Carny Trash Adventures in the City

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Electric Sideshow had another performance at the Rail on Thursday, something that was mutually decided would be a weekly occurrence now that the weather has warmed up nicely and more people are coming to the venue in general.  There are regulars who have been coming since our first show there, who have brought their friends who in turn bring their friends, and so on.

The karaoke set up had been moved to the front room, which meant having more space to do the sideshow acts and giving everyone a new experience.  Somehow I managed to get shocked by the microphone, cut both my feet performing my broken glass routine, and my partner wound up with a few nicks from lying in it as I stood on him.  Well, it is broken glass so those things are going to happen no matter how many times you try to convince people your skin is made from rubber and therefore impenetrable by such objects.

This morning I was greeted by an e-mail from Jon that said he would be coming by to pick me up and whisk me away for an afternoon in NYC.  The last time we had been there was for the Bindlestiff show, so it was exciting that we would actually have time to walk around and whatnot.  My stomach was bubbling with nerves since there has not been much contact between us over the past few weeks; I have been riding my bike, practicing and doing shows while he has his own things going on.  Though I have seen him a few time, the signs of him being strung out on who knows what were quite obvious and unsettling, but I never know if it is appropriate to say something or if he would prefer me to pretend I don’t know he’s high on coke and flirting with death for kicks.  None of that even matters when he pulls up; inside the Chevy is filled with sweet smoke from a freshly lit joint and twanging surf tunes that drown out the rumble of the engine.

Then we are off, cruising along asphalt highways comfortably sharing conversation about my time spent riding around and all of the things I had encountered.  He listens with a smile on his face yet I have a feeling it is a carefully constructed mask meant to keep me from something.  This man I know too well on account we have been friends for so long and I can read him better than he would like me to.  Before I can  gather up the courage to initiate a new topic, we are parking in Newark and walking quickly to catch the PATH.  From there we rode it to the World Trade Center stop, which had been transformed into a memorial for the events that occurred there in 2001, and then hopped the subway up to Canal which was literally a thirty-second ride.

Once inside Unimax, I wasted no time in approaching the counter with my list in hand, as I am always prepared with one when visiting the store.  Though I had briefly entertained purchasing the 1 1/2″ titanium double flared eyelets, I was there with other purpose and resigned to treat myself in the future.  The list consisted of: 16g barbels [18], 16g curved bars with spiked ends [12]. 0g crescent [for my septum], 0g solid hematite plug, a set of 14g curved retainer and a set of 14g CBR’s.  The large gauge items are for my septum, as I aim on stretching it one final time before settling at a 0g, while the retainers are for when I go on job interviews since I am trying to get my own place by Summer.

The total was more than planned, so Jon decided to pay the bill instead and said that way I could save my money for something else.  It was entirely unexpected and there was no time to protest since I had been too stunned to say anything.  At least I am set for a while and that is a pretty good feeling since I actually have a decent collection of body jewelry which offers me versatility.

We ventured into Chinatown and selected a random place to eat where the food was incredibly fresh and the most delicious things I had tasted in a very long time.  For a moment I was reminded of the younger years of our friendship, where afternoons were used as the setting for a variety of  cons and hustles, spanging off tourists and cursing at bourgeoise business people who called us dirty punks.  Were we really so different all these years later?  Surely getting drunk off 40’s and cloud gazing at Tompkins Square while making plans of traveling the world was what we thought life could be if we stuck together through the good times and bad.  If I had been told how dark of a place the latter would take us and was offered a path to avoid it, I am inclined to believe I would make the same decision.  The bond of loyalty runs that deep with us, and even seeing him at his worst, packaged and delivered to death’s door, I have never hesitated for a single second to let Aaron know how much he means to me.

New York City was one of many playgrounds where we could go to visit and cause havoc without care for repercussions since we did not take them into consideration.  We were indestructible Carnies from Jersey, charged with attitude and ready to take your money the moment you are distracted, confronting society at full force and offering opinionated commentary in an unapologetic manner.  Indeed we have not changed that much from the rambunctious scoundrels we used to be, but rather have evolved into more refined versions of ourselves, confident in our skills and capabilities that work to our advantage.  Nothing was as perfect as those moments I spent learning everything I could from a person who was humbled by my admiration, and often I become aware of how very much like him I can be.

On our way back to the PATH station we were stopped by a tourist who wanted to take a picture with us, presumably to show the people of their country these strange beings they encountered in the United States, and Jon went into instant Showman Mode which left them several dollars poorer but very happy for the photo.  We were also approached by an alternative couple, as one of them wanted to know how long it had taken me to stretch my ears.  That opened up a conversation about body modifications which lasted for a few minutes before the four of us parted ways, though Jon mentioned he was not ready to end our adventure quite yet, and that is how we wound up walking hand-in-hand along the Hudson River.  Sitting together on a bench, we watched the sun set over Jersey, green tinted orange slowly fading up into the cloudless blue sky, a sigh of satisfaction absently escaping my lips.

By the time we arrived in Newark evening had enveloped the Garden State, lights flickering to life all over the place as the Chevy cruised down darkening highways.  Was this how it would always be with Jon?  Once upon a time he was the escape I needed from people and places I could not identify with, constantly searching for somewhere else to be.  Whether that was found in drugs or deep in the woods of the Pine Barrens, Jon was a prominent part of all my favorite memories, influencing decisions I might have otherwise been hesitant to make myself, yet not once did I find myself feeling any sort of regret.  Quite the opposite really, since when the endorphins die down and reality rises again to remind you of where you don’t want to be, all you can think of is the fact you want more, and perhaps are willing to do anything to get it.

There is no one else I have felt this way about, and while we have shared our feelings for one another on many occasions, we are drifting in different directions and nothing frightens me more than losing the man I love more than anything in the world.

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