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Full Moon Memories
Some cussing in this one.

Lorina was driving me and a mutual friend through tens of miles of late night fog to attend the ballet at a university in Virginia.

God bless Lorina for her social sensibilities and dedication to friends, even casual ones, for it is that sensibility and dedication that had us driving in zero visibility through winding mountain roads crossed frequently by deer and bear and sometimes cows. No kidding to Lorina, it is such effort that makes life richer, even as it increases the likelihood of troubling events.

It started out friendly enough at the mutual friendís house, Kalvin, who stays with his parents and was once, at least in the hopeful eyes of Kalvinís mother, a suitor of Lorina.

I try to be mature about these things on account of I have a relatively mature amount of years under my belt but at the same time I can feel Kalvinís mother wishing I werenít there. In all fairness to her, it had been my first inclination to decline this trip, but Iím trying to be less of a homebody and not make Lorina feel like getting me to do something social is an ordeal of teeth pulling magnitude. Even though Lorina has admitted that she likes pulling teeth.

So on the couch I tried to disappear into the college football game while we waited on Kalvin, who I think in the twenty minutes we waited was shotgunning possibly three or four more beers, on top of the case he had already drunk and not including the multiple shots of vodka he had tossed down earlier in the afternoon. Kalvin had started his first suit and tie job a month earlier and was limiting himself to one day of drinking a week. He was not a happy drunk but was loyal to the idea that it might ease his much held onto pain. Heíd been at it for about four hours when we came to pick him up at five p.m.

Lorina was designated driver and was declining drink offers and expertly chatting up the parents while I tried to be ignored. I had some Haze in my pocket just in case the fog lifted. Many of the ballerinas would be beginners.

Kalvinís parents gave me a delicious nut and dried fruit assortment to munch on the road, and we were off.

Kalvin and I had spent a little time together in the months preceding this trip. Once we had gone out together to hear Lorinaís punk band play at an area venue. We were turned away at the door because the club was full and neither one of us could see either one of us persisting withóďbut weíre on the guest list.Ē Lorina was somewhat disappointed in both of us but if she is going to persist in befriending social retards then she will have to expect some of that.

Kalvin and I had both once lived in the same southern city and had some overlapping experiences that we felt bonded us. We knew things, we thought, that no one else knew. We knew poor kids who lived richly but depraved lives. Kids dropped onto the planet, onto the streets, with historical baggage imprinted with travel decals from all the wrong places. Kids so underprivileged that it seems wrong to cast all the blame their way when the some of them do wrong. At the same time we both agree that all persons must be accountable for their actions. And you canít just cast a blanket of forgiveness over armed robbery, rape, and murder. It is a difficult thing to consider. Iím always trying to dumb it down for my own self, so that I can black and white an issue that has a thousand shades of grey. Here is a clichť that I like regarding all this. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. And as part of the problem your complaining and whining are little more than self-loathing and you should take that to the closet quietly, or to the office of a professional, or frankly, internet writing can be therapeutic. But donít let me hear you because I have absolutely zero tolerance and only slightly more maturity than that so whereas quietness will be my first response to you it will not be my last. Even at the risk of sounding smug I will discount any thought that does not consider movement towards solution. I afford equal respect to those who just keep their fucking mouths shut.

To discuss the problems related to impoverished Americans, intellectually, is one thing, but to complain about it, or to cast blame or point fingers at the few but legitimately frightening wrong-doers and say, with the exact words or just by implication, that bad people should be done away with, should not exist, should just stop being bad, and that you resent your tax dollars going to benefit them, or some other infantile phrasing from the infantile mind, is inexcusable, ill-advised, or simply idiotic.

I have had something approaching close contact with the people who are trying to be part of the solution, and from these people I have heard harsh words which hold all fuckups accountable, regardless of their beginning station in life. From a person who might be camped at ground zero in the harshest of ghettoes, I respect this harsh sentiment. Because on that personís floor on any given night of the year might be camped a sizeable number of this countryís forgotten youth: some of them being the people for whom we are building prisons because that is the fullest extent of our forward thinking on the issue of crime, and what to do about it. This person offers to high risk youth her own food and shelter, and school supplies, some clothing, occasional gifts, an incredible amount of her time, and does all this in her spare time, before, during, and after her two jobs. She helps many even as her so-called success rate might be deemed rather low.

I donít think a person has to be that selfless, or to give that much of themselves, to be in the arena of problem solvers. Any effort is laudable.

I know of some of the bad shit that resides within Kalvin, but not all of it. I donít why he was being so unrelentingly hateful towards large groups of fellow humans on this night, stating that most frightening opinion (but as fact) that these bad people in America were bad for the gene pool. I donít know why I just gave up and started calling him a motherfucker and a neo-nazi, first in the car, then in the bar after the ballet.

We had been so deeply into it that Kalvin, in his rabid state of disgruntlement, had fallen down on the job of directing Lorina to the university and we were late and had to beg to pay for standing room seats because the room was sold out. We had just driven two hours, we cried. I said nothing about Kalvinís ethnic cleansing ideas. I was really heated up, I apologize for that now. It was Lorina who said we had just driven two hours to support our young ballerina friend. Wanting to make up for my lack of effort at getting into her punk gig the month before I said, yeah, is there standing room available? The woman looked at me and said, who are you? I donít particularly approve of that phrasing and wanted to shout back, I am a human being, who the fuck are you, bitch, but realizing that overcoming immaturity is a lifelong process, I just meekly said, uh, Iím uh, Iím with them. Even though that partly felt wrong, because for the past two hours in the car I had most adamantly not been with Kalvin on anything.

Standing near or leaning against the exercise bar for two hours in a poorly ventilated recital hall was uncomfortable. In addition, Kalvin said a bunch of negative and scary stuff to the young ballerina we had come to see; spoke, or sang, during performances; audibly tapped his feet on the floor or his hands on the exercise bar along to the beat of introduction music; made a callous comment regarding the young man with long hair who collapsed to the floor next to him; turned to me occasionally and saidóyouíre wrong, and finally, after being reprimanded several times by Lorina, just lurked by himself in the corner, going pale and trying not to fall out like the young man he had just criticized for falling out.

The young ballerina we had come to see was a joy to watch and for those few minutes of her performance all bad was washed from the planet.

Lorina asked me should we stay and give our regards to ballerina friend. I felt and expressed the adamant opinion that we should escort as quickly as possible our mutual friend, Kalvin, from the premises. One of the things I like about Lorina is that she does not resent me for occasionally being right, and even applauds me for it. She presented no argument against the faux pas of leaving without a word and we bolted for the exit two floors down.

We went to a bar for one drink and it was as Lorina promised a nice place. Kalvin sat down and asked me to clarify my position, interrupted me each time I started, prattled on about his superior experience with the subject matter (his one month association with troubled youth to my ten years worth), and generally underscored his belligerently drunken personality with one hateful idea after another. As to his assertion that I was wrong I am only too ready to accept that, about everything I know, except that the ethnic cleansing he was very close to proposing, is wrong. It was at the bar that I had to inquire didnít he see the similarity between his ideas and that of the neo-nazi and shortly after that I just started calling him a motherfucker, repeatedly. As a person of German descent he really didnít like the nazi reference and as someone who lives with his mother, I guess he took offense to me calling him a motherfucker as well.

Itís been awhile since Iíve been caught so off guard.

At the bar, Lorina had tried to express an idea similar to mine, against Kalvinís, and since he had admitted to me in the menís room at the university that he thought Lorina and I were ganging up on him, I interrupted Lorina and out the side of my mouth told her not to help me. I was banking on the high probability that I could explain that particular insult later. She went and sat next to a woman at the bar and tried successfully not to bum a cigarette. She left me with Kalvin and by the time she came back ten minutes later there was very little coming from my mouth that wasnít profanity. When she cheerfully asked would we like to get another drink I said, quickly and adamantly, no, letís get the fuck out of here. She seemed to immediately forgive me that bit of rudeness too. I am not so needful or desirous of friends that I will be missing this one but I still feel bad about it. All of it. His ideas, my responses, his reasoning, my lack of understanding.

On the way home I was finally able to bow out as Lorina took over with calm and reasonable responses to Kalvinís insane interpretations. Sometime during that he had changed subjects, away from ethnic cleansing to world politics, to mollify Lorina, and began talking about one of this countryís sworn enemies. He used an epithet which I honestly didnít hear but which Lorina scolded him for and later told me was sand nigger. I was listening when shortly after that he verified the part of my nationality which accounts for half of my blood and I said, yes, thatís correct. It took me until the next morning to realize the epithet had been for my benefit but no real harm done on that one since I had literally called him a motherfucker perhaps a hundred times that night.

Finally, after being calm and reasonable an unreasonable amount of time, six hours into the evening, Lorina said, can we just not talk anymore? Can you only talk if you give me one pleasant thought to end this night? Kalvin truly couldnít and shut up. Right before we dropped him off he was able to pull out one of his stock memories--driving at night with lights off on a thin ribbon of black asphalt through a bucolic, snow-covered Virginia, under the full
- jimlouis 11-23-2004 10:23 pm [link] [4 comments]