Thursday, July 29, 2004


A small sidestreet near my house traverses a train trestle, and while crossing it today I noticed an extraordinary example of natures beauty trapped in its guardrails. It was a butterfly, magenta, tangerine and black, but it was not really traped so to speak. The railing had a grate which stood about eight feet overhead, then curved inwards toward the walkway, to deter people from throwing objects at the train I suppose. This buttetfly, though, seemed determined to head in the direction forbidden by the railing, and everyime it tried to fly over it, the cruvature prevented his doing so. I watched for a minute or so, recalling that some butterflies migrate enormous distances, and guessed that this one's navigational queues where about to be the end of it. So I climbed upon the railing and waved my arms, continuing this until he flew around a small precipice and on his way.

Thus I was late to meet a new acquatance and his friends, not daring to explain why. Erin, I suspect, would have understood, but not knowing his friends I didn't want to risk embarrassing him. Of course, later on, I realized they where a pretty neat bunch, and should have come out with it right away.

Erin seems to be turning into a friend, but an unusual one for me. The other day he and I where with some people we know, and the subject turned to a virtue of femininity which I particularly admire. When Erin didn't participate it was no small surprise, I don't suspect he has a Heisman trophy on his mantlepiece, if you know what I mean. Anyway, as we all tried to awkwardly steer the subject, he just turned and said to everyone "hey, I'm gay, not blind, those things are pretty damn fascinating". He didn't say it to shock anyone, nor did he look around for a response. He was letting us off the hook. Anyway, he's pretty well adjusted, and that's what I think I like about the guy.

Yesterday I heard Erin mention that he was in Alcoholics Anonymous, and it kind of surprised me. I wanted to figure it out. He said that he grew up in the Mid-West, the son of a man who owned a welding company, a guy who frequents Alaska and Africa to haul back trophy heads for his den. There was a lot of pressure to go into the family business. He kind of smirked as he indicated his appearance, fastidious and slender.

So he probably spent the first part of his life taunted not only at school, but also at home. He made no reference to that, but I bet it was a struggle to get through every day. When the time came I'll bet he got the hell out of the Mid-West as fast as he could. And that made me think of his demeanor and how easily he handled the tits situation before. How he came to be so easy to get along with.

I grew up with a John Wayne sort of vision of masculinity. You kind of swagger and shoot your way through life's challenges. I didn't really have a gliplse of the kind of fortitude necessary to grind through the mechanics of a difficult situation. When I think about it, most of the guys I know verge on emotional collapse just from hitting a golf ball poorly.

I have traveled a long way in my life, and I'm beginning to understand that power and strength are two entirely different things.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Il Duce e Morto

I live on a wonderful steet in the heart of an interesting small city located just inside one of the original Colonies. My neighbors are uncharacteristically friendly, waving and caring for one another, stopping to talk on the street or sit on a stoop. This is an old Italian neighborhood whose homes have undergone many changes, among them the flight of most of the original residents to the suburbs.

Of course, there is always an exception, and in this case that exception's name is Bridget. About 75 years old, she spends most of her time "associating" with the neighbors. Since you probably don't know Bridget, I will explain that when I say associating I mean governing.

Here's how a newcomer like me, a year ago, gets to find out about her: Your walking down the sidewalk obeying all pedestrian rules and city ordinances when you hear a raspy voice HOLLERING "what are you doing on my street"? Believe me, it's not the kind of thing you ignore. So you nervously turn to introduce youself and indicate where you live, but by this time she has you carrying flowerpots off the porch and into the garden. An hour or two later, after all the garden chores are done and you've been properly admonished for not wearing clean clothes, you get to go home.

This has been referred to as The Application Process for living on (.....) Street. Of course, in any other application process you are appealing to a body who supposedly has an intact memory. Here that is not the case, and you must be prepared to undergo four months of scrutiny BEFORE SHE EVEN REMEMBERS WHO YOU ARE. She will let you take her to get bread from her favorite bakery across town, but if you leave that very same car parked on a city street in front of her house longer than the allotted 48 hours, SHE WILL HAVE IT TOWED. When you go to the Mayor's office to explain, his aide will tell you "the car was in front of Bridget's house, you should know better".

About two weeks ago I stopped to sit on her porch and talk. We where laughing about something, I don't remember what. Then she said "I've got this pain in my legs". Bridget, it's nothing, don't worry youself about these things. Go inside and make an appoinment, I'll stay here and watch the cats. Maybe you'll get the good-looking doctor again and he'll want you to take off your clothes. She gave me a look for that, then went inside.

I know she didn't call the doctor, so there was little surprise when the ambulance came screaming down the street that night. I can only imagine what she put those poor paramedics through. The next day I heard they where going to keep her for a while, so I resolved to water the garden, have it ship-shape for her return. I was looking forward to hearing her complain that I was driving up her water bill.

The bad news came yesterday, and it just frikin' hit me.

People say "well, at least she didn't suffer". I say screw that, I miss her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I heard it once a Loooooong long time ago. Tellin' the truth through the ever lovin' land with chords 'come right out a the bowles themselves. They werent people talkin' and they sure wasn't no musical instruments in the background, somethin' knowed we never none of us knew. But sure enough the words rung prooooo-found.
All'd struck me dumb silent that day, heard a man talking 'bout what sounds had reached the land, saw from the crevice of the lay'a things the thing under some bricks: Old GE tubeless, older'n dirts Dad. Wasn't plugged into a damn thing but air an Muddy Waters.
Haven't set foot in'a house with a light socket since, 'kinda wishin' it that way is all.