An Interview with the GROOM

The world is a volatile place. It’s easy to forget, when looking out at a majestic landscape, that just beneath is a boiling cauldron of liquid fire trying to push up into our serene countrysides. Every once in a while, though, this river of burning rock emerges to wreak havoc on certain idyllic havens, most recently the paradise known as Hawaii, where a hellish mass of molten lava and toxic gases spit out from Mount Kilauea is consuming everything in its path. Realizing the magnitude of the destruction, we here at the Alembic blog went out into the field and secured a rare and dangerous interview with the Gushing River Of Orange Magma, or G.R.O.O.M. in order to better understand its character, motives and purpose. Here is a transcript of that interview: 

AB: How are you doing today? 

GROOM: Oh man, what a week. It’s good to be on vacation. Why are you standing so far away? 

AB: Sorry. 

GROOM: It’s kind of hard to hear you from all the way over there. 

AB: I just don’t want to.. If I get too close you might kill me. 

GROOM: What are you, a racist? 

AB: Um, no. 

GROOM: You are one of those racists that doesn’t know he’s a racist, probably. 

AB: Can you hear me now? 

GROOM: That’ll do. Are you the type that crosses the street when certain people are approaching you? 

AB: No. 

GROOM: Yeah, right. 

AB: You’ve been described as one of those ‘better looking from far away,’ types. How does that make you feel? 

GROOM: Completely exploited. If I’m hanging out on the side of a mountain in great orange lines of magnificence then people gather across the far side of the shelf and stare in awe. Helicopters buzz overhead. But when I come over to say hi no one wants anything to do with me. 

AB: Why are you here at all? 

GROOM: I could ask you the same question. You look pretty useless, no offense. Me? I’m hard at work most of the time. Everyone needs a break now and then. You wouldn’t believe the pressure.

AB: Underground? 

GROOM: Enormous pressure. It’s a thankless job. We keep this ungrateful rock held together, magnetically viable. 

AB: And by rock you mean? 

GROOM: Happy Fun Ball. 

AB: Happy what? 

GROOM: I think you refer to it as Earth. 

AB: Ah yes. Well, we appreciate all you do. 

GROOM: You’ve got a helluva way of showing it. 

AB: So you’re saying that you are on vacation, basically. 

GROOM: Yup. Always wanted to see Mount Kilauea instead of just staring up its ass all the time. 

AB: And what are your plans while you are here?

GROOM: I’d like to be everywhere, see everything. I’m taking my time. Moving at my own pace. I hate taking a vacation and then rushing around. It’s like, what’s the point? 

AB: This might be a sensitive topic but…

GROOM: But what? 

AB: You are causing an awful lot of destruction. 

GROOM: So did Led Zeppelin. I make no secret that I like to party. I mean who hasn’t broken a thing or two during a bender. 

AB: How do you feel about President Trump declaring you a national disaster? 

GROOM: Shit, look who’s talking. 

AB: There is a lot of footage out there of your drunken carousing. You basically ate a car. 

GROOM: Is that a question? 

AB: Well, no. 

GROOM: Come on, everyone has had those days, when you get started way too early, and with the heat and all… I was only trying to get down to the beach for a swim. Get my head straight. 

AB: You blocked a bunch of roads and consumed a dozen houses. 

GROOM: Not surprising that everybody focuses on the more outrageous parts of my trip. Most of the time I’m lounging around, but do you guys report that? No, that wouldn’t sell any air time. You people are cockroaches. Even at my worst I’m still nowhere near as bad as Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, that Voodoo parade in Queens, and the annual Spanish bull stampede. People die at that stuff.  

AB: I’ve received a report that you are now shooting refrigerator-sized projectiles out of the ground for miles in every direction? 

GROOM: Maybe that shit-for-brains that accidentally declared an incoming ballistic missile alert in January can redeem himself. There you go. The threat is real bitches. 

AB: Do you see the world as doomed? I mean, you have a unique perspective from where you are normally. 

GROOM: My suggestion is learn to adapt. 

AB: Are you optimistic about a resolution in Korea? 

GROOM: The common denominator is economic viability and respect. Totalitarianism is like holding a wolf by the ears, as the saying goes. Would love to go there someday. I hear it’s beautiful. 

AB: Do you have a message of hope for all the people watching you? 

GROOM: I hope I can get a beer and maybe some tequila before I dry up out here. Hey you, Scrawny, why don’t you actually do something useful and go get me a case of Pabst and maybe some mescal, Los Suicidas or El Diablo. 

AB: Okay, I don’t have much cash on me. Everything is so expensive here. 

GROOM: Don’t make me eat you. What’s wrong? You look a little faint. 

AB: You smell like a stale wino. 

GROOM: I’ll smell however I want. I’m on vacation. Hey? Hey? 

AB: What? 

GROOM: Do you want to know what’s at the center of the Earth? I’ll tell you if you want. Nobody really knows, but I know. 

AB: Sure. 

GROOM: Then go get me some cactus juice and I’ll tell you. Deal? 

AB: I’m feeling a little sick. It must be the fumes. 

At this point the interview ends abruptly. We have lost contact with our field correspondent. The search has been hindered by the fiery monstrosity seeping across the island. We are praying for a safe resolution. Until then…

More Alembics to come…

From Incel to In-a-Cell

I’m having trouble starting this essay. I’ve got two seemingly divergent ideas and I’m trying to crunch them together. The most immediate topic is the vast abyss between lucky folks and unlucky folks, wild extravagance as opposed to sheer desperation. I was at the Atlanta airport, world’s busiest, in one of the lounges, watching TV. There was the story of some wack job from Toronto who went on a murdering rampage because he couldn’t get a date, almost at the same time a friendly acquaintance of mine whom I happened to run into was telling me he had just returned from Southeast Asia. He works for one of the big electronics corporations and he was sent overseas, he said, to install wifi into a Boeing 737 for “a flock of birds.” 

Wait, what? He mentioned the bird thing right as I spotted a mysterious word in quotations on the television. “Incel.” 

“What birds?” I said. 

“What the hell is incel?” he said. 

We were in a bit of a standoff. He wouldn’t answer my question until I had answered his. Since I didn’t know what incel was I pulled out my trusty pocket dictionary. Some habits are hard to kick, and I still enjoy flipping through a dictionary now and again. I found the appropriate spot. Incel, as I suspected, was not there. It should’ve been between ‘incautious’ which is a lack of caution, and ‘incendiary,’ kind of a volatility. We were relegated to Google, where we found out that it is an uneasy portmanteau meaning ‘involuntary celibacy.’ 

Welcome to the losers club. The best way to remain celibate is to join a club whose members claim to be unable to achieve a sexual encounter. That’s like a member of N.A.M.B.L.A. complaining that everyone thinks he is a pedophile. 

Dating is big business these days. I don’t mean carbon-dating or admitting that you are older than you appear to be. I mean finding a partner, either temporary or permanent. Mrs. Right or Mrs. Right-Now and the male equivalent. They are all out there looking for love, in all the various senses of the word. Match. Harmony. Farmers? Fish? Swipe left, swipe right, find that one special person who will drive you crazy in a good way, and then maybe drive you crazy in a bad way. There are books, movies and seminars on how to pick up women. There are speaking tours that invite guest lecturers, recognized Lotharios from accredited institutions of seduction, to sell a roomful of lonely hearts on how to subliminally make a woman go wild in their mere presence, although I hear they have removed the section on Quaalude usage. 

There are many different ways for a man to encourage a woman to like him. However there is one, surefire, definitely-will-not-work-in-a-million-years method of attracting a female, and that is to get into a car and run a bunch of them over. Which is exactly what Mr. Incel did, which did NOT win him a date with a woman. Instead he was carted off to prison, a place with nary a woman in sight for the rest of his life. The poor sap will now get a date, alright, although it won’t be quite the one he intended, which will hardly matter. Instead of being involuntarily celibate he will be involuntarily sodomized, so perhaps, in a way, mission accomplished. 

About those birds…

“I was setting up a wifi network for the Sultan of Brunei,” said my friend. 

“Aha!” I said. “And where does he live?” 

“Brunei.” 

“Very good.” 

“He’s got about seven private aircrafts. The one I was wiring up was for his menagerie of birds.” 

“Birds?” 

“Yeah, it is really weird being on the plane. There are eight huge first class seats and then past that there is row upon row of big horizontal wooden bars for his birds to perch on.” 

“What kind of birds?” I said. 

“How the hell should I know? I’m a technical engineer, not an ornithologist.” 

“Lucky birds, I guess,” I murmured. 

“You bet. Consider this while you are lying in bed late at night, tossing and turning and trying to figure out how to pay your meager mortgage…I have, no bullshit, installed wifi on a Sultan’s 737 because his birds love new age music and avian-based cinema. So now when he flies his birds around the world they can listen to Enya and Yanni and watch that Alfred Hitchcock movie with all those fuckin’ ravens. These birds live better than 99% of the humans on the planet.” 

It was odd because I had been watching an Eddie Izzard stand-up routine in which he describes a bird lounging on an aircraft while other birds outside stare in confusion and envy, and here was my friend telling me that it in fact exists. I pictured some albatross coasting along from Panama to North Africa and suddenly getting a passing glimpse through the window of a bunch of billionaire birds in a custom aircraft flapping around and getting wiggy to old Hitchcock movies and Orinoco Flow, while frustrated human fools sit in prison for being angry that they feel society has forced them to suck, which takes on a whole new meaning once they are stuck in jail for the rest of their lives. 

Since I can’t reconcile this, I’m abandoning it. 

More Alembics to come…