Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cat and Mouse

In the sixties and seventies we were known as being a small family who got to alleviate their cabin fever every late winter with a trip to warmer climes.

Not to say that we were wealthy, we weren't. There was, in the way of offspring, only me, and I was ordered to order off the children's menu well after the age of six. Plus, being short for my age, which I still am, hoping that once fifty rolls around, I'll partake of that latent growth spurt, I was commanded to respond in the positive to "under six?" which of course meant a free extra body in the hotel room.

Also not to say that we were blessed with an abundance of leisure time. The old man was a workaholic. But he was an imported European workaholic. That meant he showed up on the continent with the requisite French-style take the month of August off vacation calendar. Not that he ever did. But he could have.

Which got us to the annual trek to Florida. On my mom's insistence, the old man would peel off two of the six weeks he was entitled to, we'd pack the car up and haul down to the sunshine state. Somewhere around 1964 we had found a small motel/efficiency that was clean, had low rates and allowed Mom to save a few dollars a day making breakfast in the room before we hit the beach. We'd have sandwiches at lunch, saving another buck or two and splurge at an all you can eat cafeteria in the evening.

If that sounds squalid, it wasn't. At least to a seven something year old who got dragged out of the Arctic circle (and school, provided I kept a page a day travel journal to pacify my teachers) every March to watch color TV in hotel rooms, swim in pools and scream hysterically when dragged into the ocean (that hasn't changed) by his confused folks. We thought he'd like the ocean.

Ah well.

Things changed. Money got tight and while the old man kept piling on vacation he also piled on a new boss who didn't appreciate time away. Finally the old man got a new assignment with a member of the family as boss and things eased up. He felt he should celebrate. Just like the old days, take the family to Florida for a few weeks. Soak up the sun.

That was all fine with me as I was now slogging through my last year of high school. But what I didn't realize was that, while my mom got it; a last family vacation before dimwit wandered off to college and we finally got the guest room we've deserved all these years, the old man thought we were going to re-live the past in all its glory. He hadn't quite wrapped his brain around my being eighteen.

Off we went. Two and a half days in the car to get to the hotel where I got my own room and got to follow the old man to the beach every morning. Then I'd lay on a towel, walk to the edge of the water a few times, swim in the pool and wind up at the bar before dinner. These were the eighties, I was eighteen if anybody's counting.

I'm sure Dad had a splendid time. We drove past the old motel we used to stay in. We ate at the buffet cafeteria (once) we used to eat in. He reminisced about all the things we used to do. Mom stayed quiet, I silently willed myself to get to the next day.

Not to be ungrateful, but my interests had changed somewhat. In Dad's worldview, I could still be placated with a toy car, bucket and shovel and beach. In my world, hand me a bucket of cold beers, shovel off and lend me the car.

After dinner, the folks would fire up the TV, I'd head off on a long walk until they were good and tired and then go to my room, allowing myself to lock the room to room door.

A couple of days into the last big family vacation, I took off on one of my late evening walks and started to circle the hotel we were staying at. I walked past a teen something talking to her mother, then circled back through the parking lot and ten minutes later passed the teen something still talking to her mother and then hit the beach and fifteen minutes later passed the teen something hanging out on the lanai alone and inquiring if I was going to say "hi" or something or keep passing.


Her name was Katherine. She asked me to call her "Kitty" like all her friends did. She was from Chicago. She joined me walking.

I was enthralled. Kitty and I walked. We walked out to the beach, we talked, we went out for coffee and at last this last forced family vacation march looked like it had some promise. I had someone to hang with. Moreover, that someone was a girl!

Kitty and I exchanged room numbers and promised to get a hold of each other the next morning. Then we went home. I'm sure Kitty told her mom about the interesting but unusual fellow she had met the night before. I know I opened my mouth at breakfast just before the old man announced:

"We've never gone to Disneyworld, lets check out today and go."

It would have been impolite to spew pancake and melon in season, but I almost did.

Are you kidding me?


Did I tell you who I met last night? I'm not going to Disneyworld, I'm staying here in Kittyland. 'Cause God knows what magic kingdoms that will lead to.

No dice. Teen hormones shunted to the trunk, we struck out for Disneyworld. I got to tell Kitty and hoped against hope that we would return that evening but I knew I was deluding myself.
Not only that, but we took the only rest-stop-free highway in Florida. My over-riding memory of Disneyworld is pissing for five full minutes while the old man bought the economy pak of tickets.

Thanks Dad. We saw Disneyworld, Epcot, Land of tomorrow. I was kinda hoping for Kittyland, Tittieworld, Pussycountry, but THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN WRONG.

Kitty, I hope you're well. Console yourself. You ducked one hell of a bullet.

Bunny on.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Traffic Thoughts

If your Toyota Echo or Corolla accelerates unintentionally, sit back and enjoy. I've driven one too many four-bangers that couldn't deliver intentional acceleration with gas pedal pushed to the back of the radiator.

Trying on the indigo-blue jeans Thumper bought me last night, I am still wearing a blue oxford button down and suddenly I am my first GI-Joe. If I held one hand in a steady open grasp and the other in a permanent thumb and index finger point, I'm sure I would frighten several people who were kids in the sixties.

Thumper also bought herself some undies, one size larger. She explained that this replaced the pairs that I keep washing and tossing into a dryer set to "inferno." These were pre-shrunk.

She did not appreciate my first guess at her "raison d'achat."

According to the weather forecast, the mid-Atlantic is either in for a winter storm this weekend, or Armageddon. I'm still trying to parse the report's tone.

New Yorkers.

If you're coursing around in a BMW just be aware that I already suspect you of something, somewhere.

Santas Fe?

Hong Kongolese? For that matter.

Out of the blue (the best things usually come from there) I got a writing assignment offer today. Of course I accepted and shot the editor off a snappy note saying so. Also using the wrong possessive therein. This now equates me to the writer's equivalent of an exciteable Chihuahua who pisses himself when petted.

Bunny on.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sorry, there's a bit of Gore-Tex stuck in your teeth

Just before the Amtrak train got to New London, the moon came over the horizon and I knew it was going to be one of those nights.

New London is usually where I hang out the right hand side window of the train, looking at the massive General Dynamics submarine pens. These are places where we build the sleek, swift and terribly beautiful machines that, if I were by accident of fate assigned to, would have their interiors completely licked clean of paint as claustrophobia took hold.

Thankfully, I'm too old and just not nautically inclined. Not only won't, but by the hand of Providence, can't go there any more.

The moon, on the other hand, was a different issue.

I knew I had been out of sorts all day, but I ascribed this to getting on a train north to go to see Mom. Not that seeing Mom was a bad thing in itself, it was just the ancillary issues of being treated like a twelve year old and constantly being asked if I was truly relaxed (it'll take two more bourbons, but yes) and why wasn't I hungry (get to that in a minute) that set a number of anatomical functions to overload in the station waiting for the hour-late regional. Now the moon set me straight and I realized that farting quietly during a jackhammer interlude only to have my good wife ask a radius of humans within twelve feet of the source of her voice if they too smelled methane had nothing to do with being stressed about going home.

It was the moon. The full moon that was going to rise and did rise above the frozen Connecticut shoreline that had had me on edge and itchier than I usually am in the dead of winter. Ok, so I exfolliate abnormally between December and March, an event that by end of January has me drawing my back across rough-edged walls in a manner that would put a rutting elk to shame. I thought it was just the humidity, or lack thereof, and then I thought that rutting elk, with onions and a little red wine, would taste just dandy about now. Barring that, I could tear the heart and liver out of the conductor.

Yep. Full moon. Freezing night. My "favorite" allignment of the planets, it was time to go hunting again.

I hate full moons in winter. They constantly remind me of the poor career choices of my youth. Rather than die once and join the undead I opted for the carnal pleasures of temporal existence and made my Faustian bargain to go hunting for fresh hot flesh once a month.

Boy, did I fuck up.

Rather than the creature of the night who has to be invited in, the one who Anne Rice romanticizes in a collection of best-selling novels and films, I'm the monster who bashes through your door uninvited and wholly without formal announcement.

Ladies and Gentlemen; Claude Raines.

Nope. Crash! Growl! Snarl! Screech! Munch munch munch.

I didn't really have a choice. I camped a lot as a kid so I guess this was inevitable. My parents were pretty strict, I didn't get the car a lot so driving down to the French market at midnight was pretty much off the books. I opted for the canopy of the stars in a sleeping bag and don't worry, they're more scared of us than we are of them.

Another useful life lesson on the ash heap. Thanks, Dad.

So here I am, on train 175 to Providence, sorry but I got to get off in Kingston. A bit of motion sickness, you understand. But in reality, while my old buddy Duncan is no doubt burning candles and brushing over the toussled hair of his newest URI RA (Duncan's over two hundred and sixty five years old, he really should stop robbing the cradle and date in his age group), eternally twenty four, I'm tromping through the woods, hoping the Merrill's hold out moisture and looking for some Pat's fan who's had one too many 'gansetts.

This sucks. I hate this. And I hate this time of year. Instead of building a blazing fire, mulling wine and slitting the wrists of the willing, I have to tear through layering to get to the juicy, fleshy parts. And don't I pay? Not only in Persian throw rugs ground down with muck and forest compost, but industrial-Prilosec stomach churning through whatever L.L. Bean has concocted to tame the elements this year.

No no no. No gentle seduction by candlelight for me. No soft sighs, punctuated by sharp inhalations as the carotid is punctured. Rather I've got the unholy screaming, flailing and yelling, dragging them into the woods behind a tree where I can tear their throat out without attracting the undue attention of the Alpha Nu Omega pledge homebound in his screaming-yellow Chevy Cobalt.

No novels devoted to my lost cause. One good song, but I don't want to move overseas, especially now with the Pound to Dollar exchange being as shitty as it is. Guess I'll have to slaughter, call Mom to tell her I'm an hour late and catch a cab to the train station I was supposed to meet her at at seven.

Right, and like I have eighty five bucks to spare. College kids are loaded. With what I pulled out of his wallet, I couldn't get an Awful Awful at the Creamery.


Bunny on.

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