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Sunday, April 18, 2010

chartreuse and jungle-green

Before I could walk I wove through legs – human and table legs – I gripped adult fingers and scraped along floors on my hands and knees. I was six months old, pretty anxious for the most part, but never disheartened with life because I knew only one fear and it had a specific and identifiable location: my stomach. Plus, when the enemy emerged, I knew what to do: I just shrieked like my life was damn near its end, and since I still remembered how life felt when it began – birth fresh in my memory – I just assumed its end must be similarly excruciating. So I just shrieked and shrieked like a f*!#&ing maniac… and I waited. And this was life.

My eyes and mind at this stage were still in apprenticeship and not much good to anyone. Nuance? Forget it. Man and woman, for instance, they were just Man. Chartreuse and jungle-green, that was just Green. But I understood even then that I must shriek some considerable length before that milky breast would be thrust into my face and the enemy inside placated. I understood that. I understood very quickly – stinky-shrieky Croat, six months of age – I understood the rudiments of time.

But when I began to understand time, right then, at that instant, a new danger arose, a danger I would come to experience in depth, a danger without bounds: boredom.

I got bored. And this – after existence itself – was my first true condition. And it sucked.

When you get bored, you start to think needlessly. You think too far and too deep until your thoughts become more real to you than even the crap in your own diapers.

Deep inside my tiny body – even as I appeared busily crawling about – I felt something was wrong, something beyond the enemy-stomach. I intuited it, I sensed it, and, of course, I thought about it. But for a long time it remained non-specific. It was still, you might say, just green.

Now, moving on…

The other night I was downtown Bruges at a place that serves steak, beer and pretty much nothing else. Opposite me was a Belgian man in his forties: glassy eyes, piss-blond whiskers and teeth approximately the same color. (Note for travelers: Belgians are a charitable folk; a tad medieval in more ways than just that one, but overall, a pretty friendly, unassuming folk.) So there I was: cozy corner, three-square-feet of oak, steak-frites and a pint of Chimay. And there he was: cheery man from West Flanderen downing his fifth pint on an empty stomach. He spoke most of the time and I could see in his face and how he clutched his glass – much like I gripped fingers back in the days – that most likely this guy was still fully battling the enemy-stomach. So, I just let him speak and only once did I interupt to mention what a nice necktie he had, dotted red on jungle-green..