The good news, my doctor told me, peering over my xrays, is that my hips are in good shape, sparing me the embarrassment of having oldpeopleitis. Bad news is my lower back is an arthritic mess, a result of decades of heavy lifting gnarly dudeness, four decades almost of seizure meds, once being the only guy holding a one ton satellite dish, eight zillion heavy boxes, one helluva seizure and various physical activities. Such is the fate of college dropouts. Some pompous intellectual twit I’d make. Anyway, I guess I get a shot to alleviate discomfort, which is a shame, because my canesmanship is going from merely groovy to almost styling in a haplessly clumsy kind of way and apparently someone found a very cool, very hip cane for me that I cannot wait to see and wave about and point with. Anyway I’ll put off the shot till after payday, which is Boxing Day, exciting, which will also allow my friends to make gimp jokes at my expense while eating all my food and drinking all my booze and smoking all my dope because my friends are such sick f*cks, gawd love ‘em.
But enough about me.
My new and excruciatingly dull mellow epileptic lifestyle is so teutonically ordered that the creative Irish half is getting surly and bored and would really love some whiskey. Es tut mir leid Nelligan, that’s not in the budget this month. Nelligan loathes Herr Wahl and his perfect budget and organization and bill paying. Hates all the regularity and planning. Hates it with a fine Irish hate. But he’s been cut off. Every time he gets hold of the bank card bills bounce, things go awry, mere anarchy is loosed upon the household. It makes for good stories though. Or did, before the Kraut forced his way back in. Dass ist genug, Wahl commands, you’ll get us all spazzisch im dem Kopf mit your idiotische ramblings and he grabs the iPhone away before Nelligan can finish the
I’m reminded of the time many decades ago that I was smoking a joint with a pretty hippie chick at a reggae festival in Santa Barbara. We slipped back behind the stage, just the two of us, and hid in the bushes getting high. Real high. She had a fat baggie full of skunk weed and rolled big bomber joints with long psychedelically painted nails. We were so stoned and I wondered aloud how she gotten that stash past the really obnoxious security. They’d been searching everything and everybody at the gate. She laughed. I hid it in a well concealed place she said. Oh, like in your bra? I’m not wearing a bra she said and she gave a little wiggle. She wasn’t. We traded a joint back and forth. So how did you get it in then? She smiled. Have another hit, she said.
The only reason I remember that story is that I found a scrap of writing once from 1979 describing it. I have pretty massive memory loss from those days–way too many seizures–and have no direct memory of any of it. No idea who the girl was. I don’t know if we knew each other already or not. Or if we did anything more than lie about in the bushes getting stoned. And your guess on how she got the weed past the gate is as good as mine.
It haunts me a bit, this fragment of an afternoon back in 1979. Like a solitary page of an ancient papyrus, it’s all that remains of a story long vaporized into dust. Amnesia.
Heard Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive and then Sister Sledge singing We Are Family on the radio just now and it was so nostalgic of another time in another Silverlake when those were the neighborhood anthems and not a Saturday night went by that you didn’t hear them blaring from some long lost bar or another.
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.
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.
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?