Urban Legend (2)

29 Jul

You can believe that one if you want. The one about the guy with the 70s permed bush sitting naked at his computer and sending off Urban Legend viruses via spam. You can even believe he owns a Velvet Elvis print. It’s hung just above the monitor. It’s from Turkey, so it’s called El Vishnu. Or from Mexico–El Vez. Believe. Or not. I sign them all the same anyway. I always wanted to have X for a middle initial. It’s a pseudonym, of course, what I use. It’s not even unique. I stole the name from that guy who writes for the New Yorker. I mixed up the last name a bit, though. Sometimes I get cutesy and sign off: “France’s Ex.” But mostly it’s the regular way. With the X in the middle.
Japanese software replaces Microsoft error messages with haiku poetry. Joining Wordofmouth.org will enable you to find out what others are saying about you. Apple is marketing the iLoo, an Internet capable portable toilet.

OK that last one sucked. But I sent it out anyway. “France’s Ex.” It’s like a tag at the bottom of graffiti. I fancy myself that, a graffiti artist. No I don’t. I wouldn’t say I’m a failed writer though. I haven’t failed. I still write. Just in a different genre. You know those guys who make loads of money from their essays, and tour on Spoken Word circuits? You know them. Eric Bogosian, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, Laurie Anderson, Hedwig Gorski and all them guys? Yea, I wouldn’t say I’m a failed writer. Just on a Spoken Word circuit. A Written Word. Not really a failure, really.

Temple Baptist Church was built on land sold for fifty-seven cents; the amount saved by a little girl who had been turned away from its Sunday school for having a mother who was prostituting herself. Having survived a horrific storm, a slave trader promptly gave up his livelihood, became a Christian, and penned the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

It’s glurge. It’s a sub-genre. Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in. It’s supposed to be a method for delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickening-sweet mixture that plunges you into hyperglycemic fits. In ordinary language, glurge is the dissemination of inspirational and supposedly true tales; ones that often conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, or undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering a true story:
Child badly injured in an accident is comforted by “birdies,” his description of angels. William Waldorf Astor rewarded a hotel manager’s kindness by making him the manager of the grand Waldorf-Astoria. A war-separated couple is reunited by a tablecloth–an heirloom looted by the Nazis. Description of how laundry was done in bygone days imparts “count your blessings message.”

Glurge. People slop. The more religious intonations, the better. It helps to know history a bit to write this. It also helps to have insomnia and trawl around the cracked streets at night, looking for Jolly Rancher Apple flavored hard candies.

So one night around midnight I’m driving around somewhere down near Gaffney. As I come through one of your average little southern towns, I realize that I have a pair of near-crisis situations I need to resolve. I’m almost out of cigarettes, and I have completely run out of Jolly Rancher Apple-flavored hard candies. Have you ever noticed that if you buy a bag with all of the different flavors in it there will be like… 470 watermelon-flavor candies and maybe 3 apples? Yea. I hate that. You can buy a bag with nothing but apple-flavored ones in it, but they only sell them that way in one store I know of down here. Food Lion.

Fortunately, you pretty much can’t swing a dead cat in South Carolina without at least spattering a Food Lion establishment with some kitty innards. The little town I’m in has a Food Lion right there on main street, so I pull in.

So there I am, in the candy aisle, just across from the school supply shelves, checking out the assortment. The store is nearly empty so there’s only one other guy in the aisle with me, and he’s down there by the school supply end staring at something. Pretty normal looking guy, really. He has on dark gray pants and a crisp-looking white button-up shirt. No tie.

Whatever. After 30 seconds or a minute of checking out candies I hear this heavy sniffing sound. It’s not really loud, but it’s good enough to hear it. So out of the corner of my eye I look down there, and Mr. Normal has a box of crayons in his hand. Your average Crayola-brand 16-pack of crayons. More to the point, he’s holding this box of Crayons up to his face, and he’s smelling it. I mean really, really smelling it. Like, he starts with his nose at the bottom of the box and then works his way all the way up to that tab at the top, inhaling the whole way. Mr. Normal is standing down there with a box of crayons, and he’s sniffing the hell out of these things.

But, saying he’s sniffing them doesn’t really do it justice, because Mr. Normal is really enjoying this sniffing, you know? If he’d had his shoes off, you probably could have seen his toes curling every time he hoovered that box. A hard-on for sniffing. An addict. And a big, long exhalation thing. You ever smoked a real cuban cigar? You know how you exhale after you’ve got it lit and you get that first really good, satisfying drag? Yea.

On the one hand I have a deep desire to get the hell out of there and give Mr. Normal some privacy with the objects of his devotion, but I’m too fascinated to move, you know? I can just imagine accidentally making a noise or something and having Mr. Normal turn around and scream “You’re RUINING it for me you fuckin’ yuppie!!” and clipping me with his .38. So, basically, I do the only thing I can think of. I freeze and I let this man go to work.

I think I’m there just like that for at least a few minutes, watching this guy savor these crayons. Eventually, he puts the box down gently, almost reverently, and he grabs another one. Slowly, cautiously, almost lovingly, he opens the top of the second pack, eases a few crayons out into his hand, holds them up to his face, and he starts licking them. I don’t mean tasting here. I don’t mean just like you might put your tongue on something to see if you could eat it. I mean, I’m standing there in the school supplies/candy aisle at Food Lion in middle-of-buttfuck South Carolina and this momo is licking the crayons. Caressing them. Whispering to them. Gently and sensually.

So after Mr. Normal finishes licking the snot out of each and every single crayon in his hand, he gently restores them to the box, closes the box, and puts them back on the shelf. For some child, some toddler, some innocent little kid to pick up later. So I go to have a little talk with the manager.

But the guy is helming down a fucking Food Lion on the night shift. All he cares about is having enough Diet Cokes on the shelves. Spicy Doritos right next to them. I begin to tell him what’s going on, but only get as far as the location of the incident, when he puts out his hand. He pulls up his pants by the belt, over his hips, and says:
“Is that sum-a-bitch over there licking them goddamn crayons again? ‘Cause if he is, I’m a call his goddamn P.O. and have him go back to jail. I done told him a hunnerd times to stop coming in here doin’ that noncent. They’s kids that buy them damned things.”
I ask what he’s out on parole for and the manager licks his lips and leans in and says quietly:
“Fool’s a workin’ at the Taco Bell two year ago? He done put some roach eggs in the goddamn meat ’cause he ain’t like the manager, and made some girly’s mouth go all infected with it. Salivary glands, they say at the hospital. All infected. You belie-dat?”
–Francis X. Kline

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6 Responses to “Urban Legend (2)”

  1. chapman 29/07/2008 at 10:05 AM #

    i always feel frustration or anger encountering characters like this. i guess that’s my thing, but i find it interesting that nothing but incredulity comes from your narration. i’m going to look into that. i get bogged down by emotional rumblings too often.
    thanks for that!

  2. Alex Pruteanu 29/07/2008 at 11:50 AM #

    Thanks. I think. At first I grossly misunderstood the comment. I get confused easily, you know.

    There are times when I spontaneously burst into delirious laughter imagining what these people might say…or DO say. I think it’s the lack of sleep and the stress.

  3. daydreams&dandelions 29/07/2008 at 1:54 PM #

    I have this THING for Purell– the green Aloe Vera scented hand sanitizer stuff. I really really love it with a sick passion. Anyway, at first, I thought of this guy huffing crayons in the same light as my addiction for Purell. But then the licking part kind of creeped me out. Ugh. Let me take out the “kind of,” though. Ick.

  4. chapman 29/07/2008 at 2:24 PM #

    i have to work on my comment clarity. next time!

  5. maria 30/07/2008 at 7:41 PM #

    But we must all have some of the weirdness. It’s when it gets out of hand that it goes wrong. Licking crayons? Thanks, but no thanks. Smelling them? Sure. And pencils. New books. Cinnamon buns. Although that maybe doesn’t count because you can eat them. So I don’t know.

    I love Jolly Rancher candy, but will not eat either lemon or cherry. Cherry anything, really. Or strawberry.

  6. Kyla Tongue 29/08/2008 at 1:34 AM #

    Now there was a legend about it being on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground. Kyla Tongue

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