Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Orphan Words, the Coffee House Singer, and Mind Chirps.




It’s a certainty at this point as if it wasn’t before. The finality is sinking it and I wish there was some mechanism in place would make this feel differently.
“…a verse and a verse and refrain.”

This is familiar territory. This is my old stomping grounds. This is my old neighborhood and the place I feel right at home. I am alone again.

Usually, there is a triggering event or something I can take away as an object lesson but I cannot track it down this time. It wasn’t something I said and honestly, the words that come out of my mouth sometimes are intellectual orphans. They are someone else’s thoughts I took in and cared for and when they jump the fence and go forth with my voice blaming me isn’t totally accurate. It’s another aspect of who I am, I suppose, to foster words and phrases and thoughts that are not entirely mine. A person cannot be a writer without some verbal baggage or whatever it is, like something getting stuck to the bottom of the shoes or the roof of the mouth. Where to store all of this stuff? Generally, I write down everything I hear that I like, a curious turn of a phrase, a nice sentence or a piece of one, but this is akin to feeding strays or offering some street urchin a loaf of bread, isn’t it? I was wrong to call them orphans. I’ve taken ownership. I’m responsible. Yet this time, I don’t think it was something I said. That sounds odd even to me.

So there I am, listening to a narrative about something that is real and mundane and yet important but the strays and beggars in my head are relentless. They would like a tiny, bit more space, and suddenly something I’ve said aloud seems more than just a little alien. There’s a whiff of another world in my words or perhaps it just sounds like someone in my voice, like a bad impersonation. It isn’t that I’ve said something wrong, or crazy, or hurtful, but it’s as if I’ve read aloud something that isn’t in the script. It’s like the speech pattern of people who have small children. Have you ever noticed that people with small children begin to speak to other people in that same tone of voice they use with their kids? This happens especially when they want someone to do something they know they ought to be doing anyway. Show me a woman with a five year old little boy and I’ll show you a woman an eyelash away from using the “mom voice” on her male co-workers. It’s effective as hell too because most men remember that tone and either respect it, remember it fondly, fear it, loathe it, or a little of it all, but they will react to it. So what happens when all things familiar leave a voice?

Get a bunch of guys in the same unit together, let’s say, of the Army, and you’ll find them all using “Green Speak” when talking to one another. That’s the common language of their branch of service with all its customs and idioms and slang. There’s a subculture with deep inside jokes that no civilian could possibly understand. I know that after I got out of the Army I went back after I couple of months to visit and could hardly understand the same guys I once lived with. The same goes for, at some level, for truck drivers, hospital workers, night shift people, and strippers, I would think.

Still with me? Do you see where someone’s environment drives how they speak with other members of that environment? Do you understand that once this begins to happen it will keep happening until accents and branches of other languages begin to appear and finally one group of people couldn’t understand the root language they began with. But it goes deeper than just speech because all of this begins with patterns of thought, with like patterns of thought, that is. More to the minutiae, who a person is can be totaled up from the sum of the parts of society; pop culture, television shows, popular songs ( call me maybe!), celebrity scandals, news reports, politics, religion, and a host of other ideas and thoughts and words and gestures that appear in front of people each day that give other humans a sort of intellectual echo locations of who someone else might be. A hundred billion different chirps of societal expectations and seven billion different sets of cultural bent ears are listening for the familiar and what they really want to hear, repetitively, please.

It’s the sort of sounds you’d hear right now if you were here with me in the place where I’m writing this; coffee being made, cell phones going off, email notifications coming through, the blonde in the white shirt speaking loudly, music from overhead speakers that just sort of blends everything together with everything else, the cosmic peanut butter to the jelly of the room creates a mini-universe for everyone in the room. People like things this way and if one person stood up and started singing, “Skating Away” by Jethro Tull then there would be anger, uncomfortableness, an inability to carry on, and some people might even leave. Even if the singer sang no louder than the blonde, what do you think people would think?


I don’t think it was something I said or something I did. Rather, it’s a form of social blindness, a certain degree of cultural oblivion-ness, it’s intercultural incompetence or perhaps the idea, that none of this stuff really matters to me as getting a sentence right. I think people can tell that I’m not tuned into what’s around me and worse, I flat don’t care about Honey-Boo-Boo. I don’t care about a lot of things that are human and chirpy and makes up the glue that holds us all together.

I think people can sense this. 

So here we are again. I’m going to buy a six pack on the way home and what you’ve been reading has to be edited and refined and the four letter word that keeps conjugating in my writing has to be transmogrified into some other word not legally recognized as the Californian favorite word. The cultural sonar around me fades and disappears as I think about how to write this, which is irony, you know. If you aren’t smiling now you didn’t get it. Damn, I was so hopeful.

This is my song in the coffee shop. This is for those minds that will hear me. I will warm my fingers by the warmth of the wreckage of my life, and I will set off to write once more.


Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Women







Women
November 20, 2008 






It may be said in truth in regard to women there is not much any man could say that might be considered truth, but I feel compelled for the attempt. In my life, all the men folk I have encountered were very much the same, and perhaps it is because I have known too few to make a comparison, but no matter be a man a poet, a drunk, a construction worker, or a president, there is a commonality amongst men that defines all of them to their gender. The women I have known in my life have been different. It is easy to define a woman by her trade, as it is men, be she a waitress, an artist, or a construction worker, but each and every woman I have ever known, there is some quality about her that defies explanation, definition, or description of any sort.



With men, the answer to who they are grows more clear each day, but with women the fog settles and lifts. The light within blinds and then grows dim, yet rarely burns steady on. To love a woman is to love this about them or it is to never love at all. To demand a woman not be this way is to demand of the moon to chose to be sliver or full, bright or dark, yellow or silver. To demand of a woman is much like making demands on the moon, a man can only hope his demand has guessed what it is she desired, and make believe his will bent her so.



The only common quality of the Sisterhood of women is that of magic. It is the magic to heal, to sooth, to excite, to silence, to confuse, to determine, and to bring forth in any man everything that might have ever been good in any man. Not for money, nor fame, nor glory, nor material gain, nor life itself will any man be shaken in the manner the love of a woman will fling him forth. No threat of death nor pain of torture would haunt a man more, or hurt a man worse than to lose the love a good woman. Not in this world, nor any other I have heard describe, is there any heaven greater than that found in the eyes of a woman I have loved.



No labyrinth of ancient fable, or dark cavern of deepest earth, or forgotten glyphs of forgotten civilizations have ever confused and befuddle me as a woman's silence. Like some incompetent wizard I have cast spell upon spell, words upon words, and effort upon effort at easing some woman's sudden refusal to converse with me. Perhaps it is the effort itself she sought, but if that is true I cannot say for certain. This day she is done with me, and all her actions say so, yet the sun comes up tomorrow and nothing was ever wrong.



There is much I might write in consideration of a woman's body for neither man nor nature has yet to match such beauty in any creation. If there is a sight more beautiful than a female human in natural nude I cannot speak of the experience of seeing such. There is no science of humankind that can describe the curves and lifting of a woman's breasts, the downward growth of her legs to Mother Earth, the eternal light and ice of her eyes, the purity in sculpture of her hips, and the absolute stunning grace of the body in her entirety that every woman in some way possesses in whole. Dance was invented with a woman's walk, I am sure, for there is such a rhythm that demands music. There is a grace in a woman's simple act of breathing that in and of itself, is enough to take the breath away from a man.



The only common quality of women is magic. Every woman I have loved, or sought to love, or even loved for only a very short time had this magic, yet I have never found that magic twice. Each woman arrives on this earth with something about her that total defines her as a sister to all women, yet a stranger to all men. No woman I have ever held, for ever how long I held her, did not first hold my heart in her hand, or at least her eyes. From my first kiss from a young girl to the last woman who set my world afire, there has not been one moment of my life when some woman did not, or could not, hold sway over me. In each and all of them, in women I have known, women I have loved, women I had gazed upon in distance, women I had read, watched, studied from the long dead past, and of those I will never know, I have in some way, worshipped them all.



Take Care,


Mike

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Fought the lawn and the Lawn Won: 7/13/14




I seek solace in exhaustion. I’m not going to drink my way through this, I know better than that, so working myself into a coma is the only thing I can think of doing. Dawn appears Saturday morning and the coffee is ready to go. It was a sleepless night but it was to be expected. Work gloves and long sleeves are the uniform of the day but curiously, I wear a tee shirt. There’s a reason I wear long sleeves, isn’t there? I begin with the low lying branches on the west side of my property and the vines that seek to invade the Oak trees there.

Thirteen years ago the Oak on the west side of the property were a sorry lot and they more or less stayed that way until I decided to unchain them from the vines that were strangling them.  I went in and hacked and hacked and then I hacked some more. Slowly, over the last few years, the vines have been in retreat and the Oaks are even more slowly beginning to gain some altitude. But I cannot let up, no, not even for one season. There are wild grape vines high in the upper branches of the Oaks and if I don’t get them down they will become ladders for next year’s vines to climb even higher. Vines climb upon their dead each year until there is a mass of dad and living vines that drag trees down. They’ll stunt or even outright kill young trees and they’ll damage the older ones.

I take down low hanging branches so the vines have to work harder to get up and it’s easier to get them back down. Some of the vines are so entwined with the Oaks’ limbs that I cannot do anything but nip them off as high as I can reach and cut them off as far down as I can find. There’s a million miles of vines on the fenceline and I wonder how many feet I’m going to manage today.  I pile the limbs I cut off and the vines I kill on the tarp and drag it all to the Fire Pit. I started at dawn and quit in the middle of the morning. It’s very hot and I am dehydrated. Insects have feasted on me where  my where my skin was exposed. Oh, yeah, long sleeves.

Second shift begins at three and I’m trying to clear the West Bank of the pond that creates the eastern most border of my property. A couple of years ago I started a fire that got bigger and badder than I wanted and it killed some of the young Oaks. It’s a bitch what happened and I hate it, but there is nothing to be done but try to start over again. There’s a few good trees started and there are some very small Oaks just getting up. I go in and clear out those who have no chance because they are too close to the older trees or because they’ve been damaged. There is a lot of dead wood to haul out and I pile it up on a tarp and haul it all to the Fire Pit. The day is winding down when I quit and I don’t have enough energy to get done all that I want to get done.

A storm brews up and slams into us near dark and it feels good. The cool wetness and intensity of the wind whipped rain is in sharp contrast of the stagnant humidity that has ruled the day. Oh, but wait, lightning strikes very close to us and the electricity goes off briefly. My computer shuts down and refuses to run again for about an hour. It’s back up but it’s running really, really, slowly. I may have to buy another or get this one fixed. It’s six years old so… By ten I’m on the bed listening to the storm slowly spend its last bit of energy in a very light rain. It feels good to be this tired.


Dawn, again, Sunday morning, and the old leaky espresso machine is asked to rise to the occasion once again. Exhaustion is already here and it’s a question as to whether or not it can be defeated by caffeine alone. Coffee has never failed before. Coffee is a fundamental part of living, like air, food, water, and writing. It’s one of the tenets of my religion. It’s proof of existence. Decaffeinated is the same as saying Satanic. This is not subject to debate.

I know I’m tried when I start trying to bargain with myself about how much I will do.  “Just do the front,” I tell myself, “and that will be enough!” “Wait and mow this week and it will be okay,” I say and wishful thinking begins to set in. “You don’t have to do all the extra stuff today, just mow the grass and be done with it!” But here’s the thing; I want to push more than just the mower today. I want to push myself.

It’s foggy and a little hard to see at six-forty-five, but I cannot wait. There are parts of this yard I could mow blind and the West Bank is so thick I won’t need light there. The first half hour is spent trying to keep the mower alive as I invade the thick underbrush that limits my ability to navigate on shores of the pond. The thick grass on the north end of the property takes another twenty minutes. By then the fog has lifted and the rest of the front yard awaits.

I’m ridiculously happy about my Zinnias. They came up and bloomed quickly and now the butterflies have discovered them again.  My tomatoes could be doing better but the pepper plants are rocking. Next year I’m expanding the garden and mowing less. I tell myself this each time I mow, you know.

The front yard is nearly done and I run out of gas. Refuel and keep going. I mow the back yard, part of the trail, the area around the Fire Pit and then I’m done. Really, and really and really done. I haven’t been this tired in years.

A man ought not drink when he feels so strongly he needs to or that he might have a reason to drink hard. But exhaustion is a drug that cannot be overdone. I think. Damn, I am so tired.

It feels good.


Take Care,

Mike

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lilith's Rescue Day: 2014




Our First Kiss




Today is the second anniversary of Lilith coming to join the pack here at Hickory Head. She was my first rescue that I actually went out and looked at on the internet. I wanted a girl dog and Lucas was supposed to be a girl dog but he turned out to be male and what was I going to do, order a canine gender reassignment? So Lucas became Lucas and after Bert died in April of 2012, I went shopping for a girl dog. Why a girl dog? I never had one before. My pack was always male and I had always been told that girl dogs were…different. I also wanted a Pit. So I decided to find a Girl Pit who needed a home. I decided to go online and look at BARC, the Brooks Area Rescue Center, who regular set up adoption events at Petsmart.

And that’s how I met Lilith.


I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like, as long as it wasn’t one of those tiny little yappy dogs who do shots of espresso in the morning before they go to lurk. But Lilith was an exceptional dog the first time I met her. She was smart, kind, shy, but she seemed to be there to find me as well as for me to find her. It was supposed to be a meeting but it turned into an adoption. An hour later I was driving home with both my first girl dog rescue and my first Pit Bull all in one!  

The boys back home loved her, kinda, sort of. Sam and Lucas both snuffled her relentlessly but Lilith didn’t seem to mind at all. She was a happy little girl who just wanted to have someone to tell her that it was okay. Lucas didn’t like having someone else around who was the center of attention so he spent the first three days skulking under the table. On the fourth day Lucas discovered that unlike Sam, who was aging, Lilith could play, and she could play hard.

An unending, nonstop, moving, messy, collision filled, game of bitey face began before dawn and ended well after lights out. Wild hippo noises broke out at odd times and it sounded very much as if they were killing one another. Lilith was tiny but she was also very sleek and very fast. Her innate Pit Bullness drove her full of energy across the yard or across the floor when playing with her much larger brother and she wore him out then wore him down. It was delightful to see Lucas playing with such tenderness with a much smaller dog. He had never had a puppy before in his life and was trying hard not to break it. But they played so well together and then they would lie together, bodies touching and worn out but souls united.  A bond unlike any I have ever seen between two dogs was forming in front of me.
 
The L Hounds had arrived as a team.

But there was the question of Lilith’s temperament. You may have to help me here because I’m not sure of the word I should use. Lilith wasn’t quite shy. She would come if I called her and she loved to be petted. But Lilith would stay by herself in the bedroom while we male denizens hung out in my office or the living room. I would go lie down on the floor with her and pet her just to make sure she was okay, and to make sure she knew she was valued. Lilith seemed to love the idea that I had come to hang out with her. I just couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t come hang out with us.

My theory is that Lilith was trained to sit in a crate all day. She had her place to stay and that was where she belonged. Lilith wasn’t ever let out to play or to wander around so she just didn’t know how to do so. I started calling her into the room whenever she was alone. At first she would come in, hang around for a while, then leave, but I kept trying to get her to stay. Eventually, I think she got the idea that she belonged with us and she would curl up in the corner and sleep.

You should do that, you know. You should go find your dog and just lie down beside her or him, and let that animal know you’ve come in just to visit and some pettings maybe, but you should seek them out at odd times. They love that. They like the idea that you miss them.

Now, here’s where I need a word. Lilith would, at first, come over to my chair, from behind, and tap it very quickly and very lightly with one paw and then look away. Was she being shy? To me, it seemed like she was being polite. Is that the right word? She seemed to be saying, “Excuse me sir, but if it isn’t too much trouble, when you find some time, could I be petted on a dog’s head, please?”
I would always stop and pet Lilith when she did this and she loved it. Any motion she made, no matter how small, was enough for me to stop what I was doing and encourage her. Come here, Girl Dog, come to me and be petted! Well, it final got to where she would approach my chair from the side and put a paw on the side of the chair and leave it there. What was even more fun was when she started to lick the back of my head having come up behind me while I was on the sofa. The sofa is free standing, not against a wall, and Lilith could sit and kiss my head while I was reading. Of course, I had to call her over to pet her or reach over the sofa, so Lilith felt comfortable, to the point of obsession, with this approach.

It took a while, but I finally got Lilith to jump up and put her front paws on my leg while I was writing. It was a lot easier to pet her from this position and Lilith acted as if she had just ascended the throne of heaven. She had to snuffle the keyboard and the mouse and she stared at the screen as if she wondered what the hell to make of all those symbols. But this took months. Oddly, when I tried to get Lilith to jump up on my leg she would usually move to the other side of the chair, regardless of which side she was on, she would move and then jump, as if she wanted me to have some sort of waiting period in case I changed my mind. I never did.

Finally, because it was getting cold, Lilith decided that she wanted to get up on the bed. Now, she wasn’t about to get on the bed because I asked her to, but she would get up on the bed after Lucas did, and she would sleep at his feet. There were times I didn’t know she was there. If I shifted too quickly in the night, or moved suddenly she would instantly leap off the bed and not come back up.

I kept trying. I wanted Lilith to feel totally comfortable with me and our home. Finally one night, in the middle of a really great sentence, a smallish Pibbilated Girl Dog nearly landed in my lap. Oh hai, I would like to be petted on a girl dog’s head, okay? It was a very exciting move for Lilith. She was testing waters she knew not how deep. But she got a lot of pettings even though one of her brothers, and I won’t mention any names, tried to head butt her away. Lillith had blossomed!

So now I get a Pibble Princess on my lap even when I don’t always want one. But I do stop to pet her. I want her to feel like this is contact she can seek out. Sometimes she wants out. She will hop up on me and then get down quickly if she wants out. Lilith is training me. Still, it’s amazing at how she perceives the area inside the house. When Lucas is on the bed she will sleep at his feet, not at my side, but sometimes she tries to steal his place. He usually tries to flatten her to get her to move and sometimes she just stays put. One night, Lucas was slow to get on the bed and Lilith deer-leaped around the room in three bounds then rocketed onto the bed and dove into Lucas’s spot before he could react.

Lilith loves to snuggle. She will get on the bed and wiggle around while lying next to me to make sure she is as close as possible. She likes keeping a paw on me or keeping her head pushed next to my body. Lilith seeks out contact now where once she wouldn’t stay in the same room with us. She’s slowly encroaching on Lucas’ territory but the battle is very friendly.

Lilith still likes her downtime away from us guys. She goes out in the morning and stays gone after Lucas and Sam return. She likes to lie in the sun while we guys are inside and I let Lilith do what Lilith likes. But I will hunt her down and pet her if she stays gone too long and maybe sometimes she’s waiting for that to happen, just so she can be sure I still will do it.

Maybe this is all projection on my part and dogs don’t really live like this or love like this. Maybe Lilith was just doing what she did and wasn’t really the most polite dog on earth. But she’s my dog now. That’s all that matters.

Oh, yeah, by the way, Girl Dogs? Totally different form of energy; my next may be another female! I may get another Pibble Princess!



Take Care,
Mike




Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Hear In The Dark. To See in the Noise.



Towards the end of her life my paternal grandmother suffered from severe audio hallucinations. Unable or unwilling to accept the fact that her mind was creating sounds, her mind then invented a narrative to go with the illusionary background noises. The results were a story that a family had moved into the attic and they came and went through a secret door. She believed this to be true so much to the point that anyone trying to talk her out of what her mind told her was part of the conspiracy. The people in the attic were biding their time and waiting to come out and take over.

The woman died peacefully in her sleep when she was 90. I say “peacefully” for it comforts me to think that she just fell asleep and never woke up again, but I have no idea what she thought she was seeing or hearing in her last moments. I can remember her calling me and whispering that the people in the attic were there again and I told her that no, no there was no one in the attic, and I called my father who once again went over to check. Sometimes I wonder if she invented the people in the attic so that someone would come to check, just to have some sort of interaction.

She called me one night just to talk and halfway through the conversation she realized that she had called twenty minutes earlier. I wasn’t going to say anything to her about it, and I think the fact that I didn’t say anything made it worse once she realized what she had done. I understand now that she must have wondered how many times it had happened before and I also wonder how many times she paused, hand over the phone, wondering if she had just spoken to me. It only happened the once, but how many times does a person have to know their brain had quit on them? Once a person reaches a certain age then age is only reason anything goes wrong anymore.

Right?


When I was a child I actively hallucinated. Objects, everyday things, and the periphery were all haunted by my inability to conceptualize reality the way that everyone around me did. Perception is an average, a mean, a medium, the sum of all perceptions divided by the number of people who happen to be there and that’s how we define what is real. If a group of people see something out of the ordinary they will discuss it until they come to a conclusion as to what they all saw. They vote on if they saw a bird or a plane but that doesn’t change what they saw or what anyone else might have seen.

Let a human being get off on their own and then that’s when things get either very weird or very real. Most people cannot handle being alone. I’ve always been a Hermit and as such, I’ve never had a support group for reality. I see things that I know that aren’t really there and it’s cool, I’m okay with it. I know what is “supposed” to be there and that helps, but I lack the touchstone most people have. Genetically speaking, I’m pretty much screwed. My father also had audio hallucinations.

My father heard music at night and that’s pretty common from what I understand of the phenomenon. My new ceiling fan makes a new noise and my brain translates this into music that is coming from the outside. But my father never looked inside for the source of strange sounds so he was constantly blaming someone else for the “noise”.  He started a petition drive in his neighborhood to get rid of the dogs that lived across the street. The dogs barked all night long, he claimed, but no one else heard them. Of course, seeing how there were seven Rottweilers you’d understand why his mind might take up the idea of large dogs making large noise, but that simply wasn’t the case. Evidence for a thing is not proof of a thing, you see.


Back when I was in my late twenties I was in love, very much in love, hopelessly and madly in love, with a woman whom I fit more tightly than a glove. In the very darkness night, without a light in the room, I awoke and for a second was disorientated. I was at her house, in her bed, but for an instant I couldn’t figure out which way the room was pointing. I stopped trying and listened; her breath was strong and deep in the dark. Her life was the only sensation in the room at the time. Her breathing was the sun and moon and the stars and the sky, the earth and the heavens, and she was mine. I remember waiting, hesitating, and then slowly putting my hand out to touch her, to test the waters of desire yet again, feeling that moment of realization, or excitement and passion, when she realized why she had been awaken, and by whom.

In the beginning I was told that I could not come over on a week night, because she had two sons and she was not going to entertain on school nights. Then she allowed me to come over in the middle of the week, but herded me out of the door right after dinner. There was a night when it was raining very hard and she let me stay on the sofa, but in the middle of the night appeared, undressed, to lead me into her bedroom. She fought against us both, her desire and me, and she very slowly lost. The night she allowed me to stay she tried desperately to maintain some sense of balance but the rising tide of passion engulfed her and it did me. Finally, at last, the sun rose one morning to find me still beside her and her sons awake. I took a step towards many things that morning and never really perceived any of them until it was far too late.


I can still remember the way her thigh felt under my hand that black night. Or can I? The memory is true, the night did happen, but how much of it is now tainted by time or a brain willing to commit forgery in the name of memory? If she doesn’t recall that night, or won’t, the majority does not exist, does it?


If you write fiction, or if you paint, or if you somehow create something from your mind that others can see, or cannot, you are operating in a minority position. To be accused of madness is the best you can expect from the rest of the world and even in that, you cannot hope or pray they will allow it only to go that far.

I have spent the better part of half a century alone. Easily discarded, often forgotten, and once again in the company of a species that is not my own, I can only offer you what I see, and hear, and touch. Now, after all these years, I can hear the sound of the wings of birds as they pass overhead. Surely, certainly not, I do not hear these feathers in the wind, for age creeps up upon me but I look up as my ears tell me there is sound and in the sky there are winged animals, be they pigeons or sparrows, I believe, that I can hear them.

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mullet Man And The Gnat Whisperer Floating Down the River Of Old Spice





I try not to be a judgmental person but there are certain times I have an involuntary reaction to someone else. To wit: I was driving down the highway on the way to a meeting when I saw a young man with a long Mullet Haircut, wearing a Rebel Flag tee shirt and a pair of cutoff jeans. He was also wearing flip flops and smoking a cigarette. This is Joe Dirt’s illegitimate son, Joe Dirt The Second, known to his friends as “Number Two”.  You see how I am? This guy could be a perfectly nice person and here I am fictionalizing his whole life simply because he looks like he would get kicked off of “Swamp People” for being a hick. Oh, and he also had a twelve pack of Natty Lite in one hand, clearly visible through the nearly transparent Mal-Wart bag.  That pretty much sealed it for Number Two running along as fiction in my mind. Do I need someone like this in a story? Hmmm.

So this is a meeting that is sure to be very quick because it’s an outside meeting and it is 97 degrees in the shade. Get out in the open and add ten to that. The fact there isn’t a breath of air and you now know how it feels when you begin to die. I like this kind of weather. It separates the people who really want to speak with me about things that are important to me from those who are just killing time. I’m hungry, really very hungry, and it’s still an hour before lunch. Maybe the end of the meeting and the beginning of lunch will occur at the same time.

Let’s revisit, shall we, my thoughts on being judgmental?

Being judgmental creates an internal support group. You know better than to start applying stereotypes to random people but you just did it. So, in your mind, you look for some sort of justification, don’t you? Oh, Mullet Man! He can’t get a job, he walks down the road, he’s too lazy to jog, he drinks Natty Lite cause it’s four for a dollar and bought that damn shirt from a man in the holler.

Yes, in my mind, I started trying to figure out if Mullet Man had a job and if he ever wondered if the way he looked might keep him from it. Then that little ditty broke out and I had to laugh, which made me feel bad…while I was grinning.

Okay, I pegged him as a racist slacker with substance abuse problems and genetic tendencies towards prison tattoos and sexually transmitted diseases as well as a Wal-Martian.

I know it’s wrong okay?

But I can see him tossing his hair like a quasi-male Paris Hilton as he walks through the door of the single wide holding the bag up for his woman to see. She’s just gotten the early pregnancy test back just in time to apply for her Learner’s Permit online as soon as her little sister gets off Match Dot Com.


Stop. It.



Anyway, there’s this business meeting and I could count the number of people who wanted to be out in direct sunlight. I didn’t but I always wear long sleeves and a wide brim hat. I’m ready for it to be 100 degrees and it’s only 97. The meeting, incredibly, resolves nothing, but there has to be another meeting. Then an Outsider shows up, right before the meeting ends, and this is a man created for a television movie. I can’t write fiction like this because no one will believe me, really. The wind changes direction and I realize that Karma has come to call and as always, I am not going to like it.

The man weighs about four hundred pounds, maybe more. He’s wearing a tee shirt that would be tight on me. It’s made out of the same fabric that the Incredible Hulk’s pants are made of because they never rip off of him either. Yeah, that shirt goes in a second but you gotta love a monster that wears pants all the time, really.

Old Spice. The Tee Shirt Titan is wearing Old Spice. No, to say the man is wearing Old Spice is like saying Tammy Faye wore make-up. It’s like saying Elton John wore a hat. It’s like saying Miley Cyrus wears trashy like a tattoo. Or a trashy tattoo. Or even a tattoo of trash, that wouldn’t surprise you know, which is a sad commentary…it’s caffeine that does this to me, I’ll be okay, really.

Old Spice. I have no idea if his little girls slung water balloons full of the stuff at him or if he fell into a vat of it in the factory, or oh please dog no, he self-applied willingly. That one thought dominates my mind. The smell dominates my nose. But then I notice the man has a following. A rather large following of the small follows the large. The man has attracted the largest swarm of gnats I have ever seen in my life.

Billions and billions.

This is a man not remotely involved in the meeting but rather just someone walked up and said, “Canna’ ask a question, maybe?”

Sure. Why not. What’s it going to hurt?

The man’s inanity was enough to kill at close range but then the gnats hit. By the hundreds, nay, by the thousands, then by the millions they flew in like loopy kamikazes without orange rising suns painted on their wings, because that would look weird.

Do you know gnats? Gnats are tiny flying insects who look like miniature houseflies. Imagine a house fly at about one-twentieth the size. They don’t sting or bite but they invade every orifice and they swarm around the human face. Ears, noses, the mouth and eyes are not safe. I tried snorting hard to get one out of my nose, we Southerners are experts at this, but two or three dove into my mouth as I spoke.

I could taste, I swear it, Old Spice.

You have no idea what was going through my head. Did I just devour three, four, a half dozen of these creatures that had dined on some part of…that? The thoughts of lunch left me as breakfast was threatening to do so literally. More and more of the flying spice spheres swarmed at me and I tried desperately not to speak or breathe or look. I could not get the taste out of my mouth or mind. I felt like puking.

I fled.

That’s what I get, you know. I fictionalize people because they make great stories sometimes and this is why it’s bad. Karma; that great equalizing force in the Universe stands ready to unleash justice at a whim.

I can’t eat. I swear I still taste Old Spice.


Take Care,

Mike