Monday, May 11, 2009

Seven Years

The subway prophets spew knowledge and nonsense, unsolicited in the tunnels underground. At times absurdly humorous, but more often militant or scripted, their paeans to God, instructions toward repentance, and reminders of homelessness are ever-present in the sidewalk cellar, competing for attention alongside vermin and peddlers. Last week, the token Caucasian caught my ear with his religious fearmongering, warning of damnation in a city proud to be damned. Plastered across the chest of his navy sweatshirt were the words “Risk All,” while “Fear God” adorned the back in chunky block letters. And like most of the mentally unstable brethren who pay their $2 to entertain and educate, our friend warned of final judgment, his speech authenticated with fire-and-brimstone scripture. Seven years was all he offered. Not a long timetable nor a generous gift, but a manageable frame in which to alter perspective.

Both an eternity and an eyeblink, seven years can encourage remarkable variance – shifting the patchwork of family, career, and personal growth – where the obvious becomes opaque and the expected turns inside-out. Yet as easily as it races, time can mark a flatline where weeks compound to months which drag to years; a glut of opportunities trashed, where the same cup of coffee and the same crossword clues rotate insipidly. In seven years, will you accept your given hand due to economics or exhaustion? Join a cause knowingly or fight a war mindlessly? Retreat greedily or sacrifice needily? Love dearly or hate severely? Discover wealth and lie for it? Take a stance and die for it? Would you change only because you were scared? Or enrich your morals just to be spared?

When the rent is due but jobs are scarce, our subterranean louse withdraws from the labyrinths beneath Seventh Avenue and retreats to an idyllic Main Street; flag lined, sepia drenched, and worlds removed from the urban rot of the rat traps. This cowardly homecoming is pardoned by the same parents whose bank account he raped with impunity. Prophets in their own right, mom and dad have left his bedroom untouched, foreseeing the return of their son, the failed apostle. Aborted by urbanity, excommunicated by progress. Still fearing God but risking nothing. A charlatan. A sham. A waste of seven years.

12 comments:

Expat From Hell said...

Wow. The over-urbanized neo-Prodigal Son. Great writing. But also powerful evocative words. You are scaring me. I think you have done your job again today, my friend.

EFH

Suldog said...

As always, well-written and thought-provoking. Heck of a photo to accompany it, too. Yours?

Theresa said...

That was some heavy sh**. I'm exhausted. All that because you saw the guy with the shirt. I wonder what you would have said if you had talked to my customer who told me he has a portal to another world in his bathroom. Great blog, well written and way too thought provoking.

MVD said...

Hey Theresa - Breaking the time-space continuum is one thing, but discovering that the only method is through some random guy's toilet is another proposition entirely. I'm not comfortable shitting into another dimension.

Jen said...

Now that was depressing but I know you can't always be sunshine and light. I don't know what you're thinking with seven years. The Mayans said the world is going to implode in 2012. We only have 3 good years left. I say we break out the bottomless pitcher of margaritas and start having fun.

MVD said...

Well, Jen, we are getting into margarita season. While I'm at it, I may even cruise through a few topless car washes.

Matt Shea said...

Mike - with couplets like those you'd make a pretty good subway preacher yourself. As for portals to other dimensions greater and more wondrous than our own, I thought the only difference in the northern hemisphere was that the water spins the other way. If I'd known that I could go to a parallel universe where monkeys rule the earth and Gwyneth Paltrow is English and dumps her boyfriend I would have visited a lot more than I already have.

MVD said...

Matt - On your recommendation, I may dip my toe into evangelism. At least those guys get paid, even if it means I have to widen the lapels on my suits tremendously or drive around in a garishly out-of-date Cadillac with politician-style hair.

Chris said...

I'm kinda intrigued by the ever-evolving Essential Bastard. Are we now even dabbling in poetry? Interesting indeed.

Well done, friend.

MVD said...

Hey Chris - Ultimately, this piece balanced out last Thursday's death sentence. Somehow, I wasn't feeling very funny when I penned it, but I'm hoping to lighten the mood soon. Jen's recommendation for bottomless tequila might uncross my eyes a bit. Couple that with a good hooker, and I’ll be back to my old jovial self.

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