Thursday, May 28, 2009

Single Me Out

Thumper and I never did have what you'd call a conventional dating relationship and maybe because we met under the unusual circumstance of my just trying to avoid her.

Once we did get together we were both pretty busy so our dates took the form of passing glances at first and mind if we hang while I do something completely unrelated later. We'd have dinner and I'd hoof home early because I had to be in Washington the next morning at nine a.m. which I incidentally did even with a pitstop in Maryland explaining to the nice officer that yes, I was doing ninety.

That I was trying to avoid her had less to do with her and more to do with the stage show that went up in a different city every couple of weeks that was my classic first date. You meet someone, linger on a glance, tentatively say hi, maybe call them at home and then you'd go out. Out was usually dinner, you got a chance to talk and kind of get a first impression which either led to a second date or more often than not, didn't. Sometimes that was my fault where cheap magic tricks at the table would do embarrassing things with the bread plate. Sometimes it was her fault for ordering two of the most expensive thing on the menu, wrapping one up with most of the silverware and remarking that "my week's set."

Often it was both of us. I had been out of the dating thing for about twenty years. Things had changed. I wasn't ready for it. In my day you went out, talked, maybe pecked on the cheek or better on the front porch and watched the door close. How slow it closed or peeks out the window were indications of whether there was going to be a second date.

Now I was being fitted for the right size latex an hour into ordering drinks. Wasn't really ready for the zero to sixty in six seconds club, thanks all the same.

The stage show had just set up the Saturday night prior in town and while she was a lovely lass, it didn't portend well when she walked in said, "Hi, I'm..." and I responded "No, I don't think so."

So that didn't work. I went home and got on line 'cause, dirty little secret, that's where I was meeting people back then on a site who's tag line was more appropriate to a peep show. There was Thumper, dropped her an email and headed off to bed.

Next morning there was an answer and an invitation and the last damn thing I wanted to do was play a Sunday matinee. Didn't get back to her until Monday by which time the germs I had shared on the flight back from Phoenix had made themselves at home in my upper respiratory tract.

Like I said, when we first started dating we were both busy almost middle aged people. We had a life and part of her life was restoring some of the houses she owned. So I'd tag along, hammer in hand 'cause that was the only date I was getting with this girl. I think that the leitmotif of our early relationship was established at about one in the morning once when I, under a sink, wrench in hand, face full on dripping water proclaimed: "Couldn't I just fucking take you to dinner?"

The cold lasted only so long and she now had my cell phone number which she dialed and dragged me downtown to what would eventually become our favorite hangout on main street. The place we went when we were done running our place just up the street. We had drinks, then drove around town, then toured a rehab property she was working on then wound up at my place looking at some knob and tube palace renovations then realized it was about 3.30 am. Good first date. Peck on the cheek, phone numbers exchanged and I was going to have a hell of a time keeping up with the knitting circle at running intervals the next day.

But I figured, why not? I mean, where could all this possibly go to?

Bunny on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Feel Free to Move About the Cabin

In memory, it's always playing out in slow motion. We hit the ramp and go airborne, then drift lazily over the balance of the blacktop, coming down with a few sparks off the front anti-roll bar to drive merrily home.

The reality is and will remain a holy fuck moment when I realized that I lived in a state where the Amish are the technological vanguard and the roads department thinks its nostalgic and fun to keep archback single lane stone bridges in service even though we are barrelling towards the twenty first century faster than a drunk in a Mustang two blocks from home having to piss so bad he can taste it!

After he let me whip his Lotus around the cloverleafs of Toronto and then we got out on some prime flat straightaway north of the city where we hammered it and my thoughts came to me six seconds after I had passed them at the crossroads, I thought I'd be magnanimous and treat Evan to a half hour on the back twisties of the six tooth, trailer-dwelling swampland I was currently living in.

Yep, rural Pennsylvania where you can count to six on one hand and Nascar would be fun if'n you didn't have to add all them points up.

We took off in my current ride, a mid nineties Ford Probe who's salvation was that it was lightweight coupled to a four cylinder. If it hadn't been built about as sturdy as a Monogram Monte Carlo by a kid who would stick a fender on as a cheap excuse to huff some glue...

That is to say if it had been built out of, oh, steel instead of cardboard it would have an issue being run by that four banger I sacrificed rabbits upon to prey to the gods of torque just to offer up another few pound-feet.

I almost got the six it was offered with but that idea was kiboshed by my then wife or as I like to refer to her now; the Wicked Witch of...


So I settled for the four and took Evan on a blitzkrieg-downshift tour of the single lane blacktop where everything was fine and why bother reading the signs that say "Single Lane Bridge Ahead?"

I was ok with the single lane. It was around eleven on a Sunday morning which meant that if the locals weren't still asleep they were in church looking around at who was sitting uncomfortably because THAT was who they had gone dating with the night before.

The single lane though did have to span the creek and it achieved this by arching not unlike a horny camel's back. And I'm not talking plain horny. I'm talking being in a stockade for seven months with four guy camels named Lance, then being ridden across desert only to wind up in a pen a few strands of wire away from Natalie who has just come in from the market after a good wash and rubdown. That camel horny.

Picture a road. Now look straight up. Now look directly in front of you. Now look down. Now you get the idea of the rise across this fucking bridge I happened to coach the Ford across at about sixty. This took a lot of dumping pure kerosene directly into the intake manifold hoping the shit would kick up something somewhere.

The reality was about 3/4 of a second of free flight at which time I did the only thing my irrational mind thought to do. Hit the brakes. See, I logically reasoned that idle wheels would create more drag and slow us faster than spinning wheels. That added to the drama of shreiking tires once we hit.

In memory we are up there, airborne, for a whole lot longer. Evan lights a cigarette. I pour coffee for us both. We talk about the boat outings of the past few years. Both of us perched on the bridge, scanning the water fifty feet out for the gray highlights that will bear Evan out about the outcropping of rock he KNOWS is around here somewhere. And of course he's right but he's right in that the hollow SKRUTCH against the hull proves him so. Oh well, step back and see that we're not taking on water.

SKRUTCH-SQUEAL is kind of the sound we make when we hit and like Evan and the rock outcropping I give him the "Yeah of course I knew this fucking one lane camelback stone bridge was here."

"Nice landing." Is all he says.

A couple of miles later he asks "How's your oil pressure?"


"Good, you didn't leave your pan back there."

Meant to do that. Really did. Meant to do that.

Bunny on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Meme Ca Change

Bear with me.

I don't do this well so I'm going to naturally color outside of the box, think outside the lines which is to say I will adapt this pass-along from Cog, mostly sticking to it but where I transgress it'll be attributed to creativity and original thought.

Which of course, it isn't. I'm lazy and if there's a shortcut, I'll take it. Two roads may have diverged into a yellow wood and Frost took the one less travelled by. I'll take the one where the bicycle is parked. Unlike Frost it won't take three days and some fine hounds to track me out of that freaking yellow wood he got lost in.

Much as I like to talk about me, its not really me but a humorous projection of me. Hiding behind character so this exercise in get to know ya comes with no small amount of discomfort because I'm inevitably going to slip and the rumpled guy behind the bunny mask is going to slip ever so slightly out. Add to that the previous blog which should have been put up on Cunniculus Acerbum but shucks, if you think few read this...

Two straight-faced entries in a row and the next thing you know my stories will be about a slow acceptance of death while high above the last of winter lingers at altitude.

I'm going to almost forgive you Cog. Almost in that one of these days I hope to be back in my favorite city with a neat whiskey and I'm going to have held my funniest line in check until you're savoring some small batch which I will force you to eject from your nose at said line's delivery. Cheers and here goes:

What are your current obsessions? Getting back to that place of well-roundedness between the personal and the professional. Or at least getting closer. Professionally I had a gig a few years ago that still is the apogee of career in that I got to do what I liked with a bunch of folks like MM whom I liked and for whom I had a lot of respect. These days I still respect and like the folks I work with but it ain't the family the old job was and this gig, while it pays the rent and then some, still sometimes chews you up daily for no particular reason. Personally these days, life is good. I'd like more good professionally 'cause that's where my hours are spent. And when I'm spending hours here, I'd like good to extend beyond fat dumb and happy back to doing something that, though it might never be read by eyes other than mine, is doing something.

What item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? Cowboy boots. Oxblood and polished to the office because folks, I'm not going to lead you on. I seriously don't want to fit in. Scuffed, worn and black on weekends because, yes, you read my body language right and I will stuff one where the sun don't shine if you even think of pushing back ever again.

What's for dinner? The happiness of making it up as you go along. Pour a decent cab sauvignion and play with your food. Last night it was Cajun catfish, maybe a beer batter cod Friday, eight hour barbeque on the smoker this weekend. Who cares? The process is the goal.

What is your greatest fear at the moment? Lingering. We all have this love/hate relationship with dying but I don't want to wind up with clothing metaphysically caught on the fence dangling between poles.

What are you listening to? Coltrane, Zevon.

What are your favorite holiday spots? New Orleans, Utah, Wyoming on horseback. London, in a place called "The Angel of the Fields" that I renamed "The Fallen Angel" as a setting for two characters to come together.

What are you reading right now? Too much WW2 history, not enough Hemingway, finishing off "The Fountainhead."

What is your guilty pleasure? Reflecting on the past few years in a favorable light.

Who or what makes you laugh? Very little since, though I enjoy myself tremendously I very seldom laugh out loud. A lot of folks misread that as dour and humorless but quite the contrary I find life hilarious. Flight of the Conchords, Ron White, Lewis Black, Penn and Teller. They can break the surface of mirth and make those who know me realize I do like to laugh, its just that I sound like a rabid hyena when I do.

What is your favorite spring thing to do? Watch the sunset with Thumper as the temps settle back into the sixties for the night and astound that there's someone I found...

Where are you planning to travel next? Arizona. And I might not come back if I like it.

What's the best thing you ate or drank lately? A submarine sandwich at the Montreal auto show in 1974. Oh, hell, there's plenty since and the point is I can get it all again but I'll never again have that salami and delicately sliced onion, clambering over Chryslers while the old man actually seems to like me that day.

When was the last time you were tipsy? That would be now. Cheers!

What is your favorite ever film? Witness. Because it is still and will always be my way.

What book should you read but refuse to? The Iliyad. Anything by Henry James. There are dozens of hundreds of thousands of others that I should read but less than I refuse to, I know, truth be told that I'll pick a used copy up, dutifully plant myself in el assiedo los mas comfortable and promptly pop on "Funniest Home Videos" 'cause "I swear, the cat sat on the remote." Please see entry above, "I'm lazy."

What is your physical abnormality/abnormal physical ability? If I told you that, you'd know who moved the car behind the shed last week?

Who is your favorite artist? Edward Hopper, who could not paint the human face beyond a caricature but whose understanding of light could captivate you for years.

If your pets could talk, what would they say? It's ok about the golf ball. You can forget about it. I miss you too.

Ok, that's it and here's where I color outside the lines. Thimbelle, Ericka, tag, you're it. I don't read a lot of blogs so I'm not going to randomly call out people I neither know nor care about. Jeni, I'd rather read your stories as you tell them to us. There you have it. Stuck to the script for the most part, wandered off the reservation when it suited me.

Cog, there is no agreed upon pronounciation of my favorite city but someday I hope we'll shake hands in central park.

Bunny on.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Water had frozen in the tanks the first time. It was below zero, even in New York and he didn't even want to entertain the thought of how cold it was in Toronto. Water froze in the tanks in the belly of the plane and all American could do was offer soft drinks and liquor on the flight up.

Evan had bought him a plane ticket the first time he flew up to meet him. That is to say, Evan had had his secretary buy him a plane ticket and she had mistakenly selected first class which was okay with him but not so okay with Evan and his bosses.

"I like you but don't get used to it." he had said.

He hadn't, and that was a good thing because he was folded into coach once again, except it was April and an early spring in Philadelphia but now he was flying to the last vestiges of winter in Toronto. Evan wasn't picking him up this time. Patrick was. So there wasn't going to be the soft burble of the Mustang's 3.8 liter firing up and winding up slowly as Evan would let the clutch out, riding second gear to the onramp then quickly shifting through to fourth, pressing the accelerator down smoothly but firmly, he'd be pressed back in the seat as they came up to and beyond speed on the highway east, out of town.

"My car's over here." Patrick pointed at the Subaru. He climbed in and Patrick dropped into first and pulled away from the curb, eyeing the police and security officers while keeping a slight smile on his face. He looked just like his Facebook picture which is how he was able to identify him after twenty three years.

"Thanks for getting me."

"Weird that we had just re-connected when all this happened. Hey, sorry for the duress but I'm glad to see you again."

"You haven't changed."

"You have. You got no more hair and a bunch more wrinkles."

"Ok, you're older, you've got some grey coming in and there was no fucking way you could fake facial hair last time I saw you."

"Smoke?" Patrick offered.

"That's not a smoke, that's a joint."


"Mind if we get home first? Leftover from your checkered youth?"

"No. I don't deal anymore. Not for a long time. I get this shit from some kid in the next neighborhood over. I don't care where he gets it."

"Cool. Not for me. And if its okay, please don't light up until we get home."

Linda half smiled when he walked into the hall the next day. Patrick put the car in gear and left. He put the manilla envelope on a marble-topped table in the entrance hall, tucked just behind an arrangement of flowers. Linda looked stoic but she always looked stoic because that's how girls from the Maritimes looked. You never knew if the catch would be good that year, you never knew if your Pap would come home and in Linda's case you never knew if your Pap would be sober enough to make the sail to begin with. So it was one year, the year her Mum came to her suggesting, but not really, that she was, at sixteen, old enough to go out and find her own way.

So stoic was what you became when you found yourself pregnant and seventeen and picking tobacco in the Ontario fields.

"I'm sorry." He said. "I wish he'd have said something last Christmas when I talked to him."

"He had his teeth taken out."

"I didn't hear it. We talked. I think I called him, no, he called for Christmas. I had just talked to him on my birthday a month earlier. He sounded fine. Just like Evan."

"Well, I guess he wanted you to have these." She pressed a familiar wooden fob into his hands and looked in his eyes for the briefest of moments.

"I guess he did, and I'm grateful. But no disrespect. Do you really want to let it go? Couldn't you do something with it?"

"No, no. No, I wouldn't know what to do. I guess I could sell it but he wanted you to have it and we're fine you know. He took care of us."

"I wish I could have said goodbye."

Besides Linda and her daughters and Evan's daughter, some business people he had known and his partner, there weren't a lot of people. Linda had asked and he obliged by getting up for a few minutes. He told a story of the chair out at the cottage. An adirondack that was splintered to pieces at the base of a tree forty feet back from the shore. It had once sat at the shore until a storm had blown up and blown the chair back and into the tree where it sat splintered and had for some years now. For all he knew it was still there because Evan left it there to remind him never to underestimate the natural forces. It was a respect thing.

"So he's gone, and we're all sad. But Evan taught me and I'm going to tell you that, even now, never underestimate the natural forces." He looked up and almost let surprise show on his face. Patrick stood at the back of the large room. He smiled and nodded with an eyebrow raised.

Sonofabitch, he thought as Patrick turned and left.

In the parking lot Linda had walked him to it and he had hugged her, walked her back to the big black car and seen her safely off. Patrick stood by it and stared into the front windshield as he opened the manilla envelope and took out the plates, mounting them in place of the Ontario registration.

"Shit. Sweet." Patrick said.

"She's a beautiful machine. Chapman's pickup they called her."

"Um. What year?"

"Seventy one."


"Mine now."

"Lousy trade. I liked your speech." After twenty three years, Patrick was still Patrick. He got it. It was a lousy trade. A beautiful car but a lousy trade. He tossed the old license on the passenger seat, got in, put the key that was attached to the walnut wooden fob with the Lotus trademark on it into the ignition. He pressed the postage stamp clutch down and turned the key, starting the engine. It came to life with a bark and settled into a baritone thrum.

"Just follow me." Patrick said.

He nodded and pulled out behind the Subaru, taking care to slow over the transition from parking lot, over sidewalk to street because the last time they had done that, gone over too fast with the weight of two men in the seats the bolts that anchored one of the points of the five point seatbelts scraped uncomfortably across the concrete.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Everybody Talks About It

Work with me on this one but, the last time I checked, this was still Earth, right?

I mean, we orbit the SUN???!!!

Somewhere around last Wednesday somebody apparently found a plank long enough and a firm place to stand and hurled the Earth out of orbit of that bright warm thing that was cooking our planet to a crisp, but who cared? Think of the money we were saving on heat.

We are now drifting through a galaxy of rain. Inches upon gallons upon feet of the stuff continue to cascade down although no one in Portland Oregon has yet noticed, but I have. Couple of weeks ago we had a hot spike where the temperature got up into the eighties and it was sunny and it all happened on a weekend. I knew those ritual lamb slaughters I've been holding through the winter would pay off eventually. It was wonderful and the sheer ecstasy was only punctuated with the dire warnings of cold weather freaks that the icecaps were melting, the sea level was rising and polar bear's habitat was eroding.

Well they got their wish. It is cold. It is grey to the extent that we no longer have sunrise, we have "light grey" as opposed to "charcoal grey" of what used to be called night or "dark grey" of what used to be called "afternoon." The ice caps are in fine shape, the beachfront property I bought in Ohio is worthless and I hope the polar bears found a land bridge to the cold weather freaks backyard and have eaten one of their children.

To be fair, we did have a few precipitation-free hours this afternoon wherein all the men in the neighborhood jumped on or behind their lawn mowers to tame the beast that they used to play croquet on. Not I, I cut the thing last Friday night before the weekend torrent which means that there is now fescue knocking on the back door asking to borrow a cup of nitrogen.

I have two issues with all this rain. Well, three to be precise. The first is that I'd like to be reminded of that warm yellow ball in the sky before my coloration fades to the point of me being able to use my legs as landing beacons for wide body jets. The second is that we seem to have developed a case of carpenter ants at Paramour. Now carpenter ants, I am told, are attracted to moisture which at this point narrows their likely infestation down to the state. Finally, we do have a bit of a leaky basement and a cat that lives down there. I'm tired of waking up at two a.m. to her cries of "Mark Twain!"

Bunny on, and keep dry.

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