by ZZ Claybourne
If I should lose what I think of as my mind please know that I may not be able to help you find it, so I offer this advance list to aid any in reminding me who I am.
I like long, hot baths. Music may play depending on whether it’s noisy outside or not. Or if it’s properly cloudy. Or I begin to hum. Put me in water.
I love being hugged. What a warmth and pull created by hugs! Get in there with both arms and your entire soul.
Read to me. Read me something unusual, something wickedly funny, something amazingly inventive. Read me poems and stories and Dr. Seuss.
Show me art. Show me paintings, sculptures, stained glass. Show me metal work full of spirals. Show me puppets and show me suits of armor. Show me pretty rocks and remind me what the word “juxtaposition” means.
If there’s a koi pond at hand, take me outside and let me speak to the fish. Privately.
Depending on the season, I may want to walk a bit, but only in the morning when it’s quiet. If it’s autumn and there are dry leaves, I’ll need a few moments with them.
Kiss me. That may sound strange but I like to be kissed. For propriety, let us keep my forehead and cheeks clean.
I would like to fall asleep on someone’s shoulder from time to time.
I love deep dish pizza. I know it’s trendy to want pizza so micro thin and simple one cuts one’s lip but I want to see my fork disappear into thick red sauce, a layer of cheese that could plug a hole in a bike tire, and meat. Give me my teeth from time to time so that I can enjoy meat.
I used to draw. I hope I still can. Give me paper, pencil, and several juice boxes. I might be a while.
Let me watch The Twilight Zone.
I love sweet potato pie and Rosario Dawson’s smile. I love smiles period. They’re the most illuminating thing about a person. I once fell in love with someone because she smiled at me. I hope you’ve done that too. It’s good to relate.
Please play Prince. I don’t care about hospital policy. Play Prince.
Let me sit in the shower from time to time with my back to the spray as I try to experience each individual droplet.
I do not like coffee. I like tea. I do not like bagels. I like doughnuts. I do not like smooth jazz. I like humps in my rhythm. Bumps. I do not like top 40 radio. Please never let me hear the words “lady lumps.”
There are certain people whose faces bring me joy. I won’t list them. They know. They’ll come.
Oatmeal cookies from On The Rise Bakery in Detroit. I love those. It’s run by the Capuchins, you know. Tell Br. Ray I said hi.
If it’s a cool, windy day I need to be near a window where I can see trees. Thank you.
I’m not big on naps but I love REM sleep. I imagine if it’s the future you can induce that state. Leave me there till I wake up.
I love when my feet are warm.
Conversely, I hate when my feet are cold.
Please keep my feet warm.
Soup, of almost any variety but split pea, is generally welcomed.
Babies laughing. Oh my gods, who doesn’t love the sound of babies laughing? Please let me experience babies laughing.
My favorite color used to be black but now I realize that was just a deeper deeper shade of blue. Find a deep blue robe for me and let me shuffle about.
If I’m allowed in the kitchen, I like washing dishes. I know. It’s weird. But let me do it. Not all the time. I’m not that weird. Just sometimes.
I might like jet skiing. I don’t know. I haven’t tried it.
I love beaches, clean ones where you can dig your toes into the surf line without fear of laceration. I love the sound of the waves and the motion of the water. I think they’re what infinity must be.
The scent and texture of roses remind me of making love. I hope there are bouquets in my room from time to time.
I like watching people genuinely having fun, so please don’t try to make me participate in board game night. I like to watch. Unless it’s retro night and someone has the old Dark Tower board game (a D&D type hybrid electronic/board game from the early 80s that had nothing to do with Roland or men in black). I’ll play that. I loved playing that with my brothers.
If I’m still able to write, let me ramble on and give the papers to you, where you’ll pretend to publish them even though I’ll know you won’t, but high marks to you for being kind.
On my bacon sandwich I need grape jam and a slice of cheese. My grits must have cheese. Never feed me eggs without cheese.
Use chocolate-covered almonds to calm me.
Don’t put a tie on me when you think I need to look special, it’ll only make me mad.
I’m not big on churches and religion. Take me out gardening instead.
Please clip my nose hairs, shave my face (but not too closely), and keep my head bald.
The stars. Let me see them. Let me really see them, away from lights and cities.
Let me watch thunderstorms, the more lightning the better.
My favorite superhero is Spider-Man. If you’d care to dress as him from time to time…
Gymnopédie No. 1 helps me remember how beautiful life is when we’re not hunting each other. Maybe play this every other day? If that’s not handy, Madhouse 8 will do.
I don’t like being alone the first few days of Fall. Fall should be shared with someone, someone who appreciates the value of silence. Let me sit with them.
Finally, it will do wonders for me if you allow me to wander. Just let me think I’m wandering even though your watchful eye will never lose sight of me. I might believe the world is still infinite and surprising; here’s hoping a bit of that part of me remains. Let me remember adventure.
may lose his socks but he'll be damned if he loses his towel as well.
by ZZ Claybourne
I used to have a big fro. Even bigger when ma pressed it out. Looked like a dandelion puff as a kid. Now (if I don’t shave my head) I’ve got a figure 8 mown by Smurfs at the crown and forehead. If I bend over at night and light hits it people panic at large cat’s eyes.
But geezerville doesn’t start with losing it.
Geezerville starts with getting it.
The new growth. Hair loss is no big deal till you realize you’re not losing it, it’s just sucking back through the scalp and coming out somewhere else, apparently going through bleach by-products because it comes out white. Bleach or fear, but as it seems to happen mostly at night when I’m dreaming about Pam Grier’s loofah, I lean toward the internal bleach theory. The gray hairs in my nose I was cool with till they started looking like an albino caterpillar cowering in there. But what immediately got me and pushed me on my grown-up tricycle ride toward Geezerville were the damned hairs coming out my ears. Why in the hell am I growing antlers out my ears?! There is no physiological reason for a virile man to grow hairs not only sticking out of but standing proudly upon the upper edges of his ears. None whatsoever. They serve no purpose beyond letting people know this is an old fuck. Nobody needs to know that I’m an old fuck till I’m an old fuck…which I’m not! My long-term memory might be Windows but my short-term memory is still a Mac. I’m "mature." I clearly remember not having hairs coming out of my ears.
I clearly remember not needing the morning ritual of clipping thick gray nose hairs. There were never wild eyebrow strands that grew four inches and left welts on my face in the wind. I didn’t need to do foot stretches before stepping out of bed for fear of breaking my heel bone.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was virile. Really.
There was a short-lived TV show a few years back called “Men of A Certain Age.” I never actually watched it. There’s enough happening in life that I don’t need extra things depressing me. I recorded it when it came on though, thinking I’d get some sense of community, that the Club of the Aged would welcome me in its understanding arms. Then I said no, I am not old. Which was not denial. Hell, the gray hairs are all over my face. The pudge is stuck tighter than superglue. I might be on the road to Geezerville…but I ain’t the mayor of the city yet. The certain age I’m at doesn’t jibe with what’s happening to my body. I’m wearing bifocals, ma! One day I could see up close; the next day I was squinting. Let me put ??? here ‘cause that ain’t right! Caterpillars up my nose, antlers out my ears, and now I’m Mr. Magoo?! Practically overnight?!! I. Say. Thee. Nay.
Am I that cliché of the guy the hot chicks call “sir”? I have no interest in vapid 20-somethings, but what if Susan Sarandon calls me? Am I supposed to interact with her as a peer rather than the young dude fawning over her hotness? And what about crotchety-ness? I was always crotchety but I was young with my crotch. The Road to Geezerville hardens crotch; makes it annoying rather than endearing. Young crotch, endearing; old crotch, not so much.
As a tangent, sex—while it could mean muscle spasms, buttcheek locks or other errant cramps—never meant worrying about throwing a back out.
…Big… honking… sigh…
I’m on the Road to Geezerville without warning and apparently without brakes. What is it they say about aging gracefully? They never say it with albino caterpillars nestled in their nostrils.
Of that I’m for damn sure.
Snip ‘em, curl ‘em, pluck ‘em, manage ‘em in the eyes of the lord gawd above. What else is there to do?
The lesson, my friends: work with what you’ve got. No off ramps on the road to Geezerville. The best you can hope for is a helluva view to help pass the time in a rather pleasing fashion. Trick your tricycle out with red and blue streamers and flame decals. Me, when I spin out I might tumble Arte Johnson style (wiki “Laugh In” you young fucks) but I’m still--here, today, now—moving along, and I’m still cool.
Maybe my caterpillars will turn into bee-yootiful butterflies.
Zig Zag Claybourne
knows that a grown man writing under the name "Zig Zag" is problematic in a nation of vapes and medicinal dispensaries but his literal silverback status inures him to such concerns, you young fucks.
He is currently working on book 2 of The Brothers Jetstream but, y'know, there's always time to trot out a piddling blog, innit? Not like getting a NOVEL out requires discipline, right? No, let him just keep clipping the nose hairs, I'm sure that's how Joyce Carol Oates managed her 85 books.
by ZZ Claybourne
Zombies would have to learn to be fast eaters, seeing as they never get a moment to themselves.
Would there eventually be zombie philosophers crushed by the inescapable ennui of their shambling existence? Perhaps found a religion based off Shaun of the Dead?
Would Steve Bannon make a Zombie lose its appetite?
Zombies clearly have brain activity, and since they've got a jones for brains, shouldn't they be gnoshing each other's heads? A lot easier pickings than going after fast, dangerous prey like the "living."
Would there be groups saying "Pray the zombie away"? I’d hope not. That'd be ridiculous.
Slip a zombie inside the congressional chamber during a full session then lock the doors. It's better that way.
Attach a canister of neurotoxin to a Roomba and let that sucker go. It'd be like febreezing the Zombie Apocalypse. Everybody chill indoors with gas masks and Morrissey records till over. Go out, clean up, yay humanity.
Zombie sharks would be way cool. Search your feelings, you know this to be true.
Eventually a zombie is going to want to start dating again. Tragi-comic romance up the wazoo.
It's pretty easy for me to evade a stumbling three year old, so no problem navigating a Zombie Apocalypse, unless the suckers take Pilates to keep themselves active and limber.
Vegan zombies. Can't be easy. Discuss.
Fuzzy woolen sweaters and bike helmets. Nobody likes wool in the mouth. Crisis fashionably averted.
Roland Emmerich's next movie while still waiting for Will Smith: Aliens infect humanity with the zombie virus. A beautiful CDC worker (played by Channing Tatum) realizes the extraterrestrial nature of the attack and traces the virus' genome structure ("Don't you see? This virus' chemical structure weighs less here than it should. Almost as if it were fabricated...on the moon!") to there, setting off a desperate race to get the space program re-funded so a shuttle can get to the moon before the next full phase and destroy the aliens' zombie virus factory. Little did Channing know that falling in love with the shuttle's gruff, washed up commander who's the only person who could possibly pull off this mission (played by The Rock) would make saving the Earth the most difficult decision of his life: the Rock is half-alien, half-human! Also starring Djimon Hounsou as Sacre Feshul, the brilliant African scientist who would do anything to see his former student Channing reach the end of his epic destiny.
And finally, how would zombies react to a Right Said Fred reunion tour? Probably the same as you. Vive la common ground.
has never survived a zombie apocalypse, is not to be trusted with a sword, hopes there won't be any MRAs in his ragtag group seeing as they'd frequently find themselves being tripped up as the rest of the group makes it to safety, and would eventually lead his group to a gated retirement home where the worst to worry about would be a good gumming.
like you seriously thought you were going to get away
without a Right Said Fred video. Please.
by ZZ Claybourne
The key word is “still”, not “me”—because intelligence is being rooted to extinction like truffles to panicked pigs. Dug from the ground and consumed without the taste of it, without pleasure, relish, or satisfaction but merely for excretion and subsequent disregard. Life presents one challenge: to grow.
I remember reading one of those “assignment” books, 1984, way back when, and it made me wonder what I would miss in a world such as that. Here are the things no one should ever die without doing: tasting another person; listening to music with eyes closed; reading something so good it obliterates identity in fell swoops; being happily alone; gulping ice water in a field under a noonday sun; most importantly to an aging populace, remembering without altering, because the older we get the more pressing the need for truth. Young people have the advantage of having miles to go before they sleep and in that time the lies they’re buried under fall off from time to time. Young people have time to become old. Older folks only have time to… ellipse. To follow three dots down a long dark corridor, hands out for guidance along the walls. Older people have the advantage over the young of knowing there’s a destination waiting that can’t be seen but we are drawn down that corridor whether we’re afraid or not.
George Orwell never intended 1984 to be an instruction manual for the greed that drives a corporate government. Fascism is not solely a military thing. 1984 wasn’t meant to sell Nike shoes or be publicly debased as a reality show. But those he pointed the warning finger against were smarter than so many of us, so smart that they took Orwell’s masterful work of howling truth any sane person would be damned before they let happen, and openly, indelicately, clumsily made it real. Being dumb is just a matter of ignorance. Being stupid is a matter of craft, and we are inundated with stupid everyday. It makes me sad.
"The best thing for being sad…is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting." – T.H. White, The Once and Future King
The words make love to me. The words are pure, the thoughts pristine. The only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting…is to learn. Consciousness that asks “Is this all that I am, is there nothing more?” instantly transports the mind to a higher state. T.H. White was immeasurably smarter than me when he wrote that passage. Smarter not like disingenuous companies or political machinery, but smart in a way it’s easy to imagine god quietly approves of. Here’s what stupid does: it convinces that reason is overrated and that analysis belongs to the thrice-damned (the elite, redundant, and counter productive). The general public makes the perilous mistake thinking stupid is dumb. A good piece of stupid is, but the larger portion creates marketing campaigns that propel industries that manufacture wildly inane products that nobody needs but millions rush out to buy. Stupid fashions political campaigns that attack opposing candidates for doing exactly what their own candidate did yesterday, but no one's supposed to hold that against them. Stupid does this because they know they can get so many to believe there’s value to it.
They will not get us, because, like Forrest Gump, I may not be a very smart man but I know what love is, and I love you. You’re riding this world with me, and you’re here in my mind. I invite you in to share meals. I will not harm you in any way if you are strong and true to yourself and have no plans to harm me. I offer the words of T.H. White. I offer the thoughts of James Baldwin. I present the genius of Toni Morrison. I laugh at the hilarity of Sparkle Hayter and Douglas Adams. I beg you to listen to Baaba Maal. And if you have never read Minister Faust, what's wrong with you? There are people fighting on your behalf. This is a notion that is meant to be savored as though it is the last bite of a long day. I’m glad there are people smarter than me because they remind me to be smart too. At least make the attempt. They show me they care about me. They love me.
They really really love me.
Or at the very least like the notion of me. Which is fine and acceptable.
prefers fried cod over sushi, garlic shrimp over scallops, and smelt only if there's a huge plate of cheese grits, in case meals are to be prepared prior to goodbyes. Thank you.
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY