|Burroughs is in Tangiers
I guess I expected maturity, that we all wrinkle and our hands grow unattractive and t-shirts and belt chains would give way to collared shirts & cufflinks.
People who’ve pickled themselves thru lives lived floating in fermenting rooms and bus stop appointments worry me the most – their frank fragility, the folds of cheek and neck tucked with cigarette smoke and greased with grubby fingers smearing shabby clothes – oh alcoholic plague sufferers, riding the 8 from Mackenzie King bound for Billings Bridge, screaming crazy at people standing, offering assistance – “If I don’t see my daughter tonight – suffer the consequences!” she paced and, when the 8 appeared in the distance, darted away down some alley in her brown & red summer dress – maybe hiked up now to put whatever needle in.
and it’s these smacks from the backhand of reality which worry me – a man yesterday at the supermarket truly scared me – his face dotted with black marks and his lip hung below the gum to show a row of yellow steak knives – this man lived like a carnivore, like a vulture, and now waits for the younger vultures to one day, while waiting for the bus, pick him up by the shoulders and carry him off.
but I was talking about us, about maturity that ain’t come yet. When adulthood was something seasons away, milestoned at 16 and 18 and 19, at this grad and that grad, and the ultimate adult act we all know, it seemed that one day I’d be confident, heck, unthinking and casually, to call myself a man. But I use that word and I feel my pants loose round my waist, my shoes too big, my beard scraggly and eyes naive.
I’m no adult. I’m no man. I’m a boy taking off work to write in the park and let the ants and flies crawl over me. I’m ten years old with oversized glasses and a triceratops t-shirt with matching shorts, making Lego civilizations on the basement floor, content with seniority over the adventurers playing out on the carpet, with cups of Kool-Aid & grilled cheese sandwiches, with pale blue-beige legs and sparse hands, no bruises, no calluses, nothing rough for these hands (the hands of a government man!) – so slip me into that suit and leave me in the dryer for a couple cycles to prepare the illusion and let’s just accept that maturity is just an illusion too, nothing more than the persuasive effect that accompanies a deeper voice and an extra foot of altitude.
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