UNDERGROUND VOICES: NON-FICTION
VAN SCOTT

Impotent, not important

      Iíve been impotent all my life. Hiding behind this impotence is a kind of
strength. The fact is that Iím a little confused about who or what I am &
that confusion makes me seem ineffectual, non-threatening to others. I donít
appear strong enough to throw a punch & yet I have anger springing clearly
from my eyes.

      What was I, queer? Well dang it, I was...

      Most of the time people couldnít figure me out, which was fine by me.

      Young guys would roll their eyes, thinking they were cool (they were
surface cool, but not deep cool) & chicks would give me that look which said
Ďkeep dreamingí.

      Why, I believed I would.

      The last preserve of the straight white male was off limits to me, that
much I knew.

      So what was I, a girly queer?

      Self-portraits are always demeaning so Iíll skip over.

      That uncouth expression: do not shit where you sleep used to ring loudly in
my ears. Pressed to respect basic truisms, I counted my blessings, stating,
well, Iím fucked up but at least Iím not one of those people who relate
along binaries, who cling to the norms.

      So Iím impotent & itís a liability & also a handicap. Hope you understand
Iím playing with words here. After all, who wants to lack that kind of
charisma? Iím trying to explain how it feels to be impotent, so give me a
chance.

      Impotent, like I canít bench press 200 lbs.

      Impotent, like I take a running start in life & wind up flat on my face.

      Impotent, like coming in last all the time.

      I am down on my self. I suffer from mishima syndrome (an interesting
disease, though I think few would understand it).

      I need out of the cage. I need my flowers watered.

      In fact, I need a cracker, real bad.

      On the other hand I didnít do hard drugs.

      I did do soft drugs, however.

      These consisted of antidepressants, wine, some pot (not in that order),
& smart drugs, which have an odd way of trashing you in the long run (try
some & see what I mean. Maybe itís me; Iím just a llighweight in all
departments).

      I donít have the patience to go to school & spend years getting good at
something, because then Iíd be stuck doing it for the rest of my life...
I'm shrewd enough to know that it's the age of the dollar. & after age 28
you have to pay attention to those kinds of things.

      Like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I saw things deeply wrong with the world.

      I was a pansy holding a daisy while dreaming of poppies.

      Furthermore, my coevals did not dig where I was coming from.

      I didnít care that they didnít get me. I was not a fuck-off; I was
ineffectual. Those were their words.

      Maybe mine, too.

      People went out at night dressed to kill. I went out looking queer. This
look included high waters & loose clothes of a boring but sexually
ambivalent nature.

      Like, in the summer I wore long-sleeved shirts. & a cheap pair of sneakers.
I was cultivating uncoolness for some unknown reason. I liked breaking the
rules & going in the wrong direction. When I saw the straights (not a music
group) dressed in their so-called office attire (each sex had their
uniform), I was angered as well as disappointed. The appropriate queers
would take me in & thatís all that mattered.

      People shat on the face of convention all the time & I guess thatís what I
was doing. But what did I get in return? muted applause & no pennies for my
metal piggy. Andy Warhol opportunism did not run rampant through my veins (&
thatís why screw you Andy, even in the grave).

      What attracted me were characters. The bum doing that slow shuffle
towards the corner, reeking of a dirty laundry basket times five, with horrid
black plastic bags on his feet. I convinced myself to give my last dollar to some
poor girl crouched before a sign in the hot sunlight with hell in her eyes.
(She was still there the last time I saw her). I identified with them because
the homeless were even more impotent than me. Plus they had an odd freedom
which contrasted sharply with the other citizens lolling in their condos
talking about vacations St. Barts & their stocks, bonds & teflon. Freaks were
not necessarily my bag, donít get me wrong. I was chasing perfection, I just
didnít know it.

      I was trying to perfect something, maybe my weirdness.

      They say for all diseases there is a cure. You jump out of a window or you
drag your corpse across the street. In the end we all have a lot in common
with that guy, Mishima. Thatís not to say that we as children did not once
resemble flowers.

      People get on my nerves. Everywhere I look I see contradictions. Like
people hating me for being queer while they themselves are no bed of roses.
& those who like you sometimes had ulterior motives. Language twisted around
like a snake & it could choke you to death without your even realizing it.
But the way I saw it if it choked me to death so much the better.

      Am I making sense.

      Iím not. Ok.

      Iím impotent, Iím queer & Iím lying through my teeth, to boot. Like the
teapot once said to the kettle: Sweetheart, youís black.

      I donít like lying. It reminds me of how impotent I am. As it is, Iím sick
of saying that word. But Iíll repeat it a few more times just because I can.

      I wear eyeliner. I think it makes me look sexy even if I am a guy & I also
wear glasses. When you come down to it, only you call the shots, in the
world, your world.

      My portrait: upside down.

      I must be a masochist because this feels pretty good.

      A series of malapropisms coming from the mouth of a nonentity.

      I like wearing perfume, too, even if it is the cheap kind. I sometimes run
through the streets wearing perfume & a sari (thatís right, sorry).

      People always seem to ask, why?

      Iím like, because Iím impotent, because I want to, because there is freedom
in being different, stupid.

      As they see my departing form fleeing from their too know-it-all
expressions, I want to yell --& I take it up the ass, too!

      But why go on about this. Maybe thereís another name for it. Maybe itís just
low self-esteem rearing itís pretty head.

      Someone, go & put some helium in my deflated ego. & while youíre down
there let some air out of the other balloon, too.

      I know Iíve failed to get my point across.

      This piece has devolved into a pathetic case of slapstick-on-ice.

      But I was serious about how shitty it feels to be impotent.

      I lack virile qualities. I donít know why I have to keep mentioning that.
By other strengths I meant that I could manifest this lack in other ways...
Were I truly out in the world, I wouldnít have to play with abstractions.
But I am forced to construct an edifice which I find appealing since what I
see out in the world doesnít suit me.

      The puny weakling theory; a mishima syndrome (see below)1.

      Doors are closed to me now & I know it.

      The door to the future, open wide? Not really. It has imperceptibly eased
shut as Time tiptoed by.

      Iíd like to get hold of some dynamite & blast that door wide open. But as in
most abstractions dynamiteís good for shit.

      So I hide behind sariís, perfume & eyeliner. I lack adequate stamina; Iím an
ex-junkie still standing in a doorway.

      I Know most of you know what Iím saying.

      Footnote: Mishima was a guy who as a child was very precocious in poetry
& prose but also very sickly. He could not function in the world & used
literature as a bridge to others. His classmates tormented him. He was
queer. At a later point in his life he took up body building & in his
forties committed suicide in a flamboyant fashion (Sepukku: someone cuts off
your head while you disembowel yourself, all the while yelling something
like: Ďlong live the emperor!). By this point heíd given up on both
literature & body building as sources of fulfillment. What can one say;
things fail you in the end. Another depressing conclusion. But look, I said
I was impotent.








© 2006 Underground Voices