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Hey, remember The Fourth of July, 2003? We don't, but found this in our archives:

Fourth of July Fourthiness.

Independence is on the march, patriots.

& Recently . . .

Kurt Cobain's Ghost with an Invitation to a Fourth of July Picnic and Fireworks by Angela Genusa

"B.L.T.": A Review by Will Layman

Ten Tiny Poems by Brian Beatty

Angry Words from a Gnome Who to This Day Continues to Think the Human Genome Project Was Actually The Human Gnome Project by David Ng

Key Party, N.Y.C., Circa Always by William K. Burnette

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Polish Fact

Major illicit producer of amphetamine for the international market; minor transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe.

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Thursday, April 7, 2005   |    Fiction

Prepping for My First Out-of-Body Experience

by Michael Fowler

My guide to out-of-body travel, Dr. Morris Goldblatt, Ph.D., tells me that I can simulate my upcoming journey in the following way: Affix a mirror to the ceiling of an elevator, lie on the floor of the elevator so that I can see myself in the mirror, and descend rapidly but smoothly down several floors. The floating and drifting sensation that I will experience, together with the illusion of leaving my body beneath me, is very realistic, according to the doctor. He doesn’t say what I am to tell the other passengers on the elevator, but I’m guessing “Excuse me, I’m preparing for an out-of-body experience, so please don’t stop the elevator before I tell you to” is good enough. Surely the doctor doesn’t think I own my own elevator?

Of course you may well ask, as I did, “Why rehearse? Why not just go on and have the out-of-body experience and get it over with?” You might especially ask that if, like me, you slam down a strong cup of coffee and drive 75 m.p.h. down the expressway to work every morning and are used to being out of your body. Elevator rides no longer have the least effect on me after commuting for a quarter of a century. But Dr. Goldblatt is building up my confidence. He says that the real thing is no worse than riding an elevator so I won’t be afraid. It’s like bungee jumping off a mile-high cliff. So I’ve put my fears aside and am ready to leave my body today!

Almost ready, that is. One thing I should look out for, the doctor mentions, is my luminous cord. It seems that, once I project myself out of my body and am floating above it, I will be able to look down and see a long, silvery cord attaching me to lard-ass, as I sometimes refer to my physical self. Whether lard-ass will also be looking up at me, or perhaps reading a magazine or watching “Survivor” on TV, isn’t clear to me. What is clear is that I need my cord for a successful out-of-body trip. The cord is my way of finding my way home again when I am ready to go home, like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of crumbs. No matter how far off I go, my cord will stretch that far, and with luck won’t become a hindrance to low-flying aircraft and birds or get tangled in telephone wires. By the same token, my cord also ensures that I go back into the right body. None of that trying to go back into the body of a young, handsome movie star or millionaire, no sir. I have to go right back into lard-ass, that overweight, bald, poverty-stricken hulk that I abandoned. So much, then, for jumping ship.

Since Dr. Goldblatt hasn’t said otherwise, I figure that I can also use the cord for self-promotion, advertising and extortion. I can write “Look at me, suckers!” in big silver letters in the night sky for everyone to see, or “Shop at Sal’s and Save Bucks,” or even “Bill Smithers at 925 Rank Street Does Dope!” The possibilities are endless.

But how, you ask, do I get out of my body in the first place? Dr. Goldblatt says to dress comfortably, put on soothing music, lie on my side in bed, and relax. Either that or have a near-death experience: I can go under the knife for risky major surgery, say, and appear to expire on the operating table. It’s a tough choice, I’m thinking. Anyway, once I am comfortable enough, or close enough to death if I want to go that route, it will just happen. I ask Dr. Goldblatt if trying to balance my checkbook counts as a near-death experience, since I think I can survive that, barely. But he says to put my finances out of my head and relax, adding that he hopes the check I’ll be making out to him doesn’t bounce. We’re just horsing around, but anyway, relaxation is what I decide on.

Where will I go my first time out, and what will I see there? Dr. Goldblatt is kind of vague here, but I gather that I will be projected onto the astral plane, and that this plane is different from the mundane world. For starters, it’s located somewhere between Heaven and my hometown in the Midwest, without having the exact features of either of those locales. There won’t be any drug dealers, race riots, or military recruiters, I gather. There will, however, be private swimming pools, luxurious rooms, and lots of pretty lights. In all, the astral plane will have the aura of an expensive hotel around Christmastime. I’m not sure from the doctor’s mystical words if I will see children or dogs, but who wants to? I’m also not clear on what there is to eat or drink. It might be a good idea to have a heavy meal and maybe a beer or two before I lift off.

I will meet a lot of people, I understand, but since they are shady astral projections like myself, I probably shouldn’t buy anything from them or form business partnerships with them. If I do, their warranties and contracts may not be binding, and who wants to hire an astral lawyer to find out? Dr. Goldblatt also says I may find myself pestered by beastly, unpleasant spirits called incubi and succubae. These creatures may actually be ugly enough to resemble my coworkers at the office or even my family members. If they appear beside me, I am to order them to go away, in a mocking tone if I like. What’s more amazing, the good doctor tells me they will go away, too. These incubi and succubae may be pests, it seems, but when you tell them you don’t want them around, they are quick to take the hint. That’s very considerate of them, I must say, and pests down here may learn a thing or two from them.

I also understand that there is sex up there, and lots of it. The main difference is that my sex partners, and myself also, will be composed entirely of ectoplasm. I’ve asked Dr. Goldblatt what ectoplasm is, and as nearly as I can understand his answer, it’s more or less like Cool Whip, only you wouldn’t want to put it on your pie. Having sex as Cool Whip means that there is a different feeling involved, one not inferior to sex here, but different. I can only say that for me, sex here is hardly noticeable, so I hope it is different.

How does one locate and ‘come on to’ one’s astral sex partner? Dr. G indicates that this is much easier than it is to find a partner on earth, or at least doesn’t involve going into bars or chat rooms, or placing want-ads with all those “I.S.O.” constraints. All I have to do, it seems, is be nice to the astral women I meet on astral street corners, and let nature take its course. I should not, however, inform my earthly wife of these liaisons, as this might understandably cause friction between us. Perhaps I should say, increase the friction between us. I don’t know, and neither does the doctor, if astral fooling around constitutes adultery and can be grounds for divorce. It would certainly make a strange court case, but my wife is liable to go for it.

All in all, the astral world seems largely unregulated, like the Internet. I guess I’m free to be a Don Juan out there with no one minding. Not a bad deal, no guilt and, from what I understand, no S.T.D.s either. I would truly hate to have my astral projection return with a bad dose of herpes or genital warts, and possibly infect the real me. Then again, why would my astral self bother to come back when he’s having all that fun honky-tonkin’ on the astral plane? Why give up raving wolfishness for the tedium of monogamy? Probably when I get out there, I’ll gnaw through my luminous cord with my ectoplasmic teeth and carry on cordless, never returning. My earthly self will just have to get on without me as best he can, the sap.

Then again, perhaps I can talk my astral self into showing a modicum of respectability and getting a job. After all, it isn’t fair that I pay all his bar bills and hotel room tabs if he’s the one having all the fun and I’m lying in bed like I have West Nile. I’ll ask Dr. Goldblatt at our next session if he thinks my astral self can get work and what his income might amount to. Naturally I’m hoping astral-man can bring some of that bacon on home to me, which again strikes me as only fair since without me, where would my astral self be? Nowhere, that’s where.

That’s all I know about going out-of-body so far. But I must say it appeals to me and I can’t wait to give it a try. If I see your projection out there, I’ll be sure to give it a thumb’s-up!

Michael Fowler wears a penis patch for more inches and sucks only meatless lozenges. Something of a bon vivant, he enjoys going through revolving doors with women.