If you are faint of heart, don’t read this. Don’t. Close this window. Now. Do it. You cannot handle it.
After you close the window, get off the internet. It is too much for the faint of heart. There could be a pop up, a virus, a worm, some sixty-three year old man pretending to be a horny, pre-teen girl, at any time – so get off. Turn off your computer. Go over to the couch and sit down and turn on the TV. Try as hard as you can to get through the cable channels until you get to the comforting PAX logo on the lower right hand side of the screen. Take a deep breath and enjoy Roma Downey’s unintimidating, hyperfeminine, verdant-but-not-too-bright-like-say-a-kelly-green-scoop-neck-long-stretch-velvet-dress beauty. Feel touched by all the angels. But only in appropriate places like on your forearm or the back of your hand. Possibly on the shoulder, but that is pushing it.
If you do not have PAX, try some inspirational reading, perhaps a selection from the “Chicken Soup” series, whichever one applies to you, as they are now made gender/age/race/level of stupidity specific, and you don’t want to make a mistake and read one from the wrong group because you might experience a feeling that you are unfamiliar with and don’t want to understand or learn something outside the realm of your being, for you do not wish to as you are faint of heart.
Be sure you go to a bookstore that is not independently owned, so you will not risk being offended by the staff’s recommendations, which are always implicitly not for the faint of heart, and therefore never for you. Not you. Best to stick to a large book/music superstore, with a cafÃ© inside, where you can order a soul-bolstering decaffeinated Chai tea or an herbal tea/juice infusion or some equivalent thereof, and sit yourself down with a “Victorian Style” and read a stimulating story -”Doilies By Any Means Necessary” or “Doll Collector’s Quarterly” and consider the possibility of having your likeness painted on a porcelain doll. What will they think of next! Better still, an outlet of some type requiring a pesky membership but that carries everything in bulk at significantly reduced prices, like restaurant size bags of confectioner’s sugar, 5000 plastic spoons in a bag, white wicker lawn furniture and books too, as you are safest there, since the selections are limited to mediocre bestsellers (perhaps you should write the name down now – “Grisham:” you’ll want his entire oeuvre.) and easy to read, largish print hardcover, displayable-on-your-coffee-table-therefore-can-be-used-in-place-of-objet d’art-books that insist you not to sweat small stuff and make four agreements and of course the numerous and inclusive paperback phone book size publications for ‘Dummies.’ I am not judging you at all, as I have all these books in my library at home. I just cannot bring myself to read them because it is too boring. They were given to me as gifts by people who just assume everyone is faint of heart, and therefore are keeping stacks of new copies at home to wrap at the last minute, because who doesn’t appreciate a really unchallenging book?
Then go lie down on your bed, already made from this morning, with freshly laundered 200 thread count pima cotton sheets, with the little cotton symbol, that never fails to remind you of Aaron Neville’s staggeringly beautiful voice, as you think that cotton really is the fabric of your life. Do all that you can to turn down your senses, like a hotel maid preparing a suite in the early evening, with barely audible Wyndam Hill tracks on repeat in the cd player (I suggest ‘SPRING’) or go wild with a John Tesh bootleg (no one will know but you, you naughty little minidisc recorder smuggler you), the toilet paper folded into a point, and the bed opened like a love letter, possibly giving yourself the full hotel effect by garnishing with square chocolates that taste of wax and look like postage stamps, smooth sheets unfolding towards you and looking white and available and willing to keep and hold all your secrets.
Get into that comfortable envelope and send yourself away. Cuddle up into your hypoallergenic fiber filled comforter, and cling like a koala bear onto a body sized pillow and fall into a sweet sleep, a deep slumber, a small morsel of death. Keep sleeping. Never wake up. Because if you are of the faint of heart, why are you still alive? Hasn’t life fucked you up and made you hard yet? If it hasn’t, you are a fucking liar. You are lying to yourself and living a lie and will die a lie and be buried in a liar’s grave that will remain unvisited because the truth is people really hate the faint of heart. Nobody in the world has the ability to be faint of heart unless you are totally avoiding reality, but if you are avoiding it – you still prove the fact that it exists and so you are already fucked and lying. Fuck you. Seriously. Middle finger pointing upwards, all the rest of my fingers resting on my palm. Fuck yourself and your faint heart.
Why? Because I am jealous. I wish I was faint of heart. But I am not, and I never had a chance to be. I have been abandoned on airplanes alone since I was three months old, molested by pretty much every heterosexual adult man I came in contact with, washed the blood off the sidewalk from the brutal murder of a young homosexual man who was kicked to death outside my parent’s bookstore by gay bashers, the grown-ups around me unable to move from shock – it happened too fast, and the sound his head made when it hit the pavement was too unbearably wet, the blows from the men around him not stopping, not seeing, they had smashed his head, out of rage. Not just hit, not just a concussion – smashed. Teeth left behind, and some taken for souvenirs. A man they never met before, never had seen before, but decided had to die, on the corner of Polk and California. Because they decided that the way he loved was unacceptable, and punishable by death. I walk by the corner now and again, and the blood has not washed away, although it has been more than twenty years.
If I could have been faint of heart, then I might have never known beautiful K, the irresistible and gentle boy, with the darkest, smoothest black skin, like a Benin sculpture, a boy-man who was proof that sometimes God took time out to make some of us with extra care. He stared at me long and so hard in drama class, I became aware for the first time in my life, I was not invisible. K’s looks made me have a hunger, that wasn’t in my stomach, but churned beneath, and left me breathless. K chose football over drama the next year, and he was hazed by the entire football team. They used a broomstick, and it tore a hole in him that required fifty-four stitches, but they never were able to mend the tear in his heart, for he was faint of heart then, I believe, and young enough to really be. The school covered up the incident, and K didn’t come to classes much after that. Then, it was all over the papers that K had stabbed his next door neighbor, the same number, 54 times, because he said that the man, who had been his friend, had surprised him from the back, and after K stabbed him once, he just couldn’t stop, he tried, but he couldn’t, he wanted to, but the hand didn’t listen to the arm which ignored the brain behind the immeasurable beauty of his face. A week later, K was dead, hanging in his cell.
I wish you could have seen him. I don’t even have a picture. K was so fine. And he thought I was too, which made him the first ever. I miss him. The football players stayed in school, said nothing, never even seemed guilty, never saw any justice, but then again, memory is a kind of jail from which you cannot escape, and I know they are all grown up men now, and they cannot forget, and for them, there is not enough Prozac in the world to ease that guilt, and they suffer and will continue to do so for all time.
The football team was how I found out about our English teacher, who had us keep journals for class, and in one of the pages of mine he wrote in red ink – “Please, whatever you do, never stop writing..” Then one day we had a substitute teacher who came in particularly late, almost half an hour after the class was supposed to start. Nobody said why, and the substitute, who had come in wet hair, just told us to leave. Several days went by, with a different sub for each one, who told us each in their own way, to have a study hall, whatever that was. The next week, after lunch, in Political Science 1, the boys were joking about the fag teacher that got it good, and I kept trying to interpret their jock language, and finally cracked open their clucks and male posturing, the morse code of testosterone poisoning, by the end of class.
Our teacher had invited a hustler to stay with him for the night, and possibly longer. Our teacher was found dead in his apartment many days later, his head, full of praise and genteel wisdom, was crushed pulpy red and white with a baseball bat. It was believed that the hustler had run out of crystal meth and patience, and got mad at our teacher. They never did catch him, but who knows if anyone tried. Our teacher’s mother had come to San Francisco from a far away State to identify the body of her son, but she couldn’t tell if it was him or not. Our teacher had not a face anymore. It was also reported that she never knew he was gay, but she had her suspicions, and that if it were true, then good riddance to him, and she went straight back to the Greyhound station, presumably to avoid any hotel expenses. We didn’t see her at our teacher’s funeral, which was very nice, but not for the faint of heart.
These are just a few snapshots from the earlier days, when I became contemptuous of the faint of heart. I hate people who are faint of heart. And I told you not to read it.