Volume 3, Number 12
Gangster, We Hardly Knew Ye...
Hey kids! Skippy here again. It's that most special time of year and I for one just want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I'd like to, but I can't, because I figure that if I did some humorless screw that sees Christmas as some evil, Euro-centric holiday would have my ass in a sling. Well you know what, I don't care, let them say what they will, I am going to acknowledge my heritage and wish you a Merry Christmas...and a happy Hanukkah...and a joyous Kwanzaa...and a most fulfilling Winter Solstice Celebration...and any other screwed up, new age winter holiday that you self-loathing white middle class geeks observe.
You know folks, I often get asked why it is I do this thing I do. Why I work my fingers to the bone for up to fifteen minutes each month to bring wit, wisdom and my own special brand of enlightenment to a pack of mouthbreathers. The short answer is that if I don't tell you how to live your ugly, pathetic little lives who will? It's not like you have friends who can give you advice. It's not like you could figure this stuff out on your own. You need me and don't you forget it.
But the real reason that I provide you with these nuggets of my brilliance every thirty days is a little deeper. In fact my column is an homage to a man that I've never met, a man whose name I don't even know, yet a man that had a real impact on my life, The Gangster of Love.
A few years ago I was suffering through a bad patch in my life. I had just seen the relationship that was supposed to take me through the rest of my life disintegrate before my eyes. All things that I had thought my future would contain were gone in the amount of time it took to read a letter. That is very unsettling feeling friends and it has devastated better men than me.
It was about this time I discovered the Gangster. He wrote a weekly column for our local paper. It was an advice column like the space shuttle is a plane. Imagine Ann Landers with a head full of acid and stomach full of Wild Turkey and you will be able to comprehend the Gangster. He didn't give the advice you wanted to hear, he gave you the advice you needed to hear. When the Gangster spoke you could tell that he had seen the show in all of its ugliness and instead of being repulsed as any sane man would, he relished it, he couldn't wait to jump back in and get smacked around some more, he was The Gangster of Love dammit and that meant something.
At least it meant something to me. It meant that someone else could see the things that I could see and maybe, just maybe, he could give me a hand in getting through them to the other side. But I guess others didn't get that from the Gangster. Because after far too short time he was no longer in the paper every week. That was alright because I had moved on and I didn't really need my weekly dose of the Gangster anymore, the roughest patch was over for me. Still, I did miss his wit and wisdom.
I didn't forget the Gangster, and when I was given the chance to do a monthly column for the 'times I knew immediately what it was going to be about and who it was going to honor.
So now it's nearly three years later and I haven't heard anything about the Gangster in a while. Then the other day I stumbled across a book of his columns and it all came back for me. I read that book and I realized that I had to let all of you experience a portion of the Gangster's wisdom. This is probably a really bad idea since once you read the Gangster you will see what a pretender I really am, but what the hell, I don't have that much respect for your opinion at any rate. So enjoy my present to you friends, The Gangster of Love...
Dear Gangster Person: You are human, aren't you? I guess it doesn't matter at this point. I just want to say I've been through it all this year. Meaning every time things got ugly one of us made it uglier. Every relationship seemed like it was destined to self-destruct. I blamed everybody. I blamed myself. Now I'm blaming everybody else again. It's a cycle. I'm Miss Failed Relationships 1991 and I've nothing to be proud of.
-Walk Me up the Runway
Dear up the Runway: Yeah, let's all take a walk. It was supposed to be good, wasn't it? This was gonna be the year you found "the one." You were gonna chase it, run it down, slip and slide and fall right into it. It was gonna be warm.
But then the days started clicking by and every time your new lover got on top of you felt like you were being buried alive. He left on his own and then the next one left when you begged him to and if you thought about it, late at night, you couldn't tell the difference between the two. So it goes.
And by March the losses don't even seem that significant any more. No one is ripping your heart out. Each relationship leaves nothing more than a pinhole and by the end of six months you feel like you could lay out front, stick a garden hose in your mouth, and water the lawn.
It seemed like every affair was destined to last exactly seven weekends and end on someone's answering machine.
There was that one that dragged out longer because you both took a hiatus. When you went to New York on business you came back and said, "I missed you," and when he went to Dallas to see his mother he came back and said, "I missed you." Nobody called anybody a liar then. No, you waited for some petty argument down the road and then called each other liars. It's an easy way of saying goodbye.
Remember, the one you cared about the most disappeared the quickest and the one you should never have gotten mixed up with caused you to sit in the house with the lights out for five days, hoping he'd stay away. Then thinking about losing the one you did care about made you sit with the lights out for five more days. A different reason, but did it change the darkness?'
You can't remember holding hands with any of them but you can remember worrying about getting AIDS from all of them.
It used to be the physical was the initial turn-on but eventually it turned into an excuse to turn things off. When everything was light you loved the muscles. When things got serious they were awkward, stiff, cartoonish, revolting.
The ones that weren't smart enough for you called you stupid and the ones that were too smart did all their talking at work. You knew that if you left off the last digit when someone asked you for your phone number they would never make the extra calls to find you. Nothing's that important.
For the first time you had to ask somebody is it over? And then walk away when nobody had an answer. Was it over?
When someone said, "I love you," you looked down for a cheat sheet, you looked for the words to be inked on the palm of your hand. You should have been prepared. You shouldn't have said, "I love making love to you," on several occasions when you were unable to say, "I love you," even once honestly
You told yourself you enjoy being alone but you can't seem to hum that tune when the words to the song are so true. "When you're alone, you ain't nothing' but alone."
And that one friend who always listened to all your problems, all your weakness, could only offer you a preoccupied stare. So you're left with the parades of silence that go up and around the corner and you struggle to see something in that silence. You push, like a kid trying to poke through the legs of a crowd of adults to see the biggest float of all, but it's already passed you by (One of them must have been "the one.") Will you see it again? You're not a little kid and you don't have your whole life ahead of you anymore.
And crying's just not good enough anymore, is it? Not if no one hears it. Not if someone doesn't say, "Please stop crying, I'm sorry I made you cry, I never want to see you cry again."
And months and years really do matter now. Somebody's counting. And who's gonna kiss you on New Year's Eve? Because at midnight your time is up, and baby, it's cold inside.
It was supposed to be warm.