The Monday Hangover

by | Feb 23, 2010 | POLITICS

As John Lee sound checked on the low-floating stage of The Camel, the weekend fell upon the hunched shoulders of a Friday night and all its neon sex. I watched as Tiger Woods shook his head solemnly into the great silence of barrooms and seething housewife indignation, his eyes wide with the fear of a man blamed for the articulation of infidelity. And as the bass-driven funk of the band struck up like the drunken flirtations that would circulate the bar later that night, I could almost see the rising and falling of philandering bodies locked in the palpable heat of forbidden fuck, just behind that sorry, sorry gaze.

As John Lee sound checked on the low-floating stage of The Camel, the weekend fell upon the hunched shoulders of a Friday night and all its neon sex. I watched as Tiger Woods shook his head solemnly into the great silence of barrooms and seething housewife indignation, his eyes wide with the fear of a man blamed for the articulation of infidelity. And as the bass-driven funk of the band struck up like the drunken flirtations that would circulate the bar later that night, I could almost see the rising and falling of philandering bodies locked in the palpable heat of forbidden fuck, just behind that sorry, sorry gaze.

But he wasn’t apologizing for himself. Not really. He was apologizing for all the dishonest actions of men, for all the validated suspicions of women. He was feeding the shrieking culture of celebrity obsession, affirming the great cliché of gender-associated deceit. And he was covering his ass because he branded himself not as a golfer, but as a beacon of wholesome American culture.

The obvious question here is why the hell should you care? It’s another vicarious affair, the shocking truth of unchecked libido that has played itself out ubiquitously in the history of humankind, and the universality of the situation doesn’t seem to render it emotionally impotent to American society. But it has made me indifferent. Maybe I’m too bitter, or not bitter enough. My girlfriend of 5 years was in town at the time to move the last of her shit out of what was once our apartment, and while I was at least physically true, it turns out she was not, and I just don’t need to relate to some shattered idol on the harsh floor of media attention in order to feel something real.

But here I am, airing my own soiled boxers out in the electric winds of the public arena. I have a point though, and it’s not entirely to fault people for their need to tie their experiences to those of others. What I keep coming back to is this unhealthy tendency we have to hold onto our illusions tighter than sweaty palms on the Ferris wheel of adolescent romance, and we don’t seem to have collectively developed any demonstrable maturity in the arena of love than we possessed in those awkward, exploratory days. NoBS!! Brass band took the stage, and as the undulating crowd bounced and swayed and cheered their way through midnight, the grip seemed to loosen, all the heads buoyant in the currents of tubas and trombones and soft bar light, strangers dancing with strangers, drinks draining like the possessive tendencies of jealous lovers. Soberly, I let go.

Sunday was one of those rare days. I could hear every note on every string of Astral Weeks, and all the angelic symphonies of the spaces between. As I ventured along the slipstream of the floodwall, lyrics flowing by with the river, I saw unknown congregations gather on the deck of Legend Brewery, like the souls that smile warmly among the clouds in our stories of heaven, to watch the sun stain the city gold.

That night I went on a date. It started with dinner at Bottoms Up, where the Butterbean Jazz Quartet had the good sense to perform a particularly emotive rendition of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why”, which I promptly responded to by gulping down my Lagunitas IPA. Agh, my heart, too, is drenched in wine. Hours (and a good number of beers) later, we were sitting at the edge of an overlook, gazing into the river and the cityscape behind it, discussing dreams over a young but pleasantly complex Verdant Circle Pinot Noir, smoking entirely too many cigarettes to fully appreciate the depths of the bottle.

The conversation shifted to the nature of expectation, during which I shared my own tired philosophy on the matter: Hold everyone to no expectations, and be held by everyone as yourself. And it’s easier to say than to put into practice. My now-defunct relationship was destroyed by expectations that grew out of five years of convenient co-dependence, much as Tiger Woods was ruined by his own belief that he was worthy of the expectations he allowed society to cultivate for him.

When we kiss it is unexpected. I feel myself shift, the bottle lowering itself to the ancient stones of the overlook. We lay back onto the bony surface of the evening. It’s 2am and the walls are trembling. I follow the abandoned pathways of moonlight and distant halogen. Lips are parted in the breath of the river. My hands are deep in the soft soil of floodplains.

I am at once in the impossible landscape of dreams, at once along the ancient shoreline of Tulum, at once upon the walls of Jerusalem, and always right here, gathering my words up from a bench at the end of an indescribable feeling, staring off into the mysteries of the skyline and the revolving night. And it is good.

By S. Preston Duncan

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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