My next glittering ComicBook GloryWork will be a turgid melodrama about a meek but driven young man from the Wrong Side Of The Tracks (tangent: has anyone ever seen the right side?), who discovers a talent for sprinting at the age of 12. Through family tragedy, obstacle-strewn romance and the bitter temptations of performance-enhancing drugs he progresses step-by-step – thanks to grit, tenacity and strength of character alone – to achieve his shining, lifelong dream: a place in the Olympics.
…at which stage someone points-out this is a DC or Marvel Comic, and thanks to a smorgasbordof science, magic, astral weirdness and metaphysical meddling there are approximately 3476 human beings in the shared-universe – most of whom like to dress-up – variously capable of running, flying, floating, skiing, swimming and teleporting themselves a billion times faster than him, who don’t cost the government millions in training grants and didn’t have to spend years sweating-blood to beat the filthy Foreignese-types to a medal.
It will be titled London 2012: SPANDEX CIRCLEJERK, and will cost ninety-nine pee from your local dumpster.
News From The SpurSphere:
From my vantage back here in the past, there’s a big old furore rumbling-away right now over the nuclear appearance of GeekVamp “Irene Adler” on this here website. I hope, by the time this goes live she’s still around and still getting people talking: DeBate Is Good.
Irene’s opening salvo got a lot of tongues wagging – or perhaps just sweaty-tipped fingers a-typing – about gender roles in comics, stereotypes of sexual behaviour among geekdom, and Other Such Stuff. Being a simple omnihater that’s a field of discussion which goes sailing merrily over my ill-advised haircut, plus I’m far too cowardly to wade-in either way, but it did get me thinking – on a very personal level – about what it is that defines me, in my head, as Male. And so:
Becoming A Man has seven tentacles and no endoskeleton. I have proof.
One of the many reasons the SheSpur and I chose Menorca as the shitpool for our six months of swiney wallowing was that the place comes with Previous Form: I was brought here for several memorable Summer Vacations when I was a sprog back in the 80’s. Here in the anal birth-canal of the 21st Century we wanted to Escape to somewhere where nobody knows us, we know nobody, and we feel no social obligation at all (more heavenly to a pair of curmudgeonly misanthropes than a chainsaw-party in an opera house); but we figured it couldn’t hurt if at least one of us had a hazy idea of what to expect and what was safe to eat. So: Menorca.
Now, I hadn’t been back to this Island for the better part of two decades, but one of my clearest memories of the place has – over the years – formed the backbone of all my notions on Manliness, Masculinity, and Resourcefulness. Wolverine: pay attention.
My dad, y’see, was a genius at finding Octopuses.
Octopi. Octopodes. Octopussies.
Fuck it: Cephalopods.
(In Spanish the word is Pulpo, which is a lot more exciting, vaguely sexual, and – for the record – looks a lot better on a menu than a creature named after a Greek number and the cream-cheese gunk you squeeze from an infected boil.)
I spent almost all my time, back in those fuzzily-remembered holidays, underwater. ping, snorkelling, sunbaking jellyfish and vainly chasing skinny-dippers from the seabed for a tantalising glimpse of exquisitely-pruned naughtyhair and explosive armpit topiary. YaySpanish chicks. Irene Adler would not, I think, have approved.
The other kids would be splashing about like lead-lined retards in the beachy shallows – their harassed parents sighing and nodding every time they erupted from the water with a snot-clogged snorkel to declare Whoa! Mum! Another fish! – while my sister and I were led out into the sandless depths, where Things Moved through gorgon-haired weedbeds and there was always a starfish, sea-cucumber or thrice-damned urchin (hated with a Nazi-Hunter fervour by anyone who’s ever trodden on one) to torment for our entertainment.
My dad, y’see, had a fucking ping knife. Push him into the sea with a bent piece of plastic in his gob and a plate-glass mask and he was instantly transformed from an IT-Manager of infinite patience and calm into a subaquatic ninja who could outswim a torpedo, de-scale Namor’s speedos, bite-off a shark’s cock, and use it to harpoon Captain Nemo through the heart. He was – and is – a fucking hero. And he always found an Octopus.
They’re tricky little buggers, if you’ve never seen one. You go swimming out here and if you’ve got your eyes-in you’ll spot cuttlefish, moray eels, stingrays, all sorts of stuff… but nary the Elusive Pulpo. Exquisitely camouflaged, soggy enough to schlup into the tightest crack before you see it, but quick enough to vanish in a streak of Cthuloid horror as you approach. But he – my model for God, my instruction-manual on Maleosity – knew the motherfucking signs, oh yes. Like some unfeasible orc-tracker in an overlong Fantasy Epic pressing his head to the ground and counting distant horses, my dad saw the seafloor in terms of Bits Of Dead Crab, Rearranged Rock-Holes, lurking scavenger fish… And with the slightest of pokings he’d expose the bewildered gribblie hiding underneath for an entertaining half-hour of ogling, fleeing, colour-changing fun. Huzzah!
Let’s return to the present day. And let’s talk MALE.
Yes: I’ve been in a couple of fights. I’ve been known to fart out loud. I can bullshit my way through a conversation about football and have honed my use of the expression “phwoooar” to impressive convincingness. I’ve even had several orgasms in actual human company.
But let’s face it: I write comics for a living. I have skin slightly paler than death’s chalky foreskin and my idea of a good time is a glass of gin and a discussion on the merits of religion in the Marvel Universe. Irene Adler terrifies, depresses and LOLifies me all at once. There are, in short, ballerinas more manly than me.
But this week I found my own Octopus. Alone. Sans padre. Oh-ho-yes: feel that testosterone pump. A big old bastard, he was: lurking like my very own Sarlacc beneath a heap of spiky rocks in deep water. In an instant I was MAN. I had performed my Rite Of Passage. I was a Goonie in the Pirate Ship. I was Wil Wheaton waving a gun at Keifer over a dead kid’s body. I was Shia Labeouf fucking Megan Fox on the bonnet of a special-needs Autobot. The learner had become the master, and he was filled with the blinding urge to build barbecues, fix cars and scratch his bollocks in public. And refer to himself in the third person. Instead he – I – went to entice the SheSpur to don her own mask and snorkel in order to prove my discovery and secure bragging rights. (Which just goes to show that behind every Manly Man – role model or otherwise – there’s a woman waiting to shake her head and mutter “it’s not that big…”)
Here’s the real kicker: In my attempts to encourage that dark, tentacled demon out of its crevice – using my snorkel as a highly effective Prodding Device – the unfamiliar surge of blokeishness deepfried my brain and caused me – in my frenzy – to tear-off one of the unlucky creature’s legs. It squirted something reddy-brown and painful-looking and shot off into the deep like a steroidal starship; leaving the severed psuedopod bobbing among hungry fish.
Yes, reader: I cripplefucked an Octopus with a rubber snorkel, and my Manliness will be forever tainted with Cthuloid guilt.
If ever I have a son, according to tried-and-tested folkloric convention, he will lose a limb to a terrifying seven-tentacled kraken from the abyssal plane, in order to settle the karmic score.
At least, that’s what I’ll be telling the SheSpur in order to dissuade any notions of Sprog-Building. I’d only disappoint the expectant little shits.
I am MAN. Hear me type.
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C/O William Christensen,
515 N. Century Blvd.
Rantoul, IL 61866
(Disclaimer: Secretly, I’m nice.)