Transmissions from the Outer Rim (Volume 1)


“I know you’re going to consider me a spoiled Notre Americano, but I’ve decided I’m done trying to convince people that I have a diverse, worldly palate,” Zachary said. “I haven’t tried too hard to this point, to be completely honest. When we went to the most ethnic place my girlfriend could think up, I ordered the least ethnic item on the menu, and I quietly loathed every bite. I’ve tried to eat ethnic Chinese and Mexican food, and I’ve tried to say I enjoy it, just so I could say it, but I’m old now, and I’ve passed the finish line on that whole subject. I’m not just a meat and potatoes guy, but when I venture out from those inner circles, I prefer the Americanized, Anglo versions of what we might call foreign food.”  

“A food xenophobe is what you are,” Xavier said. 

“Call me whatever names you want,” Zachary said. “I’m done pretending.”

“You’ve never been the worldliest fella,” William said.

“I’ll take those charges. I have a very xenophobic palate,” Zachary said. “I fear the insomnia brought on by explosive diarrhea.”

“Did you have to add the modifier explosive?” Xavier asked. “Was that absolutely mandatory for your description? What’s the difference between explosive and other non-combustible forms of diarrhea?”

“It’s like pain,” William added. “Doctors ask us to scale our pain. On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain? I’d like to talk to a family physician to find out how many patients “off the chart” their pain with an answer like 55. No, for medical purposes, Mr. Jensen, we need you to stay within the parameters of our pain scale. “I’m telling you Dawg, it’s a 55.”

“Pain charting cannot capture the pain I’ve experienced here Dr. Moreau,” Xavier said. “I’m experiencing a level of pain that might be foreign to the ideas you’ve learned in western medicine.”

“I think I can only talk about explosive diarrhea with someone who’s gone through the experience,” Zachary added. “It’s like old faithful blowing out your butthole.”

“You can confide in me blowhole brutha,” Xavier said. “Been there dung that.”

“You’re lucky nothing explosive came out your hoo hoo,” Willam said.

“What exactly is a hoo hoo?” Zachary asked.

“The hoo hoo and the hee hee both make the wee wee.” William said.

“There is no hee hee,” Zachary corrected. “There’s a hoo hoo, but if we follow the grammatical gender words in the Spanish and Italian languages, the hee hee you talk about is actually a hoo ha. An ‘A’ is used in feminine words and the ‘O’ is used in masculine words.”

“But, if we follow modern political prescriptions for linguistics of those languages, shouldn’t we refer to them as the hohinx?”   

“The point I’m trying to make here is I didn’t just wake up and decide that I no longer going to enjoy ethnic food,” Zachary said. “It’s after decades of my enteric brain and my central brain battling over what food I should eat. I never wanted to eat ethnic food, but I thought I was supposed to. I ate it, so I could tell people I just ate it. It’s something we say to impress our friends and make new ones. How many things do we do, so we can say we did it? “What did you eat again? Wow, you’re a lot more adventurous than I thought.” Yep, put it in my mouth and chewed it up is what I did. Please think more of me, because I didn’t enjoy it, and I’ll probably never do it again. I have to get as much mileage out of this as I can. Some people might genuinely enjoy ethnic food, but they talk about it so much that I think I’m onto something here. You enjoy Thai? Really? Or, do you enjoy the Americanized version? The exotic, ethnic food I tried was at a restaurant with a grill in the center of table. We cooked it ourselves. I put it back on the grill about three times, because I didn’t think I cooked it long enough. The woman I was with eventually said I overcooked it. The only reason I did was because it tasted like a latex glove to me.”

***

“I don’t know if modern TV represents young people well, but I now see them giving us the bird on TV all the time. In the intros of the characters of a reality show, a mother complained that her daughter was so out of control. “She’s too opinionated,” the mother complained. It was obvious how much that characterization meant to the producers of the show, because they cut to the daughter in iso, with rock music playing in her background and hot rocking graphics around her image as she lifts her middle finger in defiance. What was she defying? As with most teenagers, she probably knows as much about substantive defiance as we did in our misinformed and malformed youth. The bird is not an opinion in and of itself. If she starts with the bird I have no problem with it, until she uses it as punctuation for the end of her rebellious statement. All she did was give us a bird sandwich without saying anything in between.” 

“And we all know that most birds don’t have much meat on them,” William added.

“We’re all about short cuts now,” Xavier said. “We have buttons to like and dislike, and we have emoticons. The idea of full expression is not only dying, it’s unnecessary. We just flip them the bird, and the discussion is over.”

***

“I had a shortcut conversation between two hep cats,” William continued. “They had it all figured out, as hep cats do. They knew I had no idea what they were going on about, and they enjoyed it. The two of them were good looking young men with fine hairdos and fashionable duds, and they spoke with a hep cat lexicon. I stood in the middle, a man without a hairdo, and a contrast to the hep cat world. I didn’t speak their language. I was the normal shirt-wearing fella in between, trying to figure them out. I played right into it, as I have too many times in my life. I realized halfway through that we were playing roles, all three of us were characters in a short, illustrative skit. Their questions were all leading questions that guided me deeper into their dark forest. I answered. They laughed. Well, it wasn’t a laugh so much as a condescending chuckle. You know the laugh I know the laugh. No matter what age we are, we’re all freshman in high school trying learn how to hold our arms when we stand around. They didn’t really know each other intimately, and they didn’t know me any better. No, this was a hep cat conversation with two of them trying to define themselves as know-somethings by using me as their definition, and they enjoyed watching me flop around on shore.”

“You should’ve flipped them off,” Xavier said. 

“They were pretending to know what it’s all about,” Zachary said. “The ones who talk rarely know the walk. What’s it about? I don’t know, and either do you, so we mimic those who think they do. And who thinks they know more about what it is than actors in movies. They have the force of a screenwriter’s research behind them, a director’s framing, and a supporting cast. So, we mimic their situations and statements, until our supporting cast believes in us as much as we believed the dialog of screenwriters.”

“What’s the difference between a star and an artist?” Y asked. “Most celebrities are stars, nothing more than vehicles of light. It’s their job in life to make their stock profitable. If they go out for a bite to eat, they know they have to give huge tips to the servers who talk, it helps the value of their stock. There have been numerous genuinely intriguing characters in the history of cinema however. Marlon Brando, for example, displayed a dynamic personality, and he didn’t seem like the type who said what he was supposed to say. He seemed like a genuine person who happened to be one of the biggest stars in the world.  I didn’t know half of what he was talking about, and I think he thought he was far more intelligent than he was, but seemed like a very curious, observant person. He seemed to genuinely want to know how it all worked. Elvis Presley, on the other hand, was a star. You can tell me that he was bullied into doing what Colonel Tom Parker wanted him to do, but it seems to me he was easily bullied. I’ve heard people say he wanted to be Brando and James Dean, but I’m guessing that Parker told him you’ve not going to get there until you have box office, and those arthouse scripts aren’t going to get you there. Elvis wanted to be a star, and say what you want about the career-defining movies he did, almost all of them made money, and they made him a huge star. I liked Elvis. He had a preternatural charisma about him, a natural animal magnetism and an incredible voice. He seemed blessed with these attributes, but we don’t know how hard he worked at it. He put out some quality material, but he didn’t write his own music, and most of the movies he was in don’t hold up well. He was a star and Brando was an intriguing artist.”

“How many intriguing artists have been outshined by stars?” Xavier asked. 

“Exactly, but as I said, Brando wasn’t half as smart as he thought he was, as evidenced by the fact that controversial ideas seduced him,” William said. “He was the type who thought controversial ideas made him appear smarter, worldlier, and so controversial that we wouldn’t view him as commodity. He might have genuinely believed what he said, and I’m not saying he was wrong, but if he were alive today, and I was afforded the chance to speak to him, I would say just because your ideas are controversial doesn’t mean they’re true. How many good ideas have been rejected, because they were too common, and so fundamental to good and honest living? They’re not all lies concocted by the establishment to keep us quiet.” 

“But, if everyone knows these ideas, where’s the juice?” Xavier asked.

“True. I guess my greater point is just because it’s negative doesn’t always mean it’s true.”

“Too many people focus on what it’s not,” Zachary said. “It’s not true that … they say, but how about we focus more of our energy on what it is? They don’t tell us what it is, because they don’t want to be wrong. Even Marlon Brando, who sat in the throne at one time, never had the courage to try to predict what it was all about. He devoted most of ramblings on what it’s not.”

***

“Someone, and for the life of me I can’t remember who, said that heaven didn’t exist until we created it,” William added. “It’s such a far-fetched idea that it’s intriguing. We created, through some kind of mass subconscious, consciousness, the ultimate reward for good living. We needed the hope, the focus, and the idea that it’s all for something. An extension of this far-fetched idea is that if we can physically create everything from our homes, to a McDonald’s franchise to skyscrapers, why can’t we create an equally impressive structure with our minds? The theory suggests that if there never was a reward for good living, we should probably create it.” 

“And we believed it so much that we manifested its creation,” Zachary said. “I have heard the theory.” 

“If that’s true, I’ve created a manifestation of another world of normalcy, so I can sit on the outer rim. Millions claw at one another for the center of absolute normalcy, and I use them as leverage to keep my position on the outer rim.”

“You’ve already created that world,” Xavier said. “Trust me.” 

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