Sean Hooks

May 24, 2016

1. (of a verb, esp. in Latin or Greek) passive or middle in form but active in meaning.
1. a deponent verb.
2. a person who makes a deposition or affidavit under oath.

I live alone. I sleep with women, if that does anything for you. I keep souvenirs of former selves. Baby teeth in a short-statured jar inside the solitary drawer of my bedside table. No lamp atop the table. In a plain white envelope in the drawer are pictures taken with a Polaroid camera which was once my aunt’s. She’s dead now. Breast cancer didn’t kill her. A psychotic homeless man did. Violence, eh? A man’s realm, I say. The photographs are of parks and ducks and snowball fights. Vinyl albums in a crate beneath a shelf system augmented with a turntable. I have music in other forms but the records are my darlings. They are art, they have texture. Chronicle of my favorites? Not forthcoming. Don’t try to define people by their tastes. You may be right most of the time but it’s a bit reductive, no? And hipsterish. I have girth. Some would call me a fat woman. Though I know I am not pretty, I relish expensive haircuts and fashionable shoes. Supercuts and Payless? Never. God, no.

My thoughts are mine own. Sounds better that way. More distinguished. Like sepia. Like the heyday of thoroughbred racehorses. Like cigar smoke smells and pipe-sweet smells and tobacco, not cheap overpriced cigarettes but real tobacco, from a tobacco store, an establishment that specializes in tobacco. My known. I enjoy such smells but I do not smoke. Mild asthma, self-diagnosed. My few friends and acquaintances tend to be men. Women I’ve had as roommates. Three Jessicas. One robust, one diminutive, one an artist’s daughter only child from Chicago who was terribly messy. Of the other two, I slept with one, and the other is the closest thing I have to that rare entity – the female friend. We see each other three or four times a year. Greek food. An off-Broadway play. We both like strong coffee and eating breakfast at non-breakfast hours.

Jewelry isn’t my thing but I own some, bequeathed to me by dead mother, dead grandmother, dead aunts. I did a stint in a mental hospital, self-admitted. But I wouldn’t take those head drugs and never will.

Can you see me? Does it matter? Who the fuck are you? Does it matter? I think in a different life I could have been a judge. Stentorian-voiced female judge. A person of gravitas. Silver-haired and snarky. Like Fran Lebowitz on Law & Order. She’s a writer I studied in college. I was a dyke before college but college brought it out of me, showed me other dykes, told me I was taking possession of a word. They shaved their heads and not their armpits, which fascinated me. I didn’t dance until I was out of college. Figured dancing was like high school dances. But then I tried clubs and raves and body drugs and oblivion and it was pretty dark and pretty cliché. Like vampire fetishes. Like cocaine. Like ostentatious wrong color riot grrl lipstick. Like the fucking omnipresence of computers and fancy cell phones, that hateful glow they emit.

So I am not a techie or one of those proud nerds. I’m afraid of bugs. Insects always seem carnivorous to me even though I know most of them aren’t. My disgust is our disgust. Who really likes insects? Even those entomologist guys from Silence of the Lambs didn’t really seem to like them. It was just an obsession they’d settled on. They were weird men, unthreatening to our protagonist Miss Starling. Birds. Ravens. Poems. Girls who read. I guess I’m a girl who reads, a woman who reads, but I don’t like that designation, the predictability of it. The saccharine nature of those tired, shleppy, bookstore browsing, author admiring, tea drinking women is something I detest and detest and detest and detest.

I like companionship but I don’t need it the way desperate women need it. I prefer to give the cunnilingus and whatnot. Just provide me with a sturdy hug and kiss all on my neck. I’m not emotionally stunted, I’m just utilitarian. Educated and employed and unassuming. I’m all but invisible. I blend right in. I’m a roll of masking tape on a dusty toolshed workbench. Most men in the world, it’s not that they actively ignore me, they just don’t interact with me, not at all most days, nor I with them, except perhaps to place an order. There’s something unkempt and slovenly and stray cat about a man who’s a server. Waitresses have dignity. But a waiter is a scumbag, a sorry excuse for a suck-up salesman. A pleader and manipulator. A peasant.

Singing in the shower. I used to do it when I was young. I am not old, but I am too old to sing in the shower unselfconsciously. I know no one can hear. I can hear.

Some would call me misanthropic. The last time I slept with a man I was thirty and he was four years older and married. I had no compunctions. I am low maintenance and don’t get attached. I guess that makes me ‘single,’ but that word from me you shall not hear an utterance. I enjoyed watching old episodes of The Cosby Show but they took them off the air. They were the last relic of an unironic past that was also noble and progressive, if admittedly cheesy, and most of the later episodes are godawful. He was a talented man that Bill Cosby, and now they say he was a serial rapist. I don’t care much for all that persecution narrative and am starting to wish he’d just drop dead. Well, it won’t be long. Not for any of us.

Why write this down? Why write anything down? Why raise a voice? Why not admit it’s all pointless? I would like to lecture on something, to convey my ideas to the masses, to hold out the proverbial olive branch to some younger version of myself. I am an outlier. I tried to join E-Harmony, just out of curiosity, and because I like filling out those personality surveys and psych tests to see if they get me right. They said they couldn’t help me. E-Harmony actually rejects 20% of their applicants. Emma Goldmans and Gertrude Steins. Robert Crumbs and Harvey Pekars. I don’t read comics – god, no – but I like documentaries. Those comic book convention people? The ones who gather and wear costumes? Sad. Sad sad sad.

My life is structured. Most nights I watch basketball, men’s basketball, the Knicks in particular, though they haven’t been good in a long time. They have names like Amar’e and Carmelo and Tyson. The black guys with all the tattoos, I must admit I didn’t see that coming. I don’t need to mingle or root or talk to people, but otherwise sports bars are tolerable places. The patrons are comical. They look like they’re all named Trevor or Justin. Just think of it as absurdist theatre and you can really enjoy it, even if you’re a woman. The bartenders in the jerseys which have been altered to expose cleavage and midriffs, they make good tips those girls. Still, it’s self-abnegation, a jovial object, the cheerleader archetype. Unlike college sports, pro teams have no male cheerleaders.

There’s no way out of my own head. I realize this. I have no pets (god, no) and rely on very little closeness or affection or words of that nature. They are only words after all, concepts, sentimental American ones if we’re going to be honest. Women’s basketball is also a ‘god, no.’ As is the confinement of ‘lesbian.’ I don’t dislike pornography but its proliferation online is rather staggering. Something about it doesn’t bode well.

I give to charities if I find them morally uncorrupt. I am not above being awed by beauty, looking up like a seated spectator at a rural Memorial Day parade and smiling when I see my cousin waving from a float in his dress uniform. But what I prefer to look up at is a naked individual, statuesque, the superficial construction of a well-built person, regardless of gender. I don’t consider myself lucky to get them into my bedroom. It takes skill and gumption and character.

My mother had character. In her face and in her carriage. So few women have good posture these days. Now I sound old. Like my mother’s mother, an immigrant from northern Germany, in case that matters to you. If my grandmother was an immigrant then my mother was a soldier and I am a civilian. That is the progression. And it is unimportant probably. As are we all.

Sean Hooks was born and raised in New Jersey. He has a BA-Liberal Arts from Drew University, an MFA-Fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an MA-English from Loyola Marymount University. He currently lives, writes and teaches in Los Angeles. Publications include Pif Magazine, Superstition Review, SubStance, FORTH Magazine, Intellectual Refuge, The Journal, Heavy Feather Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Las Vegas Weekly, The Record, Ginosko Literary Journal, and Akashic Books.

What motivates him to create?
It’s about building something, about harnessing a certain energy and giving it focus, about continually endeavoring to do things in writing that haven’t been done before.