Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hey, St. Peter, Before You Ring That Bell

A friend of mine speculates on Friday nights with St. Peter and God. Not to suppose blasphemy or imply that he might have a more direct connection than others, but he wonders if, after a long hard week seeing to the needs and care of immortal souls that didn’t come with exact change, St. Peter and the Lord don’t kick back and play a few innocent games with the flock. Sort of like cribbage with plague-like consequences.

He (my buddy Dave, not God, although the two have never been seen together) wonders if they (God this time, and St. Peter) don’t play a few innocent games with human emotion between the sexes. Just for fun, just to get that form letter from Satan demanding off street parking out of their mind for a few hours.

Dave’s speculation goes sort of like this: A single soul gets picked out here on the mortal coil and then depending on the degree of singleness, companionship is either thrown their way or kept temptingly just out of reach.

Case in point: We’ve all been single at some time or another. I was until rather recently, a single guy looking for a woman with whom to spend some time with. Ok, there were other requirements but since I’ve invoked divine beings in the first sentence, I need to carry through the theme. It’s a writer thing. Just trust me on this.

So, newly single, I tried a lot of logical venues within which to meet women. How many worked? None. Not a single, well intentioned without being obvious one of them. Not one that said “Hi I’m alone but the farthest thing from desperate you can imagine.” I tried book clubs and realized it had been too long since I’ve had an eye exam. I tried the gym but got pulled out from under too heavy barbells by other men once too often to have that fly. I went to upscale grocery stores and became quite good at advising octogenarians as to the digestibility of certain foodstuffs.

But single women? Not a chance. I could chat up anyone in the express lane and get little more than a sideways glance and “could you hand me the order separator, please?”

Ok, so things have changed and I’m spending days with Thumper who is wonderful in every way and then some. Things are good. I’m happy, she’s happy, we’re all happy and the planets should be in perfect alignment. Except for God sinking earth into the side pocket by careening off of Venus and not scratching on Mars. Yes, its Friday night in heaven and why don’t we pile a few lucky gals Bunny’s way. Just to see what happens. A few chuckles while we wait for the keg to be tapped.

They are NOT coming out of the woodwork but they are slipping out of the wainscoating. It’s Friday night and I’m in line at the upscale grocery place and there’s a lovely blonde lady just ahead of me. I’m about to hand her the order separator just out of habit when she strikes up a suggestive conversation with me that finishes as I’m followed out to the parking lot.

Then there are the emails from the pretty young technicians who want to know how your network connections are and has your server inadvertently gone down lately.



Thanks for asking.

No, I was outside in the heat. I’m not usually this red.

A couple of years ago there was a company that touted something called “Safety Man” in airline onboard catalogs that you were forced to page through when you realized you didn’t bring a book for the flight to Milwaukee. “Safety Man” was an inflatable mannequin (not going there) who had about 5 days growth of beard on “him”, wore dark mirrored shades and sat next to you in a car as you commuted into work. The idea was to ward off purse snatchers, car jackers, Amway reps and whomever else might impede on your safety if you were a young woman.

Now most seasoned criminals saw right through “Safety Man” and begin to wonder out loud if the more expensive models came with self wetting devices in case of attack. Lets face it, a mirror shade, unshaven white guy might send them packing on “Simon and Simon” but this is the real world kids.

But maybe “Safety Man” was ahead of his time and the time has come for the true test of mannequin discouragement. It is in this spirit that I propose “Commitment Chick”.

Same idea but with a few twists. An inflatable (once again, we’re not going there) female mannequin of any ethnic origin designed to compliment the security of the single traveler. She is equipped with a pleasant face and accepting body language. However, the unit springs into action when the purchaser is set upon in any social venue. “Commitment Chick’s” eyes are designed to narrow and track any advancing movement. Her throat automatically clears from several hundred feet away. The male purchaser of “Commitment Chick” can then use the repulsing feature of the doll to send off an advancing female or relegate “Commitment Chick” to cousin or sister status if appropriate.

Now some of us think that the male of the species gives off contentment pheromones when they are in a serious relationship. These are sensed by females in the vicinity and the male is relegated immediately to “NSM” status. That is an acronym for “Nice Safe Man” and is generally used around gay guys. Truth be known, and I can say this, I’m a guy, there’s no such thing as a contentment pheromone nor is there any such thing as a Nice Safe Guy, excepting gay guys of course. We are always on the prowl. The pheromone we give off is one of fear of getting caught. That’s what you’re reacting to.

Unless you believe, as Dave does, that St. Peter is kicking back for a little Friday night fun at your expense and has parked that cute blonde in front of you in line and has tucked her Lexus just one row over from your car just to see what you’ll do.

Thanks Pete, where the hell were you all last winter?

Never mind. I’ll be home in twenty minutes, hon.

Bunny on.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Gimme a V, an A, a C, an A, a T oh never mind!

When I was a kid, we would go to Florida once a year right around April or early May or so, or about the time Mom would starting talking to the spatula and getting answers. Not that she was any weirder than most mothers of the early sixties whom you could find picking up a little extra formula to stock up for the blessed event along with her Marlboro’s. Six months along she rode in the car without seatbelts while the old man’s best friend put his ’57 Plymouth into a river one night because “he knew the way.” Ok, Dad, this guy was over from Germany. Remember that famous sense of direction from the war? Stalingrad? We were supposed to open a second front in Marseilles!

Mom just came a little unhinged at the beginning of the end of a long Canadian winter. This was a season that started around American Thanksgiving (Canadians have theirs a month earlier, the idea being the Pilgrims celebrated somewhere near Oshawa and then the weather turned so they made for Plimoth) and ended somewhere around Memorial Day. This also was a holiday Canadians don’t have since they have nothing much to remember.

At any rate, both my parents would get cabin fever and would figure out that Dad had, in 1968, enough vacation to allow him not to work until 1992. So they would pull out an old Holiday Inn hotel directory, some road maps (one with ‘Stalingrad’ crossed out and ‘Singer Island’ written in in pencil) and plan another journey down south. I of course was thrilled since it would get me out of school for at least a week and this year, I might miss Canadian spring which was a season marked by the melting of months of snow, uncovering dog turds deposited the previous December.

We drove. We always did. It was how my parents were able to afford a vacation. For starters, there was only one of me and I stayed in hotels free if I was under six. And of course, I was six until my voice broke and even then I was six with a bad cold. Plus I didn’t eat much, plus in those days Exxon paid you for gas, it was that cheap. We also stayed at an efficiency motel in Florida which meant that Dad got to pack sun tan lotion, swim trunks and dark glasses while Mom got to pack a fry pan and kettle. Yep, breakfast at home. Num.

We could make the trip by car in about three days. Dad drove insanely long distances, harangued my mother about her map reading skills, told me to pipe down and listened to AM radio all the way down. We didn’t have FM radio. We did have huge Chryslers, but they all had AM radios. Every few years, Dad would go downtown to buy a new car. He never took us along; car buying was something serious men did and women and children only got in the way. Anyway, I would watch him go and hope like hell that THIS TIME he came home with a car. An elegant, graceful machine. Red, bucket seats, a stick. Something that said quiet muscle and refinement and every time I hoped for that I was disappointed when he came back with some slab sided monster of a Fury, Polara, Gran Fury III (apparently one and two died on the operating table or went bad and threw a little girl down a well) and I’d resign myself to hiding in the back seat of another one of these monsters for the next three years. But they made the trip in relative comfort, seeing as the front seat was as big as our living room and we only ever listened to AM radio in the kitchen anyway.
I remember one trip that we started out at around seven in the morning. I had set my alarm clock for six and mysteriously unplugged in once it went off. Like I wanted to freeze time while we were away or have a permanent memento of having gotten up to go on vacation. We loaded up the family tank and headed for the border. Those days, the border was fun. It was a little wooden cottage with a swinging screen door that creaked appropriately and a picture of the president. You stopped, they asked you where you were from, where you were going and would you please have a pleasant day. Of course, the warm familiarity of the American side would be offset on the Canadian side when you got grilled about where you were going and why and just what the hell was wrong with vacationing at home anyway? Hint: Permafrost and Tundra versus Palm trees and Sand but lets not get too obvious, shall we?

Like I said, Dad would drive like hell for about ten to twelve hours and we always tried to get south of Washington, DC on day one. We usually made it to northern Virginia except for once when we got gas outside of the beltway and the attendant told the old man that the clicking sound the engine was making was as a result of the oil pan being almost bone dry. Yep, Dad had neglected to check the oil which he remedied by blaming Chrysler for making primitive machines that needed lubricants in the first place. That trip, and that first night, we got a complete oil transfusion and wound up in a the mother of all awful HoJo’s See, my folks were pretty much creatures of habit and somewhere in there they glommed on to any kind of overnight residences being either Holiday Inns or Howard Johnson’s. Now not that this should disparage either of these fine companies, we had plenty of good night stays with both. It’s just that Mom kind of artificially narrowed the field when she would ask directions to the nearest Holiday Inn or Hojo. What if the franchise board hadn’t made it to that part of South Carolina?

The mother of all bad Hojo’s that night was a run down place just outside of Washington. It was run by a guy who was a part time innkeeper and full time antiques junkie. The lobby was filled with grandfather clocks and old chairs covered in signs telling you not to sit on them. He carried the antique theme over to the hotel in that it seemed that none of the rooms had been cleaned in a good long while. Somebody must have had a “how many burning cigarettes can you rest on a level surface and forget?” contest in the room we stayed in and we were too tired to spend a lot of time watching color TV, a novelty for us in the early seventies. But at least the prostitutes kept their voices down while arguing that night…

Monday, August 14, 2006

Beachy Keen

Once every spring my old man got it into his head to go to the beach. So he would tell my mom to make reservations at the aqua colored efficiency they knew of in Florida, pack up the kettle and the kid and the car, he'd peel two or three weeks off his work schedule and we'd motor down from our northern climes to the Sunshine State.

Great for me since I'd dive deep into the pleasures of fried food, itchy bedcovers, color tv with bad reception and pools so chlorinated it would melt warts off.

Not so good for my mom who would have to cook, read maps and keep an eye on the carsick express in the back seat. That would be me, champion hurler of the interstate. Minor undulations in the road brought the blueberry waffles to the fore (and the dashboard for that matter) and the old man had a way of finding highways that inspired corduroy.

Then, once we hit weather that eked its way above sixty degrees or so, the old man would crank down the windows for the fresh spring air. I'd be blasted into a deep freeze, comic books would get sucked out onto the highway like we had just shot out the window of a 747 at altitude and the next day's sniffles would be quietly blamed on dad who was not so quietly blaming me for getting the sniffles and snots.

That last bit came back to me as Thumper and I were driving back home from a short break at the ocean side. For some stupid reason I had the windows open down the interstate and she patiently put up with shouting conversations above the air roar while he hair was sucked out the sun roof making the car look like a hari krishna mobile or somebody dangling a long hair tabby out the window.

Once we hit Florida, that's me and the folks, Thumper and I went elsewhere, I of course would dash to the beach on day one, bury every toy I had brought with me and forget where, and grill my skin to the color of a fresh tomato ensuring that light breezes would send me screaming for the next five days.

That is, if I didn't get to almost drowning in the pool first by flailing off a styrofoam toy surfboard. Fortunately as I hit the water, I bounced off the chlorine.

Or I'd run into the surf, get keeled over by a wave and have my backside eroded by the five or ten pounds of sand I picked up in my shorts getting skittered across the ocean floor.

This may explain why I limited myself to a walk on the beach last week and still crabbed about sand in your shoes. Either that or, the water was a little cold and after all, this was the first vacation Thumper and I took alone. You don't want cold water issues here.

So now we're back and thinking fondly of the jellyfish we almost stepped in or the horrific burn she got on her shoulders on the first overcast day. Not that that has anything to do with jaunts to Florida but I was thinking that next spring we might pack the bunnies up and hit the beach down there like I did years ago with my folks.

After all, there's a whole toyshop buried in the sand, just waiting.

Bunny on.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Will We Ever Get Around to That?

Just when does "later" get here? Can anybody tell me? I've been putting this off until "later" and it's "later" but it still feels like "now" because theres so much crap that still needs to be done and I'm going to get to it "later."

What gives here? If I put on glasses with lenses like a grape Fanta I can look back to a time not long ago when I seemed to have time flowing out my nose. "Later" was always now because there was so little other obligation that "Now" was as good as "Later" and things were getting done so I could "relax" and get some "rest." Rest? Come on boys and girls, I'm so behind on sleep that time has begun to retrograde on me and I'm terrified of looking in the mirror some morning and find myself wearing a velour pullover from the seventies. These were the kind of things you'd wear if you were moonlighting as a jewelery box. You can still see them at comic book conventions. They're draped around big boned guys with 'pube 'staches who live at their mom's, in the basement and eat cheese sandwiches, one or two of which are lost in their stack of Sub Mariner number fourteen through thirty eight.

But lets pick on them another day, shall we?

No kidding, I'm tiring the cats out being awake all the time, bouncing around the house, getting this and that and the other thing done while I'm just trying to get it out of the way so I can concentrate on the first thing. Tonight for example; the knob and tube palace got cleaned up since Thumper and I have been away for a few days and one of the animals decided she'd see if she could shed enough to make a sibling. Pretty damn close. Oh, and thanks for the overhand litter flinging. How you can get granules of clay fully forty feet away and down a flight of stairs to boot from their original resting place without benefit of opposable thumbs is something I should have gotten on tape.

But I didn't so the "Cats Are Taking Over My Home and Ordering Pizza with Toppings I'd Never Touch" segment on Oprah is going to have to wait.

But let's pick on her another day, shall we?

Got knob and tube relatively fur free tonight. The lawn will have to wait, so will the bills, so will framing the last of the photographs because there's still so much current crap I have to get around to. Dealt with the mail that came while we were away and realized that there's a reasons the walnut out back is dropping branches precariously close to where I walk: There's probably a cousin or nephew stuffed in my mailbox. Remember the paperless office of the seventies? Replaced by what? The clueless drone of the oughties?

Mail is just another thing to deal with while I get to other stuff "later." And the other stuff is pretty important. There's a treehouse I have to get done before it's intended inhabitant graduates with some post doctoral degree. A new ceiling has to be put into the bedroom before they solicit me to make a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark treasure room scene in there. And no, I'm not painting the spider webs gold in anticipation of holiday decorating for those of you thinking the obvious. The car needs to be washed since I am firmly convinced that every seagull in New England was at an enchilada and ouzo cookoff in my parking lot this weekend.

But I'll put it all off until "later" It's gotten late again and I'd like to get a few more hours sleep than the minimum wage has dollars in it. That in mind you want to shunt off all your current obligations into some stinky, mouldy metaphysical cardboard box and put it all on a high cranial shelf. And you know you can do it and you further know that it will lose its grip and come crashing to your brainpan floor somewhere around three thirty this morning.

When the clock officially strikes "later."

Bunny on.

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