David Rakoff,

David Rakoff,

A weeklong electronic journal.
April 30 1998 3:30 AM

David Rakoff,

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       Koko, the gorilla who speaks in sign language (and has been around a long time; I did a project on her in fifth grade with Sholom Kramer. I copied a whole article about her from Scientific American onto a piece of poster board. Then, I suspect, as always, we tried to get extra marks by serving the foods of Holland or something), took e-mail questions on America Online the other evening, thus exponentially raising the tone of most chat room conversation I've ever logged on to. An unholy combination, to be sure, my worst nightmare made flesh: the Web and animals. When asked "Do you like to chat with other people?" ("Other? Other than you, do you mean?") Koko, briefly channeling the soundtrack from Shaft, replied, "Fine nipple." It's really a virtual community!
       A lovely walk to work. It's an exercise in maneuvering my body like a car. I suppose this is where I vent my male aggression, as I don't know how to actually drive. I swerve, I change lanes frantically, I pass, I run lights, my rage blooming as garishly and violently as a magician's pop-up bouquet; YOU HAVE WALKED IN FRONT OF ME AND FOR THAT YOU MUST DIE!!! I arrive at work, sweaty, energized, with a taste for blood.
       I get a qualitatively different post-exercise feeling from my lunch-time swims at the Y, which bliss me out and fill me, for a while, with the soy milk of human kindness.
       Ad on the subway on the way up to shrink: The Seekers Christian Fellowship wants to declare May 7th "J.D.," or "Jesus Day." Why, that's a marvelous idea! His religion seems awfully popular, it should be marked with a holiday of sorts, don't you think? People could exchange gifts or something, have parties, sing some songs specific to the holiday (someone would have to write some, I suppose). Stores could decorate in a festive manner. I think it could really catch on.
       Best friend Natalia in town for the evening from London on her way to an international human rights conference in Jamaica. Other best friend Erin and I have supper with her at Andre and Leina's (her parents) apartment. Talk turns to feelings of guilt toward the parents. Andre feels some, Leina feels none, Natalia none, Erin some. We keep it light, as we always do, but I am almost uncoupled by feeling like a Bad Son. The world is a tad too much with me in general these days. I am easily disappointed, irritated, insulted, hurt. I have the post-jaw-clenching, low-grade headache caused by keeping something under wraps. Skillful repressor that I am, I couldn't begin to know what it is. But it keeps me thin. All I really care about.
       Erin thinks the subway car coming home smells funny. "Like feet," she says. I detect nothing. I offer her my bag of fresh asparagus as an olfactory diversion. She sticks her nose in and reels back as if slapped. I sniff, and indeed they smell of death and putrefaction. I tell myself hopefully this is just the close quarters of the plastic bag. In an Oe novel, The Silent Cry, the wife, who has just moved back to her husband's country village, remembers some houseplants that once rotted and imagines all the vegetation, the huge forests surrounding them, smelling of decay.
       William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe" runs like a loop of tape in my head: "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so!" Something about that final exclamation point just makes it impossible for that to be a depressing phrase to me. Or maybe I'm lying. Hard to say ...

David Rakoff is a writer and actor living in New York. He works in the publishing industry.