No Romance in the Underground


Nov 13, 2007


The Bottom Line part memoir, part editorial

I'm 25, supposed to be in the prime of life, right? Young, gainfully employed, don't live with my moms, and so on. I should be amongst attractive women and cool cats right about now, isn't that so? Instead I'm usually tucked underneath the sheets or madly typing at my computer, reading and thinking up stories from the underground, ideas of a non-conformist who feels it all with no concept of people who don't feel at all. There is no romance in the underground. Why is this?

I wrote a story once about a 16 year old black sheep who sits in his basement, drinks his father's beer, and escapes the regular routine of his house which is abuse and move on together. He is the underground to me. His cousin comes downstairs, inquisitive and naive, and he cries into the side of her face because she looked upon him with interest. That's the sad state of what being underground can turn you into: a flashlight waiting to find something, and when you do, it burns so stiffly. It's too rare.

Most people would say to me, in regards to norms regarding love and connection, Well, maybe you should bend, or, You have to realize this is the way it is. Then they wonder why I blow up in their face like shrapnel. Someone relegated to the outskirts of what's "in" always, no matter what they say, are affected by constantly being ostracized. Even if the ostracized form their own counter-cultural clique, they are a tense bunch, usually harboring hate for the majority who mindlessly subscribe to the norm. An underground human is one with an unusual penchant for digging into themselves and past cultural norms to try to find, wholly, who they are. The last thing they want is to change or to hear how things are. They know, that's why they have decided to go beyond such trivial pursuits.

No way someone from the underground could date a conformist, then. Not a chance. Sorry, I care not for the tradition of man pays for the first X number of dates and dotes upon female. Sorry. I don't want a trophy I have to keep making payment on, I want a soul. I just had an argument with my roommate on this point, as she says a man paying is about respecting women. I think the opposite. I think it's about not respecting women's ability to provide their own cocktail or movie ticket, that a man is so necessary in these respects to provide the entertainment. In the world of conformity, women are second-rate citizens. One of my favorite quotes is from Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", and can be found in the original scroll or the original publication: "Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk--real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious." I may be an atheist to Kerouac's Christian, but no matter the theology, that is underground, that is what I'm talking about. Not about who is providing what, but that we share something intertwined apart from the economics conformity so depends on.

With that being said, how can we connect in the underground?

I must paint you a picture of the loneliness I feel that I have seen and shared with others in many of conversations. I should say, I am no more friendless than your regular 25 year old guy. Simply, I feel disconnected from most "friends" that I have. They don't see my point of view. I am stuck so often with my books and the few people I can confide my yearnings and wildest dreams in. At worst, the people I hang out with, when we get on this subject (and as in the conversation I mentioned with my roommate) just throw in my face the compromises I am required to make to be in love (though it isn't the act of compromise that bothers me, it's the superficial varietal of compromise that the conformist crowd requires, that I'm incapable of making). It gives me the sense of being pushed under even further. I have met others who have felt this way, yet I see what happens.

We give up. The innocent lonely heart turns on the underground soul, demands that it be fractured, that it change its composition, that it dilute and eventually resemble something close to the mainstream, keeping one or two divergent views for token charm. We are so starved for intimacy, this is what it comes to. I go to my concerts or hang out at the so-called hipster joints with underground-lite folks, and I can pick out the deep souls and their shallow counterparts, and I admit to eavesdropping or hardcore people watching, trying to figure it all out, and sometimes we even exchange a glance, and I can see the discontent because I have been there before. It's no good, but it's serving in its niche nonetheless. Sad niche.

Thus the only way we can connect is to divest ourselves of conformist pretension. We have to edit out the fear in our beings that make us cling to the "right" way to act and the "right" way to be in love. The tedious formalities of dating, marriage, the whole essence of togetherness must be reinvented by the underground for its own sanity. In some corners of this world, I'm sure it is happening, but it's not spreading well enough yet. We have to stop being put off by the raw expression of individuality that some will put out there, and we must not be afraid to dig into others to find what truly rests beneath their flesh, and again, be unafraid when you find what you're looking for. Compromise of the soul cannot be an option. We cannot ask that of each other any longer, explicitly by enforcing change on our partners after initial courtship, or implicitly by accepting anything less in a partner than honest bonding and connection, therefore showing others that conformity is the only way to find love. In short, we must eroticize the soul and nothing else.

Dare to be a dreamer. It's not for everybody, hell, it's not for most people. It allows you to feel so much pain. I also think it allows you to feel the intensity of pleasure which many people cannot fathom. The souls in the underground need to connect, however, not for the sake of a great movement or a shift in cultural ways of being, but to simply find romance. I'm not sure if I can find it, but I know in this facet of life I cannot truly be content with anything less than another heart, raw and impassioned, beating its underground beat against mine.

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