The Unbearable Banishment: Now, I ain't a bad guy

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Now, I ain't a bad guy

I'm on the outside.
I don't fit into the groove.
Now I ain't a bad guy.
So tell me what am I trying to prove?

Big Man on Mulberry Street

I live in a vacuum. I feel connected to my wife and kids but I am completely disengaged from the world outside of that small microcosm. I’ve been in New Jersey for 10 years, six months and two days. That’s a hell of a long time and I don’t know anyone around  here. Make no mistake; people know me. At block parties and when I’m out walking the dog, people will greet me by name. “Hi Mark! How’s Coco?” Hi Mark! Tell [Mrs. Wife] I said hello!” I have no idea who any of these people are. I mean…I’ve seen them around and I’ve been introduced to them, but I can’t recall any of their names.

This evening I was walking the dog and two little girls, maybe 7 and 9, said “Hi Mr. Cxx!” They recognize me because of the dog, who has achieved a quasi-celebrity status in the neighborhood for her willingness to enthusiastically lick the face of any child that’s placed in front of her. Whose kids are they? What are their names? [Side note: Why do kids like that so much? One little boy will run up to us and lay in the street so Coco can lavish him with licks while he convulses with laughter. Eww.]

They all must think I’m hard of hearing. Or a snob. Or retarded. Have you heard of anyone so utterly untethered to humanity? I’m not bragging. I hate it! It’s not healthy. Like the song says, I ain’t a bad guy but I don’t fit into this groove.

Last night I saw a memorable production at Lincoln Center. Alan Cumming did a one-man Macbeth. He chewed up the stage. In the good way. He seamlessly transformed from one character to another with just a slight adjustment to his body or voice. Each character was distinct from the others. Aside from Mrs. Wife, there isn’t anyone out here who would want to sit and listen to me prattle on about a one-man Macbeth. And this does not make them shallow or uninteresting individuals. They’re great! I’m just different from them. I feel removed.

My greatest fear is that The Daughters will inherit my oddness. I just want them to have healthy relationships with the human race. Their old man can’t seem to pull it off. I hope they can.

HRH Coco of New Jersey surveying her kingdom.

*     *     *

I was having my morning coffee and looked out the window and saw, what appeared to be, a van with a hole in the side and a raging fire inside. I was going to run out and pull the driver to safety. Wasn’t it going to explode?

Upon closer examination, I realized that what I was seeing was a reflection of the pizza oven behind me. Isn’t that weird! It was 7:00 a.m. Give me a break. Good thing I didn’t yank the driver out onto 41st Street.


Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

I suspect you just have a bad memory for faces. The next time someone shouts "Hi", take his picture so your wife can identify him when you return home. The one-man MacBeth sounds hilarious - I'd love to see a scene with MacBeth and Lady MacBeth!

July 15, 2012 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

I maintain a NY Times newsfeed just so I can read headlines like: "Deranged office worker drags driver from van on 41st, yelling for someone to call a fire truck."

I hope you thought of me while watching Mac?

July 15, 2012 at 2:23 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

GB: How do you apes remember individual faces in your pack? You all look basically the same. Is odor the key? Perhaps I should try that.

Dinah: You were sitting right next to me! Don't you remember?

July 15, 2012 at 8:33 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i don't think you're all that odd... we all live in our heads. you're just a bit more introverted than the neighbors. i have conversations with people when i'm driving alone in my car -- sometimes i can get myself so worked up that i get angry, or start crying. quirks is quirks. we all got 'em...

July 15, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

sugar, don't even worry about it! i have to ask the MITM to tell me the neighbors names all the time! the important thing in suburbia is that they still wave, say hi and don't ignore you! i would have loved to see alan cumming! i'm jealous, BUT i'll get over it because I'M IN LOS ANGELES!!!!

July 15, 2012 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: I would pay money to pull up next to you in a car and see you rage and talk and plead with no one else in the car with you.

sav: what are you doing in LA?! Have a nice trip! Yes...l'll start to worry when they stop saying hello.

July 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous carlae said...

I hear New Jersey does that to people, too many sardines in that can.

July 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Fragrant Liar said...

I am in the "you're not all that odd" camp. I mean, I know plenty of people who feel the same way about their very tight circle of important people, and beyond those few, not much going on.

We do need to get out of our own heads sometimes because, you're right, it's not healthy to stay sequestered inside yourself too long. But cut yourself some slack. Go ahead and visit the rest of the world, one baby step at a time. It's kinda cool.

July 15, 2012 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

it's all on the blog, sweet pea! xoxo

July 15, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Ya, we're ALL quirky my friend. I too do what Daisyfae does, sometimes getting myself into a rage about an imaginary argument!

Just have another listen to that album I sent ya, always makes me feel better no matter what ails me! :¬)

July 15, 2012 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I think you exaggerate your oddness else why do your blog meets be so successful and repeat?
As we used to say in dear old Lancs:
'They're all a bit queer except thee and me - and thy'rt a bit queer at times.

July 16, 2012 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

carlae: NJ isn't such a bad place. It's got much nicer beaches than you'd think. But I can't seem to find my place in the sun.

FL: In order to set a good example for my daughters (which no one would ever accuse me of doing) I think it's incumbent upon me to be more aware. Will make more of an effort going forward.

map: I'm glad to hear both you and daisy confess to yelling in the car alone. Because I do it frequently. I enjoy it! I still believe I'm odd, but perhaps not as odd as I think.

Pat: My blog meets have been very satisfactory. A lot of fun. And I won't insult my meet-ups by implying that birds of a feather, etc., because that would be no different than calling them odd, too. And they seemed normal.

July 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Add me to the car list, sometimes i actually look at the empty seat next to me when i talk or sing or scream... as for the rest of the human race, i talk to maybe a half dozen people, 8 when i add in my sons and excluding my better half who i talk to sparingly, as for neighbors? i wave and say hi but i don't feel the need to be anything other than cordial and polite, i don't need them looking in my garage while i'm blazing up you know.

July 16, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking to yourself means you have great conversations! I often invent long imaginary complaints where I go into endless detail about something. My imaginary listener just sits and nods.

Maybe you don't remember people because there isn't really, deep down, any particular need to.

But when push comes to shove you're still ready to rescue someone from a fire so if I were your neightbour I'd settle for that sort of introversion.

July 17, 2012 at 5:01 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

kono: As long as we're all not on the list of people who think they're invisible inside their car and dig into their nose two knuckles deep at a traffic light. I see a lot of that, too. I just wish I was a little more aware of my surroundings. I am blissfully detached. It's probably not healthy.

looby: I not only argue, sometimes when I talk out loud, I'll pay myself the greatest compliments. Tell myself I'm successful and handsome. Wealthy, too! So it's useful for that.

July 17, 2012 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Adam Kenny said...

My wife is a "lifer" in our town. She was born, raised and has lived most of her life here. I have lived here for the past two decades. Yet, in the words of James McMurtry "I'm not from here. I just live here." If you think that Billy Joel's "Big Man on Mulberry Street" expresses how you feel well, give McMurtry's "I'm Not From Here" a listen. I think you'll find it fits the bill for you quite nicely too.

I understand completely your feeling of disconnect with your neighbors. We have lived where we live now for the past twelve years. I know exactly one of my neighbors by name....and that's only b/c our daughters went to grammar school together for eight years before we moved into the house next door to him/his family.

Don't worry too much about your daughters. Both of my kids (son and daughter) grew up to be well-socialized like their Mom. I'm the odd man out in my house. I used to worry about it but what's the cliche re: old dogs/new tricks?

July 17, 2012 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

AK: Same thing with my bride. Jersey through and through. I'm a transplant. Maybe that's the difference. I have noticed that nobody seems to leave here. I'm the anomaly. The alien. Nobody moves away! To date, my daughters seem well integrated into the naib. Hope it sustains.

July 18, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Furtheron said...

The fire in the van is funny... my daughter went to a Lady Gaga gig, Mrs F and I went to the movies and had a meal. She met us and her and her friend wanted some water so I pop into the Starbucks to get that. There is a kerfuffle at the other till. I've just paid and some guy at the other till turns and looks to me as though he has been stabbed - blood everywhere etc. I leg it grabbing the girls and saying "Run before this all kicks off"... after busting a gut to the car park we see no obvious signs of panic - I tell my daughter. She is in hysterics - it is some costume that Gaga fans dress up in...

This story also shows my disconnection from the human race - or at least some bits of it!

July 18, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger tennysoneehemingway said...

I feel a bit the same way really. My wife is much better at the socialising thing. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't even leave the house.

July 19, 2012 at 3:07 AM  
Blogger Jenny Woolf said...

That's a darn creepy thing to see outside the window if you ask me, reflection or not.

July 20, 2012 at 6:20 PM  

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