Friday, June 20, 2008

The Emergence of Poly Euro Thane

Bartholomew Smance was one crazy son of a bitch. He spent three years in therapy and thousands of dollars that he still owed ... to determine "the basic essence" of at least one of any number of things which were troubling him; for starters, was he straight, gay or mostly disinterested. After three years, Bart became disinterested in therapy, it having only pissed off his therapist, and decided to apply himself to some other activity or hobby, whichever one occurred to him when he was in a good mood. He liked plastic, for some reason, colored plastic, molded into tight utilitarian figures, anything really, as long as he could stand it up and admire it. Plastic was at the top of Bart's list, but beyond that nothing in that category was hittin' him, no one idea was breaking out of the pack and streaking for the finish line of his mind, as Bart would say. Bart said a lot of crazy shit like that. But he meant it -- that's the important thing to keep in mind about Bart Smance. If he said it, he said it ... and that was that.

He was almost as stupid as he was crazy, but people who knew Bart were evenly divided. Depending on which group of people he was hanging around, he could say, Well, I may be stupid, but I'm not crazy ... but I really am, and damn near get away with it. But the dynamics of certain groups of people who knew him could work against him. Some would take him to task for calling himself stupid, some would agree, some would prefer crazy and some would remind him of having previously said he was crazy, and take him to task for that. But of course, all of these types of friends were considered co-dependent by Bart's therapist, Schlon Herps, a Swedish/Jewish product who moved to the United States "to bury myself in the melting pot." Dr. Herps was a better historian than he will ever be a counselor ... so Bart took a card, and said he might call him.

"Hello," a lusty feminine voice answered. "Schlong's residence."

Bart was so thrown by the woman's seductive, incredibly sexy voice that he forgot why he was calling and who he was calling. In situations such as these, Bart frequently began stuttering to cover the fact that he couldn't remember why he called.

"Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh ..."

"Douglas?" the woman said, trying to help. "There isn't a Douglas here ... but maybe you're not saying Douglas. Duh, duh, duh." Spanky was stumped. That was her name, believe it or not. She earned the name at camp one summer ... and it stuck.

As Bart's stuttering continued, he realized that he was in fact calling Dr. Herps, and amazed himself with the awareness that he had chosen the right sound to form the letter "D," and he eased right into his reason for calling.

"Dr. Herps," Bart said plainly, clear as a bell. "Is he here ... there?"


Thoughts of plastic army men raced through his mind. He may have gone to all of this trouble for nothing. He may have been STUPID enough to dial the wrong number, or, he was CRAZY enough to get so rattled by a woman's voice. In the emotional whirlwind in which Bart found himself ... he began stuttering with meaning. But unfortunately, Spanky hung up.

"Damn ... I'm stupid ... crazy. Both!" Bart said, screaming at himself. If anything, Bart's voice became even louder. "I called the wrong damn number, and, I'm terrible about keeping women on the telephone." But then he flipped the paradigm. Or I called the right number ... and Dr. Herps was either playing a trick on me, which I blew, causing him to become embarrassed for me and hung up. Or, I called the right number ... and that bitch was lying ... or telling the truth. Or," Bart said, zeroing in on what he thought might be the right answer, "right number, bitch telling the truth ... but she has killed him."

Thoughts of plastic went right out the window. However, there was one more option: Right number, bitch lying, and she has killed him. Actually, however, Bart reasoned with himself, if she has killed Dr. Herps ... she would not be lying by saying he wasn't there, because he was only physically there, not physically and alive there. Spiritually? Bart hadn't thought about it enough yet. But one thing is for certain: Bart was one very damned peeved hombre. Because there was another option: Dr. Herps ... might have been the woman. He might have been disguising his voice, pretending to be a woman, or, he was never a man to begin with, or ... he's had a sex change. God, I hope it's not the latter. Bart shook his head ... and walked on.

However, by the next time he passed a telephone booth, he was ready to give it another try ... and see how the options fell out. He dialed the number. He hands were shaking. He was either going to hear Dr. Herps' voice, the voice of the woman, or another person's voice. Those were his three options. But Bart reasoned, if it had been Dr. Herps disguising his voice, to sound like a woman, then he conceivably could hear Dr. Herps' twice, and even three times if he was a fully blown M.P.

Bart reminded himself over and over why he had called, and who he had called. But this was different. Now he had to remember one other person in the equation, and he caused him to forget what he was doing to keep him from forgetting why he was calling. The phone was ringing.

"Yeah, Hoips residence. Giles speakin'. Make it snappy, because I'm giving da doc a shampoo."

The overload in Bart's mind was understandable. After all, by his own admission he was both stupid and crazy. And both were neck in neck making the last turn. The suspense was maddening. Finally, crazy pulled ahead, but stupid refused to fade. Bart was right on the verge of hanging up, but it was his last ten dollars in change. If he wanted to pay the light bill, he couldn't splurge on his telephone bill. Bart thought to himself, if it hadn't been for the make it snappy thing, he'd be more poised at the moment. But there was more that didn't make sense. And Bart dreaded having to go through with it all over again, because it was loathesome to exert the mental energy, the thought involved, and he still hadn't found a new focus for his life and an activity besides plastic, and his biological clock was ticking to beat the band.

Whew, Bart thought, as he hung up the phone. I think I'll go over there instead. It seemed entirely possible that this was all so much more complicated than his need for counsel on one, a new activity, a new focus, and 2) who is it really who was speaking on that last call. And who, Bart dreadfully thought, has drawn the long straw and gotten stuck with washing the severed head of the deceased? And who knows whether it was a man or woman speaking like a gravelly voiced taxi driver in Chicago? As Bart walked nostalgically down a street where his mother used to stroll him as a newborn, he thought back to his birth and his nagging dreams.