I'm not insulting you.

From Pathetic Life #1
Friday - Saturday,
June 17 & 18, 1994

FRIDAY — Over many years I've become accustomed to living alone. I'm good at it. I dearly love coming home after a day's work, stripping down to flabby nothingness, sprawling all over the bed, and picking my nose while reading the San Francisco Examiner. I talk to myself, at great length. I fart a lot, and never say 'excuse me'. I kill roaches, as a hobby.

But I didn't get to do any of that while Maggie was here, so a day without her has its advantages.

I miss her, though. I guess. It was nice having her around for a few days, except for the times when it wasn't so nice.

She insults me a lot; maybe she thinks it's playful banter. She also hit me a few times, which was weird. She's always been precariously balanced, and I don't know anything really about her mental health issues, because it's not something she talks about. All I know is, I like her when she's Margaret, but sometimes she's not Margaret.

And she doesn't know much about what's going on in my head, either, partly because I don't talk much, especially about things that matter to me, but also because when I am in a rare mood for baring my soul, she changes the subject. Or she makes something serious into a joke. Or she hears insults when insults aren't intended.

I'm better on paper than in person, so the easiest way to show her my brain, I suppose, is to put her on the mailing list for my Pathetic Life.

Maggie doesn't know there's a zine, doesn't know she'll be in it, and she doesn't know that she gave the zine its name. We were talking on the phone a month or so ago, planning her trip to San Francisco, and I was talking about this low-rent roach hotel, the homeless people who live on the sidewalk in front of the building, and some other nauseating facts of my existence, and she said, "God, you have a pathetic life."

For that, she deserves a complimentary subscription, don't you think? Thank you for the inspiration, dear, and I hope you like the zine when it comes in the mail.

♦ ♦ ♦

SATURDAY — The lady is back. We met at the Hayward station, where she was waiting with her sister, Yvonne, and daughter, Joanna. Yvonne thinks I'm scummy, and she's right, of course. I don't know what Joanna thinks, but she's cute and seems smart, so I'm increasingly certain I'm not her father.

Maggie doesn't seem interested in seeing the sights of San Francisco, which is OK by me. I live here, so I see the damned sights every damned day. Instead we walked around my neighborhood, then bused to a better neighborhood for more walking around. I guess that's seeing the sights, but not the post card sights.

We had fish and chips, and went to a double feature at the Empire Theater, where we cuddled in the back seats. The cuddling was nice, but Lord Awmighty, how quick her temper can be. When she's not angry she's insulting, and when she's neither angry nor insulting she's delightful and clever and funny.

I wish she'd pick a personality and stick with it, but I know it's out of her control. There are moments when I feel utterly adrift in her swirling, unpredictable whirlpools of emotion. Our conversations can seem so natural, and then suddenly she flares without warning.

Here's an example: We were at a burrito place, and she didn't want to come up to the counter and order with me. Dunno why. Instead she sat at a table and told me to get her a chicken burrito and a side of chips. I said, no problem, the side of chips is included.

She thought that line was a snide insult, but swear to god, no insult was intended. It was just something I said, cuz I'm a cheap bastard so free chips is a good thing. I don't even see how it could be an insult.

"Mags," I said, "I'm not insulting you. I am happy you're here, and I haven't insulted you in the slightest, not since your plane landed. Why would I insult you?"

She gave me the silent treatment for the entire dinner.

♦ ♦ ♦

Some people are fart-positive, and some people are fart-negative. Both kinds of people understand that farts are generally to be avoided in public, but for fart-positives it's understood that if you accidentally cut one at the dinner table it's not the sad shame of the western world.

Fart-positives support an inalienable right to fart in one's own bedroom. Fart-negatives believe farts are always embarrassing. Make no mistake, I am fart-positive. I even enjoy typing the word 'fart'.

Tonight, for example, soon as we got back from the movies, I was still wearing pants and I lifted my leg and let loose a robust rippler.

Now, nobody would mistake Maggie and me for a British upper-crust couple off Masterpiece Theater. We're white trash is all. Certainly she's farted in my presence several times since she got here on Monday, but Maggie was offended by my fart in the apartment, as though it was intentionally aimed at her nose. It wasn't. She was clear across the room.

Later in the night, as she lay naked on her back atop the blankets, she lifted her knees over her breasts and broke wind so moistly it splattered the sheets. We laughed and laughed, but when I woke in the middle of the night, an epiphany came: When Margaret farts it's funny, and when I fart it's gross. That hardly seems fair, does it?

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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  1. Maybe someday farting in America will become a sign of cordiality, is it is among the Innuit...like shaking hands was before Covid. One can always hope, though in this time of carbon offsetting, I feel especially guilty now, whenever I let go with a good one. How many kittens did I just kill?

    1. My cat doesn't mind the smell at all. Maybe she even likes it. She doesn't like the noise, though.


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