Foto by tgw, "Peeping Tom Moon" (see it?), New York City, 2009.
I was cursing like the proverbial sailor yesterday afternoon. I was overwhelmed by curse-causing grief, like a huge tangle suddenly appearing in my golden locks. "God-damn putrefied by whoredom hell hair!" I yelled murderously as I pulled my hairbrush through that melding of winter-dry hair that had hardened into a Gordian knot. "God-damn, son of a bitchin' son of a bitch hair. Damn you, mother!" It hurt immensely as I ripped into that brier patch of matted hair with my trusty hairbrush. I screamed foul streams of vindictive spleen against my mother, first, then anybody's god, then my mother's sister. Hell, I even pulled old Uncle Robbie's name up out of thin air to place blame for my wretched hair on him. Poor old Robbie; he's been dead some 35 years now. When he died, I hadn't seen him in another 20 years. But blame him I did. "It's your hair, too, Uncle Robbie, you bootlegging bastard of a Mexican-smuggling fartchicken."
After I managed to recondition my viciously tangled hair by washing it in a herbal shampoo and then thickly applying a glop of natural conditioner on it and then drenching it in Mira oil and then wrenching it apart with my fingers, using them as combs. Alas, now my hair's back to being as smooth and silky as a baby's ass--the tangles aren't entirely gone but they're gone enough that they are no longer a problem.
You see, I've been CURSED with perpetual baby hair. My hair is thin as the soups they serve at the Salvation Army. I once worked at Time-Life with the actor Alan Bates; he was narrating a special for us. That day I was bitching a mile-a-minute about my "fucking" hair. Bates handed me a business card. "This bloke was my barber in London. He's over here now. I have 'baby' hair, too, as you call it. Especially after I've washed it. But this bloke can make you look like a million bucks, lad; that he will."
Turned out this London bloke's salon was right across the street from my East 57th apartment. I mean I had passed the joint a million times and never thought about going in there. It was too chic for me. Besides, I hate common ordinary barbers. Even barbers to the stars. But with this introduction from Alan Bates and determination in my eye I traipsed in there, met the London bloke, and was surprised to find a rather tiny older man with a horrible personal haircut I particularly noticed.
He sat me down in his chair. He ran his hands through my hair several times with his eyes closed. He was analyzing my hair by touch. Then he opened his eyes and said, "I say, old chap, without a doubt I can manage your hair supremely nicely." And I proceeded to get his Alan Bates special. And by God I have to admit, he knew what he was talking about. I came out from under his scissors and clippers looking better than Alan Bates, who had sort of a quirky look to me--like a lot of actors--their heads are too big for their bodies--or their handsomeness has a defect--like their forehead may be gigantic and shine like a billiard ball in the sun.
So finally, I got my tangled hair untangled--it's cool and sexy now, though the conditioner label says I should wash it and condition it three times a week. I was worn out from the struggle but feeling frisky enough to start doing a little cleaning up in my bathroom. I had just thrown half a bucket of Clorox-ed water down on my bathroom floor when I picked up my mop and the sponge fell off into the toilet bowl, a destroyed mess of melting slags of plastic sponge. Shit. Here I was with my bathroom floor flooded with Clorox-laced hot water and my mop was worthless. I looked at the pathetic mop and said, "God-damn, you sorry bastard, I condemn you to mop hell. And I pray that once you're down there, they'll soak your mop head in hot boiling Clorox every god-damn second you're moping up the loosed shits of Hell's overflowing toilets!"
In desperation, I got an old towel out of the back of my rag bin and started mopping up my bathroom floor. I was so enthusiastically pissed at the mess and eager to mop it up I forgot about it being laced with Clorox and soon my hands were hollering blisteringly loud with stinging pain. "Saturn's upturned ass!" I screamed, "What the hell have I done to you bastard gods to deserve this?"
My hands were gleaming fire-engine red as I flushed them under the cold water tap, almost slipping on the still wet tiles of my bathroom floor as I did. "I cast all you furies into a virtual blast-furnace hell, you sawdust-brained elves of Beelzebub!"
I got the bathroom floor finally dried out and my hands coated in Vitamin E cream and soothed when I heard this ear-piercing beep. "Holy cripes, what the hell?" It was a siren-sound arrow shot right through the heart of my frontal lobes. "Jesus fucking Christ, what in the hell is going on? Out damn spots! Out demons! Out devils and into the fleeing swine! In fact, I turn you all into swine, you cloven hoofed...." What the hell? Then I realized it was the carbon monoxide alarm. It wasn't that several cylinders of carbon monoxide had been loosed in my apartment. NO. Nothing that functional. It was the batteries--3 AAs. They were depleted and this was the device's way of telling me to replace them. In a cursed rage I loped up on a chair, reached up and ripped off the plastic face of the damn thing--it shrieking right in my face now. I madly grabbed out the three acid-oozing batteries. That stopped the ear-drum-shattering noise.
I was sweating like a liar as I climbed down off the chair--I was moving the chair when there was a continuous bunch of raps at my door. "I'm coming," I hollered. The raps kept up. "God-dammit, I'm coming." In a violent rage I answered the door. It was the dude from the office bringing me up my mail and packages. I get several pieces of mail a day, including three or four packages. Today, however, there stood the office man with a hand truck piled with packages. "Jesus," I slapped my forehead. "Are all of those for me?" "Yep, they sure are, Wolfe, Wolfie, Wolfowitz..." "Whoaaaaa!" I screamed. "I was just kidding about the Wolfowitz. Just trying to get your goat."
There were 9 packages in all. I recognized two of them from their return addresses as being a couple of 78 rpm records I'd bought from a guy in Georgia. I also recognized several LP-vinyl-size packages, but there were four bulky boxes I had no idea what they were, and finally, I found a smaller package at the bottom of the heap. The smaller package I tossed aside. I thought it was a DVD I had ordered. It was about the size of a DVD package.
The first package I tried to open, the sender had taped it up so enthusiastically I soon was cursing the tape, the package, the hillbilly clod who'd packaged it so securely, and the knife I was using to try and cut through the stupid tape. When I almost stabbed myself in the hand severely, I really let loose a flow of venom enough to embarrass the toughest whorehouse madam. When I finally got the package open I found it was an old press photo of Duke Ellington during a rehearsal with his band--from 1958. That made me cooler. I immediately found a frame and framed it. Great old photo. Containing crop marks and instructions on the back as to where the photo went in the newspaper it eventually showed up in.
After I got the Duke up on the wall, I started opening the other packages. On one in trying to pull a glued section up by hand, I pulled so hard, when the glued section let go it flung my hand up and back and slammed it into a bookshelf just behind me. I went into one of those old Jackie Gleason "Honeymooner" jive dances when Jackie used to hammer his thumb or the episode where he gets his hand caught in a rat trap--he goes galloping around the room moaning and wailing and shaking his injured whatever. I was doing that while cursing all the lords, ladies, dukes, earls, gods, demons, fairies, poets, philosophers I could think of. "Fuck heaven; fuck hell; fuck God; fuck Nirvana, fuck Shamen, fuck Glenda the Good Witch, fuck Superman, fuck the Olsen Twins!"
After I quieted my smashed digits, I decided to sit down and take a load of stress off. I sat down. Damn! I sat down on something--damn! Right on my coccyx bone! I jumped up and grabbed the culprit. It was the package I thought was a DVD. I ripped it open without checking the return address.
And what a surprise it was! It was a neat brand-spanking new Penguin paperback copy of Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit!
Wow. What a surprise. From my old pal L Hat (www.languagehat.com). It was his book. Finally. I opened it up. Hot damn, the author signed it: "For a good friend who will truly appreciate this motherfucking book." And like I do with most books I get in the mail or bring home from the bookstore, I immediately started reading it.
What a splendid little book. It's a thin volume but fat with good-fun info and study. And a lot of study went into this book! I'm very impressed. It's a 120-page parcel packed full of cursed delight. Starting with a history of curses and cursing in ancient languages. Then moving to Ancient Greece where there's a great introduction to Greek cursing culminating in a retrospect of the best old-timey Greek curses and insults led by an Aristophanesian insult, "You'll be eating a turd before I will," a "pungent comeback," as L Hat and his coeval refer to it. L Hat's coeval by the way is Dr. Robert Vanderplank, director of the Oxford University Language Center. Language is hanging out in high cotton here. This book got Language a great Guardian interview a fortnight or so ago, by the bye. From the ancient world, Greece, Rome, Early English, on through Western and Eastern European languages, English languages, Celtic languages, through Baltic, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Indian...all the curses and insults a man or woman of the world needs to go about shouting curses and evil happenings on any son of a bitch you come across who you feel deserves such a fate--and in his or her own language, too. [The only Grecian insult I ever learned was "How do you say 'I love you' in Greek'?" Insulting answer: "Baa-baa-baaa-baaaaahh."]
Here's a little Spanish piece of The Dozens I especially like: ves menos que un pez por el culo. L Hat translates it as saying, "You see less than a fish through his ass." Boy, that's one you can throw around in a crowded room and insult the whole shebang of them with it. A fish, by the way, sees the same thing through his or her ass as a human being sees through his or hers.
I'm blessed in that I only have geniuses for friends, right?--or could that point be said to be a curse as well?
for The Cursed Daily Growler