[Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts. The second will be published Sept. 14]
The Silent Son of La Grange
As we go careening into the end of summer, like a sounder of swine going over the cliff, all full of the devil, I’m looking down the barrel of a brutal anniversary of sorts, a place in time I’d rather like to erase…
You Shut The Fuck Up and You Shut The Fuck Up and That’s What The Fuck You Do.
One of the many facets of masculinity is the view that a man should keep tight-lipped over most, if not all, expressions of personal agony and humiliation and our inherent human weaknesses, and that staying mum and emotionless will keep you firmly planted on the jungle floor, ready for the hunt; slightly wounded, sure, but ready to pounce on your prey. “Hide everything, deny everything” is the manhood mantra; however, playing strong while silent does nothing to aid you in waiting out all the storms life brings to the existential door of your “Little Tramp”-like temple; secrets fat with abuse, and the attempt to squash that scream, lace your spirit with strychnine, a nux vomica-like discharge wreaking havoc on your internal soul system, without the consent to congress, and without mercy…
It’s The Thirty-Third of August, and I’m Finally Touching Down.
I graduated from fuckin’ high school in May 2000, and, by August, I had moved out of my parents’ extremely-cramped house (11 kids living under the same roof of a newly-purchased, South Dixie, three-bedroom abode), and had set myself up in an apartment over the storefront “Stitch Wizards” on the corner of Shelby Street and east Broadway with two male roommates, a schoolyard chum and a friend in his late 20s, whom I had met through Louisville’s music scene: We were in a drowning band. Within the first week of living all independent-like and free from my folks, I came home from warehouse work to find a slight acquaintance and some old head I didn’t know hanging out with my roommates. The old head was introduced as a seasoned musician, and an impromptu party began. At 19, I was extremely pliable, gullible and desperate to be accepted within the world of punk rock, so when the drinking intensified and pills were introduced, I leapt on board. As I became increasingly impaired, and my roommates dropped off like flies, I suddenly had this strange 40-something man in my face, looking like the grandfather of “Pat The Bunny” and telling me a fairly-disturbing story about how, a few nights prior, he had been stabbed in his torso by an “unruly lover,” and going so far as removing his shirt and producing the proof, a large wound, freshly stitched.
Soon thereafter, I fell unconscious and was promptly assaulted sexually, the details of which were relayed to me around 10 in the morning by my roommates. The older of the two had walked in on the attack, putting a soft stop to the situation. Having friends explain what had happened to me only moments ago — with my head in a train-wreck haze and sitting exactly where the attack occurred, pants pulled down, still exposed — was a moment of such profound confusion and inner conflict, that I have not occupied that terrifying state of head space since. There was no yelling, no crying, no emotion from any of the three of us; I was told what was what. I didn’t fully understand. And the concession was made that I had but two options: find this mouthy-molester and fill him with arrows, or shut up, get over it and move on, which was the option polling hot in the room, so I picked the latter and found getting over it and moving on was no easy task, and my impending fallout from this decision became grave.
In a whirlwind, I “manned the fuck up” and swiftly checked all the boxes of self-destruction within a two year span. I became a spiteful, poisonous person: Anyone not dressed in hazmat became caught in my caustic air. I came to hate punk-rock culture; I saw its duplicity, its hypocrisy and its salacious intent. I knew it true, that it was a nest of vipers guarded by a hive of spiders. I became drunk, drug-altered and intolerant. In short, I became a bigot.