If People Can Eat Blood Pudding, I Can Say I'm a Writer on my Tax Return
by Jon Konrath
I never planned on being a writer. I didn't go through the usual sequence of events: grade-school poetry books, systematic barbiturate abuse, ritual castration, and endless memorization of various tomes of literature, some good and some bad. My friend Nick preached the ways of his creative writing program - the incredible female:male ratio, his classwork on nun sodomy and pornographic science fiction, and the time he nailed a tenured professor after a lengthy yet erotic argument over the existence of neo-fascism and scatological fantasies in _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_. But I wanted to stick with what I knew: high-energy physics. Once I lifted some plutonium and built my first low-yield nuclear device, the chicks would follow.
Somewhere during a depressing summer where I was demoralized by a series of artificial vagina failures that left me with first-degree upper thigh lacerations and a distrust of all things vinyl, I enrolled in my first English class. Actually, I took a required composition class during my first semester of college, and forgot about it thereafter (the teacher, a sexy and psychotic fiction writer heavily influenced by Sylvia Plath and Penthouse Forum letters from the late '70s, stalked me for about two years after I turned in a 37-page story about a virus based on the Revised Standard Version of the bible that increased erectile function in males until the entire eco-political system of the world was thrown out of balance. She urged me in repeated visits, letters, and telegrams to sodomize her and her undergraduate roommate from Monticello, North Carolina, while posing as a Domino's Pizza delivery boy. I waved her off, after having heard stories about the Domino's-Mafia connection and thinking I'd end up part of some crazed "kill my wife" conspiracy plan that wouldn't really help my English grade at all. It's odd that I didn't remember this episode until just now - maybe I should've taken her up on the offer, but I got an A in the class regardless.) I entertained a theory that there were metaphorical connections between various categories of the DSM-3R and NHRA bracket drag racing categories. I never managed to complete this idea, but I did write several papers on the lyrics of Pink Floyd's _Dark Side of the Moon_ and mathematician Nikolai Ivanovitch Lobachevsky (if you play the aforementioned CD at the same time you throw out Euclid's fifth axiom and attempt to construct a non-Euclidian geometry in which more than one parallel line will pass through point P, a bunch of the words from the CD and various steps of the construction line up with uncanny accuracy. I don't remember all of the lyrics, but someone out there's gotta have a web page about it.) I never got laid during the course, which had a female:male ratio of 39:1, and it made me go even deeper into a world of narcolepsy, relativistic quantum field theory research, and a diet consisting largely of Combos pretzel snacks, microwave frozen baked potatoes with large amounts of imitation bacon bits, and supermarket-brand grape soda, which I purchased by the palletainer.
Months later, after the sweeping change of various post-Soviet era nuclear treaties, plus my dismissal from the high-energy physics PhD program for holding a 0.37 GPA, I entered an academic confusion further complicated by my breakup with a 19-year-old aspiring actress and practicing endodontist, who meant the world to me, even if we only dated on and off for six months and I managed to sleep with her roommate and 17 out of 25 of her floormates. It still hurt, I had no direction in my life, and I had a root canal sealed with temporary filling and nobody to fit it with a porcelain crown. (Well, nobody I loved anyway. I could've paid a dentist, but that would've felt like prostitution to me.)
One day, while waiting in an LAX book store (at the time, I had been commuting from Manhattan Beach to West Memphis every third day, and driving back to school every 21 days to catch up on academic work and various babe-trawling schemes,) and who do I see but Henry Rollins, ex-frontman from Black Flag and writer extroardinaire. He was wearing an Australian leather dingo hat, a Paula Abdul tour shirt, and skin-tight green spandex leggings as some sort of disguise from his fans, enemies and hangers-on. I went up to him and told him a full history of my interest in his work: the SST compilation cassettes I played constantly during high school, the time I followed the Rollins Band on the Lollapalooza tour, my Masters of Science in Human Performance Technology thesis on his book _Pissing in the Gene Pool_. He seemed unimpressed, until I told him that my father had accidentally dropped two unfused Mk 84 bombs on his father's foot during the Vietnam War, which made him warm up like a long lost pal.
We headed to the snack bar, and I explained to Rollins my entire predicament - the graduate program dismissal, the ex-girlfriend's female circumcision right after the split, the habitual mouthwash abuse and lack of any focus. He set down his chilidog, and after a pondering moment of silence, he replied with words of wisdom I'd never forget: "Fuck women. Fuck school. Fuck money. Go write some books, get a good agent, lift weights, get tattoos, and never do a film with Keanu Reeves." He then comped me his latest spoken word CD, and vanished in a puff of smoke.
Since then, I've followed his lead with frequent and nonsensical diary entries, sometimes writing several hundred pages while waiting for a plane or during a shift at work. Soon, the journals turned into short stories, chapbooks, zines, books, an encyclopedia on vacuum cleaner technology for Funk & Wagnall, and a gold disk to be launched on the DSM-1 space probe by NASA as a testimony to humanity, the arts, and extreme, Satanic, unholy black metal (the record portion of the disc will contain unreleased tracks by Venom, Varathron, and Cradle of Filth, among others.)
And that is how I became a writer.
copyright (c)2001 Jon Konrath