Friday, August 26, 2005

I am aware that my posts may seem unbelievable to those of you reading from outside the borders of this wonderful country. Surely, the activities I report are an exageration. Well, let us put such speculation to rest. I read this article today. Just another day in Scotland.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My neighbour and the landlord of our block of flats is the pudding lady. Immortality is one advantage of having pudding instead of internal organs but the draw back is you look like a human beanbag. She looks like the nose cone of the space shuttle. The dribbley flesh of her belly hides most of her thighs. A Christmas tree shape in a pink tracksuit. The pudding filled cheeks hang like a basset hound’s and the flesh beneath where her chin should be is directly connected to flab of her breast. The slightest movement starts slow ripples that continue for several minutes hypnotizing you like an executive’s desk ornament. Even though she is made of pistachio1 pudding, she gets around town. She is nice enough as long as you don’t get in her way. She is always chastising the bus drivers for driving too fast are stopping too far. She yells to the passenger next to her upon spying a newspaper on an unoccupied seat “Excuse me. Can I have that?” She never reads it. She just puts it into her plastic bag along with blackening bananas and random objects. I have watched her bump her Zimmer frame into people waiting for the cash machine if she feels the queue is too far into the pedestrian traffic flow. Apparently, she is a nightmare to the people with whom she shares a garden. If they park their car two inches too close to her flowers or don’t retrieve their garbage bin quick enough, she’ll stake out the spot from her window and shout at them the moment they appear. She is also in the habit of dropping ‘anonymous’ notes into the letterbox of anyone who violates the pudding lady’s idea of good tenancy. I have yet to receive any of these notes, but it is almost worth a try to get one. Even though we bump into each other around town, she has never acknowledged that she recognises me. I suppose that is for the best.

1) I’m not actually sure what kind of pudding, but pistachio is my favourite. I have the hope that one day after she had lived the thousand years that the pudding people live, she’ll split open and pour fourth her 200 litres of pudding guts and all the children of the neighbourhood and myself will go grab the biggest spoon from our kitchens and have a big pudding party where we laugh, sing, dance, and eat the pudding lady.

*) I taught spell checker dribbley.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I have taken to doing my work at a mall. A big fat American style mall. But, this one has a little more character as it is on the water in a harbour with a great view of Fife. When weather permits I sit at a table beside the water and click away at my keyboard. When lost for words I people-watch. Children and parents are the most interesting subjects to watch.

Young children act a lot like drunks, and a little like monkeys. In a clothing store, I watched a toddler doing the standard drunken monkey act of a child. It was babbling and singing to itself. It barely had control of its limbs. They shook with no definable rhythm in some sugar-induced palsy. The child then approached a mirror and responded to this by licking it and making ‘mmm’ noises the whole time. Even more amazingly was the parent witnessed this and made no response. She noticed the fruit of her loins licking a mirror and she merely returned to her evaluation of the railings of clothes without even a sigh.

A lot of new moms also frequent the mall. I have overheard some very bizarre things1 and have witnessed unfathomable acts. Do you know how you check if a baby needs changing? You shove your nose into its diaper. I have seen it countless times and it still confuses me. I doubt all of these people are the freaks that their ass inhaling behaviour would imply. So, the only other conclusion is that they were once normal but the birth of their child somehow changed them. It is with trembling fear that I contemplate the possibility of fatherhood and that I could one day find myself nostril deep into the rear-end of some smaller version of myself and some hapless woman.

1) Breast feeding can result in chapped nipples.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bus Report

The man boarded wearing cargo pants with the pockets at his knees stuffed to their limits. This gave the impression that he suffered from an exotic disease that caused extraordinary saggy knees.

The extremely ordinary woman across from me excitedly asked me if that sign said, ‘Steak night’. I didn’t react quick enough, so she just started repeating ‘steak night’ in staccato getting more and more agitated as the answer still didn’t come. Before, I could even say ‘what?’ she shot to the front of the bus and got off at the next step. On the return trip, I saw the sign to which she was referring. It said ‘Hot Shaves. 7 days.’

Friday, August 12, 2005

“I loss my legs in ‘nam.” The man offered without needing me to ask.

“Really? How old were you when you went?”

“Oh. About forty.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but isn’t that pretty old to be fighting in a war.”

“I couldn’t tell you.” He smiled showing a mouth full of rotten teeth and fillings. “I lost them in the country. Not the war. No. No blaze of glory and all that crap. I was an engineer there before the war really got started. I didn’t have the foresight to even lose them on the job so I could claim some cash. No. I lost them to one of those mad fucker bus drivers that used to be all over the country. To be more exact, the bus just broke ‘em up real good. It was their backward monkey medicine that caused them to get hacked off. Ever since, I haven’t done shit. I get my check on the fifteenth and I watch the world go by from the spaceship.” He slapped the frame of the medical scooter he was perched upon. It was filthy and blackened. It had a frame with a clear plastic that served as weather guard and windshield, but it was stained completely with the sickly orange pallor of nicotine. Tape and twine held the plastic molding to the frame. There was a cup holder held in place with a ridiculous amount of brown packing tape. “My ass hovers a couple feet above the earth and I watch the humans go about their lives. I got biscuits for doggies and curses for any goddamn cop that tells me to move along. But, they mainly leave me alone these days. I don’t trouble anyone. I used to kick up all kinds of shit and holler. They would finally drag me and my spaceship off to jail, but I made sure it was always more trouble than it’s worth.” He chuckles with a nasal and harsh laugh punctuated by a cough. On clear days he will roll the plastic windows up, but I don’t think it helps him see his way. His glasses besides being thicker than my finger are as grimy and in a similar state of disrepair as his scooter. I have seen him for weeks. He parks his scooter at different points around town. He does just sit there and watch the people and offer treats to dogs as they are being walked. No one really notices him. He is landscape like the bus stops or mailbox.

“Do you always sit in the same spots each day?”

“Yep. They’re the best spots. I start my morning over on 3rd street and Grove. There’s a distribution center over there and I get to watch them load up the vans and the sunrise.”

“How early do you get up?”

“oh. four or five. I have always gotten up early but as you get older it gets earlier and earlier. I don’t mind. I love watching the city wake up. I am usually there before the vans. It’s great to watch how the city wakes up each day.”

“What other spots do you go to?”

He smiles another dirty grin. “I am always in front of the hospital at eleven. That’s when the nurses take their cigarette breaks. I sure like to watch those cuties.” He wolf whistles and gives me a hugely magnified wink.

“Why do you sit here?”

“All the puppies, of course.”

“Do you have a dog yourself?”

“Nah. I like up because I don’t have to clean up after them. How the hell would I scoop up shit from this thing? Alrighty. Good talking with you, but I’m off like a dirty shirt. see you around.” And without waiting for my reply his scooter jerked into action and shot down the sidewalk.

Friday, August 05, 2005

He spotted me from across the street. I gave a polite wave and quickly continued on my way knowing my super power for attracting crazies. Sadly, my powers extend beyond attracting crazies. Sometimes I draw toward me sad and lost characters. This was one of them. He hurried to catch up to me, calling for me as he made his way across the street. I was caught. I stopped and turned to what could be a quick and harmless request for change or a difficult dialogue with a dangerous stranger. He chatted with me amiably. “Y’alright, pal?” He concealed a can of butane in his coat sleeve. Only the red nozzle extended beyond the dirtied fabric. When we shook hands he gracefully pushed it further up his sleeve in an unseen motion and it fell back into the ready position when we withdrew our hands. Through out our chat he would sip from the nozzle like a child sipping at a milkshake, but instead of chocolate malt he was swallowing awful chemicals that gave the flesh of his face a sickly green pallor. He spoke about needing to take his medication, asked for water, mentioned his need for change, he gave best wishes, and we said our goodbyes. During our dialogue I kept asking questions to myself. Do we know each other? Did he recognize me from somewhere and I am being forgetful? What happened to make him lose his way so terribly? Is there happiness for him, somewhere, sometime, eventually? How thin is the divide that separated my choices, which saved me from such a fate from having shared it? It’s comfortable to think ‘that could never happen to me’, but I am not so sure. One should never confuse luck with providence.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Last night I was going on about Hunter S. Thompson. He's always been a favorite of mine. He was truly one of the blessed. Anecdotes about the writer are plentiful and even in death he added one more to the pile. I too have unusual funeral plans for my earthly remains. Although, unlike Thompson's mine are of a more permanent nature. I have always wanted to be stuffed in a pose like Bella Lugosi. Eyes wide. Teeth bared. That sort of thing. But, I can't decide if I want to be dressed in just a bathrobe and tank top or full military regalia. I suppose it is best to leave the details to my descendents. The important part is that I am stuffed and put in a closet that way I can still entertain my loved ones from beyond the grave. My main purpose of course would be to scare young family members1, a sort of right of passage for my people, but I could see my preserved remains being used to deter burglars or merely to fill a seat to take advantage of the car pool lane. Grandpa would just be another part of the family for whom one occasionally must glue back on a finger or shoo the cat away from gnawing on.

1) "Little Joey. Can you get something from the closet for me?" "No way. Mommy. Grandpa is in there! You're trying to trick me"

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

“The dominate political culture seems to support the maxim that the more simplistic or non-existent understanding of a situation or the consequences of one’s actions given the situation, the more resolute you should be in those actions and the more dismissive the tone of your denial toward any resulting repercussions.” - Jimmy (a drunk I met in the park yesterday)

Monday, August 01, 2005

The city of Utrecht is like a lot of people I have met. It’s beautiful but dull. Granted I preferred it to the gaudy filth that is hung about the streets of Amsterdam. There are just so many shops selling t-shirts depicting join t smoking smiley faces, women selling their asses from display cases, and stoned frat boys a city can handle before it cheapens the atmosphere. Utrecht has an odd regimentation of their week as well. Thursday is party day. Everyone goes out to restaurants, bars and clubs. When I asked what the occasion was, I was told, “Because it’s Thursday”. Monday is a day of rest. They take it easy Sunday too, but even more so on Monday. I don’t know if it is because the demands of Thursday require Monday for recuperation but don’t expect to get anything done in Utrecht on Monday. I had to eat toothpaste and drink canal water for nourishment, as I did not know everything would be closed that day. The Dutch people are a tall race. It’s a little known fact that I just made up that the Dutch government sponsors a program for the x-raying of young children to determine their growth potential in order to export any stature impaired children to other European countries more tolerant of the untall. The popular “Big and Tall” shops of America1 are unheard of in Holland. They do have “Short and Stumpy” shops in the major cities. The written language is driven by the need to used an excess of consonants left over from the war. I was misinformed that it was a phonetic language. This would be impossible as only a wookie would be able to pronounce what looks like English written by a faulty typewriter. The spoken language does have a Star Wars feel about it. I made no progress in learning any of the grunts or clicks necessary to pronounce any word. Although I did hear the funniest sentence in any language ever, “Vinkle est Ploondered” which means the shop was looted.

The most surreal event happened to me at the head of the immigration queue. I turned to look behind me to see several hundred people following the zigzags of the maze made with ropes. Something wasn’t right. I had the feeling that my vision could not be relied on. I was the same feeling when you walk into a dark house after being in the bright sunlight all day or when I used to watch our old colour television and someone had fiddled with the saturation knob. That was it. The colour was not right. It didn’t help that as the people followed the queue snaking back and forth across the room created this odd effect of each line of people moved in the opposite direction like a human vaudeville oceanscape. Then I figured out the problem. Every single individual were violently sunburned to a shade I have only seen in red clay hills and seafood. A menacing shade on a single individual but to see a writhing mass of several hundred overcooked Scots is a sight the mind has difficulty in processing. I could not help laughing once I realized it was not the trick of the eyes but the witnessing of a yearly national event. The return migration of Scots from their summer holidays where they spend weeks mistaking sun stroke for the strength of the local brew. It’s true a healthy tan looks nice but a gentle olive complexion is one thing and melanoma is quite another. Plus after the huge chunks of flesh that will inevitable peel away will be the usual shade of pale found in the natives.

Well, that is all for today. I hope your vinkles remain unploondered.

1) Now called Wal-Mart.
2) I taught my spellchecker wookie.