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The International Writers Magazine: Life in NY City (ain't no picnic)

Emasculation in the City
Dean Borok
Since people have gotten these freakin cell phones their natural inclination to act as police agents has come to the fore. I wish I could blame it on 9/11 but I can’t. Now that people can rat each other out with a flick of the wrist, you don’t need Big Brother peering out at you from a two-way television any more.

D. Patterson

Not that the authorities have been lax about setting up a surveillance society: my subway station now has so many cameras hanging down from the ceiling it’s beginning to resemble a spelunker excursion to see the stalactites protruding from Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico.
            Good. Let them wrap each other up in a straight jacket. Despite their protestations of personal liberty, people love enforced conformity, and will never miss the opportunity, as the Beatles so presciently wrote lo those many eons past, to “lick policemen’s buttons clean”. How come people don’t write those kinds of songs anymore? Now you got Susan Boyle, looking for all the world like a garbage truck with makeup on, singing “The Sound of Music”.
            Just leave me out of it. I don’t collect firearms or stockpile nail varnish remover, OK? I have sort of reached the level of a metropolitan hermit – job, gym, house. Even so, I got my own personal Ministry of Truth in the form of my old lady, Magpie, who is a walking surveillance camera on legs. She watches me like a hawk. She also watches my money like an accountant, the same way the investigators traced Nixon’s Watergate money back to the CREEP, to ensure that I am not messing around with other women. Not that she has much to worry about. Women can’t stand me. Only gay guys like me, in the hope they’re going to get an ass whipping.
            Recently I happened to come across a small quantity of marijuana, which Magpie hates. She wouldn’t leave me alone to smoke it in peace. Every time I took a hit off a joint she went berserk, with screaming, crying, cajoling. “I thought you weren’t going to smoke that stuff anymore!” she wailed. Believe me, it wasn’t the Thirteenth Floor Elevators singing the chorus to “Inna Gadda Da Vida”.
            I said, “I must have been stoned when I told you that”. The problem that reactionaries have with reefer is that it helps you to think for yourself. I don’t recommend it for everybody. Most people do not have the cultural depth to do any unauthorized thinking. They are better off with Prozac, which elevates the mood without any unwanted side effects, like thoughts. Hey, it works for Magpies friends!
Once, in an unguarded moment, of which she has had a few, Magpie confided to me that she considered me to be an antisocial element because of my total lack of guilt. Her role, as she related it to me, was to inhibit me from enjoying myself too much. It’s unhealthy for me to do anything I want without considering the effect I am having on others. That is called the “butterfly syndrome”, where the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in New York can provoke unpredictable consequences in Valparaiso. Basically, she feels that I need to be brought under iron-clad control by the authorities, lest my actions provoke an oh-my-papa in the earth’s crust in the secret underground dumps under the Jack In The Box on Hillside Avenue in LA, where they keep the tanks of decommissioned poison gas and obsolete germ bombs.
            In that, she is not alone. Magpie belongs to the Sisterhood of the Cell Phone, a gang of vigilant females whose rallying cry is, “I’m gonna get the cops!” Ask a woman to shut the fuck up and get out of your face and the refrain is “That’s verbal abuse. I’m gonna get the cops!” Once, after being bored to distraction by the insane ravings of a particularly disagreeable piece of work named G, who first told me that she was French from Lille, but then revealed herself by degrees to be a full-blooded German, much to my chagrin, whose wont was to bang on her ceiling with a broom handle any time her upstairs neighbors were able to summon up the temerity to walk across their living room floor, thereby arousing her from her reveries of Rhine maidens drinking Liebfraumilch in Valhalla. I declined to sit down to supper with her because of my total disinclination to look at her lame face, which betrayed a bottomless pit of ignorance, and eat her macrobiotic swill at the same time, she screamed, “I’m gonna get the police!” And she did. The cops declined to arrest me, After all, they have got women at home too, and it didn’t take a behavioural psychologist to size up the situation. On their way out the door, one of them advised me, “You better find another place to live”. I did, and I took the rent money with me.
            Women have come a long way, baby! What used to be considered incontinent raving is now liberation theology. Most men immediately run up the white flag to avoid a court order or a desk appearance ticket, if not worse. All it takes is one domestic complaint about talking back, and it’s on your record forever. My initial fascination with various aspects of the female physiognomy rarely extends north of the neck region, and I have a tendency to quickly grow weary of the global warming released by their relentless emission of hot air. Write me a letter!
            That’s why I am not inclined to accept at face value the accusations of domestic violence against David Johnson, aide to New York governor David Patterson, leveled by his erstwhile domestic playmate Ms B, who alleged in a 911 call, “He choked me!” In the call, which was broadcast on TV, she sure sounded in full voice to me (he is heard in the back protesting, “I did not!” but who is going to believe him, the brute!). Maybe he was trying to turn her off ha-ha. Whatever the case, Johnson has been tried, convicted in executed in the court of public opinion, dragging the guv down with him. Ms. Booker, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found to tell her side of it, having flown the coop after singing her little refrain. If you ask me, and there are no facts to contradict this little theory of mine, she just decided to indulge in a little ball breaking, which got out of hand and ended up bringing down the whole government.
            Without Ms. Booker’s side of it, and, heaven knows, whatever she decides to relate will be minutely scrutinized by every news organ coast to coast, not to mention various tribunals, nobody will ever know what transpired in Johnson’s apartment that fateful evening, but her reluctance to reveal herself and come clean induces me to believe that the whole of the affair consists of more than the sum of its component elements.
           I could be dead wrong. She could be at this moment in fearful flight for her life from a Mossad hit squad dispatched by Patterson to eradicate any trace of her existence by placing her behind the wheel of a berserk, careening Toyota, like a freakin Sidney Pollock movie thriller. More likely, though, she is in Bimini getting her hair braided and trying to reach an agent on her cell phone to solicit offers for her story once the initial earthquake subsides. Look for Ms. Booker to be doing a little pas de deux with Andrew Cuomo on “Dancing With The Stars”
© Dean Borok March 7th 2009

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