“It’s painless,” Luiz said to me. “That’s the best thing about it.” He was standing in the street in front of “Buck’s” tavern at two-thirty in the morning, pressing a Saturday-night special to his right temple. “The bullet’s in your brain before you feel the pain.”
Monthly Archives: October 2004
On my home planet we recognize the fundamental oneness of all beings and therefore don’t get too exercised over names. This of course causes problems for my fellow planetarians and me while here on Earth, where people say things like “Hi, Mig,” when they meet you and sort of expect you to say their name, too, when you issue your countergreeting, or at least react more positively to that if not actually a little disappointed when you just say, “Hi,” back or at best, “Hi, beautiful” because who, face it, who doesn’t like to be called beautiful?
Except there’s no way to say that in German that doesn’t sound even more stupid than it already does in English. So yesterday evening, when I went to this meeting after getting a haircut at a place where everyone was dropping things — first the customer next to me dropped her cigarettes, then some insert fell out of the magazine I was reading, where I read the coolest Plutarch quote: “Der Geist ist kein Schiff, das man beladen kann, sondern ein Feuer, das man entfachen muss,” (which really got me thinking (it translates as “The spirit (or intellect (or mind)) is not a boat that you can load, but rather a fire you have to set”) because I had always sort of seen the intellect, the mind, as this big warehouse, or maybe this big gigantic library to which you are adding books upon books during your education; and now I realize, it’s a pyre, or the books are not just books, they’re fuel and not worth a damn until you light them on fire, it’s the conflagration that counts, not the pile of wood (give me a second to get my puncuation straight here…) and then the hair stylist’s apprentice (Goethe version, not Walt Disney) dropped a stack of towels — everyone was all, you know, “Hi, Mig,” and I was all, “Hi, hi, hi, how you doing, hi, what’s new” wondering if my name problem was a sign of senility and convincing myself I’d had it all my life, which I have and in addition to feeling stupid about that, I also felt stupid because I had sauce from the kebab sandwich (kebab bits in a toasted pita bread, with lettuce and tomato bits, with a big squirt of kebab sandwich sauce) I had gone and bought after my haircut to kill time becasue I was still early for the meeting all down the leg of my suit because I had stupidly tried eating it on the go and by the time I thought, “I’d better be careful with this, it’s pretty juicy,” I already had the sauce down my leg and the sauce was white of course and the girl had only given me one little dinky napkin with the sandwich, and it quickly transformed itself from a napkin into a little ball of cellulose saturated with white sauce and was more painting the sauce around the leg of my suit than wiping it off, and there I was at the meeting hoping the sauce will dry invisibly and it did go pretty far in that direction, leaving just these suspicious-looking grey traces which I tried to scratch off surreptitiously but unfortunately the stains just turned vivid white where scratched so I had to darken them, again surreptitiously, with a bit of saliva, which probably made an even odder impression than my inability to remember names. Stupid humans.
- Gamma: Ireland’s green, right?
Mig: Pretty green. It rains a lot.
Gamma: We’ll go there sometime, right?
Mig: You bet.
Gamma: Austria’s yellow.
Gamma: It is. And America, America’s blue.
Gamma: Red, what country is red? Iraq is red, because of all the war there.
It’s like bumping into someone you used to be crazy about on the street and wondering what you ever saw in them
I think I will be skipping this this year.
Could this mean mental health is just around the corner?
He has one of those handshakes like forklift would have. It’s weird: he has such a manly face, yet it looks so pretty on his daughter, who totally inherited it.
“Hi,” he said.
No, wait. Actually, it was me who spoke first. I said, “servus,” because we were in Austria. This was yesterday evening. “Servus” means “hi,” more or less. I had seen him when I got out of the car to go into the DVD rental place, but only out the corner of my eye and hadn’t recognized him. I told him as much.
“Returning a video?” he said. He shook my hand.
I said something like, Yes, and asked him what he was doing there. He said it had been raining and gestured at his bike in the back of his station-wagon.
“Raining, huh,” I said. Everything was pretty dry, but there were puddles around. I assumed his wife had met him there to drive him the rest of the way home etc., cause there his bike was, right, in the back of the car.
“Well, it was raining pretty hard,” he said. As it had been. On my way home, I had noticed a huge rainbow in my rear view mirror.
“Isn’t that a great sunset?” I said, “Look at those clouds.”
It had been a great day. The sunrise had been nice too, and I didn’t know yet that I was going to suck badly in my cello lesson.
I said bye and he also did and I drove away. I saw him go into the drugstore and talk to someone who I then recognized as his daughter, my daughter’s friend. One of her friends. She has more than one.
Posted in Metamorphosism
You start out as what, spruce, growing two hundred years up the side of a mountain then they cut you down and age you for another fifty or so. It’s a grandfather – father – son – grandson business. Eventually you’re a cello.
Eventually you’re a cello. In the right hands: wow. You’re the king. Even there in your case, leaned in the corner of the room: pure potential.
Look, in Mig’s defense I’ll admit he had an especially bad day yesterday. It didn’t seem bad to him until he got to his cello lesson then he finally noticed.
Still, it was painful. I felt like I was watching Michael J. Fox try to eat Froot Loops with chopsticks on a bad day. Or: Larry Flynt getting a lap dance. Whatever.
OTOH, Mig did learn something important that might help him vastly, about the relationship of the white and the black keys on the piano with his finger positions.