Chapter 60 – The Manchild Abides
Upon completion of my most recent trip abroad, I returned to Chicago to find that nothing had really changed. My parents still drank and fought, my friends all hated getting in touch with their quantified selves at tedious office positions and the remaining majority of the fifty-thousand dollar student loans I’d ignored to go off and see the world hadn’t paid for itself while I was away. Choosing it as the lesser of two evils, instead of joining my friends on the corporate road to nowhere, I decided to resume working with my dad washing windows and cleaning gutters while living at home and using all that I made to buy my way out of our nationally sponsored indentured servitude program.
After about a month back on the grind, some window washing customer had asked my dad and I if we were interested in removing all the vines from the side of his house. Even though it sounded like a pain in the ass, since we both like making as much money as possible, we decided to take on the job. We made ourselves an extra hundred bucks that day but had both inadvertently been, from head to toe, exposed to poison ivy.
Compared to mine, my dad has pretty tough skin and only broke out a little bit around his wrists and ankles. I, however, by the next day had a forehead as swollen as that of Ken Griffey Jr. in that softball episode of The Simpsons when he drinks a boat-load of Brain & Nerve Tonic because it makes him feel like “there’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited.” My right eye had swollen shut and I looked like Quasi-fucking-Moto. But even that wasn’t the worst of it.
About three days after the initial outbreak – three days during which I continued to work and had been touching ladders still probably covered in urushiol from the vines – I was pretty stressed out and went up to my bedroom to rub one out after work. Once having spouted, I passed out and took a long nap to decompress from the day of drudgery. When I awoke that evening, I got up to take a piss before dinner and was more than disgruntled to find that my foreskin had become itchy and swollen to the point that my penis looked like it’d been wearing a fucking red inner tube around it.
Then, about a week into my body’s allergic reaction, I got up in the morning and headed into the bathroom to start my daily routine. After taking a shit, I went to clean up and noticed that my right arm – which had already looked like a beat-red version of Popeye’s because it was so comically swollen from my elbow to my hand – had gotten so inflated from my shoulder on down that it’d become impossible for me to reach back and wipe my own ass. After breaking the news to my mom, she said that I needed to go to the emergency room right away. Even though I absolutely fucking hated the fact that I’d have to pay any sort of money for medical treatment to cure something that happened to me while I was doing something I didn’t wanna be doing in the first place but only did in order to pay bills for an education I got tricked by society into thinking I’d be worthless without, I agreed to do so.
Before my sister drove me over to the hospital, my mom called me and told me she’d spoken with Mrs. Bratton – the mother of a dude with whom I’d grown up who happens to be one of, if not the head nurse at Resurrection Hospital’s ER – who said she’d take care of me right away. So, my sis gave me a lift over there where I saw Mrs. Bratton, got the VIP treatment and was prescribed a bunch of antibiotics and steroids and shit to help me on my road to recovery. I thanked her for her help, went home and went on with my life of working, saving and paying bills.
Eventually, probably about three weeks after coming in contact with the poison ivy, my face, my arms and my penis had all healed and were back to normal. Mentally, however, I was still a bit under the weather. Life began to feel like a broken record as I lived Groundhog Day over and over. I started to notice that after working with my dad, I’d usually feel so tired and so frustrated from battling a daily upsurge of the same negative emotions I remember from my childhood, that I didn’t have any energy left to do the things that I actually enjoy doing like playing the piano, studying Spanish and working out. And I’d sometimes try to fight this lethargy and make myself carry out my hobbies despite feeling totally drained but it always felt forced and the things that I love doing began to feel so much like chores that I ended up disliking and giving up on ‘em.
I felt so fuckin’ empty inside. Over and over in my mind, I couldn’t stop asking myself, “What the fuck is the point of all this? Why am I back here in the house I grew up, constantly reliving traumatic experiences in my head, working so hard, never going out and saving every penny I earn doing a job I don’t like? Sure, I tell myself I’m working to pay off my student loans to provide a better future for myself, but what does that future entail? More meaningless and unfulfilling drunken romps in foreign lands? Perhaps settling down and getting stuck in a job I can’t stand to pay for shit I don’t need? Maybe if I’m lucky, finding a woman I love with whom I can start a family, only to have it all go to shit like every other relationship I’ve ever been in? And then we can shout and shove each other in front of the kids and perpetuate the cycle for another generation? Is this what I’m working for right now? Is that really all there is to look forward to in this life?”
I found the thought staggeringly depressing and it kinda made me feel like killing myself. But since I don’t actually wanna die, I ended up settling for the next best thing and returned to a familiar escape. Deciding to fall back into the sort of alcoholic complacency I’d mentioned how much I hated all the way back in the first chapter – the very same sort of self-numbing apathy I swore to myself I’d never again succumb to – I once again began drinking every day after work to kill the pain.
At some point in the weeks following my trip to Resurrection Hospital for poison ivy, I had this bizarre dream where I’d been sitting in the waiting room of the ER eating gummy worms when I noticed a public-usage computer in the room had suddenly opened up. I’ve never seen a public computer in real life ER’s, but since it’s a dream, I decided to roll with it.
After walking over to the desktop, sitting down and typing the URL midgetpiss.com (as far as I know, this is something I made up in the dream, but since the world is so perverted, I wouldn’t doubt if it was a real site) into the address bar, I started watching this porn where Scooby Doo and the rest of the gang were solving a mystery when Velma – the chick who can’t see without her glasses – became separated from the mystery-solving posse and was kidnapped by a group of five sexually aggressive midgets who forced her to get down on her knees while they all pulled out their wieners and began urinating all over her from every angle like the piss version of a Japanese bukkake video.
As this’d been glaring on the screen, I overheard a call the nurse at reception who’d apparently been monitoring the computer I was on had been making to security. “Oh shit,” I thought, “they’re coming to get me.” So I tried my best to shut the browser to hide the evidence but wasn’t able to in time because a bunch of kinky pop-ups kept getting in the way and I ended up getting caught red-handed with this weird shit on the computer. Security then dragged me kicking and screaming into one of the rooms, strapped me down to a bed and detained me while they discussed whether or not they’re gonna press charges that would result in me becoming a sex offender and essentially ruining my life. It was around this point that I woke up.
Although this dream of being held in Resurrection Hospital against my will had probably been spawned by my recent stint in the ER over there for my disgusting skin condition, I’d soon find out that it also served as an eerie premonition of what was to happen three days after I’d conceived it.
After working a Saturday with my old man – we regularly work six-day weeks – I walked over to the liquor store, picked up a bottle of Jameson and a pack o’ smokes, took that shit back to my house and got to work on the both of ‘em sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. As I always feel more connected to the human race once a few drinks are in my system, I called up my cousin Jack and invited him to come over and booze it up with me. While at my house, he had a few beers while I polished off my bottle of whiskey and we went over to a bar in his neighborhood called The Windsor. We ended up staying at The Windsor until closing time – so probably a span of about three or four hours during which I continued to pound nothing but Jameson on the rocks – and then headed over to a local 4am joint known as Teasers that has never and will never result in anything but problems for me.
While at that shithole, I have vague memories of downing more whiskey, hitting on pretty much any unattended female I could find and then going to take a piss in the bathroom where I ran into my childhood buddy Danny McDonaugh. He and I proceeded to hug it out and catch up on old times in that scuzzy pisser where a bunch of grown men’d had their dicks out before heading back into the barroom and doing more damage. From what I recall, we ended up closing Teasers and were peacefully shuffled out the place by bouncers, but that’s when the rest of the drinks kicked in and I totally blacked the fuck out.
I don’t know what’d happened. I don’t know whether or not I’d passed out or had been being obnoxious in some public place but I regained self-awareness in the back of an ambulance with mud on my forehead and with my shirt and shorts completely soaked, leading me to believe I’d passed out on someone’s lawn in the rain but I’ll never know for sure. If that was the case, it definitely wasn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last. The most disturbing part about my coming-to had been the fact that my wrists and ankles were tightly strapped to the sides of the hospital bed which told me that I’d been throwing some punches around in resistance to my abduction.
“What the fuck!” I shouted to the paramedic at my side. “Yo, you gotta let me outta here. I can’t afford this treatment. I owe so much money in student loans and I only got wasted because I’m unhappy working so much and living at home and I’m only living at home to save money to pay off my student loans faster. If you do this to me, it will totally fuck me up. It’ll make all my suffering pointless. Seriously,” I pleaded as I tried to sit up but couldn’t due to my current restrictions, “you gotta let me outta here.”
“I ain’t lettin’ you outta here, man. You shit your pants.”
“What!? No I didn’t. Whiskey makes me constipated. I don’t shit for days after going on a bender like this.”
“Nuh-uh,” the guy taunted. “You shit your pants.”
Once I realized there was no chance in hell of this guy letting me out, I cut the victim act and got belligerent.
“Well, fuck you, you piece o’ shit. You can’t tell me I shit my pants when I know I didn’t. Fuck you. I’ll shit your pants, you fucking faggot. Suck my dick.”
“Whatever you say, bro – you shit your pants.”
“AHHHHHHHH! FUCK!” I tried as best I could to rip my hands from the straps. “LET ME OUTTA HERE!”
“Nah buddy, you’re goin’ to the hospital.”
“No! Don’t take me to the hospital! Why are you doing this to me!? Don’t do this to me! Take me to jail! Throw me in the drunk tank with fuckin’ Otis Campbell! I can’t afford to go to the hospital! Stop it! Please, just stop it! Let me go!”
The guy ignored me for the rest of the very short ride.
When we got to the hospital, I was rolled into the emergency room strapped to the bed in a way that made me feel an awful lot like Hannibal Lecter during the rare times they let him out his jail cell. They then wheeled me into a private white-walled room where we were soon joined by a doctor and several nurses.
“Do you know where you are?” the doctor asked after getting a quick rundown from the paramedics.
“Uh, duh, no I don’t know where I am. Duhhhhhh. I’m a fuckin’ retard. Duhhhhhhhh,” I moaned while crossing my eyes and making a screwed-up face. “Fuck you! Let me outta here.”
“Have you been drinking?”
“What do you think?”
“Are you suicidal?”
“Yeah, I am suicidal,” I said then shook my bed around, “but I’m having a hard time killing myself with my hands strapped to the bed like this.”
“Do you need to be committed?”
“Committed? What the fuck? No,” I gasped. “No, I definitely don’t need to be committed. Just let me outta here. I can’t afford this. I owe so much in student loans. Right now we’re at Resurrection Hospital. I live less than a mile north of here in Edison Park. Just let me go. Let me walk home.”
“I’m afraid we can’t let you do that. You’re gonna need to have someone come here to pick you up. And until then, since you’re not being cooperative, you’re gonna hafta stay in the bed like that.”
“That’s bullshit. Who the fuck do you think you are? Let me go!”
“I’ll give you some time to think about who you wanna call for a ride,” the doctor said as he turned around and started walking out of the room with the nurses following right behind.
“Where’s Sandy Bratton!? I wanna talk to Sandy Bratton!”
The doctor kept walking away but some blonde-haired nurse turned around, aroused by my mention of her superior.
“How do you know Sandy Bratton?”
“I went to grade school with her son. I wanna to talk to her. This is bullshit. You can’t hold me like this. This is fuckin’ kidnapping.”
“That’s great and all but today is Sandy’s day off and we’re not gonna call and wake her up for a drunk like you,” she said before turning around, walking out the room and slamming the sliding door.
“AHHHHH! Fuck you Nurse Ratched,” I shouted loud enough for her to hear on the other side of the glass, “you fuckin’ cunt!”
After desperately hacking up the biggest cigarette loogie I could muster and spitting it at the screen of the computer that sat on a shelf along the wall, I began trying my best to rip out of the straps binding me to that bed. When that didn’t work, I then started rocking the bed side to side almost tipping the thing over until I came to the realization that, in spite of the whole dramatic scene I could make, no one there would have any sympathy for me and I’d probably end up breaking my wrists or ankles, rendering myself unable to work and setting myself even further back from my goal of paying off my student loans.
As the story goes, I laid there for a couple hours, receiving exactly no physical treatment whatsoever – not even an IV or a fuckin’ glass of water to prevent dehydration which was probably the only treatable symptom of the “Acute Alcoholic Intoxication, Uncomplicated” that had been the doctor’s premise for holding me there while they ran my tab sky high.
Sometime later, the blonde-haired nurse came back into the room, having expected me to have calmed down a bit.
“Oh, hey, look, it’s Nurse Ratched. Where’s the big Indian? I wanna see the big Indian throw the drinking fountain through the window and get away before you lobotomize me.”
“Okay Timothy,” she responded while beginning to fidget with the strap around my right ankle, “we’re gonna undo your feet and see how you behave with those free before we consider unstrapping your hands.”
“Oh really? God’s gift to the world is actually gonna grant me usage of my feet again? Tell me, what have I done to be so deserving of this great privilege that you’ve decided to bestow upon me?”
“Y’know what?” she began.
“No, what? Tell me. What?”
“If you wanna act like that,” she yanked the thing as tight as she could, “then you can stay strapped to the bed.”
“Yeah, well fuck you too,” I spat as she left the room, “you god damn fuckin’ bitch!”
My heart raced as I panted in the minutes following the angry outburst.
After about another hour of waiting and no one coming in the room to set me free, I began to get stir crazy.
“I WANT A LAWYER! I WANT A LAWYER! I WANT A LAWYER! I WANT A LAWYER!” I shouted the same phrase over and over until my already raspy cig-torn throat felt like it was bleeding and I could shout no more.
No one came in the room. No one cared. It was the most dehumanizing event in my entire life. Tears began pouring down my face as I sobbed like a little bitch, feeling incredibly ashamed of who I am as a person and the way I feel about things and wishing I’d never been born. I cried on and off for a long, long time and when I finally finished it was already eleven in the morning.
“LET ME OUT OF HERE! LET ME OUT OF HERE! LET ME OUT OF…”
Eventually, the doctor could no longer ignore my bellowing and returned to the room.
“Yo,” I began before he could even say anything, “who are you, fuckin’ Buffalo Bill? You want me to rub the lotion on the skin?”
“We called your home phone to see if anyone’s available to come get you and nobody answered.”
“So the fuck what? You gonna keep me here forever? This shit is fuckin’ sick, man. You’re sick. You’re a sick fuck. I don’t care about the legality of what you’re doing, there’s no difference between you and an everyday kidnapper. You haven’t even given me any treatment. You’re doing absolutely nothing but stealing my freedom and charging me for it. You know damn well I’m capable of finding my way home and you knew it back when they brought me in here. It’s time to let me go.”
“Can you tell me your address?”
“My address? You for real?”
“How can I be sure you know where your home is if you can’t tell me your address?”
I sighed and recited it for him.
“Okay,” he said, “we’re gonna bring the security guards in here to make sure everyone is safe when we let you go and then you’re free to walk home.”
As prophesized, they brought the security guards in and unhooked me. The first thing I did was go into the attached bathroom, drop my pants to my ankles and thoroughly inspect my boxers and shorts for any sign of them having been shit. Just as I’d suspected, there was no shit whatsoever. The paramedic had been using that line as a way to humiliate me into submission.
After stepping back out into the room, I had to sit there listening to the security guards talking with each other about from where they’re gonna order pizza for lunch as I waited for the nurse to get my release forms. Once I’d slapped my signature on ‘em, I was escorted out the building and began my walk of shame.
Several weeks later, in response to the two-thousand-something dollar bill I’d received in the mail for the “treatment” they’d given me, I wrote some self-righteous, angry-ass, three-page letter and made a check out to Presence Health Care in the amount of zero dollars and zero cents with a memo of “SUCK MY BALLS,” but I ended up not sending either. I mean, what’s it gonna prove? Who’s gonna see it beyond some other sad-sap “millennial” inundated with as much student debt as I who works over in Presence Health’s billing department? It wouldn’t accomplish anything. It wouldn’t make me feel better about myself or solve any of my problems. And it certainly won’t change the fact that I’m a twenty-six-year-old man emotionally arrested by my childhood, too insecure to move out the house of my parents, ruefully squandering my days mired in the throes of my penchant for self-destruction.
– August 2014
The End – Life of a Manchild