Contrary to what you might think, Lary is not thoroughly insane. Occasionally, he has moments of clarity that slink into view like unpopular kids on a playground packed with multiple personalities. Such is the state I found him in when I called him yesterday.
"Hey, loser, whatcha doin'?" I asked, noticing the buzzing sound of an industrial sander in the background.
"I'm making things bigger," he said, exasperated. "And then, later, I'm gonna have to make some other things smaller. That's the story of my fucking life. Everything in my fucking life is either too big, too small or the wrong color. Things have to change. My life has to change."
Wow, this is rare. Lary is hardly ever frustrated. Frustration is my job; I am usually the aggravated one, and Lary is the one who usually talks me off the ledge.
Take the time someone stole my ATM card and sucked every cent out of my life. Lary called to find me on the floor of my apartment, wailing like a sick walrus, wondering how I was supposed to survive without the whopping $127 that separated me from the itchy homeless lady with spiders in her hair who slept under -- not on, but under -- the bench in front of Starbucks.
"I'm gonna have to live off the crumbled muffins the cashiers serve as samples," I blobbered.
Lary ignored me. "Hey," he said cheerily, "did I ever tell you how I used to masturbate when I was a kid? I'd put my dick on the dining room table and slam it with the Bible! That's right, I'd slam it with the Bible. And then I'd yell, 'Out, Satan!'"
Immediately I went from bawling like an injured baby elephant to laughing so hard I thought I could cough up my own socks. To this day, the phrase "Slam it with the Bible!" is like a mantra to me. All I have to do is think it, and I'll be laughing to myself in public like an escaped lunatic. Such is the glory of Lary's purpose in life. He is not here to be brought to our level, but to sink us to his.
So Lary's clarity, when it appears, is a rare occurrence, like a lone bubble breaking the surface of a slowly boiling super-pot of pea soup. He was right, you know. Everything in his life is too big, too small or the wrong color. First of all, he lives in a massive alleyway, pretty much. Granted, it's a nicer alleyway than it used to be, back when he had mosquito larvae living in a mossy bog by his bed. And there is a ceiling now, whereas before there was hardly that. But essentially the place is nothing but cinder-bricks and skylights and gargantuan glass-block windows that take up most of the walls. It's very, very bright in there, which just makes it worse if you were to wake up realizing the wrongness of everything in your life.
That's why I prefer my moments of clarity to come in the dark. I remember once, almost a decade ago, I found myself trapped in one of those frat-boy-type bars, mashed in the center of an undulating crowd, holding a fishbowl full of a neon cocktail that turned my tongue blue. I'd been abandoned there by the rich, vapid young cocaine addict I was dating, and all about me were drunken strangers attached to each other by their tongues. There was a massive mirror behind the bar, affording an unforgiving panorama of the place. Suddenly, the misery of the situation struck me like a bus. I was in the middle of a thousand people, and I never felt lonelier in my life.
It seemed bad to me, my situation. I was alone in a new city with only one real friend, Lary, who I'd met just months earlier and who refused to go to frat-boy bars with me. I called Lary that night when I got home. "Stop trying to fit in," he told me. "What makes you think I don't fucking fit in?" I shrieked at him.
Lary said nothing, but I could practically hear him shaking his head in imitation of a very wise man who realized he had much work to do.
Hard to believe this was the same person on the phone with me yesterday, experiencing an unwelcome moment of clarity. He couldn't go changing his life before he had a cup of coffee, he said, and off he went to the coffee house. By the time I got there, I was full of practiced pep talks to help my dear friend out of his slump ("You worthless puckered pooh-hole, don't you dare go sane on me now. I'll rip your face right off your skull"). But alas, they wouldn't be needed.
"Hey," Lary said cheerily as I approached him, "I've got a great idea for a new business: porn repair! Twenty-four-hour emergency service! How does that sound?"
"Porn doesn't need repairing," I said.
"Everything needs repairing -- especially porn. I'll have a truck with a logo on the side. I'll make jillions, " Lary began.
And with that, his pesky moment of clarity was gone.