Its a weird story how I met my pal Mary Mayhem. And it really makes me wonder whether life is just a random series of accidents, or if its predestination, or what the hell is going on. It makes me wonder how much control we have over what happens to us.
Some people, like the existentialists, think there’s no rhyme or reason to life. Life is just a random series of events with no deeper meaning (and there’s a lot of evidence to back up this theory, like the seemingly endless series of convoluted messes that make up my daily life). Myself, I’ve always believed there’s an inherent order to human life. I mean, the universe itself is so intricately ordered. The earth is revolving around the sun in an exact order that we can measure, and the sun is beaming light to earth from about 3.72 million light years away (give or take a few feet) which is regulating the tempature here in Berkeley at this exact moment at 72 degrees farenheit. If I jump off a 10 story building, according to the laws of physics and mass and volume and all that crap, my guts will splatter like tomatoes all over the sidewalk in intricate, exact and colorful patterns (and I suppose you could take a photo of the patterns and call it Art but thats another story). So if the physical world is so intricately ordered my great philosophical leap of faith is that life must also be ordered on the moral level and the karmic level (even as I often can’t see the order of those levels). I think it was Edgar Casey who said: “Everything is appropriate.”
Anyways, it was January of 1980 and I had recently turned 23 years old. I’d spent the previous 4 years as a homeless bum in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district and as a bike messenger living in flophouse hotel rooms. So I decided to see if I could elevate my life a little bit. Take charge! Take the bull by the horns! Pull myself up by my own bootstraps! Take bold and direct action! Get MY Shit Together! So I started devising all these master plans to get my life moving in the right direction (even as most of my plans usually went from point A to point B to point Q37 if you know what I mean — the best laid plans of mice and men often turn into comvoluted fucked-up shit). So anyways, I got a nice, clean-cut haircut and I bought a clean pair of clothes and I decided to apply for a normal job and see if I could be a normal human being (I’ll try anything once). So I get the want ads from today’s paper and I get a whole bunch of nickels, dimes and quarters and I go down to the payphone on the corner and I start making all these phonecalls to prospective employers. Pretty soon I had used up almost all my change without hitting on anything. Then I saw this ad for a phone salesman at the Oakland Tribune. It didn’t look very promising, just a minimum wage crap job. But I figured what the hell, if I got one more quarter in my pocket I’ll make the call. If not, the hell with it. Turns out I had one last quarter, so I made the call, I got the job, and I would meet Mary Mayhem at that job, and I would fall madly in love with Mary for the next 13 years. And just about everything that happened to me in the course of my life during the next 13 years was somehow connected to and/or directly effected by Mary (anyone who has ever “fallen in love” can verify that it is a powerful force that can lead you down all sorts of avenues of abnormal psychology).
So anyways, to make a long story short, sometimes I’ll be thinking that I’m the captain of my soul and the master of my destiny and all that crap. And I’ll be plotting and scheming like a chessmaster to figure out how to move my life in the exact direction that I want to take it. And I’ll think: “Yeah, but no matter how much I plot and scheme, my life would have turned out COMPLETELY differently simply if I hadn’t had that one last quarter in my pocket.” The weird thing to consider is that the whole course of my life was basically changed by the flip of a coin.