“Modesty is too fierce and elemental a thing for the modern pedants to understand; I had almost said too savage a thing. It has in it the joy of escape and the ancient shyness of freedom.” – G.K. Chesterton
I thought the song fitting, as I grimaced and groaned, lifting the weight over my head to isolate my triceps. The UNLV recreational center will, once or twice a month, play Weezer’s “Island in the Sun,” and as I lifted my old bones groaned and my grimace turned to smirk. My afternoon bike ride to the gym flashed before my brain, my mile ride in the one-hundred and fourteen degree heat, the breeze offering only insult to injury. As if when a man opens an oven and feels the rush of heat, so felt the breeze that afternoon while I rode with head down, wishing it would all just end. I had just begun lifting when Weezer’s song came on, so I was still affected by my ride in. I completed the rep, caught a glimpse of my swoll triceps in the mirror, and after a quick rep of shoulder-lifts, heaving a mighty stone from waist to neck, I took a break and listened to Cuomo’s familiar vocals.
“On an island in the sun,
We’ll be playing and having fun,
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain.”*
I live in the island in the sun, I thought. But an actual island in the sun is more like heavy metal. Even the bike rides are torture, and a man feels light-headed and queasy after a few revolutions. I smiled, though, at their choice of music on such a day and looked around for a friendly eye to catch, another human who heard the same joke. As with many experiences of this nature, I was disappointed. For as I looked for a friendly face, I only then remembered the sad truth that every modern man is an island. For each human lifted and listened in his own little world, ears perpetually attached to headphones. So I smiled all the more. I had the gym all to myself.
Despite generally being tuned out, the inhabitants of Vegas are, I think, aware that they exist in the Inferno. I, for one, am beginning to see myself as a pilgrim of sorts – a mixture between Odysseus and Dante, a man longing to get back home, a man longing to reach purgatory, at least. But, I do hope that final layer is a lake of ice. In any case, as I wheel myself in circles around this town and the flames of judgment rise, I can only think that those flames of purgatory look awful cool. But recently I realized, once again, that I’m living in the layer of hypocrites.
“I’m feeling like some White Castle,” he said, finishing his beer, a blonde-hued Hefeweizen.
“White Castle, eh? I’ve never been. We don’t have one in K.C.” I said this and thought only of my wallet, and then he spoke. He may as well have punched me in the gut. The only White Castle in Vegas is on the Strip. My stomach churned. I felt like vomiting. Horrid flashes of Decadence in her naked shame flashed before me. But I am trying to be a better neighbor; I am trying to be a better friend; I am trying, in short, to be a better human. And if that means doing things I loathe, such as entering the belly of the beast, well, “I suppose…” I assented. I finished my Belgian-Wit, and we left the Gordon-Biersch brew-pub, jumped in the Toyota, flew past the most gaudy and ridiculous Ferris Wheel this side the Inferno, rolled into the Harrah’s parking garage, climbed to the very top, and spinning in circles, descended back to the bottom, for there was no room at this inn.
We had better luck at Planet Hollywood. Had I known this was the casino we were parking at, I may have put my foot down – first on the break, then switching back and forth with the gas, put it down firmly again on the gas and parked at a casino that didn’t shout nonsense quite so loudly. We headed to the elevators and observed a poster of Jennifer Lopez. “What is she forty-five?” I said more as a statement, judgmentally, disgusted. We were impatient and took the escalators. Winding down in circles once again, we plummeted to the depths of the Strip. Finally, we entered the Planet Hollywood shopping mall. Since there is absolutely nothing interesting or unique about a shopping mall – as dull and diverse as parking garages, I will not disdain to describe the place. But, if you keep the Inferno in mind…
In our crumbling American society there exists a group of humans who can only be labeled as hypocrites. They make Pecksniff and Uriah Heep look charming. These hypocrites, attempting to elect their Chief this November, are, if I may be so blunt, a living, breathing, all-too-healthy plague upon society. That is, their moral mindset, founded on hypocrisy, is a plague; the humans carrying this plague are often innocent victims. Innocent, because they blindly follow the blind and don’t know exactly why they think what they do. This race of creatures among us is, indeed, the feminist. That creature who preaches killing off the race in the name of Choice. That creature who walks the streets with a club, just looking for an opportunity to wail on any man who objectifies a woman. Such a man needs a good clubbing, no doubt. But such a man shouldn’t then go clubbing, lest he wants to see hundreds of hypocritical feminists asking him to objectify them only to be then clubbed to death. Any man with any sort of Christian morals should beware that the Strip is, in many ways, the great contradiction that is feminism. Here you have droves of young women, droves of young, wide-eyed, angry, pestering, nagging, bragging, strutting, self-righteous, pharisaical, fuming, and fiery feminists. Here you have the future of femininity “freely” expressing itself, living its independence. These independent women, these independent females, these independent feminists walk and gawk and talk as if nothing in life could be better than walking the Strip half-naked and half-witted.
As we made our way to the White Castle, I said to my comrade,
“You know, a Gentlemen’s Club is really just a zoo.”
He didn’t seem so sure what to say, and I explained the metaphor. But I may as well have said that the Strip is really just a zoo. Trucks drive by with independent feminists plastered on the side, asking you to simply look; more independent feminists dance in cages near card tables, asking you to simply look; other independent feminists call themselves show-girls and flap their feathers like brainless birds, asking you to simply look; other independent feminists are card-sized, with numbers, handed to you and scattered all over the sidewalks, begging for you to simply look. And all of this goes on while more independent feminists walk around and mimic the showgirls, displaying their hypocrisy for all to see, asking everyone to simply look.
We finally arrived at White Castle. I hadn’t much of an appetite, and we sat at the end of a long table. Eventually, a family sat next to us, a dad across the way with his young daughter, seven or eight years old. We talked about something as my comrade ate, but I could only think of that young girl and what she was witnessing. Here she was, just out of her innocence, thankfully not yet in her independence, strolling down the only Vegas zoo – the zoo that captures unsuspecting – yet independent – feminists, deceiving them into their captivity. This zoo that strips them of their soul, down to nothing but flesh; this zoo in which evolution works backwards; this zoo in which the people act like animals; this zoo in which not one feminist is seen preaching on a street corner, denouncing the madness, asking for the animals to be released back into the wild of a cultured and moral society. For a true feminist would. A true feminist would not put up with it. A true feminist would be enraged at the caging of her fellow female. And as I thought about this, it only made me sick to my stomach. I was, I guess, not alone in my thoughts. At least one other person that evening thought as I did, and she too was sick to her stomach. For as I looked back over at the little girl, she was not dancing. No. She was vomiting all over the table.
The Jolly Mariner – Rochelle Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 21, 2016
Painting: “Where’s My Good Little Girl?”
by Thomas Faed,
Oil on canvas, 1882
*I’ve a good notion what this song is about and am more than aware it is not islands in the sun.