[Most Recent Entries]
Wednesday, April 9th, 2003
One random word that I often find bouncing within my head is libido. This originates back to a cold winter afternoon driving towards Julie Schlief’s house listening to G. Gordon Liddy. He was talking something about libido for the ugly and I was supporting my conservative brother vigorously.
I didn’t even know what libido was. But that’s one of the words that occasionally find themselves trapped in the vacant upper room of my body. The fall-out usually occurs an hour later after numerous mouthings of the word.
Though thought process is often very important. Unfortunately, I usually find myself caught up in finding a thought process rather than utilizing one.
So, sex it is. Sex is a topic that, while no one like to admit it, is interesting. It holds interest. Even those not desiring shameful nudity and perversion will say, “This is filth… what is it?”
So curiosity toward the immoral is my Balaam, cursing and goading an unsuspecting donkey toward forbidden articulation. The donkey speaks! I fall to my knees in the murkiness of sin, in the heat of lustful thinking. Forgiveness is not just a state of mind that makes me feel happy.
While sex may hold the interest of most everybody (in some form or another) I’ve found that to a Christian, sin of any kind is interesting. I guess finding out what other people are doing wrong takes away from any sin I do myself. I delight in profane outbursts or rage and the greediness of others. I watch these actions like a small child gazing into the shiny black button eyes on a stuffed bear, and yet refusing to acknowledge the bright youthful of its own eyes.
So when I’m sitting in the car cursing at the red light, I can think back to fonder days when I looked at the boy in math class come in late with a hang over. When I looked down to everyone from where I sat.
I like change
I like change. I recently redecorated my room.
(Actually I switched the places of the bed and dresser.)
Regardless, I feel excited, and revived to a new life. And I plan on continuing to enjoy the new position of the bed each day.
Damn Diminishing Marginal Utility! Thanks to this the first hot day after winter is so much more pleasurable than mid-august. And thanks to this tomorrow when I enter my room I will feel less excited. In a few months I will move my bed again.
I did find a quarter under my bed when it switched places with my dresser. This is one thing Diminishing Marginal Utility has no control over. Remember the first time you found a quarter in the couch or under a soda machine? I don’t. That is because finding change is like petting a puppy; each touch is just as silky soft as the last.
Being scared is something I’d like to have forgotten. I’m not scared of wicked men or dangerous situations or rabid animals, my fear is on a completely different plain. I was sweeping Styrofoam peanuts at work last week
Now, a slimy Latino boy with a half grown mustache flashing a switchblade doesn’t scare me. But sweeping the peanuts did that day. Pushing the peanuts along the cement floor I heard the clang of a metal object; when I looked down all I saw was one stray green peanut. That freaked me out.
Dreams scare me, not nightmares. I have had nightmares of murder or rape or falling off a bike, but never woke up scared. But here’s a dream I woke up from sweaty and tense:
Me and my friends Craig and Erica were sitting in my room. It was decorated differently. (Actually the bed and the dresser were switched) With us we had a long flat wooden box with a plexi-glass top. Inside the wooden box were several oversized sperm swimming randomly totally ignoring the egg-like object in the left corner.
We disregarded the box and played an entire game of super Mario Brothers 3 for Nintendo.
When we came back to the box the egg was gone and replaced with a bloody sharp-toothed pig fetus. And this pig fetus was tracking down the unusually large sperm and humping them. Soon the extremely small pig fetus grew to the size of a dwarf hamster and we let the bloody fetus out of the box. It kept hiding behind the tall dresser in the back corner of my room, but I would reach my arm back and pick it up by its curly tail that was as long as a cats.
Erica mentioned that the pig fetus was most likely very hungry and we should feed it. Craig and I decided evil bloody pig fetuses drank milk. I brought the pig downstairs and poured it a bowl of milk. But as I set it on the wood floor the pig began to eat the milk. He took large bites off the pile of milk as if it were cottage cheese. I asked my mother if it was alright to feed a pig fetus rotten, chunky milk.
She said yes.
I have never woken up from a dream more terrified. I tried to eat cereal that morning but the milk smelled sour to me.
Of course I was sitting alone in the chapel. An old man’s watch blinded me; He grinned smugly. The prune’s wrist reflected infinite sightlessness at mine eyes from all directions. I tried to avoid it.
I gazed into the face of a girl who held a striking resemblance to Devon Powell. I might have thought her a sibling or cousin, if Devon weren’t a liberal Jew. Jews were rarely found at IFCA conventions. An older woman toddled down the isle after a break in the piano solos. She also resembled a Devon Powell- a much older even less attractive Devon Powell.
My mind wandered off the Powell Family briefly but was drawn back by the gravitational pull of the magnitude of their bodies. Truth: all Powells were thickset and hairy. And Devon, a girl most Jr. High boys envied for her sideburns, was no exception. I never envied her but I knew her fairly well though the drama classes we enjoyed throughout high school.
Though we could be coated with base, and blush, and liners and lipstick, and we could be wearing girdles or bogy suits, or wigs or masks or hats, I could always know Devon: her voice for every character the same. She would start out her lines in a precarious wave of squeals and end in a nasally huff of seemingly meaningless words.
Her Father also had sideburns, well actually he had a beard. He would occasionally step down from his green soap box and coach a softball game. (A team Devon was not on) She was a sportsman though, she was on the diving team. I remember when she would practice her dives on the concrete floor of the orchestra pit-I swear that crack is from her.
So there I sat, gaunt from the frozen air pumped out the ceiling vent directly above me, waiting alone. I looked over to the purple row of chairs where the Jerk with the watch was sitting. He was gone; his wife still there, emulating a sort of pious grace that none could obtain.
Tears came to my eyes as I sat through a piano solo performed by a porcelain doll.
I changed seats and began shuffling a green and gold deck of cards.
My Pastor and his wife sat down next to me. They too chose to wait.
A Toothless Wedding
I was sitting in the Miller Library in the center of Cornerstone University Campus when my friend heather came in. I was attempting A Confederacy of Dunces, curled up on a stiff blue loveseat. She waddled up to me with her hands behind her back and expressed need. I hate to say it but I am a magnet for needy people. At school I would always have girls lined up to tell me painful secrets of stealing, sex, and eating disorders. And this would be okay if I was a comforting person, but I’m not. All I do is hold them and cry with them and hope to God they don’t ask for advice.
So I talked with Heather for a while waiting tensely to hear the bad news. I was waiting to hear that her mother had cancer or her boyfriend dumped her, but she just wanted to talk. (A rare occurrence for girls and I when there were no troubles) So in our surprisingly reminiscent chat she recalled a certain wedding we had attended. I smiled a nice, healthy, structured grin as we spoke of a day when smiles like that were few.
Back in the summer I turned seventeen, I received a phone call from Heather who pleaded for me to take her to a wedding. Her father wouldn’t let her go to a secular wedding without an escort and, assuming all the strong, protective guys were busy, she called me. I was reluctant to say yes but kept that to myself as I unknowingly agreed to the event.
A week or so later I put on my good church-pants and shirt and had my father tie the dressiest tie I owned. I drove an hour and a half across town and down Five Mile to Prouty Road, and got lost and found and turned left into the Galloups driveway. As I waited in the kitchen, Mrs. Galloup gave directions, Hannah blurted out embarrassing facts about the human anatomy, her sister with Downs hid under pillows squealing and Dr. Galloup gave me the business. He spoke as if I were taking Heather out for a drunken orgy. Little did I know: He was close to the truth.
In a grocery store parking lot, in the treatment plant district of town, I parked the car and “escorted” Heather down a flooded dirt ally to a rusted chain-link gate. The screams of pain it gave us announced our arrival to a world of Dr. Galloup’s fears. My church pants soaked the puddles and heathers sandaled feed were caked with dirt, yet we entered the backyard hoping not to be underdressed for the matrimonial occasion.
As it turned out, the wedding had already taken place at the court house, where the bride’s two previous nuptials and annulments took place. So we entered into the midst of a celebration of beer and meatballs. A stereo larger than my car pumped out a mix of 80’s hair bands, lustful country ballads, and ill-tempered rap. There were mended lawn chairs bordering a crumbling sidewalk and a trampoline where six shirtless children jumped their mud smears off. If I could have I would have stripped in the mud and tramped around the netted circle as well. (I later learned this acceptable as one of the bride’s fathers stumbled drunk toward the jumping machine)
We greeted the beaming bride who blushed and scratched at the brown on her teeth. And we wiped our hands on our hips after shaking the new husband’s oily paw. She then took us around to the randomly filled lawn chairs with glazed occupants. We would shake hands with her cousin out on parole, or her grandmother with only one tooth. It wasn’t until we met the elephantine mother of the groom that I wished I had put some plumeria hand wipes in my pocket.
Then meatballs were pushed and beer was offered and the wrinkly old lady with gonorrhea and a face infection (Looking a bit like Irene Ryan) wet herself and passed out onto the dead grass and thistles. Her daughter offered Heather the newly unoccupied chair, but we stood.
Soon a tour of the annually cleaned house was proposed. Heather and I held hands, finished our drinks, and stepped onto the rotten wood steps.
How my First Fiancée led me to the Field
Actually she didn’t lead me anywhere but a valley of deceit and pain.
Torn from my home I was forced to meet people and survive socially. I am not a great conversationalist to the random people I meet each day whom I care very little about. But in extreme social droughts I will blossom.
Joel was the first “bee” attracted to my flower. He was an extremely overweight West Virginian with solid eyes and straight cut bangs across his pasty forehead. We would play cards or discuss affluent members of society. Alas my pollination needs were not satisfied by a rotund hillbilly, and I cultivated other friendships and encouraged growth.
Now next to my bed was a long thick wooden club and I often contemplated beating my roommate Willie to death. I had no real reason except boredom. Well, maybe it was for walking around in his saggy hole-ridded briefs, or maybe because he pursed his lips too often. Either way, I had it out for him since day one.
One afternoon a girl named Kaylee, I had known for quite a while, proposed to me with a glorious diamond ring and a pinecone. I accepted only because I had watched her propose to men all day long and all declined.
The ring contained a rather large diamond in the center and the pinecone, she told me, looked like a frog. She went on to explain that a frog peed on her that day and she felt all men were like frogs in that they were gross and always left her.
After given the assurance I wouldn’t pee on her hand, we became engaged. But the engagement was short lived, and she broke it off in an elementary school-like note scribbled on a lined sheet of notebook paper and violently torn from its spiral safety.
I believe that girl is mentally unstable, though, as she took back the ring and tried to win my approval with her protein shakes full of apple cores and pepperoni and Pepsi-cola. When she left for her home to be with her dying mother, I took to plotting ways to murder Willie on my days off. I naively thought I could poison him, burn him and all his possessions, and bury him in the field across from the church.
But the same week that Kaylee left and I foolishly contemplated murder, I heard the voice of God. They told me to go to a Bible school and study and prepare for the mission field. That night I told Willie of my calling. He warned me I could be poisoned, or burned alive along with all my possessions, and buried in a field! I figured it to be a good guess, and took to thinking up other ways to dispose of that thorn in societies flesh, Willie.
During my stay at Wheaton College, I met a gal with a mild case of OCD much like mine. My traveling comrade, Spencer, had known her longer and chased after the well tanned, eccentric beauty for weeks. But she clung to me, our bond our desire for clean hands and lemon candy. But I was a girlfriend to share dark secrets with. And since I had none of my own, I lied. I was a nineteen-year-old recovering cocaine addict with an active bisexual life and alcoholic tendencies.
Though she was somewhat delighted that we shared similar burdens, she helped me morn the loss of my mother and two brothers. I offered to buy her lunch but she just didn’t feel right about eating a lunch bought with money from my forced prostitution days. And Hunger slipped by while I delivered horror stories of painful STDs. She encouraged me toward the path of morality, and away from a life of sex, drugs, money, and pain.
And you know what? I felt strong, like I just might be able to break some of those tough habits. I told her some of those sins were gone already and others were hiding in the wings. Of course, I exhorted her to walk with God as well.
“I don’t know Jeff,” She said. “You’ve got much more willpower and courage.”
My 404 Speechless Seconds with Amanda
After the drive-in movie we dropped off Charissa and Brianne. I had done all I could to have Amanda drop me off first, short of begging. After Brianne tumbled out of the back seat of the truck with armfuls of blankets, Amanda slid her father’s truck onto Rousch Road
One, two, three, four.
I reclined the seat slightly and laid my head back.
Nine, ten, eleven, twelve.
The moon was so perfectly round. The poor slave, beautiful like a pearl, was forced to reflect the sun’s light- just as a slave reflects the master’s wishes. I tried to look away, and maybe speak a sentence to Amanda, but the moon pulled at me. It was a luscious window display enticing all on the street to cross through the chiming doorway and purchase a piece of its glowing universal enlightenment.
One-hundred and twenty-five, one-hundred and twenty-six, one-hundred and twenty-seven.
We passed by the bus garage on the north shore of Boardman River, having already crossed the one-lane bridge safely. I gazed at the many rows of yellow mobile brigs. I remembered my last trip on a long yellow school bus.
Two-hundred and forty-eight, two-hundred and forty-nine.
Mmmm... The Sarah Lee Factory.
Two-hundred and fifty-four, two-hundred and fifty-five, two-hundred and fifty-six, two-hundred and fifty-seven, two-hundred and fifty-eight.
We cross the intersection of one of my favorite streets, Fourteenth. I can see the Seven-Eleven sign down a few blocks; Bo-Tangles, where Trina always cuts my hair the same way; Crusted, where my girlfriends get us free pizza. Oftentimes I choose to take Fourteenth Street into town, even though it’s out of the way. In the winter there’s an ice rink on Fourteenth, but I don’t ice skate.
Three-hundred and forty-one, three-hundred and forty-two.
The Catholic school where Aeranie, and me and Carrie, and Rachel, searched the dumpsters for a couch.
Three-hundred and seventy six, three-hundred and seventy-seven, three-hundred and seventy-eight.
We drive the strip. The bars let out and the alleys give up the dead with in them. I see a few girls on the sidewalk. Cigarettes and paint and powder and hair are stuck on their heads.
Three-hundred and ninety, three-hundred and ninety-one.
Hall Street is crowded, even when empty of cars.
Four-hundred and two, four-hundred and three, four-hundred and four.
The truck rolls back into park.
“Thanks for the ride”
My keys grow tangled and mischievous.
In my car I look out the passenger-side window. I see the pale gray glow of the moon. I press up against the glass. My pockets are empty.
I Want to Paint my Walls Green
Army drab green, you know, the pale, faded, yuck green. Tent green, filing cabinet green, baby food green.
And I want to tile my floor with one foot by one foot gray tiles. A nice slate gray with black grout so’s not to show untidiness.
And I would put up my mounted bass directly above the head board so I might press its red button and be entertained. I’d talk to my mounted bass. I’d tell him about the movie I saw or the girl I like. And he’d talk back. He’d claim he clashes with the color I picked out for the room. He would sing and flap against the board.
And if my walls were green I would be more apt to caring for my one sea monkey. I don’t know if its Liam or Naomi who last died, but if my walls were green I would find a new mate for the survivor.
After my walls are painted green, I will talk to my sea monkey. Sometimes I will call it Liam and encourage it to play with the floating crystals. Other times I will call it Naomi and cry that it will never again have passionate, unbridled, sea monkey love and produce illegitimate sea monkey babies.
And when my walls are green, I will be positive Naomi had babies even though it will only be dust and parts of dead Liam.
I won’t use my mini electric fan when my walls are painted army drab green. I will read books and take down the old American flag, hanging: like it used to on the Richard Riess.
When Authors Title Their Chapters
The grass was a bright yellowy-green, or as Crayola might have christened it “Green-Yellow”, I would have called it “water after boiling broccoli. A few sparse spots were blue with thirst and grew wide stiff blades.
Three ants struggled from the tight grassy development onto the sidewalk: two of them towards a spit of apple, the other onto my index finger.
I searched for the energy to begin Chapter Three. A large “3” engulfing one third of the page marked the start of another section of the story I strived to surpass.
But there was no pull, there was no “I wonder what will happen next!”
I let the gray ant down on top of the black three; I closed the cover.
Thrust and Parry
For two weeks before the seventeenth I refused to shave. I stocked up on eye patches and red bandanas. We bought a large plastic cooler, and three bags of Pirate’s Booty™ popcorn, and two bars of Turkish delight.
My eyes just wouldn’t close the sixteenth; my mind just wouldn’t slow down and fade to gray. I cursed my restlessness and tossed about my sheets much like a sailboat on the bay. My testicles were hot and miserable and the mini fan- I still use to this day- blew hot air on my damp forehead.
I tried to dream, though. I imagined sitting in my car with my eyes fully opened and my naked foot transferring human energy to the Sundance.
I imagined launching the antique boat into Long Lake before the sun caught up and begged to come along. Me, Nick and Captain Adam would idle the ship, so’s none of the fishermen could feel the wake, out and far to Long Island.
I imagined the smell of long dead plants. I would probably lick the air and bite the musk, such was my pattern. And I imagined my water pistol filled with vinegar and my ears filled with the lyrics, “Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late…”
Ah but there will be islands to plunder!! That large one families picnic on! Olson Island, where, as legend has it, people once brought rocks by the thousands and earned wages of a dollar a rock. Or even that really small island with steep sandy banks.
I imagined the women, disgusted by our malicious lifestyles yet intrigued and aroused by our masculine attributes and extreme wealth. With a ship our size we would have room for two women.
I imagined them overweight and ugly, married to weak men with equally bulging features. They were an easy ‘nap. We will feed their husbands to the lake’s quivering, empty belly.
Two rotations of a small hand later I was in my Sundance with my eyes fully open and my naked foot transferring human energy to the automobile. Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late.
Girls Don’t Play Fair
From Chicago to Cadillac I rode in the stiff front seat of the red church van. Everyone fought over the red van. It was newer, cleaner, and transported only the coolest senior high church kids, and PR.
I read my Neon Bible, and ate candy and broke my whoopee cushion. PR would often interrupt my reading but eventually the boy killed the preacher and rode the train into a sunset. Having completed both books I brought on the trip, I shimmied and wriggled across three rows of gray bench seats and collapsed wheezing in Libby and Sarah’s thigh shelves.
I regained consciousness as the girls and I were apparently about to enjoy some little girl games. I often wonder why my life would be like if the predictions of seventeen-year-old girls rang true.
When I’ve had my twenty-eighth birthday, I will have already been married for ten months. Each morning I will stretch my arms above the headboard and lean to my left and kiss my much older wife. Her first husband died two years ago, and she lost the “Decision 2008” to a Clinton. That winter I swept her off her feet and we courted for a year, traveling the world before marriage.
We bought a penthouse overlooking Madrid and three Spanish orphans, me and my wife Elizabeth Dole Sobolewski. On my days off from the subway conducting job, I play my mandolin and taste my wife’s kiss, hear my wife’s political speeches, touch my wife’s back, smell my wife’s love, and then, watch my wife die.
I punched Libby’s arm and crumpled the paper with my future projected so accurately. Girls don’t play fair.
Where the Street Bubbles
So here I lay with toothpaste covering my bumps and redness. My chest is rounded but my arms and legs are straight and thin. Thinking fills my head, resting on an awkward pillow. I replay the entire evening on the blank screen inside my skull. I cheer and applaud the protagonist and when it is over I watch the credits list all of the friends I enjoyed that evening. I gripe about the film, though. It wasn’t supposed to end like that!
She is my friend and would be leaving for college soon. Questions scroll across the marquee: “How come I feel like this now?” and “Why not before?” Regardless of the questions, the answer remains the same. I feel altered. The emotion is familiar, but when did I feel such joy, such elation, such rapture? I begin to peruse my past in hopes of finding a day of similar bliss. I was not supposed to fall in love. I was not supposed to go to bed feeling the way I did.
I feel much like I did on those humid August mornings where my only alarm was the golden beams bounding though my window. They would hop and dance through the leaves, and smother me with warmth. Eventually my blue eyes would rise to a world filled to the brim with the glowing yellow of God’s love.
During a syrupy breakfast the birds in the trees sang their arias, the crickets fiddled their sonatas, and the moths beat their wings to the cadence of nibbling caterpillars. The morning doves cooed; the grass rustled and hummed. I felt all of creation calling out to me, drawing me out to the paradise that surrounded my house.
On the front step the wind left an aura of manure and sweet corn. I took in the sweet mixture and held it in my nose as long as I could. It sent a message to my six year old brain, run! But I wanted to fight that gesture, I wanted to watch the melody and breathe the harmony. Wet grass clung to my feet; deep blue air stuck in my tiny rounded chest and made me run.
But as I lay in bed, I searched for excuses. I am older now; I am taller. Those signals of happiness that make me move are long gone. Air does not curve my lips and sun does not brighten my eyes, so why did she?
I was charming all night. At the sushi bar I was droll and courteous. Once her eyes lighted up and her teeth were glowing, I wanted nothing more than to preserve that beautiful face. After our meal of uncooked fish and vegetables, the horns called out to us.
Solid walls of brass smacked our faces inside the doors of the hall. I took off our wet jackets, from the soft rain coming down outside, and led her into a jungle full of screaming DOO-EEEs and SKIBBELDEE-BOPS. The trumpets slapped my back and shouted Dance! I checked courtesy at the door and swung her around. We stamped our feet and hopped through the crowd.
When we tired, I took her home and we played games on the carpet and turned on a movie. Eruptions of thoughts stuck inside my head. Was I watching the movie? My arm wrapped itself around her shoulder. My eyes watched the movie while I concealed my futile falling. As the tasteless film rolled on to credits, my eyes shifted from the blue glowing screen to the sampaquita beside me. I was in love.
My eyes grew large and eager as I thrust a pillow at her head, and then another across her back as she squealed and retreated. I did not feel lust or desires, just love. We struggled on the floor, immaturely wrestling. Her atmosphere stuck in my rounded chest and made me hungry.
On the porch I waited for silence. The moon lit her hair like silver threads shining. The moist muddy puddles in her eyes reflected my imminent gloom. I wanted to touch her, but her tongue continued producing chortles of contentment and appreciation. My arms hugged her, but I wanted to kiss her. She was my cigarettes and chocolate milk. I told her I would see her in a couple months. On the front step she left her aura of regret and jasmine.
Now, folded inside my bed, I watch the credits roll and wait for sleep. But my brain isn’t ready yet, he keeps replaying the evening. Commenting. I search the recesses of my mind for the switch that fades out thoughts; it’s too cluttered.
Back on those hot August days, I would peel the wet grass off my feet and wait for noon. All day long the sun would grind the street with intense dazzling rays. The grass beyond the tics of the sprinkler bowed to the vigor of the sun. Sometimes I would find ants or beetles underneath limp dogwood leaves on those hot August days. As I waited for the most scorching hour of the day I would bang rocks or search for sticks.
When that hour came, I would squat in the dust beside the road with a stick. My blue, glowing eyes would flutter about the street searching for the object of a six-year-old’s affection. The tar bubbled up between gravel and stone, it would ooze about the cracks. I was in love. My hands thrust a stick into the climax of an expanding bubble of tar. The eruptions of oily fumes stuck in my little rounded chest and made me happy.
I Want to Make Friends with an Overweight Leprechaun
Not just any overweight leprechaun, but the one who works at Olson’s as a cashier. He wears a glittery green vest and a derby and a sword through his ear. He is awfully grisly looking and drives a motorcycle to work.
When I make friends with the overweight leprechaun we will visit kitten farms and he will want to eat the big ones. After I explain they are pregnant, he will want one even more. We will travel across the state on his motorcycle and I will convince him to by a sidecar.
When I make friends with the overweight leprechaun that runs the sixth register at Olson’s Food Market, I will be a trickster. I will buy day old jelly donuts from Kathy at register two. I will place one on his normal sized bike seat and wait to see him place is extremely large bottom on the extremely messy treat.
On sunny Thursdays we will go out on Captain Adam’s boat and plunder Long Lake. And Captain Adam will make him sit on the left side of the boat while the cooler, the gas tanks, the Captain and I all sit on the right.
When I make friends with the overweight leprechaun I will buy the weekly world news instead of reading it in line. And I will get a matching sword through my ear.
I will persuade my lucky elephantine friend to not wear the ugly buttons-he made them at the community center- with pictures of his obese family and friends. He won’t wear the glittery green vest either. And Kathy at register two will ask him out for dinner in her rough emphezymic voice.
When I make friends with the corpulent leprechaun I will gain some weight and grow a beard. And my sisters will tell me to cut it off.
I Need to Control my Racial Slurs
Well it’s not like I want to offend my Puerto Rican, Korean, Irish, Guatemalan, or German friends, but hell! I do it just the same.
Anyone born south of the border is labeled Mexican in my head. They speak “Mexican” and eat “beans and rice.” I try not to drink the water at these homes. So it crushes me to hear, “I’m Puerto Rican. I speak Spanish. Not “Mexican.”
Ouch, strike one.
And Black People. I had a very white friend in seventh grade that had black people hair. I recently was scolded for recollecting that Brian Purdy had black people hair.
My Korean friend was beautiful that night she dropped me off at the front door. I waited for her to shut up so I could touch her. My arms hugged her good bye but I wanted to kiss her. She was my cigarettes and chocolate milk. I said, “See ya in a couple months!”
Strike three; My Asian weakness dragged behind me as I scuffled toward the dugout.
Gone and banished before I could comment of the Irish or Germans or All of Europe for that matter. What a bunch of flaming liberal tree hugger, whale saver, baby killers. But maybe that’s why a scrawny Pollock like me wound up in a melting pot like this.
All for an Avocado
I wish my life was like television. Not the attractive but broken, wealthy family with a large house in California with a single mom who dates younger guys despite her children’s sabotage. No, I want the features of television included in my life. More, I want the elaborate plots and storylines and settings. My life would be so much more than produce shopping for a sibling.
I recently went out and bought an avocado for my sister. On my way back from the store I imagined my television life in the same scenario.
I offered to run the errand for my sister. I imagined walking in the house with THREE DAYS LATER in a plain white font down around my waist. I would be covered with dirt. Foliage would be tangled in my dusty hair. My cheek would have a crusted gash across it. My pants would be torn. One had would be clutching my broken ribs and the other would slam down the perfect avocado onto the counter. And I would say only this before stomping up towards the bathroom, “Here’s your damn avocado right here!”
The credits would roll.
The Man Watching from the Base of the Mosquito River
My eyes stopped helping me read and ran across the beach then right, toward the stone slabs and rock formations. I saw the two younger hikers hopping water and climbing rock. (I had seen them earlier in the day when they started out from Chapel Rock. I had greeted them and then hobbled down the sandy banks to the beach. Had I stayed close I might have heard the one in the white had accuse me of homosexuality, and the taller one explain that I was just nice.)
I watched them take off their shoes and socks. The boy with the white hat removed his shirt without moving his Indians cap.
I struggled to entertain my mind with written story but my eyes rebelled in the presence of abundant natural beauty. I surveyed the horizon.
I now saw them sucking on fat cigars and slapping bare feet on the wet stone. I saw them blow the smoke- spit the taste. They were arguing, but I couldn’t hear that it was about whether nicotine was a stimulant or a depressant. I couldn’t hear the tall one complain about blisters and his feet. The boy in the white hat burned his fingers on the last few drags of the stubby ashes and flicked the butt into Lake Superior.
I regained control of mine eyes and glanced down at the page. It was one third blank besides a large black three. I closed the cover.
With an Argentinean Accent
When I returned from my backpacking trip with Captain Adam in the Upper Peninsula, I saw a big puddle of ardor and splashed my way in. I welcomed infatuation. I tried my hand at match making and I avoided a thirsty Pisces. And the girl I chased relented and time was spent and words were few.
She was so milky and slender, eccentric yet mild. Her laugh soothed my cochleae. Her skin was always cold to the touch and I wanted nothing more than to rub her hands and arms warm. I remember the last thing she said before I retired that night. “Try to say/hear everything with an Argentinean accent”
She was an equestrian.
I Only Lift One Seat
But its ok, I have good aim. I once believed I could fill over one thousand thimbles without one spatter hitting the ground. Unfortunately fluid waste is the only thing my hands aim perfectly. Sports. Yeah, I know my capabilities. But hell! Unless it’s long fleshy and pissing, I don’t even try.
The Drakes Take on Termites
I didn’t know that the name next to calculus meant anything more than professor. Drake.
I didn’t know where my class was. I didn’t know calculus. But, more, I didn’t know that five letter word meant The Drake -the man who spent more than half his life in universities studying calculus, physics, chemistry, nuclear physics, biology, biochemistry, and even entomology.
On Louisiana, Thus spoke The Drake:
“Now in the state of Louisiana there are many stretches of flat land. Highway 413 runs straight due south. County road 676 is a straight road that rungs directly into 413 at a 40.2o angle.
“Now, on 413 is the town of Swampsville and on 676 lays the community of Gatortown. The folks in these two towns had a huge problem. In between the towns was a gator swamp so the only way to get from either town was to drive 110 miles on 676 and 73 miles on 413. The major problem was that Swampsville made the best beer in the state, while Gatortown made the best gator burgers.
“So to have a good Friday night, the fellahs would have to get their burgers down in Gatortown, then drive 183 miles to Swampsville and buy the beer. Swamp beer, the good stuff.
“Your job is to find out where they should build the bridge between the two towns, the length of the bridge, and most importantly the angle between 676 and the new bridge.”
He waited for us to finish scribbling in our fresh notebooks with new thick, inky pens. I scratched the problem on the back of my Freshmen Comp. syllabus with a borrowed pencil. The Drake waited for silence and continued only to amuse himself.
“The angle is most important. The angle. Because of the way they make bridges in Louisiana, the angle is critical. When that first dozer starts pushing earth into the swamp he needs to be going straight towards Swampville. He pushes dirt, pushes dirt, pushes dirt. Then he runs out and sinks to the bottom of the swamp. Then they get another dozer to come and push dirt, push dirt, until he sinks.
“So as you can tell, its very expensive work building bridges over swamps. The answers need to be exact on this problem; the social lives of the poor townsfolk of Gatortown and Swamps Ville depend on your work.”
I woke up when he stopped talking; I broke the lead in the borrowed pencil. But The Drake was far from being done amusing himself.
On Termites, Thus spoke The Drake:
“Termites are very dumb. Termites don’t have big brains. But they can be very useful tools in math. Termites march in straight lines, see, that’s what they do. So if ever you need a distance between two points measured, go get a termite. Set him down in ink, and then have him march a straight line from point A to point B.
“Now, if you know the stride of a termite you’re all set. Just count the number of steps he took. Sometimes you might have to trim the legs so the stride is perfect. Termites: useful in measuring, but dumb as hell!”
I smiled and my insides laughed. Termites… Dumb as hell…
September Eleventh Made Me Sick
While most of the nation prayed to their gods and lit candles and set fireworks, I drove to work. The banners were pasted all over town, on buildings and cars, on shirts and hats. Red, white, and blue.
I felt the acids in my stomach climb towards the freedom inspired by the flags. A group of silver haired ladies toured the fire department. Each one had a hand bag or hat or fanny pack with the popular color combination. My eyes winced in pain.
I greeted my favorite eighty-year-old when I got to work. She moved here after World War Two, desperate to leave behind memories of nazis and death.
“Where’s your red and your white and your blue?” I asked her, surprised at the pink sweatshirt.
“I already loved this country.”
Ping Pong Offerings
The Japanese man was very tall and thin. He wore skinny glasses and skinny pants. His shoes were scrupulous and his faded yellow shirt was smudged with integrity. Mr. Wagner spit out two numbers and hit the white plastic ball at the Japanese man.
Mr. Wagner had forgotten to shave again; his wife was out of town. He wore an inside out gray undershirt and maroon sweatpants. His little pointed teeth were ever-present through the huffs and pants. He envied his Japanese friend. Mr. Nakosumi was especially quick with his little wooden paddle.
Mr. Wagner knew the Japanese were comfortable with ping pong; He watched television. He knew the Japanese had small houses with small cars and small offices and small hotel rooms because of their small, overpopulated country. He also knew that they had smaller games. In Japan, Ping Pong was the little version of tennis. Thinking about this made him smile and forget about losing.
Mr. Nakosumi, single and tall, bent way down to his shoes, untied the double knots, and retied them. He waited for his friend to chase the ball. He watched it roll behind the stairs that led up toward the kitchen.
Mike fell to his knees and slid his furry arm under the stairs. He was embarrassed that the ball had gotten away from him. When he stood, sweeping dust off his maroon pants, he motioned for Mr. Nakosumi to open a new package of balls.
The Chinese Pirate Dagger
The cloudy pink and blue and green gems grew white and powdery. Rust ate their fasteners. It ate the carvings of dragons and vines and the rings looped with worn leather; it was so greedy, so hungry. The handle crooked to fit four tight miniature fingers; the silver rubbed brightest where sweaty digits once nervously gripped. Outside of the ornamented sheath, it was pitiful and corroded and brown. It wiggled in its footings and chipped in use.
The blade once lived on a ship. It stabbed admirals, cut salt pork, picked rotting teeth, and pointed the way towards plunder and maliciousness. Now, above the merchant marine licenses, it hangs pointing toward the pink shirts and swim trunks hanging on the line in the basement, points towards the gray card table with bowed legs.
The Kerzen Haus
“Some has flowers and some has cats and some has dogs and some has candles and some are praying.” I knew she was talking about the stone carved figures by Demdaco, but oh how much her words felt prophetic. The young girl played with the little stone angels and spoke words that would mean, I was almost positive, something completely different later in my life. “Some has flowers, huh?” I asked the bored little girl.
Her mother laid brown table cloths and taupe runners and cocoa placemats on the sales counter. She was shorthaired and efficient, probably liberal. “I’m not done yet; I’m still looking.” She retorted, as I walked behind the register. The woman looked at the wooden spoons and then at the whisks.
“So,” I asked the little girl, “d’you have one of these?” I pointed to the stone angel holding the cat; she was favoring it the most. “Do you have a kitten?”
Her eyes lit up and she shouted “No, I have one of these!”(Little girls often don’t know their volume controls.) She laughed. How obvious! I was silly for even asking! She picked up the angel with a candle and, holding it close to her pink ruffled chest, she began to sing an indecipherable song in which occasionally sprung forth the word angel.
“’s not mine, she’s my husband’s” the woman explained. “’s got quite the imagination; come on Kaylee. I’m ready, thank you.” She said assuming I was ready. “These runners, do they come without the fringe?” Taupe fringeless runners were the most important thing to her, more important than chocolate placemats and wooden spoons, more important than Kaylee. She set the girl up on the counter and followed me down a step to the cloths.
I tightened my jaw and, sensing the desperation in her voice, frantically searched the cellophane packages for the woman’s joy. After producing it, she gave me a check and a renewed sense of self worth.
I smiled at the quirk of fate. Here I was, sliding this woman’s proudest accomplishment into a paper sac. That morning I had slid one of my own proudest accomplishments into a paper sac. A self-made corned beef and pastrami sandwich with spinach, Muenster, deli mustard and cucumber on healthnut bread. I had even wrapped it in wax paper. Soon enough, I would slide that out of the sac and partake in self reliance.
“Okay Hun, go put the angel back on the shelf where you found it.” She set Kaylee on the carpet and sent her off, running.
“What do you suppose it all means?” I asked the woman.
She was puzzled.
“What your daughter said,” I clarified. “‘Some has flowers and some has cats and some has dogs and some has candles and some are praying.’ I mean besides the stone models; what do you think it means?” I was mystified. It had to mean something else. It had to.
“I don’t know; zip up your coat; is everything in the bag?–thank you.” She took the little girl’s sleeve and the heavy door closed fast and hard. I was left alone to consider the tiny daughter’s insight. I took out a thick inky pen and wrote those words on a card. “This will be valuable information someday,” I defended my hand’s actions to my head.
The backroom lunch table is covered in pictures. Always the happy moments in the employees’ lives: weddings, births, brunch parties, families, and pets. I unfold the wax paper on top a series of wedding photos. I set my soda can on top a man holding a koala. Out of my wallet comes the card. “…Some has candles…” I whisper, covering me and my happy sisters with the card. It’s a bad picture; we look emaciated and pale. With sandwich in my mouth, my front teeth cutting and my back teeth grinding, I watch the pictures on the table. There are more on the new, black filing cabinet in front of me. Some pictures are taped to the back door and still others are in large collages, framed above the water cooler and microwave. So many people have sat in this exact same spot, cutting their lunch with front teeth and grinding it with back teeth.
Everyone is connected, everyone related. Behind me the growth of a family is charted. Pink girls with flowers and feathered bangs hold cakes or boys’ anxious palms. I smile at Brenda’s mammoth St. Bernard sleeping with a kitten, her infant grandson with long, filing-cabinet-black hair. Underneath my brown paper sac is the final stage of the rising family. I see John, venerable yet enigmatic. I think about John, established and cautious, passing the flame to a faceless hand.
“…Some has candles,” I read from the card, “and some are praying.” All the faces taped up on walls or pressed under glass listen; they light their candles and live their lives. They light their candles and mourn. So many lives connected through one building. Some have youth and some have friends and some have lovers, but all of us have candles.
“…And some are praying.”
As the Son of a Son of a Sailor
I never was a big fan of ships or boats. Growing up I had friends who dreamed of having the same career as their fathers. I dreamed of what my father’s career was. I had the basics down. Dad goes away and lives on a ship. Several months later he comes home and we go fishing, or hunting, or down to visit grandma. So whatever it was my father did, it must have been important. He was gone long periods of time, and checks were sent to the house. Sometimes my sisters and I would miss him and want him home to tickle us or drive us to school. Other times we would blush with embarrassment riding to school in his corroded Oldsmobile. (He eventually gave the heap away)
But while he was gone earning money and providing for his family, we grew tall and skinny and wealthy and fatherless. I knew what it was like to have a two-fifths dad: A dad who lived at home, but not all the time. A dad who always loved me, but he sometimes was to far away for me to sense love. I grew through elementary and junior high and high school. I read lots of books about heroes and crooks and I learned much from both of their styles. I was the man of the house. I represented the masculine authority, bestowed unto me by my father upon his departures. “Remember, Jeff, you’re the man of the house. Watch out for them womenfolk. Keep them in line.” I foolishly accepted the quest.
I Foolishly Accepted the Quest
Donna Sutherland sat at her computer in the old wooden chair. Her husband said it was an antique; she said it was a piece of shit. The back was long broken and since glued. It rocked with her typing. The farther her fingers stretched from the safety of “d” and “k” the more her crumbling chair swayed. With each extension towards “p” or “b” she would contemplate her diet. True, she was fairly bottom heavy. She probably carried the most extra weight of all the women in her investment club. But why shouldn’t she be? She was the richest! And all those other women sure kept their noses awfully close to her caboose.
Controlling the Pet Population
What is the purpose in conception? My dog is pregnant. All I can think is, “why me?” I should have been more cautious. I should have protected her. The problem is I just don’t think I’m ready at this stage in my life to take care of puppies. So the big question is looming before my bitch’s girth: what do I do with the puppies?
I don’t want to worry that those who adopt them will be vile or injurious to the ever so vulnerable pups. It would be down right wicked to bring puppies into a world where food is scarce and homes are few. And what about the mother? She is much too young to enter the world of parenthood. She has her whole life ahead of her; puppies would mess everything up. So much for a future as a working dog. So much for a fun, active future brimming with self-enjoyment.
I’m not sure how I feel about the solution pressed by the family of the father. I’m not sure how I feel about the validity of the procedure. I’m not sure if the scissors in the tiny puppy skull is moral. I am sure, however, that the procedure is perfectly legal until the pups leave the womb. It has to be…
Detroit, Rock City
After the Member’s Credit Union, I rode in the aqua minivan next to Craig. Our conversations ere littered with conservative propaganda, numerous puns, and an over-enunciated ass. The pleasant surprise of the afternoon was actually “riding” in the van. Craig never volunteered to drive. Craig never drove. Also, Craig never volunteered.
The array of small speakers throughout the aqua van sang tinny Scorpions and an even more scratchy Joplin tune. I wondered how so many bad singers became popular.
Craig didn’t know, and offered to put in Tom Petty or Jimmy Buffet.
In the driveway I fumbled my keys and they hid amongst the yellow leaves. “Trees litter more in one season than most people do in their whole life!” Craig mused himself and kicked a maple. He waited for me to respond, agree, support; I searched the piles of nature’s rubbish, kicking and frustrated, for my keys.
Craig watched me search the yellow leaves. “Then, I’ve cleaned up a lot of litter in my life.” I retorted, watching Craig smile contently.
He mumbled monotonically the only known lyrics to Detroit Rock City which, as it happens, were “Detroit, Rock City!”
“Hell!” I shouted half at the song, half at the elusive keys. I kicked a tree.
“Are you sure you dropped them?”
The Day I Found Out Cat Stevens isn’t as Popular as I Had Hoped
Dust. Hair and skin and fuzz. My teacher says dust is mostly parts of meteors, but I don’t believe her. Why would a mass of rock travel millions of years just for me to inhale in my sleep? That’s why I sleep with my mouth closed; dust is fine and all, but I just don’t want to wake up with meteorites stuck to my teeth and lungs.
My alarm clock is dusty. It’s a windshield lightly covered with snow before school. When I wake up, Beep Beep Beep: Snow driving, avoiding the windshield. Not headlights approaching, rather the green numbers. 8:15. Damn, my weak morning arm struggles to support a heavy hand up, over, down on the snooze button.
I pour a bowl of Cream of Wheat. Dust. Tasteless, dirty, dust, just add milk. The dust absorb milk and grow fat and capitalistic.
How much for your bowl of hot cereal? Is it worth it? Where’s the profit?