Acid Heroes

April 3, 2011

Love and Other Social Diseases

Filed under: Random Archives — Ace Backwords @ 8:39 am
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Originally published February 14, 2005)

Welcome to my special Valentine’s Day report. In honor of this auspicious occasion I’m going to pack this column with even more “love” than usual.  And not the phony kind of love you get from those other websites. But 100% REAL LOVE.  Feel the love beaming out from every letter and every sentence, emanating out into cyberspace in all its purity.

I can’t remember one Valentine’s Day in my 48 years on this planet where I celebrated it with an actual girlfriend. What a sad sack I yam. Ace Backwords: the Patron Saint of Unrequited Love. Once, I sat down and tried to analyze my sexual/romantic dysfunction. I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. I concluded: EVERYTHING had gone wrong. So I narrowed it down to that. Just about every psychological dysfunction or bad twist of fate was hurled in the direction of my pathetic heart. So it was almost an inevitable mathematical equation that I would end up ship-wrecked at this lonely harbor.

Over the years, I “fell in love” (certainly the ultimate human dysfunction) with 5 different women. Sometimes — even nowadays, years later — I would write their 5 names down in my journal. And their names alone would still have a special magic to me. It never worked out with any of those dames. Whatever I was looking for from them, in my hopelessly romantic delusions, never quite panned out. I did have some wild, surreal scenes with all of them. Something about the magic of love that elevated these encounters to this Other Level of intensity and meaning, even as the meaning so often turned sour (“Ace Backwords: loser again!”). The only consolation was that, years after I stopped chasing after them, each of these women would come back looking for me over the years; probably mostly out of morbid curiosity, or perhaps for one more hit off of whatever weird vibe I had transmitted in their direction. There’s something about the power of love that draws people to it like a magnet. Even the misdirected love of hopelessly mis-matched people.

(Sometimes it would work the other way, of course. The wrong woman would make the mistake of “falling in love” with me. I could only think to myself: “The poor dear. RUN!  FLEE WHILE YOU STILL CAN!)

But my romantic failure sort of came to symbolize, to me, where I ended up in this life:  searching for Something that I never quite found. It was the one thing I wanted — the fabled Girlfriend, the Soul Mate, whatever you call it — but I came up short. It’s weird how you can try so hard to GET something from this life, but life tends to GIVE BACK to us by its own weird accord. I guess that’s why they call it karma. This other sad sack romantic loser that I know often speculated that he must have been a Nazi prison guard in the last lifetime, who tortured and raped women to his heart’s content. And now in this lifetime, all the bitches were coming back for their pound of flesh, ripping out pieces of his pathetic heart, bit by bit. Who knows. That explains it as much as anything.

I’ve gotten my share of rewards out of this life. But somehow, my “victories” have had the feel of Booby Prizes, whereas my “defeats” have had a profound and shattering resonance to them. Somehow, I never got what I really wanted. Which was “love,” I guess. What we’re ALL searching after, I guess. As my great guru Swami Muktananda put it: “Without love, it’s all useless.”

Today, being Valentines Day, the booby prizes had a special resonance. I went to my P.O. Box like Charlie Brown, secretly hoping for the Valentine card that will never come (or worse, I’ll get one from Pepperment Patty instead of the fabled Little Red-headed Girl). Instead of “love” I got in the mail today a beautifully packaged (with ribbon and bow on it) collection of poetry mags from some guys in Chicago. Beautifully printed, wonderful stuff, they went to a lot of trouble to produce it and send it off to me. And yet, I’m “tone deaf” when it comes to appreciating poetry. It just goes in one ear and out the other. Somehow it symbolized the mis-connections that have dogged my life.

So I dragged my weary sad-sack ass up to Telegraph Avenue. This 19 year old kid, real nice guy, comes up to me: “Are you Ace Backwords?” (the question I MOST dread hearing). Turns out he had bought a copy of my book   (available from in a little radical bookstore in Minnesota. And so he drove all the way out here to see Berkeley. And here he is. “It’s weird how your book, the one copy probably in all of Minnesota, traveled all the way back here to Berkeley, and now my friends are upstairs at the Med reading it!” (kind of like a homing pigeon. Or my bad karma boomeranging back at me). And it was nice, and it was flattering, but it was also vaguely unsettling. You put this stuff out there, and you never know what you’ll get back.  And usually not what you particularly wanted (beautiful 19-year-old sex chicks who dig weird, burned out 48 year old losers, feel free to track me down at any time).

And it’s probably a disappointment and a letdown for the kid from Minnesota, too. Because I make myself come across better in my book than I really am. And it seems more exciting when you read about it in a book: you pack 30 years of life experiences into 200 pages, all the exciting parts, whereas most of my days are spent moping around looking for something happening that is never actually happening.

But I guess nothing ever really works out in this damn life. The mystics all say this life, this world, is like sinking sand. You want ANYTHING from this life, or from another human being, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Or as my hero Bukowski put it: “Humanity, you never had it from the beginning.”

Still, I’m convinced that this earth (and humanity) is nothing less than a ball of pure solid 100% Gold. Covered by the thinnest layer of pure dogshit. The surface shit is very compelling — and alas that’s what I spend most of my days wallowing in. But I’m convinced that if I could just penetrate one inch beneath the surface of this maya, of this illusion, of this mortal life, I would find that 100% solid pure gold that was always there, but yet, somehow, always just off in the distance.


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