Lounge Lizards and the Athlete's Foot Microcosm
A memory of a certain late 1980s adult computer game came to me when drinking with friends last week. The opening screen gently explains to the new initiate how the game contains “some elements of plot which may not be considered appropriate for some children.” I was recalling the elegantly titled: Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of the Lounge Lizards. This blast from the past is comic, sleuthful and salutiferous. A game that's perfect when you're in the countryside and miss the charge of the city. Larry Laffer is a white suit, open-collared type of chap equipped with a big smile and a nocturnal wanderlust. The player is charged with guiding this pixellated man through explorations of dives and dens, such as Lefty's bar, casinos, back alleys, rooftop hot tubs, hotels, and the Lost Wages Disco. You might even sit him on a back-of-bar toilet, where after a quick read of a discarded newspaper he'll mutter to himself in a speech bubble: “What's that aroma?” And so it continues as commands are typed in to ingratiate Larry with the underworld characters that he encounters through every marred door.
Ever been to a real city? Characters like Larry are constricted by a need to examine the slime, to walk right into it, because slime feels so alive, like the people who leave it there. The faience blue corner-slime that blinds the hairy drains outside. To say that places like Lefty's bar are salubrious establishments may be a paradox. Perhaps passing moments there slows the rate of boredom, raises its threshold, since things there smell different, sounds are louder, the air crackles and rots in an antidromic foot. Peel back the city's sock and at a glance men and women walk between the toes with two beers in each hand, spilling them liberally with each circular step. Something might slap your back from nowhere in a toe bar, inside Lefty's, in the sticky. It's a phrenic experience capturing the passion, the mind, the will. Touching the best and worst smells that fester in a sweating alley around the vigorous bins. Blind, blocked, and blue.
There's a brilliance in the sleazy character, an abandonment – addiction perhaps, weakness, humanity, and therefore strength. Label it seedy or call it vivacious. Let's do both. Whether it's in the game, for real or in memory, we're coming back for more. Fungus inhabits the lounge suit and all of us can grow one given a concentrated meeting with warm moisture. Morphing from across the business table to under it, what we most crave is variety in nasty electric colours. Without that we quickly gnaw, not even the nightlife leftovers remember our passing face – foam-dried glasses become chipped, washed, unhygienic strangers. So jump back in, hard! Splash around, and ready for any corner. I'll take you to a place where you're drunk on two grubby coins, come home greasy. Come home fungoid and slow, the way everyone there does.
Who's ever seen a lounge lizard's feet... Who looks between the toes? In there is a pouring world of glass, old beer and people. A resilience that keeps its eyelids closed, senses everything. Worn under shit-smeared loafers the city is the sock, and I like it that way. Full of people who wipe fluid-stained blackboards clean and hit out at a new metallic enkephalin. People with knees like black rust, and green jars for mouths. Never ending people. Drifting voice people. More neurotic, catatonic lounge lizards who trot into taxis lifting their knees too high. They remove the names of days. They live in our socks. They thrive in damp conditions. They're stripped clean. They're the tangible imagination. Real pixels of memory, itching at the extremities.... The Leisure Suit Larrys.
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