It’s a little upsetting to stumble across a friend in a porn movie from the 80’s. Nothing kills an erection like seeing this friend, who has cultivated a rather Daddy-like image, speaking in stilted tones with frosted hair in an office with teal-flocked wallpaper getting his ass plowed on top of a cheap, varnished desk. Not that I ever search the web for streaming video porn or anything.
But even if I did, I would do it to excess, as I do any sort of addictive substance. And since I no longer partake of substances, other activities will sometimes take their place. Like the occasional porn marathon, say, or this recent music-downloading habit I’ve picked up like a bad cold. I never got into the whole Napster thing, but I often come to fads and fashions much later than everyone else, out of a misguided stubbornness against anything popular. And I won’t tell you what site I am using, because now that the Feds are indicting people for music-swapping, it would be just my luck to land in jail and end up as someone’s bitch, just for being a little cheap. I’ve probably said too much already.
So yes, downloading over a hundred songs within a 24-hour period might seem a little compulsive. It was rather short-lived, however, as I have reached a mental block; I can’t think of any other song I want. And it must say something about one’s character development that most of the songs I downloaded were from several years ago, during the 80’s and early 90’s. The songs I fell in love with during those years have attached themselves to my emotional core. They don’t entertain so much as elicit past moods; a form of nostalgia towards which I have always been prone.
So between these songs and my friend’s frosted hair, I have retreated into the softly neon-lit 80’s, where memory smoothes over all rough edges to produce a simpler, more naive era. Memory distorts; it’s not to be trusted, which means that most of my writing is suspect as well. What lies have I conjured, all with the best of intentions? But that’s what happens when you’re always looking over your shoulder at the past.
Then again, that’s not entirely true. I am a red blooded American, I believe in possibility. I tie my happiness to the uncertain future, to events and people and cities I hope will come to me. I count down the days, over and over, till the long-delayed arrival of my handsome space monkey. I pore over catalogues for schools across the country. I imagine myself in better jobs. I mentally shed the two or three pounds that must be obscuring my six-pack abs. I sometimes even let myself imagine a cure for the virus in my bloodstream.
But there’s no harm there. I’m just saying I would make a lousy Buddhist. The Power of Now is lost on me. Between the past and the lurid future I am torn, missing out on the present and all of its simple gifts, if you believe in that sort of thing.