Beyond that, well, I'm just one mean-ass nonconformist motherfucker, I do my own thing, and I'm little too out there, in my own special way, for most people.
I make no bones about it, really. Life's meant to be filled with strange people and mysterious freethinkers - hey, somebody's gotta do it.
In public, I try to put up a front of being an extrovert, of being good-natured and humorous, and, of being, occasionally, talkative and a good listener, friendly and self-absorbed, all simultaneously...
But at home? In the ol' Bachelor Pad of Mystery and Mirth? My Fortress of my Motherfucking Solitude?
Why the fuck would any sane person think my personal sanctuary would be any less strange than I am, on or offline? I live like a mad monk. Or maybe a curio shop owner. Or, possibly, one of those people destined to become a crazed old man who scares small children on Halloween.
Regardless, well, wherever I've hung my hat in this world, through the three residences here in Oxford where I've rested my boots, through the seven different dwellings over the past ten years across three states, there's one constant:
My "home life" is almost always a thousand times weirder than most "normal" folks expect.
Even from me.
* * * * *
If you can't take the heat, stay the fuck out of my apartment.
According to my lease, that energy-guzzling box near the living room window is an air-conditioning unit. I've never used it, never even tested to see if it works. I don't use A/C because, well, it's a waste of energy, a waste of the human body's own climate control system - the good ol' sweat glands and skin.
Man was meant to sweat. Women, well, were meant to glow. Especially during the dog days of summer. And, yep, it gets pretty toasty in there at times, especially during the hottest months, when the air heaves with bone-soaking humidity and the mercury floats up towards one hundred degrees, Fahrenheit.
I usually advise female friends who stop by for the first time to wear a sports bra - I make no exceptions for the dainty, the pretty, or even the damned-too-cute . If it gets too hot, well, feel free to strip off as much clothing as you wish. Or sit in front of the numerous energy-efficient fans.
Hell, I'm probably half-naked... don't be modest. By giving up the A/C, we're helping save electricity -- as well as the friggin' planet.
* * * * *
I smoke. And I smoke in my own home. Cigarette (and occasionally cigar or pipe) smoke permeates every corner, every nook and cranny.
Asthmatics and those with allergies are welcome to ask, politely, that I not smoke whilst they're visiting - I'm generally a decent host. People who give me the second-hand smoke lecture? Well, there's the door. Leave anytime you wish or shut the fuck up.
And I smoke tobacco. And tobacco only. Other substances are never welcome.
If I know you're holding, well, it's out the door with it and possibly with you, too. We can still be friends, but, well, I've been clean for almost a fucking decade, dammit. Show some respect.
It always blows my mind when some poor stoner swings by and thinks that, well, because I'm puffing away, they can puff away on anything they so choose. In the homes of others, well, I'm fine with it and could care less. But in my place, you'll end up getting yelled at, verbally humiliated, and, possibly, assaulted.
No joke. Ten years clean. Assaulted, as in knock the damn taste out'cho mouth.
Once, a fling's cousin lit up and laughed in my face when I told him to remove his kind herbal product from my home. When I insisted, he stood there and kept puffing away, giving me the Legalization lecture. He really thought I was kidding -- Who doesn't, in this modern era, partake of such a plant, silly librarian who's fucking my uncle's daughter?
I broke his little finger with a crescent wrench and left a forearm imprint in his throat.
People, like all animals, sometimes need to be conditioned to respect the master of a given domain. And if one acts like an obstinate, unlearned animal in my domain, well, I will break that animal. Almost felt bad, but, well, rules exist only so long as they are enforceable - and I am more than capable of enforcing my rules with all of the gusto of an Old Testament legend.
He never lit up in my apartment after that. Even apologized. Kid lived like a fucking Mormon the rest of his visit. And, well, he wasn't really able to speak for the last few days at my place, so I was able to get quite a bit of reading done...
He did, however, manage to crank out a few pages of his doctoral dissertation with nine working digits and to drive his stick-shift sedan back to his Kentucky university.
Needless to say, the fling ended shortly thereafter.
* * * * *
"Jesus Fucking Christ, Jason! You really eat this shit?"
It's a common refrain, when people look into my refrigerator or peek into my kitchen cabinets.
Organic crunchy soynut butter and fruit-only preserves. Flax-and-psyllium-husk cereals and whole-grain, no-sugar-added instant oatmeal. Pork shoulder, cans of smoked oysters and sardines and anchovies, baby spinach, gravadlax and Middle-eastern lavash, thinly sliced turkey pastrami and hummus and at least three varieties of olives.
No junk food. No processed sugar or corn syrup. Not a candy bar or potato chip to be found.
And I'm from Virginia, too, a Southerner who grew up eating all sorts of cute, furry and feathered critters. I have a hearty respect for those who harvest nature's edible wildlife. When time provides, I've been known to barter with local hunters for organic, free-range vittles.
Finished off the last of my squirrel stockpile last month. Made a wonderful soup, actually, with leeks, red onions, and plenty of cilantro and thyme, dill and rosemary. If that grosses you out then you'd probably, well, starve to death in many of the poorer parts of rural North America.
And Berberé, that marvelous Ethiopian and Eritrean spice mixture? Goes great on a veggie pizza, venison or with beans and rice.
This is how I eat. It can be quite nauseating for the weak of stomach to witness, especially those who find it appalling that an educated man would gnaw the flesh from Bambi's carcass.
Yeah, I cook and consume some pretty strange things. Every damned day, save for the occasional workday lunches or whilst on vacation.
And there's no booze in the cabinets, beer rarely in the icebox.
For as much as I supposedly drink, for all the perceptions that I'm a raging alcoholic because I write so much about bars and booze and the fucktardish lifestyles of the binge-drinking collegiate masses, I don't as a rule keep any sort of alcohol on hand for guests.
It's a BYOB sorta deal. I rarely drink at home, actually. Most of the time, my dwellings tend to be only slightly less dry than a West Texas creek bed.
* * * * *
Yes, it's true, whatever you've heard or read over the years -
I do have a chin-up bar installed in my living room, so I can watch Star Trek reruns, cartoons or ThinkTV while I work out. I don't have a couch, because, well, I would rather stretch out on the floor.
...And I'm rather well-known for my repetitive, downright predictable eating habits - there are people reading this right now, in fact, who don't even need to guess what sandwich I will order at a restaurant at least twice next week...
...And there's weird music almost always playing, downright bizarre occult trinkets and paintings and sculpture hanging from the walls, obscure books packed into the bookshelves...
... And there's no proper bedspread on the mattress, just an assortment of hand-me-down sheets and thrift-store clearance items and, yes, even the horse blanket that I was conceived upon in a Colorado trailer park three decades ago...
... And I still haven't felt the need to replace the headboard, either. Women just seem to break the damned thing...
But it's home.
* EPILOGUE *
"You know what I miss about fucking Oxford?"
"I dunno. What?"
A random phone call from a former friend of an ex-fling who, well, turned out to be a lot cooler to hang out with after the pair had graduated from the Local U. and the fling ended (as they all do).
She dialed the wrong Jason by mistake. We ended up chatting for a few minutes. Strangely enough, she'd been planning on calling me anyway, to invite me to dinner when she was back int town for Alumni Weekend.
"Your place, the one you used to have on High Street, above the beauty shop..."
"Yeah, that was a cool place, huh?"
"Not really, but it was so... you... ya know?"
"Heh, yeah. The Bat Cave thing?"
"Hahaha! ... You really are a fucking mystery, you know that...? "
I closed the cell at the end of the call, ate a can of smoked oysters for lunch, and did some chin-ups while Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk duked it out with some alien menace on television.
- # # # -