13 Apr 2013

A Revolution That Will Not Be Televised

                                                                     (For Igirit)
Every fight club needs its poster boy.
So the other day, a few of us had an early reprieve from work and were standing around outside, hungrily breathing in daylight like men fresh out of solitary. There was that familiar summer conviction in the air, that feeling that life was starting anew and promising to be phenomenal. In less than a minute however, our band of merry men had diminished to three, the others departing on a slew of errands that appeared to have reared their heads out of nowhere.

I was surprised. I was planning to make the best of our early finish, and get some  midweek drinking action going. "What about you guys?" I asked, "got plans too?" Suddenly, pockets were rummaged, hair re-coiffed, sunglasses readjusted. Basically, anything but look me in the eye.

"I'm not really sure," mumbled KD, after some time, "I'm waiting for my girlfriend to text back."
"Me too," chimed in Leo, "and mine's in a meeting till six."
I felt devastated, violated.
"What the fuck guys," I said, "it's only four. Let's go get a beer."
"Oh come on dude," K retorted, "you do the same thing."

And that's when it hit me. It was true. Girlfriend was out of town so I had no conflict of interests that afternoon, but make frantic calls to Girlfriend was the first thing I did on most days after work. She would pick a place for dinner, or assign some kind of grocery responsibility to me, or tell me how many hours I had to myself till we met for dinner. Girlfriend scheduled my non-working hours with an iron fist, and I hadn't even realized it.

I insisted the guys buy some time for themselves and herded them over to the nearest bar. "Guys," I said, "we're adults. We should be able to come up with a plan on a free fucking evening without bringing our women into it." The guys showed their support by ordering another round of drinks. "I mean how did this even happen?" I said, "When's the last time we picked a movie or a bar? When did we lose all control?" The guys nodded enthusiastically but I could see we weren't making much progress. These guys needed something more raw, more visceral, to shake them out of their slumber. So I called Fatboy.

"The tyranny of the tongue," declared Fatboy, stroking his double chin, "literary emasculation."
"What the fuck, dude?" That was probably all three of us.
"Nicknames," he explained, "drugs don't emasculate men, nicknames emasculate men."
We looked at each other. None of our girlfriends had given us nicknames. We had all been called names, but not ones you'd utter in front of your mom. Fatboy was finally wrong about something.

"This is worse than I thought,"said Fatboy, shaking his head on seeing our blank faces.
"Oh fuck you," I said, "just admit you're wrong."
"It's not nicknames with you lot," he said sadly, "it's just as I suspected. You morons didn't even get the gateway treatment, you just let them stick it right up your asses. Do you realize what you've done?"
"Dude, stop shaking," I tried to calm him, "look you're upsetting poor Leo here. He's a graphic designer. That's almost like a real artist. He's really sensitive."
"Eighteen years," said Fatboy, still shaking his head, "eighteen years we fought tooth and nail to get rid of that disgusting, insulting, belittling label. A few years of freedom, of independence, of self-respect, and what do you do? You stupid, middle class, Westward looking idiots. You flushed it all down the toilet and then took a shit on the seat."
"I want whatever this guy's having," said KD. In a flash, Fatboy had him by the collar.
"Dude calm down," I said, "you were getting a little emotional there."

"You want to know why your women make all your decisions, bro?" sneered Fatboy.
"You want to know why you don't know what to do with your spare time?" he asked, "why everytime your women are busy, you feel a bit like a little boy lost in a supermarket?"
Maybe he did know what he was talking about. "Why?" I humoured his rhetoric.
"Because," he said, "you've gone and reclaimed the Label. You've niggerized it, throwing it around, giving it fancy little flourishes, and suddenly you've made it mainstream, blurred the lines. You can't fault the oppressor for calling you a cunt, if you refer to yourselves, and them, as cunts."
"Assuming my girlfriend is who you're delicately referring to as the 'oppressor'," Leao started, "I can assure you she's never called me a..."
"Not 'cunt', you idiot," I said, and pretended to have followed all along though I'd only just gotten it, "it's ba..."
"Don't say it," said Fatboy, and looked furtively around, "you'll get us all killed."

I looked around. We were at Gopalkrishna's, a shady little bar next to Dadar station, a place run strictly for the barely salaried slave to wet his beak before the long commute home. The three of us- writers, artists, struggling all- had never done a day's work compared to these guys. They would eat us alive.
"It's 'baby', you guys," I whispered, "they had us at 'baby'. Call someone a baby long enough, and suddenly they're sporting goatees and drinking tofu beer because babies are not fit to make their own decisions."
"They just respond to breasts," said Fatboy.  

I woke up the next morning, ready for war. The Tyranny of the Tongue had had its time. It was time to restore the natural order of things, re-establish control. Unfortunately, Girlfriend would have to head straight to her office from the airport, so I just texted her saying I'd see her at night. Oh, I'll see her at night, all right, I thought, get ready for Alpha Man, baby.

Girlfriend was already home when I got back at night. The bedroom door was open, there was some French  popstar trying to cross over to the more respected Vauxwagen-jingle genre of music, and I thought I smelled Thai chicken curry on the stove. "Tonight we dine in hell," I thought as I walked in.

Girlfriend was a mess. A blur of mascara and snot and Kleenex and tears and estrogen, all in a Girlfriend-shaped mess in our bed. I was ambushed.
 "What's wrong, baby?" I asked, a little less sure about raising hell.
She looked up. "I just had a bad day at work," she said, dabbing at her face, "can you give me a hug?"

And suddenly, I realized it had always been a two-way street. The revolution would just have to wait.

                                       Icy Highs's Music Recco: Vienna- Billy Joel 

This blogpost is part of a series called The Girlfriend Chronicles - which went on to form the crux of my second novel Mornings After (2016, Bloomsbury India). You can buy it here on Amazon



goatman said...

She may have gotten wind of the plot and fell back upon pity as an out.

I plan to name any bar I open after the one y'all were in. Great handle

Susan Kane said...

It has been weeks since your last post...you could have called...

Gina Gao said...

This is a really nice post! I enjoyed reading this very much.


Anonymous said...

I think my heart literally breaks when I read some of your writing.

You're amazing, and soon enough everybody is going to know just HOW amazing.

Good luck!

icyHighs said...

Hello Goatman, you ol' cynic. I agree you can't name a bar better than 'Gopalkrishna's', except for my other favourite, 'The Bittern End', from Ethan Hawke's 'The Hottest State'.

icyHighs said...

Hi Susan, I was the one singing 'In your Eyes' outside your window! :)

icyHighs said...

Hey Anonymous, that's very kind, thank you. But why all the anonymity? :)

austere said...

aww that was super cute.yep.
(since i'm old I can say what I jolly well please)
Where is the chopdi?

icyHighs said...

Heh of course you bloody well can, Austere, and it's got nothing to do with your age! And thank you. What's a chopdi?

Cathrina Constantine said...

Very good, and interesting writing. I liked.

DWei said...

This post serves to remind me of my bachelor status even more.

I miss having a girlfriend with whom I could do these sorts of things with. :(

Nilanjana Bose said...

Liked the style, and the titles, both post and blog. Thanks for stopping by on mine.

Anonymous said...

Dude, your revolution, our revolution will come. An 'inqilab' inspired by 'fat-boy' will awake the men from their cotton socks and baby talk and lead us men into the 'light' [pause and stare into the sky right now but slowly]

But on a serious note, I think you are wired, and your girlfriend listens into everything, even you inner thoughts. In fact, she might have a sort of Mr India gadget which, instead of making people invisible, makes a thought bubble pop up above you head displaying exactly what you are thinking.

Me and Fatboy need to talk, we need a new 21st Century Guy Code, before we stop evolving and the evolution dies. Help me

austere said...

your book!

icyHighs said...

Yo BAB, I like the Mr. India gadget, and the reference. Think I might just steal that for a post.

icyHighs said...

Hi Austere, acha. Still Hindi-handicapped, I'm afraid, but learning. The book's coming out sometime this month - it's called Cough Syrup Surrealism, published by Fingerprint. Keep an eye out for it!

Sanjana said...

lol! Aww!