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Thunder Pie | Red Dope Make You Fall in Love with Peasants

I’m always daydreaming about low level crimes. I’m always night-dreaming of the beautiful lost world.

“Wine enters through the mouth,
Love, the eyes.
I raise the glass to my mouth,
I look at you,
I sigh.”
— William Butler Yeats

In the evening, I take my wine in a jelly jar. One of two. I have a big jelly jar for nights when I am feeling okay about it all, about the drinks and the loving it/ and I have this smaller mini jelly jar for when I guess I am feeling a little more self-conscious about if I ought to be having some wine or if maybe I ought to be taking a night off and having a little pineapple juice with a red Twizzler straw or whatever the fuck people drink in the evening if they don’t drink wine. Either glass, it doesn’t matter.


Night falls and we try to find our collective way to the couch, me and her. Me and Arle. We want to be together, side by side, but we can’t be out there in the life so much because we are far from things, we tell ourselves. Or we are broke. Or we are just plain tired like never ever before, what with all of the emails from the schools and the letter from the insurance company and the never-ending stream of kids coming round needing this or that. From the tiring work of the real jobs we hold to the pummeling exhaustion from the unofficial ones we created for ourselves by having children and buying a house and getting a couple dogs that often shit on the floor in the middle of the night for reasons I don’t understand at all. We find ourselves on the couch around 7pm. If we are lucky. If we have played our hands like the fucking legends of riverboat gambling that we were in past lives.

Lately, after a wine or two, after we watch Dahmer or What We Do In The Shadows or Jeepers Creepers II or playoff baseball or some stand-up comedian I never heard of on Netflix, after some of that formal stuff, we end up over on YouTube.

I love it there.

It’s so good. So horrible and awful and yet also so fundamentally ground-breaking and wonderful, too.

And then I toss the Roku remote at Arle down the couch/ she’s looking so good down there/ black Vans hoodie/ red hair all knotted up in a high ball/ her socky feet on my lap/ tried and true American Mama Motherfucker down there tipping back under a can of hazy IPA/ she throws the remote right back at me and I know what it means. I know she is telling me that she cannot be bothered to pick something to watch. Which is what I wanted, you see.

This is going just how I planned it now.

So I wander out into the search bar and I search for what I desire.

I search for ‘Peasant Life in Siberia’.

Or ‘Rural Life in China’.

Or ‘Real Serbian Shepherd Daily Living’.

Or ‘Train Station People in India’.

Or ‘Village Feast in Transylvania’.

I come up with these on my own. The red wine sloshes along through my worky-work veins and I crush my eyes closed and I see the little light balls drifting across the backside of my eyelids as I try to dream up fresh hot searches I have never searched before.

Like ‘Nile River Fisherman Cooking Eels on an Open Fire after Work with Cold Beers’.

It seems random and maybe even goofy, but the thing is: there’s always something. Or almost always. And almost is good enough for me, for us. Because lately I am connecting, as the long day winds down, with the world this way. And no: it sure ain’t traveling. And no: it sure ain’t real culture. But it’s all I’ve got now in a lot of ways.

I won’t ever make it to rural China. It’s a kick in the balls from a once lingering possibility. Maybe you have never even considered a trip like that/ to the far outskirts of WhatTheFuckness, but I often have. And yet I never did anything about it. And maybe I didn’t for a reason. Maybe I’m afraid, deep down, of what real traveling in remote sections of the planet would really feel like.

Or maybe I am just another half-lit American on his couch who watched too much Anthony Bourdain back in the day.

Or maybe I am just full of absolute shit.

I suspect I might be. But it’s okay. I am here confessing to it all, coughing up the rank truth so that I might get on with the show unimpeded. Without any whack modern guilt breathing down my neck.

Fact is, I like to get a buzz on and watch dirt farmers from far away frying dough balls and milking old pretty cows on YouTube. I also like to watch videos of mad Indian drivers committing outlandish traffic moves. And Russian grandmothers picking vegetables for a stew on a summer day in a garden at the edge of her run-down country town. And little African kids trying British candy for the very first time in their lives. People fishing for tiny fish in massive rivers I will never know. People speaking to one another in mysterious languages as they drink booze by a hole in the ice where they will swim to heal themselves of the very same things that probably ail me too.

The blues. The sadness of never knowing. The truth about the money. The longing, once sizzling hot like a blacksmith’s pole, now cooled to violet with just a hint of heat, as the days behind me pile up and the ones out ahead fall away.


Me, I’m always out of my head/ way back inside it. What a good way to live, if kind of inconvenient at times when dealing with others. Still, there I am. Here I am. And I imagine sitting on my black Mongoose outside these absolute strangers’ homes on cool dark nights.

Far off lands.

Far off night birds CA-CAWing out from the unseen yonder.

I smoke a Polish roll-up or a bidi or a Chunghaw, the cherry glowing and fading/ glowing and fading/ glowing and fading like the mountain embers of a crashed jet. The people watch TV mostly, but if they don’t have it I just watch them moving around. Chopping fresh fruit for tomorrow. Feeding crying babies from spoons of foreign metal. Laughing out loud/ I hear them cackling through the open window.

It’s a heartfelt laugh.

I look over at Arle. Her face is lovely. I put her left sock foot in my mouth and she screams and laughs as the YouTube gives us both a kid moving a dirty lamb out of the muddy yard and onto the muddy road. I feel the fuzz of her sock and the wriggling of her toes on the roof of my mouth, back by my tonsils. I shake it like a shark shakes a seal and I sense my teeth roughing into her just a tiny bit.

In my body, the state store wine from Spain, it moves and shifts and warms me up with the high and the mighty. Say what you will but I play with fire and I like it. I eat her foot because I dig it. I watch the far off peasants on the TV in the evening because I kind of want to know them.

And maybe I do know them.

And maybe I don’t.

It’s not for you to say.

It’s my thing.

Plus, she’s my baby, Arle is. And this is our couch/ river raft/ magic carpet.

Always watching from the sidelines, from the shadows, I’m living a bunch of lives at once.

Wine and all. Kids and all.

I’m always daydreaming about low level crimes.

I’m always night-dreaming of the beautiful lost world.

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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattling around his noggin. Once in a blue Muskie Moon, he backs away from the computer, straps on a guitar and plays some rock ’n’ roll with his brother Dave and their bandmates in Marah.