The woodchuck can’t stand history. He’s going for a swim. You should too. The following post can be shared as a history term paper for anyone still doing term papers.
Presently I am studying local history books to obtain a clearer understanding of our past. I want to get it right. So, I have spent the last two afternoons reviewing some scholarly works about the initial growth and inevitable decline of our fair city. One thing keeps popping up in my mind while reading over their careful words—probably more so because the birds are chirping and spring is caressing more body parts than what my mind can control. What I wonder is this: Have any of these scholars ever aroused a member of the opposite sex? These authors have published dry, authoritative books. I know how difficult it is for me to write clear, grammatically correct sentences passionately, especially when I feel the need to get some angst off my chest immediately. I loathe the words that cloud my meaning and put rules and limits to my desire. I am a bad writer. I too often wonder why I have chosen word arrangement to help make my art manifest. Perhaps genetic connection to the yankee masochist lifestyles of my forebears. I seek constipation. I need to feel the acute pain of squeezing words out onto paper, otherwise I would not be able to justify my work. Still, I know that the more serious my writing, the less joyful my manhood, my sex, and my rise and fall of personal happiness. History, local history to be sure, should excite in the mind creative ways to improve one’s sex life. Most other explanations, I believe, are a type of depraved mental masturbation. One can place himself into the imaginations of dead people, what a man ate, how he ate, and the enjoyment he got out of eating. It is fun to put a life into ghosts. More fun to give them an imaginative sex drive. But man, if you just read the garbage I read at the library… It’s as if the living, breathing men and women of yesterday were walking, talking wooden beams, thinking only about money and never moving a muscle to sweep away the layers of dust collecting in their skulls. This cannot be true. And why I never respect the work of scholars. Unimaginative bores. History is only a game, folks. It should be as sacred as you hallow the dirt wherein their skeletons lie. We are 21st century men. It’s bad enough that we are so lonesome, frustrated and undersexed… But to bring the dead into our thoughts while we live with reproductive enthusiasm… Depraved.
For two days I’ve bombarded myself with the insanity of what scholars think is human. The fearful won’t dare make history their own. They research only what is written, and what is written on the pages of Oswego’s history is enough to make a young buck desire sleep instead of food. The philly to turn against the colt, the colt to leave the fat, dripping nipple alone… Yes, it is well known throughout the kingdom that the story of mankind depresses animals to death eventually. You may wonder why it is your dog will not read. But I know mister that if he read a single word of your book, he’d lose the stretch in his back and the warm pops on his tongue that give him freedom of movement and the delicious desire to lick himself clean.
Even the animals are wise to the need of why history must be avoided. Man is specie-centric to the point of flagrant stupidity. The animals have been laughing at us for quite some time. We know it too, which makes this business of history an even more ironic and embarrassing affair. The university professor, eager with an idea to write about nineteenth century architecture in Oswego, wakes in the morning with a dead man’s house opening its doors to her brain. The brain is a fungus smothered with an incestuous family of fat parasitic worms. It hops up the lake stone stairs marking the caller’s path to the non-existent mansion. A squirrel with a nut sits on a stone where the wrought iron fence was once attached. He takes a curious look at the brain while it waits for the invisible butler to answer the knock. Too beautiful an autumn day for a brain to call. But it does anyway. It makes every attempt to ruin these beautiful days. The most obtrusively rude organ of the body, the brain. “Yes, madam?” The butler asks the brain.
“I’m here to see the master of the house.”
“He’s counting his matches madam. He’s up to a 149,546,760 at last count.”
“Matches. How odd!” Replies the brain.
“Each match is worth .01% of one penny, madam. We have an elevator and I am a dumb waiter because of the matches. The mansion is built on matches and dead Irishmen making matches for money madam. So will you please go away and take that filthy body with you?”
“Well, I’ve never!”
The squirrel drops his nut and runs off in terror as the brain leaps up into the body of the professor. The brain in the body gets into her car and rides off dreaming about Turkish pillows and camel leather toilet seats in a bedroom of a house that does not exist. Neither the body nor the brain see the squirrel leaping into the road in chase of a round nut rolling in the wind. “Kalump-thump.” Squirrels on tree branches and sidewalks turn to witness the hit and run. They are wise to the stupid evil your lazy history causes. The brain in the woman rides off into the sunny morning. “How amazing,” she wonders… “Matches made all of that.” And the squirrel’s last breath is wheezed in the road. There might remain a remnant of his carcass left when her book comes off the press.
For the life of a squirrel, the passing of a day, and the teeny titillation from another rude brain, the following is the professor’s creative account of a once in a lifetime visit to the ghostly match kingdom:
“By 1906, the Diamond match factory hired 500 workers and manufactured 150 million matches per day (two matches for every person in the United States).”
Facts about nothing. I am stopped in the head right now. I can’t think straight. I am a poor historian. Also, I am incredibly horny these past few weeks. My wife’s hormones are focused on baby care. It’s not her fault that I exhibit the stallion’s flehmen posture anytime she gets too close to me in the same room. My lips shoot up past the gums. I show my teeth, and I might even be grunting. But she’s a mare with foal, and I best be careful, else a hoof in the mouth is the only piece of her that she’ll give willingly. So to divert the loins to the subject of creative history, I’ll write the story of this old house.
Out of the folder of records obtained from the real estate agent, was a map of our neighborhood in 1875. All the houses on this street were blank squares. Except for ours, which had “SAL” written on it. Saloon perhaps? Yes, why not? It’s 1875, and their are tall ships at port, and sailors on the prowl. There are working men getting rubbed the wrong way for the six thousandth time, and slutty Oswego girls, just like today, giving sex for drinks, but plenty of drinks first. I’m sitting in the kitchen/dining room of what was once, 125 years ago, behind the bar on a Friday night. Good business this Friday in summer. The sun just set itself down for the trillionth time and there’s a city full of thirsty men. Ah, it’s a blessed bygone era when wives are kept and abused coolies, and husbands are free to do as they please. If the worker gets caught cheating on his wife, she keeps her mouth shut through dinner, and asks for a new hat at bedtime. If the woman cheats on the man, she gets beaten to death and arrested soon afterwards. The role playing world of 1875. The men work for money and drink. The women slap the kids and bake. Oh yes, and a good chunk of the world dies off early because nobody is taught how to properly wash his face and hands.
Here we are at Throop’s saloon, me an da boys. Aye, it’s a roody noyt dis soommer. All day long we set at they docks unludin’ loomber in ure wool pantaloons. Me an Jack, we bean to Flangee’s bar oulready. Aye, un ware tahnked full abrew. Dis life is a pacer, ware tinkin’. Aye, an eats a good ting to da polite bubs o society dat weave refraned froom blowin up da whole show, yaknow. Ha, lookee dare. Aze tat Mayster Condee? Aye dey reech fat baysterd. Hey Jack, lookee dare. He’s taken to yer seester. He best be a watchin’ out, cause Ize got me ize owner. Ah goad damnit! Sheeza laufin’ with em. Ah damnit, now sheez blooshin’. Holy mudder a Mary Jack, Abbey’s walkin’ out da door wid dat fat ass. I’ll kill em I tellya, if he even tinks a-touchin are wid his grasy fangers. Ah shoot up jack, ya parevert! For da lard’s sake, man, sheeze yer seester.”
West fifth street in the summer of 1875. The lawns are freshly trimmed and the street dust has finally settled. The crickets in the brush play a happy tune nobody can hear. The buzz of a million wet manure and piss drunk flies drowns out any chance for a peaceful moon rise. The night is hot. The servants leave their master’s houses, wide-eyed and ready for whatever the night has in store. Some walk up to Throop’s saloon. Some go home waiting for their husbands to come back from Throop’s. The children from the big houses play games in the road. If a dirty Irish or Italian boy skips by, the rich kids call for the nearest butler to chase him away with a stick. The sun’s gone down and the moon is up.
Compared to the shacks set up around the rest of town, these mansions are enormous palaces. The gaslights are lit. The mosquitoes are out happily spreading disease. Master Condee and Abbey, hand-in-hand, have turned the corner and are heading toward his four story palace at the end of the street. He made his fortune in textiles. He’s the richest man in Oswego, but thinks himself no stuffed shirt like his millionaire neighbors. He’s got a rise in his pants for Abbey, and is starting to pant slightly while they push through the thick night air.
“Aye, mayster Condee, yashare know ow ta make a goil laugh!”
“Thank you Abbey. It’s one of my secrets. Let’s not tell anyone.” He brushes his hand across her ass.
“Mayster Condee, please, no.” protests Abbey.
“Look, you Irish whore, I’ll fire your pretty ass right now if you don’t let me look under that dress.” He takes hold of Abbey by the shoulders, shakes her up a bit, and throws her down on the grass in front of the Lewis House.
“Please Mayster Condee, no!” He falls on top of Abbey, muffling her cries for help with one hand while climbing up her dress with the other. A voice calls out from the Lewis House.
“Hey Condee, quiet down. Jesus Casanova, give the girl a break!”
“That you Bill?”
“Yup. C’mon Condee, leave the little vixen be.”
“She’s Irish Bill, come have a feel.”
Bill Lewis puts his finger to his lips, gets up from his porch chair and walks across the lawn to where Master Condee and Abbey are struggling.
“Well, okay Condee. She sure looks pretty good. I’ll bang her if you promise to keep the screams down. I don’t want Alice to hear.”
The two millionaire Oswegonians begin the rape of the Irish girl Abbey. Suddenly the millionaire’s heads are cracked open with wooden bats swung by two figures standing over them in the darkness.
“Well lookee dare Jack. Deez tings have anoother use now dontay?
“O Patreek ya play da game o baseball bater dan any man I seen.” Jack bends over to help his crying sister get to her feet.
“Did da peegs getcha Abbey?”
“No brudder. Dat fella dare, he come close dough. I taught he was un nice man. He said he would take me out of da factree, an give me a jewb washin’ his cloothes. Aye da peeg!” She kicks Master Condee’s bleeding head.
“Yo jack. Let’s take deez bastards away.
“Ware to Patreek?”
“Aye, down to da docks. We’ll send em out ta sea nailed to da hull of da next tug. I tooed ja ya shadn’t let em taker outta Throop’s.”
That is the most concise history of the nineteenth century in Oswego that a living man need remember. There were tall people, short people, Polish people, Irish people, stupid people, smart people, violent people, gentle people, horny people, dirty people, weak people, strong people, rich people, poor people. There were parasitic people who spent their lives enslaving people with less means. And there were people who let them. Nothing has changed. Except today rich or poor, everyone is exactly the same. Especially here in Oswego, where rich, poor, young and old alike share the same respect for bad history.
Man they’re all just too white for me. This city is so old. White old. Every face is so god damn pale and old. The women who stay here, the younger women with children, artificially tan to hide their white oldness. These brown-faced women with light hair, they’re all so old already. And their voices! You have to be an outsider to hear the Oswego dialect. A phenomenal tongue. You would leave thinking of the depressed white planet, Oswego, and everyone almost dead with just a few more stingy breaths to breathe. Even the children are sad and their depression takes on new and interesting forms of mental derangement. They’re white too. So white and dirty. Sometimes it’s almost too much for me to bear—Wait. I’m jumping ahead of where I want to be right now. I’m already at the Walmart when I should have limited the first twenty or thirty pages to Oswego’s rich and colorful history. But no, it’s not going to be that easy. This old whiteness. It is all encompassing to a sensitive man. What the hell am I doing here? Cold March winds, and I’m out walking an empty downtown night with my face buried into the collar of a thick red plastic coat, made in Paraguay. Oh God, please bury me head first in the hot marshes of Paraguay! Let only my feet stick out for the sun to tan. It’s a different sun in Paraguay, I know. A happy sun. A sun of the four seasons. A dangerous, exciting sun. The natural born brown children crawling through the tall grass are thankful for civil things like laughter and cooked suppers unexpected. They play around the white man’s feet stuck out of the ground. God must have put him there. Imagine their thirty cents a day went into sewing the coat laying beside his feet. Each is truly happy that a day worked is another yam purchased. How proud a thing the human being should be.
This afternoon I became infected with the 24-hour bug of Oswego. It can turn a proud man against himself in a day. Make him want to butcher the art of French cuisine and open a corn dog stand and deep fry in fat for kids. The bug in the brain. It’s built every business downtown. It took over operation of The Palladium Times and shows itself in the photo of a hockey player on the front page of section two in every winter issue. The thirty-six hair care studios have the bug. Artificially browned women with dyed blonde hair gossip about whose husband is screwing the baby-sitter. All are either reformed or presently smoking coffins and alcoholics. Oswego’s bug is inevitable and true. It’s disease is widely accepted and recklessly encouraged.
I tell you that, once infected, no matter how free in thought and step he once thought he was, the proud man of this city must re-decide each new morning whether or not to step in line with the rest of the white brigade. At all times in Oswego, there is an internal battle being fought, one with effects more damaging than any petty skirmish played out by cowardly soldiers of the past. The men who played shoot me for pay at the fort across the river—they alone knew the joy of a bullet in the eye. Man the whole town in the nineteenth century stunk like dirty animal ass everywhere. If I was a young farmer spending my Saturday evenings watching my mother wipe the brown grease off her belly rolls, I too would jump at the chance to fight the British. I would wonder out loud what the taste of lead was like, fight hard, and die glad without any prior knowledge of the statue to be erected in my honor a hundred and seventy-five years after my death.
Honor me? For being a farm boy full of holes? Jesus, if the stupid fools only knew what I was really made of. Lookyhere… Girls my age were scarce in 1814. Dad looked the other way the day I pressed up against our cow. It felt good, and I did the same for Dad. “Ma’s belly stinks, son,” he would tell me, while dropping his trousers. Then crazy Willie came by the barn that night to tell us the British were cannoning the fort. “Aw Dad, lemme go an fight! Please?” And Dad kinda felt sorry for me cause when he was young he had Indians to kill and squaws to play cow with. So he said, “Sure son, you go play with crazy Willie. But cha can’t take my musket.” So I went to the fort and the fellas there made me Colonel cause I didn’t bring a gun. They said “You’ll be our fifth Colonel. Don’t expect to live long. There’s a cannonball with your name on it, farm boy.” But I didn’t care. I didn’t mind dying. And so that night a cannonball knocked my head off.
But then jest the other day I was bobbing my head down from the clouds, as I do now and then, and there was some old hag who looked just like my grandmother with spectacles on making a speech by a statue. She was talking about me! Said I was an unsung hero of the War of 1812. Wow, that shore made me angry. She said it was people like me who made life sacrifices so that people like her could waste their lives away dedicating statues to illiterate cowfuckers. I got mad right then and there cause my ma always told me that to lie was sin and sin was death. So I undid my trousers and started to pee on my own parade. Shoot, I didn’t die for her or anyone else. Liars and thieves I tell ya. So I pissed on her until she finally stopped talking to pose for her portrait beside my statue. And then when everybody went away I let the sun back out.
Now I smile from my home in the clouds whenever I see a drunk taking a leak on my statue. Once a guy stopped to read the inscription beneath the stone carving of my dying self. He laughed so loud that the fish stopped swimming to listen. I knew that he knew me better than any old hag without life in her blood. I knew that he alone would tell the real history of Oswego.