Copyright © 2000 Bob Hay

Scratching Only Makes it Worse
July, 1999

When I come home, I find her lying under the bed with the lights out and a stack of pancakes on her face.

It takes me quite some time to find her. At first glance the apartment seems empty, so I assume she's gone out for pie. I start a pot of coffee and sit down to read the paper. Half an hour later I hear a noise or a cough from the bedroom.

She says they told her this is the path to true happiness. She says she is free from the travails of the world. She says, here, she says, all becomes clear and the problematic bits fall right into their slots. She says they're blueberry pancakes. She says that they've been doing this for years and they all, all of them, feel rejuvenated and right with themselves. She says she's finally found something that feels right for her.

I have to squat to talk to her. I could just stand and sneak towards the bed, under the assumption that she's down there, listening, but I like to watch people as they speak. Although, this is dificult even when squatting, what with the pancakes.

She says that by prostrating oneself, one destabilizes the hierarchy implicit within bipedal society. The position of complete horizontality maximizes the contact with the ground in order to embrace the concrete reality of life, as the floor, the ground, call it what you will, is that inevitable, necessary, but forgotten, perpetually overlooked element of the world. Horizontality thus displays advocacy and strong belief in the physical world, the world of nature, the natural laws such as gravity, while rejecting the elitism of humanity through the identification with the marginalized component of physicality.

The position of the body, she says, has three relevant commponents: one, proximity to the bed; two, placement under, rather than over the bed; three, the 'face-up' position. The bed invokes images of rest, peace, dreams and the irrational, spirituality, as well as sexuality. By lying below the bed, one ironizes these themes by inverting the item's intended usage and functionality. However, by facing upward, one shows an embrace of these themes, a recognition of their importance and existence in the world. It is not a full rejection; it is not a denial of spirituality but a critique of their distortion through this commodity of modern technology; a rejection of the issue in society of the power of these elements, and a refusal to participate.

The coffee maker beeps. That means it's done. I continue to squat. Somewhere in the building a baby cries, then stops, then cries again.

I ask about the pancakes.

She says the pancakes represent the frustrations inherent to the commodity culture, where desires are cultivated, expanded upon, and nurtured, but never to the point of complete satisfaction: the creation of false necessity yet always keeping it at arms' length. The sub-bed position also emphasizes the masking of this phenomenon. The culture thrusts the commodity towards you in such a way that the desire for it can never be fulfilled, yet the artificiality of the desire industry can never be known. Similarly, an external viewer cannot see the pancakes unless assuming a similar position to the participant, that is, in approaching the floor, thus implicating the viewer in the systems of destabilization and desire refusal.

I say no I mean why blueberry. She says it was all we had in the house.

She says by the way she says Im leaving you the others will be here soon to join me and Id appreciate it if youd leave before they get here I understand that you must be upset and I accept your feelings and I recognize that this will be a difficult time for you and the children but know that this is truly right for me and Im sorry I didnt tell you this sooner but I wanted to explain the system and my reasoning and my justification I mean I want you to know that Ive thought a lot about this I mean Im not a naive idiot who would just put pancakes on her face because somone told her to but I really think this is right and this is what I want and Im sorry but please leave as soon a possible theyre coming soon okay bye bye.

Fine. I leave.

We'll see how she feels when the night roaches come.

Bob Hay