Thomas Wictor

Everyone should live under the system they support

Everyone should live under the system they support

One of the benefits of being fifty-three is that I’ve got a lot of firsthand experience. If I had a magic button that would force everyone to live under the system that they advocate, I’d press it so hard and so many times that I’d break my finger.

If you support Hamas, I’d make you live under Hamas.

If you support the Iranian mullahs, I’d make you live under their control.

If you support communism, I’d make you live in Cuba.

My system would omit “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

I’d force every member of the United States Congress to enroll in ObamaCare. And I’d transport every Jew-hating Nazi back in time to 1933 Germany.

Ever seen a happier bunch of people in your life?

Why is it that everyone wants to impose nothing but garbage on others? You never hear anyone advocating for anything good. It’s just restrictions, penalties, control, punishment, and grimness. And of course, everyone exempts themselves from the lovely systems they want to foist on the rest of us.

The most restrictive country in which I’ve lived is Norway. People might think that Japan is more regimented, but the Japanese voluntarily keep themselves in check. Norway was government forcing rules and regulations down the throats of a population that bitterly resented it. Every Norwegian I met spoke fluent English, and when drunk, every Norwegian bitched endlessly about the government.

Everyone was terrified that they might do or say something that would cause the government to take away their children, so Norwegian kids were without exception monsters. They were the most ill-behaved children I’ve ever come across. When they discovered we were American, they screamed “Monkey face! Monkey face!” and threw rocks at us.

I went to the Stavanger American School, called SAMS. Now it’s called ISIS.

No, it’s called ISS: “International School of Stavanger.”

At its former location, it shared a giant cobblestone playground with a Norwegian elementary school. When the Norwegian kids were let out on recess, we Americans were prohibited from leaving the building, because it was dangerous. The Norwegian kids reveled in their power over us. They’d come to the front door of SAMS and squash their faces against the glass.

Imagine 200 little Nordic visages with no eyebrows doing that, all screaming. They sounded like this.

Norwegian children were dangerous lunatics, and their parents were rabid America-haters who accosted me almost daily. I was seventeen and eighteen years old.

I’m on the left, and my brother Tim is on the right, in his ELO period. He actually hated the band.

So did I. Everything that can possibly go wrong with music is in that one song.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. America-hating Norwegian adults.

People in their thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties would come up to me and try to start a fight about politics. The US was the cause of all the problems in the world.

Absolutely! Americans are responsible for this.

I don’t like arguing. Besides, what did these adults expect me to do about American foreign policy?

Nothing. They just wanted to puke up their bile. Life in Norway was horrible, but they couldn’t admit that, so they displaced all their rage onto teenage Americans.

Everyone should see this once in their lives

In downtown Stavanger, there were these really wide, dangerous stairs.

The drunks sat there all day—drinking, smoking, yelling, and singing. When I lived in Norway, you could register as an alcoholic, and then the State took care of you for life. No need to work or stop drinking. You got an apartment and money to spend on booze. There were drunks everywhere, and they were always falling down those stairs.

One day a drunk somehow managed to fall and puncture his skull. He was bald; after he sat up, it looked like a camera shutter opened on the top of his head.

At first there was no sign of an injury, and then this hole opened, and a geyser of blood shot straight into the air. He must’ve had unbelievable hypertension. All that seafood, I’ll bet. He was laughing, wiping away the blood as everyone shrieked in horror. By the time the ambulance arrived, he looked like he’d been dipped in a tub of scarlet paint.

Six years later, I was in Japan. My friend Steiv Dixon wanted to start a band with me.

Steiv’s on the right, our drummer Tom Hojnacki is on the left, and I’m in the middle, wearing such tight jeans that the outer edges of my buttocks are coming to a point. I haven’t worn jeans in twenty-five years.

So Steiv asked me what I wanted to name our band.

“Geyser Head,” I said.

Steiv thought it was brilliant; he laughed until he had a terrible asthma attack. But he refused. He thought people would be grossed out or think we were named “Gay-zer Head.” We ended up calling ourselves A Window, which was dumb, but Steiv was adamant.

To his day I’m still flattered that Steiv was my friend. He approached me. I would never have thought that a guy like Steiv would even notice me, but he genuinely enjoyed my company, so I can say that he was the best friend I ever had. There was no agenda. The last time I saw him, he said, “It’s been great knowing you, guy.”

He died of asthma in 1997. When I found out, I was devastated, even though we hadn’t had contact in twenty years. He died alone, in fear. His asthma attacks terrified him. After three weeks of misery, I had the most vivid dream of my life.

Steiv and I were walking down a street in winter, wearing overcoats, gloves, and scarves. There was a stone wall to our right, behind which was a grassy field covered in orange, red, and yellow fallen leaves.

“I can’t believe you’re dead,” I told Steiv. “It’s like a nightmare. You were the best friend of my life. I wish I’d told you that, but we had that guy-thing where we couldn’t talk about feelings. You know, I still think about you almost every day.”

As I spoke, he listened with a slight smile, gazing into the distance. He always did that. It was like he was a captain at sea, watching the horizon. When we got to the corner, he turned to me and gripped my shoulders.

“Look, Tom,” he said. “You have to cut. This. Out.” He shook me with each word. “You have to stop being upset. I’m fine! I’m much happier where I am. Don’t worry about me anymore. Seriously, now, Tom. Stop it, okay?”

I woke up and never felt bad about Steiv again. See, when I knew him he was very vain. He’d gone gray in his twenties and always dyed his hair black.

In my dream, his hair was snow white.

How’d I get onto that topic? No idea.

Oh, now I know: Atheists are always trying to force their beliefs on me. I’d make them spend five years completely severed from God. That would shut their cakeholes.

Steiv wrote “The Dinosaur Song,” which was our best number.

I feel like a dinosaur.
Great big body
And a real small brain.
I feel like a polar bear.
All that ice
But no ice cream

What I tell you
Is all I wanna tell you.
What I tell you,
Is what I wanna say.

No sight
No sound
No taste
No touch
Can keep me from you baby

The intro made everyone scream and jump up, ready to dance.

That’s the last time I’ll ever play the bass. In this life.

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