Tuesday, July 27, 2010

“Megalomania by Elliot Andreoulos

Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.

Thompson McCarthy sat in the five hundred person lecture hall and waited for a copy of the Statistics final examination to be passed to him. A malodorous stench entered his nose that reminded him of his mother’s arid hospital room where her bedpan went days without being emptied. A test booklet and Scantron were passed to him by the beautiful blonde who sat two seats away from him. Her name was Christa Holt and she lived in the Johnson Dormitory Tower, which he found out by stalking her after every class. He was aware of his problem, but did not want to stop because he was so lonely.

He could not figure why a statistics exam was multiple choice, where a minor mistake could lead to a wrong answer despite every other step being executed correctly. He gazed over the problems and realized he could not answer any of them. Instead of studying, he chose to write a song that ended up sounding like a litter of kittens trying to escape from a sack before they are thrown into a river. He allowed a minute to elapse before he bubbled ‘A’ for every answer. He got out of his seat, which made a loud screech and gave students the opportunity to investigate the racket and have their eyes drift to neighboring exams. He lumbered down the carpeted steps that had years of dirt embedded in them and approached the professor, a sad looking man with gunk tattooed under his eyes making it seem like he was entrenched in perpetual sleep. He handed in the exam with some students applauding his courage for being the spokesperson of their shared misgivings about the unfair questions, but most laughed at how foolish he was for not even trying. He gazed at Christa, who remained concentrated on her exam. Her lack of reaction made him feel incredibly depressed and he went outside into the ravaging cold.

The campus walkways were empty because most of the students were finished with finals and left. He dreamt about his band ‘Rock Lobster’ achieving superstardom as he walked. He relentlessly practiced, however his band mates did not share his work ethic or enthusiasm. But he was going to make it despite them because failure was not an option. He would continue writing and practicing until he achieved the success he dreamed of.

He walked into his dorm room, which had a pungent smell of filth. He wouldn’t be surprised if he came down with a mysterious disease for breathing in the dirty air, but despite this, he made no efforts to clean because every second had to be concentrated on music. If not, he would never make it big. Zander, the drummer, was doing pushups without a shirt, his flab bouncing like a yo-yo with each repetition.

“You ready to practice?” Thompson asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Zander replied.

“What do you mean?”

Brandon, the lead guitarist, entered dressed in a polo shirt. He approached Thompson and nearly tripped on a cup of ramen noodles. “We’re going to Happy Hour at Fatties Pub.”

“Why? We got to practice!” Thompson pleaded.

“Why do you want to practice so much?” Brandon argued. He sprayed cologne on himself to show Thompson he was going no matter what.

“To prove all the people who made fun of me throughout my life that I’m better than them!”

“Those people don’t care whether you’re a rock star or a bum.”

“We can wake early and practice,” Zander added.

Thompson sighed deeply to show his aggravation and decided to go as well. He was miserable, just like the assholes made him from nursery to high school. Their abuse was so effective that he overexerted himself at every waking moment so he could rise above them. And if he did not achieve the nearly impossible success he dreamed about, he wouldn’t know what to do because his music pipe dream was all he had. He kicked his bass and slammed his head on his bed to release his rage for another day of not being successful.

Rock Lobster took the stage at the Edinburgh Music Festival with over 200,000 spectators waiting to hear one of the greatest, if not the greatest, contemporary rock band. Their first two albums sold over 20 million copies and earned the respect of countless legends. They were not labeled as the next Beatles, yet, but their third album was being released shortly and Thompson knew with songs like ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ and ‘Hey Jude,’ there would be no doubt of their place in music’s upper hierarchy. Thompson approached the microphone and said, “We are going to open with ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.’ I wrote it about my fiancé Christa, who I met during my statistics class in college.”

Brandon strummed his guitar, Zander knocked on the drums and Thompson sang:

"I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you…"

At Fatties, the guy/girl ratio was nearly equal and everyone overindulged on the two-dollar pitchers to either gain confidence or lower standards. Tongues were exchanged, beer spilled and fights broke out as Thompson stood alone in a corner and drank six pitchers continuously, each sip lessening his problems. His mother was dead, he failed statistics, his band was going nowhere and he couldn’t get a girl. One night of practice could be sacrificed for sedating his mounting failures, temporarily.

He double took because Christa was standing in a crowd of people, looking lonely and more beautiful than ever. Seeing her felt like a dream and he knew he would never forgive himself if he let the opportunity slip away. He moved towards her as if an invisible force guided his legs, a surreal feeling because everyone parted from his path.

“You sit next to me in statistics class,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe you just handed in the test like that today!”

“I was going to fail anyway. Might as well go out with style,” he said matter-of-factly to sound cool. She couldn’t see what a loser he was.

“I always thought you were cool,” she said with her drunkenness hindering her from hiding the feelings she harbored for him. “Are you in a band?”

“How did you know?” he said excitedly.

“Wow, that’s so impressive. What instrument do you play?”

“I’m lead singer and bass,” he said.

Her skin was blushing to such a tint that Thompson noticed it through the artificial twilight of the bar. He had never kissed a girl and swayed with indecision, going close to her face and pulling back like a child on a swing. She met him halfway and they kissed. Life was a continuous string of dreams not becoming actualized and to taste her elusive heaven made him content with the terrible times because they brought them together. He did not ask her back to his room because she was so much more than a one night stand. She was the woman he would spend his life with, the woman who would have his children and inspire the number one hits, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Wonderful Tonight” that thrust Rock Lobster into prominence.

The members of Rock Lobster sat at the Grammy’s. Their fourth album was nominated for Album of the Year, with the title track ‘Let It Be’ already winning Song of the Year. They hit the pinnacle of superstardom from awards to astronomical sales to consistently sold out concerts where every spectator knew the lyrics to their songs. Bono was the presenter for Album of the Year. He went through the typical pre-award talk like congratulating the artists and announcing the nominees, which the members of Rock Lobster took as a cue to get ready to accept their award. Bono cleared his throat and opened the envelope. “And the winner is,” he said and paused for dramatic effect. “Rock Lobster! Congratulations! I love ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ from the album, one of the greatest songs of all time.”

Thompson went on the stage and accepted the award. “Thank you Bono. This is our fourth Grammy for Best Album in as many tries and it feels just amazing as the first. We were once college roommates with guitars and dreams, and to be at this point is a dream come true. Thank you!”

The jocks who humiliated him sat in front of their televisions in bewilderment at how the fat boy who was butt of every joke transformed into the most liked man in America. The girls who never paid him the time of day sat in their mobile homes and wondered how much happier their lives would have been if they pursued him.

Brandon and Zander came to the consensus to call it a night because Thompson was catatonically drunk and had to be taken back immediately. They just hoped he wouldn’t have to be rushed to the hospital to get his stomach pumped.

“You know it’s a good night when Thompson is about to die,” Zander said.

“He’s wound too tight with the band, he doesn’t realize that we suck. I think we should disband. None of us, including him, have any talent,” Brandon said.

“You can’t do that to him, he’ll kill himself!”

They took Thompson by the arms and helped him across the sidewalk where he was laughed at by the townspeople that congregated to watch the drunken festivities. His legs dragged on the ground giving the appearance he was a paralyzed soldier being carried off the battlefield. They reached the empty bus stop, which meant they just missed their pickup. Thompson fell to the ground and began puking.

“I can’t see this, I’m going to get a slice of pizza,” Brandon remarked.

“What about Thompson?” Zander asked. “I’m kind of hungry too.”

“You can leave him, nobody is going to kill him.”

Brandon followed Zander as Thompson continued to vomit. He slammed his hand on the rocky cement until it bled, not feeling anything with the alcohol numbing his pain. The bus’ blaring headlights approached and like a lab rat’s reaction to a stimulus, Thompson ran across the street to it. He did not see the sport utility vehicle or feel the wheels running over his head and crushing it like a boot to a grape. A smile presided over his mangled face because he was free. There was no more living to impress eyes that didn’t care, no more suffering, no more depression. No more anything.

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