Thursday, October 24, 2013

I blame Darwin

Evolutionarily speaking, I am a step or two behind a modern human.
No, I do not have a bony ridge on my forehead or multiple layers of teeth.
I am lactose intolerant.
I get depressed without a steady supply of red meat.
I am considered "obese" by the modern BMI.
I cant sleep for longer than 4 hours at a stretch.
I have certain triggers that completely trump my thin veneer of civilization.
Like a fish.
Its like this, if you are fishing, and the fish wont bite. If they are just full up with bugs, or little fish, or whatever it is that they are eating and wont even look at what fly or bait or whatever it is that you are tempting them with.
You put something red on the hook. Just a little flashy piece of red.
Blood in the water.
Its instinctive, hard wired into their cold little brains.
They see blood, they hit it.
Every year, on the forth of July. My little family rides our bicycles over to the park to watch the fireworks display.
We have been doing this for 14 years now.
Same park, same route, same everything.
Its a tradition.
This year was no different, we loaded up the backpacks with blankets, the cooler with drinks and the bike basket with the little plastic snap glowing things that the kids love to run amok with, and headed out.
Fun for all.
Child 1 (15 and beautiful) was in the front, followed by me, child 2 (10 and beautiful) was behind me and the wife (beautiful) was pedaling rear guard. Just a normal traditional fourth of July.
There was a plain black car, following us all, politely slow and fairly well back. The streets were thronged with park goers and the energy and excitement that Americans have for this Holiday was buzzing through the air.
Then this fucking hipster opens his door and knocks child 1 off her bike and into the street.
She did not hit the door, he hit her with the door. Right on her side. She spun a full circle and landed on her back in the street. The backpack full of blankets and her helmeted head hitting the ground.
The hipster stood up, had he, at this point, rushed over to the child, expressed remorse in any way, behaved or acted in any way apologetic. I like to think that the outcome would have been different.
Perhaps not.
What he did do, was raise both his arms in this relatively new gesture that has come to mean "WTF!" and yell to the world "What the Fuck! My Car!"
Blood in the water.
I hit him with my right hand 2 running steps after jumping off my bike.
To his credit, he reacted fast and tried to hit me back.
Sadly for him, he appeared to be an evolved human. 6' 4 or 5", well built, a milk drinker, an eight hour sleeper, a chicken and vegetable eater, a perfectly proportioned BMI.
I grabbed the wrist of the hand he was swinging at me, and his collarbone with my left hand. Then i hit him about 30 times.
Maybe more.
He tried to get away at some point, by crawling into his car.
So i bounced his head off the roof of his car a few times, denting it and his head.
Then I crawled into the car after him.
Still hitting him, and choking him.
You see, I really needed to tell him something.
Through the roaring in my ears I suddenly became aware of several things.
A childs voice, coupled with a bike bell. Ding ding "daddy stop" ding ding "daddy stop"
A wifes Voice, yelling at me to come check child one.
And another voice. Machine amplified. "SIR! SIR! STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE" these amidst the normal cacophony of holidaying humans.
So, I hit him a few more times.
Then I whispered a few words into his ear.
Just a few.
Exiting the car I found my way blocked by a small man pointing a taser at me.
He was saying some thing?
I could see my child then, behind him, still laying in the road.
Blood in the water.
I forearmed the small man to the ground and went to my child.
She was ok.
Helmets and a backpack full of blankets kept her injuries to a sore arm and a mild concussion.
The black car?
Yes, a policeman.
He saw the whole thing, and like me, he thought the hipster had done it on purpose.
The hipster had been drinking, a lot. He and his wife were actually sitting in their car fighting about how much he had been drinking.
So, as darkness fell this fourth of July. I found myself, with my family, sitting on a curb.
Other policemen arrived.
They took statements.
Asked questions.
Gave me the eye.
The first Policeman, who has Daughters as well, convinced the Hipster not to press charges against me.
By the simple method of telling the hipster that he would support me in my counter-suit for causing "intentional bodily harm" to my child.
All's well that ends well.
We continued to the park.
Watched the fireworks.
Went home.
The hipster, a bit rough looking now, what with the bruises and dried blood, apologized to my child. His wife apologized to my wife. There were tears.
My ears were still roaring.
The only things I could hear were the voices of my Family.
I said nothing.
At home I kissed them all and sent them to bed.
Then I sat.
Alone in the dark.
Smoke blowing in the night sky.
Fading, diluting, vanishing.
Blood in the water.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This is not a test

I've an odd job.
Yes I realize that to most of the people that know me, I don't have a job.
I generally come and go as I please. Showing up in strange places at seemingly random times.
I go to work at 4 am.
For those of you that lead normal, sunshine lives. 4 am is not the middle of the night, its just a while before the butt-crack of dawn.
I get emergency calls occasionally.
Sometimes, but very seldom actually are the emergencies real.
I have just had to broaden my view as to what, exactly, constitutes an emergency.
I wont use any names, I cant.
A day or so ago, I started getting calls at 3:30 am. An emergency in one of my buildings. Unspecified as to the nature of the crisis, but from the panicked tones and veiled nervousness on my voice-mail and carefully worded semi-literate pleas in the emails I was receiving I surmised it was something big.
A little background.
About a year ago I had a power failure in one of my buildings.
This particular building houses (among other things) a lab.
As in Laboratory.
They store things in this lab, in giant stainless steel locked refrigerators.
Things that if they got even a little thawed, even a little bit of exposure to humans, could make some very sick people.
A lot of very sick humans.
I got one call.
The other day I got 15 calls. From 15 different people. 36 emails.
All within an 8 hour window.
To say I rushed is a bit of an understatement.
I calmly sped to the building, calmly ran in, I calmly eschewed the elevator and sprinted up the stairs.
8 flights.
Opening the doors to a kicked termite mound of activity.
2 seconds.
That's how long it took for the lowing masses to recognize I was there and start clamoring.
One of those marvelous instances of mass hysteria where every single person is talking at the exact same time.
I picked the calmest looking of the bunch, a distinguished looking gent.
He had a sardonic tilt to one eyebrow that gave me a little hope for the survival of the entire floor. A little humorous gleam in his eye as he surveyed the crowds of cubicle lemmings milling about.
He walked me over to the emergency.
Briskly walked.
That was the emergency.
Last week one of the lemmings had gone on vacation.
He called one of his co-lemmings the day before the emergency to tell a sad tale.
A sordid tale.
A tale of woe and calamity.
See, he had left a bunch of bananas by accident locked in his cabinet.
Sardonic eyebrow and I, we stood there.
In front of the unlocked cabinet, and I reached in and removed the browned bunch.
The sigh of relief from the herd was audible.
This is when it gets weird.

I walked, mouldering fruit in my hand, to the nearest garbage pail and was just about to calmly chuck them in.
It seemed a good idea, after all, if you can simply dispose of the emergency, you really should.
I was stopped.
Mid chuck.
By 4, count them, four women and 2 men. That's a total of 6 (unless I miscalculate) humans.
All of whom wanted the fruit.
Is a banana a fruit?
Needless, these people, budding chefs all of them, wanted those blasted browned bananas to make bread.
Banana Bread.
no shit.
So I set them on a table.
With a conspiratorial glance at the sardonic eyebrow, I left.
Left them to go and type up my required 6 page emergency report.
Left them to cajole, plead, argue and possibly use the wisdom of Solomon to distribute the potassium packed delicacies on their own.
I've an odd Job.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


What I imagine and what happens in the real life, well, its rarely the same.
Its the difference of a few inches, a few seconds, a mis-timed jump.
In my mind I am magnificent. I have impeccable timing, vastly superior reflexes and inhuman speed.
However I usually become the victim of some vast cosmic conspiracy to stymie my excellence and stupendous athletic ability.
For those of you that don't know me, I am kidding.
Sort of.
See, when I was a kid, younger anyways, I used to try things that were probably a bit above my abilities. Ok, a lot above my abilities.
In my mind however, previous to the actual event, things always went flawlessly.
First time I got on a motorcycle, a little Honda 50 trail bike, I played it over and over in my head. Hop on the bike and roar off with a cloud of awesome wallowing in my wake.
I never for a second thought that I was going to lose control with the first twist of the throttle and ride directly through a fence. A tommy shaped hole in a splendid wooden fence.
The first time I tried to balance my way across a single strand of barb wire fence. I had this crystal clear vision of my cat-like balance and quickness running like a ninja across the top of the fence and jumping with a single leap to the top of the playhouse.
I still have the scars on my ass from that one. Three little lines from the top of the chain link fence that stopped my rapid descent to the ground after the barb wire snapped like soggy linguine.
Looking back it surprises me that I did int learn. Actually I'm still surprised that I haven't seemed to have learned yet.
In high school I belonged to a singing and dancing group. The fact that I can neither sing nor dance didn't seem to dampen my hubris. I was the MC and introduced the folks that actually could sing and dance. At the end of our silly little intro I was supposed to calmly walk in and take the mike, introduce the talent and fade off.
I had this great idea though.
Remember the knee slide? I used to see it on MTV and various other forms of mind numbing media. It was so damn cool.
So I had to try it.
Live performance, in front of some community center geriatrics or something. I don't rightly recall. I got a run from offstage and proceeded to power slide on my knees.
In my mind I came to a perfect stop exactly where I needed to be, snatched the mike and to thunderous applause stood to the jaw gaped gaze of the talent.
I slid across the highly polished wooden stage at mach 6 or thereabouts,  knocked two of the smaller girl talents base over apex and shot of into the air on the opposite side of the stage. I landed in the lap of the director.
She did not catch me.
All of these memories came to me in flash one morning driving the child #1 to school. We were talking about things you want to do but probably should not.
Like wearing roller skates to school.
As a responsible parent I should have discouraged her. Mayhap given some well meaning but ineffective lecture on rules and safety and the other bull shit that adults impose on kids to keep them from reaching their sum-total ability to be excellent.
I am a failure as a parent.
I told her instead about when I took roller skates to school.
My sophomore year.
The school was freaking perfect for it. Long sloping hallways that curved and meandered with nary a staircase to be seen.
One run in particular from the bottom of the stairs at the south end of the main hall to the drama room. Or all the way to the registrars office if you timed the corner right.
At least, that's how it was in my mind.
It never in a million years occurred to me that the night elves who cleaned the building also waxed and polished the floors. To an ice-like slipperiness. Pretty sure they used the Zamboni.
As I went around that corner I became a human bowling ball. I don't know how many pins I knocked down.
I lost count.
Best bowling score of my life to date on one roll.
The child and I laughed at me. At far in the past me.
Hearing her laugh, that joy and electric youthfulness spilling into the still morning air.
Makes me hope I never learn.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dog of Night

He was a rotten-lab.
200+ pounds of sweetness.
That is wee child #1 at 5, and Hawkeye the dog in his dotage. I think he was 11 or even 12 years old in this picture.
He was Caprice's dog.
Although he was a bread thieving, cat killing, can popping, cow chasing, sheep shit eating dog. I really loved him.
We had our disagreements to be sure, two strong wills that are in the same weight class, four legs or two legs, invariably will.
Most of our disagreements involved the bed.
We both wanted to sleep next to Caprice.
At first I would just say his Name and he would roll off the bed, after a while though he just started to scoot over. He would brace his back against the wall, wait for me to doze, and then kick me off the bed with all four feet.
Then we started to wrestle for the privilege.
I did not always win.
See, his mouth was very large and full of very sharp curved teeth. He would clamp his mouth over my wrist, his fangs actually touching on the one side, teeth just dimpling the skin. Then he would smile at me with his big slobbery lips and I would acquiesce.
In his prime he didn't bark much.
He would creep about silently through the house and yard.
Doing whatever it was that he did, pee, guard against trolls, chase off the evil kitties of the neighborhood?
I never knew.
Until one night.
Caprice and I were at her Mom's house watching a movie. He was laying content with us, gnawing on the femur of some hapless bovine.
In no hurry at all, he got up, stretched and ambled off. He had a "dog" door in the back and he headed in that direction.
I say "dog" door, it took up the bottom half of the door. I could fit through it with ease. It was more of an ommpa loompa door.
He was gone less than a minute or three, the movie played, the night was full of night sounds, all was well with the world.
Then the screaming started.
No warning, no bark, no growl, no clickety clack of 200+ pounds of rottweiler-lab mix sprinting across concrete.
Just sudden screams.
Really really loud screams.
So I ran outside.
And what to my wondering eyes did appear? A dog (Caprice's Dog) playing tug of war with a man.
The man did not seem to be enjoying it. He was the one screaming.
See, Hawkeye had his calf clamped in his mouth and was doing his best to pull the man back into the yard. The man was trying to finish climbing over the fence. He had everything but the leg almost over.
He was screaming.
Hawkeye was smiling. All four feet planted, slowly backing with a little shake of his head now and then.
I laughed.
Probably not the best thing in the situation.
But oh my Honking Hell.
You just don't see many things funnier than that.
The Caprice and The MIL were screaming from behind me for the Hawkeye to let him go.
He (Caprice's damn dog) Just smiled and winked at us, still slowly backing away.
There was a ripping squishy sound and the man continued his descent, not gracefully, to the other side of the fence.
Then he ran away. Limping.
Hawkeye (Caprice's Freaking Bear) ambled over and dropped the man's pant leg at my feet. It contained a rather large chunk of the fleeing mans calf.
I really loved that dog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


You probably cant tell.
In this picture I am terrified.
 That kind of fear that makes you want to hide under the warm covers and wait until your pounding heart slows. The fear that cripples your limbs and gives you tunnel vision.
For real.
I always knew that were things that I am afraid of.
Alligators especially. Did you know that they eat people?
I am often mistaken for a people, so yes, alligators frighten me.
Its water.
I am astonishingly Aquaphobic. 
Not to be confused with Hydrophobia, which is also the fear of Rabies. 
I have plenty of reasons for this. 
All of them and none of them really explain the rigid limbs and the hyperventilation when I even smell a swimming pool.
Its quite ridiculous.
I remember my first open water triathlon. I was giving myself the "talk" all the way up to the edge of the lake. All sorts of positive and uplifting things. 
I could only see a tiny hole directly in front of me, I felt like I was breathing through a coffee stir stick, my arms and chest were cramping and my ears were ringing so loud that I thought (hoped) I was being abducted by aliens.
That was before I even got my toes wet.
The start of the swim in any race is madness. Chaos and frantic activity. Bobbing brightly colored noggins and the slick seal skinned wet-suits brushing past your grasping hands and flailing feet. 
Its shallow at first.
I could see the bottom 5-7 feet below me. 
Stroke-stroke-stroke-breathe. Panicked gasping breath.
I was controlling it. Then I swam over the ledge. 5 feet to 30 feet in a split second.
I felt my heart shudder. Frail organ.
I felt my mind grind to a halt, breath stopped in my lungs. I forgot how to swim. Instantly I forgot.
I sank. 
Like a rock.
Then I was on the surface, on my back. Breathing.
That swim took forever. Cost me hours of my life.
I was in the water a really asinine amount of time.
Hyperventilating will slow you down on the swim.
Ah the lessons we learn.
But do we?
I don't.
I went spearfishing this year.
Its just like hunting. 
With a spear.
Except to get to the fishies you have to hold your breath and dive down under the freaking water. 
As deep as you can go.
As always for me. That first dive.
My heart seizes up, an engine without oil.
The biggest part of my brain fights me constantly in the water. Most of the rest of my mind is busy imagining drowning. Monsters of the deep. 
I do it anyway.
The part of me that's me.
Does it anyway.
Don't be afraid.