367. Toro Trouble

Wow, let’s start big, a snorting bull coming out of the chute, 2,000 pounds of kicking and bellowing beef pumped full of adrenaline and outrage. Boom! I am given to exaggeration, as you know already. I like words and their drama just a little too much, until I am thrown off my beautiful verbal bull and hit the hard prosaic clay of real life language.

“You need to take the trash up to the street. It’s trash night.”

Try as I might to make that green trash dumpster into a toro verde, I can’t pull it off. If I had a matador suit on with an Elvis cape, perhaps; instead I have only navy sweat pants and a fleece over flip flops. If my raven-haired wife held a crimson rose in her brilliantly enameled smile… as the crowd roared for Felipe the Matador trash man…”Keel the bull, Felipe”… I would baffle that green-eyed dumpster with cape play never seen before, leaving him exhausted by the side of the road, tamed and ready for the landfill.

In my blog world I can fling words around like celebrities toss hundred dollar bills in posh night clubs. But real life will not abide such foolishness. “That’s $2.42. You can’t use a credit card for purchases of less than ten dollars, Sir.” That’s so pedestrian, bordering on disrespectful. “Hey, kid. Do you know who you are dealing with here? These facial tissues will wipe away tears of princesses and duchesses, drag queens and drama kings. So suck it up, Buttercup, and run my card. Blog stars like me don’t carry cash. Too bulky in our skin tight yoga jeans.”

“Security. Check out line 6. Fazers on stun.”

As I go limp from the sudden blast of 50,000 volts of authorized Tazer Power, I pull the magazine rack down on top of my body, protecting my flanks with gossip mags full of rumor and vile lies about the Kardashians and Taylor Swift. The rent a cop smirks at the register jockey. “Sweet! I love that singed neck hair smell as they fall like cigarette butts into the ashtray of law enforcement.”

“You guys get to have all the fun, Sweeney. I’m applying to the rentacop academy this spring if I can pass the physical.”

“You need a 25 BMI or less, Winkie. You look like a 32 to me, if I was to guess.”

“You’re a meathead, Sweeney. I’m at 23.8, a semi-ripped BMI for males my age. Uh, isn’t that your car being towed away?”

Like a hysterical Ukrainian grandmother, Security Officer Sweeney polka waddled quickly out the automatic doors, shouting, “Stop. I’m the law here. Uncrank that lift. Release my vehicle. Do it now!! Stop resisting.” He waved the spent Tazer menacingly at the tow truck driver who responded by raising his hands in submission to the forcefully delivered yet empty threat.

Meanwhile I regained consciousness just beneath the commotion radar, so to speak. Crawling like Private Ryan across commercial grade asphalt tiles, I made my way to the impulse buy cooler and pulled down a twelve ounce can of Red Bull. In one long swig I emptied the pale red liquor and felt revived, untazed even. (Perhaps Tazers simply decaffeinate their victims.) My heart started pumping like, well, like a bull in a soccer stadium. My adrenaline surged. Heck, I was pissed off. I began to snort and paw at the slippery tile as I drew myself up on all fours. I was angrier than Al Gore in Florida, circa 2000. I just came here to buy a box of tissues, and I was assaulted by a mindless cop, faker than that whipped cheese wiz in a can. The pressure built into rage, then outrage. I could only see red, nothing above knee level. It was not so much tunnel vision as stuck garage door vision.

Across the open grand aisle a woman in a long red skirt sashayed by nonchalantly. I couldn’t explain the surge that rushed through my tense muscles. I had to charge the red blur or die trying. Mariachi bands roared in my ears calling me into the ring. An old dented trumpet warbled above the rising din.  “Hmph! Bellow!” My destiny awaited in the produce section. I charged wildly into the red.

Suddenly Winkie was back on the public address system, “Attention shoppers. We have a mad man acting like a bull in the grand concourse. Please do not attempt to subdue him. He seems to be in need of medication. Security to Produce please. All Officers. Code Mauve.”

I knew my time was short, but I could not resist the inner toro torque that welled up in me. My chest expanded and I felt a little tail pushing up and out at my rear, trying to erupt. I trotted forward, then burst into a full, vicious gallop. I had to pin that red blob against the fruit endcap that displayed ripe plums and nectarines as surely as a magnet must cling to a proud grandmother’s refrigerator door.

Just as I took my last gallop stride, the lady in the red skirt skipped backwards, leaving me to collide with the green sheet metal of the display case. A thunderous crash resonated throughout the Super Wal Mart. Witnesses later said it reminded them of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain only with fruit in a Wal Mart and a bewildered woman in a red skirt and fashionable black heels.

As I turned to face the terrified crowd of midday shoppers behind their stainless steel carts, I realized that a piece of copper plumbing from the guts of the fruit display was jammed onto my head like a pair of metal horns. My moment of truth had arrived. Sweeney and his underlings encircled me with loaded tazers aimed directly at my flanks. I smelled their sweaty garlic fear above the pungent odors of cabbage and broccoli.

Sweeney, “On my command, men. One, two, three!!!”

Six rentacops unloaded their 50,000 volt tasers simultaneously at my head. Something miraculous happened at that moment. Aaaahhhhh!!!!!  The spirit of a thousand dead toreadors sang out. 300,000 volts of deadly electricity arced across my copper horn set and returned to their origin points. In a flash six rentacops were knocked backward three feet into a state of temporary syncope. It was done.

I stood, brushed myself off, and spoke into Winkie’s walkie talkie, “Wal Mart shoppers, Ask not for whom the Bull toils, he toils for thee. Have a nice day.”

 

 

 

 

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360. 1461 [Days]

In case you were wondering, the title is not a phone number I found; it’s 4 years of days plus one day for leap year. That’s how long I’ve been at this blog business. Averaging 90 posts per year or one every 4 days. Whoa! If this wound up on paper, I could be sued for wasting trees and contributing to global warming. I could also be charged for corrupting miners, except I have never written for or about miners– coal, gold, salt, silver, copper, nada. Internet loitering is not a crime yet. But I plead guilty, my honorable blognoids. I have loitered in cyberland and wasted over a thousand hours in the passionate pursuit of purposelessness.  Yet, never has posting felt like forced duty at the gym or reluctant treadmill time. No, I find it therapeutic to blather into the blogisphere as my life sputters by.

It feels like I’ve been at this a lot longer, but my trusty WordPress stats confirm it– four years. Over 300,000 words easily since most of my posts come in around 1,000 words, my self imposed limit. Along  the way I learned how to import pictures that I scammed off the internet. What a difference that made. I’m a fairly visual guy and love finding images that seem to connect with my eccentric words. Some folks go about with metal detectors and find metallic treasures in fields and stream beds. I go about with my image detectors, my eyes, in search of connective visual tissue. But for me a tiny 8 watt bulb lights up when I find a picture that adds energy to my impoverished, eccentric words, caged in horizontal lines.

Centric means to be in the center or central. Ec & centric means to be off center or outside the circle of centeredness, often taken to mean ‘unconventional and slightly strange’. Outside the box, over the top, in one’s own orbit, marching to the beat of a different drum, etc. Yeah, no argument from me. Looking at my body of work, or is it play?, I’d have to conclude that it constitutes a strange stream of consciousness that sometimes flows uphill, backwards, nowhere, and everywhere; spiraling inward and outward across the limits of time and space. I have written about penguins, vodka, birds, flowers, dogs, gila monsters, coyotes, hitchhiking, God, prison, health, age, youth, music, art, innocence and experience, coffee nation, immigration, politics, love, faith, forgiveness, death, plumbing and the list goes on and on. Why?  Many reasons. I like language. I enjoy writing. I like to entertain, maybe even educate, folks

When I worked as a construction laborer in the early 70’s, I felt there was more to life than shoveling dirt and gravel all day long. I remember reading The Brothers Karamazov that dark winter and feeling deep intellectual and spiritual pings on my soul’s sonar. The messages were not acutely articulated. It was more like whales barking across the ocean. That was the same year I took my trip to England and Scotland, ’73-74, without a plan. I simply followed magnetic fields that drew me elsewhere. At the time I attributed my spontaneity to freedom and nonconformity. Looking back I give God credit for protecting me from my own arrogant stupidity.

Later on I went to college because my closest friends were going. I fell in love with learning and with my future wife, who had odd concepts like goals and structure and discipline. Whew!! I am still amazed and grateful that we continue to travel life’s path together. And still those sonar pings keep hitting my soul, telling me to be elsewhere, beyond this moment that I usually enjoy. Not alone necessarily but elsewhere. I guess it’s the same old wanderlust that led me away from safety and routine in the first place, deep into wooded acres and far across forbidden perimeter roads. Hearing my mother say, “Don’t….” often led to a desire to inhabit the prohibition, unsupervised by adults.

The Gravel Pit was fenced off from our ball field and elementary school yard. Of course older boys had created openings for us to pass through. When The Pit was operating, we’d sit on the surrounding banks and watch the big machines load dump trucks with orange sand and bank run gravel. Duly impressed by the diesel smoke, the loud thuds of a load, and the rumble in the earth as overloaded trucks ground gears across dusty roads. We’d ride out bikes across hillocks of hard clay and jump gullies eroded by years of heavy rains. Days had no numbers then, no end was imaginable beyond one setting sun. Watches and calendars were for adults to worry with. We pursued lizards and turtles and snakes, squirrels and possums, along with the secrets of becoming a young man. After the last employee left the Gravel Pit, we’d inch down like forest creatures and explore their vehicles and sit in backhoes and bull dozers. We were  in awe of the raw power they possessed. Yes, we trespassed but did not vandalize. It was more like going to a museum or an amusement park. We displayed boyish reverence for these enormous clanking monsters.

 They were huge and powerful, and we weren’t… yet.

Richard Cooper had a Suzuki 90 cc motorcycle that he’d ride like a bat out of hell up Dorset Drive and across the school grounds, down into the Gravel  Pit. No helmet. No license. No tags. It was the 60’s, man. I was often on the back of the overloaded machine, hanging on for dear life or any life at all. I have a vivid memory of chasing down a ground hog that was too far from its hole. I caught it under a basket and had no idea what to do next, so I let it go. The outcome did not matter so much. The wild chase, the breathless hunt, the exultant thrill were all that counted. We weren’t huge and powerful, yet.

At nearly 60 years of age I can roughly calculate how many more days I am likely to experience in this life. 7305 if I live to see 80. I’ve never calculated my expiration date before, but I can’t say that any more. So, happy anniversary to me, Burrito Man. Live big but practice humility. It’s easier to carry than shame.

 

327. Dilemmas and the Dalai Lama

Dilemmas are difficult double bind situations in life. The classic line “Damned if I do but damned if I don’t” sums up the word.

noun: dilemma; plural noun: dilemmas
a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. For example,
“the people often face the dilemma of feeding themselves or their cattle”.
The official word origin says dilemma comes from “Di (two) Lemma (premises)” but it could come from two lemurs, muttered by a drunken Austrian dude, “der lemurs”, as he exits a petting zoo in Munich.
 We all face them, dilemmas (not der lemurs) in life. I recall when I got a loan for the house we built in 1985. Interest rates were ridiculous at the time. Oh how the Reagan love slaves forget. It was not unusual to get a fixed rate of 15% on a twenty year loan. Great for the banks but untenable for regular slobs who bought their own lunches.  We took a gamble and risked a three year variable loan at 11.5%. It was dicey because we feared the rates would go up again like a drawbridge after three fixed years and we’d be stuck forever on the wrong side as the Trump Yacht sailed through the bridge’s gap. Fortunately the market corrected in that time and we refinanced at 9% and then a few years later at 7%.  Nice returns for the banks but a bloody mess for the average working family. Bankers butcher their customers and leave blood and oxtails on the floor when they are done “helping” their customers… in my overly dramatic slightly eccentric opinion.
 Image result for banker pictures
The dilemma part was that paying rent went nowhere while real estate prices were only going up and up. So if you rented cheap places you could live on the meager wages you earned but never acquire any long term assets. On the other hand, if you bit the bullet and bought overvalued real estate at historically inflated interest rates, you were skating on thin ice in April. No wonder that dilemmas are often compared to the horns of a bull. Either option will gore you to death.
 That’s got to hurt. Oddly, hard charging hot growth economies are called Bull Markets, butt as you can see, (or, as you can see the butt) timing is everything.  This matador should have cashed out five seconds earlier. He may be singing “Der Lemurs” with the drunk guy at the zoo in his newly acquired soprano register. Not Tony Soprano either. To the tune of Edelweiss,
“Der lemurs
Der lemurs
Every morning you greet me
Black and white, clean and bright
You look maniacally happy to greet me…”
Clink! goes the tequila bottle against the St. Pauli Girl growler as the new friends stroll along the wide streets of Montevideo.
“You are alright, Pedro, but why do you walk so funny?”
“My butt cheek got gored by an angry two thousand pound bull at 8 miles per hour, Claude.”
“You don’t say.”
“No, I just did say.”
“Did you know Al Gore invented climate change?”
“Claude, you’re drunk if you believe that.”
“But I’m drunk if I don’t….”
Sure, it’s all good and funny until some poor matador gets gored in his back door. I mean, how would the attending surgeon go about that procedure? Now I get the example given above, “do you feed the people or feed the cattle?” Neither the bull nor the matador is going to want to eat after this chance meeting. “Just ice water with lemon for me, thanks.”  Me, I’d slaughter the bull, cut the horn off, and send the matador to the ER on a cart with a hole in it for his shamed face to hide in while checking his Facebook page.
“Holy Guacamole!  I went viral for all the wrong reasons. My nameless faceless butt is famous. Oh the humanity!”
Now here is my dilemma:  at 500 plus words into a frothy no calorie word shake, I must develop the other horn, as promised by my title–> His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Other authors who possess self respect, common decency and solid boundaries would stop here and delete the previous 500 words. But not a man named for an oversized Mexican flour tortilla. Burrito, you will be amazed to learn, means “little donkey” in Spanish or Mexican, as you wish. Sometimes also affectionately called jackass. I am not avoiding the Dalai Lama discussion with my trail of embedded footnotes. No, I’m just a curious guy.
 I do wonder what happened to the previous 13 Dalai Lamas, however. So I went in search of the truth at Google. In moments I was surrounded by more Tibetan Buddhist words than Madonna has stiletto heels. I had a hunch there might me a llama loose in the woodpile, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please tell me because I don’t know what I mean. Like a goat I pick all low hanging humor fruit, rotted or otherwise.  It’s delicious.
So, the Dalai Lama is the counterpoint to my first point, which I can’t recall making. In a nutshell it was about the dangers of drunk guys going to bull fights and singing songs from The Sound of Music. There was also something about interest rates and bull markets and bull crap. Let me cut to the quick–  the  man we have come to know as the Dalai Lama was a burned out accountant from San Francisco who moved to Montana, determined to start over again. He traded in his suits and lap top for a flowing robe collection, mostly saffron and scarlet. He looked like a college dean from Holy Cross on graduation day as he wandered about the hills and dales of Montana, looking for new meaning and purpose in his life. He took on a cowboy name, Dale, and began to raise and shepherd homeless llamas.

After several years, locals called him Dale the Llama Guy. It stuck. His flocks grew and his wisdom found a big enough sky to flourish beneath. Old Dale just spread out like smiling wildflowers, possibly edelweiss, blown along the foothills. One day, however, two slightly drunk guys came by singing “Der Lemurs”, and Dale knew what he needed to do… get to Tibet as fast as he could go, to save humanity from itself. And that, my children, is the whole truth about dilemmas and the Dalai Lama. Maybe.