Skip to content

03.29.03 1:57 p.m.

M, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own
I'll never be alone
And you, my friend will see
You've got a friend in me
(You've got a friend in me)

M, you're always running here and there
(Here and there)
You feel you're not wanted anywhere (anywhere)
If you ever look behind
And don't like what you find
There's something you should know
You've got a place to go
(You've got a place to go)

I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"
(I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we")

M, most people would turn you away
(Turn you away)
I don't listen to a word they say
(A word they say)
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like M
(A friend)
Like M
(Like M)
Like M

 -Michael Jackson (sort of)  

Previously in Xenology: I didn't feel like part of a dyad. Jen left me for Nick.

In high school, I felt very much like part of a group. Perhaps, given the interweaving of our personalities, it would be more appropriate to say that I was part of a whole. However, I would like to believe that there was more self-reliance than the former statement suggests. It was Nick, Jen, and me. We were all best friends and, in Jen and Nick's senior year, I was in love with the former. Of course, as you may know, that ended badly with Nick pursuing Jen when I was away for two weeks. We are going to ignore that aspect, as it is not actually important beyond here.
Yay! I'm triadic!
The point was that I felt I was a part of a genuine community. There was a sense of dyadic to triadic consciousness among us. I will grant that it does not seem very deep seen through the lens of experience. However, it unquestionably felt deep at the time and, after I perhaps rashly decided that I couldn't live my life with Nick and Jen together, I missed the bond I felt we had shared in better times. Katie became well aware that, while I didn't wish to be with Jen again, I did what to feel the bond of friendship I had with Jen and Nick (the error in my logic seems to have been that I actually required Jen and Nick for the bond).
I think I feel the bond again. I don't mean to get your hopes up. It may just be that the light of spring rejuvenates parts of me that withered and were forgotten during the winter. Yet it seems just as likely that this is pure, uncut, Guatemalan triad.
Zack and I met Emily at Johnny D's on Monday because she had gotten the good news that her mother stands a much better chance of recovery. A body scan of some sort forecasted a chance of overcast lungs with some precipitation, so there was relief when the cloud on the scan turned out to be relatively innocuous. Emily was jubilant, honestly in a lighter mood than she had been in months. It must have been that increase in barometric pressure.
We are happily, attempting to avoid breaking our waitress's spirit with our odd moods, and contrived to convince Flea the handheld that he knew directions to a movie theater. The computer refused to obey our bidding, so we beseeched the harried waitress for directions. Through a forced smile and with unfocused eyes, she dictated directions to the attentive Emily and Zack. I was still convinced my tiny computer could be tricked into revealing the secrets of the universe if I pushed the proper icon.
The directions lead us many places, none of them the theater. It appeared that the waitress had just given us random directions that would do little to help us see a movie. Dastardly.
At a gas station, we sent Zack out to retrieve less disgruntled directions. This he did, as well as getting us a lottery scratch-off. I do not make a habit of playing these games, but I am a fan of scratching. Emily whittled off the silver revealing that we had won $100,000! We could all pay off our student loans, buy a nice apartment and all new cars! I couldn't believe it, so I wasn't shocked when Emily shook me out of my daze and demanded a lucky Sacagawea dollar to use to scratch the ticket.
We didn't win, by the way.
You know you are scared
When we found the theater, it was moments after Willard, the only movie we could all agree to see, had begun. The theater had stadium seating and few other patrons, which allowed us to take up as much space as was our wont. So, of course, we sat behind someone and I repressed the urge to offer him popcorn.
Emily was suitable horrified by the movie, particularly the elements of the soundtrack rendered by the supposedly pedophilic (you hear that, lawyers? Supposedly) Michael Jackson that (in addition to "purely platonic" sleep-overs with young boys) will now remind Emily of a floor full of rapacious rats. Zack and I did not help the situation, as our ever inclination was to summon forth our animal protectors and command them to "tear it up." Emily threatened to unsheathe her fists of doom, so we thought it better to be quiet (at least until the rats obey our thrall more reliably).
To prove her fighting dominance over Zack, she challenged him to a game of Tekken Tag in the theater's arcade. Unfortunately, cat demons do not fight as well as Emily does and she was trounced. If only there had been rat demons...
Emily insisted that we play a game that really requires no skill. All one has to do is hold onto two metal protuberances and not let go as they vibrate. The conceit is that one is getting electrocuted, but it is a silly conceit. As there was three of us and only two metal tubes, Emily held Zack and my hand and just up and down, evidently reenacting what a kangaroo on amphetamines would experience while being electrocuted.
We won, by the way.
From here, we white trashed it to Wal-Mart because Zack needed a watch. I managed to not force Emily to push me around in a shopping cart, but I cannot promise it was not difficult. I was aghast as the diversity of religious products made by sweatshop children one can buy in ten feet.
I'll cut you, bitch!  
Evil monkeys
While Emily tried on various sunglasses to stave off the effects of the evil yellow face in the sky, I was overjoyed to discover a bag that seemed to reenact a monkey knife fight. I think the denizens of Wal-Mart created this object as homage to their simian ancestors. As an anthropological artifact, it could be priceless (or $7.99 on clearance). Who were these monkeys? Which one bested the other in combat? Do the Wal-Mart drones worship these creatures? Is this their creation myth? The world will never know until we can decrypt their alien tongue.
Hippy hop  
Quick like a bunny
One of the blue vested priestesses on the monkey gods tried to engage me.
"Ser. I say, ser. Wat is you lookin' at?" she grunted.
"I am called Xen, not 'Ser.' ZZZZ-EN. Do you understand me?" I pronounced slowly.
"I'm Niaomi. What're ya talkin' 'bout?"
"A bout? As in a battle? Yes, Ni-omi! I am wondering about this fight here. What does this mean?"
"Dat a purse," she spit.
"'Dadapurz'? I'm sorry. I cannot understand your language. I wish you peace, Priestess of the Monkey Gods." As an amateur anthropologist, I was sad to see that the language barrier was too great. Perhaps someday this tribe will be understood, but Emily, Zack, and I couldn't spend our night with these unpredictable creatures.
Instead, we discovered the illusive and wily Emmy-Bunny. She seemed sad to have been caught, so we released her into the wild again so she could stalk the plush carrot-headed whazzat.
We three next met Tuesday night. I picked Zack up after my night class.
"So, long time, no see. The things, how are they?" I grinned, as it had not been twenty-four hours from last I had seen him.
"I just spoke with Cara." Cara is a girl Zack had met after acting in Sweeney Todd one night. She seemed to delight in him, which isn't a hard feat for females, and thus gave him her number.
Only one set of footprints
"That's great! How is she?"
"Good. She's really cool. She said she was sorry she couldn't hang out tonight, but she lives in Rhode Island."
"Oh. I suppose that is a very good excuse," I conceded. "There is still liking?"
"Definitely. She's my age! She isn't a drama person."
He need say no more, honestly. While drama people have their charms - wit, creativity, extroversion - they all seem to have the universal baggage of large, yet insecure egos. Simple acting does not make one a drama person, but it is almost essential to the formation of the drama persona. I referenced a drama person who nearly disgusts me with her layers of artifice.
Zack looked out the window. "I saw her once when she was drunk. We spoke. She was really very sad." He seemed thoughtful, weighing his words. "She still was really horny though and wouldn't leave me alone."
"No. Of course not."
Our conversation was cut short when Zack received a phone call from a different drama person who spoke to Zack at length during most of the rest of the trip. When Zack said that this lass is in liking with him, I couldn't even feign surprise.
Once at Emily's, we decided that we required both food and bad movies to continue our lives. Our trip to get Chinese food was just long enough to prevent the renting of terrible horror films from the eighties. To prevent disturbing Emily's sick mother, we ate on Emily's floor.
Life is good  
Life is good
I left the room to get a drink and was startled to find that Emily had covered most of her floor space with paper when I returned.
"I am potty trained, you know."
Emily had a steely hue to her blue eyes, "I just got this carpet. It is new. If you drop anything on it, you will be dead before it hits the ground. Okay?"
I nodded fearfully and set to work on my General Tsao's.
The conversation eventually drifted to comic books.
"What the hell is the deal with the Green Arrow? Really, what is his special power?" I queried.
"He has really good accuracy and speed," answered Zack.
"That's it? He's not a mutant or anything? It isn't an infinite, magical quiver?"
"Nope. He is just good at firing arrows."
"Well, I think that sucks. At least Batman was really strong and had billions of dollars to make inventions. Stupid Green Arrow and his lack of inventions."
"He killed Superman once," said Zack.
I smiled, "Oh, good. I never liked Superman. When did this happen?"
"In the future. The Green Arrow had to fire a kryptonite arrow into Superman's heart because Superman went crazy after Lois Lane died and decided he was the law. They made a Darkwing Duck episode about it."
"Darkwing Duck... now there is a hero," chimed M.
The conversation devolved from here so it became necessary to make cookies from a tube. I can't profess to have been much help with this endeavor. I mostly ate balls of raw dough and sat on the counter. The cookies were largely burnt and inedible, but we shared the optimist's curse that they would look far better by the light of morning.
After a night of discussing religious conversion with a sleeping Emily, I awoke to Zack making pancakes overflowing with love. It is quite possible that Zack is one of those rare souls that somehow betters any food that he has a hand in preparing.
The cookies, however, were still carbon-coated pucks.
Sated on delicious pancakes, we set off to the Palisades Mall. Originally, this day was set aside for Emily and me to go to the city. However, fears of the increasingly militaristic streets scared us from this idea. Next, we thought it would be lovely to wander around Woodstock. This plan, too, could not come to fruition for fear we would be rained upon. We couldn't really justify driving that far if the end result was to be soggy. Thus, a mall of such enormity that a major protest involving the police occurred last time I had been there and I was unaware became the plan du jour.
Upon entering the megalith, Zack and Emily found a pet store and began to drool over the various puppies.
The donkey does nice things  
Sexy donkey
Making sad eyes at a weimaraner puppy, Zack sighed, "When we move in together, I want to get a dog like this."
"I want a ferret," I added.
"Weimaraners are great. Our house will be full of dogs," smiled Emily with her nose pressed against the glass.
"Ferrets are cute."
Zack waved to a puppy. "We'll need a big yard."
"They hide things and are highly pettable."
"We will definitely need a big yard eventually, because I need a place to run my greyhound Quest," explained Emily.
"My ferret could just sleep in my lap. It would be so quiet and sweet. They don't bark."
"You guys will help me keep my dog in line, right? My family right now lets the dogs do whatever they want and they take advantage."
"Ferrets obey well," I nodded.
Emily looked at me as though I had just appeared. "What are you talking about? You are allergic to ferrets, remember? So am I."
"Oh. Right... Are you sure?"
"Yes. You and ferrets do not mix well. You sneeze a lot and your eyes puff up."
"That seems familiar."
Then they made odd faces toward the puppies, as though the puppies were administering morphine injections.
There was a great deal more wandering, though little actual commerce. I do not think it occurred to us that we could actually buy things. If we had won that lottery, it certainly would have.
Passing an island of children's rides, Emily insisted that she wished to ride the donkey. We found quarters and indulged her.
After the donkey grinded to action, Emily got an odd look on her face and began to laugh.
"What's funny?"
She tittered gentle and said in a normal tone, "This feels like having sex. It is the same motion."
Zack and I exchanged looks of amusement, but decided against teasing Emily. She still has fists of doom and the car keys.
Around here, we all began to recite lines from a Sealab 2021 episode I had forced Emily to watch in hopes of redeeming the show in her eyes. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of the show or this episode. However, it helps the rest of this entry if you keep in mind that we would randomly say one of the following in a strange voice:

  • "Bizarro!"
  • "I'm helping!"
  • "Bizarro! I love you! Bizarro!"
  • "I fed Turtleface a whole bag of peanuts"
  • "They'll kill me!"
  • "Buk Buk!"
  • "My breast sense this one knows something."
I'm not saying it wasn't obnoxious, it was. But we were obnoxious as a team.
We also found the in-door ferris wheel, which we obviously needed to ride. The man running it was plainly the carnie equivalent of a yuppie. Yes, he has a steady job and does not need to move around the country. However, he begged the woman before us to return soon when he was working. This was not a come-on, I believe he actually gets paid by the number of people that ride the wheel during his shift. He acted exactly the same to us, to our slight fright.
Once we fled the wheel, we stopped for lunch as a nice Italian chain restaurant. I was embarrassed to admit that walking around the mall for so long had worn me out and I was rather grateful for the chance to just sit back and eat rosemary bread dipped in olive oil.
As we ate, we further discussed our future cohabitation though we never set a date for it. We idly discussed the chores that we did not mind doing. I was rather pleased that Zack volunteered to do some cooking, as he could make me more pancakes. They are certainly a weakness.
The whole proposal began to seem more feasible (save for the part when we all need enough money to execute the plan) and pleasant the more we spoke. Originally, I had apprehension. This was not owing to my companions, as I cannot imagine two people with whom I would rather live. I am just terrified of finances, a system which has worked for me in the past. I can definitely see spending my money to live with my friend, however. If I could not get to live on or off-campus in New Paltz, this seems like a comparable idea to slake my need for a community of my own.
We left the restaurant so overfull of food I was shocked my feet would work. Nonetheless, we happened upon a theater that featured moving seats. One is supposed to feel that they are moving in sync with the movie. However, our chairs seemed about six seconds late to the party, so we just felt tossed about randomly. This is not a complaint, sometimes a random flinging about is quite relaxing. Best of all, we were allowed to ride twice for the same price because the woman running it knew the fate of the world depended on it. Also, there were few other customers.
As we drove home, we got to discuss politics and decided to form our own party. We don't have a name yet, but here is how we stand on various issues.
  • Gun control: we are for enforcement of existing laws and the elimination of ridiculous weapons such as armor piercing, cop-killer bullets. There is just no reason for that.
  • School vouchers: we are for vouchers because there is no way we are going to let our children be fucked up by the current educational experience in America's public schools. Schools are failing kids, thus society, and vouchers are a nice way of voting with your children. They are honestly the only way I currently see to revolutionize the public schools while providing quality education in the mean time.
  • Gay right: All people should have equal rights (my, that was easy).
  • Drug offenders: there was some dissention in the ranks for this one. I feel that there should not be long jail sentences for non-violent, drug offenders. I think there should be mandatory rehab. However, our prisons should not become homes to old hippies growing pot for glaucoma patients (though this is definitely one end of the spectrum).
  • Abortion: We are all for a woman's right to choose, but she had better have made up her mind before the third trimester as we are against partial birth abortions (except in cases where it could harm the mother or was caused by rape).
  • The death penalty: we have no idea, but we are willing to admit that.
At Emily's, we finally rented what we believed to be bad horror movies. We chose Session 9 and FearDotCom. The former was a taut psychological thriller that kept us guessing and thinking well after it was over. The latter was Hollywood dreck written in hopes of copying Ringu before The Ring came out. It was definitely on my list of worst movies ever made in the last ten years and seemed to have been made so someone could subsidize their faux snuff film fetish.
We watched the movies at ate our microwaved Chinese food from the night before. We were all cuddled on Emily bed and it was one of the more content moments I have had in a very long time. Grad school didn't worry me. Term papers and philosophy reports ceased to exist. I had my best friend and girlfriend within an arm's reach. I had Chinese food. I had horror movies. The spring air was encircling all of us.
Things were right.

Soon in Xenology: Marriage. Benson. Conor.

last watched: Session 9
reading: The Science of Vampires
listening: Anonymous alternarock
wanting: More perfect nights.
interesting thought: I am manifesting the community I need.
moment of zen: discussing the future with Emily and Zack.
someday I must: get an apartment.

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.

eXTReMe Tracker