I have decided – perhaps astutely, for a rare moment — not to become a matador.
This red-cape-dropping revelation is not only because — like journalists and lawyers — there are just too many toreros for too few swordy-coup-de-gras jobs these days.
No, my supernova burst forth because I discovered something still delightfully perverse and rebelliously young-at-heart about myself while moving into a wonderful new casa last weekend. Namely, I may be getting a tad old, slow and clumsy but I still ain’t moving, leaping or dancing some slippery ballet out of the way of big things charging down on me.
No way. No how. No bull–!
Not in the least.
Like my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy exhaled between those omnipotent puffs on his omniscient corn cob pipe: Never let the bastards grind you down. Even bulls get castrated, son.
Hmm… a leg-crossing moment.
Anyway, whatever it be: Change. Progress. Love. Disappointment… I am still grabbing the Bos taurus by the horns, the tail, the balls, the bloody red marble meat… Carving the raging bovine into my favorite pet – a steak. Dancing cheek to filet mignon. Size doesn’t matter. The grandeur duh better. Give me all you got, big boy. And make it hurt. For this ain’t my first rodeo. And it won’t be my last ride on your backside.
Change is the only permanent thing in any life. And particularly mine. It is inevitable. It is constant. Just when you think you learned a comfortable way to live, thar she blows again. Life changes…and not just your dirty underwear.
And if you think you’re through changing, then you are simply through. Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must always prepare for the renovations. In other words, it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
Like I already mentioned: I have moved…away.
Away from a house mate who went off his psychotropic drugs – again — and tried to kill me with a rather large carving knife. (Taste the blood in columns1/23/2013 and 2/06/13).
Away from my ex-wife, Stephanie Blatt (and now a future-ex of somebody named Ol’ MacDonald? Who knows?). She nearly succeeded in killing me (unlike one of her three other test-tube beaus previous-moi.) This wasn’t long before it was strongly suggested she be shackled by very potent drugs more buoyant than her leaky diaphragm. (You can smell the sweat teeming in copious past essays.)
I moved away from my past that tried to kill me once, twice, thrice and keeps rolling the dice. And into the hands – but probably not the welcoming arms — of here and now. Which no doubt will kill me… inevitably.
But of course!
There must be something annoying about me that does more than abuse, amuse, afflict and discomforts.
Do you think it’s because I am Jewish?
I mean look what they did to that other wonderful Yid…
I may not quite compare. Not quite…
But have I suffered?
I grew up in a house where everybody lived at the top of his lungs. My father didn’t waste his backhands on tennis. Even the dying words of my caged cockatoo were: Schmuck…You call this living?
And since that time I have been having amputations of sorts all over the world. There are pieces of me everywhere across Africa, Russia, Southeast Asia, America… That means there is much less of me, myself and my cumulative IQ. Not to mention my Israeli savings bonds.
But I’ve yet to despair. More or less…
My new place, my own first space after nearly 7 years of being a marital refugee, a battered piñata , a discarded father, – in other words, a wandering Jew — is a marvelous ringside corner in one of the many renovated sections of the much restored cultural richness of South Philadelphia.
I live above my landlord and new best buddy’s delivery-business garage. It’s a wide-open castle, with exposed brick-walls that he constructed like a comfort-seeking hobbit, in magnificent creature details. Then he got seduced by a woman that wasn’t even one of my perfidious exes and moved off to that foreign country to the East. They call it New Jersey. I’ve heard that it rests, like Israel, between beach front property and a bunch of eunuchs and hens kvetching like displaced Palestinians.
Out my French doors is a balcony that overlooks the tattooed Goombas detailing cars across the street; a meandering brick Baptist church where children gleefully squeal in the parking lot day camp; Mickey Rosato’s celebrated boxing gym a few doors down, and a smiling Chinese neighbor family of either six or sixty that holds a nightly table feast in front of the open garage door were they park their speed boat. They merrily consume vast quantities of tasty morsels that look even better than the number 44 or 69 on the restaurant menus up the street. And they wash down it down with case after case of beer with red-lettered labels.
Jenny, the Chinese wife with the bedroom eyes, peered up at me on the balcony and wondered if I was going to live in my palace all by myself.
Not if you have a sister, I replied.
Hmm…. As my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy always exhorted: You only get one chance to make a first impression, kid. Give ‘em something that Velcro’s to their forehead… like one of those Hindu dots.
Around one corner is a wonderful storefront breakfast diner where you order what the owner’s wife orders you to eat. Around the other is a sumptuous yuppie bar, across the way from a coffee shop just voted Best of Philly. And where the matted-hair coffee maid has tattoos even more cryptic and confusing than the WiFi password.
And 20 blocks to the north are the beaming neon and pulsing strobes of center city’s glass monoliths. To them I pedal my trusty Schwinn steed each morning up the longest, straightest, stretch of street in America – Broad Street.
Where I live is Americana – the mixed faces of the world yearning to be free. But in the meanwhile we live less than a 20-minute walk from the best little cigar shoppe in town, where all our dreams and illusions rise from the ashes and drift like smoke.
I’ve been told – I think it was in Bangkok, or perhaps Siberia – that home interprets heaven. That home is heaven for beginners. It’s a space that enables one to dream in peace.
Strangely, it’s like I have arrived at a place where I started, but am seeing it as if for the first time. Perhaps I’ve finally alighted on my little patch of blue skies and white clouds..After all home is supposedly where the heart is. But as one of my exes joked after my open-heart surgery: You mean you have a heart?
Hmm… Being divorced really is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and left for the next furniture van ambling up the sidewalk.
But, as I have been instructed around many a campfire in many languages: Forget the past…the future will give you plenty to worry about.
Obviously, and at long last, I’ve turned the chiseled-stone tablets on another chapter of my metamorphosis. It mostly amounts to the daily diary of a life- sentence cascading between quiet optimism and noisy desperation. And linking the tales of my aspirations and limitations is the humor of a thing called life.
So strike any mental matador dalliances of running off to fence with the bulls. Although, for the most part, bulls don’t win bullfights, there isn’t enough Viagra on the planet to get my sword straight and true. And besides, I have a home, now. I live where the world can visit.
I mean, I’ve changed. I’ve changed the way I look at things. Therefore I’ve changed what I see.
And once more: Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a littler tenderness?
It means you’re in the wrong house…
Hmm…Maybe it also means that if you don’t change direction you may end up where you are heading…
Then again: Home wasn’t built in a day.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…