Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Life Story’ Category

Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada, home of watery Canadian Bacon Beer, which should be called “ham beer”.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely, and this changed our lives.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it beyond the intense fear we experienced.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck. Drugging the wife and putting her in a crate in the back of the truck is not an option that should be left unexplored.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me in tongues.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her hand instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, sour gym sock sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires that are near immolation?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame. If you were to roll all those scents and materials into little balls it would make a hell of an herbicide.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octupi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.  The young man is chewing on his lip hard enough to bleed and he has a large set of veins throbbing at his temples and forehead.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note: If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat from Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo
Left the city in a pick-up truck
Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat wasn’t from Kalamazoo, our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil, just a sociopath.  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground with emotion, even to the point of slipping it the tongue (and got a phone number from it – don’t tell Cruel Wife).   We threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the three-part story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet in spite of the fact that I snore like an asthmatic donkey (her words), and we continue to live in Michigan.

Read Full Post »

Dirty Dozen

I grew up watching Bronson, Marvin, Eastwood, and other tough guys with my dad. The Last Detail with Nicholson.

Point is I learned from him that some ideas don’t fit in standard orthodoxies but are equally valid. That honor and truth can come from anyone, are exceedingly rare when things get really bad, and that some ideas are worth dying for. Good lessons to learn from your dad.

I am watching the Dirty Dozen right now and it is one of my favorite movies. Hell in the Pacific is another one.

Good movie, the DD.

Read Full Post »

Unbearable Joy.

Quote for the day:

May a bloated yak change the temperature of your jacuzzi.  – The Great Carnack

****

On our journey through the NW a few weeks ago, we stopped by the home of a fellow who I consider a good friend of many years, who you have heard me call SCSSP (Six Cans Short of a Six Pack).

He isn’t crazy, per se, but he’s… unique.  He taught me how to make my first spud gun.  He taught me that it is completely possible to take a drag on a cigarette while chugging a beer at the same time.  (Do not ask me how – I do not know)

He is the fellow who, during day #3 of a huge party at my sister’s house one year, helped me to finish off a bottle of rum.  The folks hanging out just opened up the hide-a-bed in the living room, threw us on it after we passed out, and kept partying.

So we woke up (blearily) the next morning and my sister said quietly “So…WHAT DO YOU GUYS WANT FOR BREAKFAST???”  She hollered that last part very loudly, in case you wondered.

So SCSSP, who is extremely quick and nimble on his feet and only grows more so when drunk, like Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, immediately went into deep thought.  Trust me, we were still drunk.

My stomach roiled and churned.  I had a bad taste of the ‘zactlies’ in my mouth, where your mouth tastes ‘zactly like an old tractor tire with critters living in it.  I was… not well.

SCSSP belted out “MAD DOG™ AND FRUIT LOOPS™!”

I blanched, then turned green.

My sister ran out without hesitation to purchase some Mad Dog™ and Fruit Loops™.

She returned a while later with some Mad Dog 20/20 Wild Plum Supreme™ and a box of Fruit Loops™.   If you don’t know, MD 20/20™ is an unbelievably horrible wine made from grapes that did not live well.  They only ferment after rotting and then are aged – sometimes as much as six hours – and then much sugar and “fortification” is added.  It is a rancid swill in the best of times and worthy of Hell at its worst.

SCSSP opined that not only should my sister bring us both a bowl of Fruit Loops™ with Mad Dog 20/20™ instead of milk, she should also bring us coffee-cups full of the stuff after nuking it in the microwave to just long enough to bring it to steaming temperature in order to “bring out the bouquet”.

I vowed to never let them see me sweat and dug in with gusto and quaffed the cup full of vile liquid in one draught.  It made the room lurch and spin but after a bit I felt right as rain and ready to go again.  I wasn’t ready to start drinking so early in the day so I stuck with beer until 11:59am and switched back to rum (I hate being bound by social conventions).

So anyhow, SCSSP has a wife who is really really nice and I met her for the first time.

I saw a pic of her as a kid (and surreptitiously snapped a shot of it) and it kind of explains how she fits SCSSP in temperament, I think.  I have attempted to protect the identity of those involved.

What you see is a girl who is rather unhappy that a deer antler is getting in the way of what would be a nice pic of her on her bike.  Poor dear.

****

From the You Can’t Make That Stuff Up files:

Lab tech parties with escaped monkeys

University employee found with pants down, monkeys roaming free

Relax.  The monkeys were given a rape kit and found to be ok.  The tech, however, is still being correctly regarded as a majorly disturbed pervert.

I love the article where it says:

A Georgia Health Sciences University lab tech was recently discovered in a campus locker room engaging in unusual behavior.

Really?  What behavior, exactly, tipped them off?

****

Only in Nepal… Nice, quiet Nepal…

A farmer in Nepal reportedly turned the tables on a venomous snake who bit him, chasing down the deadly cobra and biting it to death.

Source:  Fox News
Oh.  Okay.

[The farmer] then chased the snake down and bit it repeatedly.

“A snake charmer told me that if a snake bites you, bite it until it is dead and nothing will happen to you,”

Right.  I guess I knew that.  Of course… duh.  And all this time I’ve only been returning the bites of cobras one-for-one.

****

Update:  Civilization as we know it is as doomed as the Romans.  Dog shaming online.  Oh yeah, that will show Fideaux or Fifi… they’ll boot up, check out Tumblr, and tuck tail and run.  Serves them right.

Read Full Post »

The main post is below this impromptu Lemur Life Story…

aliceteach over at DPUD has a great post about Frank Miller for Toddlers.  That won’t make sense if you haven’t seen Sin City, but go watch the movie she put there.

My comment there was:  At least at that age you can say “Oh, look at the funny looking rubber ball!” and almost (sometimes) get away with it.

It reminded me of a time in college when my roommates and I, in a fit of boredom and an innate desire to be obnoxious (alcohol may have been a factor), crafted in the dark of night a (anatomically correct) 7 or 8 foot tall (erect) male phallus-thing.  The wording was chosen to avoid certain Google searches .

We poured bucket after bucket of water on this thing and had a layer of ice that was inches thick over the whole thing.

The next day we got pictures of each other sitting on one or the other of a pair of giant testes, and I had one of myself sitting there, proud as can be, complete with the full-arm cast I had for several months.  Shown below is a very good friend from those college days, and we’ll call him… OldEnglish800… for reasons which I will not divulge at the moment.

OldEnglish800, feeling teste, face blurred for his own good.

Women were driving by our house and every few minutes a car would honk and chicks would yell “Whooooo!”   It went on for hours until someone got cheesed and called the cops.  We denied that it was ours and the cops decided to get in a workout with their clubs.  They were extremely tired after trying to break several cubic feet of ice with nightsticks and had some firefighters come and loan them some axes.  They were not too happy with us, but as future events unfolded we became much more closely involved with them.  They had our number.   That’s another story.

I took the picture back home for the Christmas holiday.  The family was laughing over it and my grandmother comes in and says “What’s so funny?”

Immediate silence.  A hush came over the room as we all panicked and thought as one, “What the hell is the right thing to say and could someone else please say it so I don’t have to?

It got kind of awkward after about ten seconds with the ten or twelve of us sitting there as if we were Bambi frozen in the middle of the road by the Pork Chop Express’ lights.

The pressure was building… building… and suddenly my aunt jumped up explosively and said “LOOK MOM!  HERE’S A PICTURE OF LEMUR SITTING ON PART OF A GIANT SNOWMAN!  Isn’titsillyhowhe’soutinthesnowandcoldwithoutaproperjacketandthatcastuncovered?”  Then she started hyperventilating, gasping for breath.

We held our collective breaths, waiting for the moment that our almost-octegenarian matriarch would figure it out and come unglued.  Believe me, a 4′ 11″ matriarchal ungluing is not something you want to witness more than once in your life.

She turned to me, looked me squarely up and down, frowned, and said “Lemur, why are you going out in the winter without a coat?  You could get pneumonia!”

I shook my head in shock and said “Well, Gram, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I guess I was so excited about building a snowman I forgot it.  It only got down to 8F that day so it wasn’t like it was viciously cold.”

My Gram walked out of the room muttering about how terrible I was taking care of myself and again, as one, ten or twelve of us went for our drinks and had doubles.

Goes to show you – octegenariansn and toddlers can be easily deceived at times, but you can’t depend upon it.

****

Now, for the original posting material…

Titled:  Oh.  Yeah, this means goodbye, I guess.

Harold Camping, Doomsday Priest, has apparently stuck by his prediction that Tomorrow (Friday, October 21, 2011) will be The Day We Die.

Don McLean sings softly in the background:

Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?

I’m pretty sure that the Rev. Camping has not cleared his bank account or sold his house yet again, despite the rather obvious need to spend money like there was no tomorrow in order to save the last few souls.  I’d say if he is enlightened as he says he is, it shows a remarkable lack of faith on his part when you look at the record of his behavior.  I’d also say the good Rev. Camping never actually read the Book of Matthew.  Just sayin’.

I started singin’,
“bye-bye, miss american pie.”
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”

But, wait… the old fella suffered a stroke (but didn’t die) in June, which seems awfully soon after The World That Refused to Die Event (May 21st, 2011).  Does that not seem like a pretty convenient way to shutter yourself away from a world full of derision, mockery, and in the case of the gypped people, betrayed anger?

Yup!  It does to me, too!

Yeah… I hear what you’re saying, Camping, but no offense… you’re a f***ing loon.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

When you look at all  the nice well-intentioned folks (but stupider than a bag of hammers) that gave this screwball all their money and gave away their savings and gave up homes, it becomes obvious that another part of American Pie would seem to fit the good Rev. Doomsday.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

Don’t read anything into this.  I just really like the song and I thought it would be fun in conjunction with mocking the Doomsday Priest, is all.   I’ve often wondered what McLean meant in the lyrics but I don’t obsess about it.  It’s a catchy tune.

I was a Jim Beam man, after Tanqueray Gin, of course.  I don’t like Rye though.  Blech.

Read Full Post »

Update:  Headline over at Drudge:

NYC hit with bedbugs, stink bugs - now lice...

Wait a minute… are we talking New York, or Washington D.C.?

****

Note:  Sorry for the delay in posting this final installment.  I just plain haven’t felt “swell” or “peachy” enough to post.  In fact you could use my expression for how I’m feeling… “Never better.”  This was freshly proofed by my captive proof-reader, Intahx E-cated Ho‡, using Dark Jedi Mind Powers.  Long live the Republic!

‡ Not the proofer’s real name.

Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and still cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, human sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octopi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note:  If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat Named Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake

And a cat named Kalamazoo

Left the city in a pick-up truck

Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat obviously wasn’t named Kalamazoo (duh), our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil (only in moderation).  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground (literally), we threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet, and we continue to live in Michigan.

Read Full Post »

Where were we?

We had just left Hardin, Montana – Little Bighorn territory – meaning that we had escaped the wary and watchful eye of Cruel Wife’s grandmother behind us.  This part of the trip was different since all we had in terms of familial relations between us and Michigan was Silver d’Cat.

Silver was getting by in a stoic manner.  He wasn’t happy and really was about as stiff as if we’d spitted him on a long chunk of rebar, but he was a cat – how relaxed could 99.9% of cats be when driving for long distances away from anything remotely familiar?   He was mellowed out relatively speaking, when measured against his response to the beginning of the trip.  I firmly believe his little cat meows were saying “Fine, I’ll behave, just don’t pill me again.”

We were heading south on I-90 towards Wyoming when it hit me (as it has done many times since)… “Settlers killed indians for this? ” It was just one long expanse of pretty country, but what comes with that territory is extremely harsh winters, hot summers, no A/C, no CVS pharmacy, and no coffee shops.  How did they survive in those primitive conditions?  One wonders.  Staying in character, the Shadow People said nothing and shared nothing with me that was enlightening.

Another side note:  Cruel Wife wasn’t exactly pleased that I was experiencing these little “sensory enhancements”, i.e. The Shadow People, and I don’t think I was, either, but it was better than sneezing twelve times in a row (truly “A River Ran Through It” was occurring in my sinuses) and doing spontaneous four-wheel drive sessions.

We hung a huge left at Buffalo, Wyoming and beelined east, stopping for an extremely hot and windy break in Gilette – a roadside turnout where there was no one to hold our camera and take a picture.  The cat didn’t have opposable  thumbs and wasn’t interested in photography anyway.  It was much too hot that day so we walked around but never too far from the truck just to make sure the cat was resting peacefully.  He didn’t seem to mind it.

This was the part of the trip where I was watching the cat closely.  I checked his leash for signs of being chewed through and I could not find stockpiles of squirreled-away food, but I felt that he required close observation anyway.  I did not want to have to track a Himalayan through the wildlands of Wyoming.

Satisfied that all was as it should be we got in the truck and continued down the road.  Again, I said to myself “They killed indians for this?

We consulted with the cat and then unanimously decided that we should swing north and go by the Devil’s Tower.  I distinctly remember being so excited to see it that I was about to pee myself (I don’t get out much).  We got closer and it kept getting bigger and bigger.  The cat wasn’t impressed but we were in awe of the sheer size of the thing.  Close Encounters of the Third kind did not do it justice even on the big screen.

Earnest Question:  What are Close Encounters of the First and Second Kind like?  Is this similar to dating?  I’ve never really understood the logic here.

It was shortly after this that Silver licked his paws clean of what he considered to be a total farce and meowed that from here on out we should not even bother to ask him what he thought about our route.  This made life simpler as you can imagine.

New Rule #6: Keep the cat out of trip planning.  It saves time and is far less annoying to not hear “Well, you can count me out, man” all the time.

Mount Rushmore was neat.  If you want to read all about it, go look it up or even better, go see it for yourself, but I just don’t have the energy to wax eloquent about it.  It was big.  How is that?  It was big.  Four big guys.  Four big stone guys.  There, my duty is fulfilled.

Let me be absolutely clear:  If you don’t drive across this country at least once, you will have no idea how freaking big it is.  We were seeing signs for Wall Drug(store) for many many miles before actually getting to Wall, SD.  I had no appreciation for how little we’d actually come.  Yes, we were about halfway, but we’d been driving for a long time over the last few days and… it just kept going and made the Energizer Bunny™ look like an amateur.  Soon we were driving through the northern part of the Badlands and it was kind of forbidding.  Forbidding is not a warm fluffy blanket – forbidding is a bed of nails, a bad section of town, the promise of splintered bones grating against each other, or the angry glare of a furious wife.

Wall Drug in Wall, SD.  How shall I describe it?  Shall I be gracious?  Shall I be caustic?   Dry and objective?   I think I shall break with tradition and tell the truth.

Wall Drug was a letdown.  After the string of signs for a hundred miles designed to work me up into a lather I expected everyone to have wings on, big pearly gates, and the sound of harps strumming from every corner.  Instead it was crowded, touristy, amazingly huge, and not even a teeny-tiny bit interesting to me.  I don’t care for crowded places.  Smells and the obnoxious people that went with them, most with a total lack of situational awareness, and lots of rude maladjusted kids running around wasn’t blowing up my skirt.  This was Wall Drug in all it’s gaudy and flashy glory.  Yah.  Hoo.  Cruel Wife liked it but my skin was crawling.  I’m sorry, I wish I could say nicer things about it.   Actually, I don’t.  It was what it was.

Ok, moving right along, folks – nothing more to see here – keep moving.

Cruel Wife was getting pretty tired by this point.  It had been nine hours not counting stops from when we left Hardin, roughly.  Nine long hours in a Jeep (they don’t drive themselves, you have to constantly watch them as if they were rebellious teens) and our butts were developing bedsores.  The cat was getting pissy(er) than he had been and I was thinking I’d either give him Drixoral™ or another kitty downer but then thought better of it.  I took the Drixoral™ instead and I decided I wanted to press on after we ate some dinner and so we drove another three or four hours.  I was Captain Robo-Dex, master of the known universe, and a milepost-eating god.

I finally had to throw in the towel when we came to Mitchell, SD because my vision had slipped back and forth between double and treble (which is an important symptom, I’m told).  Everyone was happy to stop, and the cat even squealed and clapped his paws in sincere rejoicing.  We found a rather unremarkable hotel and crashed there for the night. I might be the only one but I find that hotels the world over (except for The Lennox in Boston) have this atmosphere of bone-weary exhaustion that isn’t all that much less pervasive than the mood at a funeral home.  Cheerier than a funeral home, granted, but a pervasive stillness always settles over the building.

I might not have mentioned this, but my large red toolbox came in with us at night, and it weighed whatever a quadruple hernia weighs.  Two or three suitcases, a cat carrier, a kitty litterbox, kitty food, the royal kitty water bowl, a kitty, a quad-hernia toolbox, and Cruel Wife’s Special Pillow came in and out with us when we stopped.  Going in and out of the hotel may not have risen to the level of an Augean Stables task but it was a real hassle and again my Shadow Folk were nowhere to be found.  Less than zero when you’re in a bind, those Shadow People.  The only thing that stayed in the truck was the recliner.

New Rule #7: Do not travel with a toolbox that weighs enough to give you quadruple hernias unless you like the idea of surgical procedures designed to keep your innards from falling out.

And we were off the next morning a few hours before the crack of noon.

South Dakota is a very nice place, full of nice people to be sure, but I was so glad to be over the state line.  It was a mental hurdle, a huge milestone to overcome.  We consulted our AAA map (provided by my employer) and saw that we had a long way to go still and that thought effectively catapulted my milestone off in the direction of the Badlands.

Minnesota was pretty uneventful up to the halfway point when we went through a dust-storm kind of thing where the sky and air all around us was tinted an eerie red color.  It wasn’t right and honestly it made us Northwesters a bit nervous.  The cat was already nervous so we didn’t see any noticeable change in his behavior.

We fell in love with Wisconsin though.  Crossed over the Mississippi River (God what a miserably long and redundant name that is) and came into LaCrosse.  We screamed by Sparta and did a power slide into I-94 on the way to Madison.  What was beautiful about Wisconsin?  Gosh, all of it.  For me the memorable features were parts of it that looked like certain sections of the Cascades in Oregon (Hwy 138 on the way to Diamond Lake from Roseburg, if you care) and it had hills and stuff that South Dakota was lacking in places.

We ended up in Madison that evening.  We had a hotel room all ready, I moved all of our stuff inside, and we decided to get some food.  Silver d’Cat demurred, meowing simply “You can count me out, man.”

In our travels through Madison we found the Red Pepper restaurant and had some General Tso’s that makes me weep to think of it even this day a decade and a half later.   I remember a crispy egg roll that was stuffed with love and manna.  And we experienced a hot and sour soup that defies description beyond saying that it too has made the remainder of my life seem as wispy and ephemeral as a fading daydream in comparison.

Perhaps it was because I was freaking starving.

Perhaps the trauma of the Chinese food in Montana was reaching through the heavily roped-off sections of our subconscious and we simply looked for healing there, without knowing what it was that we did. Perhaps the reality was that it wasn’t good food.  I honestly don’t know.  What I can find online says that it is permanently closed, which makes me a bit sad.

Outside this restaurant we got our first exposure to The Onion in printed form – it was in a little newspaper box next to the “alternate lifestyles” flyers.  I’ll try to post it if I can find it.  It is lying around here somewhere.  My favorite article ever is the that first one that I saw: “Doritos Celebrates it’s One Millionth Ingredient”.

We laughed and read The Onion that night at the hotel and skritched our sulky kitty until it was time to turn out the lights.  There was a big day ahead of us, and we had no idea how ill-prepared we were for the adrenaline-pumping experiences that were to come.

Read Full Post »

Note:  Cruel Wife will undoubtedly remember things a bit differently so this story may evolve a bit as I am corrected.  Some of this is embellished a bit, yes.  The places and people are the same.

Cruel Wife and I lived in Washington. We met, we dated, my life was over before I knew it. I proposed, we killed time, and we got married.

The End.

Not really, no.

Just after we got back from our honeymoon I got word that I was in a last round of layoffs. It was not an auspicious beginning.

After looking for work for months – and I mean months – I found a job in Michigan. I flew out to begin my new job while Cruel Wife finished her degree (she analyzes failures for a living, mostly mine), and then a month later I flew to Washington to meet up with her and then move the last few items “back east”.

For a Northwest person, anything east of Boise is “back east”. To a Northwester, moving within 100 miles of Detroit is a death sentence or consignment to Hell, whichever seems worse. It varies from individual to individual.

We loaded up my truck with what little was left to move and set off from Pullman, Washington (Cruel Wife is a Cougar – no, not that kind of Cougar). It wasn’t easy. We knew we’d be leaving behind good coffee, friends, family, good coffee, the beautiful Northwest, good coffee, Taco Time™, and real seafood.

For my part I was going to miss Taco Time™ the most.

For Pete’s sake, you didn’t believe that, did you, Faithful Reader? It was coffee. And seafood. Again, you believed that? Okay, okay, friends and family.

We had suitcases, my toolbox, a big medium-sized recliner, and a cat carrier. With a cat.

Let’s focus on the cat for a moment.

Silver d’Cat was a Himalayan, which is cat fancier-speak for “cat with a really flat face”. When Cruel Wife and I were dating early on, Silver (short for Silver Streak) d’Kitten would nap on my chest when I napped on the couch. It was an equitable trade. He used me and I got points with the girlfriend. He was a pretty cat, never really a big cat, and one of the kindest little kitty hearts you can imagine.

Silver d’Cat two years later, with a new name and identity, now an unhappy cat in a cat carrier on the seat between us, in a jeep. Not one of us was happy, and Silver and I were competing to see who could be the most annoying in voicing our annoyance. The vet had given us a bottle of pills to give to Silver, ostensibly as a mild sedative, but there was one teensy problem, and at first blush you might not think it was a problem and your mind would move on to other matters, oblivious to certain realities.

The pills were about one inch in diameter. The cat’s throat was about 3/16 of an inch in diameter, less if you were trying to give him a pill. This was a problem. This is the rough equivalent of fitting a hippo into a VW bug. It’s also a good deal noisier. With every limb straight out, every hair on his body standing on end, his claws fully extended, and his eyes the size of dinner plates we would tackle him and force this giant pill down the Maw of Death, my pet name for the beginning of Silver d’Cat’s alimentary system.

I realized right away that he and I could not share these pills – they damn near killed the cat, so why would I want to subject myself to that? Instead, since my allergies were really bad, I stuck with Drixoral™, which causes me to see Shadow People and that made the drive much more interesting when I was behind the wheel. If one were to glance at the instructions on the package and actually read them for comprehension, one would see:

Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.

This was no problem since the Jeep classifies as a light truck. So went my reasoning.

Fifteen minutes after the first pill, Silver stopped yowling in a screeching tone and more in a druggy-screeching tone. Cruel Wife informed me that she’d take a look and see how the little guy was doing.

“HE’S FOAMING AT THE MOUTH!!!” blasted into my right ear, shredded the already spongy-matter that comprises the greater share of my brain, out of my my left ear, and left stuff that was really hard to clean off splattered against the driver’s side window. The Jeep screeched to a halt as I locked up the brakes and stopped on the side of the road. The journey of thousands of miles starts with but a single panic attack.

We drug druggy-yowling Silver d’Cat out of his carrier (getting him in was like putting toothpaste back in the tube) and decided that he wasn’t happy outside the carrier now.

It was early on in our relationship and I had not learned that most of the time you’ll do a whole lot better if you never say anything. “Oh yes, he’s foamy all right. Hey, you could use this stuff as shaving cream – it’s got body to it. What? What’d I say?” Or something unintelligent like that. That was the first look Cruel Wife had ever given me. It was awful. I felt my flesh being stripped from my bones, my marrow crumbled to dust, and my testicles blackened and fell off. It was readily apparent that this was her baby. She had no sense of humor or tolerance in this area.

New Rule #1: Do Not Mock Cruel Wife’s Baby Even if It is Furry.

We decided as a couple (ahem) that he did not need to ride in a carrier but would have a leash and ride on the seat between us. Carrier went in back and we drove on.

Olfactorily I am the canary in the coal mine. After a while I said “What’s that smell​​?” The smell was enough to peel the paint off the inside of the cab and Cruel Wife knew it was there as soon as I did. It was all the grittier smells of a tannery, a pulp mill, and a chicken farm with chicken-poo lagoons and they were emanating from the cat in little kitty burps (Cat Burp Bombs – CBB’s) that came out with the froth running down his chin. Make no mistake: Our cat was stoned and he passed David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious, and Jimi Hendrix on his way out of the solar system. I thought perhaps that I could chew up little bits of one of his pills at a time but then figured my drooling/foaming and CBB’s might tip off Cruel Wife. Well, I still had my Drixoral and my Shadow People friends.

Silver’s effluent also had this inorganic chemistry smell to it – sharp, unfeeling, lead-pipe cruel – and after a while we’d made it through Couer d’Alene, across Idaho in no time at all, then Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot mountain range. By the time we came out of the mountains we’d had enough of trying to sneak bits of fresh air and avoiding CBB’s so we made the command decision.

New Rule #2: No Drugs For Himalayans Riding in Jeeps.

Silver was in full agreement with this rule. In fact he co-authored that bill and you can still see his foamy little footprints all over it.

Montana was pretty big, pretty, and incredibly boring after a while. I said “Well, I know what will help pass the time.”

New Rule #3: No Beer in the Truck No Matter How Boring it Gets. Even if You are Passenger.

Mumbling “I don’t see how ‘happily ever after’ is even going to happen…” Cruel Wife gave me the look again and said sharply “WHAT?” as we swerved almost imperceptibly. My Shadow People friends all screamed “SHUT… UP!” Wise people, those Shadow Folk.

We spent the first night in Livingston, Montana with her relatives. I drank some beers and tried to stay out of the way. I did get a tour of a local laser manufacturer, which was pretty cool. I was itching to get going though so we said our goodbyes and took off, bound for Hardin, Montana to see Grandma. Cruel Wife’s grandma.

Update:  In Cruel Wife’s words…

Only one correction of note. We stayed in Livingston, MT the first night. Can’t forget that. My cousin tried to pawn her son’s iguana off on us. Now LK and I both think iguanas are cool critters (which had led to the offer since she was trying to find it a new home), but two (semi) adults, one unhappy cat, AND an iguana in the cab of a Jeep would have upset the balance of the universe. Global warming a decade early. Meltdown of the global economy. Dog and cats living together in sin. You get the idea. Seeing all these ghastly ramifications, we politely, but firmly refused.

Montana is a big place and we had driven a fair distance. Cat on the seat, Cruel Wife and I swapping off, and the Shadow People in the back and hanging off the sides of the truck. We got into town fairly late in the afternoon. We planned on spending the next day there and leave the following morning.

Cruel Wife’s grandma went through major depression era hardships. We’re talking NOTHING got wasted. NOTHING. “That old milk box can be chewed up for extra fiber. ”  “Toilet paper has two sides, you know!”   “Tuna cans make good candle votives as long as you use the fat rendered from roadkill.”

“Spaghetti” really means noodles with a can of tomatoes, lots of bacon grease, and whatever else is lying around – “You just scrape the mold off it and it’ll be fine. Really, Lemur, it was good last week. So what if the vegetables have split open and are moving around by themselves and eating bugs and small animals?”

New Rule #4: Eat What Grandma Provides Even if You Wouldn’t Feed it to Diseased Mutant Pigs.

The next morning dawned bright and clear and as is my usual custom I ignored it completely, opting to sleep in as long as I could. At some point the plan evolved into a “Let’s get a tour of the town.” Grandma drove and it was… it… it was traumatic. It was like being eviscerated with a grapefruit spoon.

Montana’s speed limits were pretty lax at that time and we screamed up the on-ramp and skidded onto the freeway at times topping 40 mph and averaging about 35 mph. I was in the rear seat and turned around to see a truck perilously close to us and getting closer with every beat of my now-arrhythmic heart. The grille loomed in my vision and seemed to extend for miles to each side of us. I could count and identify bugs on the front of the truck’s bumper, which was at eye level. I squeaked “Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Oh please oh please go faster…” While I was tapping frantically on her shoulder she turned around and said “Grandma, you’ve got to go faster!”

“We’re going to die,” I whispered quiety, unheard by a single living soul.

To Cruel Wife Grandma replied “Oh, no, I don’t like to go too fast.”

New Rule #5: Never ride with Grandma again. Ever.

We were very near the location of Custer’s Last Stand and I began to wonder if we wouldn’t be joining him soon. The semi truck lurched sideways and forward to pass us as if we were standing still (which we very nearly were). A few fear-filled miles later we pulled off the highway and visited what I believe was billed as the “Combine of Death Capitol of the World”. It was an entire museum devoted to the celebration of farming equipment specifically designed to mangle people in really scary ways. I swear half the equipment was protected from the elements not by paint but layer upon layer of dried blood.

Hardin, Montana is not a large town, a little bit over 3000 people if you count the people waiting at the bus station. We got the five minute tour and then Grandma suggested that we get Chinese food for dinner. I don’t remember what I ate but I do remember looking at it with slowly dawning horror as I realized that it probably had come from a can bought from the local grocery store. You know you’re getting authentic Chinese food when the waitress asks if you want ketchup with your meal. I choked it down and smiled wanly at Grandma, saying “Mmmm… good.”

Visiting the gathering hall we met many nice ladies there who were charming and warm which was funny to me because Grandma wasn’t exactly the most huggable lady in the world, if you get my drift. We stayed there long enough for my lips to stick to my dried-out teeth from holding a smile and for my eyes to start throbbing as I tried to at least look like I was engaged in the conversation. And then we stayed some more, probably as much as two more hours. I very nearly cried with relief when we left.

Another uneventful night passed and we were on the road by ten that morning ready to experience the rest of our trip.

(next, Part II…)

****

Old News:  Oldcatman has posted a special message to me and others on his blog!  Yay!

He gave us a big finger, I heard.  He’s so cute when he gets his panties in a wad.  No, no, don’t go over there, you’ll just give him better stats.  Act casual.

If you’re known by the enemies you keep, I’m a happy camper.

Read Full Post »

Update:  The next installment of A Lemur’s Life (or whatever I’m calling it these days) will be “Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck”.  That’s a long-ish one and honestly will take some consultation with Cruel Wife to get part of the details right.

****

Ok, here’s the deal.

Dad always said “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”

What he really meant was “If you ask me something, be damn sure you want to know what I really think, because that’s all you’re going to get.”  Sonofagun stuck to that one, too.

I tell Cruel Wife “I want the truth, not what you think I want to hear.”

This is not (not) (NOT) (NOT) a fishing for compliments expedition – that’s a waste of your time and mine.  Comments are welcome, compliments only if they’re deserved, and tell me what I need to hear if you comment – got it?   I hate wasted effort.   Even if you don’t think I should do it now or ever, let me know why, m’kay.  Seriously.  It’s honest feedback that makes one grow.  I don’t know a single person who improved based on only good warm-fuzzies.  Trust me, I will not take it personally – it’s a favor you’re doing me.

*****

Yay!  My troll got pissy!

Warning:  Strong Content for More Sensitive Readers – Obscene Troll Advisory.

Well, Oldcatman was very very upset when I picked up my ball and went home.

Who would like to hear what his last two comments that were that were picked up in my spam filter?

Very predictable…..you deleted my last comment…good for you.

The only thing I regret with these various tit for tat comment wars is I’D LOVE TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH YOU ALL……with an aluminum bat in my hands.

About helping people, I spent nearly 50 years helping people in health care.

See ya, sport.

-Oldcatman, whose unoriginality with the parting shot misses the mark about as much as his threats of physical violence

Hmmm.  Glad to see you took the high road on that one.  You in the health care biz?.  This is where the “thousands” of people who love you come from?  A sweetheart like you?  Oh, please.  I would sooner eat broken glass than have a person like you take care of me

Guess what, Oldcatman?  I didn’t delete you out of fear – I wasn’t afraid of what you’d say but because, seriously – you’re lame.  I mean really really sad.  You followed me from someone else’s blog because you decided you didn’t like me.  Did you seriously think I’d spend a lot of time listening to your brand of drug-addled lunacy here at my place?

Quick show of hands, folks.

Already a sorry excuse for a human being, you descended to your next lower level.

**** YOU AND ALL YOU REPRESENT……..

(To be deleted)

- Oldcatman, in the last permanent thing he’ll utter on my blog unless he’s such a limp member that he spoofs an e:mail address

Guess what, sport?  I didn’t delete that one, either in spite of the rapier wit contained within it.

Note:  The “sport” was my line originally, not his.

I will delete anything you say from here on out so save your energy.

Read Full Post »

In the fall of 1988 when I met a demon for the first time.  I have no empirical evidence, just the lingering horror.

That summer I was working in a plywood mill to pay my way through a college education that I was not quite sure I wanted.  By the end of that summer I was mostly convinced (subconsciously) that I needed it.  By the end of that school year I was convinced I needed it and wanted it, too.

A little knowledge of where I was will help you to understand the predicament I found myself on the night I met a demon.

I had two jobs that summer.  The first one was in a big town in Oregon known for a lot of hobos.  If you don’t know where I’m talking about right away it means you aren’t from Oregon and you shouldn’t bother to look it up.  If you do know that one I guess you won’t need to look it up anyway.  Either way, it doesn’t matter so don’t bother.

I had to drive a ways to get there from my folk’s house.  It was a difficult job working greenchain.  Greenchain is where you’re sent if you’re new and you get to experience all the ways that 3 and 4 inch splinters can be driven into your fingers under the skin, through your palms, under your fingernails, and through your hips and thighs.  The environment was a harsh one because (1) the wood was maple, rather green, 8/4 stuff of various widths, and it was typically about 12 feet long, which makes for a lot of tiresome chunks of wood to throw around, and (2) the trimmerman was a little troll who  loved seeing people suffer.  The trimmerman doesn’t even rate his own blog-name and shall receive none here.  He was pond-scum and navel-lint combined, which makes for a very smelly oily blob that looks disgusting and wasn’t too far off from his actual appearance.  It probably had something to do with his relationship with his mother, his wife, or his boss.  Probably all three.  Maybe all three were the same person.  God alone knows and I wasn’t looking very hard for the answers because just to look at him was to be transfixed by his unwashed yellowed once-white shirts which could be used as a soup base in dire circumstances.

I might have mentioned it but did I say that the man loved to see someone suffer?  The distasteful little man would cut the wood as fast as he could and backlog the two of us grunts in a giant pile of pick-up-sticks and then take a break.   If he did his job right, he got a 20 minute break.  I bitched about that and got sent to work in The Pit.  The Pit was a scorching-hot shed that housed a giant conical colander-shaped affair.  The machinery spiraled inward and drug cut-off pieces into a giant chipper.  You had to jump around from piece to piece and keep it from clogging up and incidentally not fall into the infernal device (and presumably one would avoid being ground up into little bits if one was successful). I got out of that job quickly and found one that was in a plywood mill 30 minutes on the other side of my folk’s house.

I respectfully gave notice to the owners of the first place, saying “I quit!” and slammed the phone down.  I would cheerfully rather pluck out my own toenails before darkening the doorway there again.

It was at the second job that I didn’t dodge a bullet.  On July 25, 1988 at just a bit after 1:30AM I found myself hanging from a machine with my feet four feet off the ground and my trapped arm compound-fractured.  I was in the hospital for over a week while they waited to see if it got infected and to see how it was healing and draining.  It was pretty bad.  It was a long 17 years ten days in that hospital until they let me out.  This was the summer that I went up on the hillside with my German Shepherd, Nemo, and we shared serious quality time.

Summer oozed by and I was back in school, learning with grave difficulty how to take notes with my left hand.  I had to learn to do everything with my left hand since I was in a cast that went from my right armpit all the way down to the tips of my fingers with my palm turned upwards.  People kept putting quarters in my hand, saying I should really look for work instead of handouts.  You might think this would be annoying (and it was) but it also meant that after a few of those… hey, free beer.

As if I needed much incentive, all the incentive I needed to get off painkillers was right there – cheap beer.  I loved beer.   I don’t drink at all now but I am pretty sure I’d still love it.  And there was lots of it so I was happy.   Which leads us into our story, finally.  Thank you, Patient Reader – now we will begin.

One of the groomsmen for Cruel Wife’s and my wedding day was a very good friend all through college.  Let’s pick a name for him… how about… “Min”.   There’s several levels of joke that we won’t get into right now but trust me, I count four levels without trying too hard and I can do so without descending into a gutter to do it.

Min comes in and says “Hey, guys, there’s a party down at the rental hall – wanna go?”

The other three of us roommates bounced straight up into the air whooping “HELL YEAH!”  Seriously, the heart-wrenching sad truth is that the ratio of men to women in this college was 9:1.  A party was a good way to either drink and forget that there were no chicks or if you won the lottery that night, pick up chicks – both were better than sitting on your ass wishing that you were at a party or picking up chicks.  Simple creatures, the four of us, and we found simple solutions to the equations that life threw at us.

So we went to the rental hall and while I could drive (in fact I drove the long trip to school when I started up again) I didn’t want to.  Driving a stick-shift Datsun was harder than you might think with that big damn cast.  I caught a ride with Min and we headed down there.

The rental hall was usually rented out by the Par-tay Mafia, which was this shadowy bunch of scary guys that would roll up with a small trailer, charge a token amount for the ladies, charge five bucks for the guys, and then charge anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar per beer.  It wasn’t a bad deal.  And when they ran out, they disappeared like small yappy dogs orbiting a flatulent fat lady.

Are you with me so far?  Good.  Now, try and keep up.

I had drunk probably six or seven of those odd little 7-13/64′s oz cups that they always sell beer in when the beer labels on the side of the keg read simply “Beer”  when I saw her, and here I will name the demon for what she was:  The Succubus.

She was this amazingly pretty blonde, small nose, slightly cleft chin, tall (that should have been the warning sign there), wearing a red shirt, jeans, and a suede jacket.   Nudging Min, I motioned towards the blonde, “I should go talk to her.”   Min laughed and said “Yeah, good luck.”

Well, I’ll show him.

I went over and started talking with her and we were hitting it off pretty well.  After a while Min was motioning me with an upthrust middle finger to come talk with him.  I ignored him for a bit and so I could rub it in we went to where he was.  (It was then that I realized that he still had his middle finger upthrust at me.  Perhaps it was injured somehow.)  He told us that we were having a party back at our house (we are?) and were we up for leaving pretty much right away?  The Succubus’ eyes lit up said “Sounds like fun!”  The hall was dying down because they were running out of beer and the fights would start in earnest fairly soon.  So I thought, “Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhh.”   I asked the Succubus if she was OK with driving me over on account of my arm.  She told me to wait by the door and she’d drive her car around for me.  The cast thing was a chick sympathy-magnet and as good as a puppy for ice-breaking with the females and had none of the crap in the yard that comes with said puppy.

Up drove the Succubus in a red RX-7.  I got in, smiling at my buddies with a huge grin that showed lots of teeth, and my eyes were saying “Hahahahahahaha, you sorry bastards!”   Their eyes were saying “You bastard.”

Axiom:  Be careful what you ask for because not only might you not get it, the thing you do get might be pretty awful.

We took off with screeching of rubber and slewed out onto the main drag.  I started pointing off to the left the direction we needed to take to get to my place.  The light was green and so far it was good.

The Succubus was driving a bit fast down the road but I at this point I was pretty relaxed.  Soon enough the she flicks her hair, “Do you want a drink?”

I grinned…  I like the way she thinks.

“There’s a bottle on the floor in front of you.”

Huh?

I looked at the floor and reached around to find what I couldn’t see – a fifth of tequila that was probably 1/3 gone.

Okayyy… And I took a good tug on the bottle.

And then she took a big tug on the bottle and I could see the bubbles as they fought their way to higher ground in the bottle.

I looked at the speedometer and saw that we were doing 75mph on a 45mph section of highway.

Okay, this is… not quite alarming yet.  Yet.

Things can and do go sideways.

A mile or so further down the highway, the Succubus intoned “I need to find a place to stop.”  She pulled off the highway, went over the railroad tracks, pulled a hard right and said again “I need to stop!” she warbled.   I could tell she was just about to get worked up so I decided to head that off.  “OK, you need to go another three blocks and go straight, there’s a gate there where you can pull out and stop.”  I figured she might be a bit nauseous or something.

We zipped past the open gate and came to a half 200 feet down the little dirt road.   And here is where we took leave of reality and the plane left the ground.

She left the headlights on, got out of the car, went twenty feet in front of the car… dropped trou and urinated right there in the dusty road in front of me.

I opened the bottle and took another drink, or perhaps it was two drinks.  It didn’t matter because I was sobering up fast.

At times you can sort of engage in a harmless bit of denial.  You can say “Hmmm, she does have a fine posterior”.  You can say “Well, who among us hasn’t done just this very thing at one time or another?”  Or you can think “Wow, the liquor is affecting my vision… did I eat the worm or something?”   And while the little voice inside of you that is shrieking that this is very peculiar and that you ought to be thinking about the merits of walking home… you dump a load of tequila on his head and drown him.

Choices can easily be a mistake.  A.  Very.  Big.  Mistake.  Indeed.

The Succubus hitched up her Lee’s (which my in-denial self noted fit her quite nicely), and trotted back to the car.  She got in and backed up with the accelerator floored.   Dust was everywhere but I could tell immediately when we hit the pavement because my head hit the roof.   She cranked the wheel and we shot back the way we came.

Now the Succubus was muttering.

It’s at times like this when you reach deep down to the place where you last heard that little voice hoping that you can revive him, which you do with a dab of CPR and some internalized screaming.

Odds are good that you have already missed the window of opportunity that your little voice was trying to provide you.

We blew over the railroad tracks and caught some air on the downside.   The car was growling as it leaped over the highway we just came from and screamed like a banshee up a hill into a residential area.  The Succubus was still muttering but louder, more insistent, and clearly she was agitated with little facial tics showing every now and then.

Finally I could make out part of what she was saying over the engine’s noise “Oh he’s going to be so pissed… where is the house??”

“Slow down,” I said naively, “who is going to be pissed and why?”

She told me, and my little voice had an immediate cardiac arrest and died.

She had a large package of cocaine in the trunk that she needed to deliver or [PersonX] would be very angry.  These are not words you should ever want to hear.  If I understood her right, she was talking kilo-class delivery.

It was then that I saw, I really truly saw what this apparently beautiful blonde in a suede jacket and skin-tight Lee’s really was:  a demonic creature from hell, a Succubus.  Seriously, this is not reality any more.  The plane left the ground and the Earth crumbled and fell away.  You are now in free-fall in the cold, oh so cold, vacuum of space.

I was very agitated myself, “Look, I don’t know who [PersonX] is, I don’t care, I don’t want to know, all I know is I WANT YOU TO ******* TAKE ME HOME NOW!!!”

You know how in the movies sometimes the main character will get really riled up and spittle will fly as they scream?  I’m here to tell you that they do a damn fine job imitating that, most times they get it right and the stuff on the screen looks real.  She probably had to have a professional look at the right side of her jacket because it had a quart of my saliva on it.  The whole “I was so scared I was dry-mouthed” thing is not always a truism, and it certainly wasn’t here.

We turned around very fast because she cranked the wheel hard and my head rapped the glass with a crack.  Literally, we did a cookie in the middle of the street and raced back the way we came again.  I told her “GO LEFT, DAMMIT!”

Doing in excess of 100mph down a highway rated for 50mph, I was checking my five-point harness which had (to my horror) somehow become a three-point harness.  I was riding as a passenger with a crazed drunk blonde Succubus with a nice butt, a nice car, and more drugs than I could possibly imagine being around was in the trunk of the car, all moving at 100+ mph.

This was clearly not the day I had hoped it would be.

Several miles further down the road I found that I subconsciously had been fumbling with my butterfly knife in my pocket.  I had it because I was working on dexterity exercises for my left hand since I could not use my right.  I noticed that I was flicking the latch open-closed-open-closed, and at some point thought “Geez, man, you need to pay attention to the road.”

I looked up to give my attention to the road and noted how fast things were whizzing by and quickly went back to paying attention to the latch. (Sing-song)  Denial… Deni-al… DE-NI-AL… it’s just another way to face the day…

My turnoff was coming up fast.  I pointed to the flashing red light above the left-turn lane and said “Ok, you gotta turn left up there… uh… left… left… LEFT!!!”  While barely braking the Succubus put us into a harder corner than I have ever been put into in my life.   Ever.  Why we did not violently flip and roll off the road in a ball of flames is beyond me.

You learn things, though.  I learned that I needed to give this demonic entity more advance notice.  Would a Ouija board be sufficient or should I sacrifice a small animal?  Who can think about such things at a time like this?

Having neither small animal or Ouija board, I pointed wildly “It’s that house on the right eight blocks up, see?  See it?  Huh, you see it?  DO YOU SEE IT?!?”

She sputtered her lips “Okay, okay, you don’t have to yell!”

The Succubus did a power-slide into my drive and she had hit the brakes hard enough to plow the gravel beyond the sidewalk.  I immediately opened my door but in the process dropped my knife between the seat and center console.  My favorite knife!!!  DAMN!

The man had it right:  You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.

We’ve already established that I’m sometimes not the sharpest marble in the knife drawer, haven’t we?  I was learning pretty darned fast, just not fast enough.   I was on my knees in the gravel, the door open, trying to do a reach-behind maneuver with my left arm underneath the seat to reach my knife.   I had just touched it when I realized that my knees were being drug through the gravel as she tried to back out of the driveway.  If I wasn’t very lucky, I was going to get drug to death by this demon’s automobile, The Death Cart.

“WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA YOU CRAZY *****!!!  WHAT THE **** DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?  STOP!  STOP!  STOP!”

The Succubus stopped.  I leaped thirty feet back.  She resumed.  I stumbled in the house, glad that I had survived to live another day, to drink another beer.

The reality is I drank a pitcher full of beer, cracking open can after can until I filled it up and Min sat and laughed at me, knowing that I could not hurt him with only one arm.  I probably had that coming.

Read Full Post »

The Summer of ’93, I think it was.

I had not quite met Cruel Wife at that time, being a few months off before that particular Life Story.

There was to be a gathering in my hometown at my folks’ house and everyone was going to be there.  As it turned out my nephew wanted to come and my brother dropped him off in a town on the way and a college buddy/roommate and I picked him up.  The roommate from college, who I’ll call “The Wetback”…

GOV’T CORRECTNESS  POLICE AGENT:  Stop the presses!  STO-O-O-O-P THE PRESSES! Hey, there’s a blogger named… uh… Lemur King… he just used the “W” word… the derogatory term.  You want us to send out a team to bag him and tag him?  What?  He had a disclaimer?  Sure, I’ll read it to the guys…

(and it read like this)

Yes, I called one of my dearest friends “The Wetback”.  We’ve known each other since roughly 1988, we’ve roomed together off and on over the years first in college and then when he moved into the same town I did years later.  His parents were originally from Mexico.  His mom was my second mom.  She was fantastic and she did a great job raising him and his siblings largely by herself, and I miss her terribly.  You could meet her once and you felt like you’d known her forever, she was so genuine.  Cruel Wife could attest to that.

It happened that one day in college we had a particularly rough term, finals were looming, we were on edge, and I needled him with a family joke.  We were watching TV and he noted something that actually was very profound.  A minute later I said “Not bad for a wetback.”  Now, in (most of) my blood family you can say just about anything as long as the other person knows that you mean anything but that.  I would never say this to someone if I didn’t know them and care about them.  Strange but true, that’s the way I am.  I can say to Cruel Wife things that would sound like the most awful stuff and people will be horrified, but they should know that if I had actually meant it, she’d have killed me.

Case #1: She was pregnant.  Lying on the bed on her back to take the load off her back.  I ran into the bedroom with a spray bottle screaming “Keep her wet until we can get her back in the water!  GO GO GO!”  (spritz spritz spritz)

Case #2: She would waddle by (pregnantly) and I would affectionately call out “Moooooooooo”.   And she would mooo back.   One of the church ladies was pissed at me, until Cruel Wife said “relax, he doesn’t mean it and he says that sort of thing if everything is ok, if he stops, something is wrong”.

And she is right.  I mock the situation, the circumstances, the facts, the scenario, I don’t aim to hurt the person.  If she thought I’d meant it, I’d be dead.   She is too good of a shot with a .357 Magnum.

So a few minutes later, his arm pistons out, shoves me violently off the couch and I slam into my butt, causing (additional) minor brain damage.  Very quietly in a Clint Eastwood kind of way (which I really envy to this day) he mutters “Don’t call me a wetback.”

A week later I left my shoes out in the middle of the floor.  Wetback tied the laces permanently through the rungs of a chair.  I cut them off since I was late for class and I used my knife, which was then plunged through Wetback’s calculus book through half the thickness, and left there as a message.   A week after that, we traded punches over and over for about 45 minutes, leaving each other black and blue over 50% of our arms.  It was pretty damned awful looking, my arm, and one of my profs said “WHAT happened to you?”   I pointed at The Wetback and said “He did it.”  Our prof said “WHY?”   The Wetback pointed at me and said “He did it” and raised his shirt arm to show his awful bruises, which didn’t look as bad given that he has dark skin.  Our prof just shook his head and went away because we hadn’t really answered his question.

Three years later, he moved in for a year when he got a job in the same town I lived in.

Fifteen years ago he was the best man at my wedding.

I’m calling him The Wetback.  Get over it.

GOV’T CORRECTNESS  POLICE AGENT #2: Whoa?  Really?  It says that?  Ok, we can’t wax this guy – let him go.

So where was I?  Oh yes, The Wetback (hereinafter just ‘Wetback’) and I picked up my nephew, who we will call… The Teacher.  Yes, that will work nicely.  We drove six or so hours to my my folks’ house and crashed.  It was a good trip but three guys in a Jeep’s front seat is too friendly for that long of a trip.

Next day was bright and sunny, a great Oregon summer day.  Fourth of July, or was it the 3rd?  Must’ve been the 3rd since we found a hardware store.

My brother-in-law, who we’ll call my brother-in-law (oh fine then, if you must have a name let’s call him BiL) brought a buddy of his along who I will call Six Cans Short of a Six Pack (SCSSP) because the man is totally insane.  So BiL and SCSSP are telling me, Wetback, and Teacher about a New Thing.

We hadn’t heard of one, anyway.

Lemur King:  A Potato Gun?  Oh.  That’s great.  Great, guys.  We carry little plastic pistols around, stick ‘em in a spud, and shoot little potato pills at each other.  Great.  I’m going to go get a beer, let me know how that goes.

SCSSP said “No, no, no, no, no…” and starts sketching on a pad of paper what he’s talking about.

I whipped out my wallet and said “Yep, I got cash, let’s go.”

We got the parts mostly to his specs except that I insisted that we make everything a bit bigger.

We were just finishing putting it together when my grandparents drove up.

So Granddad gets out of the car and says “What you got there, Lemur?”   Grandma shakes her head and goes in with the wimminfolk.

“Lemur” was not my grandfather’s name for me.  He used a name that no one else used, it had no profanity laced into it, and he was the only person I’ll ever allow to call me by that name, even as close as it is to my real one.  This was a cool thing.  Just sayin’ he didn’t call me “Lemur”.

Also, Granddad gets to keep his official title.  No false stage names – I respect him too much for that.

Sketches of my grandfather…

  • Telling me when I got hurt in the mill “No offense, Lemur, but there are easier ways to get out of work, and this wasn’t the smartest way, either.”
  • After announcing our engagement, Granddad asking if Cruel Wife’s family was rich. I said no they weren’t rich. “Well, you let me down, Lemur, you were supposed to marry a filthy-rich gal and keep the family well-cared for.” I don’t think it mattered in the least as long as she gave him a big hug whenever we came to visit. Cruel Wife and I came out one time, and Granddad said “Come here and give me a hug. All my girls give me a hug.” She hugged him and gave him a big smack on the cheek and said “I’ll give you one better.” Granddad looked a bit surprised and gave her a smile.
  • One year granddad had been telling mom not to grab a crab the way she was doing it (had been for years).  I heard him tell her several times that one day alone.  Then there was an “AAAAAAH!” and mom was on her knees as this crab mangled her index finger.  Granddad got up really slow and calm-like, reached into his pocket to get his knife, picked the blade he wanted, stepped  over and grabbed mom’s now-bloody hand and pried the claw open.  He whipped the crab around violently and gooshed it silly against the pier.  Then he went over and sat down again and said softly “I told you, Joansey, not to grab ‘em that way.”   Boy, let me tell you, that was a thrilling couple of minutes.  Her anger rolled off of him like water off a duck’s back.  He was a master and I wasn’t even a grasshopper.

I said “Granddad, this is a Spud Gun” and bursting with pride I held it up so he could inspect it.

It was black ABS 4″ pipe, the combustion chamber was about 2-1/2 feet long, it narrowed down to a 1-1/2″ section that was about five feet long, maybe six.   Picture a seven to eight foot long black bazooka that fires potatoes.  It glinted darkly in the sunlight.

One of my favorite memories of my granddad, who I’d kill to see this day, was sitting on the deck figuring out the best way to fire this new toy.  Let’s see, he’d have been mid 80′s about then, so you have him, myself, Wetback, Teacher, BiL, SCSSP, and my dad.   Have we named my dad on the Folly yet?  I don’t think so.  We’ll call him Sparky even though we probably won’t use the name in this posting.  So here’s this old gentleman sitting with us younger fellas discussing how much Aqua Net hairspray should be used, how tight the potato should be in the barrel, hand positioning when lighting it, etc.

We learned as a group of men with varying amounts of beer do, through trial and error, and eventually happened upon the perfect mixture to send a potato on a ballistic trajectory that ended up about 150-200 yards away.  It was amazing.

Much like the horrifically dangerous time before seat-belts and bicycle helmets we somehow managed to survive this, too.

I clearly remember our failed attempts to hit a cow down in the field.

GOV’T BOVINE PROTECTION AGENCY AGENT:  (dropping his surveillance equipment with a gasp) Whoa!  Whoa, whoa, whoa!  He said WHAT???  Did he say what I thought he said?  We’re gonna go down there and…

GBPA Agent #2:  (Sipping his Diet Tab)  Easy, killer.  This family does this sh*t all the time.  They’ve got a grandfather clause, we can’t touch ‘em.

GBPA Agent Chorus:  Aw, man!  This SUCKS!

GBPA Agent #2:  I’m telling you, leave ‘em alone unless you like lots of paperwork and public apologies…

Where was I?  Annoying fellas, aren’t they?

Oh yes, I clearly remember our failed attempts to hit a cow down in the field.

Granddad said, “Aim it down a few degrees next time, Lemur…” We did and on the next shot or so, we hit ourselves a cow.  Amazing, the things you can learn from your Granddad.

The cow leapt up in the air about five feet, which is good for a cow at-rest.  Bovine inertia is not like other inertia.   Four hooves went in four directions and then it came down and hit the ground running.  It stopped, went back to where it was, and found a warm meal waiting for it.

Also amazing is how this story started as a story about a spud gun, but ended up about my granddad.  I can think of much worse ways to end up.

****

Epilogue:

The cow was not permanently harmed and in fact got a warm meal of fries for it’s trouble.

The spud gun was christened “The Taternator” and was used that day to fire everything from potatoes, rocks, crabapples, and a handful of mustard packets.  It was last seen in southeastern Washington, west of Walla-walla and has not been seen since.

The cow and its companion were very tasty with ketchup and a pickle.

The Taternator features in several more stories before the time that it was lost.

Lemur’s granddad, Buck, lived for eight more years, lives on in his family’s memories, and is sorely missed by Lemur.

This story is the starting place for a concurrent story called “Cutting the Mustard”.

The Gov’t Bovine Protection Agency now checks that lids of each and every shipment of Play-doh is tightly secured prior to shipping.  They are *that* good.

Lemur and Wetback continue contact to this day.


Read Full Post »

Update:

In the WashingtonExaminer there was a snip of a paragraph that so poignantly stated the reality… it was beautiful.  Emphasis mine:

Now, with a Democratic president and Congress, speakers can denounce Republicans all they want, but everyone knows who is running the U.S. government. That knowledge took a little of the edge off all those denunciations.  – Byron York – WashingtonExaminer

****

Torn between two stories to do next.

Death Ride with a Strange Drunk Woman
The Taternator: Stories of a Loosed Potato Cannon

Both stories are filled with glory, power, sex, money, and pork rinds.

No, that’s not true.  Pork rinds are about the only common element and only because I eat them often.

They have nothing in common other than an element of danger.  Getting out of bed in the morning has an element of danger so there’s not a huge degree of commonality.

Read Full Post »

Spelunking While Drunk.

If you came late to the telling of life stories, today we’re discussing spelunking.  Go back a few posts and there’s some other stuff to read when you’re done here.   The Dog Groaned at DuskSpitting Beaver River IncidentKeep the Customer Satisfied. A Short Story of the Long Jittery Arm of the LawTo Detroit Death Comes Astride His Pale Horse.

Spelunking While Drunk.

My earliest cave experience was the Oregon Caves when I was eight or so.  That was fun.  They were large spacious affairs, those caverns.  They were the Cadillac version with the mile-wide back seat, the huge seven-body trunk, they had the cool fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror to match the furry dashboard, and they had power seats, those caves.

They were beautiful.  The formations were massive and wild and varied and there was water everywhere.

I humbly submit that that childhood experience was about as much related to spelunking as we did it as a Hereford is related to a sea cow.  The simple facts are that you don’t milk sea cows and as a rule dairy cows drown in the ocean.

It was a cool fall night but the weather hadn’t quite gotten cold enough to require people to bring their brass monkeys indoors – it was just cold enough to make plumes of your breath flit across a flashlight or headlamp beam while moving around.

We got out of the car and I spilled my beer in the dirt but I had a backup can that I had been nursing in my other hand so we were good to go.  Between my feet on the trip down were seven or eight cans of Keystone left out of the half-rack I had bought earlier.  That combined with a few shots of Southern Comfort left me pleasantly inebriated but not so much that I felt like life was a big Tilt-a-Whirl ride.   We were still in Ferris Wheel country.

The de-facto leader of our motley crew said “Whelp, I think it’s that way!” and took off running.  The rest of us, being citizens of the Land of the Blind, assumed that the One-Eyed Man was King even though we began to suspect that he had serious cataract troubles.

Metaphor is an inconvenient and blunt tool at times, especially when it’s inadequate, don’t you think?  Yes, metaphor is a bitch.

An hour or so before that…

We were just getting into the swing of a lazy Saturday night.  Pickings were slim on party-less Saturday night – about all we had to look forward to were rentals if we were lucky and if we weren’t so lucky there was always Gilbert Gottfried (Rhonda Shear, the Midnight Morsel, was Up All Night on Friday nights, I think).  Ah, the good old days when you could catch an edited sexploitation B-movie on a regular basis.  One of my favorites was The Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death but if you repeat that to anyone I’ll deny it and claim Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama, because Avocado Jungle was really a chick flick.  Why, oh why, can’t they make good movies like Killer Klowns from Outer Space anymore?  I have that one in my personal collection, by the way.

My future roommate (Walking) Pharma(ceutical) came in and announced that we could either (a) sit around drinking and watching highly edited B-movies and Gilbert only to end up hormonally worked up and alone, or (b) run down to a cave near the Oregon/California border and do some exploring.  We conferred briefly (about three seconds) and jumped on the opportunity like a deranged slinky.

Fast-forward an hour or so…

A gal that I was sort of lusting after came along, too.  We’ll call her Bimbette.  She was a cute, short, spunky kind of gal with an infectious laugh.  This has been a constant throughout my life, this attraction to short dangerous women.

Bimbette sat in the back between me and some other guy who I didn’t know really well (we’ll call him Strange Guy) and he and I did the timeless male courtship rituals, locking horns, verbally spurring one another, and had we been allowed probably would have knocked each other silly to get the upper hand.  She smiled and enjoyed the attention as she drank her Girl Scout Cookies from her ever-present bota-bag.  So we talked a bit and eventually I got around to saying “Ok, where the hell are we going, again?”

Captain Jack’s Stronghold. Nearabouts.  Sorta.  Maybe.

I got the feeling that it was a cave system that someone had told someone who had told someone that they heard a guy tell his barber’s doctor’s wife’s hairdresser’s daughter about it a few years ago or he had seen a peyote-induced vision of it once.  I was never clear on which one it was.  It was however, near as I could figure, kind of one of those off-the-beaten-path not-quite-sanctioned verboten-probably-illegal kinds of places where if you were not careful you could end up a statistic.

It was a reasonably large group to make statistics with, and I’m guessing through a hazy mix of time and alcohol that it was probably twelve or thirteen of us in three cars.  Hey, a lot of dumb things have been done by far fewer people.  But far fewer people didn’t have the sheer quantities of alcohol that we had at our disposal, either.

Ever had a crystallized moment in your life when you kind of “came to” and realized that you were being kind of swept up into something that was no longer even remotely in your control and never really was, either?  This was just the latest in a very long string of such moments in my life.  After a while you just kind of relax and quit fighting it.  Beer helped immensely to that end.

About a quarter mile off the road we came to a hole in the ground.  It was a big hole that rapidly narrowed down and was pitch black.   Yep, that was a big hole in the ground.  Right before my eyes Pharma put on his headlamp and started climbing down the chimney.

If you’ve never found yourself going down a 30-40 foot chimney with no headlamp of your own in the middle of the night while inebriated and people above and below yourself, dirt falling on and past you into the darkness, and being pelted with pebbles of lava rock every now and then, all to the irregular flashes of remote light… well, let’s just say it’s a lesson in self-restraint and dogged perseverance.  But it’s not like you’re going to just hop off the ride once you’re in that spot, either.

We got to the bottom and I popped open another ‘Stone (I had six or so stashed in pockets around my person) and sucked it dry.  Reckless climbing in the dark is hard thirsty work.  Pharma had already hared off with a few others and we did this sort of Tour de France spreading out where a small group was way ahead and there were pockets of peristaltic-like movement as we traveled down the earth’s gullet.

What I saw:  Above me, the black chimney of the way out, forty feet straight up.  Behind me, the passageway that snaked off in the direction of where the cars were.  In front of me a passageway that was crookeder than a dog’s hind leg where we were going.  I asked someone just how far this cave went before it came back to the top and someone said that they thought it was a mile.  There were glints of discarded beer cans in the passage showing the path taken in the classical Hansel and Gretel fashion.  Good thinking, I said to myself and dropped my current empty can further down the passage.

Bimbette, Strange Guy, and I had two lights between the three of us and we started after the others.  The lava rock was all different shades, rough, and irregular.  It was an Alice in Wonderland illusion of size and scale and you had to crouch down a few inches in some areas and had a higher ceiling in others.  The general trend as I was seeing it though was that quarters were getting cramped(er).

We rounded a 90 degree turn and came face to face with a rock wall.  I thought “HUH? Where’d they go?”

Bimbette pointed down and I crouched to see what she was pointing at.

It was an opening about half again as wide as my shoulders, not very tall at all, and it was 25 to 30 feet long.  I could see lights flashing on the other end and hear muffled voice sounds that made it through the passage. Strange Guy got down and started crawling through the space.

If you’ve ever seen ventilation ducts in the movies, they’re these square profile affairs where the hero can sit up and turn around, make out with some window-dressing chick, change shoes, play cards, curry-comb a horse, even do a complete tire rotaton in them.

This thing?

There wasn’t enough room to scratch your nose or your ass.

I got down and started into the hole, about a body length behind Strange GuyBimbette was still behind me.  I am NOT claustrophobic.  But I’ll tell you this:  I got two body lengths in there and because I’m deep in the chest I got stuck.  Picture it:

You can’t get purchase on smooth dirty rock, you can’t get up on hands and knees, you can’t grab things with your toes, and you’re having a hard time getting a deep breath because you’re stuck.

What do you do?

I’ll tell you what you do.  You panic.  You flat out go apesh*t nuts.  As Stephen King once wrote “If Sgt. Fury goes Section 8, who’s gonna lead the Howling Commandos?”   No one, that’s who.

I’m a quiet apeshit-panic kind of guy.  I started flailing though, and found that yes, you can flail drunkly.  I had just enough presence of mind to exhale as much air as I could.  I exhaled my testicles and my appendix in order to get out of there.  I exhaled my bladder and one kidney and WHOOSH… I was FREE! Now my flailing toes and forearms got purchase and I was backing out of the hole in high wobbly gear.  All that time I was acutely aware of how many tons of material were above me and how very flat it could make a person if a person were to become a statistic.  That thought alone took hold of my world and shook it like a rag doll.

I started muttering at 78 rpm “GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE GOTTAGETOUTOFHEREGOTTAGETOUTOFHEREGOTTAGETOUTOFHERE!” and started almost-but-not-quite running out of there.  “Bimbette, I gotta go.  I can’t stay down here.  Gotta go and I gotta go NOW.”

Making a note for the possibly younger crowd that doesn’t know what 78 rpm refers to… 78 rpm refers to the speed of a phonograph record.  See, they had these… oh never mind.  If you don’t know what it is, just keep reading and forget about it.

Bimbette followed me and only paused long enough to pick up two full cans of beer that had flopped out of my sweatshirt side pockets.  And off we went.  Rather, off she went to find me because I was already gone.  She told me this afterwards.

Ok, hang a right, go twenty feet, left, left, go thirty, bear right, right right, go straight, just go go go go.  And then the absolute worst thing that could happen happened.

I came up to a blank wall.  The tunnel just… ended.  Where there should be a tunnel the tunnel just turned into a big solid featureless wall.

Up until that point I had been panicky.  Now, the bottom of my world just fell out and my mind became unhinged as the reptilian part of my brain came into ascension and took control.  “AAAAAAAAAGH!!” I yelled.  I pounded on the rock and yelled “SH*T SH*T SHI…”

“Lemur!  LEMUR!  LEMUR, LISTEN TO ME!  You ran PAST the chimney!  It’s back there about sixty or seventy feet!”

Huh?  What?  We did?  Oh, well why didn’t you say so?

“OK, THANKS! GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE  kiss kiss  GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE huh GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE kiss kiss GOTTAGETOUTOFHERE!” and I started running back the way we had come from.  And the adrenaline junkie inside of me?  He had bolted a while back when I horked up my appendix and bladder.  He had enough and cut bait.  Oh sure, stick around while it’s fun then leave when things get hairy…

Bimbette was trailing behind me but I could tell she was now committed to staying with me to see if my mind had come completely unhinged in a permanent way.  For a brief while it actually had.   I climbed up the chimney as fast as I could and a great deal faster than was safe.  I hit my head a number of times and my hands were scraped raw and bloody by the lava, and my pants were torn, but I crawled out of there fast, dusty and dirty from head to toe, and Bimbette wasn’t far behind.

Later, I did return the favor although she did not know the extent of it.  She had way too much to drink at a football game and I fended off the predators later when she was praying to the porcelain god and even later after she passed out.  Got her to a bed, covered her up, and staked watch.  No one was going to harm this gal, not if I had any say about it.

A very slight salve to my wounded ego was that it was I who got stuck and not Bimbette.  She had very large… uhm… lungs.  Yes, lungs.   She would have gotten wedged in even before I did.  So I’d like to think this slides into the “Chivalrous” category rather than “Lemur went apesh*t and freaked out like a little girl.”  Facts are facts though, and that is I’d have never fit through because it got even narrower beyond where I got stuck.

So Bimbettte and I sat and drank and waited and talked in the chilly night until people came back from the other end of this particular set of caves.  It was actually several miles by one person’s estimation and it was hours before they got back.  I was happy though.  I wasn’t a statistic, I got to hang out with a chick instead of Gilbert Gottfried, and didn’t run out of beer.

Read Full Post »

I grew up with two German Shepherds.  Not at the same time, no, but serially.

To quote Stoaty in part:  German Shepherds are TEH AWESOME.  Stoaty does the best “TEH AWESOME” I have ever seen in print.  It just feels right when she does it.

The first one was Rex.  He was a good dog but suffered from an ailment that led to his rather young death.  I was pretty young so he and I hadn’t really bonded.

Then there was Nemo.  I’m not sure whether my dad actually caught the diametrically opposed names or whether he just liked Jules Verne.  Perhaps both.  He’s a quiet guy who doesn’t speak much but thinks a lot.  Very at peace with himself.

Nemo was a cute pup who grew into a big dog.  He ran about 125 lbs and more when he did silly things (which we will get into in some detail later on).  All my pictures are in transit, being shipped from Oregon and currently being stored, so I can’t show you his picture.  What I can show you is a very close likeness.  Close enough that if you’d shown me and said “Oh, so and so snapped a pic of Nemo, see?” I probably would have believed it was him.

Now, isn’t that a fine example of a large furry canine?  He was strong, very easygoing, and God have mercy on the soul of the person that tried to hurt the family.

A short side story about this dog… (I actually have three or four good ones about this dog)

I had been injured in a plywood mill, which is a story unto itself, and because of multiple compound fractures ended up with a full-arm cast and a lot of spare time until going back to college.  I would get up, take my pain meds, and sit around waving at butterflies and being bored when they turned into fluffy pink bunnies (Dilaudid is amazing stuff).

So one fine day, around 8:30 am or so, I got up and took my meds and said “Nemo!  We need to go on walkabout!  You up for it?”

Nemo was up for putting garbage bags over our heads and standing in the middle of the freeway as long as we did it together.  So off we went.  Five miles later I took a rest hundreds and hundreds of feet above the valley floor and looked down and out across the valley, watching vehicles go up and down I-5.  I sat there in the hot sun and watched hawks flying around us looking for fat rodents to eat.  It was a beautiful day that I will always remember as clearly as if I was there.  Nemo, well, he was happy to sit next to me and was actually leaning on me a little bit.  He knew I was injured so he was pretty gentle.  I looked down at my watch and realized that we had been up on the hill for six or seven hours.

“Nemo!  We gotta get home!”  And so off we went.  I had dry-swallowed another pill a while before that and wasn’t due until after we got back so I was good to go.  It took us a while to get back down the hill because I couldn’t take the jarring but we got down there.

We walked around dad’s shop and my parents were standing there looking very worried about how long we’d been gone and whether I was OK.  Then my folks saw Nemo and that he wasn’t doing so well.  They immediately hosed him off and he stood in his water bucket because he was bone-dry parched and way too hot for a dog.  I had been a bad master to my good friend and not realized it because I was drugged up and smarting from the hike.  Here’s the take-home lesson though – that dog never whined once, stuck with me like a second skin, and wanted nothing so much as to be together – I never forgot how loyal he was from that moment on.

Ok, back-story and personality profile complete, let’s move on.

One day a few years prior to that it was another hot summer day and he and I had been slumming around outside so Nemo hadn’t eaten much – like I said, we hung out together.  We went back up to the house and I was doing some important things like watching flies and drinking a pop.

I went looking for him and where do you think he was?  He was in the outside pantry – someone (ahem) forgot to close the door.  I heard this slurp-slurp-slurp sound and saw from behind that he was going to town on something.  This could be nothing good, but what was it, exactly?

As it turned out he had peeled off the lid of a Folger’s coffee can that had previously been completely full of drained-off bacon fat.  He had managed to eat about half of the can’s contents.

As anyone who has ever had a dog knows, you can’t make the beasts un-eat something.  Dogs are really nothing more than a big fluffy alimentary canal that barks and wags a tail.

I windmilled my arms in a useless blocking motion and yelled “Geez Nemo!  Get out of there!  GO ON!  Shoo!”

He gurgled as he went by.

That alone would be enough to make one say that this particular canine should not be allowed in the house for a while.  Possibly as long as three weeks, just to be sure.

A little while later I heard loud crunching noises from near where we kept the animal food.  The fool animal was standing there, eating directly out of the bag of cat food.  It had been a full bag and was now down to about 2/3 of a bag.

Again with the arm-waving and shooing motions I got him to leave off.  “Go on, Nemo.  Get out of there.  That’s not your food, go eat the food in your bowl, ok?”

He sloshed as he went by.

I went to tell my mother what he’d done.  There was nothing to actually do about it but it was my duty to report his infractions.  Best pals he and I were, but you didn’t cross The Warden.

I walked out onto the deck and saw him gulping water out of his water bucket.  He kept gulping.  He kept slurping.  He kept lapping.  Time passed, clocks wound down, paint dried, whole colonies of rodents lived, reproduced, aged, and died, and still he kept drinking.  A substantial amount of water was transferred from the tub to the dog.   A shocking amount, really.

I didn’t really clue into it, but I was watching a train wreck unfold.

He bubbled and percolated as he went by.

I went inside the house to scrounge up something to eat and found something suitable for a teenage boy – roughly a half-gallon of 2% milk and Ritz crackers, which was and still is my favorite snack.

Note: There is nothing as tasty as ice-cold milk and a salty-buttery-rich Ritz cracker except perhaps a Hershey’s kiss and a bite of a granny smith apple.  We will now return you to the regularly scheduled story…

My hearing has always been bad but I was terrible about wearing my hearing aids even then, as I’ve grown accustomed to and like my silent earth.  In spite of the ever-present quietness that surrounds me around the corner I could hear a strange noise.  It was a very peculiar bass sound with little hitches in it.  I said to myself, “What a peculiar bass sound with little hitches in it.”

I came around the corner into the breezeway and saw the dog lying on his side looking for all the world like he was pregnant with twin hippos.  His belly which normally was quite flat and trim because he was an active health-conscious dog (usually) was now swollen and bulging alarmingly above the level of the rest of his body.  It was grotesque, is what it was.

Therein lied the train wreck.  Who knew that a pound or so of bacon grease, several pounds of cat food, and copious amounts of water would swell up so gosh-darned much?

Groooooaaaaaaannnnnn.   Ewwwwwrrrrrrooooowwwww.  Groaaaaaaaaaan.  Errrrrrrrrrroooooh.

He kept repeating those “I’m dying, please finish me off” noises for at least two more hours.  Obviously I can only loosely interpret his dog-speak but I will say that he was probably saying:

Hey, you love me, right?  I mean, really really love me, right?  If you do… if you have even a shred of decency in you, even the *tiniest bit*, you will grab something – an axe, a pipe, even a big branch – and beat me to death with it.  Whatever you choose to use, just do it quickly.  I beg of you. Please, Master, I beg you…

I didn’t do any of those things but I did love that critter, and in spite of not really being worthy of his devotion, he still loved me.

Without exception everyone in the family came out every so often to say softly to him “You big dummy.”

This became a regular expression from then on, where he would eat something particularly vile (but to him probably the tasty kind of vile) and then he would pay the consequences for it.

In this case, the consequences to that big furry alimentary canal with a tail were that he couldn’t come into the house for a few days.  Details beyond that I cannot say, because we respected his privacy.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers