Isolation Tank Exercising While the Walls of Life Close In
I’m lifting weights in the garage, got the barbell loaded up and I’m bench-pressing. I got my favorite mix-tape in the cassette player, my little ghetto blaster up there on the beat-up workbench, my favorite band blaring out of it as loud as I can get away with out here; gotta drown out the yelling; the Chameleons; and it's even my favorite song of theirs playing on the whole killer tape I made: “Second Skin.”
Uh, oh. Here comes Dad. Not just in here but he's coming over to ME. He’s come THIS WAY. Now he's standing here. Now he's fumbling around, turning off my music. Aw, shit. There it goes. Really?? Why are YOU here?? Why NOW??
Aw, crap. Look at it, he's bracing himself up for something. What could it be? He's got something, the idiot.
I get out from under the bar and I sit up on the bench press right at the leg curl extension, and I look up at him, I guess, sort of; he’s standing right here, so what ELSE am I gonna do?--What is it?--he wants something--look at him fidgeting around--okay, here we go, can you just get to it already??
Hey, uh—he starts out—now that you’re all done with high school, did you ever think about, maybe, going to college?
A shrug of the shoulders and he’s gone. Back in the house with him. Get the hell outta here. What the hell was THAT about?? Hear Mom yelling. Turn this back on, drown her ass out again. It’s Sunday or he'd be at work. Did SHE put him up to that? Why should she SHE care? Since when does HE care? College?? What the--??
It takes me a little bit to get back into my lifting. It's like I just got derailed or whatever. I'm still sitting up on the weight bench. There's a part of me, it just wants to barge in there and ask 'em, What the hell was THAT about??
Yeah. No kidding. The more and more I sit here, the more it hits me: Shit, Dad. You never said shit to me. All these years. Nothing. Not a damn thing. NOW you think you’re gonna start? NOW?? For five whole seconds? Are you that stupid??
Huh. Geez. Son of a bitch.
College?? What's THAT?? How the hell should I know?? What--you want me to sit in a room with 35 other people and not be able to talk all day long for even MORE years? Are you f--king CRAZY? I’ve done my time. I'm DONE with that shit. I don't know what the hell's wrong with me. You guys made me. Now you think you're gonna fix it?? And in a couple of seconds??
Oh, great. That's just great.
I lean back, slip under the bar, mutter "F--k them," and go back to my bench pressing. The song playing on there now is “Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In).” Also by the Chameleons. There’s a chorus line, it goes,
“And now the baby needs to grow,
But the mother is crazy.”
This part of the tape I kinda lose myself in. I get into a zone and just lift. This tape kicks ass. I made it perfect. It’s my best mix I ever made to work out to. Got the bar off the rack, down against my chest, strain, flex, push, up and exhale, and again, and again, and again.
Next up'll be “Isolation” by Joy Division on that sucker.--God, with the yelling; I can hear her in there. Over my music, I can hear her--Shut up. Shut the hell up already.--"Isolation." Awesome song. That one with the chorus that goes:
“Surrendered to self-preservation,
From others who care for themselves.”
When it gets there, I never hear “others.” I always hear “mothers.” In my universe, in the place where I live and hide, where there's the real me under covers, it's mothers. It's always mothers. It's all that matters is what it means there.
My final set, rack the bar, sit up, and listen.
Here it comes. Joy Division.
“Mother, I tried, please believe me,
I’m doing the best that I can,
I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through,
I’m ashamed of the person I am.”
Like you care. Like either of you give two shits.