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'Every Single One of Us, the Croshere Inside'
The Croshere Inside
See http://keithmitchell5.hubpages.com/hub/Green-Concrete for the backstory on this one. Usually, when I’m having a strange dream, I can pull myself out of it. But Austin Croshere hijacked my brain, put his spin on life, and changed the way I viewed sleep and many other matters thereafter. But none of what follows is actually Croshere’s fault. It’s mine. And Green Concrete’s.
“Pull my finger.”
I did it. Austin Croshere farted and laughed. It never got old – to him. To me, it was beyond tired. But Croshere was calling the shots, and he proved to be an exasperating study in contrasts, at once ocean deep and concurrently puddle shallow. He held perhaps the most annoying persona my brain has ever conjured, yet I liked him considerably.
“I’ll list for you definitively the top ten Ace of Bass songs ever,” he said near the beginning of the saga, cracking his knuckles. Even in the confusion of addle-minded dream state, I realized it would be a long night.
When it all started, we were in a strip club, specifically Brad’s Brass Flamingo. It reeked of Fabreeze and featured gaudy neon palm trees. Sporting his sunglasses, a white dress shirt and black pants, Croshere’s entrance was memorable. He later confided, “When I go into a club, I want all eyes off the strippers for a moment and on me.” When you’re 6’10,” I imagined this is easier to pull off. Narcissistically self-absorbed, Austin Croshere knew what he wanted, I had to hand him that. “Just because I get what I want, though, it doesn’t mean I’m happy,” he countered. An interesting point, diminished only somewhat by the needlessly loud belch he emitted just then. As he wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve, Croshere continued to cast his spell.
“I watched a ten-year-old kid do five cartwheels across a soccer field yesterday. She did it just for the sheer exhilaration. There was no audience. No one was grading her for it, paying her for it or praising her for it. She just did it. That’s the ‘free drugs’ we lose.”
“’Free drugs?’” I asked.
“Yeah. As we age, we forget. It’s not so much that we forget as we get blinded by other things.” Croshere lifted his drink – Captain Morgan and Diet Coke – in a sweeping gesture toward the strippers. Like most things he did, his meaning seemed ambiguous. He seemed to be referring to sex or at least sex appeal, but did he realize he pointed this out via an alcoholic beverage, presumably another deterrent to his ‘free drugs’? Was he being ironic, clueless, thought-provoking? I couldn’t tell.
Croshere scratched his face as if it itched badly and forged ahead. He talked about growing up in Southern California, near Malibu. (Note: Austin Croshere freaks out there: don’t write and tell me Croshere isn’t from Malibu. It was a fucking dream. He could be from Edmonton, Alberta for all I know.) He talked about sitting on a cliff near the ocean one day and listening to the waves.
“I laid on my back and looked at the sky because it was mysterious. In the west, the sky can hold more than one weather pattern at once, so I saw a storm over the ocean but brilliantly blue skies where I was. So, I stared at the sky while listening to waves crash. I maximized the beauty by splitting my sensory focus. Free drugs.” He smiled, satisfied with himself, and swilled from his cocktail.
Then he whistled and said what sounded like, “The Ambers of Autumn.”
“What’s that mean?”
“The blind can’t see and the tone deaf refuse to quit singing.”
I resisted the temptation to ask him what his explanation meant. I wasn’t sure if he knew or if I just didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of thinking I didn’t. Maybe I could figure out for myself if his bullshit had any wisdom hidden in it.
“Dallas Clark is gay.” Croshere said this calmly. I’d heard the same rumors around Indianapolis for years in real life, wide awake life, and I could care less personally. In fact, I probably like him better if he is gay for some reason. (I’m not, but Indianapolis needs some flavor). But in my dream, I got all defensive and weird for some reason.
“Really? Nuh-uh!” I said in a panicked voice.
Croshere looked at me dismissively and said, “You could fill arenas with what you don't know.” He had a toothpick in his mouth and was still wearing his sunglasses. He looked like a hipper version of Dale Gribble.
“What do you miss about being ten?” I asked. And that later struck me as a really strange question choice. If I had actually been thinking in my dream, I would have asked Croshere for some good Reggie Miller stories, what Providence was like as a city since I’ve never been and I knew he went to college there, and maybe if he knew Jenn Sterger. Instead, I asked him what he missed about being ten years old and it accidentally turned out to be a very good question.
“There was so much pain I didn’t even know existed then.” He smiled, blissfully instead of smugly for the first time. “Pain was still remote. Words like cancer or suicide – I couldn’t define them then.” I was going to smile back at Croshere just then, but he put his left hand inside his white shirt and executed an armpit fart. I squinted at him, unable to grasp his seeming polarities of depth, which occurred nearly simultaneously. I thought in my dream, “Green Concrete is right. This guy’s a complete tool.” But Croshere’s words were well worth listening to. He proved to be a captivating anomaly.
Just then, Croshere’s cell phone rang. He whistled ominously and handed it to me, saying “It’s Madison Croshere. You’ll have to take this.”
“No, my twelve-year-old daughter.” As Croshere sipped his Captain and Diet, he muttered, “She put the 'bitch' in habitual, son!”
The voice on the other end of the phone proved to be most unpleasant indeed, although having Austin Croshere for a parent didn’t strike me as a complete bargain. In a petulant stream of consciousness rant, Madison Croshere registered a litany of protests against her wayward father. About this time, a stripper began to do her thing to REM’s “Losing My Religion.” Croshere leaned forward with arms crossed and whispered, “I suggested this song to her last week. Her name is Jade.” Meanwhile, Madison continued to rail. Her dad used drugs, sold drugs, he missed her piano recital, he missed her in the middle school production of “Steel Magnolias” as the hairdresser, he brought strippers home, he….
I felt for this kid. As annoying as she came across, I wouldn’t want to necessarily share a mailbox with the Austin Croshere of my dream either. “We’ve done four interventions so far and none of them bore fruit. We’ve even had rehabilitated strippers involved. Dad is slippery. When you intervene him, he turns things around on you.” I could see all that happening. I looked over at Croshere. He was waving to Britney, the next stripper due up. I heard a female voice in the background slur the words, “At least he’s not here.” That turned out to be one Ashlee Croshere, Austin’s better half.
Croshere ordered a refill and told me to drink up. “We have more clubs to hit, son.” I sighed. Then he poked me in the shoulder and said, “Tomorrow, you’ll just let television define you again. You can do that hungover.” What a smarmy bastard! I had to wonder if he knew how accidentally insightful he was.
In dreamworld, one’s thinking is impaired - dreaming while stupid. Somehow, I came up with the idea of getting Croshere home, reunited with Ashlee and Madison. I should have just kicked back and enjoyed the dream, but I took the hard way out. Getting Frodo to Mt. Doom would have been easier. So, I grabbed Croshere’s phone and found Madison’s number. But the voice that responded was heavy with impatient intoxication; the long-suffering Mrs. Croshere.
“Don’t bring him here whatever you do. The last time he was here, he lost his shoes in the toilet.” I couldn’t really fathom how, but Croshere was shaking his head in agreement. Ashlee Croshere continued her lament.
“I hitched my wagon to that idiot’s star in college and look at me now. I guzzle gin, plan my plastic surgeries, and cash the checks. Never marry a pro athlete.” Okay, good advice, but what do you want me to do with Austin Croshere? Dial tone. She just plain didn’t care and I couldn’t make her wayward husband do anything he didn’t want to do. Strip club purgatory continued unabated. Croshere vacillated between trite and perceptive. He continued to refer to himself in the third person and say, “Know what I’m sayinnnnn?” He was a little hammered and threw around alliterations like “limousine liberals” and “hapless heterosexuals.” And then “True Colors” came on the jukebox. Maybe it was last call because the strippers were all gone. Croshere locked his hands and put them behind his head. His last words resonated. Later, I knew where they came from, but in dreamworld, AC applied his filter to a thought I’d heard earlier from the boss of a friend.
“I wish I could get crucified for someone else,” he said. I was perplexed, but he clarified. “Say there was someone on death row and I offered to give my life for theirs. I offered to be killed, crucified in fact, if the authorities would allow everyone on death row to live. I’d do it, you know?” And I did know. Croshere wasn’t posturing or bluffing. He meant it even though there was self-interest involved in his own demise. I saw it. And he saw that I saw it.
“I’d be remembered. I’d be thought of highly. Maybe I’d even start a movement. Crosherism.”