This entry is an excerpt from what just may well be the longest literary effort of my life: STUPID SHIT I DID, Volume 234, Sect. 2964, line 89
Long ago, when I was a kid going to school and all full of myself, I told Spike that I liked criticism.
He had never heard of anyone who liked criticism.
This was before I knew much about Spike, back when we were both driving cab, me going to school and him just trying to get up enough money to get his wife to quit bitching so he could go home and drink (not that he didn't drink on the job -- he just kept his head about him as best he could and got lucky).
I was talking about writing to a few cab drivers gathered around a barrel fire and mentioned that I liked being criticised.
Spike hadn't spoke to me too much at that point. We were sitting outside a ratty old, abondened concrete gas station that our boss, Mike Paite, an ex-carny, was using to run his six almost undrivable cabs.
He looked up at me and kind of scrutinized me a bit."You got any beers in your cab?"
"No," I told him, kind of shocked... "Do you?"
"Not at the moment. You like criticism, huh? What are you one of those AA guys?"
Spike asked this, I later deciphered, because during his various court ordered stints in AA over the years, the only part of the program that he had anything to do with was criticizing other people -- confronting them, he called it, claiming he was breaking down their denail. Of course, Spike took it too far... as his wife tells it, one night Spike started criticising a still shaky new guy about how he was dressed. Being Spike, he of course did this in the crudest manner possible, "You dress like a fag. You a fag? Huh, like getting the old brown eye popped?"
When I responded to Spike's question about my liking criticism, I took it as an interest in my writing, which back then was my favorite topic of conversation, and I am sure that I was puffing up my proverbial chest, as I used to do way back when I was going to school and dreaming Hemingway dreams; all impressed with myself I was, after scoring with my english professor, who knew that if she stroked my ego, I would stroke hers, and stroke we did... puffing me up like a balloon that was sure to burst.
"Yes, Spike, as a writer, I have to be able to take criticism. Not to mention, I am sleeping with my editor, so I damn well better take her every word seriously. And I've found that applies in life, too -- getting the opinion of people with more experience, you know, helps me not to go down blind paths."
I had no idea at the time, of course, that I had just declared open season on myself.
Spike had been missing criticizing people in AA, his wife later told me.
Now, all these years later, he still brings up that day, . .
Then he goes on to tell me things like he did today, "Your hair looks like the mother of this kid I went to school with. You have woman hair."
The worst part is, he is the most honest man I know and usually is right, though of course he is often gloriously wrong... like in his assesment of me as a bum and that M. will sooner or later wise up and throw me and the cat's ass out. . .
Another thing he said today, kind of out the blue, after I was talking and he wasn't really even pretending to be interested, "That M. is still putting up with the stink coming off your ass is a fucking miracle."
Whenever I ask him what he means by this, he tells me, "Oh, you know what I am talking about."
"NO, I don't."
"Oh, this art scam of yours."
"Who makes the most money?"
"Sooner or later, she finds a guy with a job, and she is going to throw your ass out. You know this... if you don't, your head is further up your ass than I thought."
"Not everyone is as shallow as you, Spike. Plus, I do make some money, and I write all the time, paint... something might happen."
"Ever try to pay the cable bill with a fucking pipe dream?"
Spike has only a few concepts that he lives by, and they are subject to change, like when he became addicted to Dr. Phil, (until he was tricked into going on the show to be confronted about his drunken gambling and slapped Dr. Phil so hard that he bawled like a hungry bull calf calling for teat). Lately, he has been saying everyone is filled with pipe dreams. He got this after he read a fucking blurb on an advertisement for Eugene O' Neil's play, The Ice Man Cometh, that talked about the men having pipe dreams. The ad was sitting there on his desk as he said this....
"Every one of you fucking pot heads are full of pipe dreams. And bong dreams. Fucking bong dreams."
I am pretty sure that when Spike said 'everyone,' he means me. I am the only person he knows who is not ensconced in a crippled little lower middle class life shakily propped up by myths and drink and long, soothing lies propelled by prayer.
The only artist. The only one who is not afraid to stand alone, in a way.
He always asks me that hated question whenever I tell him that i am involvd in my blog..."Do you make any money?"
Then he proceeds to add, whenever I mention my blog to someone, "He works on that damn thing all the time, but he can't make a fucking dime on it. That sure as hell ain't working."
Certainly being an atheist makes me stand alone. Spike hates this, too; gives me that stupid arguement that if there is a god, then you will be happy you were religous, and if not you have wasted nothing...
Usually I try to just stay out of the arguements, but he is pretty damn good at baiting me. I responded to his gambler's odds view of god by telling him, "Oh, yea, you lose nothing except your freedom of thought . . . a clear view of the truths of the world
. . . the real tools that manipulate the world, rather than the mystic lies our monkey brain wants so so hard to believe. Who needs that shit, huh?"
"Yea, you'll be talking about fucking monkey lies on judgement day... to fucking Satan."
"Spike, you've done a lot of shit in your day. Buying stolen goods, for one.. lying all the time, drinking, beating up a cop, about ten customers... why would a god want you?"
"Oh, I prayed on all that and I'm forgiven. Did worst shit, too... that slate's all clean now, buddy. Unlike yours."
"I don't do anything immoral."
"Yeah, fucking, right. Say that with an illegal bag of weed in your fucking hand."
"This isn't immoral, though. I have a moral obligation to fight laws that I disagree with. As long as they are victimless crimes. Like pot would be if it were legalized and grown above ground."
"I started watching Dr. Phil again. He has a scar above his eye from where I hit him. I get the biggest kick out of that... You know, it's like I'm on tv. Unlike you, who has this pipe dream about doing tv again. What's it been, twenty years?"
"Spike, let's not argue... I'm not tryig to get into tv, either. I just send stuff off to a couple shows, kind of like playing the fucking lottery."
I really, really should know better than to ever enter an arguement with this man, because no matter what I say, he just looks at me for a few seconds, maybe grimaces, then goes on with his arguement entirely unaffected by what I have said... I hate that. Listening skills are totally under rated. Seriously. Start making a show of listening more than you talk, and really, really listen, and you will learn wondrous things all the fucking time... well, at least once in awhile, okay?
Not at Spike's of course. Or in crack houses, or whatever... listening skills have little good effect in such damaged places. One is better off being deaf. Is all of this ass achingly obvious. . If so, I am sorry.
Anyways, the most important thing about our visit went just fine...
I GOT WEED!!!!!!
THE RED BONG
LIKE A SMOKY LITTLE BROOK
WISH YOU WAS HERE
LOOKING ALL SQUINTY EYED
AND SLAP HAPPY
WE'D SHARE A FEW LAUGHS
REMEBER HOW FINE IT IS TO BE ALIVE
copywrite 2006 john scott ridgway