Thursday, October 21, 2004

Coming In Number One

Halloween is a holiday which I have always enjoyed. To celebrate something so natural yet converse to our Victorian ethos is too lovely to have ever escaped my imagination. When I was a kid my brother and I eagerly turned calendar pages with savage anticipation, planning candy gathering routes and remarkable costumes. But as I grew older I realized the whole thing had just become an excuse for slightly overweight college girls to don French maid outfits, a Hallmark justification for inebriated fornication, -not that there’s anything wrong with that. So over the years I kind of lost interest in dressing up. But of course there have been exceptions to that, and I’d like to tell you about one of them.

This one particular fall I had commandeered my parent’s garage for projects I had no space of my own for. Inside there was already a blizzard of sculpting media, SR500E parts and whiskey bottles when I set out to make a costume I’d been intending to create for a few years. I cleared out a corner and set to work with a chicken wire frame, reams of old newspaper, flour, water, Elmer’s glue and a case of spraypaint. I worked at least a few hours every night, asking my friend Alex for help with color, and a few others their structural advice. I did all the sewing myself, always having secretly enjoyed that. One evening, about halfway through the project, my father came into the garage after having arrived home from work, and said to me these exact words: “Todd, your mother and I think you’re building something quite obscene here in our garage”. The costume was, after all, a bit ambiguous: a 6 1/2 foot tall paper machet penis with huge felt testicles dragging behind it and 500 yards of black nylon pubic hair at its base. I snickered at the thought of them sneaking around in there together in my absence, commenting in whispers on my impending institutionalization.

At that point I think my mother was driving a silver SEL to which I had attached a roof rack because I was obsessed with this one mogul field at Stowe, knowing full well that nothing I was driving would even come close to making it up to Vermont. On Halloween night around 11pm I set out in that very car to attend a party which my friend Sylvie was throwing, convinced, as well I should have been, that it was going to be dull and tortuous. The 6 1/2 foot tall paper machet penis, though, remained firmly attached to the roof of the automobile, with the testicles hanging over the back and resting on the trunk. Having arrived at the party, if asked about a costume, an inquirer was told that I was having a bit of trouble summoning enthusiasm for the holiday and quickly found the conversation redirected to either the blonde in the corner or money I really didn’t need to borrow. A few hours later everyone set out to a huge bar a few towns over.

Driving down the Boston Post Road that night I had to keep all the windows rolled down, and not only because I was more than just a bit plastered. At every red light and sometimes from the sidewalk people had something to say, and I wanted to hear their reaction to my handiwork. I think part of me wanted to get a DUI just to read how the citydesk at the local paper would handle the police report. It didn’t happen though, and by the time I arrived in the bar’s parking lot I was quite schnokered enough to crawl inside the costume and go about things just as naturally as one in another costume might. The music did kind of stop when I walked in though.

The crowd was in quantity of the flesh-pressing sort, so the 6 1/2 foot tall paper machet penis did kind of get lost in the sea of it. At fist, as I “shafted” up to the bar, I ordered drinks through the hole I’d cut out for my face, but that soon grew tiresome and I discovered an alcove eager to serve as a repository for my unit. And low and behold, on the way back from there who do I discover but the blonde from the party, a numbingly nebulous newbie nanny of the French variety, thoroughly my favorite kind. And I will dare to say that we quickly became well on our way towards a more intimate knowledge of one another, a process which left me fully absentminded of my costume. Then a guy with a microphone draws everyone’s attention towards the stage.

As this fella is announcing a Halloween costume contest I fall back to the work at hand, noticing nonetheless that people are cheering as competitors climb the steps to display their adornments. A few minutes go by, and then I hear these words on the P.A.: If you are a 6 1/2 foot tall paper machet penis, get your ass on up here. Reluctantly I blunder into the costume and ram my way through the crowd and up to the stage. About eight or nine of us go through the rigmarole and fanfare of stepping forward and pirouetting to display our wares, one rather shapely delight catching my attention through the peep hole. And then there’s a drum roll and fourth and then third place is announced, then second, and I’m getting ready to return to the blond when TA DA, I am anointed first place winner and someone hands a hundred dollar bill through the peep hole. It was just then that I did what any rational person in my position would do. I reached up inside the costume and squeezed empty the liter sports bottle of milk attached to the end of it. I can’t remember if the crowd was roaring, but I do remember the subtlety was not lost on the blonde.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Is part of understanding things understanding that I’ll never understand things?

Did my window’s glaze fail to reflect the love whose love I love to see?

Are the lasting things the last things I’ll ever be?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

My Old Dog Really Dug The King

My friend Stan and I have a sense of adventure, and we’re always up for any sort of activity or behavior that stands out from ordinary experience. Loud arguments, crunchy hippie rhetoric, whacked out conspiracy theories, large-breasted women with damaged emotional mechanisms, we’d soak it all in. Especially when drinking. But we used to sit down and talk too, about our lives and the paths they where taking, the people we knew and worked with, the way we felt about the world we live in.

So this one night seemed to be shaping up like the latter: a quiet night in a nicely appointed Spanish caf√© drinking rioja and munching topas. We where going over some things Dan’s future wife had mentioned to him, trying to figure out exactly what she meant. Just about in the middle of it, this completely screwed down bleary eyed drunken coke freak turns to us and blazes into this wild tale about a dog he found in his neighborhood. He didn’t bother waiting for some kind of indication that we where engaged in the story, he just launched into it. Needless to say, Stan and I where riveted.

Before I recount it for you, I want to preface the story with a little annotation, one which you may interpret as advice if you so desire. Stan and I where sitting in what we like to refer to as The Bleachers. In every bar, and believe me, I’ve been in a few, there is the part of its construction that runs the length of it, and then, at one end, there is the small jaunt that completes its circuit back to the wall forming the bottom part ot the “L” shape. This end part, I have found, is invariably where the weird and wild hang. One can either participate or, as we where doing on this particular evening, spectate from the other side of the 90 degree bend. From there we heard the story just as I will recount it below:

“so that was the first time that animal got me kicked out of an apartment, after only three weeks!!! Three weeks. I just had a weakness for the guy though, abandoned, roughed up, tough as shit. He reminded me of me. Anyway, the second time I decided to keep him in the house, out of trouble. I come home from work and there he is, sitting in the driveway with his mouth open and that ham of a tongue dripping, smiling and waggin’ his tail all happy to see me. He lunged right through the living room bay window and there was glass and splinters all over the shrubs and yard. Like that scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. That landlord just left the news on my answering machine. I fixed the window before we left though.

So I’m sitting in my truck on the way to the new place trying to explain to the dog that we’ve got to behave or they’re going to banish us to an Indian reservation or something, and he’s just busy trying to bite his way through the window or nuzzling his bloody 50 pound muzzle into my face the whole time. So we get there and this time I got a place in a slightly crappier neighborhood with a slightly bigger lawn. And the first thing I did was pick and shovel out a five foot deep hole that I set rebar, cement and a five inch steel pipe into. And this time when I went to work bubba is chained well and good there for the day.

And hell yeah, he’s there when I get home too! Believe that? Of course, there’s a four inch perfect circle worn down into the ground where he dug and strutted around as far as the leash’d let him go. The whole damn area worn down about four inches just like that. And every day when I get home it’s deeper and deeper, until one day I come home and there that dern dog is wagin’ his tail in the driveway with some ratty old pelt in his mouth, dragging behind him on the chain ALL THE CEMENT AND STEEL I’D LAID. Then the screamin’ starts.

The next-door neighbor is out on her stoop wailing away, “my rabbit is gone, Elvis is gone”. The dog and I look at each other then make a bee-line for the door with the cement monstrosity bouncing right behind us, and when we get inside I unhook the leash and he drops that ragged fleece down on the carpet and looks with his grimy, drool encrusted smile all innocent at me. Well, I ain’t no brain surgeon, but I know sure as shit I’m lookin’ at Elvis. It’s not like I didn’t see his hutch right there in the backyard next door.

2 O’clock in the morning I get up, take the mangled, bloodied filthy remains of Elvis and plop him in the sink, wash him with soap and water real good, get him all cleaned up good, then take the hair dryer and fluff him nice all around, undercarriage, high-beams, the works. Then I sneak over next door and place him back in his hutch all curled in the corner. ‘Missed home and went back in ‘is hutch, then dead of natural causes, right?

The screaming from next door that morning was un-fucking believable. Like someone lit the old bitty on fire or something. I mean, I was expecting a reaction, but she sounded completely unhinged. I go running out in my drawers and her eyes come at me wide as moon pies, then she just falls dead weight into my arms. “Elvis, Elvis, Elvis” and she’s shakin’ and going on. So I pretend to survey the situation and then say “he has passed on, I’ll bet he had a good life though” I mean, what the F am I goin’ ta say, right? She goes on and on and on and on and on with me trying to think of every stupid thing I’ve ever heard on TV to console her.

And then she turns to me and says “you don’t understand Mister, Elvis died two days ago, I buried him myself in the yard”.

Interspersed throughout where a few shots of Mescal, but even then Stan and I wouldn’t have put a dime on any two words of that story being true. The funny thing was that he just turned to his drink when he was done. He kind of looked like the kind of guy who may have been a plumber or carpenter five or six years ago, but did really well for himself soon afterwards. He may have made millions selling condos in the Taj Majal, or he could have just been really bummed that his dog had died that day.