Saturday, April 29, 2006

And My Back Hurts and I Can't Stand This Office

Bear with me while I clear some cobwebs and beer from an anterior lobe. It's early morning and instead of rolling over on the cat, I'm here.

You, my loving audience. Both of you, though one I think is still asleep and the other is compiling Magazine Man's entries for months ending with a "y."

I hate to write even though I'm a writer. Another writer once said, wrote actually, that he'd rather back his car over the cat than write. I'm there with him. Not only do you have to dredge original material out of the large cavity you keep your mind and a spare housekey in (this is why I don't get through airport security in under two hours), you have to, in my case, try and make it interesting and above all funny.

Funny? The only funny thing at this hour is my neighbor walking a dog so small it compares to strolling with a self-propelled Swiffer. He doesn't get how silly he looks and, as he's much bigger than I and I have this thing about my teeth staying put, I ain't gonna tell him.

Writers make outstanding conversationalists. As in: "Um, yeah, mmmph. Whatever, lemme just figure out if I need a comma here." Add to that the need for all ten fingers to be stuck to the keyboard and you have a recipe for a LOT of itches that don't get scratched. But we keep at it because every once in a while words and ideas run through our heads that are so forceful and potent and interesting that we have to dump them somewhere on something or they get stuck in some dark cranial fold and the next thing you know you're talking to yourself in the fresh produce aisle of Wegman's. And you don't want to start blending in with vegetables, take my word on that.

So we write, and you read, or don't as the case may be. And we write some more and you visit the pages and come away with a fulfilment that can only come from the secure knowledge that you were smart enough to stick with engineering in college.

Blog writing. It's not just a job, its a way out of a Saturday morning hangover.

Bunny on.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What's That Got to Do with Anything?

Causality, linkage, logical relationships between seemingly unrelated things and events. I can stitch it all together in a heartbeat and I don't even work in the State Department.

You can blame the old man for that one. Well, you can blame him for a lot of things Like my insisting on drinking out of glasses instead of two liter soda bottles and then not wiping. Not that I still have issues. Well, Ok, I do. Thirty years on and I do. You try and make a Coke appetizing knowing you're pouring it over a heap of Dad goop around the mouth of the freaking bottle. Geez, I learned the potential of aggitating a carbonated beverage trying to shake soda out of the bottle, hopefully pouring it straight out of the center of the thing, not touching the plastic sides at all. My buddy handed me a water bottle during soccer practice last week and I almost projectile vomited on his coach's shirt such that it read "Upper Chowblow Athletic Residual Chunks."

But snatching corelation from the jaws of randomness is a talent Dad instilled me with simply by making me help him with his projects around the house. Like wallpapering the hallway. He loved to wallpaper and would extol its virtues over paint at dinner conversations. This is why I still have potato markings on my forehead from falling over asleep into the damn things. He also hated dirt. Any kind. Inside is inside and out is out and you could probably operate or construct microchips in our house given how clean he insisted it be. So every project, in this case, wallpaper, started with a good vacuuming, dusting, wall washing which led us to short out an outlet by getting it too wet. Which led to a circuit breaker tripping. Which led to the basement and the piles of laundry not done. Which led to the laundry being sorted into the two bins he constructed so as to relieve my mother of the burden of deciding white versus colored shirts ever again. And since these were the seventies, he could have further built the colored bin the size of a closet and left just enough room for a matchbook and what white laundry we owned. Even briefs had to be of the garishly tinted variety which may explain my shyness during gym. But now that the laundry sorting system was constructed, it was time to find a use for the patch of carpet he had cut up (trashing it is NOT an option) so we sought useful things like a padded underlay for the aquarium motor that was always vibrating and, yes, long as we're at it, we need to clean the aquarium. This is why two p.m. rolled around, we had been at it since eight, and not a postage square of paper had yet been introduced to the wall.

But it was all connected and one couldn't happen with the other.

The old man once took this to its apogee when building a pool in the backyard. Yeah, you heard me right. We built a pool. It was one of those above ground things you normally associate with trailer park communities. It was small, shallow and the neighborhood kiddies would turn it into an ersatz pisspot for a month while their in ground that we never got invited to was built.

Funny how the Volvo wound up in there eventually when we discovered the magic of beer in our teenage years.

But back to the construction of the tin box that doubled as a pool. It was just touching seventy degrees and the right kind of day that made a swim as tempting as Maureen was a few years later on. The parts for the pool were delivered and set out and sorted through. Clearly, it was time to start constructing. The first order of business was to dig a hole six inches deep that we would then fill with sand as the foundation of the thing. I brought a shovel. Dad brought an edger.

That was valuable turf there, boy. He took my shovel and wandered off to clean some of the pool parts Don't you go just digging it up. You edge out even squares of grass and we'll cut them out and place them on all the dead parts of the lawn around here.

And so it was, Sisyphean-like that I would edge out squares of lawn, Dad would load one on a wheelbarrow and wander around the yard, looking for just the right little muddy spot where grass refused in seven years to grow so he would dump it there and show nature a thing or two.

At this rate, we'll have a working pool by Thanksgiving.

We sold the house and pool a few years later. I understand that the folks that bought it had no use for an above ground footbath with a thyroid condition so they took the pool down and then bought several rolls of turf to cover the circle the thing left in their back yard. Dad would have harvested instead.

My projects have linkage. Taking down wallpaper means a bucket, a sponge, and water. Move the furniture and get to it. Blown circuits will get taken care of later unless they cut out the coffee maker. Oh, and I paint. Any printed on paper graphic that adorns my walls better have deep blue eyes and cleavage. No peonies and laurels here.

Bunny on.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quickly Backwards Please

Took a few years off my life this weekend.

Didn't smoke them.

Didn't drive in Boston.

Didn't find a new, younger woman. Although, if you're out there...

Nope, even though the last road race accurately recorded my address and sex, they erred in my age of 36. I wish. I'd still stand a chance. Nope, try adding eight years and you're there. Didn't run so fast that time moved backwards.

This weekend though, I was 12. All weekend long. Yep. You guessed it. Mom came to visit. Strap wooden blocks to my feet so I can drive and wipe my nose with nothing but a sleeve, I was back in the day when when light blue cords, new keds and some sort of collared velour top with a peace sign for a zipper fob was the latest fashion statement I could aspire to. And that statement was: "I don't buy my own clothing."

I do now. Brooks Brothers I'll have you know. Drive a car. Its paid for. Dutifully pay the mortgage on the knob and tube once a month and I've been known to date adult women.

This, of course, all melts away the moment she gets off the bus and wipes whatever it is she sees off the corner of your mouth. Thank the gods she didn't spit in her handkerchief. The old man did that to wipe my face and I'm convinced, polish chrome.

Nope, I'm back to being an annoying little shit that she pays for as we go to any commercial establishment. Almost chronically. I can't pick up a loaf of bread before she rushes over and says "I'll get that for you."

No. I'm really ok for cocktail wieners right now. You caught me in a morbid moment.

Mom is from New England. A small town near Providence. If you linger near her for more than 37 seconds, or ask her for the time of day, she'll tell you where she's from, how long she's lived there and what's on sale at the local Stop 'n' Shop. Oh, and that's my son over there, cowering behind the cocktail olives. Here's his complete history...

I'm surprised the phone hasn't rung yet. "Hi, you don't know me but I was on the southbound bus from Providence the other day and heard you're single and not dating."

Wouldn't hang up right away.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cheetahs Prosper

Is this Onstar?
OK, that's good. I've a bit of an issue with Onstar.
How's that?
Well, you know how they email you stuff about your car? You know, "Change your oil" or "check engine."
Yeah. You got one of those.
I did. It just said "ugly color."
So you called? Why?
It's Cheetah's birthday.
Who?Cheetah?The cat?
The chimp.
There's a chimp named cheetah?
Yeah. He was Tarzan's companion.
I thought Jane was.
She was. Cheetah was his sidekick. The world wasn't ready for Brokeback Jungle yet.
Like Tonto?
Brokeback or sidekick?
Sidekick. I don't want to know about what they did on the open range. Look, I grant you its lonely out there but haven' t they heard about masturbation? I mean geez, am I gonna have to worry about my next fishing trip?
Probably not. Anyway, its his birthday.
The cheetah?
Cheetah the chimpanzee. That's his stage name. Its really Murray.
You've got a cheetah named Murray?No, there's a chimp named Murray who played Cheetah on the Tarzan show. He's from Brighton Beach originally. Was doing a little musical number when the Tarzan show rolled into town.
How often does that happen? Is he Jewish?
From Brighton Beach? You meshuggena if he isn't.
How did he manage?
It wasn't easy. Anti semitism was running wild in, uh, the wild back then. Especially amongst the simians.
Isn't that the way it always is?
And keeping two sets of dishes? In a jungle canopy? The guy had guts. I'll say that. still does.
But the accent? I mean, from Brighton Beach and all.
Diction school. Even the lions had to go. They had the heaviest Kenyan lilt. Nobody knew what they were talking about until they ate a cameraman.
How old is he?
Seventy four.
Still married?
She drives him insane, he says, but yeah, he and Anita still have the condo in Weehauken.
Near the tunnel?
Fumes don't bother him, funny enough.
So what'd he do for his birthday?
Had a diet Coke and some bananas.
He's gone all mellow.
Jersey will do that to you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To Chigger Hollow

I passed through it without even knowing. There it is on a map that I'm looking at in the cold, antiseptic light of day. The same clarity that makes me realize my work has taken me to another dusty corner of America that some old shoe boxes with a chewed bubble gum collection are kept in.

Not that there's anything wrong with the place. It's quite pleasant with its Main Street furniture galleries, thrift shops, luncheonettes and no doubt farmer's brothels tucked off on some quiet back lane in a single story clapboard shotgun ranch.

Hey, farmers have needs too.

I once owned great tracts of land that the silly town (named after the biggest pompous ass that lived there and bullied his name on to the place) insisted I keep suburban lawn style clean cut and manicured because they still had a few more native species to drive out. So in compliance, I bought a big mofo lawn tractor that I used to ride for hours every weekend. Made me appreciate farming in that, if you pin your livelihood on driving a tractor in straight lines in the boiling sun day in and day out, hats off to you if you manage to keep your sanity. Hell, I cut the lawn and was chattering to myself like a neurotic howler monkey.

So I missed Chigger Hollow. It's just off the interstate and I bet they have a neat visitor's center. I've been to a lot of out of the way places in my life. Usually, it's work that gets me there. Bucksnort, TN was one of those places. Hey, it is home to the WORLD famous Bucksnort trout farm so don't kid yourself. I mean, Niagara Falls is only so much water over a cliff. Not something you can pan fry at the end of the day.

I've been to Versailles, KY a lot, too. Its very important to pronounce the place correctly. In France, the home of the original Versailles, you pronounce it "vair-siy" with a long "i" which translates from the French as "student protest and general strike." In Kentucky, the town is pronounced "vur-sayles" which can also be used as a request to "gig me another frog, willya?"

I had a friend hail from Opp, Alabama. She lives in New York City now because she "needed a place with syllables."

I've been to Dresden, TN. Why they named a place after a firebombed town is beyond me. Jim Thorpe, PA is another one. Nice place to bike but talk about getting your tourism plans all wrong. They should have named it "Come on up and stay awhile, most of us won't bite, PA"

Slaty Fork WV, Jersey Shore PA. All nice places with, like all places, mostly good folk doing the best they can in an unpretentious way.

Not like re-naming Hell's Kitchen, Clinton. But maybe there's more to that.

Me? I've always pined to be from Louisville.

Or should I say "Looahvil" Picture kind of reminds you of Cave Hill. Doesn't it?

Bunny on up the road.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

The computer's screen saver switches over to an electronically generated image of an astronaut space walking outside the international space station while the earth whizzes by below. The radio is playing Talking Heads "And She Was" and the unintentional choreography of the two has me running back to the kitchen to dig the last bit of no doubt surreptitiously placed hash on the pre packaged brownie I just called dessert.

Nope. Not to be. The Little Debbie people make a fine product that is fit for the entire family (in moderation) and the happenstance is entirely mine. I should have remembered a similar incident some years back. I had just bought my first new car. A foreign job VW that I was buzzing down the back roads of Pennsylvania on while on vacation at a B and B. I had a now defunct classical music station on and all of a sudden I was in a car commercial. My girlfriend was decked out in Donna Karan, I was handsome and composed, we lacked for nothing. Then I hit the main road, got stuck in traffic, went into a nicotine fit and she got bitchy looking for a bathroom that we were still miles away from.

Thanks Dr. Reality, I needed that.

But I didn't start this to talk about coincidence. I tried on line dating this week and I gotta tell you, this takes the cake.

I tried a popular, nationally advertised site. One that hooks you into a personality survey so long and involved it took me two nights to finish. I am not slow. But I'm also so not involved with myself that I get bored talking about me. I'd rather talk about you. But you never call, do you? Much less write.

This bunch of E-Yentas pride themselves on compatability. They trot out couple after successful couple, hooked into each other's arms, smiling like silly fools and telling the world how wonderful the other person is.

In other words, single guy hell. If I want that, I'll go to any mall in America. Hell, even the guys sitting under the anemic ficus outside J. Jill holding a handbag that clearly doesn't match their shoes are one up on me.

So I finish the personality survey, click enter, hold my breath. Apparently, an instantaneous email to my local psychiatric ward requesting a bed check has not gone out so there is hope. But I'm a realist. I don't expect page upon page of numbers to call with pictures to match like some perverse Sears catalog. No. I really expect a list of charges for membership depending upon participation levels that will give me reasons seventeen and twenty one why my ass isn't in front of a funky tequila laden drink in Key West somewhere.

But being The Caustic Bunny, I don't even get that.

I get an apology.


Happens every now and again.

You don't fit.

You don't match.

You are compatible with exactly, no one.

What the fuck?

Ok, look, this was a last resort. I've been trying. I've lost friends soliciting the numbers of the last single women they know. I'm pushing troubled marriages over the edge hoping to pick up a survivor or two. Hell, I don't know what I'm buying at the grocery store. I'm not watching the shelves.

But turned down by an on line dating service?

That's like a hooker saying no to the stack of century notes you're waving.

I was crushed.

But as we all know, today's tragedy is tomorrow's comedic fodder. After much discussion and reflection with my friend Dave I came up with the idea that I'm truly unique.

Just like everyone else.

But seriously. Think of the woman in my life. Anyone who can put up with me, that is to say, feign compatablity for a year has to consider having herself tested for exceptional ability and intelligence.

Either that or willable catatonia.

I'll pick up the dinner tab in either case.

Bunny on.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nature's Sweet Nurse

Hello insomniacs everywhere. Unite. You have nothing to lose. Not a damn thing. The sleepless, padding the halls at three thirty two a.m. already know that. You who are fast off in La La Land, take my word for it.

Nothing seems bleaker, more hopeless and empty than a three thirty two a.m. world. Not even Bayonne in February.

Insomnia used to wash over me like waves in an insane giant baby's bathtub. The one where Pibbles discovers water ripples if you smash your hand down in it hard and I am now the bleary eyed rubber ducky in this all night bath. Weeks of sleep in fits and starts would come and go and then end and I'd be back on a sleep schedule once again.

I'd devise clever ways to keep amused during the off hours. Usually it involved TV surfing. But you had to be careful not to wake your spouse. So you turn the thing on and hit the mute as fast as possible and hope like hell you didn't leave it on the History Channel (All Hitler, All The Time) and a P-51 is about to strafe the living room.

Then you inch the volume up bit by bit somewhere between "I can hear every third word and am learning to read lips" and "The fucking cat is up and wants attention and food".

Then you surf. Hope for one of those seventies movies that could put a severely caffeinated two year old to sleep. Here's one: Look, a girl, in a bathtub, coming out of the water, naked.

Well, all right!

Oh, wait a minute, she's spitting blood at a demon! Horror Film! Change the channel and quick!

Look, I have nightmares that keep me looking around corners in the daytime. I don't need video gasoline on my cranial fire.

Last night was just a case of the wakies. Sleep so shallow if it were a puddle an amoeba wouldn't be covered. Anything woke me up. Anything. The heating system belching an air bubble the way Uncle Murray used to pass gas on Thanksgiving. Sort of like a Jersey oil refinery meeting it's match. The house settling further into the sinkhole. Or the cat. Last week, I installed a wood floor in one of the studys. I made the mistake of forgetting an off cut in the hallway and the cat found a hall skittle that she batted up and down the empty corridor for the better part of an hour. I'd have taken it away but she's so fucking overweight she's starting to look like a pot bellied pig in a cat suit.

Last night she dredged out her litter box in the next room. I woke up expecting to find a hole so deep I could stick a three level underground parking garage in there.

Then there are the documentary reality shows you watch in the wee hours because you hope monster earth moving machines will knock you out. What they actually do is inspire the cat to dig further. Whatever, you watch as some behemoth breaks down and out come the cutting torches and the foreman is shouting orders and the pit boss is measuring time against money and wondering how he's going to make quota and hey, this is work. I'm just watching it but in two and a half hours I can live it.

Yep, the networks running slow so out come the keypunches in A/P and Frank the supervisor knows that he's got a quota of receivables to code and...

Enough to put you to fucking sleep. The only good part is the cat doesn't get any ideas other than dragging the utility bill into the litter box and covering her shit with it.

Good kitty. They'll send one just like it next month.

Bunny on.

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