Nagoya Writes

May 19, 2008

Alphaed and Bonoboed by Tom Bauerle

Filed under: Bauerle,Issue: 2008,Prose — usbengoshi @ 12:53 pm

Cosmo Doria decided that he was handicapped. It was the only explanation he could come up with for the reoccurring series of disasters he had perpetuated upon himself. It wasn’t his fault that he had been sent out into the modern angst-ridden jungle without the proper tools for survival. All his life he’d felt as if he’d been dropped into the snake pit, forced to face down hissing poison spitting king cobras while armed with stunted broken fangs and not an ounce of venom with which to defend himself. He seemed to be forever expected to deal with flight or fight situations with his legs hobbled and no weapons of combat at his disposal.

He blamed his family. They had abused him from earliest childhood with promises of his potentiality. They had deviously raised him in a home full of warmth and compassion, had told him every day that he was loved and that he was a member of a vast caring universe that rewarded good and punished evil; they had assured him that virtue was its own reward, that honesty, compassion and truth would guide him all the days of his life. They had told him that True Love conquers everything. And for that last lie alone, Cosmo thought, the wimpy bastards should rot in hell.

How dare they make him believe in himself and the basic goodness of other people? They might as well have just castrated him at puberty. For they had instilled in him a set of involuntary conditioned mental responses that set up the lifelong pattern of his suffering.

Cosmo had done well enough early on. His body was large and strong, his face not unattractive, his mind eager and curious, his interest in and love for his fellow humans boundless. At first, Cosmo began to prosper. He made friends easily. He loved and loved well, with all his heart and soul. He married his childhood sweet heart. He got a good job writing copy for a prestigious advertising firm. He worked hard and saved his money. He expressed his love for his wife on a daily basis. He called her at lunchtime to make sure she wasn’t lonely. He brought her flowers for no reason at all. He moved ever toward his shining destiny, buoyed up by the power of positive thinking and a pure heart.

And then he was blind-sided by the Assholes.

He came home unexpectedly early one day to find his wife in bed with one of his drinking buddies. The one who always called women “cunts” and bragged about how he loved to “fuck the shit out of them.” Two days later Cosmo lost his job because the president of the company had embezzled all its funds, including the employees’ salaries and retirement benefits, and had run off with his eighteen-year-old secretary. Rumor had it they were living on a houseboat in the Cayman Islands. They were living the lives of pirates on the open seas while everyone else drowned in the wake they left behind them.

Then Cosmo moved to Japan for several reasons. The most obvious one was to get as far away from Muncie Indiana, the place of his betrayal and humiliation, and Japan was just about dead center on the other side of the world. He had also heard that Japan was a land where people treated each other with dignity and respect. The books he had read about Zen Buddhism before he had come there had further convinced him that it was a place where he could find some new direction to take his life.

Cosmo took to this new exotic country with the joyous passion of a religious convert. He got a fairly well-paying job teaching classes in Writing in English and American Culture at a private university. He studied the martial art of Aikido, and reveled in its spiritual goals of stopping violence and living in harmony with the world. He memorized his Aikido sensei’s speeches on accepting even your enemies with a “pure heart.” He loved the way the Japanese showed politeness and courtesy, and how the shopkeepers and pub owners bowed and welcomed you, their valued customer, into the tiny domains of their places of business. He was chased down and caught by a heartbreakingly cute young Japanese girl who brought him presents, gave him massages in the ofuro bath at night and wrote poems to him in broken English.

And then he came home one day to find his Aikido sensei in bed with his girl friend.

Cosmo spent a lot of time alone now in his wooden house communing with his bewilderment. He was particularly at a loss to understand exactly why and in what manner he kept getting things wrong. As far as he knew, he had always acted correctly, yet, in the long run, his honesty and sincerity had not been of any help, nor has it been valued or appreciated by those to whom it had been directed. He watched a lot of cable TV. Since his Japanese was limited, he particularly favored the English speaking programs. His favorite shows were on the History and Discovery Channels.

Cosmo began to observe the actions of those around him in order to get a handle on the mysteries of the human condition. Cosmo began to keep copious notes to organize his thoughts and observations. By far the thickest and most well worn notebook in his collection was entitled The Triumph and Dominance of the Asshole.

The latest entry went like this:

 

No one knows exactly why God created Assholes. But it is certain that, after the Deity made the first one, patted him together out of dinosaur dung and clay, God must have looked upon him with wide-eyed wonder and been mightily pleased. God must have been supremely smitten with his nasty little creation because he then proceeded to make so damn many of them.

And as further proof of Gods’ favoritism, not only did He see to it that His little Asshole Children grew and prospered, but he gave them so many advantages over the rest of the population that he virtually insured their ultimate victory in the struggle for domination of the universe.

To begin with, Assholes have much more confidence than the rest of us. They are fanatical front line soldiers in a personality cult of One: namely, themselves. This gives them a dedication, sense of purpose and an iron will that rolls like a juggernaut over anything that opposes them. They are better organized and singularly directed. My parents had been right when they told me to believe in the Power of Positive thinking. What they had neglected to tell me, however, was that, like fire, lipstick and strontium 90, it was a tool that could be used for the purposes of both Good and Evil. The Power of Positive Thinking is the major weapon in the Asshole arsenal. No one is more sure of his right to succeed than a bully, a tyrant, a racist, a Nazi.

This belief in the correctness of their vision gives the Assholes a sense of peace and harmony with the universe that produces an upright posture of self-assurance, a healthy glow to the skin and a rascally glint to the eye. Self-centered people tend to look better, talk louder and more to the point, and they always dress to kill. Isn’t it true, one must ask himself, that the people that ultimately do the most harm in the world–the politicians, lawyers, religious leaders, the military, the embezzlers and CEOs–always wear the most expensive suits? Class and Conviction. The Assholes have both coming out their, well, out their assholes.

But the most devastating attribute of the Asshole is his energy, his relentlessness that keeps him driving toward his goal of domination without rest, without giving any quarter or mercy to anyone or anything that gets in his way. Assholes play to win. They keep their eyes on the prize and, even more importantly, they deny the right of anyone else to the prize except themselves.

It was no contest at all, really. Whereas I had been taught to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” the Assholes overwhelm everyone with a chorus of, ”love ME! Love MEEEE!”

I had been brought up to be modest, humble and self-effacing and the Assholes were more than willing to help out and humble and humiliate me every time gave they saw the slightest chance.

What then, should I do?

 

Cosmo stopped writing and tried to organize his thoughts. For the thousandth time he replayed the past in his head to try and understand what he had been doing wrong. All his life, Cosmo had tried to come to his fellow human beings with understanding and the belief that people are basically good deep down inside. He had loved with his whole heart open and unafraid and the Assholes had seen an exposed target and sent in their best-trained snipers to blow it away with point blank fire.

Early on in life, Cosmo had striven mightily to raise himself above the corruption he saw around him. He read the great religious works of the world and decided that Buddhism had the answer. He would meditate. He would become a vegetarian. No animal or sentient being would ever suffer because of him. He would walk lightly upon the earth and harm no one. He would become a Great Soul that would send ripples of compassion out into the world like a lotus petal dropping softly onto the surface of a smooth pristine pond.

The second month into his vegetarian diet, his body was hit with relentless bouts of diarrhea. Then his muscles began to cramp and his vision blurred.

Then he discovered the book The Secret Life of Plants. Cosmo was aghast to learn that plants had feelings, too. That they were sentient beings that were very aware of everything going on around them, that their systolic pressure raised when their fellow plants were slaughtered in their presence. That even endives and lettuces screamed when you picked them to make a garden-fresh salad. What, then was the difference between eating a leaf of lettuce and eating a pig? They both suffered, they both died.

Cosmo didn’t know what to do. How was it possible to live without causing suffering in this world? If even vegetables felt pain and anguish, how was he to conduct himself in a peaceful manner? He couldn’t stop eating, as suicide was considered to be one of the greatest of all sins. He began to study the lives of the Great Souls throughout history to see how they had conducted themselves. He soon learned that the great sage Mahatmas Gandhi had slept naked every night with his two young nieces and washed his eyes every morning with his own urine. Saint Francis had strutted around bare-assed naked whenever he wanted to piss off the local townsfolk of Assisi and peace maker Martin Luther King had cheated on his wife for most of the years he had been alive. John F. Kennedy had helped kill Marylyn Monroe and his brother Bobby and his wife had gulped down LSD on a regular basis to clear out their heads. Guatama Buddha had spent his early years screwing his brains out in his harem and had abandoned his wife and child to go be a monk.

His on-going attempt to understand the nature of humanity had led Cosmo to Darwin and the theories of Evolution and Natural selection. More recent research in this area showed that scientists now believe that more than one group of intelligent, up-right walking, tool-using hominids descended from our ape-like ancestors. Some of them appeared to have been gentle and benign, existing on a diet of only plants, roots and berries. They had walked lightly and up-rightly upon the earth until our much more aggressive ancestors annihilated them from existence. And so the pattern was established that has lasted to this day.

Cosmos’ private research led him to read up on the field of genetics and heredity and he soon discovered that perhaps the closest relatives we humans have living today is the chimpanzee. In fact, we humans are made up of 95% of the same DNA as our banana-loving cousins.

Cosmo saw a small window of light opening at the far end of his darkness. Cute, cuddly chimpanzees, the same furry little clowns that mugged at us on children’s shows, one of the few animals that also have the ability to laugh, are very, very much like us. Perhaps by understanding the comical chimp, Cosmo could get a better insight into the original, purer, more natural, less scheming nature of humans.

One day while Cosmo was relaxing at home, TV remote control in his hand, he channel-surfed into a documentary on the Animal Planet Network. It told a story about a certain patch of jungle in Africa which was divided in half by the mighty Congo River. On one side lives a large group of Chimpanzees. On the other side lives a family of monkeys that are very closely related to the Chimpanzees. These monkeys are called Bonobos. Bonobo monkeys live in a very closely-knit, well ordered society. Their clan is matriarchal, and the females adopt every Bonobo baby as their own, helping each other to raise their offspring so that every Bonobo baby has as many mothers as their are females in the clan. Bonobos are the great lovers and whores of the animal kingdom. They never fight, never show any sign of violence toward one another. Instead they have sex. Any dispute, any disagreement is settled by the act of fucking. And the Bonobos do it with anyone and everyone. Bonobos are perfectly at home mounting their own mates as well as everyone else’s: fathers jump on daughters, as well as their own sons, brothers bonk sisters, aunts, uncles, and any nearby strangers. Mothers don’t hesitate to get connubial with anyone who’s upset and in need of a cuddle. And so Bonobo society continues on in an atmosphere of peace and harmony and free love.

But not for very much longer. For, the Bonobos are endangered. This small patch of jungle in the Congo is the very last place they will ever be seen in the wild before they become extinct.

On the other side of the river live many tribes of Chimpanzees. The Chimpanzees don’t believe in free love. In fact, the only male who gets to mate in Chimpanzee society is the all-powerful Alpha Male. The Alpha Male becomes all-powerful by mercilessly crushing any other male who opposes him. Since only the Alpha gets to fuck, the incentive to victory is stupendous. When a new Alpha Male takes over from an old one, he immediately proceeds to kill off all of the baby Chimps that were the offspring of the defeated king. Fully one fourth of all Chimp babies are massacred by the Alpha Male of their group.

These, our closest cousins, the Chimpanzees not only know how to laugh, but they are perhaps the only animal species that conducts warfare as we humans know it. Researchers were recently dismayed to discover that Chimps not only often are carnivorous, but are capable of very complicated battlefield strategies against their enemy apes, including massed troop movements involving flanking attacks, feints and well thought-out ambushes. When a chimp from another family group invades their space, they go to war. They track him down, kill and cannibalize him. They eat of the flesh of any stranger they can catch. They are perhaps one of the most violent asshole-ridden societies in the entire animal kingdom. And they are our very closest relatives.

There used to be more Bonobos, but the Chimps have killed most of them off. The only reason this last group of sex-loving monkeys exists is that their enemy Chimps are held at bay by the mighty Congo River. But every day the Chimp scouts stalk the banks of the river searching for a way across.

As the documentary finished, Cosmo sat staring mutely at a commercial for a new laundry detergent. The host shouted commandingly for his studio audience to watch as he threw a pristine white shirt into a glass bowl of water and then dumped in ink and black berry juice to stain it. The crowd gasped as the host pulled a cup of ox blood from beneath the table and added that as well. They shuddered as he held the foul looking liquid aloft for them to get a closer look. The host then sprinkled in a packet of his magic product and made a sorcerer’s pass in the air with his hands. He swirled the contents of the bowl around, once, twice with his fingers and the crowd shouted out its joy when the water turned crystal clear to reveal a shining white shirt within. The host cried out in triumph and bowed low as the crowd surged forward pocket books in hand, howling their devotion to the host and his product, ready to pay any price the host asked.

Cosmo changed channels. This one was a comedy show that featured a tall handsome-looking comic who continually slapped the head of a short fat goofy-looking man in glasses every time he said something stupid, which seemed to be all of the time. Cosmo turned off the TV.

And so Cosmo sat on in despair.

“Here I am,” he thought. “And here we are.”

And, he concluded, so the pattern goes on. Our 95% Chimp DNA compels us to Asshole behavior unique to our own species. We can’t help our little monkey selves from trooping around the one who pounds his chest, shakes his dick in our face, and screams for our attention. In any social gathering, we rush to be near the one who speaks the loudest and does the most posturing. We say he has “charisma.” Girls love the Bad Boys, men gather around the Queen Bee. We love our Alphas deeply and are more than happy to follow anyone who is so sure of what he is doing that he feels he has the right to tell everyone else what to do as well. We are programmed to compete with each other and win, but if we can’t win, we make sure we back the winning side. We gather in tribes and threaten our neighbors. We take what we can. It is in our DNA to love the taste of blood, to run our enemies to the ground, to ambush them, and eat them whole.

Cosmo took a lengthy walk outside his house to buy some food at the super market. On his way he passed a park where five teen-age boys stood in a circle around a smaller boy in a Japanese junior high school uniform. The smaller boy lay on the ground while the other five kicked him repeatedly and laughed at his cries of protest. Cosmo rushed forward to tell them to stop, but they grabbed the younger boy’s backpack and ran off with it before he could reach them. When he bent down to help the boy up, the boy took one look at Cosmo’s gaijin face and ran away screaming.

The lines were long at the super market. Three people cut in line ahead of Cosmo, pushing aside the other carts and standing there daring any one to do anything about it. Cosmo’s bags were heavy, so he rode the subway the one stop back to his home. As he got on, he saw a drunken salary man push two old ladies aside to grab the last available seat. At the next stop, a young couple got on, the woman obviously very pregnant. There were no seats open, not even a ceiling strap for them to hold on to. The train lurched around a corner and the woman faltered and grabbed on to her husband for support.

Cosmo sent a withering stare at the seated salary man and nodded his head toward the pregnant woman hoping he would get the hint and offer her his seat. The salary man looked at the floor and pretended to be asleep. The pregnant woman let out a low moan. She was obviously in trouble. She held tightly to her husband as her knees began to buckle.

Cosmo prodded the salary man’s leg with his foot. The salary man grunted impatiently and closed his eyes even more tightly shut. The pregnant woman went limp and collapsed onto the floor. She had passed out either from fatigue or the crush of the crowd. Her husband guided her down as gently as he could and bent over her rubbing her wrists and patting her face. “Daijobu? Daijobu?” He asked repeatedly. “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

Cosmo glanced at the salary man to see that he had his eyes pressed even more tightly together than before, refusing to even look at the young woman sprawled helplessly at his feet.

Cosmo felt a deep reverberating growling sound coming from his throat. Before he knew what he was doing, he had leapt at the salary man, lifted him bodily from his seat and flung him angrily against the far wall of the train car. When Cosmo came to his senses, he found that the entire carload of people had fallen silent: a stunned look of shock on every face. The pregnant girl was awake now. She had seen the whole thing. The young couple flinched as Cosmo reached out and gently lifted the girl up and on to the seat.

Suwate,” he said. “Sit.”

She nodded desperately, a look of terror in her eyes. All eyes followed Cosmo as he got off at the next station.

When he got home, Cosmo sat dejectedly on the sofa, stroking his cat. Had he done the right thing? Sure he had . . . Well, maybe not. It had all happened so fast and without any thought that he wasn’t quite sure he had really done it at all.

While he was doing it, and immediately after, it had felt good. Really good. In fact, it had been all he could do to keep himself from kicking the salary man after he had bounced off the wall of the train car and was lying in a bewildered state on the floor. Was he, Cosmo, also becoming an Asshole?

Cosmo was more confused than ever. How, he asked himself, does one walk lightly in a cannibal world? He was sure he that, if he listened closely, he could make out, in the back ground, the universal unceasing scream of plants, animals and people that were constantly being crushed and eaten for lunch all around him. Cosmo had no desire to Alpha anyone. At the same time, he absolutely refused to be Alphaed himself. Yet, he was outflanked and out-fanged on all fronts. Cosmo sought desperately to get Bonoboed; he needed a good Bonoboing worse than he ever had at any time in his life. But all he saw around him were bared teeth and slashing incisors. The cannibals ruled. The lovers of this world had all been decisively defeated and driven out on the road to extinction.

Cosmo noticed that the “message” light was flashing on his telephone. He pushed the “replay” button. “You have five new messages,” a high, prerecorded female voice informed him.

The first four were recordings of a woman’s voice saying, “I don’t know what she’s saying. She’s talking in Japanese,” and then an immediate disconnection. His mother’s voice calling all the way from Muncie. She still had problems dealing with the voice recording message on Cosmo’ phone. The fifth time she managed to get it right.

“Hello, Cosmo, darling. It’s mother. I hope this is recording. I never know which button to push. Sorry I missed you. I hope you are taking care of yourself. I will call again later. Be good. I love you, honey. Remember your manners and remember your prayers.”

And then a click followed by silence.

Cosmo hung up and went to bed.

Cosmo began to have nightmares every night in which he saw himself hanging from the limb of a drought-stricken tree. All around him the land was parched with dust. Beneath him was a river that was shrinking from evaporation. Soon the river would be dried up and gone. On the far bank stood a tribe of cannibal Chimpanzees howling to drink his blood and devour his entrails.

When he awoke each morning, Cosmo offered up the only prayer to heaven that he still believed in with any faith at all.

“Dear Lord,” he prayed, “please deliver me from the Assholes. The rest I can handle by myself.”

 

Excerpt from a novel in progress.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi tom, you may remember me from many years ago. Well, back here n Nagoya again, and I loved this piece. So true, so real to form, i didnt know if i was laughing or crying!! Well. mate, if get a chance give me a call on 09080791666.

    Comment by Mark Berghan — November 6, 2008 @ 9:26 pm | Reply


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