THE WHO IN HELL I AM
Dreamed 1984/1/28 by Chris Wayan
for Who, exactly?
I dream I'm Pete Townshend, lead singer and songwriter for The Who, walking along the street with my friend Roger Daltrey, along South Hell Street. In South Hell.
What am I doing here? Defining just who in Hell I am. Point at a lamp post and say "I don't want that." At a bus, and add "Or that!" A businessman passes. "Or THAT!" On and on, clarifying, for myself at least, that Hell has nothing much for me.
A busy cross-street. A Stanford shuttle-bus named Marguerite drives by. Then a flock of biking teens--some are cute, even if they ARE in Hell. Hmm, I can't say whole-heartedly "I don't want THAT"! Does doubt count? It did for Descartes, but then, he wasn't in South Hell at the time.
The light changes, it's my turn to cross, but the cyclists keep coming. At last I step out and MAKE them give me my turn! Sex matters, but I want out of Hell more. Run across to the far side, where the street changes its name to North Hell, where of course it's slightly cooler. But Roger lagged on the curb. I pause and wait for him.
A small boy stands on the corner near me. I worry others'll say I'm a predator, I want to fuck him. I'm bi, I like some boys, I want to find love--but I point at the kid and say "You're not what I want."
Got to keep looking--with my friends, or not. So I walk on. Stubbornly, on foot, up the endless boulevard. Out of Hell. All the way out. However long it takes.
Because I may not know who in Hell I am, not fully--I may not know what I want. But I do know what I don't want. And that's the key out of Hell.
I wonder, as I trudge on through the scorching--but slightly less scorching--streets, just how many people have found that key out of Hell, and dismissed it--because they weren't whisked off to Paradise. But it's just a key. You still have to walk--choosing every step of the way.
I admire Pete Townshend's later, painfully confessional solo songs more than his sixties hits with the Who. I think the street dividing North from South Hell is a similar divide. Like Townshend, I've moved into Difficult Confession Land--still hellish in its way, but a lot clearer, as long as I'm ruthlessly honest. About what I don't want--about what's not me. And even if my best friends lag, reluctant, I'm walking on out.
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