Marley’s Discovery of Imagination

When I was eighteen, fresh out of high school in 1994, I got a job working at a full-service gas station and automotive shop. Overall, it was a great job for a young man and the lessons I learned there (up to, and including, how to potentially get away with murder) have generally served me well.

The first regular coworker I had, who we’ll call Marley, was a real education for me.

I grew up in a kind of hippy, intellectual, liberal bubble in an older neighborhood near the university. While there were people who worked with their hands in my parents’ crowd, they were craftsmen with serious theories about what they were doing. I could ask my dad’s friend (who was also my friend’s dad) what he was doing to that chair, and the ensuing lecture could wind up drifting into 19th century wooden church framing before I’d gotten free of it.

So heading out into the world of work at 18, I did think I had an idea of what people who work with their hands are like. I was wrong.

At the gas station, I was plunged into the real Albertan blue-collar world; where serious physical assault is on the spectrum of acceptable human interaction, and ideas die a miserable, lonesome death from neglect and abuse. Not a week of work had gone by before I was physically accosted by a mechanic in the stock room for spraying dirt on his tool box with the pressure washer. In his late fifties, and nicknamed “the Badger” by the other mechanics, he followed me in there, cornered and ambushed me prison assault style, and grabbed and shoved me into the lockers to tell me to clean up his fuckin toolbox.

Education commenced!

My fellow pump-jockey, Marley, was about three years older than me, and having worked at the gas station since he was fifteen, was my first guide into that world. He had his beefs and his allies in the station, and would tell people where to go in a dialect of Edmonton English that was more fascinating to me than any of the car repair I was learning.

Marley was a burly, oafish loudmouth who could pivot from affable to belligerent in an instant. Generally his default setting was friendly, so mostly he was okay as a coworker. As is typical with burly, loudmouth oafs, he was lonely (but would never admit it) and would glom onto anyone who gave him the time of day. Then, being a loudmouth oaf, he’d alienate them sooner or later (sooner, usually) and the cycle would repeat and intensify.

Over the first couple of months we worked together, he made a couple overtures at friendship, but I had him well figured out and was able to avoid those without too many hard feelings.

Marley’s younger brother, Travis, also worked at the gas station, and he and I actually hit it off. (In case anyone is paying attention, I have written about these two hosers before.) Travis was a year younger than me, had also worked at the gas station since he was fifteen, had dropped out of grade 10 (although pretended he hadn’t), and was intelligent, quirky, funny, and completely perverse. Over my first year at the station we wound up working together a lot and became good friends.

At some point in that first year, Travis and I were making plans to go downtown to see a movie and I suggested walking over to the apartment he shared with his brother, Marley, to meet up. Travis looked sort of pained about this and said:

“Yeah, okay, I guess so. You can meet our friend, Spanker. He’s coming over to do a Spankfest with Marley.”

Okay! Lots to unpack here!

Yeah, the friend’s name is actually Bob, but they’ve all called him Spanker since junior high school since he loves porno and masturbation so very much.

A Spankfest is when Spanker, Travis, and Marley rent a bunch of porno tapes, and Spanker brings his VCR over to their apartment to make copies. They plug one VCR into the other and record the tapes one at a time, playing in real time. They also will make more than one copy of many of the tapes, so for each rental porno, they might play it through from start to finish up to three times.

This meant a Spankfest was a minimum of a twelve hour affair, and sometimes could wind up being an all-nighter.

I show up at ten in the morning so that we can catch a bus in plenty of time to see a matinee (number 46 from Whyte ave to Eaton Center downtown – E-town represent!), and I’m trepidatious to say the least. Porno and masturbation, for me, had always been a deeply private and embarrassing affair. I quickly learn that this crew has no such shame in their game. (I would later be told that Travis’ Indian [Native American] name in this crew is: “Spanks With Lotion.”)

Travis buzzes me into their basement apartment and there’s porno tapes, blank tapes, sharpies and cables everywhere. Spanker is introduced to me as Spanker and nods amiably from the floor where he’s organizing the tape sequence. He has an impressive mustache and goatee for a nineteen year old.

On the TV behind him was a group lesbian scene with a daisy chain of awkward, fake 90s lesbian porno cunnilingus. I believe the title was an earlier ,“No Man’s Land.” Marley was sitting on the sectional watching it with a glazed expression. He barely looked away from it once.

Then we sat around and watched porn together for about an hour. It was all very normalized. I do have the feeling that there probably was going to be some furtive group wanking later, but perhaps the boys had matured out of that behavior by that point.

We get done with the lesbo gangbangs, and Marley gets one of his titles loaded. Pretty soon they get to a blowjob and Marley tells Spanker to stop recording and just fast-forward through it. I can’t help myself: I have to ask.

“Okay, so why don’t you want the blowjob scene?”

“Whad’ya mean? It’s just a fucking blowjob! Why would ya wanna see that?!” Marley shouts.

“Uhhhh… I like blowjobs?”

“Yeah, but you aint fuckin gettin it! It’s just some guy’s dick in her mouth! Ya can’t even see her pussy or tits most of the time. Yer just lookin at dick! Ya like that?!”

“Yeah… It’s my favorite kind of scene, actually.”

Marley busts into high pitched, manic cackling. “His favorite scenes is blowjobs! He likes lookin at fuckin dick! Yer just lookin at cock! That’s fuckin gay! It’s fuckin gay! Ya like lookin at cock! It’s gay!”

This goes on for a while, with Marley laying it on really thick for far too long. I suppose even then I realized this was pretty blatant misdirection in trying to throw off any notions about the latent homosexual eroticism in the room. But I couldn’t get into it. I was intimidated of Marley, and was basically short-circuiting on an intellectual level.

I knew Marley wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but was now realizing that the shed I’d wandered into was all fucked up. Came in looking for a boxcutter and there’s only trashed wood saws and stuff made out of wire and animal bones.

Anyway, I got out of there okay and went to the movie with Travis.

Afterwards, I took to having Spankfests of my own with Travis: bringing my VCR and rented titles over. However, Travis and I would just run the VCRs without watching the tapes and play video games. Marley would lurk around and talk shit about video games and dicks and gayness and how meat is murder and fight about Star Trek characters with his brother. Once he interrupted our movie and forced us to look inside a big cut on his hand; pushing it open with his fingers like a porno pussy.

About a year or two after that, long after the whole gay thing (or that element of it) had died down, Marley was hanging around the gas station while I worked with his brother. I’m bored, having a smoke, holding the counter up, and Marley comes sidling up to me with a sly smirk on his face.

“Hey,” he says, like he’s really proud of what he’s about to lay on me. “I figured out why ya like watching blowjobs in porno.”

“Yeah?” (oh no)

“Uh-huh. Ya like watching the blowjobs cause ya pretend that the girl is giving you the blowjob, right? Like, ya watch it and pretend that it’s yer dick she’s suckin. That’s it, isn’t it?” He’s even more excited now, but still all quiet about it.

“Yes. That’s what I do,” I answer, totally deadpan.

Marley gets a really big grin and nods deeply at me. Then he moves off slowly, never breaking eye-contact, really happy, and clearly filled with a new-found respect for me. Like I had cracked a big code or discovered a cure for his herpes.

I guess that notion blew his fuckin mind. (In more ways than one.)

It does beg the question: what the fuck was going on in his head when he was watching porno before that? I can’t even begin to imagine.

So, if I have accomplished nothing else in my life, at least I gave Marley the gift of the power of his imagination. The power to imagine so many blowjobs and whatever other stimulus he decides to stick directly in front of his eyes. A whole internet full of possibilities!

But, keeping it real, it’s probably mostly blowjobs and anal sex for Marley. And why not?

Body Rapping With Aiden

When I was about eight or nine years old I befriended Aiden, a small kid a year younger than me who lived nearby. Aiden was an only child with a single mom, and I guess he had things pretty rough. His mom was always working, so Aiden was by himself a lot.

However, the big bonus of having a hardworking single mom (as far as we were concerned) was that she felt pretty guilty about not being around. This meant that Aiden would sometimes be able to get her to buy him a cool toy.

One such toy was the body rap system.

Now, most folks won’t be aware of the full throttle  awesomeness that was the body rap system. Check this shit out!

Body Rap

Like I said: pure awesomeness.

Aiden invited me to come over to play with his body rap system and we got right to it. We soon discovered that rather than wear the “sound pads,” it was much easier just to lay them out on the floor and use them like a mini drum kit. What fun!

Man, did we ever rap it up! I’d say we had us a good, solid fifteen minutes of fun before it started getting old. By this time, Aiden was getting mad (he had some rage issues) with the sound pad that said, “BODY!” He didn’t like it, for some reason.

I kinda thought that one was cool, actually, because, you could make the machine stutter by tapping it quickly. “B-b-b-BODY! BODY! B-BO-B-BODY! RAP! *cymbal crash*”

But Aiden was adamant: the “BODY” pad was fucking him up. Perhaps he was just jealous of the awesome, stuttering grooves I was laying down with that motherfucker.

Whatever his reasons, Aided decided the “BODY” pad had to go. He ran off to the kitchen, came back with a pair of side-cutters, and clipped the cable of the “BODY” sensor. However, rather than solve his problems, this must have pushed the two wires together in the cable to form a short-circuit.

“BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY!”

It wouldn’t stop saying “BODY!” Even worse, the body input seemed to override all the others, because that was the only sound it would make. Aiden was getting angrier, and my gales of laughter were probably not helping.

“BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY!”

Feeling a little bad. I recommended turning it off and on again. (My dad was an early adopter of the home computer, so I was already all over that shit.) We did so.

“BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY!”

Then we tried taking the batteries out and then putting them back in.

“BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY! BODY!”

It was at this point that Aiden flew into a complete rage and started smashing his body rap system into the floor by its cable bundle. I can’t remember if that held up, but however he did it, Aiden persisted and completely destroyed his body rap system.

No mo body rappin for us.

Aiden was pretty inconsolable. By this I mean he flew into a full on, ape-shit spaz attack (the technical term we had for such behavior in those days) and began demolishing other stuff in his room. I went home at some point during this.

Poor Aiden. This anecdote wound up being a lot less amusing than I tend to remember it, now that I’ve typed it all out. But that’s childhood memories for you.

Cunt

Back in the day, I worked as a pump jockey in a 24 hour full-service gas station. I worked with a pair of brothers who lived together for years in an odd and vaguely incestuous way. I became pretty close friends with the younger of the two, Travis.

Eventually, the elder of the two, Marley, got a girlfriend and she moved in with them. Then things got weirder over there.

I would go over to their house almost every week and, when they weren’t showing me porn (they had the internet before me, you see), Travis and I would watch movies and play video games in the basement until I crashed on the couch.

Usually, we’d also listen to Marley and his girlfriend fight. Horrible, abusive, screaming fights that would go on for hours and hours. These would often culminate with her physically attacking him. She’d kick, punch, bite, and scratch, and he’d have to wrestle her to the ground to protect himself. We would sit in the basement listening to them howling and banging upstairs; rolling across the floor just above us, their curses and grunts barely audible, yet so much more visceral than their louder noises.

Now, the thing about this woman was that she wasn’t one of these “hot and cold” types where she’s a psycho some of the time and the rest of the time would be some kind of an exciting “firecracker” type. Not Donna. No, she was surly, miserable, vindictive, petty, and thoroughly unpleasant at all times. The kind of person that will suck all the energy, light, and life out of a room with their mere presence.

A real superb cunt.

I think about her sometimes. (Obviously.) She might seem an odd person to dwell upon, but you have to understand that there’s no malice or heat to the memories of her. I never really suffered her; I was simply a witness. So, over the years that have passed since I last saw her, Donna’s memory has grown into a unique nugget of entertainment within my inner world.

It’s like when you see a disturbing but perfectly executed work of art that sticks with you. It’s not like you enjoyed consuming it at the time, but it planted something within you that you take away. It can come to represent something larger for you; serve as a symbol for an otherwise inexpressible element of the human condition.

So it is with Donna. She holds a special place in my psyche as though a work of art.

Cunt. By Donna.

Perfection.

On Tough Guys

I was terrorized by so-called tough guys for much of my younger life.

In my elementary school days, it was not a problem. I was with the same kids right from first grade. I had my little circle, and my idiosyncrasies were accepted by my classmates. But I was in a French immersion elementary program and decided not to keep that up in junior high school. So I switched programs and went into a new school without knowing anyone in my class. I was also late to hit puberty, so even in grade 8 I was one of the smallest kids in the school.

It was rough at first, but I figured out my survival techniques. I kept my head down and my mouth shut, and it was not too long before those kids that bring it all on themselves were soaking up most of the hits. Then I did my best to befriend the gentle giants; the biggest boys who were not bullies. I got through just fine.

In high school, I finally grew a bit. Also, my idiosyncrasies, and those of my crew, created a reputation that we were some kind of psychos. We were left the fuck alone. But my school was beefing with another bigger school, and boys were always getting jumped walking to and from school. Up to four guys, with bats sometimes, would hop out of cars, beat kids down, and then “boot fuck” them. It was a paranoid atmosphere and I got pretty good at slipping through danger zones on foot.

After high school, I went to work pumping gas at a 24 hour gas station and automotive shop. This was the real initiation to the shitshow. It had never occurred to me that adults could consider fist fighting an acceptable stage of human interaction. Those mechanics were fucking rough. When I sprayed dirt onto “The Badger’s” (that was his real nickname) toolbox with the pressure washer, I got a real education. He grabbed and shoved me into a work bench; I was completely physically dominated with a basic violent assault and the implicit threat of a much worse one if that shit ever happened again. “Now clean it fuckin up!”

The location of the gas station was less than ideal for physical safety. It was in a kind of buffer zone between the university’s bar strip and daytime yuppie shopping promenade, and a light-industrial, blue-collar neighborhood one quick bus ride from downtown skid row. Urban poor would come to beg money from the yuppies and then get their drink on, while all the breeder boys from towns all around would come to cruise for poon on the strip. When unsuccessful with women, packs of those feral assholes would rove around looking for guys to intimidate and beat up. “Fag!” Stabbings were fairly common.

I spent a couple years being thoroughly terrorized. When a skid-row, tough guy bully wants to get free stuff, he doesn’t necessarily need to rob places. If he comes around a business everyday, by slowly terrorizing some solitary staff member for a couple of weeks, he can simply start taking stuff without paying. “I don’t need to pay fer this, do I boss? No one’s gonna notice.” Chips, pop, smokes, and dignity all for the taking.

Then I just fuckin had it. Enough was enough. I started bringing a zippo to work (I pumped gas for a living, remember), harboring the fantasy of burning some of these fuckers alive.

Around that time, things got even worse in the neighborhood. Meth had moved in. Now we had street dealing right at our location, with meth-heads swarming all over the place. We started restricting the bathrooms to gas customers only, which created friction with the down and outs. I guess there were some serious confrontations involving some of my coworkers. I was working more graveyard shifts at that time too. One night a Native-American gang enforcer got me cornered (Native street gangs are a big thing in my home town), put a high-end prison shank down on the counter between us (shitty photoshop recreation pictured below), and spent some time explaining that “you don’t fuck with my people.”

“Good to know, man.”

Prison Shank

After that, I started carrying a knife. It was a legal flick knife: one of those raised thumb-stud jobbies that may as well be a switchblade. I carried it legally too; riding high on my back pocket where everyone could see it. I had a year of fencing in junior high school, and I spent time practicing my draw and stab into wooden posts, so I was good to go. The next time a sketchy as fuck piece of shit started trying to stare me down, I shifted my stance, met his eye, and got ready to go. One look at me and the guy melted.

I had learned a new thing. With these tough guy bullies, you don’t need to run faster than the bear; you just have to run faster than your friend. When I got mentally prepared to do what I had to do, I no longer needed to do it. They took in my attitude and wandered down to the next open business to try their luck there. My life got a lot easier.

Then, with the realization of the power of that attitude, I flipped the coin over and became something of a bully myself. I have some regrets about that time in my life. Be that as it may, my deep hatred of and intolerance to tough guys has remained. Those shells of men who need to intimidate in order to feel whole. I would love to cut all their throats. (I am aware of the irony in this.)

Around the time when I was graduating high school, the Vietnamese were making their presence felt. I don’t know if they were proper gangs at that time (they later would become so), but they were definitely asserting themselves. It quickly became common street knowledge that if you fought an East Asian, you would probably get stabbed.

Many of the white tough guys I was forced to listen to at that time would go on and on and on about how the “gooks” were such “pussies.” Like, what’s wrong with a fair fight, man? Why can’t they just have a fair fight?

Fair? Really? These primate assholes spend all their time pumping iron and practicing fighting, and then act like it’s fair when they force some Asian kid that’s half their size to “step outside” in order to save face. Try moving to a foreign land where everyone is huge and mostly hate you, and punching people in the face is considered entertainment. Maybe then you too will learn to embrace the liberating power of escalating violence.

What’s that? You don’t like me calling you an ignorant asshole? You want to step outside? Well, instead of that, why don’t I just take yer fuckin eyeball out with a screwdriver right fuckin now? How’s bout that?

If a line gets crossed, and someone need to go, then what the fuck does a fair fight have to do with it? Bullshit, made-up rules about “masculinity” are not relevant. But “tough guys” don’t like that. They don’t like it when someone calls their bluff and bluster. They want the whole world to play along with the rules they’ve created to keep them safe while they dominate those around them. So, for those who break their made-up rules of engagement, they trot out the worst insults they can imagine: “pussy” (woman), and “fag.” If these guys think that accepting penis into your body is the worst thing someone can do, then what does that tell you about their self-identity? I think they realize, on a deep psychological level, just how toxic they are.

I may be white, but I was small for most of my developmental years, sensitive, quirky, and liked geeky things like D&D. So I do understand all too well being the victim of manly white men’s notions of fair play (of course, not to the degree that others do; I’m not trying to lay claim to the full experience). Their “fairness” is a system of codes of conduct and even legal rules that exist to give them every advantage. Be they the social conventions surrounding stepping outside for a fair fight, or America’s conceal carry and stand your ground laws.

If you want to find out who’s tougher, then by all means, get into MMA or step into the ring or dojo. Or, if you’re really nuts, the rugby field. There is a place for that in society. But thinking that being tough should have any relevance in modern society, in any way, is completely fucked.

We say to young men: “there’s never a reason to hit a woman.” I disagree. I say that a reason to hit a man is also a reason to hit a woman, and that self defense is the only acceptable reason (outside of sports that involve hitting). Other than that, there is never an acceptable reason to hit anyone.

Thinking otherwise is precisely the kind of macho bullshit that helps makes the world the shitty place it is today.

Ikea Ball Pit

Like so many, when I was a kid I really, really loved the ball room at Ikea. It was a special, magical world; so tactile, lurid, and fuckin fun!

I believe I was four years old the last time I went into one. It was a formative experience for me.

Now, the time before my last was special too. It was during this visit that I finally worked up the courage to go face-first down the slide into the ball pit. I’d been watching other kids do it for a while and really wanted to myself. But I lacked the guts. It was not until the very end of this visit, with my dad hollering at me from the parents’ area to, “come on!” that I finally did it.

I went down head-first into all those marvelous plastic balls and it was everything I had dreamed. Then my dad poked his head through into the ball room to yell at me directly and I really had to go.

I became completely obsessed about getting back to that ball pit to do the slide again. I could not stop thinking about it, and would not stop pestering my father to take me back. After about a week of this, he obliged me.

Everything about that visit is etched so clearly in my memory. Rushing in the entrance. Seeing all those balls through the play room window. The glorious slide standing so majestic above it all. Me struggling to take my shoes off as quickly as possible. And, finally, climbing to the top of that slide, getting down on my belly, and going face-first down into the beautiful colors.

All exactly like I had been imagining.

Except, it wasn’t just like I had imagined. These balls were wet. All wet. And the wetness is on my hands. And face, And some is in my mouth. It was at this point that I realized the wetness was piss. Some kid had pissed in the ball pit at Ikea, and not just a little bit.

And I had just slid face first into it.

Joy turned into claustrophobic, disgusted horror inside of a second. I remember my visceral reaction so well: the rage that something so pure and so fun should be ruined so completely by someone else’s ignorance.

But I realize now that I was looking at it all wrong back then. This experience was really a chance to get a head start on understanding how our world is. I should have been thankful! Thank you so much, fellow humans! Thank you for preparing me so well for life, in such a succinct, easily understood physical metaphor.

Oh boy, little me! I bet you can’t wait to go to school! It’s going to be so much fun! (Face first slide down into a pit of piss.)

Hey, a girl actually likes me! I get to have a girlfriend now! (Face first slide down into a pit of piss.)

At last, I’m going to university, where I can interact with intelligent and motivated people and be judged for the quality of my ideas instead of people’s fucked up preconceptions! (Face first slide down into a pit of piss.)

Hey, I’m getting engaged!

…well, you know the drill.

 

Fun at the Gas Station

In the full-service gas station and automotive shop where I worked for ten years, we had the “Go Fuck Yourself” game.

How you played was: you waited until a coworker was completely engrossed in a difficult task that was obviously pissing them off. Then, from a nice safe distance, you call out their name, like you need them for something:

“Hey, Jim!”

(Jim ignores you.)

“Jim!”

(Ignores.)

“Jim!”

(Still yet ignores you, but every nuance to his posture speaks to his profound rage towards you, his job, his dead wife, minorities he can’t even keep track of coherently, and whatever else is going on in that rat’s nest he calls a psyche.)

“Jim!”

“What!?” Jim yells, as he finally pulls his focus away from his task.

“Go fuck yourself!”

Pro tip: When doing this game with the real Jim, make fucking well sure you’re ready to duck whatever hand tool he’s using, because that shit is more than likely bound for your head.

It was not a healthy work place, but we sure did like to laugh. Because fuck Jim.

Recorder

One of my favorite memories from childhood concerns recorder class in grade five. Of course, I really hated recorder lessons. Shrill noises bother me, and every kid knows the recorder is a bullshit instrument. There are no recorder bands, recorders in the orchestra, or recorder player superstars. This is one of those, “hey kids! This is gonna be so much fun!” attempts at hoodwinking children into believing some half-assed educational scheme is a quality experience.

There we were, toot-tooting our way through Mary Had a Little Lamb, or some other horseshit, reject song, for a teacher who was probably questioning some or all of her life choices at that point. Then, we came to the recorder cleaning at the end of the lesson; where you plug the whistle orifice on the noise phallus and blow your spit out of its arse.

This gave me a clever idea.

The next time we had our recorder lesson, I quietly spent the whole time spitting into my recorder. I would spit, pretend to be playing while I worked up another gob, and then spit again. For the whole twenty minutes. The recorder took it all like a champ; it’s very impressive how much spit one of those things can hold. Near the end, some spit started dribbling out of the end, like pre-cum on a strident cock; a harbinger of the joyful, messy explosion to come.

Then it was time for the recorder cleaning finish to the lesson. It was everything I could have dreamed of and more.

Now, of course, for the cleaning procedure, you hold the recorder upside down, so you can jamb your thumb up its whistle orifice. I was expecting all the spit to just shoot out of the arsehole in a money shot extravaganza, but what happened was even better. As I blew, long, goopy strands of sputum started oozing out of the finger holes all down the recorder’s length. They just kept growing and growing and growing, stretching longer and longer. Then, the bubbles started out of the recorder’s arse. It was at this point that some girl noticed what was happening and began shrieking. Total pandemonium ensued.

Teacher started yelling, and I was cleaving with a white knuckle grip to the whole, “I dunno what happened, I was just playing the song.” Meanwhile there’s a growing puddle of spit on the floor between my feet. Of course, I had to clean everything up, but it was totally worth it.

If there was ever any question of my punk rock status in that crew, it was forever laid to rest on that day.

A few days later, Teacher informed me that if I really did not want to take part in the “music lesson,” I could sit in the back of the class and draw my pictures, so long as I did not disturb the other students.

I don’t think I’ve had a sweeter victory since.