» The Benny Poda Years «
Kevin McGowin
Chapter 14 - Nola

"Happy Valentine's Day." — The Author

Valentine's Day came down on New Orleans like acid rain of nuclear fallout that year. I have some people I'd like to thank for that. Then I'll be halfway There.
        Somewhere out there walking the Earth of America is a woman who, while frying fish, CRIED because she didn't have the money to buy me a birthday present. And I'll never forget it, because that was the greatest birthday present of my life—being loved. It's Valentine's Day today. Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose, and everybody knows it.
        Valentine's Day is every day in the same way Judgment Day is every day. If you're full of shit, there's a piper by your sleeping ass at 4 o'clock in the morning demanding a payment or the Cobras get let loose all over Ireland and New Orleans, and man, I was full of shit. I lied about Love to myself and God and everybody, and look where it got me. Look where it'll get YOU, bub. Hi! Hello out there, all you people I couldn't love because I knew deep down I was an overloaded sack of shit. Happy Valentine's Day, Monica. Happy Happy, Heather, Catherine, Dasher, Prancer, DonnerandVixen, Bonkayt and Heidi and Heroin and Beer and Hate and Pot and Fear and Coke and New Orleans, and MasterCard, Visa. American Express.
        I don't have long to live. Not anymore. Once, I did. ONCE, I did.
        It's said in certain happy-assed circles We Do The Best We Could Do At The Time. Is that right? Is that right, blowhole? Because I, myself, did NOT. I do not think I EVER did the Best I Could At The Time. Not during THOSE years, at least, and here I am for all the world to see me admit it, and here I sit writing my final will and testament about my bullshit to you, and what do I say, do I say, I'm sorry? Well, did YOU do the best YOU could at the time? You did not. You fucking did NOT. The best thing you could have done was exactly what you didn't have the courage to do, and THAT is the Human Condition.
        Do I judge you for it? No. Not at all. I'm serious. I swear by the snow on Kilimajaro I am serious. And what in the name of goddamn Mario Lemieux WAS a leopard seeking at those heights?
        We're all looking for something, and you wished it was me and I wished it was You and we both wished it was God, sex, drugs, New Orleans or Benny Poda. Well, there's a crack in everything. That's how the night gets in.
        We will go to any length to find what we perceive to be Love: in other words, what gets us thru the night. Well, it's NOT all right, Walrus. Never was. We will do fucking ANYTHING to obviate the pain of not being loved unconditionally by everybody in America, the World, New Orleans. We will fuck, we will smoke crack. We will fight on the beaches, we will fight on the landing grounds. We will never surrender. We will NEVER surrender, Gettysburg was lost over a goddamn PEACH ORCHARD and SWEET CHRIST, I'm rolling. Happy Valentine's Day! Yo! Is sex tonight gonna save you? Do you think you have True Love? Is The Man From Galilee gonna live your life FOR you? Are you exempt? Will The Benny Poda Years save ME? Or you? To whom do we look to love us today? Mario? Your daddy? Your newborn baby? Your newfound realization that we live without an Excuse? Am I about to provide you with an answer to these questions?
        Life is a rhetorical question. I never quite knew that in those years. Well, I'm angry that I'm aging and it was all a crock of shit, and I'm angry I'm gonna die. And Happy Valentine's Day to you, too.
        But what's wrong with age and death, really? The unknown? The fact that you could once get off by thinking about being somebody else fucking YOUR gorgeous ass? Tell me, Jolynn, Heather. Tell me, God. I'm open to suggestions. I'm all ears, except I have a bad infection in at least one of them.
        But I'm gonna give you an answer. I'm gonna go ahead and disseminate the information. Just once. Just once, and I'm not sittin' here singing Little Bunny Foo-Foo to your fat ass, either.
        You have, in your life, thousands of opportunities for what passes for Love. And since Fear, not Money is what makes the World go 'round, well, you and they will never take those chances. But there will come a day, or rather a night, where you will have a shot at Unconditional Love, which is the blotting out of all we feel and amnesia in the arms of another, and when it comes, you take it. You TAKE it, dear reader. After the first death there will never be another. Who wrote that line, do you know? The moment of a miracle is unending lightning.
        And I took that first death, once, and it has haunted my life ever since and it will until I'm dead and probably after that. But I took the Moment, and I do not regret it. The Moment is all you have, and it's all you'll EVER have. And you know that. You have ALWAYS known that. But this is not your excuse to never seek it, even at these heights.
        I am no longer a young man. I am no longer a healthy man. I am a man whose memories haunt him to sleep. And for those memories, I thank God. And for those recollections, I thank all in which I can no longer believe.
        And once again, Happy Valentine's Day, brothers and sisters. The vulnerability of your feelings and of all you know are as close as we come to Love. So LOVE. Instant karma's gonna gettcha.
        May we all shine on.
» Table of Contents «