You never fuck me and I always have to drive.

1 day, 23 hours, 40 minutes.

I get the strangest feeling that the people around me feel a little bit disconcerted.

They are expecting me to feel nervous. They want me to have cold feet. They want me to say things like, “old lady.”

“Ball and chain.”

And my favorite, by which I mean least favorite, ” (make disgusted blocked nasal passages noise) Women.”

Let’s try to to phoneticize that.

“Whhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeemmmmuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnn.”

Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Can’t kill ’em. The best form of birth control is wedding cake. Stupid bitches. Whores. Cunts.

Even one of the managers at work, a woman whom I love dearly, has been leering at me in my cubicle as she counts down my “last days of freedom.”

This, my friends, is a strange phenomenon (doo doo doo doot doo).

When you’re not married, everyone wants to know, “Why?”

When you tell everyone you’re get married, everyone wants to know, “Why?”

People, you can’t have it both ways.

People who are married seem to me like people who have  joined this wonderful private club, with all these fantastic amenities and a hot tub and midgets waddling around with trays of bourbon and pot on their heads, but when you pop up and say, “Hey! I want to join that club!” they say, “Oh gods, no. It’s terrible here! I have to sit here with her all the time and this is a terrible club, just terrible! Terrible, I say.”

Well, okay.

I’m not new to this, folks. I’ve been married before. Twice, as the record plainly shows. And let me tell you… the reasons for both of my divorces had nothing to do with the actual ritual of getting married. They had to do with bad behaviour and neglect and all those other bad habits that humans fall into when they stop seeing the things around them that are or could potentially be good.

I think every divorce comes down to one thing: one or both of the people involved began taking the other person for granted. Once you let go of that, that treating each other as a person with opinions, ideas and emotions, that remembering that the person you fell in love with is still in there under all the housecleaning and billpaying and sometimes desperate need for sleep, then it is a long swim back to shore.

They say familiarity breeds contempt. I think it breeds boredom. And if that is the case, then the real chore laid out for couples who chose to get married is not to get bored with each other. That means you can’t get bored with yourself. If you aren’t bringing something to the table, something new to tell your spouse or a new experience (hell, even an old experience; take it back, ya porch monkeys!) to share with that person, then it is not time to reevaluate your relationship.

It is time to reevaluate your life. Not the other person’s. Yours.

Sure, when it comes down to the nutcutting, you are responsible for your partner. You promised them you would be. But you are responsible for yourself too.

When I got married the second time, my grandmother gave my girlfriend a little christian pamphlet called, “Are You Fun to Live With?” The writing style was about a half step above a Chick tract, but the question remains pertinent. Gods, I hope I’m fun to live with.

Because if I had to go a day without seeing my Cootie smile, or hearing her laugh, or seeing her do that smirk think where she manages to move her entire mouth to one side of her face, lips pursed, and raise that one eyebrow at me, I don’t know what I would do. I’d have to tickle her or something (hint: behind the knee).

And seeing those things on a daily basis physically requires me to be an interesting person! I think that married people sometimes fall into this trap. I call it the “Jesus Fucking Monkey Christ I Am Married What The Deviled Egg Fuck Am I Doing” trap.

If you are with the person you love… and you really love that person… then you are not trapped. You are in a partnership. You will have good days and bad days… oh, for fuck’s sake, you know all this already, don’t you? The last think I want to do is sound like some kind of shitty self-help book.

We all know it.

We just don’t all do it.

We get to the place where… well, where the title of this entry comes from. Irreparable. Hell on earth.

Motherfucking done.

Here was the best surprise of the day.

Another manager in the department, someone whom I like because he has a sense of humour but one whom I have never worked under, came to my desk today. He asked if I was excited. I said yes, of course, and showed him Cootie’s wedding ring, which I wear around my neck and will until the night of the wedding.

And this man said to me, “I love being married. I love it. And you don’t hear that from a lot of people. Especially women (which drew glares from the women who sit behind me and beside me).  But I love it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you have found the right person for you — and it sounds like you have, from what I’ve heard… sounds like you have found your soulmate — if she is that person for you, then there is absolutely nothing like being married.”

I will never forget him for saying that. Thank you, David Sellers, for being a positive influence on me. And I can’t even fucking believe I’m saying that.

Look.

You can do your own research on soulmates, twin souls or — even more pertinent — split souls, and you will gain some real insight into my relationship with Cootie. I truly believe she is that part of me that I have been missing for forty-some-odd years. Every day with her is literally a revelation. She reveals parts of me to myself that I didn’t even know were there. Or if I did know, I forgot.

And how sad is that?

So… if you wonder why I’m not making ill-tempered jokes about marriage or the wedding… if you wonder why I refuse, even in jest, to say that women are bad, evil temptresses who want nothing more than to lure you into their tender traps… it’s because I firmly believe that I have done it right this time. The fact that Cootie is with me after all the crazy bullshit we’ve been through is absolutely amazing.

And I will not take these things for granted.

I was driving home yesterday and I suddenly became aware of my left hand. I know that sounds odd. But I suddenly became aware of its presence, the functions it performed, particularly in the act of steering an old truck.  But the main thing I noticed about my left hand was its weight. It seemed light. And, as I stared at it, slightly detached and in Observer mode, I saw my little finger rubbing against my ring finger. My little finger was rubbing against a ring that wasn’t there yet.

Even subconsciously, I’m already married to this whhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuhhhhhhhmmmmmmuuuuuunnnnnnnnn.

And I am so glad.

1 day, 23 hours and 40 minutes.

Let’s rock.

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An update. Two requests. And something that fits nowhere else.

My last blog entry, “Porch Monkey 4 Life,” spawned a small-scale revolution among the people who read it and took it to heart. More people took it to heart than I ever thought would. Writing it was a cathartic experience, meaning I stood on the back porch for about half an hour, chain-smoking, working through my own shit after I had written it.

The next day, I heard from no less than ten people on Facebook, Twitter and right here on WordPress who had something that they wanted to take back. One of my friends took back her sexuality and got laid that very night, after a ten-month dry spell. I was so pleased for and proud of her. Another friend decided to take back her self-confidence and it was immediately apparent, even through her Tweets, that it took. And others reported music they were taking back, or movies they were reclaiming as their own… I, of course, took back Hot Springs, NC, with my Cootie on a day that can only be described as the happiest day of my Life.

I am not a motivational speaker,  by any stretch. But I am pleased that my little blog entry was able to inspire people that I love and respect to take back aspects of their Lives that they had, conciously or unconciously, given away. To me, that’s just doing the Work. That is intent made manifest. And that pleases me.

I don’t mean to sound egotistical here. I feel far from egotistical. Honored and humbled, but not egotistical.  But if that last blog post I put up spurred you into action and allowed you to take back something that is/was yours, please let me know. If you Tweet me (you can find me as Barbelith77 on Twitter), please put “#porchmonkey4life” as your hashtag.

In my dreams, I see myself on Oprah explaining the social and emotional revolution that is the Porch Monkeys. Mostly, I want to hear Oprah use the phrase “porch monkey” and have to like it.

My second request is just for fun. Pretty much everyone who shows up at the wedding will be Tweeting and Twitpic-ing the whole thing. Because that’s a hoot. So let’s make #XandCootieswedding a trending topic. Why not?

Finally, after the wedding on Saturday, you will not hear me use the word “step-daughter” again. I have no felt that being someone’s bio-parent gave you any more claim on a child than being married to that person’s bio-parent. Having a “step” child seems derogatory and, in my thinking, denigrates the extent of the relationship. I mean no disrespect for her bio-father by any stretch. And it is really a minor chink in the semantics.

But I love her like she were my own.

And I will call her my daughter, because that is how I feel.

Porch monkey 4 life.

At the risk of drawing the fearsome ire of Kevin Smith fanboys, I need to say before we begin this entry that my favorite Kevin Smith movie is “Clerks II.” It really encapsulates the entire View Askewniverse for me. It’s raunchy as hell, endlessly quotable (just ask Scofield) and sweet, sweet, sweet to its horribly man-tear-inducing romantic core. I can watch any Kevin Smith movie anytime it is on. I will watch “Clerks II” whenever I can. Whatever I am doing gets shunted aside like a shin-humping dog and I watch that goddamned movie. I do love it so.

And while this is not a blog specifically about Kevin Smith, it does involve “Clerks II” and how it literally changed my outlook on life. Having seen “Clerks II” will make this much easier on you. Go rent it. It’s a dollar at Blockbuster, for fuck’s sake. Better yet, go buy it. Put some real money in Kevin’s pocket (insert Weinstein here).

But if you haven’t seen it, bear with me. This will all come together. Promise.

Since our plans for going to the beach had to be modified somewhat, I have decided to take my Beloved, Cootiebug, to Hot Springs, NC.

I have been there many times before. And let me tell you, it is some kind of granola awesome. At the Hot Springs resort, natural carbonated mineral water comes up out of the ground and it can be as hot as muriatic acid (which may be why they named the place Hot Springs, you reckon?) The waters are purported to have healing properties. I don’t know about all that, but I do know they leave my scrotum soft as a baby’s bottom.

There was probably a better simile for that.

Anyway, they pipe the natural hot water up into fiberglass hot tubs that are in little private wooden gazebos. Some of them even overlook the French Broad River. But they’re private, so that means one thing to you, Dear Reader.

Semi-public nudity.

Hell fuck yeah.

I remember the first time I went. I was with my last girlfriend. Yes, the one I mentioned in my last blog post. This was towards the beginning of our relationship, when it was still a miracle just to see her boobs. I loved her and she loved me and it was December. We were overlooking the river, and the edges had just the thinnest sheen of ice towards the shore. I was amazed at how fucking cold it was outside but how warm it was inside the tub. I dreaded getting out and drying off because of the shrinkage and the instinctive dancing to retain body heat that would ensue. I caught a snapshot of her that day which I no longer have, and it’s better that I don’t, of her getting out of the tub naked. And it’s not the fact that she was naked. It was her smile. It was the first and last time I actually got a picture of her with a genuine smile on her face, a smile that wasn’t forced, a smile that didn’t have her looking at me out of the corner of her eye wondering what kind of shit-train she had hitched her star to.

I ended up at Hot Springs with her lots of times after that. Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes her entire family, sometimes her entire family and strangers they had picked up a long the way. Of course, it was never the same.

How could it be?

By that time, the weird kind of Northern neuroses that afflict large families from the Ohio/Pennsylvania region were manifest and I, as a Kentucky Southern Gentleman, was made to realize more and more how much I just did not fit in. Don’t misunderstand me, Friends. I am not saying that all Northerners are two Solo cups shy of a pony keg. But having seen how Southern families work, with the overlying sheen of politeness and grace that suffocates the pure sexual and religious repression that seethes just below the surface, I like Southern families better.

We’re all fucked up. Northerners are just more blunt about it. I will dance around the subject, thank you very much, and draw my own conclusions later.

Anyway. Summarizing so far: I went to Hot Springs a lot with her and her family. I had fun once. The rest of it leaves scars like blood gutters, where I was constantly reminded that I was “not of us,” made to feel like my idea of fun was their idea of the Spanish Inquisition and that I was not really welcome amongst them. Which is why I spent a lot of time in Hot Springs drunk to the point of vomiting, thanks to the cheap pitchers of Yuengling at the Paddler’s Pub, and avoiding any direct eye contact. Because then, as now, if I go unchecked with people like that, I just go off. And Katie, bar the door. It is not a pretty sight once I get rolling.

It’s the lunch rush at Mooby’s. While waiting on an African-American couple, Randal Graves lets loose with the term, “porch monkey.” The couple are immediately offended and Randal has no idea why. “My grandmother used to call me a porch monkey,” he says. He legitimately has no clue that it is a racist term. In fact, he decides that it is not a racist term and, if it is, he’s going to “take it back.” Randal is going to make the phrase, “porch monkey,” once again suitable for general usage. He uses reflective duct tape to spell out the sentence, “Porch monkey 4 life” on the back of his Mooby’s uniform shirt. When the next kid, who happens to be white, walks up to the counter, he asks the child, “What can I get ya, you little porch monkey?” When his mother recoils with politically correct shock, Randal says, “Oh, it’s okay! I’m taking it back!”

Let’s take this concept into a little wider release.

Every relationship builds its own sets of connotations and denotations. They are the things you automatically associate with that person, that coupleness, that time in your life. And when a relationship ends, you’re left with this space where that thing that used to be yours was. Maybe it’s a song. Maybe it’s a restaurant. There’s no end to the potential definition list.

It’s time, people.

It’s time to take it back.

Why am I taking Cootiebug to Hot Springs? Because I like it there, above and beyond whatever connection it has to that past relationship. It’s pretty there. It’s fun. And I can get naked outside and nobody says a fucking word. What’s not to like? What kind of person would I be if I were to deny not only myself that pleasure, but to deny the Love of my Life that pleasure… and because of what? A memory?

Bad memories are ghosts that we ourselves keep from going into the light.

It’s time, people. Let them go.

Take it back.

I’m going to build some new memories. Some new, happy memories at a place where some really bad memories happened. I’m going to tear down those bad emotions and build something new and wonderful on top of them. I am going to get some closure. I am going to achieve some wholeness.

I’m taking Cootie to Hot Springs and I’m taking it back.

I’m taking back Foo Fighters. I fucking love Foo Fighters. They are the most consistently good hard rock band of the century thus far. My second marriage threatened to destroy my love for that band, particularly the “One by One” album. Fuck that. I own it. I’m taking it back.

I’m taking back Naples. I had a lot of good meals with the ex-girlfriend there. I also had a lot of awkward family meetings there, meetings that further reinforced the fact that I did not belong. I know a girl who loves good lasagna and I know where the best lasagna in town is, besides the lasagna I make myself. We’re going to Naples. I’m taking it back.

I get to keep Stone Temple Pilots. I get to keep Pearl Jam and Soul Asylum. I definitely get to keep Alice in Chains.  I’m taking back “LOST” and “The X-Files” and Asian horror movies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and motherfucking Young.

And I am taking back my self-esteem. My sexual self confidence? I’m taking it back. My belief that I am a funny guy? My ability to show emotions besides rage, disgust and an over-compensatory snobbery? My idea of myself as vital and compassionate? My ability to hold up my end of a relationship? My thinking that I may be a cool guy after all? My small glimmer of hope that I am worthy of being loved?

I’m taking it back. I’m taking it all back. I will do the Randal on the goddamned countertop as a sign to you that I am taking it all back. Porch monkey 4 life.

And what about you, Reader? My friends? What have you let others steal from you that you want back? Don’t sit around and pine for it like a nancy-boy. Do the Randal and take it back. I will help you if you want it… and if you ask.

Get your life back. Get your heart back.

Reclaim your soul.

Be a porch monkey with me.

4 Life.

Weekend plans changing, a Socialist cat and it’s different for girls.

The girl whom I call Mogwai will be my legal, official stepdaughter in twelve short days. This is a good thing, because I do love her, oh, so very much. Mogwai is thirteen years old (a woman, really, in our tradition and I apologize for misblogging earlier) and is therefore going through that strange dichotomy that all thirteen year old women go through, to some extent. As much as she loves her kitties and her pictures of faeries (which, and again I must break into my own writing, I cannot fault her for; I believe in faeries also, mostly because they have a tendency to hide our stuff), she also loves All That Remains and football players.

Oy. My heart.

Since she is my daughter and I do love her oh so very much, I try very hard to appreciate the things the she loves, even if I cannot love them myself.  I have a reasonably high appreciation for All That Remains. Football players… not so much. I feel better since she has told my fiancee (the woman enigmatically known as Cootiebug) how easy football players are to manipulate… but not much better.

No. Not much at all.

I have raised boys most of my Life and frankly, that’s easy. You get ’em some video games, you teach ’em how to cuss and tell them they’ll never understand Women. Then you send ’em to college. You’re done! It’s harder to cook microwave popcorn than it is to raise a boy.

Girls are all complex and shit.

This attempt to love the things she loves carries over to her cat, Smokey. I cannot emphasize this enough. Smokey does not like me. She never has. I have never been hissed at, scratched at or bitten by any other feline in my Life.  Now, to be fair, Smokey is Mogwai’s totem. And when I came on the scene, Smokey had no reason — nor any inclination — to trust me.  And even though I have done nothing overtly to make her dislike me, she still keeps me at paws’ length, barely tolerating my presence in the house.

So… this morning, when Mogwai and Cootie realized that Smokey had stopped being able to walk because she was falling over on her left side, it was obvious that something needed to be done for Mogwai’s familiar. I called a vet from work who, when I told her what time I would be able to bring Smokey in for a little look-see, said, “Well, the doctor has already left for the day and I can’t just make the doctor come in… .” Obviously, that receptionist was a pussy. Can’t make the doctor do what you want? How about a little assertiveness training there, Sunshine?

So we took Smokey to the Banfield clinic at the local PetSmart.  They poked and prodded her, told us they weren’t really sure what was wrong with her, and said that we needed to take her to the overnight Magical Animal Emergency Room, where they would took very good care of her.

In other words, please come back to this veterinary clinic tomorrow when your cat feels better. That will be eighty-five dollars, please.

I went home to cook while Cootie and Mogwai took Smokey to the Magical Animal Emergency Room. The good folks at the MAER immediately began to do the same tests that were performed on Smokey at the Banfield clinic.  The docs came back at Cootie with a price tag of around five-hundred dollars.  For one night. Now, I don’t mean to sound naive about all this, but that is a fuck-all lot of money for a cat. And we don’t have pet health insurance, which is funny because I’m reasonably sure Smokey is a Socialist. We can barely afford the health insurance we have, and I’m glad to have it, even though it sucks sickly yak cock.

The Girls brought Smokey home with them. We have meds and instructions. Smokey got a couple of shots in the cat butt. We are hoping this is enough to pull her through (the diagnosis: a pretty shitty ear infection which has affected her equilibrium). Regardless, we have dropped around three-hundred dollars on the cat tonight.

You know, Mogwai loves the cat. It was a part of the family before I was. And as a Pagan, of course I respect life (translated: we weren’t going to let the cat die if we could prevent it).  So hurrah for happy endings in the making. The cat seems to be feeling better. She’s actually trying to eat and drink, which she was not doing yesterday.

Of course, the money we spent on the cat was the money we were saving to go to the beach this weekend, so now that’s out. And I’m not happy about it, to be honest. I really wanted to go to the beach with my fiancee for a weekend before we spend that next week in the midst of marriage madness.

But what’s more important? I know we did the right thing. And I don’t resent it. Really. I don’t. There’s time for trips; I mean, Cootie and I are going to be together. There will be time and time and do things we want to do, in this Life AND the next.

But that was a shitty trick, even for you, Eris. Using the cat? Opportunistic at best. Why don’t you just throw an apple at her next time?

My big fat Pagan wedding.

Things have been busy here at the Evil Lair of X and Cootie. It’s our own fault, really. After all, nobody forced us to change our wedding date.

By a year.

Yeah… getting married this Samhain, in front of the Family we were born into and the Family we chose,  on the very spot where I proposed to her this past February.

Yes, it’s romantic. Feel free to cry. Or vomit.

Whatever you need.

Most people see me as a very dark and foreboding person. And I admit, I am prone to speaking in horrific apocalyptic metaphors. The dark circles under my eyes can make me seem a little… unapproachable.  And I guess all the skulls and action figures from horror movies (who’s got the Blair monster from “The Thing” on his desk? Yeah. That’s me.) make some of the more squeamish folks that I work with stay away from me.

Oh… and all the Christians are convinced that I worship Satan.

Har-dee-har-har. You have to believe in something before you can worship it.

My point being, if any of these people who avoid me like the plague… the people who have said about me (true story), “Don’t look in his eyes!”

Gods, if they knew what a horrible romantic push-over softie I really am, they would fall to their knees weeping tears of rose water and masturbating with a rolled-up Hallmark card. Yes,  it is that bad. I make myself sick.

We’re that couple.

Marriage… there’s a weird thing, huh? Cootie and I paid almost one hundred dollars, just so that we could tell the State that we love each other and are living together. Which we’re already doing.  And even though I realize that marriage is not really a necessary action, I can’t wait to marry my Cootie. I want to be her husband. I want her to be my wife. It’s really important to me.

And I’ll be godsdamned if I can figure out why!

Well… that’s not exactly true. Work through this with me, won’t you?

At its heart, at the very core of it, a marriage is two people who are in love (which itself is both intangible and illogical) stating before whatever god(s) they serve, the community they live in and the people they love that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, no matter what happens, hail Eris.

That, my friends, seems absolutely INSANE.

First of all, why should people in love have to report to the state? Do they know where I work? I am not contributing that much to Tennessee’s tax base as it is. So my income tax filing is going to change. A little. I still feel it is none of their business what I do, whom I do it with or exactly where I put my money or my cock.

Secondly, why are relationships deemed socially unacceptable unless there’s been a marriage? I’ve got the piece of paper. We’re going to do it. I will sign my name on that godsdamned dotted line. So will Cootie. But that doesn’t answer the underlying question… why?

(By the way,  I wholeheartedly approve of gay marriage and wish the rest of the country would wake the fuck up.)

So let’s lance this whole marriage boil, and drain out all the blood-tinted pus goodness.

Understand one thing, first and foremost.

Perception is reality.

Got it?

Perception is reality.

Cootie and I have both been married twice before. Not to each other. None of those relationships ended well. The relationship I was in before Cootie and I got together, while not a marriage, was reasonably long-term. And abusive. And it sucked my dry of all my self-esteem and confidence. How can I put this?

She was mean.

And she made me want to die.

Why in the wide wide world of sports would I want to do this again?

Because when I look at my Cootie, I perceive forever.

I perceive someone who loves me despite my faults and my flaws. I perceive someone who absolutely embodies the other half of my Soul. I perceive a Woman who loves me and my Child, a Woman who understand the gravity of the Package Deal.  I perceive a Woman who understands my habits. My geekiness. For fuck’s sake, she shares my geekineess. We have watched the first five “Saw” movies in the span of a month, just so we can be ready for “Saw VI” when it comes out next weekend! She likes my music and I like hers. I can drink her under the table… but not by much.

And, to quote Liz Phair, she fucks like a volcano and she’s everything to me.

This is my perception of Cootie. Some of it, anyway. The things she means to me on a Spiritual and Emotional basis are so hard to describe… but, as T.S. Eliot said, “I gotta use words when I talk to you.” And sometimes words just aren’t enough.

When I look at Cootie, I see the rest of Forever.  I see all my Life’s plans, wrapped up in one beautiful woman.  It terrifies me. I’m forty years old. And when I look at Cootie, I know she’s the Love of my Life. And I know that I will join her and follow her wherever she may go. I perceive that my path and hers have intersected and will be forever connected. She is, finally, my Life Partner, the one I’ve been waiting for.

This is my Perception.

Were it only my own Perception, I would be hard-pressed to believe it.

But those who have seen is together, the way we really are, have confirmed my suspicions.

She is The One.

So, yeah.

I will absolutely stand before Scatach, Eris, Anubis, Bacchus and whatever Messiah you would like to throw my way. I will stand before my parents and my sister. I will stand before her parents and her sisters. I will stand before my chosen Family, the Hoodie Mafia, and swear the skies above and the Earth below that Cootie is The One.

I will not marry Cootie because it’s the right thing to do. Hitler said the same thing about ethnic cleansing and Eugenics. Doing the “right thing” has been the excuse for some of the worst crimes in history. Remember the Crusades?

I will marry Cootie because I want to. I will make the Promises. I will state those vows. Because for once, I believe them. In front of my child, the gods and everybody… I will marry that Woman.

I am marrying Cootie, not because I have to.

I am marrying her because I want to.

And I always get what I want.