Sunday, November 22, 2009

Foolish Wondrous Things

I met my current girlfriend, Kerstin, in a drive-thru pharmacy where she is the Chief Pharmacist. While she looked weary, I was drawn to her intense blue eyes, the curve of her lips, her natural dark brown hair and overt beauty. I also felt attracted to the tattoo lettering on her forehead: Shake Well Before Use. I tried to cheer her up with a few witticisms. It seemed to work. She listened, smiled, and said, 'You're crazy'. Then she laughed, 'You're crazy.' I began to worry that this might be the extent of her vocabulary. Thankfully, I was mistaken.

She has a habit of pinching my cheek but always brings it back. She enjoys it when I quietly plead,'Who's stolen my soft, well-shaved cheek?' 'What shall I do without it?' Infantile, I know, but if it makes Kerstin laugh, I'm happy to oblige. Kerstin loves dancing; I love shooting inanimate objects. Perhaps, that's why she doesn't hear every word I say to her; too busy dodging bullets.

The inevitable road to decay in our relationship has yet to show its bored, weary face. I give it another three months, or, until my ammunition runs out. Kerstin can be sensitive, and ask stupid questions: 'Am I beautiful?' 'Is my sister prettier than me?' 'Does a woman's age matter?' 'What does "ironic sadness" mean?' She's still cute, so I take whatever she throws my way, including cutlery and furniture.

Today a passer-by told me my hair was on fire. Unfortunately, I left it on the train. I immediately ran down the rail track like an escaped convict. I had to retrieve the wig at all cost as it belongs to my neighbour, Herry Guttenchest, who likes his hair uncombed, not half-cooked. He had kindly lent me his wig to wear in a 'police lineup.' It appears the victim of the crime, Monsieur Flambé, had the  sharp creases stolen from his trousers while he was travelling to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

As I raced past a station platform I was chastised by waiting passengers for never being on time. I remember thinking 'I should write to the newspapers regarding this matter' when I suddenly fell from a railway bridge into a river. Some men on a barge fished me out. The water was icy and black. I asked if they'd seen a burnt wig. My inquiry was met with silence and strange looks. Perhaps the men thought I had tried to drown myself.

I had to think fast. I'd bath and tell Herry that his wig had been stolen. To make my story viable I'd say the assailant had one-leg, and had been riding a unicycle sideways on an escalator in a downtown department store. Herry should buy that; he bought the wig, after all. I started to laugh. The men on the barge gazed at me in bewilderment. As I reentered the bleak river I felt light-headed. The rapture I was experiencing appeared to be shared by the swans drifting close by.

Reflections: One tends to make a great number of mistakes in life. For example, measuring a lover's arm with a 'spring tape measure' during lovemaking; following a spouse disguised as a cigar, a dress maker's dummy, or three policemen, to establish if your partner is up to no good, or, at least, shoulder height; mimicking the cry of the Great Black-backed Gull during a long silence at a senior management meeting; mistaking rich green grass swaying in the breeze for the ocean and decide to go scuba diving. All foolish wondrous things. But hazardous, nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Something in Common & The Seagull

I've fond memories of my first wife. If only I could find them? One Sunday while throwing stones at a neighbour's house - they constantly complained about the noise of our gramophone which only played German tunes - I saw her for the first time. That morning I felt like an empty bus going back to the depot but I couldn't find one without a driver. Suddenly pleasure came back into my life; albeit temporarily.

In the half-light - a slender girl with a pale face named, Betty Blocker - looked beautiful with her crossed legs, crossed arms, and crossed eyes. It was only when she stepped into the full light I could see all her sensitivity. She only had two teeth: an upper and a lower at the front, which she brushed with vigour. If only she had used toothpaste. She talked without thinking, and I thought without talking. Did I love her? No. Did she love me ? No. At least we had something in common. Something attracted me to her. It may have been clean undergarments.

I was only eighteen when we decided to run away. For a while we were as thick as pillows. I once give her a black eye and she refused to take it. Then a split lip. She refused that too. How could I express my feelings for her? I became panic-stricken and confused. I began to speak with an American accent and wear lip gloss on my nose. Then it became all surface, a calamity, my stomach ulcer made its debut in Bjornson's Mary Stuart as a lord with one line to speak. The ulcer became inconsolable and used to shut itself in the washing machine and weep. It finally left to join a group of painters and writers in a village in France. It writes occasionally but still forgets to include two 'C's.

My marriage to Beta disintegrated and we began to despise each other. She always appeared drunk at half-past nine each morning - one hour after me - which I found irritating and deplorable. I became tired of sweat and perfume so we give our dog to a neighbour. It now works as a Security Consultant at a large Parisian department store. It has nothing more in the world to hope for.

Sometimes I think of Beta ... the half-light, how her heart never deceived me, our time spent together hugging, kissing, playing with each other, and talking about the angle a bowler hat should be worn. Of course, we were both temperamental ... our failure to communicate struck us both dumb. We once met unexpectedly in a shop window display. We both had toneless voices and frightened each other. As we said goodbye I fell down a hole in the sidewalk. It made us smile and laugh. For a moment we both felt liberated. As I dare say the people watching on the sidelines also did.

Reflections: While in New York in March 2008 my wife, Sylvia, and I attended a production of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov at the Classic Stage Company. I've always enjoyed this mysterious and mystical play. It shows one can be separated by centuries, continents, and language from an author, playwright, etc., and still find their works compelling. This play still resonates with a contemporary audience and touches upon eternal and important questions about life.

We were lucky to get tickets and be seated in a side front row. The play and cast were outstanding. The actors included Dianne Wiest, Alan Cumming, and Kelli Garner who was especially remarkable as Nina.

Sylvia and I had the good fortune to speak with Dianne, Alan, and Kelli after the performance. I was astounded when Kelli said she had been playing to me during the performance. I felt honoured and felt an irresistible urge to tell everybody within shouting distance and beyond. As Kelli, a gifted young actor, and a strikingly beautiful girl, walked away into the dark, rainy night, my wife touched my arm and brought me back to reality.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Recession & A Catastrophic Book Launch

Presently, I've more debts than clothes, more toes than my left foot can accommodate, a home that slopes precariously towards the sea, and a dog that believes it's the reincarnation of Cyrano de Bergerac. It wears a large prosthetic nose over its left eye and looks remarkably like Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in the film The Hours. Instead of barking the dog shouts at me through a 30W megaphone: "Lug your guts away, salami, or stay and I'll remove you slice by slice!"

Am I the only person who covers his head during the day and stares wide-eyed into the darkness? I've just made a swift decision. It took me three days and five nights looking through a bored hole into my neighbour's house. We must move to a smaller house with a cheaper rent or preferably no rent at all. Christmas will soon be upon us and we are not prepared, financially or emotionally, for its arrival. At least my wife and I will not have to worry about where to hide presents this year. I'd run away but I can't find my red goose feather parasol collection.

Just between ourselves, in a bid to live on less during the current recession, my family and I have moved to a deserted farm which has no electricity. The house is surrounded by mud, rabbits, carrots, and thickets; similar to the interior. To save cash, my wife no longer dyes her mustache and we use candles to see in the dark. The candles are kept in a sealed box. You might find this foolish, however, the sealed box is in a hardware shop in the village waiting to be purchased. In this way, we save as much cash as possible. We also spend more time outdoors where its warmer, and sleep huddled together in a tall iron stove located in the kitchen. Thank goodness we've no coal to burn ...

To add to my despair my wife is speaking with a dubbed voice! It sounds like German or Spanish? Neither of which I am familiar. Quite honestly, I find her action deplorable. She could have the decency to provide "subtitles", or "inter titles" commonly seen in silent films. The result? I am confused about my feelings towards her. In fact, I don't recognise the woman I married two weeks ago. The photographs of our wedding are of little value; all night shots taken with a camera with no flash.

I think she's already cheating. Yesterday she quickly ducked into the oven to take a phone call. The chicken we were cooking for lunch took the opportunity to jump out and used a spare key to vacate the house. I alerted the cops. They said it successfully crossed the border in a stolen car and was last seen at a Burger King drive thru.

Last week I travelled to London to attend the launch of my book: "Fifty Ways to Approach an Incandescent Light Bulb While Disguised as a Cabbage". The event was catastrophic. Why? After I read from the book, talked about light bulbs and cabbage, and hosted a Question and Answer session, the idiot responsible for the launch of the book used too much explosive. The book shot into the sky and is currently orbiting the bald head of a man in Alaska called Mr Ima Tuna.

Reflections: How quickly the faces of some people you have known well can change from one of beauty to one of ugliness; of sensitivity to one of hate; from real to caricature; of truth to a refuge for lies, ignorance, conceit. An intuitive momentary glance, however, will confirm the slow decay of existence, the rapid passage of time, and how the past remains with us. Perhaps a level of ignorance about truth, love, courage, life, is conducive to our well-being?

The fatigue of life withers our judgement, opinion, sensitivity, and our relationships with friends, work colleagues, partners, family. We are all prone, occasionally, to acts of weakness, poor judgement, selfishness, indifference, cynicism, insincerity. Some individuals, however, play the part to perfection; daily, by the hour, by the minute, by the second. They have forgotten what life tastes like.