matt pond PA

December 28, 2017

Shadowboxing With the Hoaxes 2.

The game is Sleeping Monsters! Stand in a sleeping bag, the head at the foot, blind, limbless. Cumbrously chase all shrieking participants, knocking over furniture, withstanding kidney punches, head butts, tickle torture, eventually falling, hyperventilating, sweaty and unable to move. Endless fun!

The game is World Championship Paddle Ball! Unearth any available paddle, any ball with even the saddest bounce, find a blank concrete wall in the basement. Only one hop is allowed between the wall and the paddle. After ten unbroken volleys, every hit is a point. The imaginary crowd goes wild! (Since this is the activity of a withdrawn, anxious child, internal punditry is the point. Each score is accompanied with interviews, slow-motion replays and the complete cinderella-story commentary.)

The game is Snakes! There are at least two participants. (No nervous, lonely kids for this one!) Each person holds up a hand in the shape of a cobra and takes turns striking the other player’s shoulder. The first one to lower their snake loses.

The game is Killer On The Loose! It’s basically Hide n’ Seek. But now with more murder! There are horrific threats and screams while the located victims are metaphorically slayed and resurrected as savage zombies. The last living person is the winner! (Or are they?)

The game is Beauty Model Dress Up! When I say go, run upstairs! Raid your parents’ closet! Find your mother’s most garish dress! Tear into the frock and stuff the front with toilet paper, socks, underwear, anything! (The champion will have the largest fake breasts and the most lipstick on their face. Very sexy.)

During a time-out, camera one cuts to camera two. The imaginary crowds have no idea why anyone would ever want to kill time, when time is all we have. They grow wilder as the ridiculousness grows more ridiculous, boundless as time becomes irrelevant to those actually living in it.

I’ll have you know, I once made sense to a barnful of goats. And toddlers often agree with me when I yawn. This isn’t a hippie preaching in the Price Chopper parking lot: Why do we persist in letting our collective consciousness, our rare and beautiful imaginations, be ruled by the arc of a dark algorithm? Because I’m sure that there was once a nervous, lonely goat that felt the same way as me.

Take me, sleep. Take me, visions. Take me to the place I’ll always be home, sliding in my cerebellum. To the last film of my life, the late showing in an empty theater soiled with popcorn debris. The ushers have left for the night, the projectionist is drunk, the sound is garbled. The flickering light of ordinary adventures, of trudging to the grocery, of dancing by the fireplace, and all the unselfconscious laughter following a surprise snowfall. Won’t it be grand?

At the Dream Olympics, triumphant upon the podium, a small circle of great friends saunter in their pajamas, loaded with fake shiny medals, stupidly grinning, holding a twelve-pack of stolen Milwaukee’s Best high overhead. Deep down, I’m unshakeable — we can still kick some unserious ass. I know it.