Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate, Rum and Crocodiles

I awake from a dream this morning that takes place at this big house with numerous bedrooms. The house is a distorted version of the Fitzgerald's, the family of an old elementary school friend of mine who was one of ten Irish Catholic children.  I don't know why I have to stay here, but I do and it is apparently fine because there are weddings in town and many random people will also be staying in this house tonight. At least this is what I'm told by some blurry familiar someone. Also, I am with colleagues, two men I think, and we have some sort of mission to accomplish, business to tend to. We're serious about something.  Not sure what. Anyway, this house is like a crooked boat with many ladders and triangle shaped roofs and while I explore it, I realize I have to pee. I stumble upon the room with the toilet. It is a large dark bedroom adorned with dirty laundry piles. The toilet is at the end of the room like a throne, centered along the back wall. But just as I walk into this bedroom bathroom, I realize I don't have a shirt on. I am completely topless.  I cover my little boobies with my crossed arms and sit on the toilet to pee (trying not to wake the lump shifting in the sheets at the other end of the room). When finished and empty, I stand and that's when I see it. I have peed on the toilet with the white plastic lid still down and now there is a yellow puddle perched there as well as a small waterfall of my urine cascading down the porcelain john toward the surrounding piles of dirty laundry. I panic and begin picking up the wet crumpled clothing and carrying them, still topless, from this strange room to where I find a growing tropical forest fire down the hall. I watch the fire grow for a little while before realizing that no one has reported it. So, I report it and by reporting it, I mean, I run up and down the dirt road beside the forest fire yelling "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" This is when the crocodile starts attacking me. Luckily I have my cheap plastic umbrella in my hands to whack the creature over its bumpy biting face. After each clumsy blow, the thing backs up a bit and I return to my responsible screaming, but before I am positive I have truly informed the authorities, the snapping jaw comes back at me and I must try again to strike the mouth closed. For some reason, I know if I hit the enormous reptile square on the nose it will die or give up, but to no avail, the crocodile continues trying to eat me while, still half-naked, I scream "FIRE" beside a pile of pee drenched laundry. 

It is 6:30AM when I roll out of bed and feel for the bathroom with my eyes half closed.

So in deciphering my dream, or rather, reasons why I probably had this strange unconscious experience would be as follows...

  • Last night, at 8:45PM, I drank  half of a nip of spiced rum with a splash of ginger soda and pineapple juice.
  • At about 9:20PM, I ate a few forkfulls of peanut butter cup ice cream straight from the container.
  • At 10:30PM, I went to sleep. 
  • Also, yesterday morning, I drove by an enormous black bear sitting and having a picnic of trash in somebody's driveway.  This would explain my confusion about hitting the crocodile square on the nose. 
  • Oh and I'm lazy and often sit on public toilet seats even though I know so many disgusting bare butts have done the same before mine and even though my friend, Amy, says I could catch something. Also, to me, nothing is quite as shocking as sitting on top of the toilet seat bare-assed, feeling the plastic or wood press up to my privates. It always feels like I've accidentally molested myself. 
  • Finally, I  posses an unnecessarily rash fear of exposing my boobies.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Deluge

Music crackles through my crappy car speakers while rainwater pelts my windshield like a pack of petty prizefighters, slapping and spitting at the station wagon's wide see-through face where my wipers frantically fail to dry the glass. When the rain stops, I'll drive fast enough to make up time, I tell myself, but slow enough to not be pulled over by idled patrol cars. 

“Are you free next Wednesday night?“ I asked my father.  "I want to take you out for Father's Day. See the Joe Purdy concert in Fall River. Just you and me." 

(Here is where I insert an explanation for the love I have for my father. Like all love, it is difficult to put into plain analogy-free phrases so I'll unabashedly define it by saying that whenever I am near him I have trouble not wrapping my arms around his middle like a bulky high waste belt. Sometimes I worry that he hates me, his profoundly profane daughter, though I know he never could. A tall conservative man with a wayward disposition, he sits at his place at the end of the dinner table, quietly listening while I work to make my mother laugh with stories of pooping in poison ivy on the banks of a river or humping my dog, Penny, to achieve dominance. With the front legs of his chair suspended, he shakes his head, the start of a smile poised at the crooks of his mustached mouth like a stilled rocking chair. He speaks when spoken to or when any mention of Jesus Christ, Mary the Mother of God, Catholic priests, the church choir director or God Himself graces the table. "Alright. Alright. That's enough." He'll say.) 

This is why I like to have him alone, for he will talk for hours on any number of subjects when prompted with mindful ears.  

Tonight, on my drive to our date, the rain never stops rushing from the crowded clouds and I never get above 55 miles an hour.  "I don't think I'm going to get home by six like I planned." I tell him over the phone. 

When I am an exit from my father's house, I turn off the highway and creep down the curved exit ramp, gripping my convulsing steering wheel with both hands. Please be engine trouble. I beg inside my brain. I can ignore engine trouble. I cannot ignore a flat tire. I turn left and pull off the road. As I open my door, a pickup truck stops beside me. "You've got a flat in the back," a beefy white guy with tattoos stretched around his biceps, tells me.  "Do you need any help?" 

"No thank you. My father lives down the road."

I call my father. 

Then I call for a tow truck. "Yes, I have a spare." I tell the ditsy dispatcher who stumbles through our dialogue like a drunk. "I got off 495 South at Exit 4, turned left and parked on the right side of the road." I say explicitly.    
When my father arrives, I retrieve the spare tire from beneath my hatchback's floor flaps, but it's just a tire. There is no middle, no rim. I don't know why this is so, I tell my father, but I blame my frustratingly frequent flats. 

A man arrives in a small yellow tow truck. My father explains that we don't have a rim on the spare. Tow truck man shakes his head. His left ear is pierced with a gold PlayBoy bunny earring. He calls for a flatbed tow truck and offers to stay so that we can get to our concert on time. We thank him. 

There isn't time to go to the Olive Garden at the mall. 

"Want to get a sandwich at McDonald's?" Dad asks, driving from my sunken car. 

"How 'bout Subway?" I ask. 

At the nearby shopping plaza with the grocery store and clustered row of small shops, we see that the sandwich chain is no longer there. It's been replaced by a hotdog stand in a storefront. Coney Island Hotdogs, it's called. Dad assumes I don't want a Brooklyn wiener and offers to drive us somewhere else, but we're nearly out of time. "I eat hotdogs!" I cry out. 

He stops the car in the fire lane. I unbuckle my seatbelt and get out. Inside, there are no photographs of ferris wheels, red roller coasters, creepy city clowns or even a New York City skyline. This place is nearly bare. A standing cooler of soda cans, a rack of chips and on the wall behind the counter there are glossy photographs of hotdogs topped with chunky red chili, grilled onions, and zig zagging condiments. "Hi, can I get three hotdogs with sauerkraut and mustard?" I ask the girl behind the counter. She nods and grabs at the greasy links rotating on the grill behind her. 

"EXACTLY $11!" A fat thirty-something homeboy exclaims at the register. I hand over a $20 bill. 

Dad balances his dinner of dogs on his lap, while he pulls out of the parking lot. 

“What a disaster!” I say. 

My dad disagrees.

We find the music hall, an old converted mill on the waterfront in Fall River, Massachusetts. We climb a couple flights of dark wooden stairs and make our way to the ticket table. I give my name to a short middle-aged man who stamps the tops of our hands with a big black music note. We find a wobbly table beside the stage and I walk across the room to another table named "Cafe" and buy two cups of decaf coffee and a brownie with walnuts. 

When the opening act, The Milk Carton Kids are introduced, I realize we're too far over to see the fast moving fingers of guitarist, Kenneth Pattengale.  And worst yet, the band's banter, which I had howled at two nights before when I saw the show in Northampton now seems forced in the presence of this inattentive crowd of BYO Boozers. 

This must be my fault, somehow. Like I brought these unsuspecting musicians my evening's godawful luck. 

Later on, when the main act, Joe Purdy takes the stage in his dark suede hat, fitted white tee shirt, gray tweed pants and cowboy boots, a car alarm begins to wail in the parking lot two flights below. Purdy starts the first solo song of his set, but pauses after a few bars to smirk and say, "Someone's really gotta check their car alarm." 

"Could that be you Dad?" I whisper. 


After a few solo songs, the alarm is silenced and the Milk Carton Kids join Purdy back onstage. Dad looks over to me with gleeful surprise, his legs and feet jumping. They are playing "Pioneer," a song he and I learned on the guitar together a few weeks before. Unabashed, my father sings along. At the table beside ours, slumped beside a small cooler of beer, a stranger sits alone. Afraid this man might say something mean to my father, I put my hand on the back of my daddy's neck then slyly move it over his mouth to shush him. I know I will regret it, but I do it anyway. Luckily, he disregards my awkward gesture and sings on. 

In the lobby after the show, we stop at the merchandise table. I tell my father that I'm going to buy him two CDs. "That'll be $20." I'm told. Inside my wallet there is $18. $18? I look over to Dad, my defeatist heart burning through the sleeve of my v-neck tee shirt. His money is already out of his pocket and between his short brown fingers. 

"How much do you need?" He asks me. 

When we leave the hall, it's raining again, but it's gentle and I linger in the parking lot, looking over to the Braga Bridge, waiting for the water to cover and cool my cheeks, to wash away my blued expectations.

The next morning, I drive Dad's truck from the east side of the state to the western side. No cruise control. No radio. I put put along, but before I leave my father's house, he gives me a folded up wad of singles. "Toll money." He says. I can't refuse. My wallet is empty still and again, I am nearly late.