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12:46 pm | 04 October 2004 | NO MORE MISS NICE CLAUDE

So sucky. So: sucky. Either way: Sucks. The whole "you did it to yourself" crapaclysm. The my-own-fucking-faultness. The widowmaker.

When I was a kid, if I felt angry, I would push down trees. One part of the woods by my house were these rows of pines, spindly Pinus resinosa, the shitty Red/Norway Pine, planted by ahead-of-their-ecological-time children from the pre-Arbor-Day schoolhouse below, I'm talking a hundred years ago, maybe more, the schoolhouse now an expanse of concrete where you could trace rudimentary plumbing and a dark-green metal shack where the school district stored its gymnastics equipment on the off-season and at which, yes, we shot guns, hitting its broad side twenty-two times. Small guns. Anyway the trees, the trees: planted too densely, robbing themselves of sun, smothering the ground with their own needles, about one in ten was rotted through, forty feet in height, one foot in diameter, and could thus be pushed over like nudging a dead baby tooth with tongue, feeling the delicate tensile rip of roots (tooth and tree), and I would go out like a small, terrible dinosaur, shoving the hell out of dead baby pine trees. But, but but, the height meant that one-third of those would jackknife upon beginning to fall, bending the tall needly top back on itself and breaking off ten or fifteen feet up, coming scythily down upon me, your horrid little T. rex, who had to scoot to avoid the treetop. They call deadwood limbs that blow down "widowmakers" for the men they kill.

So my M.O. was grossly stupid and I got what I wanted. I work so hard at being: helpful, troublefree, self-reliant, completely unrequiring of special care: I am your machine-washable Sta-Prest slacks, so easy to pull on, to throw off, to toss in the general vicinity of laundry hamper and leave unheeded in a crumpled corner for weeks. Who gives a shit! Those slacks will be the same slacks you tossed when you go pick them up again: perfectly creased, trouble-free, careless slacks, easy motherfuckers. And that's what I became. Good old Claude. Claude'll do my last-minute design job...for free! Claude will pick me up from a shitty distant place, no problem! Claude will come lift my crap, give me $100, do whatever, Claude will do it! She's one of the guys! And look: Claude: staring longingly at your fanciest shirt, the one you spent too much on and would do anything to protect, that instantaneously-stainable, dry-clean-only, wrinkles-at-the-slightest-touch, beautiful fancy shirt. God, how you love that shirt, how you care for it. Would you wear that shirt for pitching hay, for attempting skateboarding tricks, for dynamiting and hog-tying? No! That's what the slacks are for.

I took my own value down, crashed my own exchange rate, phones and inboxes burning with your projects and your helpneeds and when it's over, then what? I'm not exactly sitting alone nights, if you know what I mean, but you: the yous I'm talking to--you blinded me with silence, while I sat there, trying to trade wampum for Euros. Don't ask.

Thinking it better to ask for nothing, that's what I got. Get. Am getting. Scorning the pretty-princess ways of the Highest Maintenance, the Paris Hiltons, I become a Marion [South Carolina] Travelodge, built for industry and labor, bedspreads made to resist burnholes, punchmarks in the walls from liquored, riled-up sonsabitches. I lounge outside your Home Depots, you, all of you, so many, competing with the aliens, me saying you need help carrying those bricks? I'll do it for free--unrecognizing, uncomprehending, the laboured delusions of I'll spend time from my life on you, all of you, because you are important in it, when really I'm shoving the dead rotten tree, and you are the sick cracks, and the snapped-back top is falling, saying You broke your spine carrying us and we're taking you out back. Twenty-two bullet-holes in a schoolhouse's side. The widowmakers.

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