By Gus Iversen
With a loose theme of groceries, Bodega Doldrums is a collection of stories as colorful and varied as the aisles of the Food Bazaar supermarket on Wyckoff Avenue. From a homeless person who attends the moon's wedding to a short odyssey built around a Hannah Montana boogie board, things get a little crazy in this collage of uniquely urban and slightly manic situations.
the manta sector
my former co-worker the pathological liar once expressed something remarkable. I can’t remember what he said exactly but that was the beauty of him: you had to wade the innuendo of his words in order to feel out what possessed him to participate in the act of implicit communication. faith in the ability to accurately express oneself was not something he subscribed to.
so you look back unable to recall what he had been talking about but profoundly wound up in what the conversation meant -- like a movie where the characters are more significant than the story line.
it had to do with professional ramblers such as train conductors, corporate seminar leaders and camping trip chaperones and how they’re always getting wasted on alcohol in various motels and bars across the country. this disturbed him, a man who has never left the five boroughs nor properly enjoyed a drink.
“man, I love drinkin‘!” he replied to some vague comment on my part about what I intended to do when work ended.
“o hells yea, boy! I’m a vodka man!“
“yea!? ...what kind of vodka?” I already knew he was lying but I valued his opinion on things anyways.
“aww... you know... like, aged vodka. the good stuff.” and then he smiled slyly at me in a way that flattered me. his smile seemed to indicate not everybody knows about good vodka, but he could tell I did. I absently returned the grin while stocking the salsa verde doritos -- indulging myself in some memory of kindergarten, reaching into my personal space.
“but I don’t get WASTED or anything like that” he added while stirring a vat of salad dressing, “not like those roving professionals do. man, those guys just make me sick, poisoning themselves like they do. you know the type, right?”
“yea.” I replied, slightly offended.
those weren’t his exact words, though. I can’t remember his exact words -- I’m sure they included a brief discourse on the type of people who are oblivious to the cruelty of zoos. I know he used the word “cage” and the word “society” ...it also had something to do with dennis rodman... see, he had this way of dealing in three or four dimensions at once. you got the impression he wasn’t a pathological liar for undignified reasons, but rather it was the closest way a man with his mind could come to the truth.
I realize now, this cathedral weekday morning, this calm cold light of pre-dawn tuesday, alone with wake the bear and a mind that refuses to detach itself from the body, this perfect humid windowless august / now :
my ex co-worker the poet was spot on.
when I look back on my career as an astronaut most of my memories are tinted with a foggy unrelenting inebriation. the boys and I, we used to get wasted out there in space. really tanked. it was graceless in that respect. we would wake up in the manta sector with nothing to take away our hangovers but a quick slug from any number of half empty bottles of captain morgan‘s NASA label. lifting our weightless, throbbing heads and blocking our eyes with playing cards whenever planet earth appeared on our alumizon transmitters.
lusting after disorientation; avoiding the subtlety, the creaking, the sadness, the style; bludgeoning ourselves without a wink of insanity. ready to take our place in the great cosmic graveyard like any other organism... out there in the manta sector of all places! clicking switches and turning important dials. peeling the holograms on our space suits and trying not to think about our wives.
in those days we had day-long ketchup eating contests and drew sex organs on each other’s foreheads. we made love to beautiful aliens and told them it was our way of shaking hands. we told their leaders that we were the kings of our planet and they plugged us into their genius machines. we had a lot of adventures out there but I just can’t look at it the same way in light of that conversation with my pathological liar friend; the whole memory of the thing has taken on an uncomfortable hue.
then there was that morning in 1987 when my mother dropped my sister and I off at the playground for kindergarten. we were the first kids to arrive and I believe it was my third day of kindergarten. the slide was covered in morning dew but I went down anyways and the fog was so dense you couldn’t see maybe five feet ahead of you. the chains suspending the swings gave off brownish orange rust stains and I saved a family of kittens from a rabid dog using self-taught karate. it’s an incredible thing to look back on. I think about that a lot. I can still remember what I was wearing.
you know, he and I were really a couple of jack asses. nobody else at oliver’s market liked us very much... one time we both pretended not to notice while a friend of his lifted a big rack of ribs from the meat department. I was in on it and played my part -- ultimately we both got fired. we laughed about it in the parking lot afterwards but we never saw each other again. there had never been much to say in the first place.
meaningful destruction is impossible without some sentimental gratitude for the thing that is being sacrificed; walking into the blackness with a sense of balance -- nothing exists on its own. it comes down to respecting the relationship between all things.
when you say it like that it just sounds obvious. there’s more to it than recognizing it. sometimes you have to work against it. you have to resist the urge, in good or bad company, to wrap your tongue methodically around a perpetual supply of leaves and twigs like the giraffes at the bronx zoo.
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