The brickwahl.com universe so far also includes brickpicks.com (culture), bricksbrain.com (cognition, perception and my epilepsy), and brickspolitics.com, brickshistory.com and bricksscience.com.

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Condoms

I kept the condoms in a bowl on a shelf in the linen closet. Don’t know why. Used to toss packets of throat lozenges I’d swipe from work in the bowl too. Condoms and throat lozenges all mixed together. Remarkably similar packaging. Used to keep a couple packets of those lozenges in my pocket all the time. Just reach into the bowl in the closet without looking and shove a couple of the packets in my pocket.

One day at work I reached into my pocket for something—I can’t remember what—while in an elevator. There were three women in the elevator car with me. As I pulled out my hand a packet of the lozenges slipped out and fell to the floor. I hadn’t noticed. One of the ladies in the elevator quietly cleared her throat. The other two were busy with their phones. She cleared her throat again, a little louder. I looked at her. She glanced at the floor. I looked down and froze. It wasn’t throat lozenges. It was a similarly shaped packet but a darker green, and packets of lozenges didn’t spell out Trojan in huge letters. Or they seemed like huge letters in that elevator. Huge dayglo letters screaming you’re fired. I felt myself turning ruby red in spite of all efforts to be casual and covered the suddenly terrifying packet with my foot. The elevator stopped on the third floor and the other two ladies stepped out, still lost in their phones. The elevator doors shut again and the remaining lady giggled. I reached down and picked up the wanton condom. Can I have that? she asked. Sure, I said, standing there like an idiot with a Trojan in my hand. As the elevator doors opened on the fourth floor she plucked it from my palm. I’m sure I looked utterly dumbstruck, a giant guy in an elevator giving away a souvenir condom. She smiled and waved goodbye with two fingers and a big green Trojan packet. I felt myself blushing again.

Neither of us ever mentioned it again. I never explained. She never asked. It’s not the kind of thing one talks about in the office. But when I got home that night I took the rubbers out of that damned bowl and stuck them in a drawer. By the bed.

 

Woolsey fire

An exhausted KTTV reporter reporting from an eerie abandoned neighborhood in Calabasas, people panicking, cars hightailing it through the smoke, fire everywhere. She sees a guy walking up to the edge of the flames and filming with his iPhone. Reporter is amazed. It’s dangerous here she says to him. He nods yeah. The people in the newsroom are concerned, she says, think you’re being stupid being here because it’s so dangerous. Well I am stupid, he says, and Albert Einstein said the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits. The reporter said OK. There was a long pause. Probably just best to let him be, said a voice from the newsroom.

Simple things

People bitch about everything because we’re all old and ornery but you can sit around the living room nursing your aching joints and wishing you had a phat one while switching between KKJZ and KXLU and KCSN and looking for the great toonz and jamz scattered in there and it’s almost freeform FM all over again and sometimes it’s the simple things, ain’t it?

Halloween again

It was either 800 or a thousand pieces, the math was fuzzy, but even at the miserly ratio of one bite sized Snickers per trick or treater we ran out of candy by 8 pm. I gave the last two pieces to a bumble bee maybe two feet tall, turned out the porch light and watched tiny ghosts and monsters pass by in the dark.

Squirrel

A woman and her squirrel were escorted off a Frontier Airlines flight today. She said the squirrel was for emotional support. The airline said it was a rodent. Police were called in.

I never had an emotional support squirrel. I used to talk to my plants, though. Then again, I’d talk to anything, I was so lonely. Then the plants started talking back. Water, they said. When I’m done telling this story, I said. But I never finished the story, the plants died, so now I talk to the fish in the fish tank. They talk back. Food, they say.

Meanwhile one of the neighborhood squirrels skitters along a telephone wire outside the window, not giving a flying rodent’s fuck about my emotional needs.

Indian wars

So we were at a party once and Fyl was talking about some American Indian thing, I can’t remember what. But she said American Indian several times. That was too much for one guy who told her they are not American Indians, they are Native Americans. Calling them American Indians, he explained, was repressive and colonialist. Fyl looked surprised. But we say American Indians, she said. So who exactly are you, he asked, rolling his eyes. I’m this she said, pulling out her tribal membership card and handing it to him. Yankton Sioux it said on the front, with the Yankton flag. Her tribal number and the blood quantum and other details graced the reverse. He stared hard at the card for the longest time, both sides. Then he handed it back, utterly bewildered. So you’re Native American? You? Really? Fyl said nothing and gave him the Sioux Death Stare. Against its withering remorseless glare words are useless, just sound and air. He stopped talking and froze. I had to look away to not burst out laughing and Fyl began to talk about her recent visit to the American Indian Center downtown. We had gone down there to fill out some forms but were there just at the right time and got a free lunch, she said, and described the contents, a sandwich and fruit and chips and juice. And a cookie, I said. And a cookie, she said. They gave Brick lunch too since he’s married to an Indian, she said. The lecturing guy winced at Indian. His face bore an expression of humiliation and despair. You could almost hear him thinking so this is a Native American? The one he met at college had been angry and cool. He couldn’t restrain himself any longer and suddenly interrupted her story about the Indian Center. What do you think about Standing Rock? he blurted loudly, like a kid blatting through a trumpet. Oops. Fyl stopped talking and gave him another Death Stare, even more withering and remorseless than before. When are you white people, she said in a cold Amerindian monotone, going to learn to stop interrupting? Silence. After a stunned moment he stammered an apology and fled.

She had ancestors at Little Big Horn, I said.

King of Hearts

Saw King of Hearts again last night. It’s from 1966. I hadn’t seen it since 1974 or 75, when it was eight or nine years old which was a vast stretch of time then, equal to half the span of my long life. I saw it in a hippie movie theater in Fullerton CA between two other flicks though which I don’t remember. I do remember being confused. So I figured I’d watch it now, more than forty years later, being that l’m smarter and more sophisticated and mature. Unfortunately I fell asleep. That seems to happen to mature people. All that sophistication in exhausting.