They told me my head would explode. I didn’t believe them. Until I heard the ticking.
Since I was a kid, I could think about several things at once. I could be doing math, figuring out how to talk to the girl in front of me, and simultaneously imagining living in ancient Egypt. Teachers would ask me, “where is your head at?” That was hard to explain, and not a little embarrassing. But I was a smart ass, so I’d just point.
As I got older, I could think on as many as four or five tracks at once. Not all the time, of course. If I was tired, sick, inebriated, or decimated by a recent orgasm, I became a one-track mind for a while. When I was “on” though, I was on.
I suppose I expected it to stop, at some point. What’s that stuff old people say? I don’t mean old as in age. Hell, my dad was younger than me when he said it. They say that, as you get older, your mental clarity starts to dwindle. I’ve found just the opposite. I go through quantum layers of perceptual improvement. My Dad was in the military, so I figure he was probably just sold on the idea that youth is when you’re most fit for any task.
There’s the other myth, too. “Don’t think too much. People who think too much have no practical sense.” I’ve never found thinking a burden. In fact, for me, it’s automatic, so it wouldn’t really matter if it was. But I can work on my car, compose a short story, and sing at the same time, while keeping track of the time for an appointment and worrying about my taxes.
I think most people can do this, actually. That’s the other myth. “You’re so intelligent. You have so much potential.” That’s really helpful, isn’t it? It’s like saying “you’ve got all this raw skill, I just don’t see that you’ve done anything of real value with it. You could, but you haven’t.” But it’s like more is expected, because supposedly you’re extraordinary. Yeah, maybe, but what’s wrong with baking a really interesting batch of brownies while you hum Verdi, keep track of a load of laundry, and figure out your budget for the following week? A lot of people can multi-task, multi-think, multi-whatever. Some housewives are the queens of tracking a dozen things at once.
The truth is, though, I *can* do a bit more than seems average. The number of ‘tracks’, as I call them, kept increasing. “You’re head’s going to explode,” people would say. By that time, I just thought they were dumb.
So in case you want to know, here’s what I’m thinking about right now – though, for your sake, I’ll put it in chronological order:
1. I did talk to the girl in front of me, but at the casino, not the one in class, and the girl turns out to be someone’s girlfriend. I like her a lot though, and I’d like to see her again if I live, though I don’t see how that’s possible.
2. I do, generally, balance my budget, but I gambled money I don’t have – money I actually borrowed, because I was sure the system I worked out in my head while baking a batch of brownies last week, would guarantee me 300% returns.
3. OK, so they were pot brownies, and I had a couple in the car on the way up here. Why? Because I was starving and couldn’t think, because my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and the pot brownies were originally intended to celebrate my winnings. Look, if I tried to do this gambling thing hungry and on a one-track mind, I’d owe everyone and go home broke. You’d probably pack a toothbrush and travel kit, I took baked goods.
4. I was working on my car, and humming Verdi, when the girl I’ve already mentioned pulls up and offers me a ride. Guess what she’s wearing? She’s dressed like Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. It’s one of my fantasies. You know – one night with a woman they have to execute you for in the morning, but she’s that good. That’s one hot ride.
5. Turns out this girl is working, if you get my drift. It’s Nevada, it’s legal, so get over yourself. So of course, that’s why she’s wearing the costume, and of course I couldn’t resist. So I get to the casino still decimated by not one but three recent orgasms. Look, how often do you get a shot at Cleopatra? That’s the stuff of middle school boys’ wet dreams, if they read and think a lot.
6. I was always good at math, and I figured I’d still give it a shot at the tables, but I might have been paying more attention to the girl I never talked to in front of me, you know back when I was supposed to be studying equations, than I thought. Maybe I spent two tracks on her because, a little while ago, I couldn’t even remember my math teacher’s name, let alone the card count on my “all in” hand. I lost everything, which made Cleopatra frown.
7. Cleo’s boyfriend is also her pimp (I know, it’s a sick world). Well, he was higher than I was, and right now I’m in a dark room, duct taped to a chair with an improvised explosive device shoved in my mouth. Turns out he learned a thing or two during his tour in Iraq. America’s finest, right? And there’s one of those portable, wind up travel alarm clocks dangling off of it. Seems I got my travel kit, after all.
8. Speaking of clocks, it turns out that Cleo was still on hers, even sitting at the tables with me, and that included the long, stoned moments I told her I wanted it to last more than one ‘night’, and asked if she’d come back to Wisconsin with me, which not only enraged Ranger Chuck, but gave him an idea for how I could spend my remaining time in Nevada. The same way I spent my money – all in and all I have.
9. Incidentally, girls that wear costumes based on ancient Egypt are exceptionally expensive compared to the ones that don’t. If they dress like a queen, they’re expecting to be paid like one.
10. I think I’m going to be sick.
11. What the Hell is up with social media, anyway? Twitter, Tumblr – why do I want this stuff? Like I need one more set of things to think about. Like I have to know all the things *you* are thinking about.
12. There’s only one way out of this, and that’s because Army guy is either too coked up, or just isn’t smart enough, to realize it. I’m taped to the chair by my clothes, so I just have to get out of my clothes to get away.
13. I also never liked the phrase “too smart for your own britches,” which is how they say it in Wisconsin.
I would express a few more thoughts. About the economy and our system of debt. Our penchant for frivolity in the midst of crisis. Etcetera. But right now I’m occupied, and even I have my limits. What is a broke man with a broke down car to do in Nevada when the girl he wants is a queen and he’s running for his life in his underwear? But “that’s the future, best to keep my mind on the present”. They say that in Wisconsin, too.