When I was younger I was a thief. Something just seemed to possess me from a young age, about 9-10, to shoplift. By the time I was a chubby-cheeked bar mitzvah boy I had shelves full of CDs and cassettes I had walked out of record stores with. Throughout childhood, if I saw an adult doing physical work, it was a Mexican migrant or some rough white prole. I never learned how to produce anything, just how to consume, and to bullshit my way through school. I lived in a nice neighborhood but there was an underclass there of latchkey kids and failed families, failed in that they didn’t keep up appearances.
Once I got into high school some fellow miscreant pals and I would run out of convenience stores with cartons of cigarettes and resell them, steal laptops and other valuables from dorm rooms on the university campus (glass bongs in particular had resale value), stake out student drug dealers in off-campus rentals and steal their stash, their scales, their loose cash. If they were at home when we struck I’d strong-arm them. It wasn’t like, a routine thing, but it happened a few times. As a 15 year old I hung out with a 13 year old kid who used to drop down into strip malls late at night through various hatches in the rooves and hoist the safes up out of taquerias and liquor stores. Years later I ran into him downtown and it looked like he was heavy into meth and peddling his ass, all that time he was doing Mission Impossible shit he’d been closeted. Talk about sublimation.
Anyway, eventually I mellowed out and started selling pot. There were a hundred pot retailers my age in town, but once I got the hang of it I managed to drum up a nifty little book of business. Problem was, I was so habituated to the thought process of running up on people and just ganking their shit that the fake schmoozing and (figurative) smoke blowing was too much for me. It gave me anxiety. Ironically, thieving had made me too honest (impulsive, really) to cultivate commercial wiles or insincere relationships or even just future-time orientation. I’d never been a calculating sneak, just brazen, short-sighted. I didn’t want to ensnare people or string them along, I wanted not to fuck with anyone unless I had to or chose to, and then I wanted to just swoop down on them and be done. In the case of friendships I didn’t want there to be a business element, just frankness. But it’s calculating, sneak fucks who run the world these days, or swarm institutions aspiring to run shit because they know their kind is most eligible in this system. People with inverse values and no impulses.
Being heavy into pot had one advantage, it was that glass pane dividing rebellious upper-middle class mediocrity from real depravity and forfeiture of the most basic moral inhibition. My childhood best friend has been a meth-head alcoholic stumble-bum wherever-dweller since the year we got out of high school, guy uses smack the way smokers use a nicotine patch. I hear from him once in eighteen months now, and not from lack of effort on my part trying to locate him, although we live in different states. Two years ago he told me he had pawned his mother’s jewelry after crashing at her place for the night. Six months ago I heard from him again and he was totally gone, fried, kaput, insane in the membrane, he was trying to talk but made absolutely no sense. But at least being a scumfuck or a psycho is honest. An animal or a devil is a known quantity, there may be a ton of day-to-day conniving and a trail of fucked-over relationships but there’s no overall pretense of goodness.
Now, me (on the other hand), here I am today working a corporate sales job trying to be a good guy and pay my bills. But that lashed-out resentful kid is inside of me with all those violent impulses, and in a way he’s truer to who we are, more psychologically hygienic for all his so-called maladjustment. The world is war, physical war. Money’s not real, your stomach is. We forget that, we like others to slaughter the meat for us. And as a salesman, marketer, manager, executive, PR hack, entertainer or public face of any kind, an academic, a “journalist”, a whatever-you-fancy-yourself, you’re always a fucking charlatan, every word you utter is smoke, because your end-goal is always to bedazzle someone and get inside their pocket. You can be as transparent, as forthright, as helpful as you want. It’s just a tactic. The other guy’s interests are a means. And it can never be finally acknowledged. It’s so standard (i.e., pervasive), yet so slimy. And those impulses I gave reign to as a youth now sit like stone guests, restrained yet blocking my every effort to sublimate the fundamental guile of this most accepted protocol for making a living into the neat little rationales that make it effective.