Cal formerly used drugs. Unlike most activities done over and over his substance use did not get more skillful in time. In fact, Cal had become aware his pleasure would never surpass that of his first use. He thereafter decided to take drugs on accident. He told me— it is both innocent and exhilarating to take a drug… “on accident.” It is rare that an enjoyment of entitled innocence… AND the exhilarance of a narcotic can be dually felt. Understandably, his past drug use had been soured by fear of misuse or “justice.” Truly, the only time I saw Cal like a drug was when he took it on accident. Cal's friend Sid once dosed him with a tab of acid at 8AM, even though Cal had asked him not to. This enjoyment is not often felt in the moment (there is likely no joy in the moment of accidental ingestion), rather, this ingestion produces a mine for eternal pleasure excavation, which I shall later delve into. Conditionally, this happy accident may be occasioned only once per substance.
Cal believes pleasure has more to do with the machinations of memory and imaginative wonder, which impregnate inanimate stuff with meaning. There can be meaningful tragedies, meaningful achievements, and meaningful weather. He’d say that all meaning is fantasy (even math(!)).
What I do know is what Cal has done. My perceptive faculties are intact— this is why I am here... in front of you. Representation, analysis, and a lack of memory. This is in part why any reasonable person reads anything.
He is a pervert. I never expected to be so close to a pervert.
Cal is a good hider, perverts typically are. He is a conspicuous infatuate. Cal is a young, short, man. He is dramatic like how I think western Europeaners are. He is hardly smart. A few days back I wrote an uncharismatic email that unintentionally implicated him. I am a fortunate accident. Cal is not hiding from me or his atypical preferences, he hides so as not to not see his ex-boyfriend.
A couple days ago I sent out an email to promote an article. My essay is about my time at my university. Me, me, me. I sent it out to a saved list of contacts. This was not typical— I was desperate for attention, thoughtful attention. I only got one response:
I bought that book you sourced. Reading it today (lunch break). Instead of school we should have did fuck all and watched YouTube videos. People are educating themselves these days. Welfare should cover youtube premium.
Love, love, love,
I know Vin isn't violent even though I can most vividly remember him doing violent things . Cal and Vin used to be boyfriends. Their relationship ended after a bad fight that left a few of Cal’s personal belongings tattered // in crumpled bits. This fight is definitely a forever-mine. I know this because Cal thereafter left everyone. In truth, I could foresee him leaving. Cal got a forever-mine, and Vin got dumped. Vin would like to get in contact with Cal. Because of me, Vin is likely to resume his digital harassment of Cal. I’m not looking to do the same, he should not be doubly in hiding.
Vin and Cal are performing sex acts that are so niche, psychologically unexplainable... and so copyrighted they cannot possibly be explained.
I must leave.
I’m driving. Take that as a half-hearted disclaimer; my mind is halved. Where are we today? I’m not sure. I’m passing a bridge, a stoney bridge. The bridge is stoney // old looking. That’s a shoddy description.
I can try again.
I just passed a smattering of small markets. I guess I am in the middle of a rural township. It must extend across the entire length of this long highway that impales an ungroomed wooded area. If utility is constitutive of identity this township is not a home for many, but a simple threshold between two major cities, how sad.
Can you tell I do not like describing things // it is an incredible disorder few people these days have.
I hope Cal isn't mad at me. I wouldn't trust his answer // his situation is something I could only glimpse vis a vis a long period of patternistic observation. It could take a lifetime. I should get back to our little game. Okay. I think I missed my exit. I need to focus and get back on track.
The signs along this particular highway are more ornate than around where I’m from. They are sparkly and imply violations more regularly met with fines. That sign is really green. I am really stupid. If utility is constitutive of identity than what am I? A mirror? Women love mirrors, but aren’t good at being mirrors. That’s a good thing.
Ever think about the fleeting nature of beauty? If you think about it, a lot of stuff is fleeting. Things have never been as they are right now, and again now. To describe something is to stubbornly cling to past events you insist are significant. You could say this is one of the many problems I have with counting expositional representation as meaningful content. It is so stale. Original right? I know— but I’d rather be academically crippled than an ignoramus. I say that my suspicion of representation is crippling because I have noticed a recurring feeling of contrivance whenever I critique those who love to describe stuff. I can see how people may think “representation” is bad yet at the same time hypocritically think continuing to do so doesn’t make them smell like stale bread. Arguably, a desire to describe is bedrock to human nature. Oops! I am off track. Let me check the map because I have no idea where I am.
I do not have a problem with the many sweeping characteristics that bring me perceptual clarity. It is how I can tell the difference between an apple and a hand-grenade.
I am statistically a failed describer and uncool. I am a woman, young, and a college-educated urbanite. I can be angry and a narc. I do not have a problem with my womanhood. I believe in characterizations, and metaphors, and symbols, and good, and bad, and heaven, and hell, mostly because they do not conceal their own shakiness // as if they maintain more power when they are rebutted than ignored.
I idiotically crashed my car. I had unfortunately borrowed too much processing power from the part of my brain that was driving. I’ll admit I should have kept to describing the simple landscape rather than deliver yet another rant. I rant a lot. For some reason I thought the EMT men would rant at me in return on behalf of the cosmos. I mean, they are in fact the executors of karmic cup-checks.
My phone was in the back seat— and my radio was off. I wrecked my car and risked my life because I thought too much.
The medics did not scold me, instead the man who was attending to my many cuts (his mind was most likely also halved) started to ask me simple questions about my life and identity. I knew what this was. He wanted to calm my nerves and also check if I was concussed. I wasn’t outwardly nervous. I was compliant and answered every question he asked me.
Where were you going?
I was on my way to a friend’s house- toward the shore.
It is a beautiful day to drive— do you remember what day it is?
Yes, it’s Tuesday.
Am I hurt badly?
No, just a few cuts.
Tell me about your day. Do you remember all of it?
Yes, I woke up— um, did a little work. Made some coffee and lunch.
You skipped breakfast?
Always. I’m typically not hungry right after I wake up.
Okay. I ate lunch then showered then hopped in the car and then started driving.
Can you guess what time it is?
The sun is bright, and I had already driven around 2 hours so I’m guessing it is 3PM?
Close enough— it’s 3:37.
Great, try and get some rest now.
As I rode to the hospital, I felt stupid and uncool. Personally, to be uncool is to be caught in a state of inconsequential hypocrisy. Not only was it my thinking that endangered my life— it was the so-called “lamity” of representation, which was so efficaciously used to test my coherence. Stupid. Stupid, ironic, and a little funny. Dowdy, failed describer, crashed. Battered, ironic, and guilty.
Copyrighted judges ascertain who best diffused boring academic platitudes via elenctic, and Socratic sassiness. It’s a contest to see who can be the coolest. The judges method of judging is copyrighted, and so niche that it is untranscribable. Whoever loses, will most certainly contest their loss, in a confrontational way. All participants have sipped from a chalice that (unknown to them) contains wine laced with acid.
You. You weren’t supposed to see me. I didn’t mean to enter, please do not sue me over copyright!
I made it to Ahn's later than expected. I haven't seen her since school-times, so I don’t feel all to obligated to tell you what she’s like. What is significant after all is what she did, which I know will inevitably be held against her in the form of redundant and forcibly-applied attributes. As we were eating lunch she let out that her and Cal have been in regular contact since he dissapeared. She is a much better secret keeper than me. I spoke to Ahn on the phone for about an hour the other day-- about my confusion and guilt surrounding Cal (among other things). She never let on that she knew his whereabouts // and condition. I originally believed Ahn told me about Cal because she felt sorry for me and my battered face. In hindsight I guess she had no choice but to tell me. She wanted to soften the shock of his physical immanence. :0
Cal had apparently demanded Ahn not tell me that he was on his way. He is fabulously dramatic. I use the word fabulous so as to parodically emulate his gayness. He wanted to unsettle me, to brandish an everlasting moment right across my broken nose. That this is a big part of his fetish. It is a treasure to be co-founder of another’s forever-mine. This is why he only ever gave me drugs I had never tried before. It was via his sponsorship that I tried ecstasy, ketamine, molly, xanax, acid, and mushrooms (I’m listing these drugs so as to prove my coolness). Regrettably, I don’t think I gave him anything to savor. When I do drugs I typically experience a feeling of deflation and fatigue. That hardly constitutes a forever-mine.
Cal quietly entered and gave me a good scare. Among all my thoughts, Cal has been the same man as he was the last time I saw him. In a way seeing him now is a bit anachronistic. To me he is more ontologically close to an inanimate object than an alive person. To see him move and breathe came with partial uncanny shock. It was a strange moment— the unexpected emergence of an unknown actor, like seeing a figurine breathe, or how Lovecraftian protagonists react to Cthulu.
Cal touched my hair and laughed. I didn’t know what to say. He shook my shoulders and scolded me for being a bad driver.
“You’re alive,” Cal said.
“What the hell, Cal.”
“You look absolutely beautiful… and hardened.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I live down the street.”
“You been good?”
“You gave Vin my email address,” Cal said.
“It was inevitable.”
“Has he contacted you?”
“Who others, how long have you lived here?”
“Who is else is trying to get a hold of you.”
“It is an assortment of Vin, Vin personages, and past party peers.”
Cal wasn't mad frenetic or mad more than he bore the posture of a foreboding private school principal.
“Are you mad,” I asked.
“Why would I be mad.”
“It is entertainment at this point.”
“I just hope you are not mad at me.”
“Nope, how could I be mad at you.”
“What specifically is most annoying about all of this?”
“When I decide to leave someone, I envision never seeing... or hearing from them ever again.”
“You don’t want to see me,” I said.
“I do want to see you. I didn't mean to leave you, specifically.”
“Are you still a self-diagnosed pervert?”
“I’m hiding because of my fetish.”
This is part of his fetish, talking about it.
“How so,” I asked.
“If I never saw or spoke to any of my most raucous friends again they could be more easily frozen and collected— left to collect dust in a mental menagerie of people who no longer exist in my world.”
“Another mine,” I said with exasperation.
“Yes, I have a record of Vin, he is the same as the last time I saw him. He’s a trophy of that moment. To see him now would ruin my fantasy and discredit an icon.”
The word icon seems especially poignant. Gay men love icons. One becomes an icon by amassing a catalog of memorable lines and interactions. You can't inherit iconship. The icon’s accomplishments and notoriety supersede her as she really is. That is to say the icon has a pulse of its own // a will of its own. Is this neurosis Cal has toward past friends a true fetish or just a way to reconcile having to start a whole new life so as to escape the wild world of party drugs. I am tempted to drift deep into thought so as to figure that out.
“Is Vin an icon?”
“I have a Vin icon.”
“I have lots of icons // too many to name. Sometimes I have them battle, or debate for long periods of time over wine // wine laced with acid. They also compete in pageants. They do other stuff, copyrighted stuff, stuff that is too niche for you to understand.”
“You’re so weird”
“And you love me don’t you.”
I missed his weirdness. Cal went upstairs to greet Ahn who escaped our awkward reunion. I temporarily slipped into deep thought once more.
In truth, Cal was happy to see me. He is a connoisseur of interesting, impactful, and discordant people who leave an impression on him. People leave an impression on him and then he leaves them. Does that mean that I have never impacted him in any way that was worth freezing? Or am I simply a vanilla lady who doesn’t threaten his new lifestyle of sobriety and fetish. Maybe he’ll tell me, or maybe soon I’ll never see him again.
Ahn drove me home. Cal left me with two kisses and a slip of paper.
Exclusive(!) don’t share with anyone.
Ahn and I talked for most of our car ride back. To be truthful, I can’t remember any of it. She’s boring, and I am boring. An impactful person can make any conversation memorable, for better or worse. I laid in bed later that day and was maddened by recurring thoughts of my own lameness. I don’t want to be uncool. I think part of me must want to be worthy of being locked up in a mental menagerie.
Again, if I were to psychoanalyze him I’d say this is all obviously symptomatic of post-recovery desperation. His mind must create content in order to fill the pit left by drugs and other stuff like that. Still, I can’t help but think deeper about his self-diagnosed fetish. One thing I am considering is whether or not his menagerie inducts places and things? For example, what if Cal used to repeatedly go to a park when he was younger. Perhaps he has fond memories of playing there with friends— a park seems so big and open to a little child. Would going to the park as an adult collapse his fantasy and discredit his icon? Nothing is worse than having a fantasy extinguished.
Is acquiring an icon simply waiting for someone (or debatably something) to reach peak impact and abandon them once they do? I smile as I imagine a young Cal refusing to go back to his favorite park because he would rather it always be the way it was the last time he went. Separately, there is something to be said about bad people, and bad places. I know what bad is because my morality sits atop a static monument of relativity. Frozen within this monument are good and bad things that have been done to me and others. Traumatic events can undoubtedly be fabulous wells from which content and inspiration may be drawn. If Vin and Cal had a momentous fight, then that is perhaps how Cal would prefer Vin to remain— frozen and crazy-eyed. It probably hurts Cal to think about it, but that cryonization is an undeniably substantive mine. Kink people have so many rules, because they more often than not know exactly what they want.
Me and Cal individually refer to our respective frozen monuments when we need to decide what is good and what is bad. I guess I am wondering if things have to be frozen for relativity to exist? If this were true it would mean the frozen object is a critical building block of our own humanity, and that our own awareness is constituted by stuff that has already happened, and is no longer happening… or at least has just stopped happening. This all sounds pretty overcomplicated to me, but I can definitely see where Cal’s head is at. He has a lot of time to think about things just like I do.
Vin is in Cal’s menagerie; there’s no doubt about it. However, it isn’t really Vin that is in there. No, it is a compilation of Vin’s actions and appearances that have been surgically bifurcated from Vin in situ, in life. The entire pluralistic universe that Vin was Vin in is not needed in the menagerie. He is an addict simply because he is an addict, and he is eternally angry because that is the simple, inarguable axiom that dictates his behaviour. A park is a part of an ecological network that is also shared by countless other participants. These participants all influence and are influenced by each other ad infinitum. The bifurcation of this reality from how we see things is how icons are made. It is they who sit inside Cal’s mind; who compete against one another in copyrighted means, who drink wine with pharmacological properties, and do vile sexual stuff. This is why I am bad at describing, I overthink the implication of these networks. I overthink, and Cal pleasures himself.
I got out of bed and sat at my desk. Can I write something that is impactful? I need to think more before I may write. Once again, I slip deeper into thought. Is it convenient for a junkie or a deranged person to be an icon because they are more easily disassociated from typical personhood and are more easily frozen into a bundle of inarguable axioms? I am embarrassed by this line of thought yet I feel tempted to expound. Maybe I should; perhaps that is the mojo of a cool person. If you are going to be a hypocrite at least you can make an impact rather than be paralyzed by rules.
If I called Cal right now he’d not be offended in the least. He’d find it funny if I called Vin a junkie. To him words are just words. In truth, I bet he would be entertained by my fearless contemplation. Gay men love a fearless woman even if she is an ignoramus. I decided to call him. An alert pinged as I began to dial his number. I had to take my daily dose of post-accident pain medicine. I slid the alarm away and finished dialing. As it rang I fumbled for my pill. Why did I put myself on such a time constraint? It was too late. I attempted to dry swallow and choked. It was only during my gaspy inhales that I could hear Cal laughing on the other line. I hung up.
I realized something then as I wiped tears from my eyes and sipped from a cup over the kitchen sink. Is it in fact a prize to be recognized as an icon by Cal? If I were recognized as an icon I would most likely never see him again. Do I want that? Is Cal’s menagerie a record of those who have failed him? Does Cal expect me to gradually improve but never peak in impact // must I always have potential? That sounds like a lot of work. As my breathing slows I go back and forth on whether iconization is a prize I must chase or fear. Is it better to deliver decades of potential, or a singular explosive impact.
“Would it bother you to see him?”
“The moment I decide to leave someone, they are frozen and are entered into my collection. There they can interact with other icons.”
“These icons battle, debate, compete in pageants, and organize fabulous parties where they drink, fuck, and get high. There is more // but that is copyrighted. Believe me, it is a lot of fun. Vin— he is a critical player in this organization. Out of all the men in my life he’s the most important. If I saw him I would just be figuratively turned off.”
“For what he did?”
“No. It’d just suck the air out of my fantasy. If you talk to someone // you have an idea of who they are, what they are… except their presence continually betrays your naive positivism. His presence would make my fantasy seem stupid. It’d be a drag. Seeing someone after they’ve become iconic breeds contempt for that same person. That’s why there is such a thing as ‘the perfect time for a celebrity to die.’”
In my pocket I could feel recurring buzzes that were surely all from Vin.
“What did you guys even fight about,” I asked.
“He wanted more drugs, I didn’t give him any. He tried to steal from me, I caught him, then he broke my shit.”
“It was a nuts night. So that’s how I left it.”
“Meaning that’s how it still is.”
“How does he get along with everyone else in your menagerie?”
I can tell through the phone that Cal is smirking. He must like this.
“I love that,” I said.
“Maybe you’ll get to join someday.”
“Perhaps. But then you’d either leave me or hate me.”
“I didn’t know you wanted to be friends forever.”
“I’d at least like the option.”
“You’re on the right track then.”
He has flair.
I decided to call Vin the next day.
“Lars,” Vin exclaimed.
He sounds the same.
“I heard you got in an accident. Are you okay?”
“I should have known.”
“I know, I know.”
I’m talking to a ghost— a legend.
“I’m sober now, painful but worth it,” Vin said.
“I’m sorry you’re in pain.”
“You seen Cal at all?”
“I’ve been trying to reach him.”
“I want to see him in person; and I want him to see me.”
Does he know about Cal’s collection?
“Cal says he can’t talk to me because it would ruin his fetish. Can you believe that?”
“He’ll come up with anything to avoid seeing me.”
“Well maybe you should just respect that. If I were Cal I’d probably never want to see you again either.”
“I can’t remember anything about that night you know.”
“That doesn’t excuse what you did.”
“I know, but I deserve to be treated better than this. He’s a coward. Why make up some dumb fetish?”
“I don’t know if it’s made up.”
”I mean, it could be.”
Part of me does believe Cal’s ramblings are simply a manifestation of his recovery. Regardless, Vin is speaking with a passion similar to Cal’s, except he seems uneasy. I begin to nervously play with my comb so as to help ease the stress his tone produces. Vin is determined, he’s always been. He must have sensed my discomfort because he changed the topic alongside his tonality. Our conversation turned toward the many links and books he had been sending my way. After our phone call. I began to cook and (once again) drift into deep thought. It’s funny how Vin can’t remember that iconic night. If Vin wasn’t in control of his faculties that night then who is in Cal’s menagerie? The Vin that has been collected by Cal is a compilation of Vin’s appearances and actions over the course of their friendship and love affair; but what if the Vin who peaked in impact was not Vin at all. What if it was a foreign agent? This foreign agent would have thus successfully snuck into Cal’s mind having staged a convincing simulacrum of his lover. I’m obviously talking about drugs and alcohol. Grapes and flowers. It’s ironic, as much as the icon is a separation of a person or place from the world at large, somehow the world at large always manages to sneak back in. I wonder if such a ponderance would upset Cal. I can see how it may. Fetishists must hate foreign interference.
As I continued to think, I accidentally knocked over a glass bowl. It shattered and shards spread across my kitchen floor. Am I proof that physical comedy is alive and well? I’d find it funny except this is not the first bowl I have broken on accident. I squatted and began to pick up the pieces and cut myself. While running my bloodied hand under cold water I attempted to piece the bowl back together with telekinetics. It soothed me.
Did Cal want me to have more impact? He practically called me uncool to my face. When we were back in school it was the same. And to think after a year I am the exact same. Do I even have potential? If I do it is developing at a slow pace. Yesterday I made the decision to be explosive.
I look like I got hit by a bus. I have stitches on my face and my hand is bandaged up. Cal left me a voicemail // it featured him parodically coughing. I appreciate the joke, I think he is a fan of my physicality.
So I want to explode. My plan was to embody an artist who is too inspired to care about ethics. A uncool person would be tempted to expound upon the effects of a big event. I can’t indulge that want.
I called Vin and told him I’d help him see his fetishitic ex, if only to spoil his fetish and become an icon. Vin was surprisingly indecisive. I think he wanted to see Cal in a way that would make Cal love him again. I could see regret in him, but his regret was rebutted by his accepting my help. At the very least, if Vin saw Cal then Vin could move on. The only way to prove yourself to someone who is explosive is to detonate a larger blast.
So as it goes— I decided to visit Ahn again. I would bring Vin along in secret. Ahn is how Cal found out I was in town, and Ahn is how Vin learned I had gotten in an accident. Surely if I visit her again Cal will find out, and will come over unannounced.
Ahn looked like she saw a ghost as Vin followed me inside. I was counting on her timidity // I didn’t even bother to explain why he was with me. I simply acted like he wasn’t there. It worked.
“Cal,” I said.
Cal rounded into the foyer from the living room. His smile smoothly dimmed upon seeing his ex lover. I have successfully outdrama’d my old friend.
“Cal,” said Vin.
“Did you bring him here,” Cal asked.
“Cal,” said Vin.
“What do you want,” Cal asked Vin.
“I want you to apologize— I want to talk.”
“Yes, you made an idiot out of me.”
“This isn’t your home.”
I have exploded. Cal turned around to leave the room and Vin ran after him.
“You steal from me and lie about me and threaten me, and tell me you can’t see me because of some fucking fetish,” said Vin calmly.
Vin grabbed Cal by the nape of his neck only to push him forward with an aggressive shove. Ahn yelled— she told me to do something as she ran outside to watch from the living room window. I stood there speechless, as Vin tore into Cal.
Cal laughed. Was he enjoying this because he was entirely innocent? I mean, he is. This is another accidental ingestion, and I'm his doser in case you couldn't already guess. Vin was grabbing Cal by the shirt and hammering his body into the floor. Back and forth. I ran forward and shoved Vin so hard I fell on top of Cal.
“Vin get out,” I yelled.
Vin was yelling. He left. As I helped Cal back up to his feet he called me a copyrighted name. About right. And just like that my little explosion was over.
Let’s get it out of the way— becoming an icon is painful. It hurts because it has to happen by accident. I thought about it // and an icon isn’t just someone who inflicts extreme trauma or amazement. If I had known Cal was playing down the hotheadedness of Vin and brought him anyway that act would be so simply cruel my actions would slip into banality. Yes, is the accident, the chance encounter that is the most impactful.
It’s boring to analyze an explosion, so I won’t. I can live with the fallout of making a bold mistake. Cal and I are close— maybe he sees potential in me. I am more comfortable now in knowing our friendship will form a bell curve that will inevitably return to a state of mutual unknowing. I’ll be left with a frozen Cal, devoid of the world and all its quiet workings. In truth, the unknowing of a friend is what fills them with potential. To freeze them is to become naively aware of everything you apparently don’t see.
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