376. Precision Dawdling

The Nation met this morning and inspired me as usual to chronicle this meaningless meeting of human mediocrity. Let me first say that tomorrow is my 60th birthday and the fellas knew it. Steve and Doug were waiting with a chocolate chip muffin on a napkin. Adorning the muffin were two wiggle candles, one yellow and the other green, that resembled DNA strands without the connecting rungs… or bug antenna set on fire. Pick the one you feel is more appropriate. A plastic conifer tree stood at attention in the center, guarded by a plastic clown head that somehow resembled Donald Trump. I was touched as I snuffed out the two snakey candles and peeled the wax paper cup liner off the base of the muffin. MMMMm, not a bad way to start Coffee Nation.

No sooner had I begun eating my muffin than Joel arrived in a spiffy gray pinstriped suit with a black bow tie. Sharp as a diamond studded platinum tack in Al Sharpton’s silky lapel. Steve compared him to Harrison Ford in his fashionable tableau. I just called him Hair Ass, Son, with an Asian accent, and left it at that. Joel noted that his deceased father-in-law celebrated the same birthday as I. “He lived to be 99… and was a miserably smart, horse’s ass who disdained me from the get go.” Harsh words from the usually mild mannered Joel, but I was beginning to see things that only a father-in-law can perceive. Well, that eruption struck me as a methane burp from old decomposing feelings.  Therefore, I decided to share my evaporating weird dream from last night so as to steer a new course for Joel’s psychic dingy, away from the wicked shoals of cranky coral.

I was getting dressed , somewhere in my dream, for the birthday dinner party my wife had set up at the Gourmet Goat in Hagerstown. She had invited 15 folks to join us. We were waiting in a familiar glass house having a glass of wine with vague anticipation, or was it dread? Oddly, Donald Trump was a guest and behaving unpredictably civil. I asked him, “Donald, would you like a drink?” He declined without a bit of attitude, insisting that he did not drink alcohol and loved Mormons, Muslims, Morons, Mandalas, Mandelas, Mandolins, and that was just the M’s. Though it did look like he was passing a kidney stone.

The house began to fill with cousins whose names I did not even know.  They looked familiar and were dressed up for the dinner party.  I counted heads like my border collie does with folks in my house. He likes to keep inventory. He was abandoned by an accountant who moved to Oklahoma with the petrochemical surge in 2010. Fracking idiot!  I was keenly aware that we had way too many Indians for our reservation. As I looked around in my dreamscape I saw my sister-in-law and her kids; my wife’s cousins and their kids; and a deceased aunt who told me, ” I knew you wouldn’t invite me so I invited myself.” She looked good for a dead woman; wore a nice white satin dress; hair perfectly coiffed. Things were getting weird, though, and as  usual my bladder nerve was the director of this movie, so visuals started pulsing faster and faster. My dream self searched frantically for a bathroom or a bush.

That’s when Steve from Coffee Nation pulled into the driveway in a red car. He was early as usual, but had to go buy a helium party balloon at the grocery store. He was in a hurry and no one was in the empty Giant store. Creepy. Being an engineering genius, he went to the helium tank and inhaled two lungs full of the gas… and began to float like a Macy’s Thanksgiving blimp. He grabbed onto a shopping cart for ballast and sort of bounced out of the store, hovering six feet above the ground, resembling a gymnast on a runaway jet ski, only it was all in whoa slowa motion.

Meanwhile back at the house everyone else took off in various vehicles for the restaurant, leaving me behind to select a sports coat. As I exited the newly acquired second story, I realized that I was in Mexico, far south of the restaurant. Just then a Jeep with four Mexican soldiers showed up and arrested me in Spanish. I tried to explain to them that I had reservations for 15 at a restaurant north of the border, but they just looked at me like I was speaking English. I made a run for it up a flight of stairs that simply ended above a walled garden. Two little girls ran around me, teasing me with toilet paper and the key to the locked bathroom door that stood across the courtyard.  I heard the heavy footsteps of the Mexican gendarmes pounding up the stairs behind me. I closed my eyes and took a leap of faith.

I braced myself for a hard landing, but when I opened my eyes I found I was standing on Steve’s back, just like I was surfing without water beneath me. Wordlessly I communicated to him that he needed to vent some gas so that we could get moving laterally as the gendarmes lowered their rifles and aimed at me/us. He complied and we took off in a zip. In dream time it was a matter of seconds before we arrived above the restaurant 2,000 miles away. I know because Steve was singing Margaritaville and only had time for two lines…

“I stepped on a pop tart,

let out a big fart…”

The next thing I knew I was droning above the multitude as one of my cousins ordered a shark steak off the menu. Suddenly a 14 foot bull shark crashed onto the table and devoured him. The rest of the party looked away and ordered the chicken in unison.

The fellas interrupted my mad tale so that Doug could present me with a brown tee shirt he had made up for me. It had a nice coffee logo with Coffee Nation written boldly in a circle. On the front chest where pockets usually go was a smaller version with Supreme Leader underneath. I was touched, but wait, there’s more. Doug folded the front of the shirt up like a belly reveal shirt and upside down in white letters it read, “You need to GROWASET”. It was utterly perfect precision dawdling.

 

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339. Free Agency

The concept of free agency comes from the world of professional sports, as far as I know.

In professional sports, a free agent is a player who is eligible to sign with any club or franchise, i.e. not under contract to any specific team. The term is also used in reference to a player who is under contract at present, but who is allowed to solicit offers from other teams. In some circumstances, the free agent’s options are limited by league rules.Image result for Richmond Braves pictures

Before Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball for being a monopoly, pro teams simply drafted players and more or less owned that player exclusively. Players were traded with or without the players’ input. It was reminiscent of an enlightened plantation system. Players were paid but did not have any bargaining leverage.  Minor league teams are still called the farm system.plantation, cockspur island, georgia, slaves, slave life, black history

And what is farmed then harvested  there?  Pro players, human beings.  Sometime in the early 1970’s the Supreme Court agreed with Curt Flood and a system of free agency developed in baseball and then all pro sports. Salaries exploded and so did individual egos and prices for anything connected to the superheated frenzy of professional sports teams.

I often borrow the concept to instruct clients, who are sometimes players also, about transitioning from one relationship status to another. It’s not as simple as Facebook status changes where you merely click on a different label. For example, I often have angry seventeen year olds who are jacked up about getting out of their parents’ control and house. These kids think that on their 18th birthday some sort of mind meld magic will transform them into free agents. FREEDOM!!  Legally, yes, they are considered new adult citizens and they gain various rights like voting or signing contracts. They tend to overlook the responsibility load that is the counterweight to freedom. However, make no mistake about it:  they are not free agents in any other sense. Naturally the question is asked of me, “So what makes me a free agent and when?”

My answer is my own. It has not been researched or surveyed or subjected to statistical analyses. I say something like this… “When you have been paying your own bills without any help for five years. When your old bedroom is a den. When you are fully affiliated with a new team. When you make all of your own decisions and stick around for the consequences.”  All of these comments add up to this, “When you have grown out of financial, emotional, legal, and psychological dependence on your folks.” Breaking one link is just the beginning. It takes a long time and a powerful chisel to blast off the invisible handcuffs.

In broken romantic relationships this concept is painfully obvious to outsiders. The unhappy wife flirts with a paper hanger guy because her husband does not pay her any more attention than he does the furniture.  Shabang! Image result for wallpaper hanger guy pictures

Bob the wallpaper guy has all the time in the world for Sylvia as he teaches her how to soak the paper and book it over into a manageable size. It’s thrilling as he stands close behind her hardly whispering instructions to her on how to smooth out the bubbles and glide the wet paper into its proper alignment. Something tingles in Sylvia that has not tingled in years and she is smitten with his voice, his strong clever hands, his aftershave, even the Juicy Fruit gum he slowly chews as he squint winks at her from head to toe. “You are a mighty fine woman, Sylvia. I tell you what I’d like to do if you were mine…”

Of course, Bob leaves out the fact that he is between spouses himself. He fails to correct the small sample size that Sylvia is rushing to fall in love with. He owes back child support and his last divorce attorney a pile of money. And there is his current paramour Janet. But, hey, none of that is around right now.

Problem is that the ecstatic Sylvia is not a free agent, nor will she be for years. By then the wallpaper will have become so yesterday and very unsexy. No matter, she will have jumped ships, only to find out the rest of Bob’s story is so, so unsavory… A1 sauce on sunbaked road kill possum. 

No free lunch or free agents at that buffet. Oh, but the promises of Chateau Briand and Cabernet Sauvignon only make the available grub that much more nauseating.

No one wants to grieve or wait to love again. So men and women going through a divorce date others, who may be going through divorce themselves. No free agents here. Instead a compromise lives with or promises to marry another compromise, which makes for interesting introductions at gatherings.

“This is Sylvia, my, uh, friend, good friend. Buddy, partner, love of my life.”

“But Bob, you are still married to Stella, aren’t you?”

“Well, she just has to sign the papers and we’re done. I’ve moved on emotionally.”

“How convenient… you get to skip all the grief work and the transformation that suffering renders in a soul laid bare.”

“We are spiritual spouses,” adds Sylvia. “We are married in God’s eyes.”

“Did God tell you that?”

“No, but I’m sure He wants us to be happy. That’s what Jesus died for.”

“Um, not sure about that, Sylvia. I think he wanted us to be holy, honey.”

“Whatever!  When your husband quits desiring you, he’s basically breaking the contract, so you are free to go. That’s in the Bible, somewhere.”

“In the Book of Bob, I think. Look, you guys are driving a duct taped together rusted minivan  relationship off a cliff, and your kids and friends and other relatives are hanging on as you bounce into the spikey abyss.”

“Kind of exciting, isn’t it?”

“Kind of bigamy, isn’t it?”

“You are so old fashioned, Dude. Let’s go Bob. Gun the Harley and jump the canyon. If it makes me happy, it can’t be that baaaaad.”

 

 

338. Bloggerazis

The kid asked to be in my blog, like it’s Broadway for the weird. Actually, I have to ponder this analogy further. I do have a lot of weirdos, village idiots, wildmen, and perverts in my cyber pages. No one consciously auditions for my blog space, however. In fact, they often threaten me with civil suits, bow ties, and tweed jackets if I do not cease and desist my slanderous blathering. Okay, just Joel. Others simply do not know they have been featured. And how would they unless through the Ethernet of internet connectivity and global shrink?  [I don’t know what that last sentence means, but I like how it sounds informed and cutting edge intriguing.]

Unbeknownst to me, a friend from my old neighborhood days found my blog and faithfully read every post from the start right up to this point. For legal purposes we’ll just call him by his nickname, The Weasel. Weasel has been sporadically contacting me and bathing in the nostalgic bubble baths I have transcribed onto blank screens across the world and into the dimly lit living rooms of my three devoted followers on Haldol. I find some strange comforting validation in his faithful following. And an odd accountability since he knows many of the characters and landscapes I’ve written about. Oh the Humanity! Blogging is not as easy and simple minded as I make it appear, my people. Will you drink from my cup? I didn’t think so.

So here we are. Dorothy is the newbie barrista at the coffee shop and the daughter of fellow Sunday School members, Karlina and Eduardo. Mom is Austrian and Dad is Bolivian, if  you a’ bolievian me.  Dorothy was the lead in The Wizard of Oz  just recently in our local community theater. Besides being very talented and pretty and 18, she can realistically pass for 13 with braided pigtails and a plaid blouse. (Judy Garland pulled it off in the movie, but she was 16.) Now I had voiced my intention to see her perform. However, I failed to fulfill my intention due to other lame obligations. As I apologized for my absence yesterday, she said, “That’s okay. You can write about it in the blog.”  Redemption? Or redaction? Dunno yet, but I’ve written with less direction and less likelihood of success. I will boldly go where three blind mice fear to tread.  “Onward men, toward the Farmer’s Wife and her butcher knife.”

Wow!! I don’t know if she knows what she has asked. Like a toddler who wants a sip of Uncle Billy’s beer, the unacquired taste is immediately revolting so the toddler spits out the very thing she had just longed for. It looked pretty and seemed to be valued by valuable adults, so the child’s reasoning goes. Opening the hallucinogenic world of Burritospecial to someone who was a minor just last year… that’s dicey. I wrestled with the slippery, wormlike ethics for just a moment and then hung it on the hook for blog fishing. Ethics shmethics!! I’m not selling crack here, am I?

Well, Dorothy, in this adult world we struggle to make sense out of nonsense. We don’t always get our needs met in a timely manner. Folks fail and let us down, and sometimes we are the folks.  Let me  quote the philosopher Mick Jagger…

 

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was a footloose man
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you needAnd I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need
 
I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
You get what you need–yeah, oh baby
 
I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need
I don’t have much to add. Life is short and often full of peril. Suck the juice out of every minute just like you reportedly did on stage, Dearie. Be prepared and yet never get so rigid that you can’t flexibly come on back to Kansas.  “Oh no, Toto come back.” Truly, as weird as it may be, there is no place like home.

270. Grateful Migratory Striations

Where to begin?  Whew, take a week off and the shucking pile just gets higher, blogoysters. I have work to do but also a sacred duty to fulfill for my three dedicated (or is it dessicated?) followers. So, though my suitcase remains packed still and laundry is unwashed, billing is yet another pile, emails await responses, voice mails too… I slog on and blog on with Tales of Brave Ulysses pouring out of my generic office speakers as acid reflux threatens my lower esophagus. I will shuck on, searching for the teal blue pearl of blog lore. Keep on shucking, bruthas and sistas. Somewhere in the pile of life’s oysters is that one micro-treasure waiting for you to find her. Pearls, I think, are female. Don’t you agree? Of course you do.  Men don’t wear pearls. Yet the hideous oyster that births the pearl is at best a-sexual. I mean, there does not seem to be any jiggification possible between crustaceous shellfish. It’s just too crusty to even think about. Someone school me here. Where is a marine biologist when you need one?

Stuff goes a-wandering or gets lost, which is not a bad thing all the time. Good stories come from such migrations, I think. I mean, take Ulysses for example. Come on, if he hadn’t run off to the city of Troy, why would we name a dismal U.S. president for him in the 19th century? His Greek name was Odysseus, and certainly all my erudite blogafficinados know an odyssey when they see one. It’s a Honda mini van and a long intrepid journey with no guarantee of safe return. And the adjective odacyious has no definition in Dictionary. com, but fear not: If you repeat foolishness long enough, it becomes doctrine. Just trust me and keep on shuckin’.

Anyway, I was thinking about such things recently and about my old friend Mark Craver. We went to Hayfield High School together and were supposed to graduate in 1974 because our senior rings said that on them. Both of ours were aquamarine stones because our birthdays were hours apart. Anyway, (my second anyway in this paragraph if you don’t count the one in this parenthetical offset (… and why are you counting? Huh?)), I graduated a year early and went off on an intrepid journey, aka odyssey, to Merry Old England to see my former girlfriend in the pre-internet and pre-personal computers era. (See, I didn’t know that she was my former girlfriend until I got there and saw the proverbial writing on the wall.) I’m not saying that we could have broken up 4o years later on her Facebook wall, but most likely it would have gone down like that…

Image result for high school class ring pictures

“I’m like not as into you as like you’re into me, and I have like a line of cute boys at my door, so like we’re so done like mold on burnt toast. Unfriend. PFA. Persona non grata.”

So in 1973 I flew the big aeroplane to Heathrow Airport outside of London and took a couple of buses and taxis to Bury St. Edmunds to be near my former honey bee over the holidays. I was as welcome as the flu in the church nursery. Awkward does not quite cover it. In any event as I settled into the Dickensian Angel Hotel, I washed my hands over an old sink and went to bed, leaving my high school ring on the bathroom shelf. I never saw it again. But shed no tears, my friend.

About 25 years later a letter from England arrived at my alma mater. It was the late 1990’s as I recall. My buddy Mark was teaching English at our shared alma mater, and that almost matters. The principal read this letter regarding a 1974 Hayfield High School ring with an aquamarine stone. This savvy guy recalled that Mark had graduated in 1974, so he called Craver in.

“Hey, didn’t you graduate in ’74?”

“Sure, so did about 600 other folks.”

“Well this guy says the ring has the initials BFS carved in the band.”

“Oh, that’s Burrito Special’s ring. His middle name is Frank.”

“Okay, well, we got that cleared up.”

“You want me to call Burrito?”

“Actually, the guy in England doesn’t seem interested in reuniting the ring with the rightful owner. He just wants to know where it originated, I think. You know those Limeys.”

“Well, okay. I guess we’ll just keep the ironic wrapper and the Boinking Brit can have the candy bar.”

“Um, oh yeah, I forgot that you were a poet.”

So later that year or the next I was told this story from my majestic friend. We had a good chuckle, and that’s what matters. More than some silly ring, I heard my friend’s voice ring in my ear again. I did not know then that I’d lose Mark in just a few years. Now the chuckle is all that’s left of the story we chuckled over, as I exit my bedroom and whisper “Love you, Crave” to the dark room, it’s  a hollow consolation to look at his books and the bookmark with his life dates beneath a whale.  He loved Moby Dick, folks. “Argh, the white whale blows thar off the bow!!”

“Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Crave identified with that leviathan and the mad whaler captain, with the rough and barbarous places where life is often lived. He was Ishmael and I pray that God’s promise for Ishmael extends to my Burly friend who, when I think deeply about it, was/is the teal blue pearl of the greatest value.
Image result for pictures of a psychedelic echo