12/11/2005

On What the Future of Civilization Depends

"YO! Youse guys know where the party is tonight?"
The third of the summer blondes
Asks the streetcornered muscled boys.

"Right here, baby! Get outta dat car
And come over here!
We'll show youse how ta party!"
Smiles Tenderness Tony to his friends
First, and then to the summer blondes,
Fully aware of what hangs in the balance.

"Well, we're kinda lookin' for real men.
Youse guys don't look old enough
Ta drive our cars or even work on our engines!
Wheel it Angela!" laughs Marie.

They cruise around the Wildwood block,
Circle and return, compelled by a mating ceremony
As old as any migrating naked rhizopod's
As insistent as any remoras on a tiger shark
As powerful as any copulating American saddle horses.

At the same time Tenderness Tony and Angela circle each other warily,
Hundreds of thousands of others dance the same dance floor
To repeat ancient and glorious tribal mating rites
Less understood than the circling rites of shark whales off Tahiti.

I know many who do not see the wonder of this.
Instead, they spend their days saying to whoever will listen,
"See! See there! This life is only abuse, death, destruction,
Hate and finally pain, pain, pain and cruelty!"
And it is not just journalists saying this these days.

Perhaps such as these have never visited Wildwood, NJ
At the height of the mating season.
For there, on any given sultry summer night
When the air is as thick with mating phrenomes
As the Brazilian rain forest, everything is possible.

"Youse guys still where the party is tonight?"
Now it is Maria talking, newly revealed as the princes in waiting
Who throws out the challenge to all willing to chance the future.
All three boys respond by raising themselves high
To preen their feathered haircuts like cocks
About to meet their flaring hens.

"Yeah, Baby! I'm here for youse only tonight!
He's "VAA VAA VOOOMM Vic! I'm Tenderness Tony
Dis heres' happiness itself,
Whose otherwise known as Loverboy Louie."

This night laden with romance and possibility,
Despite the miles of backed up traffic
Tens of thousands in cars, clubs, bars,
All along these dazzling street-lit courting avenues
Rhythmically step to this genetically programmed dance
Unbothered by anything but the moment of contact.

Like a novice nun fingering her rosary,
Theresa brushes her hair with tender strokes
As Maria parks the car in one swift motion.
All three watch the boys in the car mirror,
Well aware of what their charged rituals
Are producing in the awaiting Tony, Vic, and Louie.
Each reapplies her love-red glossy candy flavored lipstick,
Sprays wave after wave of perfume on her neck and breasts
And saunters over to her instant date for that night.

For those who snootily laugh at these young people,
Who dismiss their substandard English or their different ways,
I ask youse to please consider the following.

It is on the perpetual success of such everyday rituals
Far more than on what laws Congress passes,
Or what breakthroughs our medical schools make,
Or what discount rate the Fed establishes,
Or what new worlds the Hubble discovers,
Or what programs the President proposes,
That the future of civilization depends.

"Youse guys ready to party?" Shouts Marie.
"Yooooooooo!!! Honey! The party's just begun!"
Answers Tenderness Tony. "The party's just begun!"

Seventeen years later,
Within a mile of where her parents met,
The oldest of Tony and Marie's girls'
Drives by some guys on the corner of 58th and Atlantic
In "Wildwood by the Sea,"
And shouts, "YO! Youse guys know where the party is tonight?"
When she does, on the successful answer to her question,
Will the future of civilization depend.





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