Loud Day

When I went to the john for my morning wizz, a cockroach was on the bristles of my toothbrush, maybe eating whatever was left of yesterday's Crest. Killed the disgusting thing and rinsed off the brush, but now and for the rest of my life, every time I brush my teeth I'll remember that roach. Good thing I don't brush my teeth very often.

♦ ♦ ♦

It's the morning social hour on the sidewalk. There must be 30 people, maybe more, young and old, standing around and talking mostly in Vietnamese, in front of my building and the building next door and in the street and on the sidewalk on the other side. The heart of the party, though, is right outside my window.

Nothing's wrong with other people being friendly, long as I'm not invited thank you, and nobody in this slum would have enough indoor acreage to host an event like this, so have fun, folks. But why is the party happening under my bay window, starting at the crack of 8:30 on a weekend morning?

Further grumpiness: When I'm forced into a conversation, it's usually one person talking, one person listening, with the roles switching once in a while. With this crowd, though, it seems like everyone's talking all at once, except the children, who simply scream.

A crotchety neighbor needs to open his window and shout, "Shut the fuck up!", but it won't be me. That would bring only bad vibes, taunts, and possibly a brick through my window. This ain't Mr Rogers' neighborhood.

Peering through the cheap plastic Venetians, I'm trying to make sense of the scene: babies in their mothers' arms, toddlers toddling, little kids, bigger kids, high school kids, grown-ups, and gray-haired oldsters, some with walkers. Everyone's dressed up like it's Easter Sunday, standing there on the sidewalk and the street and the stairs. There's a wedding, perhaps? Or some kind of Asian holiday? Maybe it's Loud Day.

Half an hour later, a fleet of late-model sedans come down the alleyway, and everyone who's been bothering me all morning climbs into the five cars, which drive away, horns honking, into the distance. Somewhere in the city today, there's a convention of well-dressed Vietnamese non-stop talkers.

♦ ♦ ♦

Pike found a mildewy queen-size futon down the street, so I've inherited the butt-portion of the old couch he and Terry had been sleeping on. Terry — that's his girlfriend who's almost always here. We met a week or so ago, and of course I forgot her name, but yesterday they were arguing again and I overheard her name when Pike screamed it.

I told them thanks for the couch cushions, and indeed it'll be a relief to my butt and backside after sleeping on my wooden sleep-shelf since I moved in. I'm happier for them, though. Finally having a real bed instead of two people sleeping on one sofa, maybe they'll argue less when they're not sweating on top of each other after the sex.

♦ ♦ ♦

A long letter, from Maria Tomchick, of Eat the State! Zine:

As usual, I enjoyed reading PL, especially your political rants. I was commenting to a friend yesterday that I think I've alienated a few of the other zine people I trade with because of the political stuff in my zine. I forget that we live in a country where political discussions are frowned on in the same way as talking about your toilet habits, menstrual problems, etc in a fancy restaurant is considered grotesque. Normal people don't let politics bother them at all… Aaargghh! …

I read about your exchanges with Carlotta and found them very interesting. I've always thought that people talk about sex when they're in an unsure social situation. They may feel too insecure to talk about their hobbies, what they're thinking about, how they are going to deal with their mother's illness, what they thought about a movie they saw the night before, etc. All these things might lead them to betray something about themselves that they consider shameful or inferior in some way (feelings like fear and insecurity aren't always logical, so bear with me here).

I do this too, especially at parties where I don't know most of the people. It's safe to fall back on sex-talk because it's a common denominator among everyone, and everyone is interested in or fascinated by sex. And women, especially, get a lot of approval for being sexy or knowledgeable about sex.

Unfortunately, there's a flip side to this, too — sexual harassment and unwanted advances. Which is probably why Carlotta gets so pissed whenever a guy ogles her cleavage and makes a smartass remark. She's doing everything right (according to society's rules) so how come he's not being a nice guy? The guy, on the other hand, is thinking that she wears revealing clothes and uses double entendres, so she must want him to come on to her. Classic double-blind.

How to deal with it? I think you did the right thing — treat her like a friend, which is what she needs and why she keeps coming back to talk. Maybe it's why she did the inexplicable poetry-reading thing. Friends are people you can do stupid things in front of, and they don't criticize you for it.

Re: the pencil test. Never heard of it. For me, wearing a bra depends on two things: 1) how baggy is the shirt that I'm wearing, and 2) how hot or cold is it outside? Simple, huh? 

Great letter, and I never know how people do that — live a life, write a great zine, and still have time to write long, thoughtful letters. I've got no life, just a zine, but I rarely write letters, and they generally suck when I do. For you I'll make an effort.

Glad you liked the political rants. Of course, for every person (you're the first) who appreciates the political stuff, three or four people say they find it boring or didactic or offensive. I say fuck 'em. It's my zine, my diary, my thoughts, and sometimes my thoughts involve politics, so there will be some politics here.

I also love talking about toilet habits in inappropriate places, and if I knew anything about menstrual problems I'd talk about that, too.

Found your perspective on Carlotta thoughtful, and probably exactly right. Now of course, she's a distant memory, but when we were working together and she was borderline-inappropriate, yeah, she probably just wanted to be friends.

Which is something else hard to understand. Why do people want so many friends? Four out of ten people are assholes, and five of the rest are just boring as hell, so I'd rather be alone most days. And most days I am.

Thanks for the conversation, Maria.

From Pathetic Life #11
Saturday, April 1, 1995

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.

Pathetic Life 

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