Cats Meow

I was at a place where people had unfettered rights to speak. I agree, I should have known better. But I have a good excuse. I was forced to go. I can’t say it was all bad. 99.999% of the people were pleasant. Enough. But isn’t there always one? One person who’ll spoil our non-asshole having fun?

It could be the pontificator. The person who considers himself an expert on one subject so tries to inject himself into you like Bill Cosby. Totally unexpected and unwanted. It never matters if this person is right or not. They’ve spent their valuable time learning something so they feel it is your duty to be there as they unload. Again, much like Bill Cosby.

It could be the passive aggressive whisperer. This person may actually have nothing to say but that won’t stop them. And, because they know, as a human, it’s a natural response to try and listen when others speak, you’ll strain to hear their barely audible murmuring so they’ll have your complete attention.

But usually it’s the loud person. No matter what this person says they feel it’s so important it must be bellowed as loudly as an air raid siren. I’ve had the misfortune of being around many of these people and, in my experience, what they are screaming is never important.

But boy do they say it! And they never stop. I think that’s what’s so amazing. It’s the verbal equivalent of a runaway freight train. Oh sure, it’s going to stop eventually, but you’re never sure where or when. And, when it does, the aftermath is devastating. Because you know, once they catch their breath, they’ll have another train with a newly packed load ready to go.

I’m standing there having what could be described (by others) as a pleasant conversation. A person is telling me about something they did, had done to them, was thinking of doing or had to postpone from doing. As I said, others may have found it pleasant but, to me, it was a series of minor inconveniences that was partially to mostly their fault that they wanted me to agree it was not anywhere near their fault. Some people like that kind of conversation. I muddle through. I give them my divided attention and they seem fulfilled when they inevitably see someone who hasn’t heard this tale and leaves.

I like to be there for these people for as long as they want to speak. Not because of any true desire to hear how Janine at work is a total bitch who has the boss wrapped around her press on nail fingers so never has to do any work. But because I know the alternative is worse.

Case in point, after the person I was just talking about left she was replace by a guy who has a revolutionary, life altering diet he wanted to tell me about. Which made me want to tell him about my life altering diet which is not to eat everything in the fucking building. But his was much more, as he said, revolutionary so had to tell me all about it. For forty-five minutes. I shit you not. Do you want to know what his diet was?

No?

Please, let me. I need to get it out of my head some way. Thank you. And I promise I’ll sum the forty-five minutes I’ll never get back in three to four seconds (depending on how slow a reader you are). And here it goes:

His diet was totally designed around your blood type.

I wish I was joking.

But even a tale that ludicrous wasn’t holding my attention. He was being overpowered by a hurricane called The Bloviator. She was holding fort directly to three people who were shoulders against the wall trapped. The force of her windy speech was keeping them from unpinning themselves. Her physicality was making it impossible for anyone to have their legs go limp and snake out of there. They were trapped but everyone else in the building was, to a lesser extent, engulfed by this beast.

Another person, who had his eyes locked onto this beast, walked up to us and said,

“Man, is she loud or what?” The person who was talking to me knew this woman and said,

“She’s always like that. She thinks she’s the cats meow.” I watched as those who could covered their ears and move to a, hopefully, safer distance. Feeling pity for those trapped in her verbal vortex I responded,

“Isn’t it amazing that those who feel they’re the cats meow are actually what comes out of a cats ass?”

Curse

I pissed of my sixth person today. Relax! Relax! It’ll rise. I’ve only been at work for two hours.

The sixth person was extremely pissed because I would not do to the letter what she wanted. I did do A through W but X, Y and Z was pushing too far.

She pleaded, growled, tried to get in touch with my humanity (ha! Stupid stranger), attempted to intimidate until she finally figured out she dealing with, to her, nothing but a cold-hearted, dead eyed stone wall so she said,

“You will not do this for me?”

“I would not do this for anyone.”

“Have it your way.” Just like I’d planned to. “You’re forcing me to do this.” What this? Report me to the authorities? Punch me? Storm off never to be seen again? Guess which of those three I’d prefer?

What she does is grab the pen out of my hand and, as if she were a magician, had her ‘TA DA’ expression on.

“The pens are free.” I say pointing to a display filled with free pens.

“No, because of the way you have treated me I am going to put a curse on you.” And you had to take the pen to write yourself a note? I attempt to stifle a chuckle but I guess I failed because her ‘TA DA’ face vanished and became a ‘no you didn’t’ face. “You should not take me lightly. I am very powerful.”

Knowing me as you do you have to realize at that moment I’m wondering how I’m going to get you to believe this is what she said. I thought for a while before figuring it out.

She really fucking said that.

Now that you believe me I’ll carry on.

“Listen lady, I’ve had two Italian curses, one Haitian and one African. On top of that I now have whatever juju you do and look at that, I’m still here.” I pause here while she stews thinking that, because another curse is involved, my boss won’t be too upset with what I’m about to say next. “So, fuck yourself right off.”

I turn and go back to my desk. I do not think I was being impolite. How would you continue a conversation after having a curse cast? I’m sure if Dear Abby was still kicking she’d say,

“Dear Cursed,
This is an extremely charged situation and one that must be dealt with seriously. I would suggest that you take the high road and politely say to her, “Fuck yourself  right off.”

So the lady does as Abby requested and I sit down to write this. I had to get it out of the way quickly, I figured just in case. It would be hard to write at all if, overnight, some of my appendages fell off.

Naughty List

A guy comes up to me and says, “I’m sorry to tell you this but I was talking to Santa and you’re on his naughty list. Mostly for the way you’ve treated me.”
 
I look at him for a second before nodding my head and saying, “Totally worth it.”

Christmas Shopping

I don’t do it.

It’s not that I’m saying I don’t have the Christmas spirit. I leave it to others to say that. It’s just that I don’t shop. Have. Learned my lesson right quick. Didn’t like it, not one bit. And it wasn’t because of crowds or whatever I was buying wouldn’t turn out to be exactly what they wanted (“Oh, so sorry I didn’t know you wanted the off black instead of the midnight black. Will chewing a dozen bulbs from the tree be punishment enough or should I just ram the entire tree up my ass?”).

I don’t enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy shopping the rest of the year either it just seems that when you say you don’t shop during this season people think you’re committing a felony. I know what you’re saying,

“Come on! No one likes it but it’s the holiday’s what are you gonna do!”

Sucker. That’s just what the Industrial Christmas Complex wants you to believe. You know what beats shopping every single time? That’s right, not shopping. And don’t think people don’t get gifts from me. They do. The best gift. Gift certificates to everywhere (AKA money). Oh sure, my girlfriend has complained,

“But you never surprise me.”

“I’ll surprise to next year.” I say. “I’ll adjust the amount. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I bet you can guess what direction the amount will go.”

See? Even when I try to surprise her she doesn’t appreciate it

How can I explain my hatred of shopping to you? Ah, here’s one. Let’s say we’re going to chop down your Christmas tree the old fashioned way: with a chain saw and a case of beer. We tromp through the woods with me swinging the chainsaw Leatherface style to warn the woodland creatures of their impending homelessness. We arrive at the tree you find perfect. You are happy. I hold you down at the base of the tree and beginning cutting. At first you think it’s a lark, a little holiday mischief. But then as the saw starts sliding through the bark into the core of the tree and you are getting saturated with wood chips, bark and the overwhelming fear of your own death you begin to become concerned. The deafening roar from the chainsaw, mere inches from your fleshy face, renders your bloodcurdling screams useless. Shards of wood imbed in your face coloring the new fallen snow a festive red just as the tree falls snapping your neck like a twig.

Add Christmas carols to that and you’ll begin to understand how I feel about shopping.

But don’t think my friends and loved ones go without. Oh no, if they request something they’re too lazy to go out and get on their own I have a group of friends who actually call to see if I need anything picked up. Isn’t that the best thing? These minions, as I so condescendingly sounding call them, stop by take an order and off they go. I don’t know how they do it but it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without you folks. Thanks for encouraging my behavior. I hope to continue the tradition of annoying some and entertaining others in the coming year.

Merry Christmas (and all the other holidays I’m too lazy to type out) and Happy New Year.

The Sleep Trilogy – 3

Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.

Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.

I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.

I was in a military hospital. When you’re a kid being in a military hospital is a life changing experience. And not just because you’re so fucked up you have to be in a hospital. I saw all kinds of wounds from all kinds of guys (sorry women, it was a mens only ward). I talked to men who were going to have face to face conversations with loved one to tell them life would never be the same again. I’ve taken that with me. Shit goes wrong in life as it has in mine but whenever it does I think back to those guys and the things I saw and the conversations we had and say,

“Someone is always worse off.”

I know because I’ve seen it.

No matter how fucked up their lives all these men were great to me. There was a funny demarcation line about going into the military. Injured officers would sing the praises of a life in the military. Push the fact that my father was an officer. I didn’t miss the fact that none of those guys had weeping wounds and owned all their body parts. The grunts sang a different tune. They’d get together and plot on ways to keep me out of the service. One offered, in the spirit of brotherly love, to cut off my toe. One of the nicest things anyone’s ever offered me.

I was in for a while so I got to see how things worked. The overworked staff was efficient and caring. Most of them had rotated out of battle zones to this pretty damn cushy assignment. A ward full of fucked up men with fucked up lives. The after photo of what they’d pick off the battlefield.

I was sleeping one night with the sounds of pain and rustling around me. When I told friends after I got out about the almost constant moaning at night they asked me if it was creepy. They all thought it was quite odd when I said no, it was comforting. Because that’s the way I knew they were still alive.

I wake up one morning and look around. I saw something I’d never seen before. The entire ward was empty of patients. Some of the beds had been moved out. It was odd to have that silence. That was creepy. I sat up and a corpsman saw me. He’s walking up to me laughing.

He tells me everyone was evacuated because of the fire. I figure he’s joking. Trying to get me going. I figured it was some military thing and he was busting my balls.

“Don’t believe me?” He said. “Look out the window.” He pointed out the window behind me.

The entire facade of the building was scorched. It looked as if there were two floors effected. I looked down and there were still a couple of fire trucks finishing up. I looked back at the corpsman and he can see I’m wondering why they didn’t move me.

“Everyone was up. Even Quiet Paul. The noise was so loud it woke up people off the base. Everyone in the hospital was awake. But you just laid there.” I’m staring at him still wondering why they didn’t move me. I wondered if some of the brass heard what the grunts were telling me so ordered me to remain as kindling. “We just figured anyone who could sleep through all the noise and fire and smoke was dead. We’d take care of you in the morning.”

Yeah, I’ve heard that before.

The Sleep Trilogy – 2

Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.

Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.

I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.

But when I do sleep I do it hard. I mean no amount of noise could wake me up. My mother standing over me screaming didn’t work. Car crashes outside, arguments inside, I’d get them in the news tomorrow. I’ve always thought it was funny when people have asked if I can hear myself snoring. How stupid is that? I mean, I’m sleeping I didn’t hear the cops surrounding the house because the house arrest bracelet of the idiot upstairs went off. Cop cars were all over the street but they didn’t stay long. Turns out the bracelet went off when the paramedics took him out due to a drug overdose.

As with any heavy sleeper who moves around I’ve fallen out of bed. That usually wakes me up so before anyone can run into see what the noise is I’m already back under the covers as if nothing at all has happened. But that’s not always the case.

For a period of time I had to sleep in bunk beds. No, I wasn’t in prison. The house was small, a cousin lived with us, so, bunk beds. Things were okay on the top bunk. Sure, if someone turned the overhead light on it was like looking into the sun but you learn to adjust. Roll with the punches.

I’m sleeping and it’s a normal night. I’m still until I start moving and then I’m still again. I roll over and back again. The next time it’s a larger arc and maybe a bit to close to the side of the bed but no. I’m back on my back and all is right in the world.

Until I rolled to far and fell off the top bunk.

It just so happened at the time my mother walked by to watch this. I landed with a thunk directly on my head. Concussion number seven or eight, I can never remember, I’ve always considered it. My mother comes over and looks at me.

“Chris.” She says then repeats. She leans down and I’m not moving. She can’t tell if I’m breathing. Probably because I wasn’t snoring. She tried to rouse me a few times before doing what mothers around the world would do. She went to bed.

When she told me this story the next morning (where I woke up on the floor) I posed the question about the possibility that I could have died in the fall. She said,

“If that was true I figured you’d keep until morning. Why ruin everyone’s sleep? Ambulances, police, the entire neighborhood would have woken up. Better to take care of it in the morning.”

Compassion. I know where I get mine.

I know. . .

. . .I’d be a great juggler.

But I just don’t have the balls.