The Jabberwocky, OR: The Monstrous, Talkative Chicken

Try to keep up.

It was cold and muggy, and those weasely toves
were all jumping around and touching each other’s butts down by the river
the borogroves were drunkenly reminiscing about their childhoods
and the mome raths were screaming their faces off
(we live in a loud and inappropriate place
pretty sure it’s because we name our animals shit like “mome raths”)

then this old man was like:
“Son, it’s time I told you about the birds and the bees
the birds are called jub-jub birds
and the bees are not bees
they are an unstoppable hivemind called the Bandersnatch
which sneaks up behind you and grabs your taint
plus it’s frumious
which means it’s always angry and slightly on fire.
When these two creatures combine
they form a terrifying voltron known as THE JABBERWOCK(Y)
just stay the fuck out of the woods, basically
there’s no normal animals in there anyway
it’s all this nonsense shit.”

But this kid is immune to good advice
so he grabs an imaginary sword
and spends hours searching for this stanky-assed forest beast
until he gets tired
and decides to rest near one of those trees they use to make stomach medicine

He’s terrible at thinking though
one might even call him uffish
so he’s still thinking, when THE JABBERWOCK APPEARS
ITS EYES ARE ON FIRE
IT’S SWIFTER THAN A WHIFFLE BALL
(hurled by an expert at whiffle ball)
AND IT SOUNDS LIKE A CAULDRON FULL OF DRUNK FROGS

But see the reason this kid is so bad at thinking
is that he’s put all his imagination into making this sword
and that actually makes it a pretty good sword
other than it makes food noises when it kills things
and that’s exactly what it does
it takes that jabberwock’s uggulacious head straight off
and this kid is so hyped by his victory
he picks up that stangly head
and for the whole walk home
he pretends he’s a horse

then he gets home and his dad’s like:
“HOLY SHIT, YOU KILLED THAT?
YOU SMILE TOO MUCH AND I’M PRETTY SURE YOU’RE AN IDIOT
BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE A MAN NOW
LET’S GET SO DRUNK WE DON’T KNOW WHICH WORDS ARE REAL
AND THEN NAME SOME MORE ANIMALS.”

So yeah,
it was a pretty shitty day, weather-wise
and those filthy toves were playing grabass by the water
the borogroves were nostalgic
and the mome raths were hella loud.
Basically
nothing changed
except an extra thing was dead.

The moral of the story
is that violence doesn’t solve anything
but don’t tell your dad that
because you can still use it to trick him into loving you.

the end.

RedditStumbleUponShare

Killing Hunchbacks is Totally Fine

So this whole time
while I’ve been telling you other stuff
and getting drunk and riding bikes and shit
this Scheherezade chick has NOT STOPPED TELLING STORIES
FOR REAL
Think of how many stories you would tell
if telling stories night after night was your only shot at survival
and then SEXTUPLE that number
because every character in every story Scheherezade tells
shares her pathological fixation on telling fucking stories
for real
it’s stories all the way down
more stories than two Shanghai Towers with a Burj Khalifa up their butt
what i am trying to convey to you with these words
is that this bitch tells her some TALES

But even Scheherezade gets tired of telling stories sometimes
actually especially her, because instead of sleeping she TELLS STORIES
so she asked me to fill in for her this week
and I cannot say no to a beautiful woman.
it is a problem.

SO THERE’S THIS HUNCHBACK
he is so drunk his blood is like 200% alcohol by volume
he is wandering around the street
banging his tambourine
being aggressively useless
because if there is one thing that sucks
it’s hunchbacks
(sorry hunchbacks, I have inherited Scheherezade’s somewhat insensitive attitude towards you
she is a clever lady
but she is not super enlightened
she is from the past)

Anyway this crook-spined bastard is making a racket outside this tailor’s shop
and the tailor is like oh boy
time to fuck with some hunchbacks
HEY BUDDY
WANNA COME OVER FOR FREE FOOD?
and the hunchback is like BLRUGHGHARHGH
I MEAN YES
THOSE PREVIOUS NOISES WERE JUST ME PURGING MY STOMACH
IN PREPARATION FOR RECEIVING YOUR FREE FOOD

so they have dinner
the tailor’s wife makes fish
but instead of observing traditional table etiquette
they stuff all the fish in the hunchback’s mouth
and then hold his mouth shut until he chokes to death
allegedly it was not their intention to make him die
but i’m not sure what else they were expecting to happen
either way he dies
and they’re like shit shit shit shit what do we do?
oh yeah
let’s frame a jewish guy

so they drag the body to this doctor’s office they know
and they tell his servant to go get the doctor because their friend is sick
and then they hide the body at the top of the doctor’s stairs and run away
the doctor comes SPRINTING out of his room
and kicks the carcass down the stairs
and then he’s like OH DANG
I JUST KICKED THAT DUDE DOWN THE STAIRS
THAT IS LIKE THE OPPOSITE OF PROPER DOCTORING
ONLY ONE THING TO DO:
FRAME A MUSLIM DUDE

so he and his wife drag the body onto the roof of the sultan’s secretary
and use a complex system of ropes and pulleys
to dangle their improvised corpse-puppet down inside the dude’s storeroom
which they happen to know has been getting pillaged by rats
and then the secretary comes home
goes into the storeroom
and is like AW HELL NO
I THOUGHT RATS WERE EATING MY FOOD
BUT IT WAS ACTUALLY A DEAD HUNCHBACK
ALLOW ME TO BEAT YOU WITH STICKS
OH SHIT YOU’RE DEAD
WHAT HAVE I DONE

TIME TO FRAME A CHRISTIAN DUDE

So he drags the body into the street and leaves it leaning against a wall
just outside this Christian dude’s house
and the next morning, the dude wakes up
hung over as hell
but it’s a Muslim holy day
so he doesn’t want anybody to see him hung over
and sentence him to death for it
(that’s a high-stakes hangover)
but he’s still a little fucked up from the night before
so he runs into the body
and the body falls on him
and he punches it in the face
and it falls over
and at first he’s like SHIT YEAH I’M A KUNG FU MASTER
but then he’s like OH NO THE POLICE
and the police are like OH YEAHHHHH

so they arrest him and take him to be executed
but right as they’re about to lop off his head
the sultan’s secretary runs up like NO NO NO KILL ME
I’M THE ONE WHO BEAT THE HUNCHBACK TO DEATH
and the executioner is like pfft, okay
but right as they’re about to lop off HIS head
the doctor runs up like NO NO NO KILL MEEEEEEEEE
I KICKED THAT DUDE DOWN SOME STAIRS
and the executioner is like sure whatever
as long as I get to kill somebody
BUT RIGHT AS THEY’RE ABOUT TO LOP OFF HIS HEAD
the tailor is suddenly overcome by guilt
and he runs up like GUYS GUYS GUYS
IF ANYBODY IS GOING TO BE KILLED
(and I sincerely hope nobody is going to be killed)
IT SHOULD TOTALLY BE ME
I “ACCIDENTALLY” FORCE-FED THIS GUY FISH UNTIL HE DIED
and the executioner is like well
as luck would have it
the punishment for that is also death

so the tailor is about to get killed
but it turns out the hunchback was the jester of some sultan
an that sultan suddenly gets curious what happened to his jester
and he finds out about this execution fiasco
and he’s like OMG LOL
THIS IS WAY FUNNIER THAN MY JESTER EVER WAS
BRING EVERYBODY TO MY HOUSE
WE GON PARTY
IT’S GONNA BE CRAY

so everyone goes over to the sultan’s house
dragging the body
and they all tell their stories again
plus the tailor tells a really long story about a barber
who happens to be in the neighborhood
so they bring the barber in
and the barber uses eldritch sorcery
(AKA the heimlich maneuver)
to bring the hunchback back to life
even though he’s been dead for a day and a half
because science!

so the moral of the story
is that killing people is okay
as long as it’s hilarious

the end

RedditStumbleUponShare

Cymbeline Should Not Be the Title of This Play

So check it out:

once upon a time there is this this king called Cymbeline
he is the king of England
his name is stupid
and he has an EXTREMELY COMPLICATED FAMILY
let me break it down for you
his wife is dead
he has a new wife named Evil von Bitchtits
(actually Shakespeare doesn’t give her a name
but this one is pretty on point so don’t worry about it)
and Evil von Bitchtits has a shitty son named Clotten
meanwhile Cymbeline also has a real daughter named Innogen
which i think maybe is just a misspelling of Imogen
which is an actual name
then again that would be the only real name in this play so maybe not
especially considering that Cymbeline also has an ADOPTED son
whose name is POSTHUMUS LEONATUS
because his mom died in childbirth
and that is something that he will never be able to live down b/c it’s in his name
okay I think that about covers all the background
OH NO WAIT

so Evil Queen Lady wants Clotten to marry Innogen
because Innogen is heir to the throne
because Cymbeline’s two sons were stolen twenty years ago
and nobody knows what happened to them
WHICH I AM SURE WILL NOT BECOME RELEVANT LATER ON
but Innogen wants nothing to do with Clotten
because first of all Clotten is terrible
and second of all, Innogen is busy committing adopted incest with Posthumus Leonatus
and they’re gonna get married
but the king is like “AW HELL NO
I mean, Leonatus is nice and all
but he’s not really my son”
and Innogen is like “yeah dad that’s sort of the point
if he was actually your son it would be actual incest”
and the king is like “NAW YOU DON’T GET IT
LEONATUS IS POOR AS SHIT.
YOU AIN’T MARRYIN NO POOR DUDE”
and Innogen is like “Dad,
I’m your daughter which means I’ll be rich as fuck no matter what
and the dude you seem to want me to marry is Clotten
whose sole claim to fame is that he came out of your evil wife
who is only rich because she married YOU
SO I DON’T SEE HOW THAT’S ANY BETTER”
and Cymbeline is like “Well I can’t argue with that
so instead i’m gonna banish Leonatus.”

So Leonatus gets banished
but before he goes, Innogen gives him a diamond ring
and he gives her a golden bracelet
so when they get horny they can look at their jewelry and remember that they’re engaged or w/e
and then Leonatus goes to Rome and is sad

It turns out that rome is a terrible place full of terrible people
one of those people is named Iachimo
and ten minutes after meeting Leonatus, he’s like “YO MAN NICE RING
I BET YOU TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS I CAN FUCK THE GIRL WHO GAVE IT TO YOU”
and Leonatus is like “YOU’RE ON”
so Iachimo goes back to England like “Hey babe I have a letter from your fiancee
he’s in Rome being a drunk asshole
howsabout you ditch the boozer and get with the slimy dissembling bastard?
PS: SLIMY DISSEMBLING BASTARD IS WHAT I CALL MY PENIS”
and Innogen is like “Ew no. Go away.”
and Iachomo is like “HAHA JK THAT WAS A TEST AND YOU PASSED
but hey, can i store some of my junk in your room overnight?”
and Innogen is like “Sure ok.”

so Iachomo hides in a big box
and has his servants bring it into Innogen’s room
and then in the middle of the night, he jumps out and
…writes down a detailed description of everything in her room
what did you think he was going to do, you pervert
he also steals the bracelet Leonatus gave her
and spends a lot of time looking at her boobs
…so he can describe them to Leonatus.

Meanwhile the Evil Queen buys a bunch of rat poison from her doctor
promising to only use it on animals and definitely not people
but the doctor happens to know that she’s a fucking psychopath
so instead of giving her rat poison
he gives her that poison from Romeo and Juliet that makes you sleepy for a while
which she immediately turns around and gives to this dude Pisanio
who was Leonatus’s servant before Leonatus left
and is now Innogen’s servant.
she tells Pisanio that the poison is like Midol or something
and honestly I have no idea what her endgame is
but spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.

So Iachimo gets back to rome like “HAHA I BANGED INNOGEN
HERE’S WHAT HER ROOM LOOKS LIKE
HERE’S WHAT HER BOOBS LOOK LIKE
HERE’S HER BRACELET
HIGH FIVE”
and Leonatus is like “No
no high five
the lowest of fives, in fact
this five i am giving you
it is downright subterranean
because THAT’S WHERE I WANT INNOGEN TO BE”

So he sends a letter back to Pisanio like
Dear Pisanio
Innogen is a slutty slut and I need you to stab her
take her to wales and then stab her
here is a letter from me to her that will lure her to wales
love,
Crazyballs

And Pisanio gets this letter and he’s like “fuuuuuuuuuuuck
Hey Innogen, wanna go to Wales to see Leonatus?”
and Innogen is like “OMG YES I LOVE LEONATUS”
so they go to Wales
and then halfway there Pisanio is like “ok look
I’m actually supposed to be stabbing you right now
dunno why Leonatus wanted me to take you all the way out here but w/e
anyway I’m not gonna do it
I’ll just pull some snow white woodsman shit and let you go
meanwhile I think the best course of action
is for you to dress up as a man
and go to rome to spy on Leonatus
PS: I have this vial of untested mystery Midol
given to me by the totally scrupulous evil queen
why don’t you hold onto this in case of cramps or something”
and Innogen is like “Okay that sounds about as reasonable as the rest of this.”

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CASTLE
Clotten is like “where the fuck is Innogen
where the fuck is Pisanio
Oh hey Pisanio
where Innogen at?”
and Pisanio is like “Uhh … I got a letter from Leonatus
it says she’s in wales?”
and Clotten is like “SWEET
here’s what I’m gonna do:
I’m gonna dress up like Leonatus
go to Wales
kill Leonatus
and then rely on Innogen’s complete lack of facial recognition
to get her to bang me”
and Pisanio is like “That sounds fucking amazing.”

MEANWHILE, IN WALES
Innogen runs into a group of outlaws
who just happen to be the king’s two long lost sons
PLUS THE DUDE WHO STOLE THEM WHEN HE WAS BANISHED
they think he’s their dad
it’s all super convenient
They’re like “Hey bro, what’s your name?”
and she’s like “Uhh … Fidele
it’s latin for ‘I’m totally a dude, trust me.’”
and they’re like “Yeah okay.”
and they all get along really well
until Innogen gets a visit from her aunt flo and decides to take the Midol
which knocks her out, obviously
and that’s exactly when Clotten decides to show up
and insult the fuck out of the outlaws
so one of them chops his head off with an axe because Clotten is a chump
and then they find Innogen’s apparently-dead body
and they’re like “AW JEEZE
NOW WE GOTTA BURY TWO BODIES”

Luckily they don’t bury them very deep
so when Innogen wakes up she looks over next to her
and there’s a headless body dressed in Leonatus’s clothes
and since there is conveniently no face to recognize
she’s like “OH NO LEONATUS DIED SOMEHOW”
and then the Roman Consul shows up like “Hey kid
you look pretty sad
why don’t you join my army so we can go fight England.”

Because oh yeah I forgot to tell you
England and Rome are at war now
because Evil Queenypants convinced Cymbeline to stop paying tribute
so now it’s stabbing time
and basically everybody in the whole play shows up:
Cymbeline, his two (secret) sons, their (not real) dad, and Leonatus (disguised as a peasant)
versus Iachomo (that lying seducer guy), Innogen (disguised as a dude) and the Roman Consul
so basically it’s a battle composed entirely of the most talented liars in two empires
but it turns out they are much better liars than soldiers
because nobody dies
Cymbeline almost gets captured, but his sons and their dad save him
and England ends up winning and capturing all the romans
who they intend to execute the next day

So Leonatus is in jail, feeling pretty shitty
when Zeus shows up like “Don’t worry dude
things may look bad right now
but soon you will be knee-deep in vagina
trust me, I know about this stuff.”
Then he flies off on an eagle
so that’s weird.

Next day, everybody gets together in the same room
to either be knighted or executed
and Cymbeline is like “Hey great job, mystery knights
can I do you any solids?”
and they’re like “Yeah could you not execute that dude Fidele
he’s sort of our bro”
and the king is like “Yeah sure.
Hey Fidele, can I do you any solids?”
and Fidele is like “Yeah
make Iachimo tell everybody how he got that bracelet and that ring”
so Iachimo spills the beans
which sets off a chain reaction
of TWENTY-SEVEN CONFESSIONS
through which the whole plot of the play basically gets told to us again.
Oh also the evil queen is dead
because she got sick for no reason
and it turns out she was planning to poison the king
which is weird because she gave all her poison to Pisanio
THE NUMBER ONE MOST TRUSTWORTHY DUDE IN THE PLAY

So everybody finally sees through everybody’s lies
the king gets his sons back
and he’s not worried about Innogen inheriting the kingdom anymore
so she can marry whoever the fuck she wants
and she decides to marry Leonatus
even though he tried to have her killed
and Cymbeline agrees to start paying tribute to Rome again
because he’s pardoned basically everybody else already so why the fuck not
then they all have a dance party

so the moral of the story
is that long distance relationships are hard.

The end.

RedditStumbleUponShare

I am not Spartacus

Yes there is one volume left in the Satyricon
but it’s fucking storming outside
and i don’t want lightning to interrupt my video
also I haven’t written one of these for a while
and I’m getting nostalgic for hitting enter a lot
Plus
PLUS
some artisan lightningmaster with an email account got ahold of me
and told me about this dude named Spartacus
and Spartacus is the type of dude who is SO INFINITELY RAD
that as soon as you hear about him
you have to drop everything and start writing a fucking myth

okay so Spartacus
he is so rad that he almost makes slavery worth it
ALMOST
but close only counts in horseshoes
and slavery is still really fucking terrible.
This is an opinion that Spartacus and I share!
which is why one day
after he’s been sold to a guy who just makes his slaves fight to the death
he gets a bunch of other slaves together and he’s like
“Guys
hey guys:
fuck this.”
and they’re all like “yeah ok”
and they steal a bunch of knives and bust out.

also part of the bust-out-of-prison party is Spartacus’s wife
nobody knows her name because history hates women
but we do know that she was hella schizophrenic
to the point where one day Spartacus wakes up with a snake around his head
and he’s like “AHH SHIT SNAKE ON MY HEAD”
and his wife is like “IT’S A SIGN YOU WILL BE CRUSHED BY A LARGER POWER”
which, first of all, duh
second of all
THERE’S A SNAKE ON HIS HEAD, FUCKING DO SOMETHING
but i guess love is a mystery

So spartacus and about 70 other dudes are roaming the countryside
using their shitty weapons to rob caravans and get better weapons
and they finally end up taking refuge on the lush slopes of Mt. Vesuvius
because yup
Spartacus is so metal that his idea of refuge is to camp on an ACTIVE FUCKING VOLCANO

Everyone is pretty impressed with how metal Spartacus is
so dudes (especially slave dudes) start flocking to their suicidally stupid camp
until there is a pretty big army there
and Rome is like “Oh fuck we better stop this”
except the thing about Rome
is that it is fighting wars basically EVERYWHERE at ALL TIMES
and so does not have a lot of resources to devote to fighting spunky slaves on a volcano
so they just send a couple dudes out to recruit any random dudes they can find
to go stand around the bottom of Vesuvius and starve Spartacus out

but dudes like Spartacus do not die of starvation
they mostly die of rocking too hard
or Fatal Red Meat Overdose
or jumping out of a helicopter to punch a pterodactyl and then riding its corpse into a volcano
so he’s not about to let the Romans starve him before he finds a helicopter and a pterodactyl
fuck no
instead he and his men grab a bunch of vines
make them into ropes
rappel down the steepest part of the mountain
and circle around behind the roman militia
effectively tarzanning their way up the romans’ asses.
So that goes pretty well for Spartacus
and everybody in a nine mile radius decides to join his army
basically as an excuse to stand next to him and hope some of his chest hair rubs off on them

Next time, the Romans decide to try a little harder
and actually manage to kill one of Spartacus’s commanders
and trap him in a valley between two pretty big armies
but they didn’t count on the fact that Spartacus is a fucking wizard
who can apparently produce horses out of nowhere
so he just straight tramples the army in front of him
steals all their stuff
and throws it at the other army, killing EVERYONE
and then he’s at the alps, ready to cross into Thrace and escape Rome for good!

But Spartacus is like “Fuck that
mountains are steep, and murder is awesome
let’s go back and murder more dudes until we get murdered instead”
actually nobody knows what he said at this point
because turning around and going back into the country that wants you dead
is a pretty inexplicable move
but i promise you this, at least:
it was not anything smart

so now Rome is really shitting itself
Spartacus has like 40,000 dudes
and he does not seem to be a reasonable man
so they swallow their pride and their morals
and they bust out Marcus Licinius Crassus

Crassus is what historians like to call a “completely shitty person”
He’s a rich nobleman
whose wealth is based on buying houses in neighborhoods that are on fire
as in CURRENTLY ON FIRE
as in he goes up to dudes who are fleeing their burning houses
and is like “Hey i’ll give you twenty bucks for that house”
and then he uses that money to hire armies wherever he goes
(which is sort of why Rome wants him
their armies all being tied up with their million other wars)
but the dudes he hires have no idea wtf they’re getting into
because Crassus is a fan of a disciplinary technique known as decimation
which is basically like a big game of duck duck goose
but with a club

Crassus fucking loves slavery
so he is dead set on making Spartacus dead
he chases Spartacus around for months
until finally Spartacus is just like fuck this
might as well die with my dick out

so he turns to face Crassus
gets off his horse
and fucking kills it
he’s like “If I win, I will get a ton more horses
if I lose, then that’s one less horse for everyone else
because fuck everyone else
let’s do murders.”
(Spartacus may or may not have been history’s greatest orator)

Predictably, Spartacus loses and dies
although nobody knows how exactly
because he was wearing pretty much the same armor as everyone else
and remember, HE KILLED HIS FUCKING HORSE
so probably he was either dumped in a big pit with the rest of his idiots
or else crucified on a big wooden plus sign with the rest of his idiots
either way
on the metal scale
at least a 6/10

so the moral of the story
is that if you’re leading a slave uprising
and you find yourself near an active volcano
don’t give up that prime position
if you go anywhere else
your death can only get less rad

the end

RedditStumbleUponShare

The Satyricon is a Blitzkrieg of Boobs

Oh man, I totally needed those days off
I feel way better now
in fact, I feel awesome
yesterday I shaved my nut-hair for the first time ever
which actually was a harrowing experience
and I don’t recommend it to anyone
especially if you have nuts
but whatever, it’s almost summer
the birds are chirping
the flowers are secreting poison for my sinuses
and love is in the fucking air
here is a video about none of that:

As always, thanks for investing some of your precious time in my exuberant, hairless chest

RedditStumbleUponShare

Hey guys

It’s been called to my attention that I skipped a post this week without an explanation.

This is a post to let you know that there will be no explanation.
Suffice to say something very bad happened, and it’s taken me a few days to get over it.
I am over it now, and there will be a new post on Saturday.
Thank you for your patience.

- Ovid

RedditStumbleUponShare

Dante, Part 3

You’ve all been heroically patient, so now I will tell you how it ends.

When I got back to California, I put off calling Austin (that being the name of Dante’s son) for a long time. I didn’t know what to say, or who I would be saying it to. Dante had specifically instructed me to talk to Austin, and not Austin’s mother. God had apparently not forgiven the woman yet.

Finally I did call. And who picks up the phone? Austin’s mother. Of course, Dante left his family behind when Austin was only four years old. There was no way Austin had his own phone back then. So I told her who I was, and why I was calling. I described Dante, and told her exactly how he was doing. She was sad, but not surprised. She’d seen him a few years before, after his time in Mexico, and the man she saw then was very similar to the one I was describing, but nothing at all like the man she’d married.

He’d been cleanshaven once (He was, after all, a hairdresser by trade). Now he sported the kind of beard only prophets can get away with. And something that had once been in his eyes was gone. When they met, he had been joyful. By the time he left, he was confiscating Austin’s underoos and mutilating them with scissors because the cartoon characters on them constituted idol worship. She told me she respected his faith, but she also pitied him, was afraid for him and of him.

I told her I wanted to speak to Austin. She put him on the phone, though she was doubtful that he’d want to talk to me.

“What do you want.” said a sullen teenaged voice.
“I’m calling because your dad wanted me to call you.”
“Okay.”
“He wanted me to tell you how he’s doing.”
“Okay.”
“How are you doing?”
“Look, I don’t want to talk to you, okay? He left.”
And that was the end of the conversation.

His mom got back on the phone. She said Austin was still pretty mad at Dante, which I could have guessed. But she also suggested we have lunch some time, her and me and Austin, to talk a little more. I agreed.

Three months later, my spiritual journey across Spain finally culminated at a Chili’s in Orange County. I had discovered Taoism during my pilgrimage (a little ironic, since it’s ostensibly a Catholic pilgrimage) and I had a nice hardcover copy of the Tao Te Ching that I wanted to give to Austin. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find it before leaving for Orange County, so I came bearing nothing.

I arrived at the Chili’s a few minutes early, and sat in the parking lot, reading the first few chapters of A Farewell to Arms (which, if you haven’t read it, is a beautiful little book about the absurdities of war.) Soon the two of them arrived, and we went in together. Austin didn’t talk much, and his Mom mainly asked me questions about my life – what I’d been doing (traveling), what I planned to do (go to grad school for writing). We talked a little about Dante, but nobody learned anything they hadn’t known before. Finally I asked Austin what his future plans were.

“I’m planning to join the Army,” he said.
“Oh?” I said, “Why?”
He shrugged. “It’s something to do.”

The conversation went on, but I was only half listening. It occurred to me that perhaps I hadn’t been able to find the Tao Te Ching for a reason, that perhaps there was a reason for every part of this meeting – Dante in Spain, this Chili’s, the things I just happened to bring with me…

We finished eating, and Austin’s mother paid for all of us. As we prepared to leave, I turned to Austin.

“Hey,” I said, “Your dad told me to get in touch with you, but I’m not here because of him. I’m here to meet you, because I feel like I was supposed to meet you. And I wanted to give you something, from me.” I handed him my copy of A Farewell to Arms. “I think you should read this. It’s a really good book about war.”

He nodded his thanks. We said our goodbyes, and I left. To this day, I still haven’t finished A Farewell to Arms. I haven’t heard from Austin or his mother, either. I don’t know how the story ends. But I was part of the middle, and isn’t that where all the interesting stuff happens?

RedditStumbleUponShare

Dante, Part 2

Yes yes I know, the Satyricon is unfinished yet. But in my benevolence I could not bear to keep you in suspense about Dante. So let’s see … where was I?

Dante was a deeply strange person. What I mean is, Dante was a deeply religious person, but his religion was something he had custom made. I suppose everyone is an adherent to their own custom made religion, to a greater or lesser degree, but in my experience most people’s religions do not prevent them from eating in the morning until god personally assures them it’s okay. Sometimes he would fast for days. And there were other things.

His religion seemed to be a mix of all the harshest regulations from the old and new testaments. “Soy Judeochristiano,” he would say to our Spanish companions in his exaggerated Californian accent. His religion prohibited the eating of pretty much everything we put in front of him – fish, salad, pork obviously … the only things I ever saw him eat were bread, beans, and honey. He would not walk the Camino on the Sabbath day, much to the chagrin of the innkeepers, who insisted pilgrims only stay at their hostels for one night. The bulk of his luggage was taken up by a bulky harp he’d acquired in Mexico, which he played improvisationally because of a deep feeling of kinship with some biblical prophet.

When I first called out his name, he stopped dead in front of my bunk. He didn’t move from that spot for the next twenty minutes, as I asked him questions about himself and he answered. Most of the people on the Camino de Santiago are doing the pilgrimage as a kind of vacation, walking for a month or two before going back to their real lives and their real jobs. But Dante was a pilgrim for life. He’d been on a pilgrimage for ten years, by his reckoning, and he fished a battered datebook out of his backpack to show me his route.

On the little world map that sometimes comes printed inside the front cover of those sorts of books, he’d traced a serpentine route in red pen. From California to Mexico, and around Mexico for many years, living with what he called his “Spiritual family.” Then across the United States, where he performed miracles of healing. From there he went to Israel, and from Israel to London, where he fell in with a band of travelers calling themselves the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He escaped their group when he discovered that they were not truly the Twelve Tribes, and by then he was in Spain.

Dante had always been a Christian, but his religion had not always been so strict. Over dinner he explained how he had been brought up in a reprehensibly lax sect, whose adherents danced and drank and flirted with each other. He’d fathered a child with one of the other members by accident. And he’d stuck around to raise that child for six years, though, as he explained, his wife was using their son to manipulate him.

But God came to Dante’s rescue. He spoke to Dante, and told him to leave his wife and child. And what kind of person ignores the voice of god? Dante left, seeking work as an itinerant hairdresser (which was how he learned to sharpen knives), and fell into a deep depression. One night, in his shabby apartment, he cried out to God for aid, and God came.

“I remember looking at the moon,” he told me, “And then God spoke to me in a clear quiet voice. He said, ‘Go to your bible.’ And I was filled with energy, so much that I didn’t need to blink. So I went to my bible and opened it. And the bible opened to a description of a prophet having the exact experience I was having at that moment. So I read, and kept reading, and every passage I read I understood in a way I never had before. I fell sleep, and dreamed. No, I didn’t dream. It had a different quality to it. It was a vision. I simply woke up – in the vision – in a bed in a room I’d never seen before. Over the bed was a painting of a rose. I got up and went to the window. Then I woke up. Two weeks later a friend of mine offered me a room in her house. She showed me inside, and over the bed was that exact painting of that exact rose. I fell to my knees and wept.”

A few months later, God instructed Dante to sell off all his possessions and become a pilgrim. A pilgrim, according to Dante, was someone who was simply walking in order to pass the time til judgement day. So he walked. And walked. He’d walked so long that his body was failing.

He told me he admired my youth and my simplicity, how little I managed to carry with me. And he did what he could to help me. He gave me money when I had none and found me shoes when mine wore out. The last night I spent with him was Christmas eve. We ate dinner together, sort of, and he prayed for fifteen solid minutes, saying over and over again
“God, you are so … good” With as much passion as if he were getting a blowjob from Jesus Christ himself.

I left him in the morning, while he argued with the innkeeper about the Sabbath. But before I left, he wrote down a phone number in my little notebook. It was the phone number of Austin, the child he’d left behind in California ten years ago.

“When you get back home,” he said, “Call my son. Tell him I’m okay.”

And I did. But what happened then is a story for another time.

RedditStumbleUponShare

Dante, Part 1

Hey guys,

I’m boycotting google this week for no good reason, which means I’m boycotting youtube and basically the entire rest of the internet, so no Satyricon today. Instead, let me tell you about a thing that happened one time:

One time, I walked across Spain.

This is a thing that a lot of people do. There is a trail across Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Actually it is several trails and they run through all of Europe and not just Spain, and much of the trail is taken up by either tourist traps or long stretches of highway that you have to walk on the shoulders of. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s say there’s this trail across Spain, and one winter I walked on it.

Before I spent my months in Europe, I didn’t really think about having an American accent. I knew abstractly that American accents existed, but in my head they were generally just classified as “anything that wasn’t a British accent.” After several months spent forcibly deprived of American English – and oftentimes, English altogether – I began to understand what I was missing. It was like having spent my entire youth in a closet full of my own farts, and then being cast unceremoniously out into a field of wildflowers in the midst of spring. I missed my own farts.

Which is why, after two weeks on the Camino, my ears perked up at news of a fellow Californian on the trail. His name was Dante. People told me he was a religious fanatic, that he argued with inkeepers and made his living by sharpening knives. But, more importantly, he was from California. He spoke with not only an American accent, but a Californian accent. I had to meet him.

Every time I stopped for the night, I asked the innkeepers if they’d seen Dante. They all had, and they were all a bit worried about the fact that I was looking for him. And worse, Dante always seemed to be two days ahead of me. In my desperation for a familiar accent, I embarked on a two-day force march up mountains and through driving rain in an attempt to close the gap.

It was the second day of my death-slog, and I was halfway to where I wanted to be by the end of the day. The rain was so merciless it felt like God had his divine firehose of a dick aimed directly at me. I passed a dry-looking little hostel nestled in the hills and said,

“Fuck it.”

The hostel was not only dry, but warm as well, and all my friends from the trail so far were there. Still, though, it sucked that I was never going to meet Dante.

I was in the sleeping quarters, catching up with a German friend of mine. He had just told me about how he’d had his dick grabbed while sick with stomach flu on the streets of Leon, and I was explaining to him my dilemma with Dante. My story was interrupted by the innkeeper showing a new guest into the room. The innkeeper spoke English with just the slightest trace of a Spanish accent, and I heard him say,

“You’re probably used to better than this, being from California.”

I trailed off mid-sentence and sat up. In walked a dangerously thin, impossibly tall man with very small, very round, very blue eyes, his jaw squared off by six inches of dense grey beard. He looked at me.

“Dante?” I said.

“Yes?” He replied.

“I’ve been looking for you.” I said.

He smiled beatifically and cast his eyes towards the ceiling.

“God knows.” He said.

That was by no means the end of my dealings with Dante, but I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll leave the rest of the story for another time.

To be continued…

RedditStumbleUponShare