The second chapter of my novelPosted: December 7, 2012
BBS – BEFORE BARBARA STREISAND, I.E., BEFORE BULLSHIT, THERE WAS BROOKLYN AND THERE WAS STUYVESANT
And as Richard slept, his legs wrapped around his sheets, and his sheets clutched his thighs and butt and balls and cock, like a roman toga run amok with five naked Italian men. And Vinnie bawled him out, “Stop fucking pulling on the sheet.” And Rich told Vinnie to go to hell. And they fought in the street and they bled and were brother blood oranges, fresh fruit under a screaming sun. And they were long and lean popsicles that plowed mouths like baseball bats. And with a tang so tart it smarts, they made your eyes tear with cheers. And their sugar always endeared, and dulled and vanquished all your fears. And with the sweet and the sour, you romanced the midnight hour, and all the ghouls would glower.
And I fucking loved his pizza face, every zit a spunky spark of fire, revealing his mind’s happy dark mire. And the metal braces on his teeth were as cute as boys’ erector sets. And even the dandruff in his hair made him seem so debonair. An eighth grade boy with Tony Curtis eyes. Fuck Fuck Fuck. Only Brooklyn can make men so fine.
And Brooklyn was filled with grease, pizza and shmaltz. The grease of machine shops. The grease of bicycles. The grease of automobiles. The grease of male hormones surging in the Brooklyn summer sun. The grease and the gasoline and the smell of airplane glue. The smell of the funk. The smell of the Perpetual Asshole smell of the Cropsey Avenue Exit on the Belt Parkway. The smell of the old man who propositioned Richard, when he was fourteen, on the subway, “Hey, kid, I’ll give you a few dollars if you do me a favor.” The wizened smell of men’s rooms which had seen it all under the all-knowing bald and glaring light.
And I want the old man to see me in my nakedness all found-out. My cock popped-out of my pants abashed and hard and beautiful in abject intoxication. A mindless, mauling dart of love, adoring, always imploring. A jumping Geronimo gerund to the last of present tense insistency. It rhymes with ass, like a snake in the grass, listen to it hissing.
It’s whistling through its piss slit, with tart remarks regarding every piece of ass. Like a flute, with ears astute, it shatters all the glass, but after the crash you’re still in the trance and your ass will prance and dance.
And the boys are dancing in the sheets, in a primeval wrestle, where everything leads to an inexorable lock. And every vassal has a lord and every lord a vassal. Every protrusion fits in a cranny and every cranny cups an eruption. And while Mr. Colleti talked about volcanic eruptions in science class, Richard wrote a poem:
THE ORGANIC ESSENCE OF INORGANIC CHEMISTRY
Acid and base
Yields water and salt
With divine grace
The moles somersault
Spark Electric embrace
Bit part peons
Their selves they efface
Spies chlorine, bleached queen
They forswear their spears
Become a condiment serene
Richard Barton, Age 14, WilliamMcKinleyJunior High School, The Board of Education of the City of New York, 1971
And Mr. Colletti wanted to know why Chlorine was a queen.
And the class yelled back: “Because homos like to bleach their hair.”
And Richard was enchanted with commercials for shampoo and knew that women were most beautiful in shampoo commercials. And he loved a commercial that sported the song, “You can wash your hair every day, every day… with…. Every day, every day.” But he didn’t remember all the words, but he knew it was enchanting that certain creatures could be so petty as to find the prospect of washing one’s hair, on a daily basis, divine. And so he sang along with the commercial: “You can wash your hair, every day, every day.” And again: “You can wash your hair every day, every day.” And he fantasized that it might be fun to be a chick, to actually be so retarded as to find enormous pleasure in washing one’s hair on a daily basis. (And Richard still has not answered, as T.S. Elliot would put it, the “overwhelming question”: Why is daily hair washing restricted to those who use only a certain brand of shampoo?)
And he loved to walk through the aisles of drug stores looking at the rainbow colors in the land of the shampoo. There was red shampoo, for someone ravishing and radiant like Elizabeth Taylor. There was yellow shampoo, for Eva Gabor, to make her hair golden even while toiling on “Green Acres.” There was blue shampoo, for Mrs. Drysdale and her old money rectitude on “The Beverley Hillbillies.” But Richard’s Mother only bought Prell shampoo, the green shampoo of his family’s envy. And Richard looked for the shampoo that would make him look like Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.
And then the boys in the sheets started snickering, “Bet Brian Jones is doing pencils like Gary Lasagna.” (So Richard opened his anal sphincter and farted on Mike’s big Jewish shnoz.)
Everyone knew of the scandal and allure of Gary Lasagna. This sullen, strange boy was known to stick pencils up his fucking ass. One day, Carol Tortellini borrowed his pencil to erase something in her notebook, and she screamed, “Gary’s got fuckin’ BM on his goddamn pencil.” This was the most exciting news since the school got into the New York Daily News because of a fight between the niggers and the wops. (David Gottfried, the school’s resident commie, said that the Jews proved their moral superiority by staying out of the fight, managing to unite the heretofore mutually antagonistic Italians and Blacks.) Everybody wanted to know why Gary was into pencils and how long he had been into pencils and it didn’t take long before pencils became a fad. The big fab fag fad. Pre fag hag. No Barbara Streisand going blab blab. As happy as a puppy dog with his tail going wag wag. Nothing like yanking on your dick when you got fuckin’ pencil up your ass. Soon there was a run on pencils. Circle jerks in the boys’ room with pencils up the fuckin’ butt. Wiping jism with New York City Board of Education paper towels that were as harsh as sandpaper. And then you know the harshness makes you hard. And then some guys turned to bigger things and took the subway to Manhattan. And in Manhattan, they met rich Protestant faggots from real American states, dumb places like Iowa where even straight boys seemed queer, and they had boring names like Anderson and Fuller and Full of Shit and they thought white bread was food. And in Manhattan, the boys from Brooklyn were taught that they were supposed to love Barbara Streisand, and they stopped being cute.
Richard also went on the subway to go to Manhattan. He went there to work for George Mc Govern in the 1972 Presidential campaign. And he even stuck with McGovern after having seen McGovern eat chopped liver on white bread with a glass of milk at Dubrow’s cafeteria, the same cafeteria where Richard’s Father may have been murdered in 1963, when Richard was six.
But Richard’s friends thought Mc Govern was a faggot for being against the war in Vietnam and that Richard, by implication, was a faggot too. So Richard got his revenge, as was his wont. He went to the roof of an apartment house adjacent to the schoolyard and started throwing bricks onto the ground below. And he heard the children shriek and cry and run. And then everything was nice and quiet.
And after Richard had climbed down from the roof, he was met by New York’s Finest. “Up against the Wall,” the men in blue hollered. And they searched him and arrested him and he was thrown-out of school, only to return to take his finals (Math: 100; Science: 94; Spanish: 93) and to graduate from junior high school.
Richard loved not going to school. It was June, the flowers had bloomed, and he raced his bicycle along the Belt Parkway in the morning, read voraciously and worked for Mc Govern every afternoon. And he escorted Robert Kennedy’s daughter through the streets of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn as she worked the conservative Catholic vote for Mc Govern.
And the summer was the season of the eternal hard-on. He was so horny and he was so frightened. And although he was officially in support of an interventionist state insofar as the economy was concerned, one that would spend money to ease the plight of the poor (Boring!), he really wanted the state to intervene in matters sexual. He wanted the law to compel all good-looking people to disrobe. To order and mandate sex. To fucking break the ice. He thought police should march up and down subway cars, determine who was eying whom, and to compel eyer and eyed to mount one another. He never understood why match-making was regressive. And then he met matchmakers in hippie guise.
The hippified creatures occupied a broken-down store front in the WestVillage. And the leader of the group was a fat man with a hacking cough who was a Santa Claus with LSD tablets that were as pretty as Flintstone vitamins. The fat man told everyone in the group what to do, and Richard, for a time, actually followed orders from an older man. And one day, in the old Nathan’s on 6th Avenue and 8th Street, the fat man ordained who everyone was to bed. Sarah was to bed Jacob. And Joshua was to get into Rachel’s pants. And Jonathan was deemed the proper fucker of Melinda. And David was ordained to screw Michelle. And on and on went the roster of beautiful, innocent Jewish names until it was decreed that Richard would screw Cindy, who was on a two-day pass from her facility for severely disturbed teenagers. And Richard and Cindy found a little rat-hole in which to do their business. Cindy took off her jeans, caked with generous helpings of dried dirt and perhaps shit and vomit as well. And then Cindy was down to her panties, which were filled with blood and dried blood and bloody tissue papers. She proudly told Richard that she was having her period, as if she were advising him that she had gotten into Yale, and Richard, somewhat intimidated by educated women who reveled in the blood of their menstrual cycles, was soft as a baby boy and utterly disinterested. And he vowed never to let women enjoy his penis again.
Richard happily put his pants on, secure in the white purity of his jockey shorts. He wanted the wholesome cotton smell of shorts and socks and t shirts and sneakers and saw silk, in its slinkiness, as deceptive and slithery as an eel. Like an oil slick poised to make you slip. And the bombast of a woman’s fat hat had the audacity of a general leading his men into war. And high heels had spikes because spikes made better weapons. And the beads on a necklace were the rosary of some fashionable form of religious witchcraft. And a woman, all put together and ready to do lunch, looked like an incongruous conglomeration of artifacts and totems from warring African tribes.
But soon he was going to a place that did not have many women, which did not have any women at all until recently. He was due to start Stuyvesant High School, New York City’s public high school for gifted students, in the autumn.
The school was situated in Manhattan, and bright boys from all five boroughs converged on the old bastion of all male excellence. To get to the school, Richard once again took the subway, the great penises of New York. And it might seem like a cheap and easy metaphor, but for Richard the phallic traits of subway trains were so pronounced that a train ride seemed like an inherently male homosexual experience. Subways were not only long and hard; they were also noisy, and the noise made them seem like quarrelsome, rebellious boys. They shook back and forth as if an angry, all powerful two-year old boy were shaking his playpen to and fro. They jostled you and could make your clothing appear unkempt, and the general effect was something in the nature of a molestation. They smelled raunchier than any asshole. The hoods shouted and harangued with more ardor than any scorned suitor demanding pussy. The transit authority personnel treated you like pieces of meat. In the summer, it was hotter than a sweaty Puerto Rican in skin tight clothing breathing hot sauce on your face. And, after all, why did guys on trains look so tough? To make it clear, with an accusatory glare, that they were not getting fucked up the ass; you were getting fucked up the ass. But, when no one was looking, even the toughest guys would relax and a beatific serenity came upon their faces: For now, the train was doing the fucking and they could sit back and enjoy the ride.
The boy penises of Stuyvesant all eventually had to transfer to the L subway train (And the Stuyvesant train had to be the L train, a letter that in its longitudinal loveliness seemed to be the very essence of the penile), and shortly before 9 A.M., the L train discharged throngs of brilliant penises into Stuyvesant, the high school of the most gifted penises of New York. And being bright, the penises shouted jism of Marx and Maoism and molecules, rapid fire, uncouth, staccato lines of machine gun logic that went rat a tat tat and were more soothing to Richard’s ears than any meditation tape that told one to calm down. And Richard could shoot as long and as fast as the best of them. And his jism reached its most ravishing and redolent heights in English class where Richard wrote uncommonly sick and funny adolescent drivel. (And Frank McCourt of “Angela’s Ashes” fame was his teacher, and he believes Frank remembers him because in one of his books, in the course of complaining that Stuyvesant guys were relentlessly pushy, he said he once had a student who complained of a grade of 95. And Richard did complain to Frank that a grade of 95 was too low.) Richard did not know what irony or paradox or ambiguity were, and he was a breathing ode to extravagance.
But Richard’s Mother and Psychiatrist did not like his extravagance, and they urged him to leave Stuyvesant and to enter a psychiatric hospital. And when he returned home from school at around 6PM on Monday, December 4, 1972 (he got home late because he was engaged in extra curricular activities), his Mother told him that a space had opened-up at the hospital. That night, while Richard’s Mother was at some sort of club or event at which pompous parents repeated “psychological” nostrums about child rearing and Richard’s Mother made like little Miss Anna Freud, Richard bought toothpaste and soap and a soap dish and packed for his journey to the hospital. On the following day, Richard became an inmate in a hospital, and when he had told the hospital staff that he had been in New York’s premier science high school, he was told that he was being delusional: After all, since he was in the hospital he was crazy, and crazy people don’t go to fine high schools like Stuyvesant. But Richard knows, somehow, that someone from Stuyvesant remembers him. Must remember him.
Because someone from that high school that not only had bright guys, but really great guys, called him up, at the hospital, and suggested that Richard had been placed in that hospital because, all in all, he was just a really neat guy who was a bit too sensitive. And that three-minute phone call, which had more therapeutic power than ten thousand bastard psychiatrists wielding twenty thousand thorazine shots, was the only thing that sustained Richard for the next two and one half years, after which Richard, thankfully, was no longer welcome in any hospitals (the insurance policy, thank G-d, was exhausted) and their satellite treatment centers for disturbed children and teens (at 18, he was too old for such nonsense) and Richard was free to take the SATs and join the Ivy League. And if I remember the name of that guy who called me when Richard was in the hospital, and this book makes any real money, and that guy needs any money, he can get a decent hunk of the proceeds. But I don’t think I am throwing my money around. The guy who called me was, of course, a fantastic guy and so the chance of him being alive is significantly reduced.
Copyright, David Gottfried, 2007