MIND THE MINDFUL “People lie. Some yell annihilate the lying nation, but philanthropy is based on the lie, rolling around the bowl of conventional boundary like so much unset jello mix. How can you ever expect to become who you want to be if you don’t lie? Besides, the practice of honesty eventually leads to social immolation: lying is sad, but not lying is sadder. Both are transparent to me and because of that I’m the simplest person I know.
My learning disability transmuted to antisocial behaviour, and from that to a new identity known as Asbergers. Such a designation would normally terminate there, with me fleshing out and owning it. But it progressed, even flowered.
My story would be a lot funnier if I could be my own anecdote and claim to have first assumed my career running between adult legs wearing only a soggy diaper held up only by pudginess, yelling ‘bullshit, bullshit’. But the truth is I still don’t understand that word.
I am very impressionable. Not a true telepath, as I can’t convey mind. Only receive. So forget any of that Stan Lee/Roald Dahl twist of collective fantasy. Though they’re on the right path, unlike most of their stories, there was no before to me… my ‘moral’ growth was shaped by my affliction. It’s not like I realized my predatorial instincts by throwing myself at a wall to see if I could cling. It’s more like I threw myself at the street and kept missing. I didn’t need a re-education.
Course, you might say, someone in my position could capitalize drastically with their ability. But what is my role? Empath? Neuropath? Sociopath is the snuggest fit.
My father stared at me. Even the slightest glance from him felt like a stare.
‘I know you know…’
‘What you’re thinking.’
More stare, maybe angry? Embarrassed. His right fist opens and closes.
‘That’s why I asked you here.’
‘Dad. I know.’
‘Son, this is slightly… unorthodox. Poker is a game of men, and, well, you’ll hear man-talk.’
He did look embarrassed. I don’t recall replying. I only saw green confetti.
‘Just stay focused. A lot is said… God, where to start? OK, you’ll hear a lot of macho clatter. Derogatory talk about women close to us. Sh…tuff we might take personally. But it’s meant to get a rise out of competitors, to make us more transparent. Make no mistake, this is a competition. And control takes control takes control. Son, take control.'
Fingers on latches. Doors slamming. Dad swearing. Jangled keys. Rolled window. Door closing. Mismatched footsteps. Dad’s chin ascending.
‘You don’t believe in God.’
You’d imagine me a millionaire. A litigator. Broker. Even condescend to call me a psychologist, PI, guru, hotline operator, prognosticator, politician, Republican, prosecutor. But they all create value. The best name for me is terminal slut. I did spend some time in marketing. Worked with such luminaries as Andie MacDowell. Yeah, with two Ls. Her. But marketing is the art of directing desire. Taking away what people need and then telling-selling them what they want. I wasn’t very good at that. It was too emotional: I found myself in the dank corners of peoples’ heads. Film was no escape either. It was that bustle of fiction, but I still Flashed on people. It records their thoughts!
OK. I’ll try and relay a description of the typical Flash: It’s not a first-person swap. Perhaps it is closer to being a smell… but without a range of intensity: more of proximity. From how I’ve compared it to others’ experiences, it’s like a superimposition of image. A HUD in my head… the imagination of the other ghosting over what I see. Under most circumstances disparate images ravel up into a central thought, which either expels itself with a wheezing, jellyfish lassitude or condenses into a thread to be knotted up further. This forms a larger, composite image of language, colour and abridged time: Horror's hidden u lends rrs its cap, thus birthing its co-conspirator, humor.
Imagine those soft ciphers of nuance that play across a person’s face when in conversation. Even the most affected, wildly kinetic muscle patterns a communicator can make seem near-static when layered beneath the psychic diorama and rolling drama of their thoughts. People’s emotional characters are still opaque. It’s their intentions that are thrust into me. The more reserved a person is, the more pronounced their thoughts. The more violent.
Way back when, I went to a foundry and had a lead helmet made so I could ride the bus in peace. And it struck me blind. It wasn’t like losing one sense, it was like losing five. With it on, I was a claustrophobe, with it off, I was an anthrophobe. That’s how I stumbled across what I thought at the time was a more tempered solution. One night ambling around a loft-party, looking a bit like a German storm trooper emerging from his time-bunker in that wretched head-gear, I gladdened to get this close to a crowd without losing my mind. Eventually ushered against a wall by the collective recoil of drinking elbows, I leant my shoulder to it, sipping my drink pleasantly. Suddenly, a cacophony swept upon me and felt like it blasted the helmet right off my head. Stricken, I flailed around, slapping where it’s warm heaviness had been just moments before. Reeling around desperately, I found a delicate witness holding it like a garish fruit bowl. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ I screamed at my quiet assailant, her eyes smiling with the pinch of impish glee. The jellyfish swamped me as the closest quadrant of party wheeled towards my distress. ‘Satiating curiousity, flirting, looking at your naked head and trying on its chastity belt.’ With that, she plopped it on and clasped the straps beneath her chin. She reclaimed a pink drink, and looked at me, her tongue reaching for the drink’s straw. I grabbed my evening jacket by the tails and pulled it over my head and hers so that we were nose to nose. Unaffected, I heard her gurgle the ice cubes merrily. ‘Who are you?’ I pleaded. She giggled pink. ‘Are you like me? Do you know? Why are you so quiet to me, even before you put on the helmet, you were… quiet.’ She rolled her wide eyes over the rictus of our polyester cavern. Then she spoke, each word a droplet: ‘I think I understand you, at least, I recognize you. You found me just in time. You know, I want to be quiet to everyone. And you… you want the opposite? The converse...’ She fussed her purse briefly and then pushed two kernels into my face. ‘Swallow these pills’ she said, nudging the straw around to me with her nose. With two sips, I did. ‘My name is Lucy. Have your helmet back until you’re able to take it off and then we’ll talk.’ Twenty minutes later, I gave her back the helmet along with the strong recommendation that we dance. And, arms flapping, we danced raucously, in quiet.
But that is exactly why I’m here now, talking to this forlorn looking group. Because I have a dependency. A dependency, do you hear? A dependency as well as an addiction.”