I can’t stand being bad. That’s my problem. I got it in my head at some point that I’m supposed to be good. So whatever comes out of me I wonder immediately “is this good?” and I poke at it and turn it over until I can figure out what’s wrong with it which is everything. Because it’s just some weepy crap that some failed middle-aged nobody yarked out at a typewriter sitting inside moping while everyone else was out experiencing wild success and happiness and running around with butterflies and laughing and fucking and making money hand over fist while doing it. I assume.
Which assumption I recognize is not useful or accurate but there it is. It’s easy, or at least run-of-the-mill everyday disappointing which is easy enough, when I know it’s bad. I can process it right away. “This isn’t good but at least I’m doing it.” Right? Heroic, in a way. Slogging on in dignified but deserved obscurity seems like a good niche.
Then inevitably something comes out of me that seems good. Like really good. And I even finish it not like the other times and I run out into the fresh-cut day and yell to everyone “STOP! FOR I HAVE DONE SOMETHING VERY GOOD!” and they stop and very politely they look at it and try very hard to see what is so good about it and they cannot. For while it is good, or at least may be good, it is also bad. Like a gem covered in mud.
They are telling me, in their way, to go back inside and polish. But I don’t. I go back inside and chuck my mud-covered gem into a pile of old magazines and torn dishrags and decaying canteloupe rinds and then say “what’s the use, I’ll just get a truck and become a mover or a junk man or something” and then of course my first job is in a tony retirement community and I forget to be careful and BANG I fuck up the walls and it’s really awkward until the poor old man finds an excuse to send me away.
For the most part that cycle just goes on and on. Failure begets failure. An uplifting part is supposed to go here but there’s the buzzer. Selah.
Adam Short is a Richmond native living in the Near West End.