Dogs in Burberry Coats & Traffic as an Image of the Meaninglessness of Life: Reflections on Dallas upon Returning
It’s not that I didn’t not want to come back to this godforsaken God’s Country of fast-food & bad-beer & binging & dieting & sleep-deprivation & juuling & tanktops & puritanical drinking laws & even more puritanical smoking laws & political correctness & political incorrectness & school shootings & unsubstantial gun laws & political banter & political inaction & so on & etc.
It’s not that I didn’t not want to repatriate to this nation of masochistically masturbatory materialism, this country of screen-worshiping automobile-driven 20th century munch-munch-yawn-yawn television-oceanic behavior of the Axiom that is the nutrious sedentarism that is the yummy lifestyle of our good old contemporary U.S. of A.
It’s not that I didn’t not want to return to this quaintly patriotic hellhole of cheap americanflag sunglasses & cheap americanflag shorts & cheap americanflag flags & cheap americanflag thrills not to mention shorts & senescent hairless pulpy calves looking like fleshy-veinymarbledecalcifying–declassifying–asCaCO3+H2SO4—>CaSO4+H2CO3& H2C O3 -- > CO2 + H2O so that CaSO4 dissolves – & crumbles – into H2O .
(I passed chemistry with an A+)
It’s not that I didn’t not want to wake up again in this ungodly idiocracy contested by a party of hypocrisy & a party of institutionalized racism & run by an exotic menagerie featuring too-many old white men, a sallow wide-eyed mouse, a flabbergasted lettuce-eating turtle & a fucking orangutan with small hands oafishly, selfishly, sedulously groping pussies; but I digress: politics, like the rest of the worst of the world – e.g. Netflix, YouTube, pornography, money, social media, suicide, etc. – is meaningless & upsetting. As I was saying, it’s not that I didn’t not want to come back, it’s that I had to.
British Airways serves way better food than American Airlines.
So that, as the best things in life come to an end, which, as an aside, I’ve always found to be an excellent argument for life itself eternal, the point stands that, on the morning of January 15, I woke up wrapped in the grey cotton sheets & scratchy Guatemalan blanket of my firm twin bed bathed in 9:00 Texas sun, the 2nd to worst part of which was I wasn’t even hungover as I would have been were I still in Jerusalem whence I returned to Dallas, nor – the 1st to worst part of which was – did I have any foreseeable chance of achieving such a less post-bliss-full more bliss-less state.
Courtesy of the Puritans.
So that I lay in bed for 1 hour, perhaps, or perhaps 2, until I wriggled out of bed & groped my way downstairs to the breakfast table. I drank black coffee & I ate a piece of cheese. I might have read the morning papers, I don’t remember. Later that day, if I recall correctly, I went to a café, where I pretended to write, I went to Half Price Books, where I bought books I pretend I will read, I went outside (where I imaginarily chain-smoked American Spirits) & I went home, where I hid in my room until dinner. What a truly remarkable day.
Brought to you by Money & Me.
The next day was slightly more remarkable. I woke up later. I drank coffee with milk & I ate a piece of bread with a piece of cheese. I went to NorthPark. There, at the Apple Store, my parents purchased for me a new laptop for my new job, & at Scotch & Soda, my mother bought for me 2 t-shirts bearing the hefty price tag of $25 – each! – & 2 pairs of wool slacks bearing the heftier price tag of $80, each. Then we bought coffee at the Nordstrom E-Bar.
Let’s see, having finished shopping I returned home where I remained until we went to my German great-aunt’s house for my American great-uncle’s birthday dinner comprised of German food viz. sauerbraten, potatoes, cabbage, cucumber salad & apple cake (brought to you by Germans!) but so then having survived the ordeal of a family dinner not merely including but rather indeed featuring extended family, I drove to Bishop Arts to meet a friend to enjoy some Latin music at Revelers Hall where we had a grand old time (it was very nice) however it would have been grander & nicer with cute Latina chicks to dance with us; but we had neither normal courage nor liquid courage: so that we didn’t ask any cute Latina chicks to dance with us.
I told my friend to go rescue his potential 10/10 Colombian girlfriend, who – to this day – mops the floors of her parents’ Colombian restaurant, her sighs sobbing, her breast heaving, as she weeps with boredom & despair, awaiting – expecting – my friend’s arrival upon a wild stallion to rescue her from her drudgery & despair. But he said nah. So that she’s still mopping the floors of her parent’s Colombian restaurant, her sighs sobbing, her breast heaving, as she weeps with boredom & despair because my friend doesn’t come upon a wild stallion much less come at all to rescue her from her drudgery & despair.
America needs rescuing!
The Nordstrom E-Bar deserves delving into. Because as we waited in line to order dallas priced i.e. overpriced coffees, I surreptitiously observed the 2 women in front of my mother & I. The 2 women each wore Burberry coats & Givenchy heels. One of the women carried a dog who also wore a Burberry coat. They – the 2 women, not the dog – ordered overpriced iced coffees & simpered & sauntered to a table where they each pulled out an iPhone XS with which they each proceeded to scroll. They didn’t once look at one another. I couldn’t help but think this is Dallas.
We ordered our drinks. We drank some on the walk. My mother left to go pick up my brother from school. Wandering to my car, my Apple bag & Scotch & Soda bag in 1 hand, my E-Bar americano in the other, I couldn’t help but think so this is Dallas.
These this is Dallas moments no longer, constitute isolated instances of recognition as I swim along in the David-Foster-Wallace water of the ambience of my existence. Nowadays, they’re frequent occurrences. Now, when I pay $5 for a café au lait & watch 15 youngsters in Yeezys clacking away on Macs at 1 of the 100s of cafés in the DFW Monstroplex, I naturally think so this is Dallas. Now, when I read articles about the Ultimate Detox Day in Dallas, – a detox that includes sweat seshes, yoga seshes, meditation seshes, consultation seshes, healthy breakfast bowls, healthy prepared meals, & healthy liquor, & surely costs over $1000 –, I can’t help but think this is Dallas. Now, when I see the numerous families, young couples & suited professionals shelling out $20 per entrée at the infinite fine restaurants not stippling but blanketing the Monstroplex, I scoff this is Dallas.
Luxury, like the brights of your car, Dearest Reader, can be abrasive.
Driving home was the experience it always was, & is, & ever shall be, except that in a fine, literary mood, I couldn’t help but curse the fucking traffic as every fucking person hit their fucking breaks every fucking time without any fucking reason at all. Then I got stuck between 2 semis which, at any given moment, could cut over & cut my head off.
You see what I mean? Because the height of my car is such that the bottom edge of a semi’s trailer will bash my brains in square at the temple if it ever so happened that a semi collided sideways with me, seeing as I would never collide sideways with a semi because, as every Dallas knows of themselves, I am the best driver, a faultless driver, in need of no Driving Jesus. Such macabre thoughts I rationalize, in the Freudian manner, with 3 anecdotes. The 1st of which is about a woman texting & driving, or perhaps scrolling & driving, who failed to notice i.e. didn’t see the semi stopped ahead of her for which reason she drove underneath the semi—except she didn’t in the fullest, wholest sense of the word she, because she left her head behind (rolling & spinning on the road I imagine although more likely it was crushed & splattered): the bottom edge of the semi had thwacked her head clean off, guillotined it, if you will. The 2nd of which is that, while growing up, my grandparents repeated this story with all of its salacious details & – quite literally – juicy tidbits. The 3rd of which is that, while growing up, my mother always almost lost her shit when she was driving between 2 semis – or between a semi & a wall – because she worried the semi would fail to see her, so far down, in his mirror, so high up; so that he might cut over & smush us into the wall or crash us into the semi to our other side, or smash us into some godforsaken & malevolent something: every time we drove between 2 semis – or between a semi & a wall – she told us how much she hated driving between 2 semis or between a semi & a wall. All it took was my finecut, literary, imaginative, precocious mind to incorporate anecdote 1 & anecdote 3 to foment a fear of semis cutting over & cutting my head off.
Anyway, driving between 2 semis, in Dallas traffic, on the way home, my E-Bar coffee in my cupholder, my Apple bag & Scotch & Soda bag in the passenger seat, the car ahead hits its breaks with NO APPARENT REASON, & I lose my shit & scream what’s the point because there’s no wreck, no reason for this fucking traffic, & it hits me that – forgive me, as I pontificate & expand upon a tired literary trope – that life is a lot like driving in Dallas traffic between 2 semis.
Because there’s no point to the stopping, there’s no point to the going, there’s only the driving, with our possessions beside us, with death to either side.
The music my friend & I heard January 16 was so very nice that I returned on January 23. This time alone. The band was smaller this time, this time they sang mostly Mexican folk music instead of the salsa they’d played last time. I enjoyed the night thoroughly. I met some kiddos from the Bishop Arts area, I shared my cigarettes with them. I knew some of the songs e.g. “Caraluna” by Bacilos, I sang along. When it was all played & done, at around 23:00 or 23:00, I sauntered to the doorstep, lit my cigarette & commenced a meandering amble to my car.
Let me see, I am happier than I’ve been in a while, this night. The Latin music at Revelers Hall has somehow managed to negotiate a tenuous peace between the warring parties of Dallas & myself. The music reminds me that Dallas has large communities of Mexicans & Salvadoreños & a growing community of Venezuelans. It reminds me that Dallas has a flourishing music scene, a smallish but fiercely talented visual arts scene, & a burgeoning literary scene. The music reminds me that Dallas is not just whiteness & wealth (except that it really is wealth, see #2). But some Dallas restaurants do offer delicious – albeit overpriced – arepas. Some Dallas bars do offer absinthe, some offer fernet & coke, some offer both. Some Dallas bars & clubs do stay open till 5:00 or 6:00 or 7:00. Some Dallasites do not work in the medical fields, the real estate fields, the business fields, the oil fields. Some Dallasites want to be happy with that which they have. Best of all, some Dallasites do not worship guns.
Indeed, what does one do with a city where it’s easier to purchase a gun than a to buy drink? What does one do with a city where it’s legal to carry a gun in the street but not a drink? People, white & older, mostly, will tell you that Bishop Arts is dangerous, & it’s not only funny but hilarious because they don’t stop to ask themselves why. But so then anyway here I stand, in the Bishop Arts District on the corner of Eighth & Madison, sometime/somewhere around 0:00, under a streetlamp: the light cast by the streetlamp is a sickly yellow, the color of pear-flesh; the clouds are greyish purple, ominously lit by Downtown’s watery light pollution; the air is velvet & clear & cold, thick & velvety with cold: I can hear the cars rushing up & down Zang & Beckley & I-30 & I-35, through the city, in the city, around the city. The city is rushing up & down under the thick velvety clouds in the cold velvety air.
The moon does not look but hides behind the wet clouds while the city parties or sleeps or makes love or some combination. Whether wiling away past present & future, or wildly & thoughtlessly & hopelessly-yet-hopefully forgetting both past & future with the present, or – perhaps? – delicately & lovingly & tenderly & somnambulantly constructing the future with the past, I would not know. What does it matter? The city breathes, its soft chest heaves, it snores quietly as it sleeps and rebuilds itself for tomorrow. The sleeping city is trod & danced upon, or slept upon or fucked upon, & it does not care; I don’t either.
Soon now, now soon, I will drive over & through & under the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I’ll see the skyscrapers & I will remember taking the DART train from Mockingbird Station to Akard Station to eat lunch with Daddy at Reunion Tower. I’ll drive by the brownstone county courthouse & prison, & the numerous convenience stores selling bail bonds, & will recall stats about the mass incarceration of blacks & will ponder the institutionalized racism that constitutes much of our “justice” – or, dare I say, “vindication”? – system. I’ll drive beneath the Texas School Book Depository & think about JFK’s assassination, & violence, generally, & blood & brains, generally, & the blood & brains of my father, Daddy, splattered across the roof of his grey insectile Toyota Camry. Then, predictably, I’ll wonder at the power of association—I’ll wonder how it is that things with which I have little-to-no personal history – DART, book depositories, ugly bridges, JFK – can arouse such memories so profound as the Old Red courthouse strikes 0:00 or 1:00, what difference does it make? Perhaps it is the oneness of things. Perhaps it is the oneness of me. I wouldn’t know, I have a hard time believing the latter because I’m fairly certain that there is more than 1 of everyone.
But all this comes later. Now, right now, I’m shivering in the pear flesh light of the dewy street lamp on the corner of Madison & Eighth, coughing up organic smoke that 1 day will give me organic cancer. I’m about to descend into the darkness of residential Eighth street, where my car is parked, because parking is as rare as pearls in this part of town. This part of town is sketchy, they said. You might get robbed or mugged or shot, they said. Maybe that’s so. Maybe I’ll be kidnapped or murdered or raped. But maybe I’ll walk from the pear flesh light into the velvet darkling cold, my possessions in my pocket, death to either side, & the tip of my cigarette will glow orange in the darkness, & will shed sparks when I drop it to the ground to stamp it out.
And isn’t that enough?