I’m sitting at a bar. . .

. . .minding my own business. Just sitting back breathing in all the bacteria that’s holding this place together to give my immune system a workout when this woman grabs my arm. I look at her and she’s a classy grandam you’d find in your sophisticated drunk tank.

“Ya wanna bust a nut?” She says, most coquetteshly.

I smiled and said, “Some times you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” I polished off the remnants of my beer and exited.

“I was thinking in my head. . .”

“. . .which is the best place to think.” I interrupt. “I tried thinking with my ass for a time but all those ideas turned out shitty.”

A Little Light Lifting

There was a request last night by someone more powerful than me to wake up ‘good and early’ because we’re going to take the leaves raked and bagged in October to the city yard.

Before I get to what befell me that morn, let’s take a look at the phrase ‘good and early’ shall we? That’s impossible. When I wake up early it’s seldom good. When I wake up good it’s seldom early. So why this request is made to me, more often than it should be, befuddles me somewhat. It’s not as if the person making this request hasn’t met me in the morning. They’ve seen me get up at the crack of ass because one of the fuzzy little bastards who squats with us has decided I’d better get up and feed them before they cause me to bleed ‘good and early’ again.

With my eyes open no larger than a pinhole so as not to let in enough light to actually wake me, I battle the little bastard while trying to do the one thing he’s requesting of me: nourishment. I crack the can, he rubs on my leg; I start peeling back the top, he jumps up crashing into my hand causing the can to clang into the bowl; as I attempt to keep the bowl from crashing to the floor the little bastard tries to jam his head into the can; I push the brat away with my elbow while attempting to spoon the gloop into the bowl while trying not to get any on his head (I will admit to failing from time to time); while making sure all the gelatinous nutrients enter the bowl this pain in the ass is reaching out with his paw trying to get the bowl to his face. At this point I’m awake early but it is not good. I turn on the faucet to make him get down (why I don’t do this first every day I don’t know), head to the feeding area and try, as had as I can, to go back to sleep.

Sometimes I win, today I lost.

I look at the clock to figure out what time I need to get up to accomplish the tasks ahead of me before work. During the negotiation I figure out one big thing, I’m now awake. Damn it. I trundle out of bed, grumble to the shower, and think about how I’m going to bumble through the rest of my longer than usual day.

It’s at this point I’m sure you have a question. Go ahead, ask, I don’t mind.

“Okay, if you insist.” Says the cautious reader. “How can you be dumping leaves now? It’s barely spring where you are. Didn’t you tell us about your frightening ordeal with leaf raking last fall?”

Good memory! I’m proud of you! I did indeed bitch, I mean, convey a tale about raking leaves many months ago. What I didn’t mention in that story was taking all those leaves to the city yard to dump. These would be those damn dreadful leaves.

You see, unlike myself, my girlfriend likes to prolong jobs. No matter how crappy the job I like to see it to his damnable conclusion. Even if I’m covered in slime and my fingernails are resplendent with mouse guts (don’t ask). But she makes the decision to wait for another day.

Sometimes that day doesn’t come for over five months.

Let me explain what’s happened during those last five months: rain, freeze, rain, rain, freeze, freeze, snow, freeze, snow more times than I want to type, freeze, freeze, freeze, and for the last three day, torrential rain. So that’s when she decides it’s the perfect day to take bags of leaves to the city yard.

“Because the snows finally gone.” Is her wise decision.

Without taking into consideration the shape of the bags (brittle throughout, bottoms almost soaked through) and their weight (thirty pounds of leaves are now sixty pounds of soaking leaves with ice formed on the bottoms of the ones that never get any sun. Those three bags are going to have to be carefully pried from the asphalt. I’ve already been told countless times that I’d better not rip any of the bags. Have you ever touched an elderly persons skin and could feel it almost rip from their body?

The bags were in worse shape than that.

I get to the first bag and try to slide my hand under the bag. This simple task was made more difficult because the slime that I assume was keeping the bag together was frozen to the ground. Knowing I have no choice but to get this done today I lean in, shove my hand between the bag and the ground and begin to slowly, gently extricate the bag from the ground. It was at the this moment, with my body bent at the waist, one hand trapped between frozen slime that I felt something tear. But don’t worry, it wasn’t the bag. It was only my back. Right side, just under the shoulder blade.

It wasn’t as bad as the back injuries that have put me on the ground (the three times in order of manliness: lifting a treadmill, tossing a sleeping bag, sitting on a couch). But I could tell it was going to make breathing, lifting and bending difficult. Good thing I have none of them ahead of me today!

When I can finally straighten up I carry the bag uncomfortably to the truck. Then I do it with his five water logged, still iced, just as heavy friends. But I finally complete my task. Well, this side of the task. When I get to the city yard I’ll have to reverse the order. We get near the pile of dastardly leaves that have probably injured many of this cities denizens I ask my girlfriend to back the truck closer to the pile.

“Why? This is close enough?” You may think she’s being mean, with my delicate condition and all. But she knows nothing about it. If she’s caught my halting breathing she’s paid it no mind. If she’s seen my wince every time I move I see no evidence. And there’s no way I’m telling her. The bitching I’d get would be on par with if it was a bag that ripped. Not worth my going into it. So I take as deep a breath as I can and ask, gently because that’s all I have in me, to please back closer.

She does so I jump out. My plan is to slide the bags out of the truck. That makes some of the job simple but there’s still the dead weight carry to the pile. Don’t think my girlfriend didn’t try to help. She did, bless her girlish heart. But she couldn’t lift the bag. The last bag of demon leaves tossed into the pile we drove off.

I get to work and grimace through my day. A few hours into my day I get a phone call. I listen carefully, patiently, until the mind numbing headache arrives. I was just informed the motor on the washing machine at the house died. So tonight I’m going to have to dig one out of storage and move it into the basement.

Good thing I’m in tip top shape, huh?

If you ever. . .

. . .want to screw with the oh so helpful cashiers here’s a good way.

You walk up to the counter with all the stuff you’re buying which initiates their pre-programmed question,

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” They begin ringing you up and ignoring you because they expect a ‘yes.’ After all, why would you have stopped shopping if you still had things to buy?

So you toss them off their program by saying, “No.”

A look of horror will cross their face. They stammer a response while groping for the managers call button.

“What didn’t you find?” Now here’s where you have to sell it. You have to look them dead in the eye, never breaking eye contact which will freak them out, and say,

“Salvation.”

The myriad of expression that will dance across this persons face are a joy to behold.

I was talking. . .

. . .to a guy who looked like Normal Mailer and spoke like Truman Capote.

I’ve rarely been more off kilter.

Writers Are A Funny Breed

As Jane Sibbery said in song.

I’ll admit I don’t like many of them. Sorry if you’re a writer and think of me as your friend. But you I like. It’s the other people. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of writer who tells you his tales of all the fantastic books, boundary breaking scripts and titillating limericks they’re going to write.

The truth is most writers I’ve come across are vain, petty, self-involved, egotistical, back-stabbing, low self-esteem having twits. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It only means I know you.

I had a writer/friend who found out about a job that was dead center in my wheel-house. It’s like the job was tailored around my peculiar abilities. After it had been filled I found out he knew about it long before. He’d even seen me many times before the position was off the table. I asked him why he failed to mention it to me. His response was,

“If I couldn’t get it I wasn’t going to let you get it.”

This from a guy who used me as a reference on many occasions.

It’s not as if he had a shot at the work. We’re totally different types of writers. I’m good and he’s a plebian hack. Just kidding, we’re in two totally different disciplines. I write every day and he talks about writing every day. No, I’m just kidding again. He would never have been considered for the position due to his lack of experience in the genre. It’s like me and science fiction. It’s not a genre I have the vocabulary for.

But if I heard about a job and knew someone who could do it, damn straight I’d pass the lead along. I lose nothing and may help out a writer/friend.

An odd thing about talking to writers is the conversation. I don’t know if everyone gets this but I get these exercises. Off the wall scenarios. Like the other day when a writer/friend asked me to riff on,

“What do you think your obituary will say?”

Who asks things like that? I’m assuming less a writer/friend than a potential murderer/friend. But I sometimes have the time to go down these jagged paths. So I do. What have I got to lose? One less writer/friend? A win/win.

“I know exactly what my obit will say because I’ll be the one to write it. It’ll be the largest readership I’d ever have because people have been waiting so long for it.” Then I start.

Chris Zell is dead so please, pay off your wagers. He did many things in his life we won’t go into because we’re paying for this by the word. Isn’t that odd? Usually he was getting paid by the word. There won’t be a service because he knows you’re busy. Why fuck up a perfectly productive day just to stand around saying, “I think he still owes me twenty bucks.”?

He had his good faults and his bad. He tried to be a good friend but that’s not a decision he could make. He did feel he had many friends. And he loved them. He tried to be a good boyfriend but with a skill set that mainly consisted of being able to hit balls and break them you can see how trying he could be.

Instead of a service he’s asking you to go to a comedy club, listen to some stand-up, watch a funny movie, tickle yourself, it’s your choice. Do something that makes you laugh. In lieu of a donation to whatever killed him (it killed him for fucks sake! That would be like Roman Polanski putting $20 a week in Manson’s canteen) buy yourself a drink, get yourself a meal, go out and do something, again, your choice. If you can, make it something you did with Chris. It’ll be like he’s there but it’ll be cheaper because this time you won’t have to pick up his bill.

The Accidental Prank

Unfortunately, I live in a house with other people. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. It’s living with them that gets draining. When you live with other people you have to adapt. Strike that. I have to adapt. They seem to do whatever the hell they want but if I leave my coat on a kitchen chair after bringing in bags and bags of groceries, trust me, it’s considered a war crime.

As most know, I shave my head. Have for almost twenty years. When I lived alone (ah, remember those days, my friends? When my bits were all about kitties and wind chimes? No? Then who am I thinking of?) I would shave my head in the shower. I liked it. I accomplished much in the shower. It was a time to think, work shit out, not be bothered. Along with shave and clean up.

But when you live with others you must adapt. I couldn’t spend all that time in the shower because other people also have to do whatever it is other people do in the shower. And I couldn’t stay in the bathroom to shave because it turns out when people gotta go there’s very little to stop them. So I had to figure something out.

While trying to find a solution I shaved at work for a few days. I’d get to work early, head to the bathroom and groom. It wasn’t bad, the job got done, but it seemed rushed to me. Shaving my head is a very relaxing time of my day. I’ve learned it’s not the best idea in the world to be frantic while shaving heads. So I had to figure something else out.

I got it! The basement!

It’s your run of the mill non-glamorous basement. But it has two slop sinks that’ll be perfect to shave at. At first, naturally, my idea was met with skepticism. After all, how can an idea I come up with be anything but ridiculous? But this time there are no alternatives. So I grab my shaving kit and head to the basement.

The next evening after work (when my girlfriend watches that days General Hospital – which I won’t have to now – an accidental perk) I’m looking around and I think I might like this place. I put my earbuds in, listen to some tunes, and get my shave on. Just before I lather up I’m thinking one thing is missing. So I go back upstairs and grab a beer.

Yeah, I’m gonna like this set up.

While I’m down there I notice an old wind-up alarm clock not running on a shelf. While looking at it I remember an old advertising gimmick. When clocks had hands whenever they were in ads the hands would be at ten minutes past ten. The reason is that ad people thought it looked like a smile. And it does, sort of. So that’s how it was always done. So, to pay homage to my old advertising days, I put the clock at ten past ten. And it stays like that for days.

One day I noticed that it moved. Maybe someone had to time something. I don’t know. So I ten past ten it again. Then every once in a while I notice the hands have moved. I think nothing of it and do my thing. Weeks, months go by. I think nothing of it until one day one of the people in the house has a freaky story.

“I use the clock when I’m doing laundry to make sure I don’t miss my shows.” I start to get a jingly feeling in my tummy. “And the strangest thing has been happening. No matter how I wind it when it stops it’s always at ten past ten.” She looks absolutely freaked out right now. She goes on to say she it’s her late husband sending her a message.

And I can’t laugh.

She goes on and on about this miracle of beyond the grave communication.

And I can’t laugh.

She goes on and on about how she knew one day he’d get a message back to her.

And I can’t stop myself from continuing to do it.

But maybe I’ll change it to four forty so he looks sad.