The Benny Poda Years
28 - Easter
I don't know where I thought I was heading, but I was getting low on gas in a stolen car when I suddenly thought of Ron, a man I had known as a child. I knew him to be single and living in Raleigh, which is a town like Cincy in that it has a few neighborhoods and shit, where people live and all. Ron had a house in one of them. They have names, too. Cincy has a little place named Clifton, and Raleigh has Oakwood and Five Points, where Ron lived on Fairview. I looked his address up in a phone book and just showed up at his door.
I was getting really amazed that anyone'd be glad to see me anymore, really. But he was. We had lots of catching up to do, talking about all those people we'd known and what the fuck had become of them if anything, and all that. Wow, we'd come a Long Way from Fresno. It was a Saturday Night, the Day before Easter. Ron sprang for a lot of beer. A LOT of the shit, Dawg. We started talking and drinking.
Ron had done quite well for himself and, unlike me, had achieved a measure of Stability in the World. But was interested in MY shit, too, which was a Good Thing since it was his Place and he was supplying the Beer. We talked about all the people who'd wafted thru our lives—people like that gay alcoholic William Shatner, who'd tried to Butt-Ram Ron at my place once, years before, when Bill was coaching Pee-Wee football. He's a High School Principal in Orlando, now, I think. How it sure was a hoot that girls used to go WILD over the dude when all's you had to do was take ONE LOOK at him and tell he was as Queer as Nassir. And about Allan Swafford, that Theatre Fag, the one who was Still a Theatre Fag but just an Older one. We never really change. Oh, and Doug Hennings, the Bartender. He's dead now. And Sarah Bernhardt! Ron had fucked somebody who'd fucked her. And John Riggins. You know, the Haberdasher. And it sure was a shame about old Myron Floren, that heavy metal singer. Choked to death on Peter Frampton's semen. God in HELL but the List went On. Calvin Peete. Keith Hernandez. Who am I Leaving Out? Oh, Darrell Porter! Rich Thomas, a Gay Weatherman I used to buy Coke from when I was in Elementary School. Rob Halford, the figure skater. He used to hit the Subway Train at 3 am, Loaded. LOADED. Like me and Ron were getting while we talked. Me, more than him. I was guzzling two or three beers to his One.
We were sitting in his den talking about the time Bruce Jenner'd tried to rape me, when the neighbor, Carlton Fisk, Showed Up. He was a Bodybuilder. He'd just gotten in from Building with another noted Builder, Kip Winger. They had Company, they said, and we should come by later to meet the man—he, too had been a Builder, though now his Main Focus was teaching inner-city Children how to make crack pipes and how to Drink Alcohollically, as he himself made quite a solvent Living from his own Drinking. Wow, I sure respected that selflessness in a Man! Rising above the Competition! I was impressed, and we said we'd be over later—we were staying up late, we said. Ron wasn't going to the Church of his Choice in the morning. I wasn't, either. I was telling Ron how the Entire History of Christianity is like a Bad Cary Grant film.
And so we drank and we talked until the light outside turned a light blue, heralding the dawn of an Easter Sunday. We stumbled over to Carlton's and I was introduced to the man who gave me back all I had lost. I was looked over and observed drinking another beer. I felt the Presence of Love and of Greatness with me on Carlton's Porch that morning. Had I not, I would not be Writing Today. I have come to the End of my Years, happy and content at last in the glow of their completion, and still blessedly Wallowing in the Wake of a life-changing Moment.
Though in my fifties, I still vividly remember being in my thirties and meeting Benny Poda, a nationally ranked Competitor. In his autographed photo to me, which pictured him funneling a can of Schlitz, he wrote, The Sky is the Limit for You, Brother. After writing those words, he turned to me, and said them aloud with Passion and Conviction. I'll never forget those words. Whatever YOUR goals may be—fucking Kate Hepburn, gaining an extra fifteen pounds, or winning a local Drinking Contest—remember to stay Focused and Motivated. With the proper Dedication, You Too will hear Benny's Words: The Sky is the Limit for You, Brother.
Of course once one places a Limit on something, there's only so far you can go, and I wanted to surpass it and go beyond the Sky to the Wilds of Space, just as perhaps I Have. I just did it by butting my head against the Sky and pushing it Up, raising the Bar for a New Generation. That's why I'm now writing my memoirs and passing the torch.
When he Spoke his Words, the Dawn was Breaking on Easter Morning—and, all of a Sudden, I was at One with the Truth. I felt no anxiety, no fear, and laughter of Relief at my Deliverance tightened my diaphragm. I began to laugh like I've never before or since laughed before. I laughed until I couldn't breathe, and fell to the ground and started rolling on it. I started CRAWLING toward Ron, who was holding my autographed picture up before my Face like an ikon, and the Tears of Joy were jetting from my eyes. My guts were so tight they burned, and I thought I might in fact DIE but if so I would have died knowing the Truth. Knowing Benny's Love for me, for the World, my laughter shrieked out into that Easter morning in Carlton's Yard until so my abdomen tightened so hard from my laughter that no Sound emerged from my mouth as I crawled, and with laughter I just rolled over and SHOOK. The Love. The way the beer was. The way Benny's beauty Erupted from the glossy photograph, the way the sun shone on an Easter morning. The Way the Grass smelled. I had Arrived.
If you don't like your life, turn and Walk away down the Open Road with nothing on but a T-shirt and a Jock Strap, and don't look back. 'Cause what is it you want, in your own Years? Deep down you want to fuck up everything under the sun, IRREPARABLY, and deep down, you know that's what the fuck you're gonna DO, anyways. And I'm proud to be a part of that, sharing with you my wisdom and the Experience of Those Years—because you're doing a GOOD JOB, America. And You—the Future Starts with YOU! And you're on your way. YOU can DO it! And finally, I'm proud of your Persistence. Because the Sky is the Limit for You.