Punishing, Agonizing, Incapacitating, Necessary
Suggested Audio Jukebox
 Ohio Players “Pain”
 Thompson Twins “Doctor Doctor”
 Coldcut featuring Yazz & The Plastic Population “Doctorin’ The House”
 Jimmy Eat World “Pain”
Pain is something that comes to us all at one time or another. Whether stubbing our little toe on the wall’s edge, thus separating it from its fellow piggies, slicing our finger while carving onions, or snagging a slither of sack in our zippers (one curtain for the ladies), that smarting sensation comes to us all. How we cope with said pain depends primarily on the injury but also on our state of mind at the time. Should our day have already been wretched then, chances are, it will feel necessary to bleat all manner of expletives and stomp the yard until every last one of our rhododendrons is pressed and ready for the scrapbook. Needless to say, most of us would rather not feel the twinge, although there are exceptions to this rule, and this is what S&M is for. Any dominant parties dish out the penance with a devilish glint in their eyes and the feeling of empowerment that bossing those subs supplies is a great aphrodisiac. As for the submissive parties, well they’re pretty much suckers for punishment, and more than happy to accept what’s coming to them. Outside of the bedroom however, I feel it would be a fair assumption that pain is considered undesirable.
From my very first grazed knee, it was unanimous in my mind that such pangs must be avoided at all costs. Fortunately for me, I have decidedly strong bones, so never a fracture has been administered. Likewise, I have been spared any injuries significant enough to result in an overnight hospital stay, and count myself rather lucky to have made it this far with the bare minimum of incident. Interestingly, the most agonizing pain I have ever felt involved having my tiny little nipple pierced and only lasted for around two excruciating seconds. When you consider that I’m now in my forties, I’d say I’ve dodged a bullet or three there. However, while its bitter sting ordinarily disinterests me, this span on a sixpence after the breakdown of my second marriage. I beat myself up tremendously for my part in its dissolution and, while each blow was mental, eventually it all spilled over in a far more literal sense.
I was shooting a movie in L.A. at the time and was desperate to give my very first acting gig my absolute all plus change. In my very first scene, I was required to take a blow to the face, although it was expected that this thump be staged. I instantly objected to this and demanded that it be authentic to the director’s absolute delight, and felt justified in my decision right up until around the thirteenth take. The very next night this punch became a thorough shit kicking and I soaked up each trauma like they were doing me a favor. How could this be? I mean, my whole life I’d avoided pain like Liam Gallagher at a kebab van. So what had suddenly changed? Could it be that I was actually getting a kick out of being pummeled? Did it not concern me slightly that the double team responsible comprised a 6″3 MMA fighter and Cali’s equivalent to China O’Brien? Bizarrely no as I took my hiding with a twinge in my nuts and believe this had something to do with channeling.
Two months after I returned from my expedition, I walked into the business end of a garage door and dug a little trench into my crown in the process. Naturally it hurt and also bled profusely but, while my sister flapped her wings like a disillusioned ostrich, I saw it as a rather delightful photo opportunity and grabbed myself a quick selfie. It’s strange that so much has altered with regards to my stance on pain, although that’s not to say that I’m queuing up to be Jackie Chan’s stunt double any time soon. However, if the opportunity came to be pounded for camera again, I’d make the same offer without a moment’s dalliance. Perhaps I’ve conquered a fear there or maybe that thrashing loosened a cog unbeknownst to me. Either way, I’m far less accepting of the emotional variety, as there is no buzz whatsoever in hurting beneath the veil and the damage inflicted can often be way more extreme.
Should another hurt us then it can go one of two ways. Some lash out, redistribute the wealth so to speak, and gain comfort in the knowledge that their anguish is no longer solo. Others internalize their suffering and it accumulates like a roaming katamari until too hefty to contain any further. If you ask me which is the correct response I will shrug my shoulders and give you a look more vacant than Rocky Dennis’s little black book. I may have wisdom but I’m not a swamp-dwelling oracle with centuries of experience behind me. Human I am. I will say this, personally I am not a fan of lashing out if it entails harming another either emotionally or physically. If there’s a discarded bag of Cheetos in the vicinity then I’d rather vent my rage at them as opposed to saying or doing something that I know full well I’ll later regret. Thus I take that shit in like three wise men at a cattle shed, offering it mead, a spot by the fire to warm its hands, and front row seats for the moment when it births. As a result said pain offers fine cigars to any passing travelers, forms an alliance, and eventually gets blind drunk and becomes rowdy. It’s just my way but I do see the logic in the old “better out than in” proverb.
I’m still learning now that pain needs to be encouraged to leave from the same door it muscled in through. Lock it down and it festers, metamorphoses into something truly hideous, and hurts that much more by the time it spreads those broken wings. There’s a balance to be struck and I had a pretty amazing teacher when it comes to handling pain. My beloved Grandmother was in her mid-nineties when her weakened shell finally subsided, allowing her beautiful soul to fly free. Yet I had never once heard her complain; even when faced with her own imminent departure. She twinged of course, we could see the pain gripping her tight and there was no disguising it, but she still didn’t let on for a solitary second. The medical staff adored her and, as the end arrived, joined us in linking hands around her bedside. She was quite simply one of the last of a breed no longer in circulation and her legacy lives on through all that I do now.
Emotional scars can take a helluva time to heal and, occasionally, the damage inflicted is simply too great. Depending on your outlook and coping mechanism it is all too easy to concede to such anguish and, by doing so, your light begins to flicker. This can restrain you from trusting when previously you would have followed your gut, spread chill as opposed to warmth, and cause you to lose your way in a darkness where you will remain perpetually should your alarm chime not be loud enough. Let’s be honest, life ain’t always a bowl of glazed cherries, it can steal the air from your lungs and replace your sweetness with bitterness if you allow such. However, once we accept a few harsh truths, it can also make us stronger. The cycle of life is one which makes more sense with every passing season; we live, we love, we lose and there’s no getting round that cold truth. But it doesn’t mean we should stop giving and receiving love as we have a duty to live and that’s an endowment far too precious to squander.
If the skies above become overcast, we put up our umbrellas out of habit. However, by feeling the rain and allowing it to soak through our defenses we know that the incense laden bath full of oils will feel that much more intimate on our return home. My little boy loves nothing more than splashing in muddy puddles. Peppa Pig taught him it’s okay and do you know what? I make her right. Live and love because, when we do ultimately punch out and providing we’ve lived and loved well, we leave behind the most precious gift of all. I’ve taken numerous leaps of faith in recent times, regardless of whether or not the odds have been in my favor, and I’ve been quite aware of the severity of the drop in these scenarios should my trust be mishandled. While not all of these vaults have worked out in my favor, I haven’t lost belief in the kindness of others, and neither is that subject to change in the future. Pain comes to us all and I say use that shit to make the pleasure all the more kickass when it comes. Spend your years in a bitter little clam shell and you’ll clock off in that same bitter little clam shell. What good is being a pearl if no fucker ever gets to see you shine?
Being a self-confessed puta for all things horror, I’ve watched my beloved genre take a barrage of abuse for signposting us towards blight and desolation, and consider this pure misinformed drivel by and large. Granted, watching folk diced up into cubes may not be wise if you’re ticking like a time bomb, but I refuse to believe that it would possess the know how to make us killers. My access point was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and, while I may not have felt like busting out the lilo afterwards, neither did I wish to carve myself some gills and bite down on a number plate. For the record, I did check my bath water before stepping in for months afterwards, just in case Ben Gardener’s disembodied bonce came bobbing through the Matey bubbles like a fleshy buoy. Watching others have pain inflicted on them for the purpose of entertainment is an absolute joy to me but I tend to leave that hankering at the closing credits as I’m not here for sick kicks unless black comedy is involved and no parties are harmed. Indeed, I watched Jason Voorhees slay a whole lot of hateful teens but it didn’t stop me working with young adults in the community in later life. At no point did I stalk them through the woods and a hockey mask was not part of my uniform.
If you suffer for three days with the sniffles, then sure it’s frustrating as hell. However, the morning you wake up with clear sinuses, every last fragrance is all the more sweet as a result. I got my ears syringed when I was in my twenty-somethings, years of pummeling my eardrums with high BPMs at likewise rates of decibels had taken its toll, and my hearing had become patchy to say the very least. Once that pointed plunger had extracted sufficient wax to sculpt a human candle and matching earrings (which was a strangely arousing experience by the way and one that I would endorse fully), the difference was as instant as it was monumental. My short walk home was beyond delightful, I heard birds singing as opposed to white noise, gained ninja-like senses, and found my wayward balance returning also. As for the pensioner I passed in the street who let out an involuntary ass toot – clocked it even though it was little more than a careless whisper. So what has all this got to do with pain you ask. Not a great deal actually but I’m thrilled I got to pimp out the pleasures of ear syringing.
At any rate, I think I’m pretty much pained out quite now so will leave you with a smattering of hand-picked instances when my language may or may not have become markedly more colorful. This will entail a great deal of grinning and bearing it so I’ll blurt them out in one long torment jet and meet back up with you on the other side. You ready to bite those wound soldiers?
Attempted to squeeze the pimple on the lower rim of my nostril, caught pubes in zipper, caught dick skin in zipper, caught balls in zipper, been kicked in balls, been punched in balls, landed on balls during a seesaw miscalculation, had eye poked, nipples tweaked, toes trodden on, shin clattered, endured paper cut, bitten fingernails too low, burned fingers, slammed fingers in door, hit head on trunk of car, walked into lamppost, twisted ankle at top of stairs, hit every last step during descent, grazed knees, grazed palms (ouch!), vacated bicycle over handle bars at high-speed and had bridge of nose greeted by curb, stabbed myself in throat with ballpoint pen, watched Birdemic, watched Birdemic again, had heart broken, had feelings hurt, gargled acid reflux, burned roof of mouth on lasagna (every fucking time I eat it), stapled finger to paper by accident, removed staple, removed splinter from finger, removed plaster at turbo speed, removed plaster at snail’s pace, been bitten by wasp, been bitten by Russian hamster, been bitten by Sex & The City bug, taken the world’s most agonizing dump, taken several blows to the temple in short succession, split my foreskin during sex, split the bill for a lousy meal, hosted a bout of salmonella poisoning, felt so ill that delirium has paid me a visit, blown myself up during a physics lecture, watched White Chicks sober, bitten my tongue, bitten my own finger during chow down, been splashed by airborne fryer fat, had my laptop crash 2000 words into a writing assignment after foolishly not backing it up, crashed my car into a roundabout, been concussed, felt a twinge of sadness when Apollo Creed died in Rocky IV, and almost choked to death on a brussel sprout that had absolutely no right sneaking into my mashed potato. There, I reckon that should do us.
While I thoroughly enjoyed that random tiptoe through the rose thorns, I do feel obliged to close with something more meaningful. Thus here is how I view pain in a nutshell. As I stated at the very start, it comes to us all, and that’s the law of averages for you. Allow it to languish within us and it will kick our asses from the inside-out, whereas channel it into something meaningful and we can look it straight in the eye and decline its sour invitation. Should we use your pain to guide others, then that inner peace we all crave may not be as far away as it first seemed. Alright that’s all you’re getting as I’m starting to sound like Mr. Miyagi and the last thing I need is him chasing after me with snapping chopsticks on account of copyright infringement. Actually it’s more likely that he’ll set Daniel Son on me so I’ll wait for him to assume crane position and thump him in the dumplings. Cocky little fuck badger won’t see that coming. Be well Grueheads, be safe, and make sure you check for any overhang down by the zipper before you lay those tracks. Never gets less painful you know.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2016)