404. Born to be Mild

Joel has been on the lam for the past three weeks or so. Could be a month. It’s been a social and intellectual drought in his absence. However, time is sketchy. At our age time is measured in sinus infections and colonoscopies. The sky won’t rain; the chickens won’t lay; and the cows will not come home. I don’t really want the cows to come home, mind you, but that leads right into one of Joel’s favorite movies, City Slickers.Image result for city slickers 1 pictures

If you recall, several rather impotent midlife crisis New York men go out west to a real working ranch to find and flex their manhood. Despite many challenges and setbacks, Billy Crystal transforms from some sort of fragile wimpy dud Dad insurance salesman into a true cowboy hero. He brings in the herd after the real cowboy leader (Jack Palance) dies. Crystal observes, “What did you expect?  He ate bacon three meals a day.” Let this be a warning to you lard inhaling bacon lovers. Do you want this epithet on your tombstone? “Killed by nitrates seared in salty pork fat.”Image result for city slickers 1 pictures

Similarly noted in Coffee Nation, “Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” That virile (or is it viral?) spirit led our mild mannered Joel out of Turtle Town onto a world class motorcycle trip into the Ozarks with several other biker dudes from around the world. You see, he recently purchased a three wheeled Spyder motorcycle, which is worthy of much envy. But our local roads could not contain nor constrain his Steppenwolf heart that beats beneath a sharp new leather vest, bursting with high test testosterone.Image result for steppenwolf band pictures

“Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway

Lookin for adventure and whatever comes our way

Yeah Darlin’, go make it happen Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space.

I like smoke and lightning  heavy metal thunder

Racin’ with the wind and this feelin’ that I’m under

Yeah Darlin’, go make it happen  Take the world in a love embrace

Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space.

Like a true nature’s child  we were born, born to be mild

We can climb so high  never want to die.

Born to be mild.”

Before he left for his journey, I managed to wheedle him into a napkin will, where it was clearly stated in his inky hand, that in the event of his untimely death on the Tail of the Dragon trail, I would receive the Spyder, if it survived unscathed. I had the napkin notarized by Shirley, who calls me various men’s names and occasionally gets the right one. I was torn, however, between wanting to hear Joel’s road warrior tales and driving my new Spyder cycle. Come on, you would too.Image result for spyder motorcycles images

So, Joel has returned intact with a certain swagger that comes from deep immersion in the hot springs of masculinity. His jaw seems more square and his posture post modern, beyond framing. He announced in  his purple checked shirt that he had to leave for a meeting in Shippensburg, and thus he could not attend Coffee Nation. Wow! Just Wow! We moved out to the noisy sidewalk to do our suddenly less important business, but Peter Fonda’s stunt double remained inside, finishing something epic on his Ipad.  Eventually he emerged and put on that leather vest, a funky helmet and away he road on that Spyder, like Harry Potter… into a world we mortals could only imagine.Image result for pictures of faces of abandonment

I was left without any tales of Brave Joelysses or my much coveted Spyder cycle. I felt robbed twice, as if someone stole my wallet from the guy who stole my wallet. It hurt in an abstract sort of way if you thought about it long enough. Somewhere Shakespeare’s lines on mercy seemed reversed–

“Envy is twice cursed. Like gasoline stinks on the pumper and the pumped.

It curses he who covets and he who is immersed.

Leaving both as empty as a wheel barrow dumped.”Image result for gas pump picturesUnlike Billy Crystal Joel did not return with a calf named Norman. That would have been special, by Golly. Norman on the back seat roaring through Turtle Town.Image result for cow on a motorcycle picturesBut he did return with a huge mildewed heart. Being mild is okay, my blog warts. It allows for a comfortable move forward, while remaining grounded, safe, and homogenous. The highest state of mild is “to become the dew of mildness, also known as mildew.” Wild is for crazy risk takers who don’t wear helmets. In salsa sales mild is by far the leader, not medium or hot. Know why? You can always increase the kick of mild, but you cannot unwild the hot stuff. A jalapeno without a fever is a fake pepper and will never become a gastronomical dictator.

And that is Joel. For sixty some years he has been building up to this zippiness. Aging well like old amontillado wine. He is enjoying life uncorked now since accepting Social Security and AARP benefits. Rockin it, too.Image result for amontilladoAnd I am trying really hard not to be envious, but I am failing miserably. He has taken on mythic stature in his semi-demi-god retirement. Image result for zeus on a harley davidson images Could it be that the Sermon on the Mount passed over the mild because their inheritance was too materialistic?  “Blessed are the mild, for they shall inherit the cool cycle, hang with Motor head dudes, tame the Dragon Trail in the Ozarks, and walk as giants among measly mortals.”

Image result for walter mitty imagesTom Petty told us “If you never slow down, you never grow old”, which is a nice lyric but a very hard trick to pull off into your seventies and eighties.

In any event… I guess it’s okay to have Joel back on his Spyder. He’s the man, the myth, a giant among dwarves. All the men of Coffee Nation stood a little taller that day as he gunned the Spyder and whirled away dervishly.

“You’re a savage gift on a wayward bus,

But you stepped down and you sang to us.”

So Joan Baez glorified Bob Dylan, and so we salute you, Joel. Born to be mild.

Image result for mild mannered man pictures

 

 

 

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229. Summer, Glory has arrived

poppy field of poppies flowerIt finally got here, sum-sum-summertime. And how glorious these first few days of June have been– crisp, clear, perfumed with honeysuckle and fresh cut grass, and all the various trees in fragrant flower. The glacial ice of my marrow is melting unconsciously, just as it had dried and frozen in December. Tension grew in all my cold muscles and achy joints as I clenched up in the long cold months of winter. But now the days are like cream cheese and butter oozing across a toasted bagel, seeping into every pore, healing the squinty-eyed mood moles hidden within. Hold that thought, bloggums: now slather some freshly made strawberry jam all over it. Man! That is exactly what I’m talking about. The simple delights of daily desires quenched. Fire engine red poppies the size of grapefruit halves are standing proudly outside my sunroom windows facing south. No wonder opium is magical; the poppy flower in bloom is a fantasy on a tall stalk all by itself… half balloons pulling themselves high above the garden’s gravity. The fish pond waterfall  behind them gurgles out a call of nature, water music accented by the many birds that happily chirp around our yard. There’s a purple martin sipping a, well, a martini, of course. Awesome. Ohhhh, feel the mountain of tension slide off your shoulders, my tired blog miners. Summer has come like a cold draft beer to our parched senses…aaahhhh!

Glory hallelujah.No, that’s not a picture of my fish pond, but it’s close. Mine is bigger and clogged with maple helicopter pods at the moment. Who cares? It’s summertime and the living is easy. I’ll clean it before you visit. Okay?  So the sun seems to provide psychic energy all around, don’t you think? Not only does photosynthesis stir up the greenery, but something like psycho-synthesis stirs in humans throughout the summer. They get more sensually connected by spending extra time in nature. They sweat away toxins. And happiness shows up like a gold finch or a hummingbird one warm morning. You can’t help but smile at these glorious creatures and their beautiful busyness. They make frenetic two year olds look lethargic. Joy rises as surely as a poised iris in June…magically.

Just articulating these summery things causes my guts to untwist while all the little muscles in my face relax. Deep breathing feels right now and not at all forced. Inflammation deflames somehow. It’s not scientific but beatific. Feeling blessed. There’s a major difference between feeling blessed and feeling happy. Happy just happens. It’s root is hap, or luck.  Blessed implies a Blesser and a relationship; it’s no accident to be blessed or anointed. Imagine walking down the street and finding a hundred dollar bill under your shoe. That’s luck or hap. Now imagine a lovely card with a hundred dollar gift in it from a loved one. That’s a selected, intentional blessing. “I was thinking of you on your graduation, birthday, anniversary.” Naturally you react differently to these two scenarios. The expression “Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then” reflects luck or happenness. However, if you feed your beloved pot belly pig totally organic Asian red oak acorns from your sanitized hand, well, that’s a swine blessing. Don’t do this at home by the way without diapers on. And look under your shoes. See any Benjamins?Ben looks so dour in his dandy puffy pirate shirt. He could use a double shot of summer’s tonic. He needs to shed some layers, maybe shave his head bald for the season. Wax it.  Tan. Get an earring. Start surfing, Dude. Flow like David Crosby. There you go.

Just flow. “I almost cut my hair… but I didn’t and I wonder why, may be I feel like letting my freak flag fly.” Freaky!

Okay, enough non-filtering about. I have a season to paint like Monet. Hey, how about this one? It’s a beauty.Words don’t do such a painting justice anymore than words capture music, but that’s all I’ve got to offer, blogsmiths. Exotic colors explode in the light better than consonants can explode into mental concepts in one’s neocortex without hallucinogenic flares. Other parts of the brain process color and music, which is only right, far from accounting and bookkeeping functions. And that’s what summer continues to pulse out at us weary humans– colors, warmth, textures, tastes, sounds, smells and sensuality that have lain dormant since last fall. Out they come, not frozen and merely defrosted, no. It’s all fresh produce. So let the bullfrogs croak like lusty blokes. Let the crickets chirrup their little clarinets. Let the neon lightning bugs blush bashfully in humid air. Let the cicadas ge-ge-ge-get going like they da-da-da-do. Big copper moons will rise in the eastern night skies and set like fried cheese by the early morning light. Let wonder wash over us again and again.

 I fully realize that my style of writing is associative and tangential, vinelike  with a cornucopia of images at each tendril. Such growth can easily get out of control and require an editor to prune back the verbiage… come fall, perhaps, but not today. My kiwi licorice limbs are reaching out for support, clinging even to one another in their urgency to thrive before they helplessly collapse. When I was younger I didn’t even possess this much discipline and often drove my sentences into mineshafts and off cliffs while trying to capture elusive moments, feelings, and epiphanies. My artless word bouquets often drooped and decayed without direction or notice. I’m not so sure it’s any different today, I just lack the worry about others’ approval now, which is freeing. I hate having to explain myself to folks who can’t get it to begin with.

So let me finish with a big crescendo, bloggles. In the beginning was summer, and it was good and pure like childhood. And the rest of our lives are spent returning there.