmy’s said of both films, “I can’t figure how that son-of-a-bitch never got caught.”
You see, there’s a disclaimer at the beginning of both films that they’re based on true circumstances. What Jimmy doesn’t seem to get is that they can be very loosely based – as loose as one person REALLY being murdered in the outback versus dozens tortured and murdered. Or that the real-life killer probably never ran an eighteen wheeler down a cliff in an attempt to murder his victim. In other words, a lot’s probably embellished, including the amount and viciousness of the crimes. But if it pisses him off, then the movie’s probably done it’s job in eliciting a response. So why ruin things by bringing reality into it?
After the movie I had to leave to meet up with a friend of my father’s before heading off alone to a late night comedy show. Jimmy and I shook and decided when we’d see each other again. He wished me God’s blessings as I left, as he always does.
I drove downtown to meet this other fella (we’ll call him Will) who’s been a friend of my father’s since they went to high school. Will’s been decent enough to my father over the last few years and it seems like he enjoys getting out so I’ve been inviting him to meet up with me if I happen to be out and about the city (which is fairly often)…that is if he’s so inclined. He’s an eccentric fellow, having graduated from Harvard Business School and preparing, at probably 65-67 years-old, to start a third shift machinist job on Monday. Now, at his age and with his education, you might figure he’d be, at minimum, anxious but he seemed rather excited.
We had dinner at Cincinnati’s oldest bar, Arnold’s. He ordered an Ale 8 from the fountain while I had a hard and bitter Bell’s Hopslam (I saw the tap and was thinking it might be Two Hearted Ale) at 10% ABV which will knock ya on your ass pretty hard and quick so I only had one, even though I had to think long and hard about another one while Will talked about his upcoming book on race and other government oppressions. It’s not that Will’s ideas are stupid. It’s just that I’m trying to shy away from politics, though there must be something in my idiotic appearance or manners that lead people to assume it’s right up my alley. I try to shake ’em by wearing worn out Chuck Taylor’s and vintage rock t-shirts (generally Ramones or Iron Maiden or Van Halen) to suggested I’m somebody that’s not quite grown up. Well, maybe that’s the problem….they see an overgrown man-child in need of some political schoolin’.
Will and I both ordered Arnold’s hot brown, a Louisville staple that’s made its way up here. It was okay, nowhere near the original from the Brown Hotel or even Zanzabar. After that we shook and parted ways. But I still had some time to kill so I wandered around downtown looking for a place to drink. I made it over to Madonna’s Bar and Grill, where there was plenty of room at the bar and the Reds game and UFC prelims were on the TV’s.
I order a Rhinegeist (River Ghost) Truth, which, at 7.2% ABV ain’t no joke either, and water and for whatever goddamn reason the bartender starts talking about Sacajawea and American imperialism to the kid on the stool next to me, who I later learn was an amateur boxer, rumored by the barkeep to have one heckuva jab. And as they’re discussing all this imperialism stuff they keep looking at me, an invitation to join in, but I just keep looking between the Reds and the UFC and my beer, wondering why in the fuck the Van Halen shirt and ratty Reds ball cap aren’t throwing them off.
Some black fellas come in and start playing pool. One of ’em saddles up to the bar next to me and orders drinks for him and his friends. Ya know, if this was a work of fiction and I was to write that he ordered something with Hennessy, you’d think that was being stereotypical if not racist. But he did. He sees me watching UFC. The women are fighting. He says something like, “you do whatever a woman like that tells ya.” I agree, not only to be polite, but because it’s true.
There’s this woman and man sitting a few stools down on the other side of the boxer. She starts talking to him about the guy she’s with. She explains how her man willingly married her and adopted her 7 year-old son, which was all a great big hassle getting the okay from the boy’s biological deadbeat father.
“This is a real man,” she says, pointing to her shaved-head husband. She was “putting him over” in old-school rasslin’ terms, which may or may not be ironic given that this is Wrestlemania weekend. Anyway, I thought shit yeah, assuming he’s a stand-up guy. Gotta give him credit for being a man. Stepping up and taking responsibility, unlike some lonesome loser like me.
I have another beer, then head on down to the Bill Burr show, then drive home and gorge on marked down after-Easter candy – Reese’s eggs and Milky Way bunnies and mini-Butterfingers eggs. I thought for sure the beer and hot brown and candy would fuck up my stomach but I wake up feeling fine and make my coffee and turn on the internet. I see a notification on YouTube that somebody I subscribe to musta posted a new video and I tell myself watch out cause you’re spending far too much time on this bullshit instead of your writing. I got this story going that I gotta finish about a guy who eats nothing but boxed macaroni and cheese.
But I see it’s a new video from a guy I find interesting and humorous so I go ahead and click on it.
He’s talking about Buddhism and since I don’t know fuck-all about it, over the coffee I give it a watch and listen and the main thing I start taking away from it is this Buddhist notion of truth and definition. Now, if I’m understanding this right, Buddhist philosophy might say there’s no (or shouldn’t be an) objective definition to things. That what something is is necessarily dependent on other things, which are always in a state of transience. So what we are today isn’t necessarily what we’ll be tomorrow. Hence, what we or anything else is can’t be objectively defined (this might be more a metaphysical or epistemological than empirical claim). Like, for example, I may define myself, in part, as an employee today but should I lose my job tomorrow, I’m no longer an employee. Today I could be an employee and tomorrow be something considerably different (but I’ll always be human and alive so long as I’m thinking, right?). So holding on to this notion/definition of myself as employee – making that part of my identity – is silly given the fragile contingency of it. Now I’m not saying this was the point of the video. I’m saying this is what I walked away thinking about, rightly conclusive or not.
I spend far too much time trying to be clever on YouTube. There’s this ongoing thing I post in comment sections about liking BBW’s (i.e. Big Beautify Woman or, more generally, fatties). It’s amusing to nobody but me and probably comes off as nothing but obnoxious and narcissistic. So I tell myself not to devote any more wasted effort to that shit, even though I did it again today, shamefully.
I convince myself to break away from that nonsense so I go on out for a long walk in the park but I can’t shake the implications of that Buddhist stuff. There seems to be this tendency in some philosophies or religions to distance ourselves from the material. And that makes sense, since the material can’t be a measure of truth, given the limitations of our senses. And that the material world’s a pretty harsh place, who won’t want the nirvana of some realm beyond the material?
I’m walking around, saying hi to all the people with their North Face jackets and bicycles and kids and dogs in strollers (did that one sink in? dogs in strollers, for fuck’s sake!!!), and get to thinkin’ that life ain’t easy (unless you’re a dog in a fucking doggie stroller!!!!). There’s pain and uncertainty and disappointment. And fear and death and all the other bullshit. I wonder how all that relates to Sartre’s sense of Nausea and tell myself to look that up later. And there’s these tendencies to wanna avoid it all – the harshness or pointlessness or Nausea or whatever. And maybe that’s the right path.
Then again, and this is nothing new, maybe the right path is to meet all that bullshit head on.
I’m walking round and thinking how in the video this fella had said something like how, from the Buddhist perspective, pain and suffering comes from attachment. But attaching ourselves to what? Ideals? A definition of self? To others?
Then I think back to Madonna’s Bar last night and that wife and husband – him sitting there all bald and stoic while she put him over to the boxer and anybody else within earshot. That husband and father who stepped up his game. He willingly assumed the roles: husband and father. Now, he could reject those roles/definitions of himself under the pretense of frail contingency, I suppose. Or, he could accept it and try to understand it. And perhaps in doing that – not abandoning the constraints of the material world that attempts to impose definitions or identity on him – he can improve. Improve himself and maybe even the world in the minutest of ways. For, by understanding what it is to be a father and husband, he can further deduce what it is to be a better or worse husband and father, giving meaning and purpose to his actions and existence as he strives to be better than worse. And being the better father and husband is perhaps the best that he can do. Better than being nothing but physical matter without purpose or definition. So rather than abandon the definition, perhaps he should embrace it. Don’t run from it. Don’t abandon it. Accept and welcome it with all its anxiety and Nausea inducing, frustrating responsibility. Accept his role as father and husband and be the best that he can because that may be the best that he or any of us can do.
And that stuff about attachment. I’m attached to Jimmy. It’ll hurt and life will be a little more empty without him. But I wouldn’t trade those laughs over bloody, severed dicks shaken at the camera for much. And if the sadness at his loss is the price I’ll pay for that attachment, then so be it cause I’m not sure those times would have come about without it.
This is just the nonsense that gets sparked in my mind by caffeine and YouTube videos. Like most everything else, I don’t know shit from Shinola about Buddhism. I’m just some asshole who spent the weekend drinking too much beer, eating too much Easter candy and watching Wolf Creek 2 with a deaf, old man. Just some middle-aged man-child who oughta be wasting his time on that story about macaroni and cheese instead of this bullshit.
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