Continuity is a beautiful thing. I wish I had some.
It is July. It is really hot outside. Really really hot. That’s not good. 2019. Climate change. Mass extinction. Don’t worry. It’s never too late to start a list.
The Amazon rain forest is on fire. Thousands of fires. Lit by people. They want to farm soy and hamburger. With that kind of thing going on, who needs an asteroid?
In a nutshell: first we are born then we die having no memory of either. That is exactly how variegated arguments originate. No memories with simultaneous sensory input to back them up.
Bells’ peals. Tales and tells.
Beginning with appeals to authority, we tend to believe we were born because we exist, we’re be(ing) here now and also, everyone knows you can’t have a chicken without an egg. But for some reason, being born is not always enough. You need more proof than that. In the U.S. we need a birth certificate to get a social security number and we need a social security number to get a driver’s license, credit card or marriage license. All of those documents can be faked, so where’s the real authority if it’s not our own present and visible existence (which has never, is not and will never be the case)? Turn’s out it’s the same authority that vouches for money, especially fiat money: dollars, renminbi, pounds, euros, yen, . . . . The highest authority is the appeal to the highest authority. “In God We Trust” that this money has actual value. After that “In Stuff We Trust”, “In Violence If You Don’t Give Us Your Stuff We Trust” and “In Mindless Mutual Agreement We Trust” also show up on the leaderboard. That’s not me being cynical. That’s me being observant. That’s me being attentive both to material facts and things which have no explanation or definable cause—a reality salad with documents, pictures, physical objects, sounds, tastes, smells, visions, whatever women I’m strongly attracted to tell me (because every one of them has been psychic and not always in a fun and winsome way), testimonials from family members and media celebrities, bizarre encounters with beings from other dimensions—things like that. Really. I’m not kidding or making this up. All this stuff is real as in “in the physical world” real. It happened. It still happens. I shuffle it all together like a deck of cards and deal. I’m terrible at poker but I don’t care. It’s just an analogy. Except for the reality part.
I saw my father’s birth certificate when I was a teenager and kept a copy until I lost it three years ago after I was taken to the hospital for a heart attack. When I got out, I couldn’t find it anywhere I looked. I don’t believe in the Bermuda Triangle, but I do believe in other, stranger things. The problem is that my father’s married last name, my mother’s married last name, my father’s brother’s last name and my brothers’ and sister’s last names were all the same when I met them and were all different from the name on my father’s birth certificate. It raised a lot of questions that resulted in a lot of answers none of which was verifiable. Two Christmasses ago, my children gave me a box with 23andMe on the cover. I have since found out I am directly related to Mitochondrial Eve, Marie Antoinette and Jonathan Edwards on my mother’s side. On my father’s side, I am 30% Native American, 2.7% Sub-Saharan African, 5.4% Spanish and Portuguese and the rest mostly Southern European and the UK, specifically London. As apocryphal and highly scientific as it seemed, with all the accompanying charts and graphs, I have also been told by a well-informed friend who heard it from a neurological geneticist that 23andMe is tinkertoys and within a few years most autoimmune diseases (read heart attacks, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, senility, etc.) will be so well understood that they will become nearly non-existent and by the end of the century near immortality will be available to nearly everyone alive, all 10.9 billion of them, provided they can afford it, to which I replied, That’s a lot of biomass, to which he replied, Don’t worry, less than a million people will be able to afford it.
After appeals to authority come appeals to reason based on facts. Facts help, but facts aren’t enough. Sometimes they are: “When should I pick you up?” “3:30.” “Ok.” I take the rest of it—the who, where and how—for granted. I take them as facts, because I know them already, because there is a pattern I’ve discovered based on past facts. 3:30 means to pick her up at a specific location. At 3:30 I show up and there she is just like she said, only she isn’t. After a few minutes I worry. A few minutes later I park the car, get out and stand in an open space where she can see me. It dawns on me that I should call her. Before I can the phone rings. “Where are you?” “I’m in front of the building.” “No you’re not because I’m in front of the building and you’re not here.” “That’s not good.” “I told you to pick me up in front of Target.” Well, that didn’t happen. “No. You told me to pick you up in front of Chase on the corner where I always pick you up.” “But this morning I told you to pick me up in front of Target and you said OK and I called you to remind you and you said OK.” I’m sure she did. My brain. I can’t take it anywhere. Facts and brains are not nearly as compatible as many people think.
I have been married twice and engaged three times for a total of seven women, the remaining two of which were incredibly intense, intimate, creative, intelligent and impossible to be with without risk of death (about 10%) or PTSD (about 90%) to either or both of us. The ones I married or was engaged to were just as intense, intimate, etc., but with slightly lower numbers. I loved and still love these women with all my heart. I would do anything for any one of them. They are not the only women I have loved, but they are the only women I would take a call from in the middle of the night, drive hundreds of miles to reach regardless of the danger or inconvenience and empty out my checking account on arrival without reservation should that be required. If you met any one of them, you would understand. It’s not their looks, their money, their talent or their spooky-action-at-a-distance psychic abilities that make me love them. I don’t actually know why I love them. I just do.
I certainly hope these do not sound like pickup lines. It is probably evident by now I don’t know how to do pick up lines. I never learned. I have a mental block. I think it’s because I confuse love with truth and truth with humor and humor with death.
Love is a funny thing. Beyond absurd. Especially the breathless felicitations and awkward deportments that often occur just prior to orgasm. I know it is customary for men in locker rooms to say tits, asses, pussies and positions are their favorite things. For me it’s faces, conversations, and every inch of skin. That’s what lips and tongues, eyes, ears, noses, toes, fingers, basically everything on the outside is for. To explore. Over dinner at a Greek restaurant: “I don’t know what to think of communism anymore. Believing in Carl Marx is like believing in Adam Smith. They both think it’s possible for a large group of people to behave rationally. They think that one day kings presidents and other fearless leaders will not have to be dragged out of the palace kicking and screaming or else each made to leave quietly with a bullet in the head. They also believe in a lot of other well-intentioned helplessly neomodernist credenda that never was and never will be true. They even accept the common belief that children are the future and neither evolution nor government would ever allow anything to destroy the opportunities, happiness and health of future generations. They think that” “May I interrupt?” I stop talking and pull a folded piece of paper from my jacket pocket. While I am unfolding it she says “I don’t think that changes anything . . . Remember that dream I had last year where I woke up crying my eyes out that I refused to tell you about?” “No.” “Of course you don’t. Well, I was dreaming that I was looking out of the window of a very nice apartment high on the side of a mountain and in the distance over a high wall all I could see in every direction was a giant slum made out of pieces and parts of thrown away things.” “So seeing all that squalor and hopelessness made you cry?” “That’s not what made me cry. What made me cry was knowing there were no children.” “How could you know there were no children? Just because you couldn’t see any?” “No. It had nothing to do with that. I just knew.” I put the poem back in my pocket. Not a good time. I am sure her part of the conversation had nothing to do with our future together and having or not having a baby. I have been told too many times I am a self-centered person to ignore it when my mind reminds me out loud, “You are such a self-centered person.” For some reason, men never tell me that. Children either. Only women. Most of the time it hurts my feelings, although I pretend it doesn’t. It doesn’t help that I’ve spent most of my life trying to be a good person. I’m not empathetic enough I guess. I need to be more empathetic. I think carefully about what she just said. I think about a future with no children. I feel tears forming. We look at each other. We reach across the table to touch each other’s hand. I get an erection. Maybe I’ll read the poem later. Probably not. One thing I do know. Good or bad, everyone has their thing they do. They can’t not do it. They do it because they were born to do it. They have to. Even accountants. Especially accountants. They can’t help it. It’s their nature.
I was crazy in love once. Dog howling at the moon crazy. When I knocked on her door there was always a smile as she kissed me softly on the lips before leading me by the hand into her bedroom. I’ll describe the sex: kissing, caressing, undressing, sex. Orgasms out of the way, we would spend the rest of our day and night or night and day going places, talking, making art, watching movies, reading to each other, bowling, playing pool, swimming, eating, drinking, spooning, sleeping. We were compatible in that way. I painted her full length portrait, barefoot, in a summer dress. I let her choose from my best paintings for her collection. We moved in together. We traveled the country. We had adventures. It didn’t last.
I did learn some important things. Men are simple, especially their dicks. Women not as much. The real lovemaking doesn’t happen in the bedroom. The real lovemaking happens wherever and whenever you are with her. I’m serious. This is not a line _____ .
I fell in love a third time. She was married and so was I. I had successfully dodged infidelity for almost seven years. My marriage was in rags, but I still loved my wife. I didn’t want anyone else. I guess that was what was attracting women to me. I didn’t understand it then but I understand it now.
Attraction is largely situational.
It started out simply enough. We saw each other daily, talked once in a while. Then we went for a walk and talked. Then we sat in a car and talked. It was getting dangerous. A lot of sex happens in cars. We sat quietly for a long time. Then we kissed. That was it. Several months later after dozens of reality TV situations had played themselves out in real life, she kissed me goodbye and went back to her husband. I went back to my wife and we picked up where we had left off, ripping our marriage into thinner and thinner shreds.
That’s the process, more or less, by which I eventually came to love seven women. I have applied this same process, with similar results, to the rest of my life. From earliest childhood I wanted a life filled with love, purpose and meaning and this is what happened: all my dreams came true. One of the things that continues to encourage me is the simple belief that everything is connected and because everything is connected, every single thing that happens changes the universe. This a priori, fundamental axiom—everything is the identify element for everything (i.e., itself)—makes us all inherently equal. By us all, I mean each of the infinitely many things that exist in any way, form or fashion, physical or not. For example, you are equal to the Big Bang and I am equal to a leaf on a tree in a forest moved ever so slightly by the wind. Because those two things are equal to each other, you and I are equal to each other. Everything that changes changes you. Everything that changes changes me. That is what the future is and has always been. Everything changing everything. There is a word for it. Knowledge. There is another word for it. Compassion.
That’s the story of the number seven.
Michael Harold writes under the name Michael Aro, his father's Spanish birth name. Born in 1952, he is a novelist, poet, painter, multimedia artist, computer technologist and inventor. He has worked as a roofer, a truck driver, an urban planner, a teacher and a founder or co-founder of several software companies. His books include five novels, five volumes of poetry and two chapbooks. His work has been published in The American Poet, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, Identity Theory, Smokebox, Steve McCaffery's North American Center for Interdisciplinary Poetics, Unlikely Stories, In Posse Review, Burningword Literary Journal and the Dirty, Dirty Anthology by Jaded Ibis Press. He lives and works in Louisiana.