Archive for February, 2014

Someday You Won’t Feel Anything At All About Anything

Posted in Memoir with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2014 by sethdellinger

I had never had to break up with a girl before.  I had been slow in figuring them out–or they had been slow in figuring me out.  Either way, I had never imagined that once I actually had a girlfriend (and one who let me have sex with her, at that!) that I would ever do any breaking up with her.  I figured I’d always be so happy just to put my hand on a boob, or my tongue in a mouth, that the first one who agreed to it would be enough forever.

It was this kind of thinking that kept me with my first “real” girlfriend for 3 years, despite the fact that we were obviously as mismatched as possible.  Looking back on it now, I can’t even remember what we must have talked about.  We did spend a lot of time together, and I have many memories that are not unpleasant (and more than a few that are unpleasant).  Three years is a long time, even when you spend 8 hours a day in school.  So there was a lot of shared history by the time I realized I had to break up with her–but I still don’t know what we talked about.  (not to mention we were each other’s first everything, if you get my drift.)

But I did realize, eventually, that we were a bad fit.  I probably realized this because having been with her for three years, I had finally learned a bit about women and was at that point recieving some other very tempting offers from girls a bit more like me.  I spent weeks agonizing over how to break up with her.  Have you ever had teenage sex with a girl whispering I love you in your ear, knowing full well you are going to break up with her soon?  Well, it’s not as fun as it sounds.

I don’t remember much about the day I did it.  I remember it was in my bedroom, sitting on the bed, and I said it’s time for us to part ways.  It did not go well.  She cried and I was stoic.  I drove her home that night and it was a long drive.  When I got back home, my dad was in the living room watching TV.  I sat on the ottoman and made some small talk as though nothing had happened.  Then I tried to mention off-hand I broke up with her but my voice cracked and a tear jumped into my eye.  It was so hard, I said, as I started crying for real.

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Two and a half years earlier….

The greatest thing about finally having a girlfriend was it finally gave me reasons and methods to be some sort of badass.

My friend Mike (I haven’t changed his name because everybody is named Mike) was dating her best friend, so we were a little group, the four of us, double dating, driving to and from school together, the whole bit.

The biggest problem in Mike and I’s lives, however, was that we were still virgins, all four of us.  I doubt it was such a problem for the girls, but it devastated Mike and I daily.  Then one day at school, the girls announced to us that tonight would be “the night”.  My girlfriend would be staying at Mike’s girlfriend’s house for the night.  This house was reachable by both my house and Mike’s house by bicycle (Mike and I were both driving by this time, but not our own cars, and we had curfews that missing cars would belie), and so it was agreed that Mike and I would both bike to the house in the middle of the night and somehow or other, all four of us would lose our virginities.

Mike and I made our own specific plans.  We chose a good spot about halfway between our own houses where we’d meet up on the bikes at precisely midnight and then go the rest of the way together.

Around 11pm, I opened my bedroom window, climbed out and walked around the house to where I’d laid my bike that evening, so I didn’t have to get it out of the garage.

Biking down country roads, alone, at night, in the silence that accompanies said action, is fucking scary.

It was a longer ride than it seemed in my mind to get to the meeting spot.  Since my family had moved out to the country a few years before, I hadn’t done an extensive amount of biking.  I grew up in the small town of Newville, where everything you could imagine was reachable by bicycle.  My brain was not equipped to deal in country miles.  After what seemed hours, I finally arrived at the spot.  No Mike.  I didn’t have a watch (and no, you bastards, this is way before cell phones) so I waited.  I checked the drainage ditches along the sides of the road in case he was laying there, hiding from passing cars (in the country when you’re a teenager, you somehow assume all passing cars are somehow going to tell your parents or the cops that you’re out late), but he wasn’t there.  I waited what I can only say was “a long time”, but I couldn’t tell how long.  It felt like at least an hour.  I couldn’t call out for him, because we had chosen a spot right in front of a few houses.

The thought of biking all the way to Mike’s girlfriend’s house–which I just now understood was really far away–all by myself just seemed like too big of a task.  I assumed he’d missed me, too, and gone on ahead, but if he hadn’t, I’d show up alone, and it would be awkward.  I got on my bike and rode home, climbed into bed sad that I was still a virgin, but somehow relieved that I hadn’t had to go through with the plan.

The next day, Mike told me he’d been hiding in some grass alongside the road and that he never saw or heard me.  It didn’t occur to me until years later that he’d been absolutely lying and he’d never even left his house that night.  Lord knows if the girls were even waiting up for us.

*****************************************************

One year after the bicycle night…

Her and I had been driving for hours in what seemed like a circle.  Why I even ever thought the two of us could navigate Philadelphia was a mystery to me.  I didn’t even bring a map, I kept thinking.  If there’s one thing I learned about traveling from my parents, it was to always bring a map.  Did I somehow think we were adults who could do things like drive around cities?  What a fool.

I didn’t want to fight.  I had seen couples who got lost start fighting and it always seemed foolish.  It accomplished nothing.  And so the more tense we got, the more calm I forced my exterior to appear, and the more I love yous I said, and before I knew what hit me, there was the sign for the Turnpike–always a surefire way home.

Once safely on the Turnpike, after smoking a few relaxing cigarettes, she turned and said Seth, you’re a good man.  It was the first time anybody had ever said that to me, and I’ll never forget it.

****************************************************

One year after the Philadelphia trip…

It was a Friday night.  I remember that for certain because we were coming from a high school football game (she was a cheerleader, so I attended every single game, and carried all her gear to my car afterward.  This provides a serious high for any teenage boy, to be seen carrying his prominent cheerleader girlfriend’s things to his car after a game).  It was October and she wanted to go to the “haunted house” that is put on in Newville every October, and which is walking distance from the football field.

I did not want to go.

I’d be in my mid-twenties before I even started watching horror movies, and even now I don’t like things like “haunted houses”–though I do now love horror films.

Back then, I was scared of everything but trying my best to learn how to hide it.  This is Central Pennsylvania, home of tall corn, taller trucks, Joe Montana, and Three Mile Island.  Five-foot-tall men who scare easily are not the preferred type, and I knew that, and so was consistently doing things like this that every fiber of my being told me to turn from.

We got in line for the haunted house.  I remember she was still in her cheerleading uniform which I–surprise–found very sexy, even after 2 years of having sex with her while she wore the damn thing every Friday night during football season (and after home basketball games, too).  It’s amazing how long a 17 year old boy can stay transfixed on a detail.  So even then, that night, I tried to stay transfixed on the uniform instead of what I assumed would be the bone chilling terror inside the haunted house.

She noticed how I was looking at her and backed me against a wall, slid her hand down my pants.  She wanted to get me off right there, in line!

But I wasn’t aroused.  After a minute or two of attempting to get me going, she asked what was wrong.

“I’m just a little…scared,” I said.

“Of the haunted house?” she asked.

“Yep.  Just a little.”

She withdrew her hand from my pants and, looking me square in the eyes, said You pussy.

That’s another thing she said to me that I’ll never forget.

 

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Eleven years after the haunted house…

i was out shopping about a week ago with a close close female friend of mine i didn’t need anything we weren’t shopping for me we were shopping for her so of course it stands to reason we were spending alot of if not most of our time in clothing stores i like shopping for clothes with women at least if it’s a woman i like i like to be just honest enough that they believe me about how things look on them and besides if i’m spending a day shopping with a woman chances are i find her deliriously attractive to begin with and have on immense blinders and truly think everything looks good on her anyway so i rarely get bored while clothes shopping with women except for when they are a woman who takes forever trying clothes on and this particular woman friend of mine happens to be the type who takes forever trying clothes on so about two hours into the shopping excursion while she is in a fitting room i wandered out into the mall and spent about five minutes looking at this kiosk that was all about some homeschooling-over-the-internet thing and they had a nice display and i picked up some of the books children’s books and educational books and felt the heft of them paged through smelling the smell of them remembering when i thought books were like shiny little stars with worlds in them like ameoba in a toad’s pee-puddle and i would feel the pages the coarse roughhewn pages like they were an heirloom quilt and when i had had my fill of standing at the kiosk reminiscing i wandered back into the store and halfway to the back i saw her.  Not the friend i was there shopping with but the first girlfriend the first one ever she still looked like she was 17 although a bit more like a woman now in fact she looked very good–not as good as the friend I was shoppign with but very good nonetheless– and although i immediately turned my head and pretended i hadn’t noticed her it was like i could smell her hair and the minty basement smell of sex with her and could see from a distance the way her lips aren’t lined up right and the sad swing of her braless breasts and i wanted to turn to her from across the store and say ‘i never knew you and you never knew me and that’s pretty much all there ever is to anything but we tried’ and then promptly turn and leave.  but i didn’t.  i meandered around the store at a safe distance so she could see me, so she could remember, too.

 

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Fourteen years before the shopping trip…

We sat at the back of the bus, my friends and I.  We had finally graduated to that level of bad-assness.  We were the big kids on the back of the bus, though I was of course never “big”, but I had some major seniority on bus #10.

Lately, though, things had been all about our friend John, who had recently become the first of us to lose his virginity.  Each and every bus ride now, for the last week, had been filled with tales he’d tell us about what it was like.  We all wondered what this girl would be like.  John was an athlete and not unpopular, so she must really be something (I’d learn later that John had made up every sexual encounter with the girl; he ended up being a virgin longer than I was).

We were sitting in the school parking lot in the morning, waiting to be let off, when John said There she is, and he tapped on the window as a young girl passed by.  She stopped, grinned ear-to-ear, tapped back on the glass and blew a kiss to John.

That was the first time I ever laid eyes on her, and I remember thinking I was slightly unimpressed.  If only I knew how good she’d look fourteen years later while shopping in a backwater mall.

What I Think About Myself

Posted in Prose with tags on February 26, 2014 by sethdellinger

If you tried to mug me, I would kick your ass.  I’m not a large man, and I have zero fighting experience.  But there is a flame inside me.  If you stepped to me and tried to fuck with me I could and would absolutely destroy you.

I’m selfish with my time and admiration.  Some folks beg to differ with this appraisal I often offer of myself, but that’s only because I like them, my favor shines upon them.  If I don’t want anything to do with you, I ignore you.  I don’t put this forward as a positive.  It is a negative.  I can’t fix it.

I am confident.  I have bad handwriting.  I can be sentimental. I’m not the sort of man you want on your swim team.  Or your bowling team.  But choose me for your badminton team.

I am a fucking rock star.  When I sit and think silently, or stand to proclaim an idea or opinion, lights should kick on and shine, large backlit projection screens should display artsy images, low rumbling bass-heavy industrial music should start to play.  I am a serious motherfucker.  Some people see me as goofy, or a jokester, or perhaps amiable.  Untrue.  I am a serious fucking rock star who will blow your mind.

That being said, I’m also genuinely hilarious.

I’m a bad housekeeper.  I’m always the first to know when Daylight Savings Time starts.  I’m a hunt-and-peck typist.  I don’t give a shit.

I judge people.  I judge them based on what kind of hat they wear, or how they walk, or what kinds of words they use.  But I have completely erased from my mind and heart all biases based on race, sexual orientation, age, gender, or what-have-you.  One-hundred-percent erased.

No matter how fat I get, or how splotchy my skin is, or how bad my teeth are, I am an attractive man.  There’s just something about my face that you can’t resist, and the way I carry myself.  You can’t get enough.

I am an impeccable driver.

 

In a Box of Trash on the Side of the Road

Posted in Snippet with tags on February 24, 2014 by sethdellinger

These look like a bunch of plants.  But they are a bunch of animals.

The spines sting fish so they cannot move.

Then the animals pull in the fish and eat them.

Calvin gets a snapshot of this odd animal.

It is a slug with spines.

photo

Remembering the Hotel Stay

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , on February 22, 2014 by sethdellinger

In the drawer: a Bible,
in the bed, the scent of a bed

that can barely bear to be
unmade.  To sleep we nearly slice

it open, our legs skimming across
pure sheets.  Our course we could not

stay here, of course this desk
could not stand work; no service

could sustain us long.  Sunday
brings the bill slipped

beneath the door and we haul
our bags downstairs in answer,

but at least for awhile we had this
hollow Eden with its view of slighter roofs,

and each afternoon, crisp white towels
blooming like fruit on the rack.

Selfie of the Year

Posted in Photography with tags on February 18, 2014 by sethdellinger

selfie

You Can’t Buy Me Happiness, but You Can Buy Me Fraggle Rock

Posted in Philly Journal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2014 by sethdellinger

I sure am happy right now.  I’m going through an extended period of inner peace, tranquility, and contentment.  It rules!  I’m not trying to get all new-agey, or brag about my emotional state.  The fact is, I’m often pretty content, at least moreso than most people (with, as I have noted at length on my blog, a steady undercurrent of fear of death and general despair that has been with me always and always shall020 remain…but it’s usually a little out of sight…my main operating mode is usually “happy”).  I just note this extended happy period here because it seems so very unusual for most of humanity.  This is only based on my very unscientific casual observations.  But even folks who most would describe as happy are, frankly, pretty unhappy.  Or at least uncomfortable, or full of worry or self-doubt or fear.  Isn’t it strange how difficult it can be for us to 046be happy?  Oy vey.  I got tempted to go super-deep on the subject there, but I’ll resist it.  I think it is impossible to go deep on this subject without sounding like a douchebag.  I just want to note that I’m super happy.  Tranquil is an even better word.  I’m under no impression that my life is always going to be easy or that things will stay like they are now, but I’m tranquil with that notion.

That being said, this winter sure does suck.  I know I know, someone wants to tell me It’s winter, what do you expect??? Well you see, here’s the thing: winter is uncomfortable.  Physically.  I do not like the sensation it creates upon my general 001physical being.  So yes, although I am certainly aware that winter is coming, and I know what it is going to be like, that foreknowledge does not lessen it’s wretched impact upon me.  I mean seriously, why does it keep snowing???  What kind of winter thinks it needs to snow this much??  Or be this consistently cold?  It’s all pretty lame.  Oh hey, also, look at this painting, “Chilly Observation”, by Charles Sidney Raleigh:

chilly

 

Another note on my happiness (and again, I’m not trying to get all zen on you here, I’m just thinking out loud.  Except not literally out loud.  I guess I’m thinking publicly), I’ve noticed lately I’m getting much less satisfaction from the acquisition of material goods.  Despite all my cultural philosophizing, I don’t think I’ve ever denied that I derive a lot of pleasure from buying or acquiring things.  Not big-ticket items, usually.  Most of my life I’ve just loved getting more and more books and music and movies and things like that.  And just random consumer goods.  Hats. 014 Backscratchers.  Wall art.  Random shit like that.  Well anyway, lately, I’m getting less and less pleasure from acquisition.  I suspect part of this is because of my natural tranquility right now, so I don’t have to supplement my happiness with the artificial high of stuff.  but I also think that I might just kind of have enough stuff, finally.  For one man, I have ALOT of books, records, DVDs, and the massive amount of random crapola that life in America will allow you to encircle yourself with.  I have so much stuff (note that I am passionate about most of it and find it delightful; I’m not knocking my actual stuff) that I can’t begin to properly enjoy most of it.  So I might need to chill on acquisition for a bit and start really paying attention to what I already have.

(although take note, I still really need some books by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a vinyl copy of Neil Young’s “Mirrorball”, one of these, a really nice digital camera, the complete series of “Fraggle Rock” on DVD [I aint joking about that, and it’s getting pretty affordable], Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” on Blu-Ray, that really nice 027hardbound version of the collected “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books that Barnes and Noble sells, an Ilya Bryzgalov Philadelphia Flyers jersey [even though he doesn’t play for the team anymore…oh and size Large], early editions of the individual collections of Philip Larkin’s poetry [specifically, I’m thinking about “The Whitsun Weddings” and “The North Ship”…first editions only, really, anything else is useless], a year-long membership to the Barnes Gallery…oh I guess there is still some stuff I need…)

Let’s laugh at the clock on the wall.

Posted in Memoir with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2014 by sethdellinger

I grew up in a small, small town in Central Pennsylvania, right on the border of what they call “Pennsyltucky”, the outward lands of the state marked by blighted Appalachia, wide rolling hills, and miles upon miles of pastures, corn fields, and truck stops.

The house I grew up in was on a shaded street with expansive sidewalks, the smell of pine, and painted rain spouts.  In most towns this would be a side street, a forgotten street.  But in my small town, it was one of the main thoroughfares, although almost no cars went down it.  I remember once peering out our glass front door and seeing the town’s sole police officer giving hasty chase—lights and siren blaring–to a speeding motorcycle and thinking maybe the world was ending.

Just a few blocks down the street from the house I grew up in was a corner store.  It was, I would estimate, about three blocks away.  This corner store was, even all those years ago, a throwback to older days.  It was not “intentionally nostalgic”, it was just a little store that hadn’t yet changed.  There was still a soda fountain there, where you could order Chocolate Cokes, or pineapple sundaes.  Things like that.  Folks gathered there in old wooden mint green highbacked booths, smoked cigarettes and spoke animatedly over outspread newspapers, hunting magazines, lottery tickets.  There was penny candy by the counter, a spinning rack of comic books by the door, and ammunition, shoe polish, and straight razors under a glass case near the back.

Frequently, but on no set schedule, my father and I would walk together down to this corner store.  It was something we did together.  Often, my sister came, too, but as a boy, of course, one singles out the times you are alone with your father.

It was three blocks away, but back then, of course, it seemed quite a distance.  Distances are always changing as we grow.  The walk to the store with my dad was half the fun.  I would try to walk on just the painted part of the curb, but I had the darndest time.  I couldn’t balance.  Then Dad would try, and I would try to push him off, but he was too good.  My father had impeccable balance.

We’d get to the store and, typically, the older neighbors who lived near our house were there.  Dad would settle into a booth with them, and so I would I, at first.  They’d start talking grown-up stuff after making obligatory kid talk with me.  They’d light their long cigarettes with colorful disposable plastic lighters, drink pungent coffee from thick-walled mugs, pop open cans of Tab.  I liked the smells, how they intermingled, how they wafted, how they meant Dad and I were together at the corner store.

Before long, I’d slip under the tables, make my way behind the counters, even disappear into the back stock room, which I remember as a long, dark hallway with one or two turns, and boxes up to a ceiling that looked fifty feet high.  I had the run of the place.  The owner and his sole young employee never tried to corral me.  I invented worlds within that store.  Alien lands, faraway cities, subterranean hideouts.  Every so often I’d pop back into a mint green booth and see that maybe Faye had won five dollars on a scratch-off, or Dad had a strong opinion about something that I didn’t understand, but I wanted to understand.  I wanted to.

One year, on the day of my birthday, Dad and I walked down to the store.  I had finished opening my presents and was already feeling very special, near ecstatic.  It was early evening and dusk was setting in.  My birthday is in mid-January, so it was decidedly winter.  Dad and I set out for what seemed to me the long, but pleasant, walk to the corner store.  What a night for me!  My birthday and now the store.

Halfway there, it started snowing.  Just a light, flurry-kind-of snow.  Still, I was sure Dad would suggest we turn back.  How could we keep walking to the store in the snow??? I thought.  But he had no designs to turn back.  We talked, we laughed, it snowed in our faces and stuck in my eyebrows.

Let us not try to make things perfect.  Let’s laugh at the clock on the wall.  Breathe deep the stunning air and wonder, wonder about everything.

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