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07.29.02 12:25 a.m.

The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.

 -Malcolm Muggeridge  

Previously in Xenology: there was sweet, sweet icing.

Let's stop the narrative flow of these pages for a moment and remind you, the reader, where the so-called main characters are.

  • Zack is toiling away at a theater camp half an hour from his home, dealing while dramatic little kids of a young age and one boy who sublimates all of his feelings of inadequacy upon a small Tigger doll. This is, of course, when he is not toiling away in a sandwich shop in Beacon or wiling his free time away with the taciturn childhood love of his Veronica. He is, by all measures and degrees, well.
  • Melissa is longing for a more simple time in her life when she did not have to work all the time or worry about the state of the nation. She longs to be in high school again (though, it should be noted, when she was in high school she rarely attended because she was longing for a more independent and free life) with the requisite drugs, sex, and music. She longs to be reunited with the other Melissa, Melissa Liquet, her other half and soul sister who mysteriously vanished one day. She wishes to not feel quite so alone in a room full of her friends. She is, by all measures and degrees, unsatisfied.
  • Conor is a counselor at an acting camp in Massachusetts. He has been gone for five weeks and is desired home soon so we can enjoy his company for a little while before her returns to Bard and vanishes off our radar. He is, by all measures and degrees, likely content.
  • Emily is in a war with herself over her pending adulthood. Part of her wishes to sally forth, get a house, a dog, and 2.5 children in the garage. The other part of her weeps on my chest because she worries her parents are going to die and that she will not have spent enough time with them. She is divided against herself, trying to reach and affect her future by taking classes to become a nurse while seriously pondering moving back in with her parents over an hour from where she would be attending classes. She is, by all measures and degrees, divided.
  • Sarah is living with her mother in Canajoharie, two hours from Red Hook. She could not take all that was part and parcel with Red Hook and survive intact. As she put it, her choices were killing herself or moving in with her mother, where she could put aside her independence and enjoy the fruits that come from living with one's parents. Jake, her intensely passionate sometimes lover, has left on a jetplane for Seattle to live, exacerbating Sarah's state. She is, by all measures and degrees, discontented but on a moratorium.
  • Kate is on the other side of the planet, in the land of Kiwis. She had given no indication in her e-mails that she overwhelmingly likes or dislikes this arrangement. It is a bit of culture shock for her, as she is surrounded by men who discuss the best way to castrate a sheep rather than men who bombastically speak on Nietzsche's use of the word "the" and how is pertains to the sociopolitical commentary on the back of the ketchup bottle. How is she to judge worthiness without pointless deconstruction? She is, by all measure and degrees, no different (which, for Kate, could mean she is suddenly a black, Hassidic, quadriplegic eunuch who has taken a vow of poverty.)
  • Eileen is... not having very compelling conversations with me. She is back with Jared, confessing addictive love. She will be going to SUNY Purchase in the fall. She is, by all measures and degrees, unknown.
  • Xen... I am working my ass off for the month of July so that I might have money to buy gas in December. I am looking forward to my vacation in August. I am searching for meaning through that which I write. I am searching for definition through keystrokes, treating this site as a source of psychic energy (You read the pages and devote a wee bit of mental energy to the construct that you regard as "Xen." This, in a Jungian sense, strengthens the idea of me and makes me more real. Too much energy, however, usually turns celebrities into god archetypes and they end up committing acts that mortals cannot and reaping the burn-out). I am unsure of my place in the world, unsure of my feelings toward people, having days when I totally connect with the universe and days when I am a functional zombie. I am soon to return to New Paltz and I have these vague feelings that grow more definite every day that someone will happen to change the course I am on. This does not make me comfortable. I am, by all measure and degrees, uncomfortable.

I Don't Like This Cat, He Reads Minds
A few nights after I return, Melissa requested my presence because she missed me. Aw, I'm so loved. She, Liz, and I ended up deciding to see her sister's movie, Ice Age, at the cheapies. I suppose it is not technically completely Melissa's sister's movie, though she did work on it and is featured in the end credits. That seems good enough for me.
Angela interrogating Mike through breathing in his essence. (Okay, you tell me what you think she is doing here.)
We arrived and met with the Fat Mike clone the Triveccians left here. He perpetually seems like he is being sarcastic, so I usually just pretend he is. It is a lot easier that way.
As we were supposed to be meeting Angela, the four of us went outside so she would not become terribly confused. When she arrived, Mike said, "Angela, you're breasts look very nice tonight." We all glared at him, as they had had to sit him down the day before and explain that comment like that were almost always inappropriate and were very rarely appreciated. He asked what he was supposed to say when a girl's breasts looked nice. I turned to Angela by way of example and said, "Angela, you are a vision of loveliness tonight." I saw the dawning of comprehension in his eyes. "Oh, you mean I have to sound gay!" Melissa started in on him again as I conceded, "No, he is likely right."
For some reason that seemed clear to everyone else, save me, Angela was allowed to load the big scary projector with no prior experience of which I was aware. To show me a washer/dryer combo, Angela is my girl. To put the only print the Silver Cinemas possesses into a large, loud machine? Not so much. I tried to jokingly confront her on this fact but yelling at her, "The sprockets go through the film! What do you do...?" She smiled and finished, "...For a Klondike bar!" Well played.
Nonetheless, we had to summon Mike from his office to help us. As we walked down, I felt a familiar pull from behind me. I turned and saw a man I considered a good friend when I had first gone to Summer Scholars as a student. He seemed quite happy to see me and I, him. I gave him my information while telling him that I had, ironically, just returned from being an RA at Scholars. He has yet to contact me, nor will likely, but I remain hopeful.
The movie was rather cute, which is unfortunate because Melissa's sister's whole company got fired just after making it. We were, of course, the only people in the theater because it was a "special late night showing," in that we were showing it and it was night. When the credit came, we loudly cheered when Melissa's sisters name scrolled on the screen.
Melissa's sister's movie
After the movie was over, we went to the booth to splice a frame out that contained Melissa's sister's name. Again, Angela was allowed the privilege of potentially mutilating the film. She get to have all the fun, just because Mike thinks she has nice breasts.
We moved out to the parking lot, where Angela began interrogating Mike on his deviance from socially accepted norm. He has informed us in the past that he wished to commit extreme sexual violence (killing and then violating the corpses and the like) on any woman who acts like she is better than he is. Of course, he said it in the tone that may well mean he is sarcastic and baiting humanity for his own amusement. Still, Angela tried to rationalize with him that this was likely not a normal reaction, most would just say the girl is a bitch and should be ignored. He would have none of this rational talk, arrogant girls needed to be "put in their place." I sat and tried to test the limit of this by asking if this applied to old women and young girls. He derided, "Oh course I'd fuck a fifteen-year-old. Most guys would love to. You can't tell me you don't see some of these girls walking around and don't want to fuck them." I conceded that there were attractive fifteen year olds that were blessed by the hormone fairy, but I didn't want to tup them.
Around this point, I decided that it would be a good idea to push Liz around in a shopping cart. Melissa spotted a deer on the other edge of the parking lot, so I felt it would be a good use of resources to scare it back into the forest but running at it with Liz still in the cart (despite her protests) figuring the sound of a fast moving cart would be enough to convince it that a parking lot was not a very good grazing field.
When I returned Liz to Melissa, they had decided that food should be procured at the Dutchess Diner. I do not much like the Dutchess Diner, but this seemed to be what we were doing anyway.
Once seated there, we could not help but note that every fucking table in the place was staring at us. We were not arrayed at all strangely and yet every genetic misappropriation in the place watched us like we were circus freaks about to put a show on. We were not appreciative of the attention, but still they blatantly stared.
I ordered an ice tea, which, though it was unsweetened, still tasted peculiar. Maybe they were trying to poison it? Mike asked to taste it. I raised my eyebrow apprehensively and slid it over to him. He lapped at it like a German Shepherd. You know, I wasn't very thirsty anyway. He then ragged on me for no longer wanting the drink just because his tongue had been in it. I replied, "It tasted like ass before. Now it will taste like ass on which you had your mouth. Besides, I have water. Mmm, water." Angela said that it would taste better if sweetened, so she kept pouring sugar in it until there was a goodly sum of saccharine sediment sludge at the bottom. Oh yum, ultra-sweet ass on which Mike had his mouth. It's a delicacy in Tibet.
When we were leaving, Mike and Melissa seemed to get into a fight because he had been behaving poorly toward her earlier in the week and had, in fact, struck her. Melissa certainly wasn't going to have any of that. Liz and I went to the car to wait for mommy Melissa to come back and drive us home. It was very late, especially considering I have just gotten back from Scholars and was acclimated to that schedule, so I was half asleep in the back when Melissa returned. I think she killed him by beating him with a hose. Or maybe I dreamt that.

His Name is Kiwi Robert Paulsen
A few days after the above events, and thoroughly burned-out from working full time at the library, Emily and I were cordially invited to go to Liz's house where there would be food. Granted, it was not sweet, sweet icing, but it was being made of love (and pasta sauce).
We arrived to see a luxuriating Angela in her pajamas on the sofa. I motioned to her in an accusatory manner and loudly exclaimed, "I did not agree to this!" She cooed that I had not, but here she was. Well, I can't argue with that. We found our place on Liz's sofa so her yappy mini-Lassie would stop trying to bite me. Yappy dogs either love me to the extent that they try to mate with my shin or try to destroy me. I have no middle ground with them.
Liz presented Emily and me with meatless (thus, for Emily, edible) baked ziti which we quickly devoured. Soon after our hunger was sated, Melissa suggested we play "I Never." She was aware that she would most likely lose, as she has done... likely more than I will ever do if I live to be a hundred. Somewhere in the course of the game, Angela decided that Emily deserved many orgasms. The context was lost, though I cannot imagine that this comment should have a proper context.
Of course, Melissa lost, as she had done nearly everything we could conceive a person of doing. Liz was the next loser. Emily also lost, because I knew enough about her history that I could hit on specific point. I couldn't let her beat me. Angela and I tied. I was the most innocent drug-wise and she was the most innocent sex-wise.
After the game, it was decided that brownies needed to be made. We are big on cooking and baking, evidently. As there were no eggs in the house, Emily and I were appointed to drive and pick some up. We ended up at a Pricechopper (because they never close) wandering around. It took us far too long to stumble upon the eggs. Emily actually walked past them, fretting that they were nowhere to be found. I went and stood in front of the eggs, assuming correctly that she would realize she lacked my company and was fretting to no one and trace her steps back to me. Before we left, we passed the bargain table where there sat a Beanie Baby kiwi with a twisted beak. I picked him up and began tossing him about, hoping to give him the sensation of flight. I threw him particularly high and then affected forgetfulness and innocence that I had anything to do with flying kiwi. He landed on top of the eggs Emily was carrying. Clearly he needed to be freed then, if he was intelligent enough to return to us.
When we returned to Liz's house, we learned that Angela had abandon us for work the next morning and Melissa had left to pick up Matt. As such, Emily and Liz decided to begin making the brownies. I'm not sure why, but I didn't help. I usually like making brownies... For keeping out of their way, however, they did give me the salmonella-riddled bowl to lick. So sweet.
While we waited for Matt, Melissa, and the brownies, M and I discussed when the kiwi should be named. She wanted him to be Kiwi Bob. I thought that was lame and suggested more colorful alternatives from film and literature. Finally we reached the agreement that his name should be Kiwi Robert Paulsen and we would merely call him Kiwi Bob for short.
Shortly after Matt arrived, he shared his utopian view. Ideally, in his world, people would not be so reliant on technology, the government, and medicine. People are scared of death and so they try to prolong the suffering of others in an attempt to achieve immortality themselves.
He doesn't usually look this crazed  
Matt P.
But they are going to die just as surely as we are all going to die. As he put it, he knows his grandmother is going to die. She is not well. But he doesn't want her suffering prolonged and doesn't want her drugged to oblivion before her body gives up. The practice of giving people antibiotics to everyone with a sniffle has yielded much stronger sicknesses. This practice is killing us more than would letting nature run its course. Melissa disagreed with this attitude, stating that Matt would not let his grandmother died and thus was a hypocrite. But I have to feel for Matt here.
He also is highly critical with our government and the perversion of the Bill of Rights. And I don't think he is wrong. As he explained, the Bill of Rights said we should not endure tyrants on our soil and should seek to depose them by whatever means necessary. Try running an honest campaign against Bush and his cabinet of crook (No, really, insider trading? A crime) and see how long it takes before people call you un-American or you are reported by your mail carrier under the new TIPS program. This is not a government I want to be under. Melissa retorted that it may not be perfect, but it is still the best government in the world. Matt conceded, but said massive reforms are still necessary. I do not concede.
They were very argumentative and I loved it. I don't think I experience enough verbal discourse like that. Matt is thus a very cool person in my book.

Soon in Xenology: Mountain Creek, Jessie and Bryan, my calves, poltergeist literary selections, Emily confronting homophobes.

last watched: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
reading: Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
listening: Tool : Undertow [Explicit Lyrics]
wanting: quite a bit more time to write.
interesting thought: Today's innocent comments and wishes are tomorrow's revolutions.
moment of zen: Feeling intellectually challenged by my peers.
someday I must: Hang out with Matt again.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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