A Sack of Potatoes

I don’t usually post stuff I write for school online. But I’m going to make an exception for this. See, I actually cannibalized one of my entires to get this done, so I feel I owe the blog sometime in return, at least. I suppose this is kind of like seeing your child all grown up or something. It’s pretty long, so don’t feel obligated to read. I just feel obligated to post. So here’s to you, Fallen Motorcycle Man. It’s not a post-rock song, but it’ll have to do.

Here’s the thing. I didn’t really notice how bad the traffic was until I was a few minutes in. The rest of the road up to that point had been totally clear, so it was the kind of traffic that had to be caused by an accident. It was. I was expecting some regular superficial scratch and bump situation where everybody is being held up because the drivers are arguing about insurance, and the police officers are taking up more of the road with their cars because they want to feel like they’re actually doing something. But it was actually a motorcycle/taxi mess. I noticed because there was a stationary taxi and a motorcycle on the ground. I’m quite observant, aren’t I? Oh, and there was a crowd around a man who was bleeding, from the quick glimpse of him I got, quite profusely. Damn.

I had been on my way home from spending the day at my high school fair. It was the kind of day where so much happens that when it’s all done, your head needs a while to sort through it all. Everything he said, and everything she said, all the places I was, with who, what time, when so and so left and when whatshisface joined us. All the various things to consider when trying to be part of our society’s complex web of social arrangements. All the various things that people with friends don’t really consider. But still, I thought I was doing pretty well for myself that day. I made some new friends, talked to some old ones, and even met that guy I always thought was kinda creepy, and really white.

What does this have to do with Fallen Motorcycle Man? I’ll get to that in a second. Don’t forget about him just yet.

One of the events my friends and I went to was this open mic thing in a room I never knew about but always suspected was there. Mostly I went out of obligation, since I told people there that I would check it out, and two of the guys I was with wanted to play some song they wrote. So I sat on the mattresses they had laid on the floor, and wondered how long I had to stay before I could leave. My friends had already played their song, but wanted to stick around some more. As for me, there weren’t so many people there that it would qualify as crowded, but not so few that the event seemed like a failure, so I stretched out on a mattress and enjoyed the respite from the heat and the noise that had gotten pretty annoying by then. By now my friends were already planning a second performance, I suspect to impress one of the girls there that one of them liked, so I figured they would be there a while, and I decided to stay as well.

I scribbled a quick something on a piece torn notebook paper and a pen that was extremely uncooperative. I went up and read it. The lights were pretty bright, and they shone through the paper and the faded ink, turning what I wrote damn near invisible. I feared the audience would think I had no basic grasp of the English language. I got through it, without mispronouncing the dangerous three syllable words. The audience clapped. Probably not because I was any good, but because that’s just what you do when somebody talking on a microphone stops talking. But they didn’t chuckle or openly mock me, which I figured was a reasonable possibility, so I felt pretty good about myself.

And please don’t forget about Fallen Motorcycle Man. He’s important.

I was supposed to meet a bunch of people for dinner. They were all supposed to ride together and meet me at the school. And it’s like the universe wanted to give me another story to tell, so they were late. I ended up with a few hours of free time, so I sat in the cafeteria looking for somebody to talk to. This was a strange time, I suppose because there weren’t that many people there and it was the middle of the afternoon. There were a few tables with some people I didn’t know, and had no intention of talking to. The only people I knew were sitting around a table too small for their number. They were probably around six, but as I approached, most of them stood up to leave. I should probably mention, these were considered the “weird” guys in our school. I was never in a position to discriminate, so I had talked to them on occasion. I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with them at that particular moment though… but I really wanted somewhere to sit, and theirs was the only table with free chairs I had seen all day. Plus one of them had spotted me and said he liked my shirt. Damn. They had appealed to my tiredness and my ego because in fairness my shirt was totally awesome that day.

I’ll get to Fallen Motorcycle Man eventually. Be patient.

One of them had brought a deck of tarot cards which, I hadn’t known until then, were against the rules. Apparently they constituted gambling (with fate?). Only two of them were left when I sat down. I asked about the cards. The one who brought them offered to read me. The other seemed to instantly fill up with barely controlled glee, like he knew some trick behind all this. But I had nothing else to do so I agreed. It was all very complicated and I confused me a great deal. I don’t remember exactly what he predicted about my future, but I remember being impressed and believing it, just a little.

He didn’t predict Fallen Motorcycle Man, strangely enough. Looking back now, only the vaguest predictions have come true.

After that session, I headed out to meet my friends who had finally arrived. We went to a restaurant and ate and talked, and laughed at each other’s shortcomings, insecurities and fears. Regular friend stuff. We paid the bill and left. I made my way home. Now we get to Fallen Motorcycle Man.

What’s my point? All this actually happened over a few days. On day one I knew what would happen on days two and three. On day two, I remembered what had happened on day one, and was looking forward to the events I had anticipated for day three. You get the picture. There was even a whole thing with impoverished school children, but that was surprisingly unremarkable. The thing is, all of these things actually happened to me. And yet, they’re gray and blob-ish in my memory. In fact, I’m making some of this up just so it’s a coherent story. And I’m probably making some of it up unintentionally. I’m trying to be 100% accurate, but it’s not happening. But the memory of Fallen Motorcycle Man is the clearest one. But it had no effect on me at all, aside from making me a few minutes late for dinner. Unlike everything that happened to me, this one didn’t happen to me. It happened to him. But that’s what I remember from those few days most clearly.

For some reason, all of that seems less significant, even though at the time, they were pretty big. I was functioning like a real person with friends and everything. I had gotten up the courage to get over my sometimes crippling inability to talk to people I didn’t know, let alone a neither crowded nor empty room. I had blown my future wide open, or at least that’s what the cards said. But I did nothing about it. I wondered why, and I kept coming back to Fallen Motorcycle Man. Something about him stopped me from acting. I wondered why. It’s been a long time, and I’m still working on it.

I thought it was something to do with the fact that I might have just witnessed a man’s death. But he was pretty adamant about trying to sit up and yelling at the guy that hit him, so that probably wasn’t it. When I saw it, my thought went from pity, to sadness, to slight concern, to “I really hate motorcycles when I’m driving”, to hunger, to “somewhere out there, SOMEBODY is having a worse day than I am. And a worse day than he is.” My thought process goes pretty much the same way when I look back. I never find answers. I’ve thought about how I only even saw him as Fallen Motorcycle Man and, would be unable to recognize him any other way, even though he may not even remember the accident. His name might be Bob, or Dylan. He might even have died, and from something having nothing to do with motorcycles. Like cancer. Or sharks. I’ve thought about how he has a whole life story, but for the people who were there that night, he will forever be known as Fallen Motorcycle Man.

It only occurs to me now, a little bit of the answer I’m looking for. Why I never acted while things seemed to be going well. It’s because I keep thinking. About Fallen Motorcycle Man, about Guy Who Spilled His Juice, Lady with Two Kids, Really Fat Guy, and all the other characters I have in my head. Because instead of doing something with real people, I’m usually content to toy around with the people in my head. I spend so much of my time thinking about what to do, what I want to do, that I never get around to actually doing any of it. Even this paper was written in a rush because I kept thinking about what to write and had very little time to actually write it. So that’s why my life is how it is. Maybe. I’ll have to keep thinking about it.

So yeah, this ended up being my final reflection paper for English 12. Despite the instructions, I may have taken a few liberties with reality here and there, but it’s mostly intact. If you think you’re in this story, well you might be. But it’s supposed to be all anonymous so if you feel the need to ask, ask me in person or something.

This is ALSO to see if this whole Facebook connection thingy is a good idea. I’m like the WWE, social networking and shit.


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