So your asking yourself a very good question at this moment. Let me set the scene.
Your sitting there asking yourself this really relevant question. Its precient, its timely, its relevant to the matter close at hand, its this: What is this guy doing in my living room, and how do I get him to go away?
Its that look in the eye. That detached calculation that a person makes just after they fail to register your name for the 3rd time in a throw-away conversation... how do I get through this without using your name... man?
I don't have a difficult name, it isn't tough to pronounce, it doesn't sound like anything obscene or off color. It's not the kind of name that makes you wonder if my siblings are Blue Flower, Rainbow, and Ravi Shankar. Its the kind of name that looks over at a slightly shorter female version of itself and says: this is my sister Amanda. And yet I have endless trouble with it.
I can't say it. I try. I remember the year, the month, the day that they instituted the benighted: "you aint paying 3.85 for a triple late unless we get some personal references" policy. I say my name. What was that? Repeat it, speak slowly, these people are high on caffeine, they're confused, erratic, their teeth are grinding in rythm with the bean-machine. "What was that?"
They write it on the cup. It is mispelled. The mispelling is ludicrous. Unbelievable. Impossible in English, and unlikely even in acrobatic Dutch (they love there coffee too). They ask me if they got it right. Yes, I say, spot on. It was perfect, I find nothing unussual about starting a word with three consonants. Nothing at all unussual about that. I have always been an atrocious speller after all, and I can hardly judge them. It was my own name that got me started on the road to lexiconical despair, and eventual dissolutionment.
Yes it all began back, way back in the year 1985. Reagan was president, my parents were happy, televisions had 13 channels ( a condition which persisted in our household for many years after), and I was their second child, their bouncing baby boy.
I apparently spent the majority of my time lounging in a kitchen cabinet. I feel that it's likely this was my idea, as I still like the comfort of a well stocked kitchen. Down in the cookie cutters and the wire wisks, I was king of my domain, and I controlled all the factors of production. It was a socialist kitchen, and I was in firm control of the use of any and all spoons I could hold in my underpants all at once. I feel that this is not far off from my view of socialism today, and I can't help but thank my parents for teaching me that lesson early in life. The rigors of tough spoon control can be taxing to the spirit, and I soon capitulated to the will of the people to eat soup. I prefered applesauce. These were the trappings of power.
When I was 3 I began to play piano. Not seriously, I was an Abstract Artist, a young Bela Bartok. I was the co-captain of the accidentals and the proponent of the whole tone cluster effect. I learned pentatonics very early on, unfortunately for my family. I booked wedding gigs and played the baby grand with my outstretched index fingers. My music was highly enthusiastic, and I enjoyed the brief celebrity of an unusually gutsy, if untalented toddler. This did not last. Sadly I lost touch with my adoring public and quit my concert career, nearly before it had really begun. I feared that the demands placed upon me as a performer would destroy my art as a musican. I put my reduction of "Auld lang Syne" into permanent piano bench storage, and said goodbye to the all too critical world for nearly 15 years.
Sadly what remained of my nesteg was foolishly squandered on a form of torture my parents called "Karate Classes," but which I termed: the Rhitan Death Kata. My father monitered my tv habits more closely for years afterward. I blamed the Commies, and Jimmie Carter for giving away the Panama Canal, and my parents took away my "Bloom County" anthology. I was a disciple without a prophet to follow. I began to read fervently through an anthology of Gary Larsen's "Far Side," which became the basis for my worldview. This possibly explains quite alot, my preocupation with cows and talking snakes being not the least of my idiosyncrasies. It was the talking snake which first did intice eve to taste of the forbidden fruit, but when I pointed out the connection in Sunday school, no-one was properly amused.
Gentle reader, please consult next week's addition to the saga of the boy with no name. Until such time.... adiue gentle reader, adiue.
The codex of the boy, sans name. Part II. The Reformation.
Snakes shouldn't be able to wear glasses because they have no noses. Its the same reason snakes don't look good in ties- where do you fasten a tie if you're all neck? These thoughts that crowded my consciousness as I looked at a family of snakes surrounding a table, with a pile of hamsters in the middle. Would a snake like to eat at a table? I believed that the obvious contradiction in this was what made Gary Larsen a genius. Are we the tricky, shifty snakes eating from the table of some far more equipt creature, never realizing how ridiculous we all look with our silly insistance on a plate of hamsters, served, oh just so?
My last name, although certainly more concrete, and far more conservative than the first, did present its fair share of early life difficulties. It was around my kindergarten year when a popular set of kids books, the kind that doesn't actually require reading, or intelligence, to enjoy, began to find its way beneath the tanenbaums of my friends and neighbors. This was not a coincidence.
The man, dressed absurdly, insultingly, in red and white stripes with a knit cap (even in the delightful African Sahara scene, men being eaten by lyons in the periphery), and sporting a brown cane could be seen ambling through scenes of our history, and the modern world. Like all tourists he was constantly lost, and ridiculously equipped with goggles, tourist guides, snorkel, flippers, and a large towel, (the only usefull part of the ensemble). He was constantly losing these things along with books, and his hippie wizard friend, (blame the commies), and imposing on the reader to find these items for him. He never once learned his lesson, nor dressed appropriately to the season or occassion, his red and white stripes flipping the fashion bird to every ancient Egyptian pyramid, and every lunar dome in the year 3,000, which he chanced to be visiting. He was always at a slight remove from the unfolding scene, the look on his pale bespectacled face (though he too, had no nose), a combination of slight surpise, and emmense stupidity. If I were to venture a guess today, I'd say he was suffering from permanent hallucinogenic phsycosis. His gate and manner always seemed to suggest that he took no concerned notice of the 800 samurai warrriors performing surgery on each other in the next grotto over. He was a paragon of stoned, disinterested virtue. This man's name, silly, and oddball as it was, may have been the most regretted coincidence of my young life.
"Is your first name where's?" they wispered it and said "I found you!" You know my first name, I told it to you, I spelled it for you... oh never mind.
My father was born a lawyer. He grew up in a house with a pool, in one of those 50's single floor dwellings in Fresno California, where the air is redilent with the smell of slowly smoldering grass. I grew up in the hilly and twisty slopes at the outskirts of San Francisco, where one expects the typical house to be hanging by a rope and pulley system from a more than sheer cliff, its base ostensibly supported by a mass of spider like legs sinking into the sandy ground. Our house actally had a bottom, we were the lucky few, and we played hockey in the street in front of the house. The street overlooked a viny, wet, brambly canyon, and every day the ball would skip merilly down, way down, at least once, into the depths of a dry creek bed which could only be reached after whole minutes of bushwacking. I once lost a basketball down this canyon, and didn't find it again for 6 years, in which time I had blown a christmas present on its superior replacement. I was appalled at the shody workmanship, and the fact that the honored ball had probably cost my parents about 3 dollars at the grocery store. I hadn't even thought to ask for a new one when my first had vanished.
The rule in my house was: Once something is broken, that thing becomes the broken version of itself. The "flat ball," was our version of a football. It was flat though, had been for a long time, and there was no hope of a replacement. My mother commiserated with me over the death of my special NFL edition synthetic leather football. The air tube had burst, and when my mother suggested that ther must be some service for replacing such air tubes inside childrens replicated NFL footballs, I knew that all hope was lost. "Fixing" something for my parents meant relieving the symptoms, not treating the infection. My trike axle broke, and my father took it away to "fix it." I realized years later that he had put it on his cobwebbed work bench for a few weeks, and quietly binned it one night, after it had been a while since I had asked for a repairs update.
He promised one year, in a fleeting moment of giddiness that he would build us a tree house. In the end we settled for a couple of those wooden pallets that come loaded with firewood, or which are carried around by forklifts at Costco. We hauled these to a kind of mini-precipise in the hill behind our house. We also scavenged a couple of wooden rings and a few feet of rope from an Exploratorium "explore your constructive side" give-away. These we tied to trees to fashion a pathetic typle of hand swing. Later I would hear at school that since my dad was a lawyer in San Francisco, we must be rich. I never questioned this, assuming the unlucky kids didn't get wood pallets.
Yes, once a thing was broken, that was that. "The tv that doesn't change channels" was kept around the house for years. It was very good at what we needed it to do, which was to stay reliably, resolutely and dependably fixed on that one channel. Then they expanded the cable selection in the early 90s and channel 18 no longer offered McGuyver and the other exciting programming coming from USA at that time. The TV enjoyed a brief "Russian Shopping Network TV," place in our lives, but the novelty palled, and the tv was sold, yes SOLD at a yard sale. What russian shopping addict bought it and how much they paid, is lost to the sands of time.
Later I would learn to help my father with fixing things. By help I mean I would either do it, or tell him it wasn't worth doing. I did manage to save the new Habachi grill from becoming "The habachi grill in peices in the cardboard box," However I never really managed to convince him that the Apple computer really did work, but that you had to turn on the screen seperately. Lately the stereo he bought in 1973 has become, crackly stereo in the living room. He argues that he paid good money for this set, and it was the best on they had in the store; he had paid good money for it, and he wasn't going to go out and replace it with just anything. Months later I realized that he meant he wasn't going to go out and replace it. Period. My parents continue to enjoy evenings of Crackly Peter Paul and Mary, Crackly Best of Classical Music, and Crackly Joan Biez. I believe that my father has convinced himself that this is the natural order of things. He is accepting of the entropy in his life. His body gets old, his wife gets old, his house gets old, and his children leave him to explore exciting college careers in faraway cities and states. His stereo gets old, but it is the nicest stereo he has ever owned, and if it wants to crackle, there is very little my father will have to say about that.
Until next time Gentle Readers.... Adiue
Posts: 9658 | Registered: Nov 2005
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(Actually, I got the second installment much more than the first, and enjoyed it quite a bit.)
You and I haven't had the best history, but you don't seem to be going after me anymore, and, who knows, maybe I have stopped doing whatever it was that pissed you off. In any case, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones if you are.
Congratulations on the thousandth post. I hope you continue to find Hatrack a worthwhile place, and that it contributes to you as you contribute to it.
Posts: 13668 | Registered: Mar 2002
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Like I told you, I don't have a memory for grudges. People are people, all I see are my own mistakes dealing with them... so yeah- sounds fine to me! Thanks for the feedback
Posts: 9658 | Registered: Nov 2005
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A tallish man standing at a checkered window, the bright sun reflecting and dancing in his light brown hair, just short enough to stick out from about his ears. The light dances and sparkles in his hair as he turns to face me, stepping forward. His head blocks the glare, and his face is suddenly alive with color. "Please allow me to introduce myself. I am your spirit guide."
We are standing on a gold course. The tallish man is holding out a pitching wedge. "40 meters to the flag." I swing.
The hammer strikes the nail squarely and the board is in place. Glancing up from my work at the windowsill, I see my spirit guide approaching me with two bottles in his outstretched hand. I take one of them, and between sips of the cold beer, I set the final nail in its place. "Its a fine house," he says, and I drive the nail down.
The hammer strikes the string, and my fingers play slowly along the length of a bright, clean keyboard. Notes rise as if unbidden from the heart of the piano, splashing from the roof, rolling up the walls and into the seats. I glance at my spirit guide; he has a violin in his hands. A lull, and he begins to play a long sustained note, rising as if from dark and complete silence.
I start at the sound of the alarm and strike out at it blindly until it stops its wailing. Pulling on my clothes, I stumble into the bleak grey morning and into the waiting passenger seat of a small car. My spirit guide puts the car into gear.
I'm sitting in a classroom, when a girl two rows ahead turns her head to talk to a neighbor. I see her in profile against the harsh light of the room, and she catches me staring. I knock my pen onto the floor, and an arm reaches down to pick it up and hand it to me.
I take the pen and begin to write.
These are the moments I remember. They are the unconcious moments in which I was human, and my body functioned in harmony with every spirit and every object in the universe, "tuned, to resonate with my desires." In these moments, I was not thinking, but swimming in the current of a huge slow river. Everything I did was perfect, everything I saw was vibrant and alive.
At the end of a long life, maybe there will only be these dusty memories of perfection to make me believe that it was all worth it, that it was all like this. That at every second of every day there is someone somewhere who is existing in a moment which will last forever. Such moments are like doors opening into bright rooms where friendly spirit guides await us.