Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Losing It

I've been fighting the flu for the past several days. Hence I've been feeling less than chipper. I didn't want to ignore my blogging duties, but my mind has not been sufficiently active enough to write something witty or profound. So until I no longer feel tired and achy, here is another piece of classic Roberto. And I am using the term "classic" loosely. This one is better than the last, though.


- R

p.s. a recent thing I overheard at Starbucks: "...let's take the most corrupt people in America -- the Chicago colored -- and put them in the White House. What a great idea."

Urge to kill rising.


While waiting at the Social Security office for a replacement card, I noticed a man who looked like Colin Quinn and resembled Dennis Hopper’s character in Blue Velvet. He stood rather than sat despite there being several empty single seats, but who wants to sit next to complete strangers? That’s why I placed a sweater on the chair to the left of me and a ham sandwich on the seat to my right. To fool others — mainly crippled old people who for some reason feel I should give up the seats I am not actually using — I would look at the time displayed on my cell phone and tried my best to look annoyed.

Every now and again I huffed and tried my best to frown in a way that says, “Where the hell are Benny and Martha? I selflessly save them a spot so they will have a place to sit and they have yet to show up. Where could they be? There are crippled old people here who need these seats, but do they care about any one else but themselves? No. This is unbelievable! I’m giving them five more minutes.” Colin Quinn on the other hand kept standing and would sometimes pace around with his arms crossed. Unlike my feigned expressions of annoyance and impatience which served to protect the integrity of my buffer zone, his expressions seem to either mask or blatantly reveal, depending on how you look at it, his malicious intentions.

He would transition from a serious and grave look to a delusional smile. Colin Quinn would then emit a chuckle which no sane person could describe as anything else but psychotic. This in turn would eventually be followed by a growl. I don’t pretend to know anything about dogs, but I would say his growl resembled that of a scruffy, grey yard dog. His expressions occurred in a cycle which would repeat and be intermittently interrupted with a mixture of frantic stares and curious glances.

Is everyone so numb from the boredom of waiting for their number to be called that they are too self-absorbed to notice this man? He is clearly plotting to kill or eat someone. Looking up from the tiny blue notebook where I was jotting down my observations, I noticed that he was staring straight at me with a smile that caused a dreadful chill to ripple from my neck to my toes.

He must surely know I am writing about him. I quickly return my attention to my notebook. Would he wait until I left the building to maul me like a hunger-crazed hyena or just lunge at me here and now? Would anyone protect or save me from the snarling lunatic? Are they so bored and hungry for stimulation that they will actually find amusement in my being torn to shreds, eaten, or both?

At this point beads of sweat are forming on my brow in hordes, dripping down my face and back, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to write in my little notebook when it is dampening with every passing second. To make matters worse, my family will probably be billed for the reupholstery that will be needed for the chair I have by now ruined with water damage as a result of my drenched back.

Oh God, I think to myself. His maniacal laughter is going unnoticed. Don’t the rest of these people realize that their intellectual superior is being threatened?

As Colin Quinn leans against a wall and licks his quivering lips in anticipation of the feast he will make of me, I start to think of how I will be remembered. “Remember me as a peacemaker,” I’ll say as the light of life fades. Who will inform my friends of past and present times that I was viciously taken from them? Will my friends in turn speak well of me to others, counseling future friends, acquaintances, and lovers of their unknown loss? Will my family leave a place setting for me at the dinner table in memoriam for ever more?

Assuming there is anything left of me after Colin Quinn has had his fill, where will my remains find their final resting place? A coffin of gold embedded with jewels?

I have heard of a company in Chicago that can turn eight ounces of cremated ashes into a diamond. A testimonial featured on NPR told of a woman whose husband had a sparkling personality and loved jewelry so she saw it fitting that the man she swore to love forever be preserved as a diamond, a jewel De Beer’s frequently tells us is eternal. Will my sparkling personality be immortalized in diamond form, and how will my family know to whom I wish to send a piece of myself?

Will an altar be made on the spot where my life was ended prematurely? Saint Thomas รก Beckett has a surplus of visitors, which is probably in violation of several fire safety codes. The United States needs a holy blissful martyr to seek. Pilgrimages could be made to Mission Viejo, California; sinners will find peace and redemption by praying at my tomb. Meanwhile, everyone else, those who come to see and be seen, will find many statues and commemorative paintings worthy of a spot on their digital camera’s memory card. A gift shop will sell pins, t-shirts, posters, and other similar objects emblazoned with my devastatingly handsome image as well as auction off my once prized possessions to the highest bidder. Con artists will hurriedly reproduce and sell a myriad of objects, pawning them off as official relics of Saint Roberto the Glorious.

I can see it now: it will be the biggest news since a president almost choked to death on a peanut. Men, women, and children of all ages will flock to my altar by the millions, hoping for a miracle or to hear a tour guide regale visitors with stories of my greatness and understated magnificence. As an English major in college, my only hope is that my death and its proceeding events will inspire poets across the nation to create the next Decameron or Canterbury Tales. Only then will my death not have been in vain, for it was for the greater good.

Or perhaps no one will remember me. There is the possibility that the sixty or so witnesses of my death who did nothing to stop the psychotic Colin Quinn will not want to inform people of my passing. So ashamed of their ill-gotten pleasure will they be that they will want to erase any evidence of my ever being at the Social Security office. They’ll probably bury me out back. My olive skin will be camouflaged nicely against the brown dirt. As for the car, well, they will most likely find some cliff off of which they can send it plummeting. Mind you I don’t know where one can find a cliff in Mission Viejo, but guilty, death sentence-fearing people will find a way. Thusly will I meet my maker. No funeral. No altar. No pilgrimages.

As far as I can remember, I have frequently thought about my own mortality and what awaits me after I die. Moreover, I often find myself wondering about the exact details of my death. How will I die? Where will I die? Will I die among friends and family? Will there be witnesses? Will I die alone? But the one question that plagues me more than any other is whether or not anyone will care.

That is what frightens me the most. To die and be forgotten is one thing; to be forgotten implies that you were remembered at one point or another. But to just die and have my death make no impact whatsoever because my life meant nothing to anyone to begin with, that is what chills my skin and induces those tiny tremors and that all-too familiar itch on the surface and inside of my nose, respectively, that present themselves in those seconds before a sneeze.

I matter to me. I find myself to be witty, intelligent, loveable, and utterly unforgettable. But does anyone reciprocate those same feelings?

During my K-6 years at Las Palmas Elementary School, my class went on a field trip to an archaeology museum. The trip featured an explorative hike in the hills behind the museum.

“Try and find some fossils,” the curator told my class. “Maybe, if you have a sharp eye and know what to look for, you’ll find some Indian arrow heads or a sand dollar. I’m sure there is a budding archaeologist among the lot of you.”

Always looking for the opportunity to impress figures of authority and make prominent my superior intellect and ingenuity, I marched up that rocky hill and imagined myself finding a fossilized archaeopteryx — a prehistoric bird I had recently read about in a National Geographic. During my search, however, I found myself being more entranced by the plethora of crevices and fissures scattered across the face of the hill. My interest in fossils quickly ebbed as my thoughts focused more and more on what would happen if I fell into one of those abysses.

I feared falling in and not being able to be rescued. I did not want to die so young, especially because my untimely end had been my own fault. I am positive that my classmates would not have gone for help until they got in a few good laughs and guffaws at my clumsiness. I pictured the news anchor relaying my death to the masses, “In other news, a boy fell into a gaping hole today while looking for fossils; his classmates laughed on as he suffocated and was crushed to death. The city council is planning to erect large, yellow caution signs in front of the yawning chasms so future visitors will be able to see them.”

Although there have been times when I have wished my own death, I do not actually want to die. I do not want to die alone, forgotten, and unloved. I tell myself that over these recent years I have developed friendships and deepened older ones that will ensure my death will mean something to someone. Yet even at the zenith of happiness I continue to feel that perhaps I am expendable, ordinary, and unimportant to anyone other than my parents — two people I have also doubted would care.

Facing a possible death, I begin to ponder over how the people I care about will learn of my death. I assume that if someone thinks of looking inside my wallet they will call my house and inform my parents. Then what? Will my parents think of looking in my cell phone’s contact list? Will they call each and every number on that list and relay the news? Then, assuming there is a sense of loss and sadness by those who survive me, how will the world be any different without me.

I guess since I am dead it really won’t matter what happens. I think the reason that I fear death and the afterlife so much is that I spend far too much time contemplating it. Of course I am scared of the world existing without me… I’m still in it! When the time comes for me to bid this world adieu I’ll be ready, assuming I die at the age of one hundred and fifty after having lived a happy fulfilled life. I don’t think I will ever be able to overcome my trepidation about my death being meaningless, but at least there are worst things than dying at one’s proper time. I am ordinary and unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but that is okay. The world should not stop because I have left it, no one is that important. I only pray that I be missed and remembered fondly by my friends and family long after I am gone.

Of course, with my luck, it is very possible that I will indeed be remembered — just not as a martyr. In interviewing the people who knew me, journalists will hear allegedly true stories of what I was really like. “A black belt ninja master of the eighth degree? Not bloody likely. He could barely open a water bottle,” will say one of my “friends.”

“Bedded hundreds of women? Maybe in his dreams,” another will argue. Some other dear friend will add, “Cured disease and made blind men see they are saying. Biggest bullshit I’ve ever heard. The guy gives me some Advil and lends me money for contact solution and all of sudden the dude is mother fuckin’ Jesus!? For Christ’s sake!”

“Not only does he lose his Social Security card, but he liked getting pedicures, was afraid of spiders, and I think I saw him reading a recipe for quiche once,” will add my biggest fan, my mother.

I don’t know what’s worse; the fact that I will die hungry and covered in sweat or that the most probable thing my post-mortem future holds for me is a tombstone my friends and family will affectionally engrave: “Here lies Roberto Hernandez. Lost his Social Security card and got him self eaten because of it.”