Ceci N’est Pas Ma Belle Vie
The heat had become unbearable for anyone but the Devil. Every room was draped in humid, torrid oppression. The upper level was a sauna, the main level not much better. The only slight respite was the stuffy, cool lower level.
In the basement on a cot with a box fan blowing slightly cooler muggy bands of relief, the writer prayed for enough relief to fall asleep. The large water bottle he had filled with ice cubes just two hours ago was already at room temperature. His skin felt sticky and dirty against the bedsheets. The contact of his own body temperature warmed the padding enough to make comfort futile. He pondered taking another cold shower, but feared that it would add just another hour to his heat-induced insomnia.
Flipping over his phone, he saw the time was 3:25AM. He would have to be up in less than two hours to work a shift at his job. He hated his job and he could feel tension rising at the thought of it. The lack of air conditioning tattered his nerves on a fractal level, each strand begetting another frayed strand, which begat another and another into infinity and he could feel anxiety and anger take over his body. He twisted again, his sweaty, bare skin burning against the warm moistness of top sheet. He kicked his legs and beat his hands in frustration, screaming into the dark. It was too much.
He sat up. The rage in him building from the frustration, heart beating faster, warm air from the fan. Enough. Getting out of bed, bare feet pounding on the steps, he burst out of the basement and into the kitchen. Flinging open the freezer door, he pulled out an ice cube tray and rubbed it all over his body.
Over a cold beer with a warm friend, the writer laid out the truth.
“I need to get out more.”
The friend nodded. “You do. You are spending way too much time cooped up in that house of yours.”
“And it’s doing fuck all for my sanity.”
“How much are you writing?”
“Not much. It’s that fucking Internet. So damned distracting.”
The friend, who had just pulled out his cell phone, sheepishly laid it down on the table.
The writer tried to think of a good line. He began writing words, any words, nonsensical words. He began jamming his fingers on the keys like a free jazz pianist, he wanted the feelings to come through his little fingers, to create to imagine the world in a different place like if women wore pants on their heads and men have to wear skirts to cover their faces. A world where lions vomited up gazelle meat to create entirely new creatures to dance among the wilds. The sort of universe where an orgasm floods a village. Ancient Egypt as the mecca of multimedia. The more he banged finger to key the more the space on the paper became littered with little word babies. He imagined the universe collapsing in on itself and then expanding again and again, like a lung. He was breathing fire now, enlivening his prose with multi-hued imaginations. Fuck spelling, he thought, I am giving a new language to the people, a language based on filth and humor and love and wonder and spite and deep, passionate embraces from a naked friend, skin on skin, rubbing together. He realized that it had been a long time since he last had sex.
Consider the Vernors bottle: a vessel containing modern ingredients and additives creating the facsimile of a 150 year-old recipe, yet bold enough to proclaim that it’s the “Original Ginger Soda”. Definitely a product designed for fleecy comfort and, anecdotally, stomach problems.
I turn the bottle over in my hands. It’s made of plastic molded to resemble a barrel design, distinctive from the typical soda/cola bottles with which it shares shelf space. It is 8 ½ inches high, of which almost half is a mosaic-textured plastic, unsure what the feeling is meant to convey. Wood? Maybe?
The glossy label paper is done up in green, gold, black, white. The background is a printed wooden green barrel with distressed gold barrel rings, suggesting the concept of an aged oak barrel such as this drink’s purported beginnings were made. However, the caloric information, UPC box, and the message to “Please Recycle” belies its rustic, antique façade. The words “Naturally & Artificially Flavored” in a thin white font mere inches from a badge proclaiming “Authentic Bold Taste”. But then you get to the ingredients:
CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE), CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS,
BOTTLED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OD DR. PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC. 5301 LEGACY DRIVE, PLANO, TX 75024 ©2016 A&W CONCENTRATE COMPANY
A celebratory banner featuring the drink’s mascot, Woody, and celebrating the 150th anniversary of “Vernors®”. The idea of a registered symbol and copyrights speak of lawyers and board rooms and shortcuts for cost effective replication of the recipe.
I must really make my own Ginger Ale at this point. I’ve found one recipe that makes a basic Ginger Ale concentrate, where you add ¼ cup of the mixture with 8 ounces of sparkling water. “Serve immediately”, the instructions suggest.
2 cups of water, 1 piece of fresh ginger, ½ lemon (rind only), 1/3 cup of honey. Boil, steep, strain, add honey, cool.
Even then, am I making authentic ginger ale? What is authenticity? Even the ale that came in that plastic bottle, preservatives and flavors natural & artificial and caramel color all, could be considered more authentic but only because it has marketing behind it..
He had forgotten what it was like to really create, to just get words out there, to write honestly, non-judgemental, no self-critique, care not if someone reads it because he would be doing it for himself.
The books that he was reading, about Crazy Wisdom, about danger, about what they did to Goddess when they found Her, non-binary. Who gets to see this shit? “Shit” is a failed anagram of “this”. He was being clever, showing off. It’s like masturbating alone: becoming aroused, pleasure friction, feeling the warmth wash over, yet no one to share the afterglow with.
You can’t dive in to Derrida no more than you can ball dance with Baudrillard, but he knew that authoritarian structures and hyperreality act as a mesh all over the land (the map is not the territory; the menu is not the meal; the meal is a facsimile of the recipe).
There is no way out of the system unless you wield supreme chaotic powers, but even then, you’re still stuck in a discourse. Even soul mates share a language, even Ying cleaves to Yang.
The candy bar. The skeleton. The immortal. The flotsam. The wake. The pencil. The window. The beard. The