Reduced to working in a high-end furniture factory while waiting for inspiration to hit me on my Magnum Opus, I was shown the Mikita, or something like that, a high speed screwdriver, which I couldn't for the life of me, seat properly.
You have to do it at an angle, the angle of the dangle, and I was literally screwing it up--instead of down.
"We're just going to have to call you "Challenged Ivan," says the owner, realizing that I'd screwed part of my shirt into a beautiful armoir designed to look like Amish."Seems you can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Manually, incompetent, I was still the fastest mouth in town, I offer, "You can't teach an old trick new dogs."
"You dissin' us?" the owner wanted to know.
"No. Nothing. It's just that I've had every job known to man, including gigolo for big bucks...Old trick, you know."
He was fairly fast on the uptake. For a woodworker.
"Ivan, you ignorant slut," he laughed.
Well, what can you do?
Laid off at the college, I was considering carnival geeking. I mean, I'm not the most straight-laced normal guy in town, wilder at times than Richard Simmons at a Wal-Mart bonk- pant display.
"Exhibit yourself as a freak," laughs a cynical drinking buddy. "Just punch the clock in front of the cage every morning and punh out at night. Then they can see your balls going 'Orang-Utang'."
I didn't tell him I was already good at that.
Hertz Rent-a-Ukie was my second job after being more or less canned at the college for actually teaching and not hiding in the faculty room like everybody else--"Assign them self-study."
Assign them self-study? What's this, Montessori, where the kids masturbate all day?
"What do you guys do the faculty room all day...and you don't even smoke."
"We all kind of work on our collective inferiority complex."
Well, at least that was honest. Well-grounded, it seemed to me.
The department head had a project. Worked on his inferiority complex.
There was a big car dealership close to the college here at York Region, WILSON NIBBLET, big banners and streamers.
I was sorely tempted to point out that sign to my department head. Go for it, Wilson.
Don't last too long with an attitude like that.
So I played my other suit as a teacher of guitar.
It was pleasant. Damn pleasant.
In charge of twelve women, each with a guitar, sort of like a conductor bossing gorgeous cellists around, their shapely legs curved lovingly around their insturments. Trouble is, I'd drink and somedays would give them a bouquet that wasn't quite roses. Farting and tap dancing, hair afly.
Leonard Berstein would have been proud!
Just at the point where I was going to get fired again, one of my "cellists" came to me and said, "I want brainy men now. That's what I want."
Know any? I asked, trying to be helpful.
"No seriously. You're brainy. I'd like to take you to breakfast tomorrow morning."
Some breakfast.Breakfast in bed.
And then, Orang-Utan!
"You Europeans. You're such perverts. All men are perverts."
"These are not perversions, they are refinements," I explained in my best professorial tone.
"You're kind of good, but I guess you know that."
Gwynnevere was beautiful. She was beautiful because she had invested twenty thousand dollars in cosmetic surgery, including a breast lift and a tummy tuck. Save for tiny marks behind her ears, there was not a mark on her. And she was beautiful now in every way. Not for me was it to say, like Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer, "Mona had a c*nt like a valise." From what I'd seen of Princess Diana in the gym, Gwennyvere was a lot like the late and great Di, a knockout.
But Gwynnevere had to foot the bills.
"You are cool, but you are exensive," she complained one day at the Greystone, where I'd run up an $130 bar tab.
And then she had to buy me clothes. Her man had to look good. I had insisted on the lates camouflage suits including a Panama. I wasn't fooling around. I was becoming the Scarlet Pimpernell without the spy aspect.
Teaching an old trick new dogs.
Through a parallel universe, I am back at work in the furniture factory, thinking for some time about my boss' low IQ, though he was smart enough to make a living. Expecially while colour blind.
A colour blind carriage trade furniture maker, with all the subtle tones you need in the finish, the differeint grains.
And dyslexic. How he do dat? There are so many people with so many genetic anomalies--and yet they all make a living and they all do well. We the sighted, the geeks, more often than no end up as poor picaros, spear-carriers and shit-catchers in hospitals. Alan Frew, of Glass Tiger, my drinking buddy comes to mind. Hospital orderly until his band took off. And he one brainy, talented guy.
I go through another parallel universe, back to me the prof, back to realizing what astounding students the college had, and how they were so badly taught, when taught at all.. Small wonder that some students have fantasies of just one day picking up a machine gun and....
But I talk of psychopaths and not students.
We play the game called Creative Writing.
Put the character in the tightest spot he'd ever been in. His life, his marriage, his very identity is in danger. He is broke and on the verge of madness in a fleabag motel in Texas, three thousand miles away from home. His wife had just sent him a Dear John and his girlfriend has decided she doesn't want anybody else garbage, and in any event, "You are an asshole."
"I knew that," says the character.
Well. Aren't you the happy guy, Bunky.
"Suppose you are a psychiatrist," I would say to the class. Suppose you'd try to write about what's going on in this guy's mind. Supposing he were to close his eyes. Oxymoron aside, what would he see?
Nugent, the smart, imaginative guy in the class, good writer:
"I would see him in a kind of meditation. He would see the working of his own wheels, his 'computer brain", you could say.
"Over the compuer brain is Tiny Brain, lately evolved. He has Snoopy goggles and he is the pilot of this unit, this person. 'Shit. Computer Brain is going haywire,' yelps Snoopy with the goggles. Computer brain says 'Firewater good. Must have more Firewater!'
If he has any more firewater, he'll completely immobilize himself, stay stuck in that Texas motel room and will probably be picking uo by cops and thrown into a Southern jail...'Must use the joystick. Gotta steer Computer Brain out of this spiral.
Gradually, Snoopy steers computer brain onto the right course. 'Lay off the grog. Don't phone anybody drunk. You'll have a clearer head tomorrow.'
In her own odd way--and you know her--your wife is telling you that she loves you'
But Compuer Brain will not give up. 'The cigarette pack. Joe Camel. Looks like a Penis. I gotta fuck somebody'
"Later, later," Snoopy advises.
Some creative writing class, huh?
Anyway, we get it on with our ideas, we get on in our writing.
Yes. The struggle between Tiny Brain and Computer Brain.
And over at the wood shop, I am still trying to learn new tricks.
Will Tiny Brain ever overcome Computer Brain?
Tearing furniture apart.