So me and Allen, perhaps stoned, perhaps just stupid, found an aluminum bat and in lieu of a ball spent an hour pitching rocks to each other and smacking them into a corn field in Arroyo Grande. Amazing how far a rock will travel off an aluminum bat. There were a lot of strikes, a lot of pop flies, a few homers, and a few that went straight as a cannon shot towards the pitcher. Neither of us were hit, and we kept at it till my wife came out and asked what the fuck we were doing. Playing baseball, Allen said. With rocks. Well stop it right now, she said. We stopped. Let’s see, that was the late eighties. Allen was in his twenties. I’d passed thirty a couple years before. We were bored and the corn field before us stretched for acres. It made sense at the time. Not so much now.
In the wee hours of the morning I was sleepily walking through the kitchen with my arms full of laundry when the sinuses set off a sudden spell of vertigo which combined with my trick knee sent me tumbling backwards with all the grace and power of a falling redwood tree. Crash, then silence. I guess the knee isn’t as good as I thought, I said aloud, and laid there a second as I’ve done after a hundred falls, making sure I could feel and move everything. Nothing was broken save my wife’s tub of bird seed which kept my head from slamming into the wall. I will buy her a new one. Realizing everything was sound—limbs, back, brain, jewels—I clambered back up, took the day’s clothes I had left in a neat little pile on the counter mid fall and tossed them in the laundry basket and made my way without any more gravity issues towards the bed. She was sound asleep. Nothing wakes her up, not even crashing redwood trees. You’re going to hurt tomorrow I told myself, and I was right.
I had promised a doctor I wouldn’t fall down anymore. You can break a hip, she said. I didn’t tell her I’ve fallen those hundred times or more over a lifetime, that I fall like a stuntman, that I’ve never broken anything. I’ve been lucky, I said.
So that’s a sousaphone, she said. So what’s a sousaphone?, I asked. This sousaphone, she said. Yeah, I said, that’s a sousaphone. That’s what I said, she said. So why did you ask? I didn’t ask, she said, I just said so that’s a sousaphone. She flipped a page in the magazine, I read a Trump tweet. So what’s pozole, she asked. Hominy, I said. How many what, she asked. Sousaphones, I said. So what’s pozole? It’s hominy, I said. As in corn. Dried corn. It sure is, she said.
62 today and officially on Social Security so I really should do the decent thing and quit LinkedIn and go to the park and talk to the pigeons. Instead I’m gonna go the Natural History Museum and talk to the dinosaurs, which were sort of like giant pigeons, though I hate to think what they would have done to a windshield.
Thinking about my days towering atop a pair of Italian army boots (they were cheap and the surplus store had zillions of them, brand new and not just surrendered war surplus) that I actually had two pair. One were the beat up gnarly ones I’d stomp around on daily, at work, in the clubs, at gigs, like that. But I had one pair always freshly polished and perfect that were for weddings and funerals and job interviews and nice places. They were my formal combat boots. I had class. I’d still smack my head going through doorways, but they were much nicer doors. It’s the little things. Or the big giant clodhopping things.
Back in the eighties I didn’t have any shoes. I wore nothing but Italian army boots I’d get cheap at the surplus store in Silverlake. They must have made me two inches taller and I was forever bashing my head. Unforgiving leather, they’d leave me with callouses I’d slice off with razor blades. That’s how punk rock I was. At some point I broke my toe and the doc taped it up and gave me one of those sandals to wear. They came in blue and pink. Unfortunately they’d run out of the blue. So there I was in Silverlake in an Italian army boot and a pink sandal.
The one thing in life that is a given is that your smoke alarm will decide it wants a new battery at four in the freaking morning. As I sleepily fumbled with it in the hallway it peeped like the hugest most annoying bird ever and I nearly smashed the goddam thing with my fist, which would give felt really good for a couple seconds until it beeped again. Instead I maturely unscrewed it from the wall, gently unplugged the wiring and argued with it until I got the battery out. It beeped feebly. Fuck you, I said. Fyl said you’re arguing with an inanimate object again. Well it wouldn’t shut the fuck up, I said. You’re mother did that, she said. Talking to inanimate objects is stupid. Go back to sleep I said and went out to the living room and talked to the fish, who blooped and wriggled and stared back sympathetically.