Friday, November 25, 2005

Jimmy the drunk shambled toward the bus shelter like one of the undead. He held his arm as if he had hurt his elbow. His eyes were vacant and didn’t register any recognition of me until he sat beside me on the bench. He just looked with a weary expression at some point across the busy street. The smell of stale sweat occasionally hitched hiked upon the cold winter breeze to impose on my senses.

“Rough night?”
“No. That’s the trouble. I’m off the drink. Listen I know I’m a drunk. That’s what I do. Cats catch mice. Fish swim in the sea, and drunks drink. But, I had my one-too-many. I spent the most miserable night last Sunday and it’s made me think that I need to change my ways.”
“What happened to you? Someone beat you up?” I asked noticing the black eye.
“A beating isn’t going to stop me. I’ve taken a fair share of beatings, and I’ve given them too. A good fight is a pleasure. No. It was just a night of one terrible incident after another. At the end of it I just thought to myself, ‘there has got to be a better way of living’. That was five days ago. I am going to try to stay away from the drink, but I don’t know if I can do it. Look.” He showed me the tremble in his hands. “I’ll tell you what happened. I had been drinking for a few days straight. Then this terrible pain and sound wakes me up. I try to ignore it, but it just gets worse. Finally, I get this zap! ohh. It hurt I tell you. I am seeing stars. It makes me jerk my head, but, get this, I am under the fucking bed. So, what happens? I bang it on the bottom of the bed, which makes me jerk my head down. At this point I am screaming, and I hit my jaw on the ground biting the shit out of my tongue in the process. The whole time I have this fucking sound in my ear. Then I figure out what it is. There’s a bug in my ear. I tell you. You wake up right quick when you figure out there’s some creature in your head laying eggs or eating at your brain or whatever. I scuttle out from under that bed in double time. I bouncing off walls like a pinball every time that damn thing shakes its wings. It was an awful sound. As a bonus, I’m bleeding all over myself like a stuck pig and screaming with my bit tongue. A fucking sight I was. I know I have to get to the hospital. One of the old ladies on the ground floor came out to see what the noise was and she got an eyeful of me. Ha! Her face looked like she’d seen her own death.” He cracked a smile and continued. “I get into my car and try to drive myself to casualty. Oh. Hell. That was fun. The damn bug is dancing around my skull and I’m still spitting blood out the window.”

“I get there all right. I am a little calmer, but this thing is killing me. The noise is horrible. The lady takes all my information and tells me to sit and wait. I tell her, ‘you don’t understand I have a bug in my ear.’ Remember I got this big swollen bitten tongue. So, I talk like one of those deaf people.
‘Yes. Sir.’ she says. ‘Just sit over there. It won’t be long.’ I give up and try to be cool. I go to take my seat. They call some woman. I think she’s got piles or something. She’s walking funny. I don’t know what, but she sure doesn’t have a bug eating her ear. So, I go tell the nurse. ‘I have a bug in my ear and it’s killing me.’ Fucking hell. It was like talking to a spastic. After a few more shouts of ‘I have a bug in my ear’ and furiously pointing at the side of my head, they get me in a room. You know what that fucking doctor asks me. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I’m covered in my own blood, and I have a bug in my ear. I could have killed the bastard. I tell him ‘I got a bug in my ear.’ He gets one of those things to look in my ear. He’s fishing around in there and he says to himself, ‘Jesus. You do have a bug in your ear.’ That man was asking to be killed.” He stopped, shook his head, and whispered a slow “filthy bastard” as if it was an amen.
After few seconds of silence anticipating the conclusion, I ask “Well, did they get it?”
“Yeah. Yeah. They got it. A wee thing.”
“But how’d you get the black eye?”
“I couldn’t tell you. That was there before all this.”

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A prayer for forgotten blessings.

let me not forget the wonder of things like rain upon water.

let me not forget the beauty of things like sunset on city stones.

let me not forget the things like the fun of friends, nor their comfort.

let me not forget that we laugh so that we need not cry.

lo, life is suffering but it is also pleasure and beauty.

oh lord, let me not forget that this today.

*To the uninitiated, it is thanksgiving today.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"It takes a man to recognize a man." I probably the best compliment I have heard in a while.

Friday, November 18, 2005

One thing I hate more than anything else is SUVs or Yank Tanks as they call them here. For me they are the symbol of that nasty flagrant consumption and to hell with the rest of the world we are number one attitude that irritates me about America. One thing I make fun of more than anything else is fat people. Yeah. Yeah. I’m an uncaring mean person, but you can’t convince me that fatties ain’t funny.

Among my many theories I believe that given two otherwise equal situations the universe will tend toward the more ironic one. This was confirmed today when a big ole’ fatty fat fat ran a red light and almost squished me over with her equal wide and bulbous SUV. However if she had succeeded in offing me, I would have haunted her and smacked away every fish supper that she brought to her corpulent lips.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Because of my affinity with the crazies, I have developed skills similar to those who work with wild animals. I am not saying that crazies are animals. Far from it, insanity seems to put a touch more humanity into a person than the amount gifted to normal boring people that crowd this planet. I’d take a conversation of coffee with a crazy about `how the government is using our pets to spy on us’ over a discussion of which grocery store has the best price on sun dried tomatoes.

It’s just that, like the crocodile handler or lion tamer, there are signs you must be aware of. These wild beasts can turn on you, and it is in the interest of the human handler to recognize these signs so that he ends the day with the same number of limbs he started it with.

Talking with crazies has similar requirements. Normal people have been socialized successfully and as such avoid doing these that society may frown upon, like jumping onto restaurant counter tops, dropping their trousers, and slapping their bottoms like a bongo. Being able to identify these signals can help one anticipate when a crazy is about to earn their moniker.

For example, before a lion attacks its pupils dilate completely. Useful to know even if there is probably little can be done if you are close enough to see the dilation, but if god gives you enough time to curse him or your luck before you meet him, I say take it.

The consequences of crazy conversing are not near as dear. The worse is an hour dialogue about foot health. An uncomfortable but survivable experience. Each crazy is unique in his madness but there are some helpful generalizations. Eye dilation is indeed one. A more important one is `god talk’. When a crazy moves the subject to god, caution should be used. This is a potentially volatile situation. We are definitely getting closer to ‘bare ass cheek bongo’ territory, but a conversation might still proceed calmly. It is when a crazy uses nicknames for god and the devil that one should immediately review evacuation procedures including eyeing the nearest exits.
The correct response to hearing talk of `prince of light’ and ‘lord of flies’ is “very interesting. I agree whole hardily, but I must hurry away.” Another dangerous subject is numbers. If normal questions of “How far is that?” is answered with “Oh it’s about from here to that old man multiplied by four thousand six hundred and three. Maybe four thousand six hundred and five, depending on the gravity waves.”, it’s also a good time to bail. It’s only going to get weirder. Requests to touch you or have you touch them are a sign you have missed previous signs.

There are more, but I feel learning to crazy converse is best learned through error. Once you have been hugged and drooled on, I guarantee you’ll not make the errors the proceeded those events.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I really cannot be blamed. Clearly, no good mother would allow someone as irresponsible as myself around her larvae. Even cute children frighten me. I have a pathological fear of twins1. Never mind that the child thrusted into my hands today was doubtfully a fully dues-paying genetic member of the humanity club. I always warn people visiting the house that I have a cat in case they don’t like the things. I think the same courtesy should be paid to those visiting new parents. I went along to a friend of a friend’s house unknowingly walking into an ugly baby booby trap. There it was on the kitchen table. The centre of the room. The centre of attention. We all had to stare at it and make our comments. I think I stared too long. Or maybe my mouth was agape an inch too wide. Truthfully my first reaction was to throw the rest of my drink at it, and chuck it out the window before it flew out of its container or pram or whatever you call it and eat someone’s face. Despite this, I remained calm and repeated to myself that indeed this was a human child and the object of adoration of these two sad and self-deluded couple. We sat and chatted and it was nearly two seconds before the conversation returned to the mongoloid that was now drooling on his mother’s shoulder (my guess was that it was trying to digest her like flies do). It was explained that the birth had been a difficult one. From what I understood of the explanation, apparently there was trouble with the shoulders and they had to use a toilet plunger to pull the child from the mother. They didn’t call it a toilet plunger, but trust me, by the description these people’s pride and joy was brought into this world by a doctor and a toilet plunger. The result was the child’s head was elongated like an egg. I had some more bad news for these people. I don’t think its head went back to the normal shape despite medical assurances to the contrary. I kept checking to see if the eyebrows were lined up. By some unseen signal, feeding time came. I was volunteered to do this task. I was handed the warmed bottle and the changeling that this family had been tricked into taking. It was sweaty and squirmed like a drowning earthworm. All my willpower was focused on keeping my expression blank. I made sure that my eyes did not betray fear or my lips did not curl as the smell of diaper filth hit me like a slap. When the ordeal was all over I excused myself to the bathroom. I stared in the mirror and pushed the trauma into my gut certain that the experience had made me sterile.

1) Obviously, one of them has to be evil.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I read a news article about a woman who walked into a psychic’s office and at the start of the reading took a bottle out of her hand bag, threw it at the psychic’s head, shouted, “Did you see that coming?” and left the office. Either that woman has a great, if not violent, sense of humour or she is deeply disturbed. Luckily, this took place somewhere in the US or I’m sure she would eventually find me and chat me up on my bus ride home.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The man sitting beside me was a crook. Among other occasional activities, he regularly fenced, and he sold cocaine to the university brats, but I imagine if he had to fill in a form that included a blank next to the question ‘occupation’ he would write ‘night club security’. Actually he’d write ‘bouncer’. There wasn’t much pretence about him. His bouncing work was just the place where he conducted the more profitable work. This I knew before I met him and bought him a pint.

He wasn’t particularly big, but there was an air of ‘don’t fuck with me’ about him. Standard issue shaved head and square jaw. What set him apart were his allergies. For all his toughness, his sensitivity to pollen betrayed him. He always had puffy red eyes and a steady line of tears falling from them. He bore this inconvenience with stoic resignation. He only rarely used the back of his hand to clear the tears from his cheeks. Usually, he could be seen in front of the club wearing his black button down shirt and trousers with his unintentional melancholic appearance.

I am feeling melancholic looking into his face as he talks about the local football teams' win last weekend. The empty blue feeling begins in my stomach as I look into those tear filled red eyes. Even though I know the reason for his sad countenance. I want to comfort him, if only to console myself. Later on, he interrupts my babbling about the upcoming fireworks night and the fourth of Julys of my childhood.
“You alright?”
“Just feeling a bit down I guess.”
“Well you shouldn’t be drinking. That won’t help.”
“Yeah. You’re probably right. I think I’ll head home. Nice meeting you.”
“No worries pal.”

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The cowboy was making his rounds. His tiny toy pistols had been replaced with two spray nozzles, the kind that comes from household cleaning products. He still shouted ‘money for the whisky’ and pulled the red plastic triggers at the passing people without concern for the lack of verisimilitude of his weapons.

I watched him while waiting for the green man at the cross walk. I daydreamed that his carer, in the hopes of curtailing his peculiar habit, hid his six shooters. She would have taken his cowboy hat and vest but she knew he would have kicked up too much of a fuss. So, while he took a nap in front of a daytime rerun of ‘the Searchers’, she gingerly uncurled his fingers from the handles as he snored and muttered about whisky. Upon waking and realizing the theft, he immediately went to the kitchen and fashioned two new pistols from a bottle of window cleaner and a nearly full bottle of animal odour remover that he accidentally spilled on the floor when removing the nozzle. He went outside to make his rounds. While he was out, the carer attempted to divine the purpose of the two headless bottles on the counter and whether the puddle on the floor was cowboy urine or something more benign.