Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Whitney Houston and My Homophobic Four Minutes and a Half.





Nearly twenty-five years ago I was a brand new employee in an office whose next least senior person had been there seven years. That was the downside. The upside was after about six months I knew more than he did. His name was Denny Howell but he had the nickname Den Ho, even though he wasn’t remotely Asian. The guy who ran the office explained to me that Denny meant well and he had a good heart, but intelligence wasn’t his strong suit, and he had a really wicked bad memory. He once forgot why he had driven an hour away to another office and simply drove back, happily oblivious to the parts he was supposed to deliver.

Denny’s biggest problem was he had gotten involved with a woman who was draining his wallet as well as his soul. She was a bar fly he had met while with a friend watching a football game in a bar, and after that she realized she could “borrow” money from Den Ho without ever having to pay it back. She moved in with him, talked him out of the keys to his truck, and he would have to bum a ride to work on this mornings she hadn’t come home yet. Any excuse she offered was good enough by Den Ho. The people at work gave up on it all when she told him she was pregnant and the baby was his. The fact she was still married to someone else kept them from legally being wed, but he signed the birth certificate and so at least by law, Den Ho had a son. And he did love that boy with all his heart.

It did not take long for the mother of the child to return to her wandering ways, and she left the baby with Den Ho, and that was fine. Father and son bonded. After six years of an off again off again relationship she moved out and moved in with another man. And she got a lawyer to take sole possession of the child.

The lawyering stuff happened right after I realized that I was going to get a promotion before Den Ho did, and he had been there for over seven years. Everyone agreed not to mention it around him, but one day someone congratulated me and Den Ho was standing right there. He took the hit like a true champion, and to this very day has never uttered a word against me for it. I could tell it hurt, and it hurt worse that people he had known for a very long time had hid it from him.

Maybe it was that, maybe it was the fact that he really wanted to prove to me that he was okay with me getting promoted over him, and he wanted to share his life with me, to allow me to see it wasn’t a bad person at all, I have no idea, but a couple of days later we were out in the company truck, in my hometown, downtown, at lunch, and the Whitney Houston song, “I will always love you” came on and he pulled over and parked the truck and told me that every time he heard this song it reminded him of that woman and no matter how she acted he would always love her. So he started to sing, loud, off key and horribly, in public, with me sitting in the same truck, and the only thing I could think is, “Oh My Dog, people with think he’s singing to me.” And for the next four minutes and a half, or whatever it is, I felt like getting out of the truck and simply walking away. 

Shortly after that, the woman in question went off on a beach trip with a couple of friends and they ran out of beer. So they pretended to have a gun to steal some beer and the guy behind the counter had a real gun. There were drugs found in her purse and she wound up getting sentenced to a couple of years in jail for her part in the deal. For the first time in a very long time, Denny Howell was a free man. He changed jobs, got sole custody of the little boy he always called his own, and one day met a woman who sat him down and told him that he was a wonderful father and he had a beautiful soul, but he was the worst cook on earth. (He was, seriously) They got married and pretty much really did live happily ever after. Den Ho is a grandfather now, and the woman he left behind, well, she never did show up again.

We live in a world where men aren’t supposed to be emotionally supportive of other men, especially when a Whitney Houston song is being played, and sang, and I have always wondered what would have happened if I had just started singing with him.





Take Care,
Mike

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Serial Killer/Sex Slave White Van and Me.




 

I went to buy dogfood for the first time since the second week in December of last year. I bought enough so I wouldn’t have to face the crowds and the madness of Christmas, and finally, it’s thinned out enough I don’t feel like I’m walking around in an insane asylum being operated by the patients, who come and go as they please. All in all, with any sort of luck at the checkouts, “Unexpected item in bagging area, would you like to use your own bag, please wait for assistance” nevermind. I can get out in less than ten minutes, or twenty, depending on traffic. I get a huge bag of mutt food, some soy milk, and I’m heading for home but two women, both older than me by about ten years, nearly push their buggy into mine. They’re buying a case of beer. They are Alabama fans, and suddenly, we’re besties because they just know I want to talk football with them “That Saban he’s a genius and The Tide is unstoppable this year” I tell them even though I haven’t watched the first college game this year. I can talk football about nearly any team playing the sport at any level and still sound like I know what I’m talking about even if I have no idea what team they’re in love with.

The parking lot while sparsely populated, has far too many people who seem to be aimless and unconscious. Christmas is over. It’s done. But they’re returned to the scene of the crime in order to try to reignite that feeling of purpose the commercials gave them for the last six months of advertising for Christmas. The employees seem shell shocked, traumatized, and demoralized. It’s over and they know it, but they’re putting out decorations for Valentine’s Day, and getting ready for the big Fourth of July sale.

I’m listening classical music and as I hit the last traffic light out of town and back towards home I realize that I may be able to get home in just two songs. It’s a good twenty-two minutes back but these are pieces of music that were put together to enrapture an audience’s hearts and minds for more than three minutes and a half. There’s a Cheshire Cat moon smiling at me and the road is empty, more or less. Violins sing to me as I put distance and time to good use.

There a vehicle ahead of me, and I find it odd that I’m gaining on it. I’m riding fifty-five and usually that means I’m the slowest person on the road. I move to pass the vehicle and it’s a panel van, one of the white ones, that people associate with serial killers. It’s more or less one of those things that’s morphed into an Urban Legend but at the same time, I cannot help but wonder about who is driving this thing and why. But the van speeds up as I try to pass it. I slow down and the van slows down. There’s a car coming up fast behind us so I drop my speed to see how the van drive reacts to faster traffic.

Oddly, the van driver speeds up as the faster car tries to pass him. We’re on a four-lane highway. There’s room for everyone here, but the van driver doesn’t want to be passed. I speed up because these two are going to get out of sight before long, if they keep this up. But the car takes a left and now the van driver slows down. He’s driving at about fifty-seven miles an hour, just fast enough to slowly pull away from me, but at odd intervals he hits his brakes. Unicorns, maybe? Floaters? Who knows? I do know that as long as I keep this guy in front of me I won’t have to worry about him.

I wonder what or who, this guy is got in the van. Odd isn’t it? I assume it’s a male driving, and I’ve been preconditioned to think of white vans as rolling crime scenes. As weird as my life might be, at least I don’t have the same nightmares as women. You never hear about guys being kidnapped and used as sex slaves. A woman has that fear, and it isn’t an unreal fear in some part of the world and this country, that a man might take her away from the life she knows to chain her up and use her until he decides to kill her. Young women from Asia get sold off to monsters in this country who use them as prostitutes, moving them in white vans, from one place to another, and their lives are consumed by the idea that they’re alive only to bring in money for sex. Men never have these sorts of nightmares. Men are these nightmares.

It’s not impossible, you know, for there to be women chained together in that van, being taken to their next destination, without any sort of hope of rescue, and they do not realize that half a mile away is someone who can sense, somehow, they are there, but thinks it’s just imagination, or hallucination, that these thoughts occur. Prostitutes, whether forced into it through brutality or the lack of any other opportunity, have historically been non-people as far as society and law enforcement goes. Serial killers have targeted these women simply because we as a society care less for them than we would a woman kidnapped out of her home or place or study. They will not see the dreams of having children of their own and a family to raise and care for actualized. They will be beaten if they become pregnant or maybe even killed. Abortion is a work requirement for these women. Their reproductive organs, if they become fertile, are a hindrance to the men who have enslaved these women.

The van pulls away and into the night. Some guy who operates a rolling repair shop, or someone who is moving a friend to another home likely realizes that their choice of vehicles causes these thoughts in other people, but maybe someone just needed a van, and it just happened to be white.

It does happen, I suppose.

Take Care,
Mike


Friday, December 23, 2016

Only Two More Hatin' Days to Christmas!





One of the less obvious downsides to Christmas is that, like a tinsel flotsam oozing through the gutters filled with eggnog despair, it chases the bored and restless retirees back to their previous employers like rats being herded out of their holes by a flood of sewage. These exact words are spoken to me by a friend who was trying to work today but a guy who retired five years ago, who sat in the same desk as my friend, returned like the Ghost of Christmas past, to reveal what this guy is going to be like if he retires.

I don’t have enough negative thoughts about Christmas so someone loans me some of their own, and even though I figure I have enough to share, now I have even more. Apparently the retired, and if you say the word correctly it sounds like they are tired again, has a very few conversations he repeats, much like my Christmas rants; if you’ve heard a half dozen of them you’ve heard them all, but Christmas keeps happening, and I find it hard to ignore.

One of the things this guy wants to do is go buy a bushel of oysters and eat them while drinking beer. He likes Mexican beer, and always forgets the name. He will pause, waiting for suggestions, then slowly walk through the aisles in his mind, Dos Equis, Corona… and then ten minutes later it will surface, but in the meantime, he will channel Forrest Gump and go through the different ways to cook oysters, but he likes them raw. Then comes the conversation of what to put on raw oysters, and by that time my friend realizes he’s trapped at his desk in a one-sided conversation from which there is no escape unless this man dies of old age.

Tecate. That’s the name of the beer that finally surfaces, and so the conversation drifts back to beer.


Some people retire into an endless sea of time where all they can do is go from point a to point z during the day, aimlessly watching the minutes tick away as they go through a slow motion routine of trying to make a day of it. Christmas gives them an excuse to go back to where they once were needed and perhaps even useful, and reminisce about the day when they yearned to retire, and do this?

Some people have to work this weekend, Friday and then Saturday, and the Final Frenzy of waste and stress pick off the pitiful Black Friday survivors who have recovered enough to go back into the breach again. People are being too aggressive in traffic, knowing that if they’re in a bad wreck it will get them out of all this, subconsciously praying for some hospital stay that will last at least until December the 28th.  Perhaps they are secretly yearning for the sweet peace of Death herself, a darkness never-ending yet devoid in the void are the crammed shops of last minute buyers who are looking for something that might make it all worthwhile but cost less than fifty bucks.





There must be more. There must be something that glitters or speaks or pees or pukes or shines or computes or has hooves. Without this mythical object, at an appropriate price, life will be diminished and all of the frenetic activity and energy spent for the last month will be empty and wasted. There is no do over until next year and then if this Christmas goes bad there has to be something next year that will bring a commercial consumer redemption. The mall is full of temples dedicated to the act of redeeming coupons for Christmases Past and Lost Souls of Sales Missed.

“Ride, Boldly Ride, the Shade replied, if you would search for Eldorado!”


We’ve become intrepid explorers, in miniature form, like toy poodles descended from wild wolves. We no longer risk out lives for the newly discovered territories but some parking spot that’s in the same zip code as the Wal Mart we’re trying to invade. We no longer seek out new people to conquer but spend our time now looking for a sales associate to “go look in the back” to see if there is a chest of gold hidden away, no wait, a toy that is in style, yes, that is the mission now, go and see if there is one in the back, yes, why are you rolling your eyes at me?


Whereas once there were deaths of crewmembers and captains alike, killed by scurvy or natives or in storms or by sexually transmitted diseases found only in livestock, we now eat ourselves to death, consume too much fat and mythical glutens, and we will die by the score on the asphalt as we skid around as if tossed by tempest that killed sailors five hundred years ago.


I wonder, once there was blood spilled, and a small city laid to ash, put to the sword and torch, and what little valuables there were in gold or gems or slaves were taken, if the Conquistadors ever stopped and felt a sense of emptiness, a sense that perhaps what they were doing was not only wrong, but destructive in a manner that could not be undone or forgiven. And I wonder if the parents of kids, who are sitting in a pile of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, with new toys and shiny devices, yet who still look a little disappointed, as if in all the ripped paper and pulled boxes, It wasn’t found, I wonder, if these parents will think about the near slave labor in China used to make these toys, and the trees felled to make the paper, and the petroleum pumped from the ground them spewed into the air to go back and forth between a dozen stores, and I wonder if they will wonder at the true cost of celebrating the birth of a Savior who if he is going to save us from anything, then Christmas most surely will be at the top of the list?

Happy Holidays,
Mike