by the Gus, illustration by Jessika Flint
n Dec 8th, a Friday, I returned to The House for more fun. The plan: to take Tussin with the Malvern Girls and Farrell, one of the Malvern Girls' many friends.
First I should mention who Farrell is. Farrell works as an editor at a fussy publishing company. He's 26 years old, and like other young men in Charlottesville, me included, had occasion to catch Jessika's eye once across a crowded room, in this case in The Monsoon (a very good restaurant near bozART) during a live music performance Dec. 1994 (ironically, I may have actually been there at the time). Farrell, like many men before, became entranced by Jessika, and what exactly were the goings on between the two is a somewhat of a mystery to me; though, my sources have indicated to me that after a fashion the attraction between Jessika and Farrell was mutual, if also in flux. Over time, all three of the Malvern Girls have become his personal project. He's a gentleman about all of this, of course, just as his uniform-always lots of brown and a bow tie- would lead you to think. He's soft spoken and intellectual and appreciates and at times practices oddly outlandish behaviour, especially that which most celebrates Generation X.
Things started out simple enough. At first it was just Jessika and I playing around with Astrolog, then, dressing outlandishly, buying vino down at the Scottsville IGA. There were some peculiar good old boys there, behaving in a manner familiar to me but bizarre to Jessika. They were laughing and teasing each other as they stood in the check out line, later saying things like, "don't use all the cat litter in one place" to a friend who had just purchased some. They had bad teeth and strong accents. On the way back from IGA, Jessika told me that many months ago, when she was fleeing Malvern because of an overly possessive former boyfriend (of sorts) named Johnny Boom Boom Mancini, he had tried to convince her that Charlottesville was an awful place full of such men, and that they had sex with their tractors, and that Jamie Dyer (long-haired internet junkie/ musician/ attempted suitor of Sara of Malvern and Charlottesville personality) was such also man.
Then came Sara, Peggy, Morgan Anarchy (a skater punk and corner regular) and Josh Smith with the night's bottled fun, a variety of different Tussins bought at different stores. Kroger Tussin is alleged to be the most powerful. That was my drug for the evening, along with vino. The whole time Sara was going on and on about how good death was compared to life, listing the many benefits of death...that you didn't have to pay the rent or get jobs or freeze to death in a cold house or deal with losers. She could think of no benefits of life. She said with melodramatic flourish that she was only going to be alive one more day, that she intended to hang herself in front of Tiger Fuel, the gas company that had made the of Malverns wait two weeks for a fuel delivery only to then tell them no go because they had no credit...causing a fury in Sara so fundamental that she launched her "Boycott Tiger Fuel" campaign which involved her writing at least one very nasty letter with intentions of writing many more as well as leafletting the Downtown Mall.
Then another vehicle arrived...it was Eric "The Huffanator" Huffman, along with his buddy Chris (later known as Bad Cheese), an alleged Speed Metal drummer. Their ride departed, and so we were indefinitely stuck with these two guys. The Huffanator lingered at the bottom of the stairs for a long time chatting with the Malvern Girls about such real issues as his wife's jealousy about his coming by, an incident in which Morgan Anarchy supposedly "sucker-punched" the Huffanator in a mosh pit, and other such things.
The Huffanator became all indignant at this, getting up in my face and saying the Vikings didn't really have horns on their helmets....that that was just a fiction made up by Christians eager to demonize a bunch of cool pagans.
I came down the stairs to enjoy the presence of "The Huffanator." I was wearing Jessika's blue wig, and during a pause in the conversation, The Huffanator tried to intimidate me by calling me a hippy and asking about a black eye that I didn't have. He then wanted me to take my wig off, but I refused. His side kick, Chris (Bad Cheese), had a strong local accent and was being too eager to please. The Malvern Girls had had a bad experience with Bad Cheese in the past...him being all macho and starting up fires in the fire places for no good reason and engaging in boring conversation and stupid flirtation. They told him he was welcome to hang out, but that he shouldn't spend the night. Meanwhile, knowing the Huffanator to be a fan of the Norse Vikings (another of his White-Supremacist things), I told him that I was making a paper maché helmet with horns on it. The Huffanator became all indignant at this, getting up in my face and saying the Vikings didn't really have horns on their helmets....that that was just a fiction made up by Christians eager to demonize a bunch of cool pagans.
Later the Huffanator was up in Sara's room being a verbal bully with Morgan Anarchy, forcing him to admit that he'd sucker-punched the Huffanator in a mosh pit. Peggy became infuriated with the Huffanator and shouted at him that she could kick him out if she wanted to. He had no idea how to respond to such belligerence from a woman. He said that Morgan and I were too afraid to kick his ass, and I asked him what he meant by that....going on to tell him that he didn't need to show what a tough guy he was...that we thought he was cool enough the way he was. Not long after that, he'd mellowed considerably, and went off and talked to Farrell, who had by now arrived. He seemed to have an eagerness to please Farrell for some reason.
At the same time as Farrell's came the arrival of Karah ------- and Deya, two girls regular to the Downtown Mall. The former of these is only fourteen years old, the latter eighteen. Both are regulars of the high school party scene that I was part of a couple of months before. As Sara of Malvern put it later, "I didn't really know what to do with those girls, so I just ignored them." She feared they'd get drunk and puke like the kids who'd come to the housewarming party. But Jessika and I knew better. Sarah and Deya are very advanced for their ages. XXX YYYY especially. I get the FEELING that XXX YYYY is in acute rebellion against her mother now, experimenting with sex, drugs and alcohol. Rebelling against XXX YYYY's mother isn't going to be easy...she's Andy YYYY, one of the more outlandish artists in bozART.
The Tussin kicked in about this time, and I wailed awhile on my guitar as a means of contact with something real. I was having trouble seeing, because I was really messed up by vino-intensified Tussin. Things seemed to have grown brackets on just the outsides of their edges, or else to have been shredded into sinuous ribbons. Nathan VanHooser called, and I described to him how fucked up I was, but I ended up having a normal conversation with him anyway. I was challenging all the norms. No one ever gives someone a guitar and demands that they play. But I gave Jessika my guitar and demanded that she play. Of course she couldn't, but I didn't care. There was something wonderful about doing that. But she looked ridiculous in her vinyl pants and short blonde hair, like a glam rocker or worse. "Haven't you always wanted to play guitar?" I asked. She admitted that she had always.
That guy Bad Cheese went with Jessika and Morgan and the two girls, XXX YYYY and Deya, when they left for a walk. Jessika had wanted me to come too, but I'd been distracted by a conversation in the kitchen. She had a miserable time, with that Bad Cheese trying to get her excited by his dumb ideas for adventure. Farrell was gone for awhile, taking the Huffanator home, bonding all the way Ho Ho Ho.
In Peggy's room, we all hung out, and Peggy was flipping out on the Tussin. She claimed we all existed in an enormous mushroom. ..likely an influence of her new job, at a SHITaki mushroom farm, where her boss treats her like a complete idiot. [She quit the job after about a week.] She would say in her concerned voice "Hey you guys...." and then not elaborate, and every now and again she would shout "JUST STOP!" and everyone would be quiet for a moment. Meanwhile, Farrell and I were making Rorshach inkblots for Sara and Jessika to interpret. Farrell squeezed out ink, I blew it around and folded the paper. The blots were impressive and symmetrical. It gave me a new idea for art for bozART. Meanwhile Josh Smith played loud Megadeth from his room and chatted with Morgan Anarchy and Chris while Sara made nasty comments about both Josh's music and Bad Cheese. Farrell drove home in his topless convertible as sleet pelted down. We feared for his safety, but what could we do? He later told the Malvern Girls by phone that the twenty miles had taken an hour to drive.
Later in Jessika's room, I was having a horrible time as I noticed Josh and Bad Cheese having a very dull, very male conversation while Jessika and Sara had their own conversation up in Jessika's diminutive loft. We'd come down off the Tussin, and Morgan had gotten us stoned. Sara looked down at little me on Jessika's bed and had the revelation that I was androgynous...she too had noted the utterly typical maleness of the conversation around me. The only thing of note that came up conversationally was when that guy Bad Cheese apologized for having an Offspring song in his head. He then said that Offspring was a poser band and Sara agreed enthusiastically. What I said was, "I don't believe there is anyone who is not a poser."
The conversation had become so stale that I attempted to inject a lousy bit of humour into it all. First, I started beating on Jessika's bedpost with my rings rhythmically and chatting over the beat a satirical dialog supposedly taking place at a drum circle:
"Hey Man, where did you get that beautiful African Drum...can I play it?"
"Say, brother, didn't I see you at the gathering?"
"They were some good kind buds, Huh?"
"Do know where I can meet any sisters?"
"Hey man, like wow!"
Then I claimed my mother used to beat me with an enormous radish and sing Mormon hymns. Bad Cheese said something jokingly bad (I guess) about Mormons, and then I lied and said I was one. So he became all apologetic, and I magnanimously forgave him, shaking his tough working man right hand. Next I claimed that Mormons controlled the whole world in a great conspiracy. Everyone except Jessika was now convinced I was a Mormon, and both Josh and Bad Cheese thought they'd offended me. It was so ridiculous I had to leave. I went downstairs and listened through a heat vent as they argued among themselves about how they thought they'd pissed me off. It was hysterically funny, and I would have laughed appropriately and done even more fucked up things, but I was tired and had to go to sleep.
Read about more incidents with tough guys, Nazis, skinheads, dunderheads and their lackeys.
Read some more tales of tussin.