It was with utmost sarcasm that I wrote “Atomic Girl,” but underneath its layer of drunken belligerence beat a genuine heart. The song is at once a scathing indictment of the manipulative, self-destructive S and an admission of my own part in creating the terrible situation from which I’d been forced to escape. It’s a step-by-step dissection of a habit I’d developed in my life of being enticed by half-heartedly suicidal girls, allowing them to pull me into their terrible worlds instead of pulling them out. I was protesting the atomic bomb with my finger on the button, and it took a situation as exaggerated as this one to finally allow me to see the caricature I’d become.
I refrained from replying to S’s inexplicably light-hearted text message. But the next day, I received a follow-up message: “You’re not mad, by any chance, are you?”
I decided I should refrain from speaking to her ever again, reasoning that her safety was at stake but actually more concerned for my own. As evening fell, I received a direct call to my cellular. I glanced reluctantly at the screen. It displayed a giant Japanese equivalent of an S, the rest of her name following like the proverbial stalker following the proverbial me.
“Uggh,” I shuddered, hurling the phone into the garbage bin. I stared at the bin until the ringing stopped.
I immediately second-guessed my rash action on account of the phone not being burnable waste. You have to understand that the town of Tajimi, Japan had very stringent waste disposal regulations, as dictated by the iron-fisted town mascot, the Unagappa, in a massive, forty-four-page PDF document.
At roughly midnight, we arrived back at my apartment. My Kiwi friend decided to stay the night at my place to avoid a cumbersome walk home. Just before he went to take a shower, I received a phone call. It was S.
“Did you really. . . believe my story?” She spoke in Japanese. Her voice wavered.
“Well yeah, why wouldn’t I?”
On the other end of the phone, S let out a terrible wail. She wasn’t just crying–she was bawling.
“Where are you?” I asked.
A wise or more occupied man would have stopped frequenting the BL at this point. But roughly two weeks later, I went back, for lack of a better idea. I’m proud to say that it was not in forbidden anticipation of once again encountering S, but rather in spite of the possibility of. I’m pretty sure.
The day was the vernal equinox, I believe, which in Japan is a national holiday. My Kiwi friend and I were out drinking “bears,” as he called them, at a gaudy but hidden burger joint called Honey’s Diner. It was one of the few places open on the holiday, but two drinks in, they were closing shop.
“Could sure go for another round,” my friend said. “Any places around here gonna be open?”
“Eh, I guess there is this one place, but. . . if we run into any familiar faces, I’m counting on you to bail me out of a situation.”
It’s a funny term to just throw around. In theory, there can only be one worst. But I submit that all of these are equally worst. Please add to my list in the comments!
1. Dropping a baby – Though I spent three-and-a-half years working closely with children, I’ve still never mustered the courage to hold a baby, because it’s impossible for me to imagine it going successfully. Many people can be passed a baby, hold it briefly, then pass it back. Mission accomplished: Baby held. Not me. As soon as I’m approached with the notion, my imagination immediately floods with images of me dropping it to the sound of a life-altering thud. Oh no, not the corner of our glass coffee table. Oh no, not the hot coffee. Oh no, those were her best footie-jam-jams and also now she’s dead.
2. Creature crawling up the toilet, around or into anus – Not to be vulgar, but then, who among us can say he or she hasn’t deliberated obsessively over this dark fantasy at some point. There are probably a half-dozen good reasons that, growing up, I only used a public restroom about as many times (a half-dozen, that is). But one of them was most certainly the fear that, just as I got comfortable, a very giant and very poisonous tarantula would emerge from its second-favorite hang-out–the disgusting inner lip of the public toilet–and nestle itself into its first-favorite hang-out, my quivering Aaaaaa-hole.
3. A long, drawn-out plane crash – Chances are slim that you’ll die in a plane crash. There are all sorts of ridiculous statistics out there claiming as much. Did you know you’re more likely to die in a car crash after losing control because your car was struck twice by lightning than you are to die in a plane crash? You’re more likely to find yourself straddling two zebras with identical stripes, one of them holding a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card in its toothy craw.
And hey, even if you do die in a plane crash, it’s likely to be a near-instant, midair explosion that ends before you realize it’s begun. Not a great way to go, but hey, at least you won’t have to suffer through chemo. (That’s another nightmare altogether, and one that I’ve all but shut out of my mind for sanity’s sake.)
Still, what concerns me is that, insofar as we can, in fact, fly through the air, and that this is dependent on the proper automatic and manual operation of a machine with lots of vital moving parts, there is still a sliver of a chance that the electricity will fail altogether, that the pilot won’t even be able to use the thing as a glider, and that we will immediately start plummeting into the sea from 30,000 feet above it. Needless to say, this would be a very long plummet–about forty-five straight seconds of “OH MY GOD I’M TOTALLY DYING RIGHT NOW”–and much more than I could bear emotionally.
I guess the good news is that, once it’s done being unbearable, it’s over and you won’t be around to be permanently traumatized by its unbearableness, so, in that sense I suppose it’s better than being raped horribly or having your arm axed off by a rabid ex-girlfriend or guy in clown makeup, but I still can’t board a plane without saying a little prayer: “Lord, if I gotta die, please Lord make it quick.”
4. Car brakes go out – Shit would suck so bad. I don’t like trusting my life to a machine.
5. Teeth falling out – Many of us have felt that helpless sensation of putting extra effort into our dental hygiene only to see our dental health decline anyway. Additionally, many of us are haunted by dreams of our teeth falling out or shattering to bits whilst still in their teeth sockets. I, too, have this recurring nightmare, and yes, it’s the worst one. Pretty much neck-and-neck with. . . .
6. The apocalypse – I also have recurring dreams of the apocalypse. By this, I mean the end of society as we know it on Earth. This is particularly displeasurable because Earth society is the only one I even know of. Also because these dreams tend to involve lots of airplanes plummeting to the ground or my teeth falling out or nuclear explosions causing people’s car brakes to go out and drop their babies all over the place. Fuck me!
7. Sea monsters – Now look, I. . . I mean I’m a pretty open-minded guy. I generally exercise a “live and let live” policy. But this shit needs to never, ever happen.