THE ALEMBIC — “The Weird In Review” A blog
August 30, 2013
(This entry is dedicated to the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney, April 13, 1939-August 30th, 2013)
….Relax, crazy ain’t goin nowhere… Serious field research in the study of psychology…
Recently I have been waking often, in the middle of the night, doused in a frigid sweat, screaming. My fear is a very real one, and it is this; that everybody in the world will cease doing ridiculous and crazy things. The world’s human inhabitants will suddenly begin to act peaceably and reasonably toward one another, with intentions of a grounded, explainable and level nature. Folks will make it a point to look after other folks, just because that is what good folks do and if violence does happen, it will be justified as the last resort in a collision of runaway consequences.
That is my nightmare.
I’m terrified of this, of course, because when this does happen my blog will disintegrate into thin wisps of useless gossamer. It will suffer tremendously, fall apart, and I’ll have nothing, nothing, NOTHING. When the panic sets in though, and things start to fail, and the world itself seems to be caught in the drudge of predictable, greedy, calculated, boring unkindness, you have to reel it back in. You have to take stock with a fresh set of eyes. You have to go native.
So I decided to pretend to be homeless for a little while. Nothing to it, really. I had locked myself out of my house in a hasty sprint for these extremely unhealthy breakfast sandwiches they sell around the block from me. They soak the eggs in other, somehow unhealthier eggs and the bacon is sprayed with a tasty chemical agent that crystalizes the circulatory system…well, that’s all neither here nor there. The point is that you must place your order by 10:29 a.m., Eastern Time (no loopholes) because if you are a minute late, while your heart and arteries are thanking the gods of procrastination that they don’t have to process this sludge and you are sulking about in an effort to win over the unmoved counter girl, you don’t obtain the rather Pyrrhic prize of delicious death. In other words, they stop making the sandwich at 10:29 am.
At about 10:19 I rushed out of my house, heard the door slam behind me and realized there was no jingle-jangle of keys to be found on my person. Not being able to use my car or get back into the house and denied of my guilty pleasure, I decided to walk to a nearby park and take a nap in the shade. Like I said, my sleep had been spotty at best and fatigue, with its weighty shackles, had me dragging around like Jacob Marley on Christmas Eve. It was just a bit of luck, then, to find an empty park bench that I could stretch out on. A slight breeze crept through the shady grass, bringing with it a meager chill, unusual for this time of year. Again, luck was with me in the form of a newspaper that had been left on a nearby picnic table, a newspaper that I could use as a collection of thin crunchy blankets. As I was trying to arrange them over my languid self, rustling through the unruly periodical like I was stuck in a bag of potato chips, I caught sight of a headline in one of the newspaper sheets. “Man Rips Off Own Penis While High On Drugs.”
I sat up with a huge sigh of relief at the good news. For weeks now I had been fretting, pacing the cold floor of my house at all hours, sensing that the world’s magnetic energy was suddenly going to reverse itself somehow, and here comes my man on a drug binge ripping off his own dinker. Usually the newspaper only reports on horror, corruption and malaise, but not this time. I had stumbled upon the rare uplifting report that the world would continue to spin, as usual, and I felt relieved.
Like most people I tend to believe in signs and omens that specifically benefit me, and decided my luck was changing for the better. I flipped through some more pages. “Ohio Woman Unknowingly Married Own Father. ‘Trauma unbearable,’ she says.”
Well I’ll be dipped. No longer tired and with a mirth usually reserved for Julie Andrews in some film about Nazis, I spun through the park while the sheets of newspaper, catching the fervor of a sudden gust, gave chase. Did you hear, I yelled to the edges of the everywhere, the fringes of the everything, she married her own father accidentally, accidentally, accidentally. The voices swept through my head. “I always said you had a lot of your father in you.” “They always say you marry a man like your father. Just, just, just like your father. Just precisely exactly like him. That’s what they say.” “Imagine the savings, during tricky holiday shopping.” “Give your daughter away at the wedding and get her right back, sly dog.”
I came to a stop, the wind at my back, the cyclone of newspaper sheets swirling after me, crackling in the wind like a campfire, a land spout of printed insanity demanding me to experience it, to understand its incomprehension, rushing at me to grasp its anti-meaning, to consume its rich disaster. One page in particular, the page that was meant to, I suppose, fluttered down and wrapped my head. I removed it and stood there, drinking it all in.
A distinguished professor from Milliken University in Ohio, as it were, a respected and valued member of the academic community who had won several awards for excellence in education, had actually murdered his entire family when he was fifteen years old, been found not guilty by reason of insanity, been cured lickety split, and then popped on down the road to the study of the scientific abstractions of the human mind, gaining a Phd in psychology, go figure.
“By Jove,” I said.
The good professor had been traced from the Texas town where he had committed the triple homicide to the dusky autumn shades of a sleepy college campus in Ohio. Dr. James St. James, was his name, which was an alias, as it turned out, and who would’ve thought?
I could visualize the interview process with an alarming starkness.
“So, Dr. Jamie James Jazzy Jam Squiggly Sam,” says the department head, “what would you say qualifies you to teach psychology at our prestigious institution?”
“Well, I hold a B.A. with a double major in psychology and sociology, a masters in clinical therapy and a doctorate in cognitive and behavioral psychobiology. I also murdered my whole family when I was fifteen years old. Turned them into swiss cheese with a .22 rifle just for the shit of it. I did it during this bitching full moon, on one of those nights when the voices don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“I see. Dr. Saint Jammy Jammy Flim Flammy, Dutch-Irish is it, if given tenure what can we expect from the fruits of the pupil-professor relationship? Can you properly mold these young minds into the type of professionals that will be in the vanguard of their chosen study?”
“Let’s put it this way, and please, call me Saint Jammy the Whammy of yer Mammy, when you want to directly dissect and diagnose what goes through a person’s mind as they are systematically snuffing out their entire family for reasons such as chewing too loud and nagging, you are going to want me in that classroom. No one knows better than me the insanity that rages through a person like me.”
The accolades poured forth.
“I really learned a lot from him,” said one student. “It’s like having Ted Bundy and well, I guess the guy that cured Ted Bundy all in the same lecture class. You can’t get that type of direct interaction anywhere else, especially at pissant Harvard. It’s like Richard Speck and Sigmund Freud in an atmosphere of rigorous study.”
In a statement put out by the university, who didn’t know until recently about the professor’s dark past, they praised him for overcoming his obstacles and being such an asset to the psychology program, like he had survived cystic fibrosis or had lost his legs while serving in the military.
“Most of us who have brutally murdered two or three people, and somehow are found not guilty, usually just play golf,” said the University. “This man decided to better himself. A true role model and a fine example of the promise of America. Excelsior.”
After breaking into my house that evening I put myself to sleep with a comfort I hadn’t known in some time and I felt that everything just might, just might, be all right for a little while.
And I slept like a baby.
More Alembics to come.