I went in for anal surgery two days prior to rolling life’s dial from five to six. My dad and I sat in the hospital parking lot talking about the good weather and my mom’s skiing trip until just minutes before I was due inside. Despite making my living by letting drug companies test whatever heinous shit they want on me, I hadn’t been to the doctor in over ten years prior to the beginning of this process. First surgery of my life. I wasn’t nervous. Still, I hugged my dad before they wheeled me off to the scalpels and masks and knockout drugs.
Someone working the Same Day Surgery unit said it was a slow morning because this wasn’t the Friday where the machine came to break up kidney stones. The Machine. I pictured this as a cement truck in the parking lot that the elderly were lowered into by crane. They’d be spun ‘round ’til their stones were ready to be mixed with water and poured out to make new sidewalks. Back in the real world, a cute nurse my age checked me in. I noticed she wore a ring, a station in life I’m not sure I’ll ever experience. She asked why I was there. I looked her in the eyes and confessed, “Anal surgery.”
She had me remove my clothes, change into a gown, and hop on a bed with wheels. Years ago I joked to friends, in regards to my eternal laziness, that all I hoped for from life was a drivable bed I could take to the drive-thru. I had all these fantasies in my head about it, especially driving my bed up the sides of buildings. And now here I was on a spin through hospital corridors, commanding the prototype model of my fantasy ride.
I had so much fun as I laid on the gurney, practically naked beneath the covers, being pushed around hallways with a shower cap affixed to my head. Buttons were pushed and doors opened and rows of lights passed overhead as I rolled excitedly into this new life experience. Anal surgery. If only I could have it every day of my life. It wasn’t that I was yahooing as I sailed toward the scalpel, I felt very calm, but in my head I kept thinking how everything was so damn neat. Heading for my destination, I decided I must steal the special socks they had me wearing. These were a fun color. They had grips on the bottom. I didn’t want to turn twenty-six without them.
I ended up in some kind of holding area. On the way in I saw a screen listing the various surgeries happening that morning like some dude getting an infected cyst boiled off his hips, or so my blind eyes read. Different nurses and doctors came to introduce themselves. They were all part of such and such team or unit. Their jobs ranged from monitoring my vitals to burying their old faces deep in my ass once I was under. Ten in scrubs queuing for the plunge. I’d already spent the past couple weeks with scopes and female fingers up there, so an adventurous tongue seemed to be the natural progression. As an old friend once joked to me years ago, “That girl sucks ass. She sucked one right out of me.” These nurses were surely coprophagist freaks.
My anesthesiologist told me I was a dream patient: young, healthy, polite. How the day before a man kept screaming FUCK YOU to him, how he put under some dude who came over from the jail. It turned out the anesthesiologist and I had both been English majors. Upon questioning I fed him the usual lines about how I’d be going to grad school or for an MFA at some unspecified date, then we chatted about books and writing until it was time for him to shut the Nolan creature down. The last things I recall are being wheeled to another room, a brief glimpse of the screen listing all the carnage waiting to be exacted on other patients, and wiggling my toes in enjoyment of the new socks.
Woke up where I started off with the cute nurse, feeling the same except now slowed down in thought and energy. I had to give a moment’s consideration before responding to any questions or conversational prompts. Stared at a curtain for minutes at a time. Was told to come back in a few weeks for a follow-up. That what they’d hacked off me was sent for testing, which I took to mean as I wouldn’t be allowed to eat it. But I was free to nibble the socks.
During this explanation a fat child kept screaming out in pain or from terror of the axe wielding sadists that awaited him on surgery deck one. Getting ready to lop off his fat head and stir their degreed cocks deep in the gash. But he was young. I was drugged and getting old, so his shrieks were dialed to low volume and I began thinking of nothing, which is my usual frequency. After the cute nurse had me turn over so she could pull down my underwear to check the gauze, she fed me peanut butter toast and wheeled me in a chair back to the real world. There are few feelings I like more than having someone take care of me so completely.
My dad ambulanced me home and as I sat in the passenger seat I leaned against the window to relieve the pain creeping in on my left side. I spent most of the next two days in a spaced state eating high power pain pills, reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test on my stomach in bed, and celebrating St. Patrick’s by watching an episode of House Hunters where two gay dudes moved to Ireland.
Sunday the 18th was my birthday. Other than having to walk with my legs wide apart and being conscious of how I sat myself down, I was feeling alright. Spent my first hour and a half of awake time on hold on the telephone so I could ensure that come April I’d be having anti-fungal cream spackled to my back in exchange for a lot of money. Once that was taken care of, I opened the card from my parents. The message was nice. They love me a lot. We spent an hour or two chatting as I sat on a pillow, my body forever shifted to the right.
Later on my mother and I tried walking with the dogs but it was windy. I was too sore for constant movement anyway. We ended up going through our woods picking trash that previous floods and drunken cousins deposited. I rolled an old oil barrel to the yard and thought of my birthday as a child where friends and I blew up a can of hairspray in these woods as an act of reckless childhood joy. The boom was so loud my mom heard and I wound up grounded for a week. Only time in my life I was ever punished like that.
After the trash collection, I started dog shit duty. I love our two dogs. My mom refers to me as their brother so helping out with this come springtime doesn’t bother much. I thought little of the fact that it was my birthday. The past few years they’ve grown insignificant to me, though still bring happiness in a few small ways like hearing from friends. I spent my twenty-fifth lying in a hospital bed, gobbling depression pills in exchange for $7,000. It came. It went.
This feeling of my birthdays now holding minute importance comes from various things: my declining social life that I often let languish until I’m deep in the shitty pains of loneliness; that I’m old enough to where they shouldn’t matter much beyond being a reminder to casually assess your life and celebrate with a pretty girl or gut bomb cheeseburger; the fact that I’m scared of acknowledging the age will soon come where I’m no longer youth but instead another honors grad who didn’t put thrust behind potential; that this means I’m now equalized with the true dipshits of the world, at least in the minds of many.
I find it sad when a person locked in some unhappy life speaks of talents displayed in youth as a way to define themselves now. Not reminiscence, but a miring. It makes me think so what, you did nothing with that. The value it once held has been rendered through inaction to a near zero sum. You let your specialness die and look pathetic speaking as if it were still what makes you.
A friend told me a story about the fiftysomething man who delivers bread to the Christian fast food joint she worked at. He asked for a job and hit on her by talking of how in eighth grade he wrote science fiction stories. All the teachers thought he was something special. But he decided to fuck around with his life in the ensuing years. Drinking too much, I think. Pumping unprotected cum into some hag at too young an age, siring forth hideous progeny. Now he was hitting on young girls and hoping to sling fast food because he couldn’t support his rats on bread alone. Time got away from him real fucking fast.
Perhaps my age of bread man equalization has come already. Most times this doesn’t bother me beyond how it’ll make me appear to women, peers, my family. Still, sometimes a tiny feeling creeps in that perhaps I’m in part lying to myself in regards to my comfort and satiation with the life I’m living. That even though I’m on my own and take care of myself completely, I’m still scared of being a real grown up. That I’m not ambitious in the right ways. I live a life of nonstop leisure and personal enrichment, but often with little thought to where it’s leading me. That tiny feeling creeps in and pokes, telling me to do more, that it could all go bad if I don’t work on it. Then I flip open another book, take a walk, find comfort in the money I’ve saved, text a friend, and the thought disappears. Just another coaster.
Coasting into yet another day, my birthday. Feeling compelled to check my anal gauze to make sure I wasn’t bleeding in excess. Scooping so much shit from this yard I wondered if my parents had been squatting out there too. My mom spoils the dogs with all kinds of homemade food since they refuse to eat the dry stuff she buys in giant bags. I drop by my parents’ every couple of months or so at random, and there’s almost always a container of meatballs for them brought from her work or a pot of dog soup she spent an hour building in her cauldron. As the dogs grow fat, she explains it away by saying that she has to pour these meat brews over their dry food to get them to even look at it. She loves to feed them. If their bowls are empty it means something in her system has gone horribly wrong.
The results of these buffets then litter the lawn. As the snow melts, the mess amassed over winter and hidden until spring now has to be cleaned. And so this is how I kicked off twenty-six. Scooping away the ends of an excess enabled by a woman who refused to feed her children anything but sugar free, no fat, no taste foods. And perhaps when I come home to visit she eyes me and thinks she’s found a way to unload all those sacks of dry dog food taking space in the garage. A birthday present.
Years ago I was working at a gas station and saw my boss dumping treasures into the dumpster. Given my fascination with trash, I climbed up there once he’d left. Found a garbage bag full of Matlock tapes and scattered dry dog food. I’ve never seen Matlock, and wasn’t a dog, but still carried this chicken flavored sack around in the trunk of my car for several years. My survival kit. Would show it to friends with the pride of a dog that kills a rat and leaves it on your porch as tribute. A friend of mine in Missoula dumpster dove for her food, but she’d never found something so nourishing, so worthy of being toted about, bragged on. If this Matlock bag set precedent, my mom might send me back to Minneapolis with a load of what the dogs couldn’t stomach — ten thousand squares of pig flavored cereal.
But I wouldn’t want to take it home. She’d realize there was all this dry dog chow, and god dammit wouldn’t you know, the woof woof machines just lapped up the last of her cauldron’s dog stew. What to do? The dogs can’t go hungry. Her poor furry daughters. But then, a thought. If only this food were wet, flavored with something they like. She’d find the hole in my wrist where they fed me anesthesia and whip up her own concoction of low-fat knockout brew to pump on in.
With me knocked cold, she sets to work hanging my body upside down from the basketball hoop, shoelaces tied to the rim. Cuts away the clothing. Hacks off my genitals for later use in her own surgery: gender reassignment. My soul hovers over, watching, like some Enter the Void shit. With my corporeal head dangling a couple feet from the ground, a metal tub of the dry stuff is slid beneath it. The dogs stick their nose into the pig cereal but she tells them not yet, that good little girls must practice patience.
Kneeling, she goes to work on my neck with the scissors she uses to cut decorative edges on photos for family albums. God damn things won’t even break the skin. She goes to the garage and comes back with a garden hoe. A few whacks split the bastard neck open and the red starts to pour in a cascade. Even uncorks my asshole to get every last drop. My body swivels ’round, the tied shoelaces twisting in one direction before unraveling in the other. She uses an oar to churn my blood through the little biscuits until they’re all coated. Picks up both dogs and sets them in this gravy pot. Commands them to eat. They lay down to feast and upon standing their white coats are slathered red, their bellies full. The bigger one licks my face, putting color back into my cheeks.
Later, after the dogs waddle out back to shit themselves empty, my mom prepares the burial. Fills the trunk of my car with food the dogs couldn’t finish. Feces and Matlock, too. Eats a handful of this holy soil. Nods her head. It’s good. I’m untied and from the fall my head cracks open against the cement. Lugging me over her shoulder, she throws what’s left into the trunk grave. I sink until I’m buried, just a hand sticking out. She prays the rosary and wraps it around my fingers. Kisses them once, gently. Let the Lord sort this one out. She hooks down more scoops of soil enveloping the son she always sensed was going nowhere. A dipshit buried. Forever twenty-six.