Fitted sheets

Sixty five years old and I still can’t fold a fitted sheet. There must be a secret to it, but some things, like magic, are best left secret, or left to my wife, anyway, who can fold a fitted sheet like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Men have their purposes, I suppose, and folding fitted sheets is not one of them. I blame it on biology.

So I put away the perfectly folded pillow cases (those I can do) and dropped the fitted sheet for her atop the bed in an unmanageable fluffy glop and left the room. She was in the throes of a solo Scrabble game and barely seemed to notice. Ten minutes later I returned to the room to find her still concentrating every ounce of her being on the Scrabble game and the fluffy sprawling glop of a fitted sheet in a perfectly geometric rectangle about so big. As far as I can tell it’s some sort of Sioux magic thing. Best not to ask. I put the sheet in the linen closet atop the other perfectly geometric rectangles. Weird. Neat, though.

Jewels

One of those tall guy experiences tall guys don’t talk about. I was hobbling down the stairs out front when one of the neighbors started coming up. She’s young and attractive and very sweet and she was going to wait for me down on the sidewalk but ever the gentleman I said, please, come on ahead, and I stood aside. As she passed she smiled and reached into her purse for the mailbox key. She found it and let go the purse, which swung backward as purses do when a lady is climbing stairs, and caught me square in the nuts. Ouch is not really the word for it.

It’s an ever present vulnerability when you’re tall, one learns to be wary of innocently swinging purses. I suppose tall guys are even more vulnerable not only because our most vulnerable spot is at such a testicularly dangerous height, but because the damn things on tall men are bigger and present a better target. Well, this one was a bullseye. Still, I made not a sound nor grimaced, so that she never knew, and instead I stood there in that utterly unique form of agony that only men experience and I smiled. She smiled back. Then I gingerly made it to the bottom of the stairs, stood against the railing and sobbed, if only mentally.

The pain only resonated for maybe an hour. It faded slowly, as it always does, a man’s balls are real drama queens, so sensitive and easily hurt. At last there’s just a dull ache, and we arrange the testicles carefully as we sit so not to outrage them further, the poor things. The dull ache finally slips away, and the only thing left hurting is our big guy pride. And that’s when I wrote this, because a big huge guy getting smacked in the nuts is really quite funny.

Heavy metal tomato squeezing

(2017)

So Glenn Danzig has left the building. Well, left Los Feliz. My pal Paul Grant posted one of his signature perfect little paragraphs about it. (There are, here and there, some wonderful writers tucked away on Facebook). You’ll remember that Danzig had that gothically painted black trimmed place on Franklin with the heavy metal lawn. Someone has bought the place now. Probably give it a sprightly paint job and pretty trimming and a lawn with actual grass growing. I don’t know if that is gentrification or just demetalification. Or even if Danzig qualifies as metal. Is he doing the Misfits thing again? I remember him singing Astro Zombies with the Misfits at Al’s Bar about a zillion years ago, though he was still a New York punk rocker at the time. Since then he moved out to Hollywood (Los Feliz is a suburb of Hollywood, like Silver Lake) and became a rock’n’roll professional. Show business. Lawyers and agents and promoters. Teenage girls in black lipstick out on the sidewalk, giggling. It has all gotten so complicated. Mother!

I feel a connection here. You see, Danzig was the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. The first was Henry Rollins in the market where the Silver Lake 99 cent store is now, so long ago that his band was considered what they used to call crossover, back when Henry was poor and lived in the house on the other side of the fence behind us, not that we knew it. Late 80’s. I ran into him periodically, he was alternating between his really hard, metally band and a series of spoken word projects that college DJs just couldn’t get enough of. Maybe they were good, I don’t know, I just hated all those 1980s heavy serious political spoken word albums, the free verse clunking like furniture tossed down the stairs. Our parents had Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl LPs, we had Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra and Mecca Normal. But I digress.

But my Danzig tomato squeezing experience was maybe five years later, in the local Albertson’s on Virgil. That was on the way to a BBQ at Jonathan Hall’s on Berendo and I excitedly told everyone that I had just seen the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. They humored me. They humored me a little less when I’d bring it up periodically afterward. Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for the third and final heavy metal tomato squeezer since then. I’ve given up. They’d probably be grape tomatoes anyway. Heavy metal grape tomatoes is not a thing.

I’m also waiting for the third sighting of shiny pink fuck me pumps. Stories that you can’t finish are really irritating. I don’t know what I will do if the pumps wearer is squeezing tomatoes.

Exam

An absolutely lovely Chinese doctor to me after my exam this week. Well your panels look fine, your blood pressure is in the high end of normal, your heart and respiratory sounds great, she said. So keep up with the weight loss, stick to your arthritis and allergy diets, do your knee exercises, elevate your damaged foot, take all your meds and maintain your masturbation regimen.

Blush.

That was the first time a beautiful women ever told me to maintain my masturbation regimen. Done vigorously and to conclusion, it’s excellent cardio, she said. Blush. Actually, it was the first time a beautiful woman doctor ever talked to me about masturbation at all, not to mention squeezed my testicles and vigorously prodded me about the prostate. Going to the doctor becomes much different when a man hits 65. Though many years ago an attractive woman doctor did tap my testicles and ask me my shoe size, but she and a few other doctors suspected I had some inevitably fatal glandular disease. She called me later. The tests were negative. I just had very large eyes, feet, and hands, she said. She left out testicles. I decided not to bring them up. But that was twenty years ago. I just remember the weirdness of standing in my boxer shorts as a attractive woman doctor tapped my testicles like a bongo drum and asked me my shoe size. Acromegaly, she wondered aloud. I didn’t know what that was. All I knew was that a lady doctor was tapping me on the nuts. Of course, twenty years ago that was a lot more exciting.

Man v. dryer

Just went into the laundry room to do a little maintenance on the dryer, just reconnect the vent pipe, which had come loose. Been doing maintenance and repair on our washers and dryers now for what must be thirty five years. It’s part of the high testosterone package, with tools, bruises, assorted lacerations, a thesaurus of swear words, accidentally hitting yourself in the balls with a five pound wrench and that masculine warm all over feeling when the husband is the hero again and the wife looks at you, bats her eyes, and pats you on the head. It’s the coolest thing. Or would have been, if my arthritic corpse could twist and turn like it once did. Fuck. I gave up and will have to call for a service appointment. You paid for it, she said, three years service. I nodded and slunk into the living room, ashamed, to sit there in the dark, my arthritis twinging, my balls still aching from that wrench.

Man v. rat

Nailed my third rat. I’m a master trapper. The cute little beast was apparently a smallish rattus rattus trapped inside when the exterminator plugged their holes from the outside inside. Anyway, the Sioux was impressed. Too bad it’s not thirty years ago. She’d thank my brains out.

L.A. is askitter with rats, I read. The adorable things are everywhere. Ours aren’t, tho’, they’re up in rat heaven, with cheese everywhere.

A Fourth of July in Greendale, Wisconsin

I’ve never worn shorts myself. My left leg has always been so messed up by arthritis it was better hidden. Fyl never wore shorts much either, though she still has very nice slender Indian legs. In fact, she’s a lady who can wear skinny jeans, which I’m sure her friends hate. That Greendale 4th of July parade was on an incredibly hot Midwestern day, rough on Angelenos, and the high school bands (including the one Fyl had long ago played flute in) and troops of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Brownies and Cub Scouts, Drum and Bugle Corps (including the one Fyl had been a flag girl in), local politicians, beauty queens, Lyons Club, Knights of Columbus, groups of funny dads in funny costumes, and the inevitable Marine Corps honor guard marched past, trying not to droop in the humidity. Afterward there was a village beer garden and weenie roast, and hundreds of family BBQs and cases of local beers you’ve never heard of. Fyl and I finally retreated inside and sat in front of the air conditioner. Later, we all wandered down to the schoolyard for the drunk chamber of commerce’s firework show, which was lotsa fun, even the ones they accidentally shot into the crowd. Afterward we walked back home through the swimmy night, our way lit by fireflies. We hung outside the house drinking beer, swatting mosquitoes and watching the fireflies, and the old folks went off to bed. We followed later after sneaking a joint behind the apple trees in the backyard. Back inside we crept about quietly in the living room, where the sleeper couch was, giggling like a couple stoned teenagers, and slipped under the sheets to make sweaty summer love, quietly so the old folks couldn’t hear, though they probably could anyway.

Brick, Fyl, her sister Carol and nephew Peter in Greendale, Wisconsin on a steamy Fourth of July in the 1980s.

Cane

(December 2021) Got a new cane, just to have a new cane. Now I have a new cane and an extra cane. The luxuries of the retired life. Anyway, it came in the mail, with instructions. Lots of instructions. Who the hell needs instructions for a cane? Turns out I do. All this time I’ve been using canes wrong. There was a little picture that showed me. Had the old one up too high. First time I can ever remember using something too tall. A quick adjustment, a shorter cane, and suddenly I’m not teetering. They don’t go so much by height but by arm length. Who’d a thunk? Then again I’ve never been much for thunking. And it’s not one of the appendages I ever gave much thought to, anyway, although long sleeve shirts on me look like short sleeve shirts on me, something I never connected with cane height. It was all far too mathematical for me. Luckily, the cane instructions (in four languages, so i could look at the picture in Spanish, French and German too), explained all the algebraic detail in a little drawing. I was flabbergasted. Fuck me, I said. Arm length accommodated for, I felt like the suddenly uncrippled Tiny Tim in the last scene of The Christmas Carol, running and leaping into Scrooge’s arms. I said that very thing to Fyl. No leaping, she said.

Anyway, if this isn’t one of those Hallmark channel Christmas movies, I don’t know what is.

Psychedelic bathing suit

Swimsuit. I love it. Alas, girls didn’t didn’t wear these when I was young. We even had the right psychedelic drugs to stare at them with. But no, all we got were bikinis or not even. Totally bummed our trips. This, though, it looks like a summer Love-In at Golden Gate Park. I’m having a flashback right now, in fact, it’s just that nobody can tell.

Of course, that Love In was in 1967. I was ten years old and in Anaheim that summer. Oh well.

No it wasn’t Anaheim, it was New Jersey, across from Philly. I spent the Summer of Love in a decaying suburb in New Jersey not far from a reeking Delaware River. We had the best water pollution when I was a kid. Rivers had big foamy heads like a perfectly poured beer. All the houses in our neighborhood were old, ancient by California standards. Our place had been built sometime in the late 1800s, with a big porch in the front, a cellar, three floors and an attic, a basement, and a root cellar out back. Doubtless George Washington slept if not in our house built long after he died or the abandoned boat in the backyard we played in, then in one of the neighbors’ even more ancient houses, he slept everywhere in New Jersey, apparently. Dude got around. We had begun 1967 in Maine, though, snow thick on the ground and falling fast. Finished it in a motel in Anaheim, after a few months outside Boston. At some point during the waning days of the Summer of Love we were living in an 18th Century three story place in the Charlestown part of Boston. All the houses looked like the Addams Family. One time we wandered over to Cambridge and strolled around Harvard. A movie theater in the neighborhood was showing Fantasia, and long haired bearded dudes and willowy young things were lined up around the block to get in. My parents thought it was so cute, all the hippies going to see a Disney cartoon. I suddenly remembered this decades later while stoned out of my mind watching Fantasia. Oh.

And then one look at this psychedelic bathing suit and I flashed back. Though actually I flashed back to Goldie Hawn and Judy Carne in bikinis and body paint gyrating on Laugh In. They looked just like this bathing suit, but in black and white, because that’s what our set still was, and I was a ten year old experiencing the psychedelic revolution in flickering shades of grey.

And you’ll never hear surf music again.

Figs

Somebody offered me a fig newton from a plate full of fig newtons. Take two, she said. Take three! She was all about the fig newtons. I had to decline. I loved fig newtons till they tried to kill me. Really, really loved fig newtons. I still do, I just can’t eat them. Talk about an embarrassing allergy. Do you have any allergies? Figs. Figs? Yes, figs. Nothing else? No, just figs. Hmmm. That’s a new one. You sure it was figs? Yes, figs, definitely figs. Had to take an ambulance to Urgent Care. Ok, figs, whatever. I do remember being referred to a gorgeous Chinese allergist. Figs, she said? It’s hard to be manly in front of a gorgeous allergist after a fig newton tried to kill you. Especially if you had had to go to Urgent Care two days in a row for the exact same thing. I hadn’t realized it was the fig newtons that had got me in the ambulance in the first place, I said. She mentally rolled her eyes. She showed me how to use an epipen and gave me a few, though I never had to use any of them. She prescribed some gnarly allergy med and forbad alcohol for three weeks and I spent the next couple weekends drinking Diet Coke at gigs and parties. Stay away from figs, she said sternly. She didn’t add moron. Since then I’ve avoided figs and life became that much less exotic. Alas, I never saw the gorgeous Chinese allergist again.