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Jo and I were at Bottom of the Hill. We'd been having one of our mock arguments outside the bar and carried it in with us. It was early. The crowd was sparse. As we ordered I feigned offense at her previous quip. She asked me why I didn't just go off in a huff. I pulled out my best Groucho and asked her why /she/ didn't go off in a huff. I told her that if she didn't like it she could make it a minute and a huff. "I just /watched/ that movie last night," the bartender laughed.
On the local ABC News they followed up a story about telemarketing with a story about a beached whale. "You know," the spokesidiot bleated to his co-idiot as the whale story ended, "that telemarketing story really touched me. Really got me right here." Ass. Did he think he was being clever, or is it just too "hippie" to care about a beautiful, intelligent creature's painful moments? Maybe those who cater to the lowest of the lowest common denominator don't even have to pretend to care anymore. Regardless, they may as well have aired it as a warning against "beach pollution".
Met Kyle, Brendan, Smiley the birthday boy, George, Jeanette the cute momma-to-be, Dan, and some of George's other friends at the 'watt last night. Jeanette had cranberry juice and updated me on the baby. Amid the revelry George mentioned that one of his boys had picked up a 16mm camera and some stock at a flea market for $40. They don't have a lot of money, but they have a cast and crew. They want to make a fifteen-minute film for the festival circuit. They want me to write it. Hm. Well. Another interesting challenge.
"We were two deaf mutes in love," she said. I had to agree. Was there something else? Bald text gives so little away. She claims not to care about any of it anymore, but sometimes I wonder. Sometimes it seems like there's still bitterness behind the pixels and type. "It doesn't mean a thing," she said. Again, I had to agree. After more than a decade, and all the work I've done in that time, I can only conclude that we're both better off. Maybe she's still angry. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. I tried. Maybe it's just February.
Last night on 16th street a posse of crackheads growled and staggered like zombies toward a dealer fresh out of rocks. I had a conversation with a homeless man about the time he was stabbed over a Happy Meal. On another block some tightassed woman from a local NBC affiliate was preening for a human interest story. An artist type leaving Theater Rhinoceros told a friend of his "personal struggle". A drunken Mexican kickboxer told me about whupping his cousin's ass at pool. Stacks of computer magazines were scattered next to a chain link fence like confetti after a party.
Once she was the reason I dreaded February. Later it was my reflection in the mirror. Some years it was just the weather. Cabin fever always played its part. It took years, but I got better. Eventually I left the blackened snow behind and moved west. Last year I barely felt the month at all. I was happy as winter dragged on in the east. She's back again. Last year feels like the briefest reprieve. Was the timing a coincidence, or does she feel it too? It's not like I've forgotten anything. I'll never forget. No, I've just moved on.
I was like a drunk driver once. Convinced I was in control I smashed through anyone in my path. I alone held the keys. Stalled at the roadside shaking, and surveying the damage, I numbered each bruise and abrasion. There was so much more to see. "Sorry" is a useless sentiment, sometimes. A word for missed birthdays and fender benders. Not this. I finished my tally. Memorized each face. I took the keys in my hand and scratched those observations into my skin. Working each cut into every scar I'd missed before I wrote a wounded child into a man.
The universe will talk your ear off if you're willing to hear. One great love begins when I'd given up on the idea. It's easier to find your wallet, after all, if you look for your keys. Another great love ends in the same month it should have ended long before if we weren't so silent then. Encryption is a theme this month as well. Hidden messages. Secret truths. Not exactly right. Not exactly wrong. Recollections of laughter and joy lay down beside memories of misunderstanding and pain. What's the message? February only knows, but I'm going to crack it.
The skater kid on the patio at Zeitgeist fell flat on his arse. The tamale lady nearly laughed her own backside out of her burgundy sweats as she pulled another morsel from the red plastic cooler on her cart. Punkrock hairdoos and messenger stances broke formation to chuckle along with her. "I'm from Omaha, Alaska," the skater said as he joined the rest of us laughing. Ah, lazy Sunday afternoons. I'd been feeling February. The sun was helping, so were the laughs. It wasn't even six o'clock and the bottomless keg of beer had found its bottom with both hands.
Curiouser and curiouser. In, out, around and through. Round and round. Up and down. Slipknots. Hitches. Ring around the rosie. Hither and yon. Here, there, and everywhere. Which way is up? Any which way but loose. Damn the damned torpedoes. Fire the retro rockets. Fire the script girl. Fire every damned body. Bodies of facts. Bodies of secrets. Bodies of lies. Bodies lie prone on pins and needles. Don't bother me, I'm eating. Drinking. Watching TV. Reading. Writing. Performing brain surgery. Over the river and through the woods. Over there. Over there. Over here. Back again. What the fuck? February.
The only thing I hate about Valentine's Day is the bitterness and whining of the dateless masses that begins about a week, or sometimes a month, before the actual day. Trust me, people blubbering "fuck Valentine's Day" is more annoying than the stupid cupids and cloying hearts. Here's a tip for next year, folks: If you have a date, or the possibility of one, it's a holiday. If you don't it's just a set of numbers on the calendar. If you find this unacceptable: Do the rest of us a favor and throw yourself onto something long and sharp. Please.
Norbert is finishing his morning snooze. Curled in a furry ball he dreams of walking upright and opposable thumbs. Like Pinocchio he wants to be a real boy. Like his father he wants to go out for sushi with the boys. Fatboy sleeps at his side, perfectly comfortable in his role as a cat. Eating, sleeping, cleaning his claws, and the occasional ear scratching are all he needs. Maybe a song or two from time to time, but that's as far as it goes. Norbert hates to see me go. Fatboy knows I'll be back. A nap is sounding good.
February is the shortest month of the year. Right. February is, easily, the longest. December is over too fast. July? Blink and you'll miss it. October is a whirlwind of birthdays. February, however, goes on and on. I thought I'd escaped it. I thought that by leaving the snow behind and moving to a postcard I'd cheated the bastard month of its pound of flesh. Last year was a breeze. Sunshine. Palm trees. Good times replacing cabin-fever and nights drenched in bourbon. A drama-free zone. It's February again. My head is heavy with thought. Could be worse. Could be snowing.
On 16th street a woman loading a minivan sang "More than a Woman" along with the radio to everyone and no one at all. Up and down the pavement corpses refused to die. Earlier, some drunk I barely knew saw me make a good friend laugh. "THAT'S," he said in her absence, "the kind of girl I want to be able to talk to. She's ... you made her laugh. You talked to her. How'd you do that?" "I'm not afraid," I told him. At Mission street junkies of every flavor washed against bricks and mailboxes praying they didn't drown.
Slowly. Carefully. Things. Progress. Each step feels like it's being taken in sand. Who turned up the gravity in here? Everything had felt so light before. Still, I've not one to turn my back on unfinished business. Not anymore. Not like before. I can look at that guy in the mirror and understand him, but I'm not trying to go back. So. I. Move. Along. Slowly. Carefully. Not like before. No leaps or bounds this time around. Easy does it. Over the hurdles and up to the tightrope. Considering each step. Yeah, it would be easier to turn my back.
I had a lot on my mind as I walked to brunch. Rainclouds dangled while Mexican kids practiced skateboard tricks. Drug hustlers muttered "what's up" as I walked past Mission and 16th. Pedestrian traffic was sparse. The visible world was the color of rotting meat. I laughed, but there was something absent from the timber of my voice. When the clouds surrendered the rain I said my good-byes and went for a long walk. There were puddles to be had, but I was in no mood to jump into them. Like February rain, some things stop but they never end.
It's another lazy Sunday morning. Coffee. Spongebob Squarepants. Sleeping cats. More Spongebob. A quick game of Asteroids. Lidia's Italian Table. America's Test Kitchen. More coffee. It seems that no matter where I live in this city some Mexican neighbor has to listen to drunken oom-pa-pa music every Sunday morning. I'll never get used to it I suppose. It's so damned plodding and repetitive, like an elephant on Quaaludes. It ends and I consider joining the cats for a nap. The phone rings. Will I go to Bottom of the Hill tonight or the ballet? It's a decision best slept upon.
"A" is for Alphabet. The Alphabet is the latest meme in the webby obsession with self-documentation. A is also for accumulation, which lives do. So, these are some things in my life that begin with "A". "A" is for anger that I now understand and can manage. It's also for anxiety that attacks without warning, and Adrienne, who taught me a thing or two. "A" is for apples that I adore in all their forms. Kid A is one of my favorite albums. Anthrax Envy was a media phenomenon that made me laugh. Let's stop here. I'm almost out of
"B" is for Boo, a bit of a surprise. "B" is for Becky, and Brendan, and Brandon, and Brookie-cookie-ness. It's also for pointless bickering, which I try to avoid. Balance begins with the letter "B", and so does booga-booga-booga. Backstabbing is something I can't abide. Blim is a word I made up to describe anything you can't quite put your finger on. Blacula is one of my favorite exploitation flix. Blade Runner is so much better without the voice-over. The Brian Jonestown Massacre is one of my favorite bands. "Bamf" is a comic sound effect I enjoy. Son of a
"C" is for cream, which I only use if the coffee's not good. It's also for celery, which I replaced with red cabbage and three colors of peppers in my tuna salad. It's for contraception, something I believe in, but I'm happier with the condom-free life. I have cats named Fatima and Norbert. Chimps start with "C". I could watch them all day. I should really call Celeste. I don't miss owning a car. I love a wide range of cheeses. I love carrots. I ready Creepy Magazine when I was a kid. I don't eat much candy. Chaos is
Diaphanous dingos diddle diligently. Daisies delightfully dance. Dawn dawns. Dooby-dooby-doo. Does Don do drugs? Definitely. Don Drinks. Don drives. Don doses. Don devours Darvocet daily. Dumbass Don. Don's deluded. Does Don Date? Dude. Don dates Desdemona. Does Desdemona do drugs? Desdemona doesn't detest Don's drug dependency. Desdemona drinks. Desdemona drowns. Dawn dawns. DNA dilutes. Daisies dawdle dejectedly. Dark dromedaries drift directly downstream. Deranged donkeys dribble Don's Dodge Dart drearily down Dulcet Drive. Don deflates. Desdemona drones dramatically. Does Don desire Desdemona? Don doesn't decide. Desdemona does. Daggers dimple Don's demeanor. Desdemona drinks. Don devours Darvocet. Dusk dawns. Day's done. Dream.
Eggar Everett Eggplant expands exponentially every Easter. Ellroyville's everyfolk endure Eggar's eerie Easter expanse eagerly. Even Enlightened Ecumenists. Each Easter. Every Easter. Elk eat ears. Eggs ellipse. Eccentrics exaggerate. Ellroyville endures. Eggar expands. Every Ellroyvillian, excluding Ethel Evans, enjoys Eggar's encroaching elasticity. Ethel emigrated east. Eh. Everyone's elated. Even Eggar. Eggar extends everywhere. Encompasses everything. Exits Entrances. Enters exits. Elevates escalators. Escalates emergencies. Envelops Ellroyville entirely. Even Ely's Eggery. Eggar's elasticity enrages Englandtown. Eh. Evil Englandtown. Enemy Englandtown. Egotistical, elbowing, envious Englandtown. Eggar's end edges Englandtown every Easter. Englandtown's Easter enthusiasm evaporates early. Ellroyville's elated. Especially Eggar Everett Eggplant, Esquire.
Fuck. Flaming frogs fall from Fuji. Frightened, fleet feet flee furiously forward. Fat fannies fly from form-fitting foam, flinging flab. Fantastic. Foreboding. Five flatulent firemen flinch. Foremen freak. Factories fumble. Furniture flames. Form forgets function. Frogs flatten Formica. Forgotten foodstuff fouls floors. Finger foods. Frog's legs? Fucking forever. Fenders fold from frog force. Fifteen "frigid Friedas" feel faint. Fabulous. Fire fighters fling fire-fighting foam. Futile. Fiery frogs find flammable fluids. Fuck-fuckitty-fuck-fuck-fuck. Flames flicker from finery. Fires feed ferociously. Fastidious fuckers fidget. Flippant flamers flit. Fundamentalists forget flamers. Farmers forget fertilizer. Financial forecasts fall flat. Frogs fall. Fires forge fatalities. Froggygeddon.
Gary "Goulash" got gutted. Grabbed. Gutted. Gone. Good going, Gary. Goddamned grouper. Godamned goof. Goddamn. Gary gambled. Gary got greedy. Gaffled goods. Grabbed gangster girls. Gangster goons grabbed Gary. Gabagool-gobbling gangsters. Godzilla Gambinos gleefully gripped Gary's gonads. Gucci goons gutted Gary good. Good god, Gary. Got Guts? Good god. Ghoulish. Gastric gutstuff glips. Gore glops. Good god, Gary. Good god. Ghastly, glimmering guts. Gary's goulash goo. Goddamn. "Gotta git," Gary Goulash grumbled, "gotta go. Glenlivet. Glasgow. Golden Gate. Gorky. Gotta go. Gotta git. Gotta gopher." Got Game, Gary? Got Gone? Goofy guy. Gary gambled. Gary got grabbed. Gary got groupered.
Heinrich hastily humped Helga. Homminahomminahommina. Hooboy, Helga. Hot, horny, Helga. Heinrich humped her hautily. Hummingbirds hummed. Hammerheads hammered. Heinrich humped Helga's haunches. Helga's head hit her hamster's Habitrail. Helga's hamster hunkered, horrified. Heat humidified Heinrich's head. Helga hinted her hymen's history. Heinrich hated Helga's humor. Hillbillies hee-hawed. Hookers hooked. Helium held hobbyist's Hindenbergs high. Habitual humping halted. Heinrich's hot hooey hit Helga's hip. Horrified, Helga's hamster hid. Helga handed Heinrich his hanky. Heinrich harrumphed. He handled Helga's hooters. Hot, horny Helga handed Heinrich his hat. Heinrich hiccuped. "Halibut," Helga heckled. "Hooboy," Heinrich hiccuped, "halibut. Habeneros. Heineken." Happy, Heinrich hobbled homeward.
Indigenous Indians inked indigo insignias in igloos. Irritated, invertebrate idiots identified, incorrectly, intent. Indignant, ignoramuses ignited irrelevant investigations into igloo inking. Immature investigators, interns in intel, implicated innocent Iranian immigrants. Injustice infected information. Iranians, irate, incited insurrection. Indians in igloos inked indigo insignias incognito. Incoherent ignoramuses impersonated intelligent interviewers in inept interviews. Inaccurate information informed inaccurately. Iranian ire increased. Idiots increasingly invoked "Ibsen's Inking Instructions". Ibsen, isolated, isn't interested in interviews. Indians innocently inked igloos. Inflammatory incidents intensified. Itinerary input included instigation. Incarcerated Iranian immigrants infuriated inhumane inmates. Icebergs inched increasingly inland. Indians, introspective, inked. Inked igloos icily inspired interest.
Jumpin' Jack Johnson! Jiminy Jilikers! Jerrold's Jamaican jerk jaguar justifies jubilation! Jealous Jules jeers Jerrold's jerk jaguar. "Jerk jaguar," Jules jests, "Jesus. Jaguar jams? Jaguar jellies? Jerrold, Jerrold." Jerrold jokingly jellies jaguar jugulars. Jules javelins Jerrold's jocularity. "Jesus," jaded Jules jabs, "jellied jugulars? Jesus, Jerrold." Jules' jealous jibes jumble Jaguar Junction. Jaguar Junction jilts Jerrold's jerked jaguar. Jerrold jousts. Janet Jackson joins Jerrold. Janet Jackson jerkily juggles jerked jaguar, jamming Jerrold's Jerk Jaguar Jamboree. "Jumpin' Jehosaphat," Jaguar Junction's juvenile jocks joke, "Janet's juggling's junk!" Jules jangles jade jewelry. Jerrold's jaw jitters. Jumpy, Jerrold jaunts. Jerrold journeys Jamaica. Jerk jaguar? Ja.
Coventry Jack died the other day. He was one of the "Governors of Monkey Island". They were this group of old guys that everybody knew. Each day they'd just sit around the coffeehouse or out in the courtyard drinking the house blend of the day and bullshitting with each other. Jack was an institution on the street. Everyone knew him, and most people liked him. It was always good talking to him. Even when he was being catty he had a certain crusty charm. Coventry was Jack's home. His kids didn't even bother to show up for his funeral. Damn.
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