Just bitchin'

Last Impression

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This tale will undoubtedly offend some. I don’t care. My circus. My monkeys.

 

End of life impressions.

It’s something I never gave much thought until my best friend had a serious scare.

A few months ago he went to his doctor wondering why he had heartburn (you can all see it coming, right?). He was put through some tests and ended up being admitted to the hospital for an exploratory procedure.

Heart disease runs in his family. It claimed his father at 38.

His big brother fell short of a heart attack, but had stents installed to remedy blocked arteries. He called bro and felt reassured. “Yeah,” his brother said. “That’s how I felt, too. But you get the stents done and you’re home the next day and you feel great! So much more energy.”

My friend figured that wasn’t so bad. He checked in, and closed his eyes…

…and woke up to find he’d had a triple bypass and would be in the hospital for a week. He was totally unprepared. Shocked.

He is the buff guy. The one who works out and has salad when others order steak. A glass of red wine while others down multiple Martinis.

Then there were complications. A blood clot. More hospital time.

When it was all over and he’d made a remarkable recovery in record time (so it does pay to stay in shape), we talked from the perspective of a few weeks.

I should mention here that he used to be an actor, a comedian. He got tired of the struggle it takes to make a living at it, so he moved on. But he still has the gift. He can make me laugh like no one else. His are the tales I’ll think of while standing in line, or on a subway or bus…alone…and burst into loud, unstoppable laughter. The kind that makes people cross to the other side of the street and pull their children closer. The guy is that funny.

Maybe not to everyone. But to me…oh, yes.

We spoke of many things, but my friend said that the first ‘project’ he tackled upon finally returning home and being once again on his own, was to ‘clean things out.’

“What do you mean? Your place is spotless.”

“No, Cat. I mean…you know…get rid of things.”

I was still mystified. “What? Like donate stuff to Good Will? Have a garage sale? What?”

A moment of silence rife with reluctance, and then… “I got rid of stuff I don’t want left behind if I die…you know…suddenly. Stuff I don’t want people to find when they go through my place. Things I don’t want to be remembered for.”

“Eh?”

“Porn, Cat! Porn! I got rid of all my porn.”

“Are you kidding? I mean, I didn’t see anything. How much could you have?”

“Enough to fill a couple of those giant garbage bags. I tell ya, I was hefting it like some kind of perverted Santa Claus. Scared I’d kick it in the elevator on the way down…the stuff would spill out, and the doors would open on Girl Scouts selling cookies…Mothers with children…Nuns…” He sighed. “Hell of a last impression…”

And that’s the image that’s to blame for my uncontrolled hilarity while standing in the grocery line today.

This guy is the best monkey in my circus…and I’m glad he’s still here.

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Petty Thievery

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I haven’t lived in my current location all that long. Just a few years.

But in that time, I’ve tweaked and nudged and lavished tiny touches on the land and buildings that don’t necessarily extend their longevity or increase their value…but that have meaning to me. Some are a bit quixotic. Which means they suit me.

What signifies nothing to others may have strong import for me, the lone resident of my strange, little world.

So it is with my blue reflectors.

They aren’t necessary. No one will mistake the sloping green of wild grassland for the gravel of the driveway proper. No one will require the guidance of electric blue to find their way down a long and winding road to the humble beach cottage at its end.

I set them out because I like their color.

Nothing more.

I like the gaudy sign of civilization that tells me I’m nearly home. I like their shape and size and ability to shine forth no matter the Northwest weather. I like hiking out to the road for mail and sharing it with their azure energy.

I bought five of them. Because they are inexpensive and…again…I like their color.

But now, there are only four. One of their number having been spirited away by a neighbor. For this is a locale where no one comes unless they live here. A miles-long dead end street. Who else, but a neighbor would know of their existence?

First reaction: disbelief. I count them. Twice. But no matter how I try to redefine reality, there is only one way to count to five.

Second reaction: create implausible explanations. As a fiction writer, this is my forte. But at the end of the day, the idea of Bigfoot absconding with the blue reflector that was closest to the road, doesn’t have enough weight to trounce the ugly reality…

…I live among thieves.

Third reaction: vengeance. I shall hike through wind and rain and fatigue until I find the lone, blue reflector standing sentinel in a neighbor’s yard. Then, I will snatch it away and run screaming into the night, knowing my cause is just.

Fourth reaction: puzzlement. Why would someone steal something so easily purchased at the local hardware store? For lack of the $1.50 it costs? For lack of the wherewithal to actually go to the hardware store?

I begin to feel sorry for the thief.  So maybe four is my lucky number. Not five. Maybe four blue reflectors is more appropriate. Feeling philosophical, I traipse back down my four-reflector drive to my cottage. Outwardly, I cling to the concept of ‘all things happen for a reason; to all things there is a purpose.’

I tell myself I hope the reflector-thief finds contentment and joy in his new possession.

But inside…inadmissible fury bubbles and churns. For I am certain that somewhere down his newly-reflectorized road, the culprit will encounter cat-fueled karma that will shiver his bones to splinters and color his world electric blue….

Because karma’s a bitch with a capital ‘B.’

You know…’B’ as in…BLUE.

Electric, reflectorized blue…

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The Unfair Art of Entertainment

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I have a guilty pleasure.

A shameful, inexplicable addiction along the lines of many people’s shameful, inexplicable addictions. A trashy TV show that turns my eyes to saucers and my brain to fudge.

What a wonderful feeling.

So once a week I draw the drapes and close the doors. I turn the phone off and I put the cat out. I retreat into a world of unhinged ‘reality’ and flaring tempers and peculiar human politics. Really, it’s no different from any of the other myriad of ‘reality’ shows foisted on a hungry, viewing public. Except that it’s set against a dance background.

And I’m a sucker for dance.

Dance drew me in, but the outrageous behavior of the ‘stars’ held me fast.

Usually, I get my hour-long fix and resume my high-functioning addict’s life, and no one is the wiser. I leave the experience behind and navigate the paths of my own reality consequence-free of my habit.

But then one of the ‘stars’ threw her requisite tantrum, and I have to respond. Otherwise, I’m afraid the seed of it will grow and entwine, and then I really will be lost…purchasing DVDs and spending my time poring over my addiction. Forgetting to brush my teeth and put out the trash.

Scary.

The woman was pushing her daughter’s cause as a dancer within the juvenile group of performers. Her argument was that the girl had been with the school from which the performance company sprang ‘from the start.’ She said it was unfair to give solo performances to newer arrivals when her child had earned the privilege by virtue of her longevity. ‘Not fair,’ she shrieked. ‘Not fair!’

My saucer-eyes blinked.

My jaw dropped, spilling an unlovely drift of popcorn….another addiction, but we won’t get into that now.

Here’s the thing: There ain’t nothin’ fair about the entertainment industry, lady! And nor should there be!

It made me take a second, harder look at the poor, little girl being dragged through this production. She is intelligent, eloquent, and has a certain noble grace unusual for someone so young. But she doesn’t have a dancer’s body. She doesn’t have a face that reads well from the stage. She doesn’t have the finely-honed technique that the other girls have.

Maybe she’ll be a ‘star’ as her benighted stage mother vows. But it won’t be as a dancer.

Another vignette had a choreographer/dance teacher snarling that her student was a ‘stronger dancer’ than a competing company’s entrant in a dance-off. When pitted against each other, the ‘stronger dancer’ lost.

It was easy to see why.

Her opponent was a softer, more lyrical dancer, but more importantly…she was prettier. Plain and simple. Her opponent has huge eyes that could be seen from the back row. She doesn’t. The opponent captured the judges. She didn’t.

I know…Not fair!

But the entertainment industry looks for performers who fit the bill. And that has more to do with native talent and genetic fortune than anything else.

Longevity, personality, work ethic, and so many more ingredients have an influence, but they don’t earn you that coveted ‘star’ status in and of themselves. A combination of them all might. Might. But it would still be necessary to have luck and timing. You’ve got to be what ‘They’ want, when ‘They’ want it.

I’m convinced my last words will be ‘NOT FAIR!’  I’ll rail against the injustice of life ‘til the end. But looking for an even playing field in entertainment, in Hollywood?

Not a realistic expectation.

And just another facet of the unreality of reality shows.

Lord help those poor, little children being publicly flogged for what’s nobody’s fault.

Too bad I can’t look away…

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Season of Bounty

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The calendar says ‘Not yet.’

The budding trees say ‘Almost.’

But Spring is here.

It crept into my home this morning. Actually, it was carried in. It was deposited with loving care on my bed before I knew what was happening. It was released beside my elbow as I lingered in the last, dusky shreds of sleep.

It electrified me.

It bolted me from my rest and my sheets, and the security of Winter slumber hitherto undisturbed by those who walk on four paws and bring…gifts… It burrowed under my comforter and snuggled deep with desperation rooted in its instinct to survive.

Spring is here.

I know because the invasion has begun and I have been pressed into the dual role of victim of, as well as EMT for, vermin.

My cat, Jack Sparrow, is thrilled. This is the time when he can truly express his gratitude for being adopted from a shelter. This is when, after long, cold, barren months, he can shower me with an embarrassment of feline riches. This is when he gets to watch the ensuing chaos after bringing me his version of ‘breakfast in bed.’

It amuses him. I can tell.

He takes a ringside seat and watches the race to find a receptacle that is mouse-worthy. Tail twitching, he sees how clumsily I trap his ‘gift’ in the drinking glass that will never be allowed to touch my lips again. Not after this. His whiskers tilt forward and his ears tilt back as his scantily-clad, furless owner dashes out into the chill morning air in search of a site where the ‘gift’ may be released with a reasonable expectation of escape and survival.

Deep inside, Jack Sparrow does a cat-chuckle.

Because he knows where to find more ‘gifts.’ And he will. A weekly, if not daily, progression of small, scurrying, squeaking bounty await him.

Spring is here.

The only thing more alarming is Summer.

That’s when the snakes appear.

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