Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Snowday - rules are made to be frozen"

My first adult snowday felt nearly as good as childhood snowdays. My alarm went off this morning, but as I don't have a tv I tried to find cancelations on the internet. The Resource Exchange is kind of an obscure cancelation, so I had to call in. "I'm glad you called," said the community participation manager. "We've canceled today."

Last night, I wrote to myself, "I would like to sleep late, drink coffee, read, and snowshoe up the street. That is all I want to do."

I couldn't snowshoe up the street today because the snow was wet and melted on the pavement. Naomi and I decided that the necessary snowday supplies were wine, peppermint schnapps, hot chocolate, and pumpkin for baking. As it turns out, I could have easily driven, but I walked instead, trying to stay true to my snowshoeing ambitions. The trip was not romantic, as the cars on the road were large and proud of their big tires, and some of the other people walking were more miserable than pleasant. Except the man with a clean dark coat and a perfect white beard who picked his way through the slush for a pack of cigarettest at 7-11. I wanted to touch his whiskers.

The local overpriced natural foods store "forgot" to order pumpkin for the most pumpkiny season, and their HC ("and by that I don't mean Hot Chicks" - Dan Goodnow) was close to $6. Bullshit. I walked back to our local wine and spirit store, where the staff is almost too anxious to be knowledgable. I like that about them, that they try so hard to cultivate an international experience each time you buy wine in their tiny strip-mall storefront. As per my indescriminate wine tastes, I normally try to select the cheapest bottle with the prettiest label, but noting my dawdling, the red-faced seller rushed over to ask me what I was looking for. Afraid to reveal myself, I said, "Red" and after a slight thought, the man breezed around the store, sweeping up bottles like he was picking fruit from his own grove. He selected four and placed them on the counter, and started to switch the bottles around in exactly the manner of a magician concealing a ball underneath four identical cups. He explained that they were arranged from light to dark, and described each. I said I liked lighter, as the lightest was towards the least expensive. (I could have bought a large, perfectly satisfactory bottle with an okay label for $7.29! But apparently this man had come to save me from my own tastes, as he appeared to have some disdain for Yellow Tail.) He shooed off the darker, and refreshed the lineup with two more, "a simple Californian" with an imaginative label that said simply, "Red Wine." But I chose the next, a fruity red with a classy label for $9.99. And threw in the $2.99 schnapps for Naomi.

I drove to Safeway for the HC and the pumpkin, and baked two loaves of pumpkin bread. We've recently been asking ourselves the question, "What fruit or vegetable bread would you have if you had to eat only one fruit or vegetable bread for the rest of your life?" Mine is banana bread, but the pumpkin bread turned out quiet well. Naomi didn't drink any of her schnapps or wine, as she left for her home/dentist appointment this afternoon, but I've progressed quite well through Bulletin Place, showing distinct berry characters and named for the oldest commercial building still in use in Australia. Leading me to believe that if I lived alone, I would drink by myself and listen to emotionally expressive and personally sentimental music very loudly on my stereo and pine away for Ira Glass as I slowly fall in love with This American Life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

He'll Regret That Later

Brian was sitting in the middle of our broken couch, where it sagged the worst, when I told him I was going to get a tattoo.
“Cool,” he said. “What are you getting?”
I knew he wouldn’t want to come. Brian left the couch only to scavenge and bring back smashed up televisions and other abandoned shit that he arranged around himself. When he got tired of anything he threw it into the front yard.
I stood there for a moment and Brian didn’t look at me. He was leafing through a women’s magazine he had found in the alley the day before. I think it was Good Housekeeping or something like that. Brian didn’t care about irony.
“You’ll see,” I said. I kicked some empty beer cans against the wall.
Brian looked up. “Now?”
“Yeah,” I said. I picked up my backpack from the floor and stepped on a pile of wet socks on my way out. “I’ll see you later.”
“See ya, man,” said Brian, and went back to his magazine.
The ripped screen door slammed behind me.

The tattoo place was small but typical. Large bald headed men with meaty inked biceps wielded needles. The floor was checkered black and white and unswept. Bright and cheaply framed designs lined the walls, none that I would get. They reminded me of Tweety Bird on a fat woman’s calf. I wanted dark, realistic.
“You know what you want now?” One of the large men approached me. I had talked to him before, on my trial visit. His huge forehead intimidated me.
“Yeah,” I said. I pulled the photo out of my pocket and lifted my pink t-shirt. “There,” I said, pointing to the empty space above my heart.
“Okay, man.” The man took the photo from my hand, led me to a white vinyl covered chair and began.

The pain was great. I gripped the sides of the chair with my head tilted back. The ceiling was separated into dotted tiles, and loud, shrieking music flowed through a stereo. It took a few hours, with me occasionally checking the work. Even if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have said anything. But it did look real.
“Good thing you got the dates right,” I joked to the man. He didn’t laugh.
I paid him and left the place, riding my bike back to the house. My skin felt sore and red as the wind pushed my t-shirt against it. I couldn’t wait to show Brian.

I dropped the bike on some broken chairs in the yard, ran up the concrete steps and pushed the door open. Brian was where I left him, rolling a joint. When I came in he paused and looked at me.
“Been waiting,” he said. “Whatcha got?”
“You’ll see,” I said, and went to get something from my room.
When I came back Brian was raising the joint to his lips. “Wait,” he said. He lit it, and breathed in, closing his eyes. “Show me,” he said, holding the smoke.
I lifted up my shirt. Brian opened his eyes, and when he saw his face on my chest they widened in disbelief. Brian’s profile drawn in dark black ink was raised up towards God, his hands clasped together in a prayer.
He choked out the smoke.
“No shit,” he coughed. “What are the dates? I was born in 1985…”
“And in 2006 you die!” I yelled, pulling the sword out from behind my back and swinging it straight up through his belly. Brian let out a cry and died, thus fulfilling the prophecy written that day upon my chest.

This story will be published in Denver Syntax in December.