Division of Infrastructure

“A Treatise on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection & Al Bundy’s Predilection for Big ‘Uns”

by Ric Reichert

Google the purpose of female breasts and you will learn that the female mammary glands swell during pregnancy in order to provide nourishment for an impending newborn. But if you Google the significance of already large female breasts (no pregnancy), the search engine displays scores of porn websites along with the names and offices of prominent plastic surgeons, even a few who offer family-rate discounts.

“Mommy, why are my breasts not very big?”

“You’re only twelve, dear. You have to be patient. They’ll grow larger as you get older. If not, we’ll take you to see Doctor Blandy on your sixteenth birthday. You can get a pair just like Mommy.”

“Can I get a tattoo, too?”

“Absolutely not!”

My friend, Billy—and I don’t know if this is true because he told me when we were thirteen and sneaking cigarettes out behind the gymnasium: “Cavemen mimicked the animals he saw around him and humped women from behind, doggy style. That’s just the way it was done.”

Billy went on to explain: “But the female of the species wanted kissing, holding, caressing… stuff like that. So, enlarged breasts were developed to lure the caveman from the soft pillows of butt checks squeezed during sex from behind to the equally soft pillows of engorged breasts while also providing the added attraction of nipples—which, unexpectedly, turned out to be something of an effective marketing strategy to facilitate the switch to frontal sex.” (Billy was intuitive and educated well beyond his years.) I guess that made sense. Cavewomen got holding and kissing and cavemen got something new to play with.

However, changing the dynamics of how we engaged in sex transformed the course of human relationships and gave rise to the development of modern civilization. Al Bundy got his big ‘uns, but he took on a whole lot more responsibility in return.

Prehistoric sex was simple, impersonal really. Man got an erection. Man saw woman bending over picking fruit. Man had sex. Man went back to playing stick ball with his friends. Nine months later the woman was screaming and cursing the unknown (and foul smelling) raider who had impregnated her. Even the underdeveloped frontal lobe of early man had to know that this scenario of easy, anonymous sex was not going to last very long. The jig would soon be up. It would be time to pay the piper.

Once we were lying face to face, other, immediate changes needed to take place. It was one thing to whiff the ass hairs of the woman whose vagina you were gloriously pumping beside a raspberry bush in a fit of sexual ecstasy; quite another to have your nose nestled in unwashed underarm sweat glands while tonguing her nipples. For women who, before frontal sex, had their noses positioned in the opposite direction of their marauder (hopefully upwind) to suddenly having their olfactory senses assaulted by a grizzled, gnarled, insect-infested, swine-stinking beard… Okay, gross! So, personal hygiene quickly became the second evolutionary development (after large female breasts) celebrated in Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. A new rule for human contact was created: The caveman who bathed the most frequently got the most pussy. Still applies today.

While freshly bathed, kissing, holding and caressing, an unexpected (and third) evolutionary development of interpersonal relationship transpired: intimacy. Although human speech and vocabulary had not yet evolved, the cooing groans and grunts of intimacy were clearly understood. “I can see you now. You’re eyes are so dreamy. I think you like my face, too. I know you like the, you know, the hole down there—although I still can’t figure out how it got there. Oh, oh, you are so big and hard. You make me feel like a modern woman, nothing like a Neanderthal. I am yours and yours alone.”

Eureka! The central family and the male erection-size lie were born! And the rest, as they say, was history. Once Al Bundy was domesticated, bathed, shaved and wearing a cloth-knit tie with a plaid shirt, modern civilization exploded and flourished on the glorification of a shoe salesman’s predilection for big ‘uns.

Or something like that.

“Some Genius”

by Robert Macadaeg

Who was it that said life could go on, but not on and on? Some genius?

Looking out over the water, I could tell that today was going to be good, no matter what, despite the danger, despite the poor odds, despite all the rotten choices that led me here, this day was going to work out fine.

And that’s the kind of thing that stupid people do. They think they’re going to get along just great, no matter how horrible it’s obviously going to get.

So this morning, my shoes wet, my shirt starched and my pants missing, I called up my girl Jessica and told her that yes, we are going to get that money. Buy that car. Take that trip.

Now, love is a sacred trust, right? And this girl, my Jess, we have a bond like brother and sister, except, you know, a brother and sister who have sex. Except for the part where it’s incest. We don’t have incest, we have sex. Like a brother and sister would, if it weren’t disgusting.

Jess is telling me that, even though our love is as strong as ever, that she is done with me and I have to stop calling her.

And I’m cool about it, because remember, it’s all gonna turn out good somehow, I know it. She just has to relax a little, glide softly into the relationship, not put up such a fight.

“I’m not going to fight you, you fucking idiot, Brad is going to knock your head off your shoulders if you ever get near me again.”

This is Jess at her energetic best. All fire and passion. Love. See what I mean? Brad is her brother.

“Baby, I’m your real brother,” I’m saying, “Brad ain’t got shit. I’m gonna take you places. What’s that muscle-head got that I ain’t got?”

It’s quiet on the other end for a moment. She’s thinking about it, for once. She knows, deep, deep, down inside that I’m the one, and that this is an opportunity she’ll never have again.

“Motherfucker I am going to cave your face in if you call here again.”

Brad on the phone. He must have snatched it away from her, the nosey bastard.

“Brad, is that you?” I say.

“I’m the motherfucker that’s gonna knock your block off,” Brad says.

This doesn’t make sense to me. “Wait, I thought I was the motherfucker,” I say.

“You are the motherfucker,” Brad says, “The motherfucker I’m going to punch in the mouth.”

At this point, I try to be patient and explain, for his benefit, that this is not how telephones work, that he cannot simply put his fist through the receiver, but after a moment I see that I am talking into nothingness.

Probably lost the signal.

When I try calling back, I find that I can’t get through, which means that I’ll have to go speak with her in person.

First, though, I have to find my pants.

Things would be easier with a tent, but I need to move faster than that. I am a man on the go. All the time. I can’t bother setting up some lean-to. I gotta be free to stop, drop and snooze. That’s just how I am.

On this particular day, though, being homeless is putting a cramp in my style.

My pants, or maybe more accurately, the pants, are not where I feel like I left them last night, which makes me think that maybe I didn’t actually end the night with pants after all.

My shirt (the shirt), though, is crisp, wrapped in a plastic bag and draped nicely on a hanger, which is on a branch and waving in the cool breeze that is sliding off the retention pond and blowing into the little patch of brush in which I have spent the night.

Waterfront living. Because I know how to live.

Still, the pants thing has me flummoxed. I’ll need to visit the dry cleaner again, but that will have to wait. I have a bank to rob, a car to steal and a long overdue vacation to take.

Plus I have to pick up Jess.

As luck would have it – and when doesn’t it – there’s a Wal-Mart nearby where I’ve seen the day shift out back smoking with the door blocked open. A guy with no pants might draw unfavorable attention, but the same guy with a crisp white shirt, well, maybe they would see the real man, the actual man, and not be distracted by a pair of week-old boxers. Or is it two weeks? Time flies when you are on the move. I can’t actually remember when the boxers showed up.

But that’s another distraction. I need to prioritize my day again, because the pants thing, while not a show-stopper, has to be figured into my schedule. Should I stop by the bank first, then go to the store, or should I get the car and then go clothes shopping?

All this as I’m getting dressed. Multi-tasking, they call it. Scheduling my day while I decide whether or not to tuck the shirt into my boxers or leave the shirttails out, casual-like. Normally I wouldn’t tuck a shirt into my underwear because it makes the underwear show. Turns out the same is true with or without pants.

And just like that I’m dressed and ready, once again a man on the go. I decide to stop by the store first, since I’m sleeping in the weeds behind it.

Two steps and I remember that I am not alone. Jeremy is crashed out in the little clearing next to mine, a brown stained orange coat pulled over his head. I know it’s him because he smells so strong you can’t help but recognize him wherever he may be.

Before I kick his feet to wake him I size up his trousers. I’m no thief, but one day he might not need those pants, and on a day like today they could come in handy for me. Not this day, though. I’m looking for something a little dressier than the tattered cotton slacks Jeremy is passed out in this morning.

I kick his shoes and he snorts awake.

“The Indians are coming, run!” I yell at him, and he scrambles himself as best a drunk can scramble, which is mostly just arms flailing. He’s not really a morning person, so I go easy on him.

“Jer! Jer! It’s okay, they missed us!” I tell him. He keeps flailing, not quite awake yet. There is something primordial to Jeremy, even when he isn’t half asleep. This is why I like to keep him around.

I kick his shoes again and now he’s mumbling and rolling onto his side.

“What’s that?” I ask him.

He repeats what he said before, but I can’t make it out. He’s going to kill something or another. I don’t doubt him. I’ve seen him do it.

He’s not a real killer, though. He’s an explorer. Of people. That’s what he does for a living. He roots around inside people’s minds, takes notes, and then feels guilty for imposing. His regrets don’t stop him or anything – it’s just his process.

Here’s how he starts:

He takes up a collection, offering his hat around as he bounces a basketball off the sidewalk. That’s it. That’s his trick, the act for which he expects and receives his livelihood. It’s the combination of these activities that justifies the pay: dribbling the ball with one hand, making the hat convenient with the other, always conveying expectation.

And that’s the key – the implied compulsory nature of donating that he is able to communicate. He gets it across through body language alone. The basketball trick isn’t actually that good. It’s mostly just a method for presenting the hat.

But all the while – as he bounces, presents and gestures – he is calculating, adjusting, testing, feeling you out and then re-adjusting and testing again, always staying below the level of consciousness. It’s a high-speed, custom-tailored snow job that makes you think he’s doing something interesting. He is, but the ball has nothing to do with it. He’s a snake charmer, making your wallet rise, dance, and flick tongues of cash at him.

Motherfucker bounces a ball, looks into your soul, and takes your money.

Sometimes while he’s rooting around in your psyche, he’ll make little side trips, run his fingers along your synapses on his way through and back out. What he finds there is usually just some ammunition to use on the next person, but now and then, inside some little girl’s head, or in some businessman’s or some suburbanite’s, he’ll lay hands on a taproot that leads back to himself. This circle, looking into you and seeing his own soul there, this is what makes him drink, this notion of begging himself for money. It strikes him in his motivator: he is one with everything, which means he is profoundly, and forever, alone.

Whiskey? For chumps. Even he knows it tastes bad. Anything sweet, anything cloying, that’s what he wants. Makes you wonder what his real addiction is.

He is waking up, which means he is thirsty.

“Grab your ball, Svengali,” I say, and he smiles at me an improbable drunkard’s smile. His teeth are a shiny row of ivory.

“Let me brush my teeth,” he says, an excuse to drink some mouthwash.

While he flosses and brushes and makes a show of how fastidious he is, I take inventory of my tools. It doesn’t take long. Without pants, I am definitely working shorthanded. I’m just standing around idly while my pal performs his toothbrush ablutions. When Jeremy opens his store-brand mouthwash, I sit down and together we take in the morning air for a few moments.

“I need new pants,” he says.

He can’t resist. “You like it inside my head so much, why don’t you clean it up in there? Fix the plumbing or something,” I say.

He looks hurt, and I suddenly feel like a heel. He’s invited himself in, but only because he’s trying to be a good teammate.

“But seriously,” I tell him, “we both need to stop by the store and get some Haggar double-knits or something.”

“That shit don’t breathe,” he says, passing the bottle. “And I was talking about me. I already know what you need. Don’t have to look very deep to see it, either.”

“No, look deeper,” I say, “and admire the fucking rainbow.”

“Admire the dog shit,” he replies.

“That too,” I say, and hand back the blue tartar control. “Ready to make our mark on the world?”

He knows of the girl and the galoot big brother, has coaxed coin out of both of them. “What’s Paris like this time of year?” he asks.

“Piss-stained but otherwise tasty,” I tell him, “but I’m thinking road trip.”

“Biloxi?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Think she likes to sweat?”

Jeremy mulls that over while we finish off the mouthwash. I have my own thinking to do.

Being on top is a hobby for me, but some people try to turn it into a profession. The results are seldom attractive. Like the guy yesterday with the Mercedes. Where is he today? Well, I’ll tell you – he’s somewhere feeling bad and driving a rental. And guess where I am?

Sure, pantless and sleeping behind Wal-Mart, but otherwise enjoying the sweet and dawning memory of that Mercedes I drove last night. There’s also the less pleasant memory of mechanical failure after some off-road hill-climbing, but that recollection is a little hazy and anyway the point is this: as a hobbyist, I don’t give a shit. When I’m on top, it’s a hoot, it’s a weekend thing or something I do with friends and a twelve-pack.

Once it becomes work it’s no longer fun.

So this morning I am not exactly a winner, but for now I don’t care to be. Success just infects you with pride, and pride ain’t gonna help me walk into Wal-Mart in my boxers and walk out in a free pair of pants. Pragmatism is the order of the day.

Part of me wishes that I still had the Mercedes, but Mother Nature is now calling that car back to its constituent elements. Rust in peace.

No, today calls for a focused practicality. Jeremy is thirsty and my Jessica needs a vacation, poor dear. And the next step required to move today forward is those pants. I know where they are (the men’s section) and I know how I’ll pay for them (with skill and imagination), so now I need to put boldness into action and see if I can’t get Jeremy to go in there and steal them for me.

He won’t, though.

“How about this, then,” I tell him, and God bless him, he is listening to me as if I weren’t going to re-formulate the same sentence in a bald effort to mislead him. He is the kindest man I know.

“You go in there,” I continue, “you pull some sweatpants over your trousers, you raise a ruckus, and then you get yourself kicked out by security.”

Not my best plan, but Jeremy is giving me that look and I can’t concentrate.

“Get your own damn pants,” he says.

“Exactly,” says I, “once I have the sweatpants, I can cover my shame, enter that store with my head held high, and steal like a man.”

Jeremy nods at this and allows that confidence is indeed important.

“Yes!” I say, “Yes! We are men of action, and men of action do not roam the local shopping center in their underwear.”

Jeremy is waking up. The gears and mechanisms that drive him are beginning to loosen and turn.

“I need breakfast,” he says.

“My friend,” I tell him, “one-stop shopping was invented for the drinking man. Aisle one, sportswear. Aisle two, Night Train.”

“Damn civilized,” Jeremy says.

“Yes, and no doubt you can sip your way through a bottle or two before you are escorted out in your new sweatpants,” I say, and he is immediately up and gone.

Jeremy’s urge for breakfast animates him sufficiently to get him off the ground and into the store, but it leaves no room for my plan, for the sweatpants first, then the drink. Instead, he walks immediately to the wine section, sits upon a case of Carlo Rossi and begins guzzling every screw-top fortified vino he can get inside of him.

It is fifteen minutes before I come to my senses.

He is going to focus on his own needs, not mine, and I am a fool to think differently.

I am now alone behind the Wal-Mart with a keen sense of the amateur’s disadvantage. These are the moments that call for strength and fortitude.

I have not realized, until this moment, how dependent one’s psychological power is upon slacks.

That’s me. Always learning.

I find that there are other subtleties in the situation to pick up on as well. Like, for instance, the heretofore hidden power of the un-panted man, the force of which, enhanced by the incongruity of the well-pressed shirt, allows me to breach the fortress of retail, meet the eyes of the greeter and ride around the store on an electric scooter like I own the place. Somehow, a man in his underpants in public becomes invisible.

On my way to the men’s section I drive by the wine aisle, hoping to parlay with my pal and share the wonders of my newfound power. Alas, he has already been escorted out. No matter. I am my own man, after all, and can make my own way in the world.

Especially atop this scooter, whose basket I am filling with items as disparate as the happily exploited can produce.

Scooter-cruising pantless at the local Wal-Mart is everything you imagine it to be. Filling your basket, towing a cart, blocking aisles, driving backwards for extended beeping periods – all activities to fill a day with joy – but I am on a mission. I am not here to steal but to take what is mine, or what will be mine eventually. After I steal it.

Instinctively, I know that a pantless man should not draw attention to himself. I find that a careful, downward expression on my part, in conjunction with the unease that others feel when making eye contact with a half-dressed man, makes it possible for me to motor through the store unimpeded. And when I find the slacks I am looking for, I can put them on as if I just took them off, leave the packed scooter and cart behind, and leave the store on foot.

Today I exit via the loading dock, greeting workers and mooching cigarettes along the way.

Jeremy is waiting for me in our little clearing. He has apparently put down a fair amount of Night Train prior to taking his leave from the store and is therefore cheerful and ready to begin his day.

And quite a day it is going to be! The addition of new pants has really put the finishing touch to my ensemble. I feel like a new man, a completely dressed male of the species, out for the hunt. Today we will stalk and take down the delicate but speedy American dollar, perhaps a whole herd of them. I and my hunting partner intend to sneak up on them at their favorite watering hole.

But first we must adapt to the unexpected.

A bold man seeks to make things happen, and the events he sets in motion are meant to serve his best interests, but the universe will have its way with him despite his fair intentions. Presently, a police officer is visiting our humble clearing, mouthing nonsense about property and proper moral behavior in a public setting. It is a sermon we have heard before, but that doesn’t make it easier to understand.

What, exactly, are these rights that we do not have? Who are these children that should concern me when I am less than fully clothed? There is a collective hallucination at work here, and officer Righteous Man in his (admittedly) crisp uniform is another babbling sufferer.

We let him blather on, though, as the fellow is packing heat and offering free rides. My schedule, however, will permit neither endless lectures nor side trips to County, so it is now up to me to bend the arc of events away from the officer’s deluded notions and toward a narrative more suited to the goals I have set myself for today.

Jeremy, of course, is on the ground laughing because he can see, on a different, possibly made-up level, what is truly happening. It gives him great joy, and not the derisive, ridiculing joy of unhappy drunks, but the pure, child-like joy of a man who has found enlightenment by pickling his brain.

I admire and respect his functionality. I will let him handle this one.

By now the store manager has arrived, and with him a cohort of back door smokers is arranging itself behind the police officer, who is about to take control of the situation by requiring me and Jeremy to assume an uncomfortable and humiliating posture.

Jeremy is nearly paralyzed with laughter though, and his helpless guffaws are so genuine that his world begins to shine through the concrete barriers of the cop and the store manager. His giggles are so infectious that the smokers are all hacking and choking. The cop sees that he is attempting to tame a world that is best left wild, and the store manager, as humorless as any man alive, feels Jeremy’s unbridled joy washing over him in waves. He is helpless against its onrushing power. He grasps at one last shred of his own reality, “Just give me back my pants,” but this utterance only batters down the last barrier to Jeremy’s laughter and now we are all just a bunch of strangers standing in a litter-strewn swamp behind a chain store, laughing at our collective struggle in an uncaring cosmos.

It was a private moment, a temporary cessation of conflict like the Christmas day soccer match between trenches in the Great War. The store manager gestured the smokers back to work, the police officer got in his last words, “Be careful,” and the whole group dispersed before Jeremy could stop laughing.

This freed us up to rob the bank, which I was eager to finish before the day got away from us.

END

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