Why do people drive Hummers?
Every time I see one I want to don my keffiyah, pick up a fake RPG and have a little fun with the driver.
So sorry to burst the worthless ten-ton bubble you may be driving around in, but unless there is a war going on in the burb where you make your HQ, you have no excuse for driving a tank.
Tonight on the way home, just as Joe Strummer's voice rasps above the gentle guitar of 'Rebel Waltz' the cabin of my car is flooded by an intense and unnatural glow. I look into the rearview mirror and swear that I am being followed by an oil rig. I've never seen so many lights.
Is it a UFO? No such luck, it's a fucking Humvee.
Of course the little general driving it has to pass me. I am driving a small, sensible German car after all. I am the perfect target.
As the massive, bright yellow barge roars by me, I take notice of the driver. Our eyes meet in the darkness. I understand now, this is who drives a Hummer. The driver is none other than a very little man that I happened to toss out of the store I used to manage for shoplifting. He used to steal from our store because we "showed him great disrespect" by asking him not to park his goliath SUV in the handicapped space in front of our entranceway. A peculiar kink for a doctor.
Napoleon buries the gas pedal into the floorboard. Five and not-quite half a foot of coifed, whiter-than-white mighty maleness surges by. My VW shakes in his wake. Joe Strummer stutters.
The behemoth and it's tiny pilot position themselves in front of me. In a final act of subjugation I am force-fed the vanity plate.
It simply reads- "MINE"
Victor now leads the vanquished.
I wonder?, should little Dr. Stealmore have spent his new found wealth on a penile extension instead of a huge assault vehicle. At some point, he does have to park it and get out. What does he use for camouflage then?
I know it might sound judgmental when kingdad alleges a correlation between driving a Humvee and wielding an insignificant weapon.
But that's ok. I'm the king here.
Thanks to the gods for the Darvocet! It not only eases my pain, but affords me a well earned and greatly detached glimpse into the murky fishbowl of my ridiculous professional life.
I keep hoping that the drugs will strangle off my useless perfectionism, but so far no luck. The world still appears to be half empty and its inhabitants unfocused, uncaring and sloppy.
Outside of my door, there is not one piece of un-bruised fruit in my basket.
I sit through endless meetings and hours talking to freakish customers who are plagued by "god awful gas" and "recently acquired wheat allergies."
I sometimes wonder if one miligram more would enable me to dole out the much needed truth, "Gee Mrs. Crampyass, maybe the soy and the glutens aren't really the issue here, maybe you're just fucking nuts!"
What misdeed did I commit in my past life to justify being held hostage by the digestive disorders of strangers.
So hard to return to work after three days in the company of my family, but at least love makes the stench of my own problems smell like freshly opened gardenia blossoms after a day at work.
Just who and what are The Wiggles?
This was the burning issue at the park today.
A bunch of broken down old daddies get together every Wednesday. Usually we meet at the home of my brother-in-law, but today was just too beautiful to spend inside. The park where we met is in the center of the richest, whitest old neighborhood in the otherwise ruined ghetto-necropolis we call home.
As I expected, the grounds were full of leisurely lily-white young moms toting Prada diaper bags, wearing Italian sandals and talking on tiny flip phones while their poor old nannies and pedigreed brood tentatively interacted with rest of us. There is no avoiding us, it is a city park after all.
It didn’t take long to spot my crew. Big thrift-store sun glasses, low-top Chucks, goofy Bing Crosby golf hats and taped up travel mugs are the trappings of our caste.
I was greeted with, “Arrrgh! Ahoy there Captain Feathersword!”
Ok, I do wear a pirate-like red stocking cap, clogs, stripped socks and I look a little salt stained. But Capt. Feathersword?
Whose ass does Capt. Feathersword kiss to associate with The Wiggles? What service or substance does the shady purple plumed pirate provide to hold the esteem of our dear, ribald boys? Is he the keeper of dark career ruining knowledge?
I do not take this greeting lightly. It is a dubious honor.
As we discuss our fantasy image of The Wiggles –men that children adore and lonely mommies want to get busy with- we notice the nervous white tide receding around us.
We start singing Wiggles tunes, but with altered lyrics-
“Where’s Jeff? Is he on the nod? Where’s Jeff? Is he on top of your mom?…”
I won’t even get into our clever interpretations of “Wiggle Bay” and “Fruit Salad.”
We decide that perhaps The Wiggles are wanton debauchers of young interns, greedy tyrants, failed, angry drama school dropouts, drug-sucking home wreckers, savages cloaked in tight pants and primary colors. They are perma-erect Rolling Stones of children’s television.
As I look around at the now empty park I suspect that one day soon, our daughters and sons will not claim us.
Some people clutch St. Christopher medals. Some folks pray. Some get high, and more than a few 12 step it.
Me? I turn to my daughter when in need.
Ok, sometimes I down a bottle of wine too, and thanks to a bad back, Darvocet has recently donned shining armor and mounted his trusty steed Flexural to ride to my rescue.
But royal daughter is the truth, the way and the light for kingdad. Now matter how leaden my sky becomes, royal pixie breaks over the horizon, a golden mass of laughter and warmth and reminds me to shrug it off and keep walking.
Today has been one of those days when I have needed a reminder. I have been met with a pie in the face at every turn. A pie in the face has never been very funny to me- ever. Sorry Lucy, not even you could make it funny.
Thank you royal daughter for keeping Ma'at intact.
OK- I'm liking the poetry thing.
Once ruby red
In the mouth
In the hand
Like iodine tracing the unknown branches of the overburdened heart
Lanterns on the darkened shore
Strange sounds beyond the open window
A naked savage alphabet spoken into the musky neck of the moon
Our world is soft and heroic
Clever -always clever and grand
We are kings
We are drunkards
We are jackals
Licking our wounds outside of the city walls
We are thin strains of music hung in hot, dead air
Sand in empty pockets
We are sorry words, stagnant on the green tongue of the marshes
Ill words spoken in hunger and shadow
And now the gates are frozen shut
Lightening rolls endlessly into the quiet ground
I wrap your name in oilcloth
And carry it to the cliffs
I think of you and burn the fields
Still the rivers
I carry you in my overcoat like a postcard
Or a pistol
Ever wanted to take a peek into Purgatory? I got a glimpse today. I even got to go in for a tour. Here's what I saw-
The doctor has stiff sand colored hair. It marries well with the parchment paper hue of his tight, way-too-tan hide. The doctor smiles a lot. The word "buddy" keeps getting stuck in his pencil thin moustache as he absent mindedly glances at my chart. He wears a little gold pinky ring crowned with a diamond that doesn't really look at home in it's setting. His sockless feet curl back and forth in worn out Gucci loafers. You can tell that the good doctor smokes; even though his aftershave is doing it's very best to keep it secret. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a flask in the bulging pocket of his once-white coat.
He calls me "buddy" again.
"On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest and one being the lowest, what is your pain level buddy?"
I'm so happy that the doctor explained that ten holds a higher value than one. I could've had problems with this.
I think about the constant ache that has become my sidekick. "well sir, how about this- imagine that someone drove a railroad spike into your spine, and all day long they just kept tapping on it."
The doctor stares off into space for a moment. His jaundiced eyes finally come to rest on a heavily creased poster detailing children's ear infections. This is a strange thing to find in an office that deals exclusively with on the job injuries. I sense that a set dresser has been at work here.
"So buddy, would it be safe to say that your pain level is about a five, with five being in between one and ten?"
Before speaking I stop to count my fingers.
"No, I'd say that nine is a good place to start."
"Well, I'd say that you are in a fair amount of pain then, right buddy?"
I contemplate explaining that the word "fair" is closer to a "five" on the doctor's original scale, and that "the pain is almost goddamn unfucking bearable Doctor Leatherskin!" is much closer to what I'm thinking.
I decide to just nod and say, "Yes, I'm experiencing a fair amount of pain." I do not use the word "buddy" however.
I really wasn't ready to hear, "How would you describe the pain?"
Hmmm- "Well doctor, the pain, well it really fucking hurts!!!"
At this point the good Doctor Leatherskin must realize that he's overdue for his afternoon nip and smoke, because he just gets up and says, "How about that x-ray now buddy?" and then leaves the room. A miasma of Ralph Lauren, gin and ashtrays rise in his wake as he disappears in the darkened hallway, which is plastered with ear infection posters.
Doctor Leatherskin did give me this useful hint-
"Alcohol will intensify the effect of this drug buddy."
Thanks for the tip Doc, I'll try it
Sometimes when you have nothing to say, say nothing with a poem-
Highway culture circles left
Then left again
And back on itself
Stale air and French fry grease
Another tower squats above the broken tree tops
The light is burned out
A knob is missing
In the Glove Box
Maybe in the trunk this time
Cigarette butts and dirty Styrofoam cups
Out of phase
Speaking in tongues
Screams swim through the pale night-tides of static
"Someone saved my life tonight, should've they?"
There's that rattle again
The shoulder enclosure
The rainbow of diesel fuel in the puddle
The sun creeps across deer carcasses
Across beer bottles and "For Sale" signs
Bats circle black lazy-eights in the icy open mouth of sodium lamps
Billboards stab into the innocent green hillside
We roll into nothing
Pass unseen through buffet lines
We cross faded double lines
Tear through the white belly of early spring fogs
We cast no shadows
Our highbeam's cold whisper echoes in the ribcage of forgotten cornfields
Spent the day doing what I love to do best- playing outside with royal imp.
We planted our summer herb garden, danced to The Pogues, worshipped our giant golden benefactor and took a most delightful midday nap.
Now I'm up late, red wine in hand, back shooting sparks into my soul and Gorecki in the headset. I have a late-night Persian meal for the morrow in the making. The house is quiet and smells like cinnamon and freshly roasted coriander. I'm content.
If I died in my sleep I'd consider myself blessed as this most perfect of perfect days has come to an end.
I am always on the verge. Always flip-flopping on the doormat between worlds. I am forever looking forward, or backward. The present is an awfully hard place for me to dwell in.
For some reason, I need to feel perpetually in transit, to feel that there is a promise of something greater, something just beyond my reach, something meant for me to attain. It's a faint light luring me a little further down the path, a voice in the woods, singing to me, calling me to turn back..
I simply need to be more than I am. I have felt this way as long as I can remember. When all the other kids in elementary school dreamed of being firemen or nurses, I dreamed of being crowned pharaoh in dusty, hot Thebes, of being Keith Richards, of watching the lightening-white blossoms of siege guns peel the skin off of the frozen night sky on the outskirts of Stalingrad.
Not too shabby for a kid. Still, no offense to you Richard Wagner, but who wants to be Parsifal?
Underneath the swollen blue eye of the cloudless mid April heavens, a whirlwind of pollen whips into a phantom-green sheet in my wake. As I race my silver German chariot towards the left bank of you-know-where, I try to divine my true purpose. I drink lukewarm coffee and listen to Blixa Bargeld breathe the phrase, "They build a ship each winter time, for launch to sea, before the storm..." as I torture myself.
I torture myself on the way home too, but I listen to NPR then. It is always worse on that leg of the journey for some reason.
Is this really it?
Is the counter balance of my heart and soul to spend half of my life ordering and stocking "product?" Is it to be the go-to man for the mundane esoterics of culinary snobbery? Don't get me wrong, I'm awfully good at both, so don't invite me over to dinner and serve me corked wine and canned veggies!
If there is an afterlife, how will I dress the chalky whiteness of my daily life to capture the interest of the gods? What real value can really be attached to "the bottom line" after all?
My taste of the sweet life's nectar has been too short. I must offer my regal dependent better advice than I have received.
These last few days I spend an hour or two with the royal one in the loving heat of the sun before work. Each night I arrive home to a drowsy house, and before long the clock cracks it's angry red lash and screams, "lights out!"
I dream of a silvery hand swinging a most magnificent lantern, just beyond the last stand of tall Lebanon cedars in my ancient dream.
I always keep walking.
I'm not at all surprised. Royal daughter holds court gracefully. She really holds it too, visiting with each group of friends and family just long enough to make them feel special before moving on. People just seem to orbit around her, and she knows it.
A most shameless court-holder myself, I must confess, I am rather proud of my "royal pixie."
There are no tantrums at her party, no mad shouts of, "MINE! MINE! MINE!" She seems to be genuinely comfortable with the large group of people that are gathered to pay her tribute. I watch in awe as she milks it for all it is worth, tossing a few smiles here, a few there. Her face beams as she races from person to person.
Of course, this is a two year old that I'm referring to.
I suspect that it will only get worse.
About this time two years ago, I was trying to load up the family van in five minute intervals. After tossing in a bag, a pillow and whatever the hell else was on our "birthing list," I'd run back into the bedroom and sit beside poor, tired wife who was busy tossing all of our recently learned "birthing exercises" back into my face.
Kingdad- "Just relax and breathe, let's count the minutes between contractions..."
Poor, tired wife- "I don't want to fucking count! Just shut up for a minute. Don't squeeze my hand so hard..."
Kingdad- "Ok, just imagine a warm breeze... Would you like some lip balm?"
Poor, tired wife- "Lip balm?! What?! Just get me to the fucking hospital- NOW!"
Two years has really raced by, and we still use the same warm, loving language with one another.
Spend most of the evening cooking for royal daughter's birthday party. We are going to meet friends and family in the park tomorrow. How middle-aged of us. I cook a Persian feast for the royal birthday girl, show her all of the colorful dishes. She isn't really interested. A blue elephant squirt bottle commands all of her attention.
Wish I had something like that to distract me.
Today, my long sorry journey to you-know-where was lightened by the faint siren song of blossoming wisteria.
There are few things in nature that rival wisteria's mysterious scent. It's the smell of someone left on cotton sheets. A delicate impression on a pillow. It reaches into you, it reminds you of all of the lips that you have ever kissed, all of the secret charms that you have ever spoken into someone's ear in the warm spring darkness. It is the smell of youth, the smell of midnight, of a neck, of a love letter.
While the world is sunless and still, wisteria gently climbs into the naked open arches of the trees. It laces slowly through slight gaps in fences, wraps it's taut ringlets around the outstretched fingers of streetlights and powerlines. It traces drowsy, aromatic loops over the smooth sleeping skin of tin roofs. Clusters of pale lavender, peach, and seashell white blossoms hang from an open bodice of tender leaves and a wistful tangle of climbing earth-brown vines.
Like good loving, wisteria does it's best work at night.
I am late to get on the road to you-know-where, but whatever ill I have shouldered these last few days has been torn from me.
The window is down and the ambrosia-breath of wisteria is whispering in my ear.
Like a wraith, I am trapped between this place and that, belonging to neither.
I stand at the bottom of a well, looking upwards to an unreachable sun. The light creeps down just far enough to warm part of my face. It's just enough to keep me going, and yet it is a constant reminder of what I cannot reach.
Spend the morning with an unusually energized royal daughter. She will be two years old next week. I remember when she couldn't hold her head up, when her eyes were still narrow and cloudy. I remember her toothless grin, the day that she struggled to roll herself over. All of these memories and images careen in my work-weary head as royal daughter looks across the table at our one-eyed breakfast stealing cat and says with great panache, "Get down fuckin' kitty!"
She really has the kitty figured out.
I think to redirect her choice of words, but quickly concede to her wisdom.
We play in her imaginary kitchen after the eggs and toast vanish. She likes to make "green cookies" in her little oven, and of course she keeps the coffee flowing for me in her little tea cups.
At some point we both realize that it's time for kingdad to put on the work clothes, transforming from prince to pauper in mere minutes. "No work dada! Come on outside, no work!" Her tiny, warm hand pulls at my chef's coat. "Take it off dada!"
I am back in the well looking up again.
I carry the warmth of my daughter's voice with me, an amulet to protect me from the cool darkness and indifference of another workday.