-the dissolution of order-
Entropy is a book without a genre; experience it as you would a painting.
Ketchup & Hot Sauce
D and I met as random roommates our freshman year of college; the first word he said to me was ‘Hi’ but the first actual conversation we had (once the parents were gone) was centered around his need for bi-weekly segments of alone time in our room to chemically burn the hair from the delicate portions of his short, furry, descended from Italy frame. I didn’t complain because I know how much I fart in my sleep, and begrudging acceptance of never mentioned but always annoying idiosyncrasies is the way all friendships start out.
Tolerance, as it is apt to do, morphed into genuine appreciation, an evolution that emboldened both of us to be ourselves more than ever before. The tranquil ground our friendship was built on never shifted, one year together to two, three; what started as an acquanticeship morphed into an intrinsic feature of my college experience.
Though we did everything together we remained separate entities, ate different meals across from each other at the same table, so to say; it isn’t important, but still worth noting that D’s stomach was so weak it’d lose battles to the mere thought of spice, whereas everything I ate had to be covered in hot sauce. We were opposites with a beneficial coexistence; he helped me understand why we use stereotypes. If I started out thinking of him as anything more than a cutout I wouldn’t have had anything to learn. Generalizations are humanity’s shorthand, quick notions that succeed in communicating until intricacies are introduced.
The initial impression I had of D was so one-dimensional that it hardly displays a person when put into two; the first thing he taught me was to never leave Nair on for more than 5 minutes, the second was that I am capable of being wrong.
At the beginning of our time together I was a lot easier to like than him, I imagine because I was (still am) often silent, and nothingness is more pleasant than white noise when people are doing anything they can to avoid sleep. D and I were 18, months removed from officially being children, still kids, or at least that’s how I felt. I went into things just to be, was at a particular place only because I wasn’t anywhere else; people get that without me having to say.
Before we were really close there’d be weekends where I went out and D stayed in, but never the opposite; I got so sick of him waiting up for me like a parent that I began to insist he come along.
One time weed was smoked and D did not partake – the next time weed was smoked D braved the trial of the plastic bottle bong that every toker knows – after that D wiggled into rotation whenever he could – a week later he’d bought enough weed for him and I, as well as a person (usually girl) of his choice to smoke every night – the following month he was picking up enough to smoke and sell.
The bond created by shared space is nothing compared to the bond that develops through a shared vice; the decision to become a dealer was all it took for the once unpopular and outspoken D to become a campus favorite. I had people I knew, sure, but wasn’t known until D took me with him on his way up.
We spent years that way, as somebodies to all, and while it was nice it certainly was not the same as what I’d had – friends invite, where people that know you say hi, friends care, when people that know you aren’t there. Luckily, I had D and D me; if I blacked out he’d pick me up regardless of the risk of throw-up in his car, and I was around for him, for whatever he deemed it worth (I don’t offer much.) D must have valued me, though his constant conquest of new people made me question that more than once.
One day during sophomore year D comes back from class smiling like he knows something special. The guy never pays attention, I know he hasn’t learned anything, I demand to know what’s happened. He wanted to tell, words pour out of his mouth about an invite, for the both of us to a Halloween smoke session at a sorority house; I don’t buy his story that the girls who go out of their way to look like they’re not going out of their way would go out of their way to set up plans with him, but he has text message evidence, emojis included. “Can you believe it?”
It’s still a no from me but I don’t say, my silence rule intact as always; he’ll go even if I don’t, so I might as well. I never talked to these girls before but already know what’s in store for us because my parents forced me through a wax museum tour when I was a kid; dead stares from a gallery of almost pretty celebrity replicas with facades in danger of melting away as long as there are thermostats with numbers above 70.
My mood worsens as I slip on an oversized penguin costume; the directions say to plump the beak with balled up newspaper – I leave it limp. And D, with all of his money tied up in product, is forced to improvise a costume; the bedsheet toga he wraps around himself doesn’t look bad, he stays so busy looking for an opportunity to stain his bedding that it never gets dirty. He goes to the mini fridge, and in a stroke of brilliance, squirts ketchup where sheet covers his heart. “Call me – what was – the salad guy- call me Caesar.”
The emperor bit is played out by the time we reach the sorority house but he still has a royal-esque strut as we go up the steps and knock on the door; freshly manicured hands drag us inside without a chance to tell them we’re expected.
The walls are lined with Christmas lights and crappily painted, oversized craft store letters that spell out ‘Under The Tree’ on the back wall and the sorority’s abbreviation (D-Z-whatthefuckever) on the others. Short skirted elves, anthropomorphic reindeer wearing less coverage than their non-clothed animal counterparts, and body-painted gingerbread girls scamper from room to room Scooby-Doo style; we’re expected in the ‘Highest Room In The Tallest Tower’ because of course that’s the theme that self-proclaimed princesses think of for an attic.
Each floor we climb past looks like a different world, and like the first, is labeled as such; the effort would’ve impressed me if it was invested in something other than appealing to strangers. I’m surprised at the buzz of conversation, because as far as I saw sorority girls never stopped texting; even in class most put their phones away only to continue their conversations through the same messaging programs on their laptops. I can identify them without knowing them because they treat themselves like cattle, only operate in herds only distinguishable and always wear the branding of their organization.
We’re occasionally huffing, mostly puffing, we’d each lit a joint on the way up the stairs and we step off the staircase through the shroud of smoke that always announces our arrival. We’re directed to a couch by a skeleton with an ass who, like the gingerbread girls, only wears body paint, though her’s is black and white; D nudges me because that’s the girl who invited him, and I have to admit, had it been me in his position, I’d have been doing the nudging myself.
The possibilities of the situation occur to me; I look around, these are not girls, these are women who know very well that D and I are men. We’re there to provide what they want; they sit close, smile their way through introductions and into rotation, each individual her own – hopefully soon to be shared with me – medieval fantasy.
The more we smoke the more they laugh, the more they laugh the less I think about my preconceptions; the room is fogged over but I can see clearly now that I was wrong, and D right. Though the skeleton isn’t near us at the moment, she’s flirted enough to erase my doubts about her interest; I, personally, have an impossibly sexy shield that’s committed to hearing the end of one of my stories as soon as I get back from the bathroom.
I stand and am immediately assaulted with lightheadedness; all I see are doors, all I hear are giggles, all I need to do is piss. An acrylic witch nail points me to the nearest room, I go but it’s dark, the only reason silhouettes are visible is because of a thin sliver of light shooting from beneath a shut door further in; the chamber pot.
I almost knock but a voice talks, stops my fist at the last second; the skeleton’s voice. “You have to be close; they’ve been here forever and the one smells like ketchup.” She stops talking for a moment, then, “I don’t care what masks you wear this should have been done already; wait any longer and they’ll smoke it all before you can take it. And I’m getting my cut irregardless of what you do.”
The doorknob rattles, I jump into the darkness and the skeleton struts right past me; I see, even in the limited light, that she’s washed her face, is human, simultaneously more and less than I’d given her credit for.
I wait a few seconds before going back out to the highest room in the tallest tower; the skeleton, woman, whatever had her almost pretty face buried in D’s neck. I don’t move or say a word, the shield notices me, then her friend, the sword; soon the mood shifts, everyone has stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
“The room – the castle is spinning.”
And because I never say a word D understands what those mean; he collects his things, and ignoring the increasingly desperate pleas from the skeleton that he stay, leads the way down the steps. We go out the way we came in.
I remember I have to pee, we stop in an alley a little way down the road so I can relieve myself. D is livid but still with me, playing the role of lookout so I don’t get busted; I zip and hear whoops, hollers, a rush of feet go by.
“A frat dressed like wolves just went into where we were,” I turn and see my roommate shaking his head at me, “Bet that’s about to be the party of the year.”
I smile but don’t say anything; the third thing D taught me was that I could be right.
Our brains make decisions based on synaptic flashes and a chemical cocktail it’s a nightclub in our skulls – but we live in a world where drug use is frowned upon – only some though – only those on the far side of the money fault line – they encourage addiction outside of the system feeling good instead of working to never pass Go cause you never moved from the couch to unpack the Monopoly board – ‘let the rebels learn what defying us gets them!’ Society sneers – Society also says to delay satisfaction for it will be greater at the end – that means nothing to those not accepted into or helped out by the system – the set of rules is supposed to provide a chance at happiness yet they close the avenues to the immediate solution – why? Safety but that’s not it – Pharma-Man fabricates then introduces pills to the public that openly mimic the effects of the illegals – better though cause they’re concentrated and more efficient in destruction – they have the weight of industry behind them – people hooked on doctor’s orders are said to be functional but if the point of life is to be happy I don’t see it in the glazed eyes and foggy days prescription medication leaves in its wake – seizures if you stop heroin if you don’t and that was created by Pharma-Man too – our lives are going to be ruled by chemicals regardless there is no reason to let a massive but ultimately faceless force determine which concoctions are ‘okay’ – science is far from thoroughly understanding the complexities of the brain and market influence will always be tied into research – that picture will NEVER be truly clear – what is though is how I feel – fucked – not personally bent over but I’ve seen my loved ones take it – everyone’s day of reckoning is coming – the system is built to ensure it.