Thursday, March 21, 2002

A Ruggedly Handsome Mind?

Spoiler alert!

I've seen A Beautiful Mind, and I can't resist talking about it. I'm even going to tell you how it ends. So if you haven't seen it, save this paper, go see the movie, come back, pick this paper up again, finish reading. All right? Get going. I mean it.

Those of you who know I once was a research mathematician before I went a little "funny in the head", and who recognize that as the basic plot of ABM, will understand why I might relate to this movie personally.

Of course, John Nash, the protagonist of ABM (played by Russell Crowe, whom I am, by the way, as handsome as) was already a little funny in the head as the story of the movie began. But in truth, I was also noticeably odd prior to graduate school. They didn't call me Weird Wes for nothing. As far back as kindergarten. The thing is, in both cases we got way weirder after graduate school. Right after.

The main difference between Nash and I, besides the fact that I won't ever win a Nobel prize, is the diagnosis. Nash (whom, in real life, I am as handsome as) was certifiably paranoid schizophrenic. I was a something else wrapped up in a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In practical terms this means that I didn't believe MY hallucinations. But mine made up for that by being more mystical.

We've been having a little fun here at Real Change speculating as to the title that my movie will have, if ever Hollywood should get around to twisting the facts of my story. Tim "Perfess'r" Harris (whom I am as handsome as) has suggested A Perverse Mind. Anitra "I've Got Your Writer's Workshop Right Here" Freeman likes An Esthetically Challenging Mind, or A Beautiful Id. Or (she's telling me these as I write) A Nicely Dimpled Mind. Or A Mind with A Great Personality. No Really. A Great Personality.

I can't decide which I like best. Those are good ideas, but I also like A Beautiful Right Cheek, or A Beautiful Gut, or A Mind Only A Mother Could Love. Or, My Other Mind Is A Rembrandt.

"So, Wes, when are you going to get polemical?" -- some of you are probably asking. Well, I'm gearing myself up to it.

In the one place, we know that in real life Nash was not a poster child for anti-psychotic meds. Nash's condition improved after he stopped taking meds. Given the impact of the movie, I think this can't be stressed too much. The movie doesn't come down hard enough on this fact.

Lately I've been sharing my drug life in these pages. To correct a possible misunderstanding: I survived the worst of my Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome without drugs. Without even alcohol. The drugs I take now are only fine tuning a cure that already came about the way Nash's cure came about: long time dealing with the problem directly, with my mind, and with the help of truly beautiful minds (a therapist, friends, and some other people who had been where I was.)

In the other place, I just cleaned my apartment. I haven't felt so non-homeless in years. It took days to clean a 200 square foot room. It was a joyful necessity.

What does cleaning my place have to do with A Beautiful Mind? Good question. Answer me this: What does the CIA have to do with aliens?

I rest my case.

Thursday, March 7, 2002

Let's Talk About Consensual Sex!

Warning: I kept this column under my belt for a couple of weeks. Think about that. Under my belt.

I have made a discovery. In the six and a half years that this puppy has been alive, I have discussed sex only as follows: Male/hand, once. Male/water-fowl, maybe three or four times. Nonconsensual male/imaginary-anthropomorphic-being, once (my Muse Cindy made me emit a rhyme against my will.) Only once has there been direct mention of human couple sex. And that last was in a sextrain which described the sex in question as not really happening.

I have been the guy at the orgy holding himself in the corner, writerly speaking. Luckily I haven't minded, as I haven't had that much to say about sex, anyway. What would I know about sex? What's that? Besides, we are largely devoted to the concerns of homeless people. And since when do homeless people have couple sex?

In fact, having couple sex when you are homeless generally means doubling up in a latchable one-seater somewhere and praying you finish before some irate would-be toilet user breaks the door down.

Naturally the time pressure at these events is seriously conducive to stress-related erectile dysfunction. Therefore, again, I find myself talking mainly about sex that doesn't really happen. I'm talking about male performance anxiety. I'm talking about high pressure impotence. Whatever can be done about it? What should be?

Well, I'm ready to tell you, me and Bob Dole have something in common. We both take Viagra. (Note: Admitting this effectively uncovers the personal drug cover-up I mentioned recently.) You will all know by now, thanks to Bob, what Viagra does for us men.

But my goal here is to get down to the hard realities of life, and as I have discovered personally the hard reality is: Viagra is really for women. Let's face it. As a guy needing sexual relief, all I need is for a doctor to prescribe for me a truckload of porn and a velvet glove. Which come to think of it is comparably priced these days and lasts just as long.

But men don't just have sex with their hands, with ducks, with imaginary-anthropomorphic-beings, or even with each other. Sometimes they have sex with women. And this is a good thing, for as Aristophanes or someone with a similar looking name noted at length long ago, otherwise, something would give out.

I will go so far as to say that the entire social fabric of our social society depends on armies of straight women getting erect penises when they want them, and not next week. Next week, she's going to leave you for a Greek lancer. So much for America. So much for our American social fabric. Rock and roll as we now know it would die. Madison Avenue would crumble. We would become no different than the Taliban.

As our women left us, our pride and dignity would leave us. We would finally have to learn to play bridge to occupy our desolate souls. Eventually we would be forced to read, to learn how to pronounce French, and how to distinguish conifers.

Don't let this happen to our great society. Keep our country satisfied!

What I'm trying to say here is, to all you men out there who have ever found yourselves falling short in times of high demand, do us all a favor and get yourselves some Viagra. Especially you rich people who can afford it at ten dollars a pill. You may not thank me for it, but your partners will, and America will. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. This stuff is truly awesome.

And, who knows? Maybe you'll help bring the price down.