His Vital Fluids

fluids James fumbled at the lid of his bottle of herbal remedy; a circle of plastic that clung to the glass like a noose. He didn’t approve of plastic, nor anything the magazines claimed leeched environmental estrogens, but all the same he reasoned, the tribulus should more than compensate for any contamination.

Gums ached and guilt welled, the notion appearing in his mind that he’d be a little less manly as he bit at the lid, estrogens squeezing from the plastic into his saliva and whatnot. He’d not be doing this if his partner hadn’t poisoned the tribulus on the front lawn with glyphosate – a twin sin that disposed of herbal medicine and boosted Monsanto in one fell swoop.

‘The kids get the seeds stuck in their feet, and I’ve had to fix the tyres on my bike three times in the last month!’, echoed the rationalisations of the other half.

Tablets finally freed, he almost poured generic tap water in a fit of haste. Chiding himself first, his glass was filled from the filtered spout, its contents washing down the boost to his masculinity. There would be no fluoride, nor no other nasties for one James Sandalwood!

His partner, Mrs Sandalwood (he’d never sign up to any of that un-reflexive, modernist claptrap of hyphenated names), had taken her kids off to the Steiner school they’d finally been enrolled in. James, emerging from late morning snooze, assumed his role of provider, looking out from the kitchen window over the organic garden that replaced both what had been Mrs Sandalwood’s outdoor dining area, and a well-maintained patch of lawn.

Scalp flaking, ball sack itching, beard managing to be both dry and oily at once, James made for the shower, the scent of lavender just another barrage against his manhood in a world where true men were perpetually undermined – so he reasoned. As the scum of the night before – scum he’d slept in – began to wash down his body, barbs from his pre-bed Facebook battles emerged in his mind as if revealed from beneath the stink and dead skin.

A hand shot out from the curtain to grasp the container of Ajax, with which he powdered his body, before wetting himself further and grinding at skin, oil, zits and flakes. Detritus obliterated, the smell of grease, dirty denim and steampunk workshops exploded in James’ mind – a manly evocation.

Upon patting down with a towel freshly laundered the prior afternoon, James decided that the garden could wait another hour. He owed it to society to one-by-one, correct the popular misconceptions that plagued hapless minds. Incense lit, coffee plunged and poured, Tangerine Dream turned up on a loop over the stereo, James made for the MacBook on the lounge room coffee table, his body adorned only by freshly laundered boxers.

Only buy local food! Eschew anything that comes out of a corporation! Buy second hand wherever possible! Crypto-currency is the future! Self-medicate! False flags! Manufacturing consent! Sugar! Do not vaccinate! Everywhere estrogens!

James was perpetually aghast at the endless supply of ignorance that poured forth on the Internet, and at the apathy and skewed priorities of otherwise educated people. Some feminist keyboard warrior, or what James assumed to be one, had bothered to sidetrack his discussion on fertility with talk of implicit ‘gender essentialism’.

The impression James got, was that this individual as trying to protect transgendered folk, but surely if society got rid of the excess estrogens in the environment, that’d all sort itself out with generational change. Besides, there were all the cancers to consider as well. Priorities!

This exchange had got James so distracted, that he hadn’t noticed until too late that his Tangerine Dream selection was on its third loop, and hours had past. The partner would be home too early now, and he’d have nothing to show for his labours, such was the unfair nature of his life and his life’s mission. Fire arced up his spine at the thought of another fruitless domestic argument.

James wondered what the ghosts of the houses’ past residents would make of his dilemmas. He was a man who worked with his hands to provide for the family table. The house was an old stone-walled job, built when the suburb was working class. James saw the spectres of long-gone men in overalls looking down at him in his boxers, and he resolved to water the veggie patch.

Precious rainwater sluiced over carrot tops and cabbages as James pondered how unappreciated he was, even in his own home. Books that he’d sampled and memorised to his own satisfaction sat behind a patina of dust that gave testimony to the philistines his partner’s children seemed intent on becoming.

James had tried to inject a little culture into the mix, prints of Degas’ portraits of young women adorning the walls. Mrs Sandalwood didn’t object to her kids viewing nudes, however she had concerns about the objectification inherent in Degas’ work, as well as concerns about anti-Semitism expressed in his other works – an oversensitivity that James had on occasion had to explain, left her open to Zionist manipulation.

Mrs Sandalwood worked in advertising, a fact which James could overlook on account of her better qualities and knowledge on specific policy points. He did, however, feel he had his work cut out for him on account of her buying into the prevailing materialist paradigm. That, and she could be annoyingly assertive even when he felt she was wrong.

Fuck! Too much water. Again intrusions into man-space disrupted James’ train of thought, tampering with his fluids in a way James felt harshly apt; his élan vital derailed.

Speaking of which, the craft beer, along with the peach wine he’d had brewing in the shed would have finished fermenting. Hopefully he’d be well into bottling before Mrs Sandalwood got home with her kids.

(Photo Source: Henningklevjer).

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The Loser

Preface

The first complete draft of this post was finished in April of last year, and was initially to be completed and published at, prior to the closure of, Thinkers’ Podium. This did not happen.

Again, in Spring of 2011, I planned to publish The Loser, this time at Rousing Departures, after the heat surrounding ‘ElevatorGate’ had passed down. This in order for it not to be misinterpreted as a passive-aggressive swipe at any of the people involved (including but not limited to ‘Elevator Guy’). This was delayed again, as another bloke, ‘Felch Grogan’ (aka ‘Franc Hoggle’) stepped into focus, making bit of a goose of himself, albeit worse than ‘Elevator Guy’ – I didn’t want to have this post entangled with that drama if I could avoid it.

Since then, ‘Felch’ has made a bigger goose of himself, in obsessing over Ophelia Benson…

‘Ophelia is a poor woman’s Catharine MacKinnon. If I was a girl, I’d kick her in the c**t. C**t.’

(Felch Grogan/Franc Hoggle/etc., 2011)

The above link leads you to ‘Felch’s’ website, where he explains the quote in-context… as if it somehow makes it less abusive. Despite knowing about Felch’s website, and some of his other antics, I didn’t know about this particular episode at the time, and it was only after other issues popped up that I was made properly aware (thanks Chrys).

I’ve had my head down, and not being properly informed of the specifics, I haven’t been able to comment at length in the kind of detail I’d like. I’ve been uncertain on what tack to take in launching arguments on the topic, in what has become a very tribal, very polarised debate, predominantly because I don’t know what it is I’m launching arguments into.

I can say now, I’m even less happy about the whole train-wreck, and accordingly I no longer care if this post is received by individuals, as an attack on them or others in particular – they can be as defensive and deluded as they like. If it helps, I’ll cede for the sake of argument, that they’re an instance of the class of bloke I’m writing about in this post.

Despite this anger, what I would like is for other parties reading this, particularly parties with a stake in recent feuding, to realise this post in its original form predates the whole ‘ElevatorGate’ fiasco, and that it’s far more general in scope than a personal slanging match. There is a risk of the message being lost or dismissed through such misinterpretation.

A work of short fiction, it draws from Martin Amis’ ‘The Last Days of Muhammad Atta’ (2006), inspiration for the viscera of neurotic, sexual repression, albeit not with Amis’ gender politics. For those a little squeamish, or with delicate tastes, The Loser contains harsh language, ‘adult concepts’ and bodily functions.

For the rest of you deviants, just follow over the fold…

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