Aria Riding’s The Book of Total Darkness, Excerpt from Chapter 14: The Stupid Flowers
The Diapered Lilly
There’s the thing I do to make people feel sorry for me. But first I try to make sure they’re looking.
If not, if they’re not looking, I stare at them, the people there, sort of willing with my eyeball power to make them look, Turn your head this way, turn your head this way, You People. The eyeball power doesn’t work all the time. It hasn’t worked yet. If, when that happens that it doesn’t work, I talk louder than I would normally talk, which makes me really self-conscious and uncomfortable. My voice cracks and gets a higher pitch. I’m embarrassed, but that doesn’t stop me. They have to know, it’s another reason for them to feel sorry for me. Anyway, in one way or another, I stand up, in front of whoever, persons, Well, why don’t I just pull out one of my fingernails? I try to convey just how much misery I’m in, that I would pull out one of my fingernails, an awful cry for help. One of the better cries for, no not really better, one of the more poignant cries for help. Because. Rich history … the associations with torture are there on a classic level, and that’s the thing, to express that this is how I feel inside, every day, in my soul, deep in my whole integrated body/mind agony, self-tortured, but self-tortured because of being tortured by everyone else and tortured by all external factors of life, so that I may as well be pulling out a fingernail which is to say when I pull out a fingernail it is exactly as if you are pulling out a finger nail. From me, from my finger. Not from your finger, because, me … is the one being… The one over here you are all – everyone and every animal and every mineral and every plant and every chemical – working together to make suffer. Or who you are at least … not acknowledging … together. That gets me every time. I am tortured by your universal non-acknowledgment, which is a form of neglect and neglect is a form of abuse, and it feels like it’s on purpose which makes it, basically, torture. I feel really sorry for me. All of you, in cahoots with me, against me. So here I am, about to do it, to pull out a fingernail, to externalize my inner feeling, to make my emotions physical, to make them into a substance. Usually, though, I don’t have any pliers with me, or anything like that. Which is really pathetic when I think about it and totally unprepared, totally pathetic in and of itself, to be standing there, putting myself on display, embarrassingly, and then on top of that to be totally unprepared like that. How pathetic can I get?
What I’m going for, I’m hoping that at least just one person, sometime, is going to stand up, No, don’t do that! For God’s sake don’t do that! It’s not that bad, things will get better. Here, let me help you.
I want them to say things like that and really want things to get better for me. I want them to really want to help make things better for me. Because they feel so sorry for me. Just a little bit sorry. I’d settle for them feeling a little bit sorry for me. A, the usual, I could do with some love. I don’t really deserve love. I don’t deserve love. But I wish I had some. Deeply. Truly. It doesn’t happen. Usually they are very unsympathetic to me. It isn’t the venue. I’ve tried standing up in all different sorts of places. It’s that people are naturally unsympathetic towards me. Or they’ve been trained to be unsympathetic towards me. It comes down to the same thing in terms of me and not getting what I want. Usually they, someone, someone unsympathetic in whatever place it is, of all the places I feel sorry for myself in, whatever place it is, stands up, Well, why don’t you do it, why don’t you pull out your fingernail, you … Tit. This unsympathetic person always has an English accent in my mind because this would be cliché and uncreative, which is how I feel about my imagination … I’m too weak-willed to get past it.
This is very awful. It’s awful. There I am without pliers and these completely unsympathetic people, who I only want love from instead are demanding that I pull out my fingernail for amusement. And I haven’t got any pliers. If I did, I’m much too pathetic to pull out my fingernail. I can imagine how horrible that would be. I associate it with torture.
Sometimes – this is really, really pathetic – sometimes, I make a go of pulling at my fingernail with the fingernails of my other hand. That would be very dramatic, if it worked, it would be an incredible cry for help if it worked. But it never works, and hurts enough as it is, that tugging, it never works, its a feckless, impotent act and it’s really humiliating and embarrassing for me to do it and keep on doing it with the same result, which is … no result.
Imagine! I stand up there, Why don’t I just pull out my fingernail then…?
Answer, why I don’t: because I can’t (physical weakness), because I’m unprepared, pathetic (I don’t have pliers), no one will take pity on me and lend me any pliers (not trusted to be competent with other people’s tools?) because people are not generous or sympathetic with me which is why this has to happen although it cannot happen because I’m weak (mentally and physically tremulous and frail), I can’t do it unarmed. Because I’m The Bottom of the Barrel.
This is going to be a let down when I repeat this, because I’m not really able to build on it any more, I’m only venting, meaninglessly, ineffectually, but what can I do: The problem is, you all laugh at me, and you are not sympathetic at all.
The thing about you is, you don’t feel sorry for me. Sometimes I wonder if you have any feelings for me at all. Once, by chance, I had a pair of fingernail clippers in my pocket; I’d been planning on cutting my fingernails on, in a public place, a bus or on a park bench or something, to really get a rise out of you, but I’d been too afraid to do it, because I would have gotten kicked off, or out, and even though that’s really pitiful, no one feels sorry for someone who is a total pariah, no one feels sorry for someone like that, who is cutting his fingernails on a bus, so I didn’t have the guts to do it. I’m a pathetic coward. Sometimes I see other people do it. I’m really disgusted by them and admire them and wish I could have a good conversation with myself like the one they are usually having with themselves. I wish I had the guts to order them to get off the bus, in a loud, clear voice, Get off this bust at once, because that is gross and inappropriate, an inappropriate display of public grooming … but I’m too afraid.
But I’m in there, in a public place, where there’s a whole crowd of people who might feel sorry for me, and you are there, and I’m almost peeing my pants in fear, as usual, so I don’t know where I ever manage to do it, standing up in front of this crowd of people who probably won’t feel sorry for me, except the possibility, although it’s so far-fetched, although it’s less than a whimper … of hope; a pathetic act of desperation must have welled up inside of me until I couldn’t stand it, being weak-willed, I’m weak-willed, I’m very weak-willed, and before I know it I’m trying the eyeball power. Almost even before the eyeball power fails (eyeball power – it’s just a romantic notion anyway, that was ruined by being taken up by a contemptible person like me), but I’ve stood up, and shouted, very quietly, Why don’t I just pull out my fingernail then? But no one hears, because I shouted too quietly, and but somehow, I do it again! Why don’t I just pull out my fingernail then? It still isn’t very loud, but it’s very shrill and every part of me is sweating a very runny cold sweat except my whole mouth and inside of my body which is all really dry although I have to pee so bad….
And someone, someone in the crowd, someone calls back, Well, why don’t you do it, why don’t you pull out your fingernail, you Tit? and slaps the person next to them on the back and they are winking, not at me, they are winking at each other, probably they are really good friends who have a nice, healthy exchange of ideas, experiences, and ways to compliment each others’ strengths and suddenly … at least half of the people on the bus, or at least five or ten people seem to be looking at me.
Before I know it, I’m fishing in my pocket for, and the fingernail clippers are in my hand. The blade’s around the nail and I’m pulling with it, them, and of course, the nail clips off right before the cuticle.
It was worse than usual for me and no one felt sorry for me. No one felt sorry for me. A lot of them didn’t see that anything happened.
I never saw you again, but I think of you every day. Every day. I think of you almost constantly, almost as constantly as I feel sorry for myself.
There are other things I do to try to make people feel sorry for me.