Woke up this morning, sleepily got out of bed with the blankets somehow wrapped around my ankle, took one step, pulling all the blankets onto the floor, lost my balance and toppled into them. It was as if someone had turned the volume off and there was no sound whatsoever, just a big giant guy falling into a pile of blankets noiselessly, poof, a clip from a lost silent film. They used to make those in this very neighborhood, westerns along what is now Glendale Boulevard, and Keystone Cops a bit further down. Sometimes the multiverses blend together and our narratives go in odd directions, and where once I would have risen and walked sleepily into the kitchen for a cup of coffee this time I wound up in a two reeler with Charlie Chaplin about to hit me with a pie.
I just said something out loud and scared myself. My voice is back. Way down low. It had been gone since the week of Christmas, when some Typhoid Mary (now there’s a nickname, though none of the earnest young breeders in my hetero’d neighborhood would understand) gave everyone at the xmas party the flu. Viruses are impressive, does anything alive spread faster? Actually no, dumb question, that is why they are so contagious. Indeed, it is debatable if they are even alive at all. At least the flu virus rarely kills anymore. Wait twenty years. That’ll be some christmas party. Octogenarians getting stoned and drunk and trying to remember the words to Blitkrieg Bop will drop like plague victims the next day. Maybe we’ll have a mass wake. But I am digressing, I was talking about my voice. It’s back and rumbling. I am a mensch again, finally. Basso profundo. Lesser voiced dudes shuffle out of the way. Barmaids give special attention. People assume I am a boss, or a movie star, or important. If only I could find my testicles.
So when our ancient loach died, half a foot long, some piscene balance of terror was upset, apparently, and the zebra danios went mad and ate the neon tetras and glass catfish and two of their own kind. There are three fish left in the tank, all of them zebra danios, all chasing each other madly throughout the underwater plants like crazy little cannibals. Soon, there will be two. Then one. At that point I will flush the murderous little survivor down the toilet and restock our tank with more sociable fish. We have had this tank for over twenty years and the two preceding it now for another ten or fifteen, a continuous aquarium for nearly all our thirty seven years of marriage. Once in the eighties we inadvertently bought a fish infected with ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) and all the fish died but one platy, and for a year we had just the one platy as it slowly recovered, till we began adding other fish, cheap little neon tetras I’m sure, a couple at a time. No one got sick and eventually the tank was full of life again, and the platy lived several healthy years, even graduating to the next larger tank. That was probably thirty years ago. All has been fishfully peaceful since, the occupants remarkably long lived, until now. I watch the zebra danios in their mad dashes. They never stop. Even by a danio’s hyperkinetic standards this is frenzied. I had noticed that the nightly feeding wasn’t getting them as excited as it did just a couple weeks ago. But why would it? They crave flesh.
Speaking of Badlands National Park, the last time we drove through there I reached into the back seat for another can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Couldn’t get at it so I lifted up the little ice chest and put it on my lap. Sideways. A gallon of ice water poured onto my lap. I gasped a deeply profound gasp as my testicles froze solid into a billion tiny cryogenic Bricks. I could have fathered a city the size of Philadelphia. Instead, I turned off the air conditioner. We stopped at Wall Drugs afterward. She went looking for the animatronic dinosaur. I stood beside the car and let the hot Dakota wind blow through my pants.
The badlands, by the way, were stunning, mindblowing, primordial. Layers of history pressed into colors and layered like a cake, then carved into slow madness.
Labyrinthine maze of emoluments. I looked up at the TV at that one. Lawrence Tribe. Harvard. They talk like that at Harvard, words like labyrinthine mazes of emoluments. It spilled out of him like melted butter on scrod. I tried to say it. Stumbled. Tried again. Hurt myself. It’s going to be a rough four years.
Just missed the thrill of another collision with Angelyne’s hot pink Corvette last night. Just off Sunset Blvd. She stomped a hot pink pump down on the brake too quick, though. We doglegged around her. She froze, freaked, platinum wig, pink ribbon, bright red lips in a silent scream. Dude, I yelled, we almost nailed Angelyne! I know, he said. Pretty cool, I said, we nearly splattered her hot pink ‘vette. That is pretty cool he said and kept driving. I thought to myself how my last run in with Angelyne was her cutting me off on Melrose, and me slamming on the brakes and saying to my wife wow, we nearly ran into Angelyne’s pink corvette. Pretty cool, she said…. That was a few years ago. What goes around comes around I guess.
Fifteen years ago, I worked for about thirty or so people, from executives on down, and I handled all their expense reports and purchases and you name it. I was so good at it that I was one of the employees that others would come to when they were stumped trying to figure out how to expense something. Executives from outside my department would come and ask for help. That was at Disney and I knew my shit. I was also, for a year or two, the one man purchasing department for Disney Online, when it was a start up. Millions of dollars of purchases went through me, I drew up the purchase orders, I figured out to set up the accounting for each, I got them approved. I remember setting up a database on Access to keep track of them. A schedule on Project. I had that purchasing down, too. Later, I was told by accounting that I processed more accounts payable invoices than the rest of the Walt Disney Internet Group put together. Tens of millions of dollars every couple months. That is in addition to all those expense reports and getting purchase orders processed–though I was no longer the purchasing department. There were several people by then doing what I had once done. I was a master of details and process and numbers.
This occurred to me a couple nights ago as I stared at our bank account and tried to figure out if we had enough cash on hand to cover rent. (We did.) I couldn’t remember what charges were outstanding. I couldn’t remember what we had paid or not. I had definitely forgotten to pay the DWP, I knew that, as they were threatening to shut us off. Time Warner Cable too. All these numbers swimming, these things I have no ability to calculate or schedule or understand. An infinitesimal fraction of what I was once a master of at Disney. It’s all beyond me now.
Losing your executive functions is a bitch. Abilities just disappear. Things everyone can do I can no longer do. Basic human being things. Those neurons burned away a long time ago. My temporal lobe, where all these things lie, is a beat up mess. A life time of small seizures, thousands of them, have done their damage. It’s like someone reached into the hard drive of the computer I’m writing on and 0-949uj1/’p23fh13wcde’p9dcalkjaZXA. Just like that.
A couple days ago was our wedding anniversary. The day before I was looking up at the digital sign above the bus driver, charmed, and it said November 28. November 28? Oh wow, November 29th is our anniversary. I said that aloud. She said yes it is and smiled. I said I had completely forgotten. I had never forgotten before. Not even almost forgotten. I always remembered. She smiled again. That’s OK, she said, we’ll have a nice dinner. You live with a husband long enough and you can see that his brain has been zapped away, and that he forgets things, but he means well.
I had never forgotten our anniversary before. I wondered what else I was forgetting. What else I would forget. And I sat there, as the bus lurched along, with the cold hollow suspicion that I was not going to able to take care of us by myself much longer.
(This is also posted on bricksbrain.com)