The duality of our personalities guarantees that we’ll have moments of both unbridled glory and unspeakable shame. I, for one, have experienced plenty of each. Here, for instance, are two of them:
Some years ago, after a lengthy night of artistically brutal self-destruction in downtown Nashville, I headed to a random gas station in search of the holy grail of energy drinks. Upon exiting my vehicle I noticed a chain-sporting, golden-toothed, saggy-pants man engaged in a heated argument with a scantily-clad woman whose emaciated face, fish belly-white pallor, and track mark-infested arms spoke of a particularly miserable existence. While my brain was processing this sight, he suddenly back-handed her with sufficient force to fill the chilly dawn air with an audible smack. Immediately I changed my course of direction, bee-lining directly to their position. His beady eyes darted to mine. “You bedda not come up on me, ya hear?”, he said, stupidly. Without a word I snatched him off the ground, holding his arms tightly to his sides, then walked the ten or so feet to the especially foul-smelling dumpster – into which I heaved him with ease. “You muthafucka!”, he yelled, while crawling out over the side of the festering metal box. “You’re garbage,” I said. “Garbage belongs in the trash.” Once again, I seized him by his arms, hoisted his trash-juice-soaked body above my head, and then tossed him inside the receptacle. “Heeeeeelllllp!”, he screamed. “This time you STAY,” I replied. Which he did, for god knows how long, while I gave the troubled young lady a ride home.
When, some time ago, my girlfriend and I snagged an especially cool and nonchalant grey kitten from the local animal shelter, we wound up naming him Elwood. Within a few days he started to showcase the more aggressive nuances of his personality via randomly attacking our ankles with surprising ferocity. As a result, his name was changed to Hellwood. Eventually that became Hellwoo. Fast-forward a year or so, and Hellwoo has developed the habit of lying in wait for us to walk around various corners, where he’ll lunge at whatever body part most appeals to him at the time. Much like a rattlesnake’s rattle, Hellwoo tends to use his tail as a warning device signaling an impending attack. It shoots up like a flagpole, then bends at a ninety degree angle to form what looks distinctly like the periscope on an attack submarine. Thus, his latest nickname was born: Periscope Hellwoo. That said, while I’m using a urinal at work after guzzling water for many hours, I tend to enjoy humming whatever tune pops into my mind as I hone the accuracy of my urine trajectory. Several days ago I entered the rest room, which is spacious, contains many urinals and stalls, and has some unexpectedly rewarding acoustics. Noticing that I had the place to myself, I immediately began humming The Terminator theme song. It echoed rather nicely and my aim was unusually good, so things were definitely looking up. Suddenly, however, the tune changed. “Hmm-hmm-hmm Hmm-hmm”….I began to repeat it, over and over, louder and louder. Then, at once, my brain made the connection. I was humming “Periscope Hellwoo.” “Per-ihh-scope Hell-wooooo”…So pleased I was with the sound of my melodious invention, I began to sing. Quietly at first – scarcely louder than a whisper – “Per-ihh-scope Hell-wooooo”…Then louder. And louder still. “PER-IHH-SCOPE HELL-WOOOOO”…My booming voice bounced from wall to wall, filling the bathroom with the glorious…***FLUSH***… “Oh, fuck, someone is in here.” Trying my hardest to avoid zipping my appendage in my pants, I darted, red-faced, from the room.