Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Step Right Up...


Step right up,
Hooper heard the words. In his head it’s a woman’s voice. The voice is sultry, tantalizing, alluring, all the things bad for a man who thought he had the with the will power of a baby chicken. This evening was a bad idea from the start, but following after his passions, and that’s a nice way of describing a part of his anatomy that truly lead his way here, he sauntered blithely into the bar behind Carolyn Hobbs, the brand new HR associate in the office, without a seconds hesitation.
It’s like finding out you’re allergic to cats after accidentally stepping into the tiger’s cage at the zoo. The watery eyes and hard sniffles are troublesome, but ultimately they are the absolute least of your problems. That's akin to being an ex alcoholic in a raucous bar during happy hour after a full day of work. In the scenario the main rub is being surrounded by man eaters with gleaming claws and gnashing teeth, in his reality it's being surrounded by hundreds of people, close quarters, loud voices over booming music that thumped his chest. Hooper was mono-maniacal, which is indeed a term, an actual condition, something he’d learned not too long ago. Google can be a friend to the weird and the introverted during those few whimsy moments where even the most indignant anti-socialite wants to know what his or her problem really is. Mono-Maniacal, it said, the insistence to remain in a state of oneness, a mind’s will or desire to be isolated or alone.
That doesn’t really count, Hooper said to himself at the time, illuminated blue from the light in his computer screen in his dimly lit office, his eyes cocked one larger than the other in perfect puzzlement. I like being around others, sometimes, I don’t mind being around people, on occasion. The condition, though it fit in many aspects, seemed not to fit him romantically, as in the over dramatized way he liked to view himself. No, no condition here, no ‘disorders’ if you will. I don’t dig a crowd, that’s all, but there’s no phobia, there’s no chronic need for oneness, whatever the fuck that means. And I’ll prove it!
This synapse fires congruously with mail boy Mac Jones’s weekly Friday night round. Mac is gathering heads for the evening excursion toward the local watering hole. Usually for Hooper this was a typical thing to be shunned. Mac would be thoroughly avoided all other times, but tonight is different. Carolyn Hobb had administered an emphatic yes at the idea of bar hopping onto to the wee Saturday morning. Hooper had heard her just down the hall, that dazzling mezzo soprano voice of hers agreeing in jovial anticipation. This was reason one for Hooper. Reason two was that he’d just been told his limitations by Google, which was enough motivation for any self appointed super genius to go against his better judgment.
Which came first, the cure or the disease? He trailed behind them on the long walk from the office to the bar. The dirty dozen, he called them, a cast of characters that were notorious for this weekly digression. He bordered on despising them all, their capacity for self amusement was irritating. But still he followed, he was following Carolyn. The winter time chill was biting his ankles, which he found more sensitive than any other part of his body. He was wrapped tight in his parka, while the creeping death, the mental sensation of foreboding curled slowly around his neck and choked the air out of his lungs, the doubt and the misgivings were coming on strong the closer to their destination he got.
In college there were anxieties at gatherings. Get togethers were torture, until he discovered alcohol in all of its various manifestations. With a pickled brain Hooper found he was looser, and thus he was more accessible to others, or perhaps he found others more accessible to him. Either way it lead to becoming his permanent way of dealing with the other walking talking mouth breathers at large, just lubricate the ordeal as heavily as possible. There had to be an intervention from “so-called” family members before he came to grips with just how far he’d allowed it to get. The cure for social terror it turns out was the disease of the twentieth century. It was like a cruel joke but he managed to stop drinking. Ironically the thing that allowed that stoppage to take hold was his extreme introversion. If there was no alcohol in sight there was no alcohol on the mind. It was a flimsy defense, true, but effective as long as it was untested.
Step right up!
               He hears it. He’s in the bar again, back from his short reminiscing. After all he’d made it. He’d slipped right in the door with his co-workers, his sad pathetic peon peers who needed this activity to contend with their work week. The great Hooper needed no such distractions. The great Hooper was only with these simpletons now because of the allure of the mysterious Carolyn Hobbs and the many super intellectual children they would have together. He was on a mission, nothing more, espionage, data collections, observation. What does she like, what IS she like, what is her preference of significant other and how over qualified was he to fit that assumed simple criteria? This was all, these were his reasons, the fact that the magical juice that changed the waking world was being sold in this same dive was just a minor nuisance, a mere distraction.
            Step right up!
            He had to stay focused. Carolyn had on a v-neck blouse, silk black, he couldn’t see the lower part of her body but remembered she was wearing a skirt of some kind, conservative, neither tight fitting nor drooping. The prominent part of her entire being was her long narrow neck, sloping in warm round curves from her sharp shoulders to her perfect head, curled hair, dark brown and pinned up to look like there was a lot less than what was really there. She smiled fiercely, constantly, one bright beam of white, in genuine expressions of happiness. She was perfection, and for a moment her radiance saved him from the thing with a thousand eyes and arms. But that moment was not long enough.
There might as well have been thousands of them, them being other people. A million faces, fingers twitching and flicking, arms reaching out from this mass of bodies. Pushing, rubbing and shoving past at every turn, in all directions. The law made the interior of the establishment mercifully smoke free, but that was all mercy had in store for him that night. There were smells, the tendrils of the multi hued creature slick with perspiration, gleaming with copious wetness, and all around him, clamoring for him, touching him, pulling at him. Too many people, too many damned people in here! He thought of the term, Mono-Maniacal…, he thought it with merit for the first time. With them all pulling, him drowning in a whirlpool of writhing humanity, the object of his affections far off and out of reach, and now all of a sudden seemingly out of his league… he hears the voice of his older, more enthralling love, the muse, the summons from her enthralling voice.
Step right up!
She says. In his head the muse is a woman’s voice, the music she speaks to is the sound of liquid pouring smoothly into a tall sweating glass, foaming at the top.
Step right up!
the sound is coming from the bar, the place he’d been determined not to look at. The beautiful mahogany red brown wood that gleamed in the bad lighting of the establishment, calling. There were thousands of the beasts arms and legs choking the perimeter of this pretty oasis, but there was space for him. And the voice insisted he would be safe there from everything.
Step right up! It said. Come to the bar, have a little of the old joy juice for old time’s sake. A little of the medicine to survive the terribleness of the evening. Drink a bit and be like unto the beast, drink a bit and feel no more pain, drink a bit and lose yourself…, step right up.
               Perhaps an antisocial monster, perhaps a mono-maniac that trucks no contact with the rest of humanity, perhaps a loser whom will never know the loving touch of one Carolyn Hobb, perhaps all these things and more, but, almost in spite of himself, Hooper was no backslider. So the experiment failed! He announced to himself, almost triumphantly, with a rather gleeful nod of his head. Standing in the cold cold street with his arm In the air hailing a cab he recounts what he’s gained from this experience. Not a bar hopper, not a good time Charlie after all, and certainly, thank fully, not in need of starting sobriety from day one again.
               The cab stops in front of him, the ambient noise of the bar off in the distance to the side, behind him, in the past. he lasted a total of ten excruciating minutes, but now he was free. He leans forward, the cabbie staring back at him inquisitively. Hooper hesitates, Carolyn Hobbs angelic face flashing before his eyes for an instant. He hesitates only because of the one vague notion. If you are strong enough not to drink, you are strong enough to speak to Carolyn Hobb. It’s a ringing in his ear, suggesting strength and something resembling heroism might exist in the world of a man locked inside himself. Ridiculous! He thinks, now making eye contact with the cabbie.
“12 east 96th” Hooper says. 
The cabbie nods, the doors unlock:
“I can get you there. Step right up!” he says.
Posted by Hassan Godwin at 8/29/2012 04:51:00 PM ::

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