Monday, June 18, 2018

Time's Up --- Half of a Half-arsed Reflection. (Answer to a young girl telling me that I'm only as old as I think).

   Time... without getting all Einstein about it, I know a little about time... it's running out for me. I had plenty of it once. A young girl told me that we are only as old as we think. My physician might differ and so does my calendar.

   I remember things from the past. #1 was how I felt about time. I never felt as though I had enough of it. Not really... even when I sang along with Mick and the boys time was never on my side. It was always marching and the Monster-Faker of it was that there was no stamp that guaranteed I would have another day... another minute... another second... of it.

    When did we start measuring it? Again, my intention isn't to get all Einstein about it. This is personal. I am trying to wrap my head around time because logically I don't have much left... so much for only being as old as I think sweetheart.... don't worry, I'm not trying to win an argument... just stating a fact. I started measuring it right away... well, as early as I can remember right away. I watched the shadow of the sun move around a coke bottle in Copeland Park. We lived there until I was four, so it had to be within that span that I saw it move.

   I remember catching the school bus before I was enrolled in kindergarten and riding it because I wanted to go where my sisters went. I was discovered and sent back home... beaten by time again. My sisters taunted me saying I was too little... no one said too young... they said too little because they hadn't equated time with size. I took comfort in that because I was already a time genius and knew that the odds were in my favor that I had more time to live since they were older. Older is another word indicating that it has nothing to do with what I think of it.... no more than saying I'm only as tall as you think, honey. 

   It amazes me to this day how confused a dial clock's face was to me. When did we learn that? First or second grade?... nah, it couldn't have been as late as the third. Digital clocks are easier for kids, I hear. That's too bad because they might begin to think that there is no history to, or future for, time... it's a bunch of Buddha type of here and now stuff and that's all time is. 

   This isn't where I meant to go with this. I wanted to write about time and history and then I got intimate about it. Damn it, and now I'm out of time to write anything more profound than this. 

    Time's up for this half-arsed reflection.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

These Taxi Romances

Santa Barbara, she is always present in this Taxi Romance series, though looming backstage. I have left her a few times but have always returned since I first fell in love with her while hitchhiking in 1971 at the stop lights on One-O-One. I was just passing through with my thumb out after two years, dodging imagined demons of my own creation, and the culture shock of returning to the States I’d left to join the Navy in 1965.

The love affair began when I found an Australian Digger's Hat in the bushes that lined the grass between the lights at Chapala and State Street. In the lining of the hat was a five-dollar bill. I crossed over the highway to the Sambos where the Spearmint Rhino Men's Club is today and bought a bottomless cup of coffee, a hamburger and fries, and a seat. A man came in and saw me sitting there alone at a booth and introduced himself asking if I was a Vet. When I said I was, he told me I could have a job if I showed up where he was the foreman. It was a door manufacturing shop and while we worked, he encouraged me to use the GI Bill at SBCC where I transferred to, and graduated from, UCSB.

The Lower State Street of my stories was once a grittier part of town, lined with low-rent thrift stores, dive bars, greasy-spoons, delis, auto-parts and liquor stores that have been moved out in order to step-up and meet the demand with higher-end clubs and gourmet restaurants. Though it never had the veneer of blight and desperation of major cities, it had a seedier side of life that wasn’t on the tourist maps and never seen unless circumstances provoked us to take a closer look.
This was the Santa Barbara of transvestite hookers that hung out at pay phones on the corner of State and Gutierrez Streets, of the Virginia Hotel, the Ofice[1] Bar, and Mel’s, where there were all-night coffee shops like Carrow’s and Jolly Tiger, and bars where people talked, closed deals, and made plans face to face, and only a few had anything like cell phones. Pagers and payphones were all escort services had to send girls to clients, to contact dope dealers or to dispatch unofficial off-radio business to graveyard cabbies like David Kraszhinski, Douglass Perry, and Max (Mickey)McGee.

Our Anna Bonnaire started out from there at an early age but graduated off the streets to hustle an exclusive clientele in the affluent hills and arroyos of Hope Ranch and Montecito.

These are real people in a real place that once existed where Detective Ryan did his best to protect the people he worked with. And the people he worked with knew the streets better than any officer because they lived within the confines of what was going on below eye-level of the petty corruption that ran rampant during the transition of a unique town into just another Southern California coastal city.
The flea-bag hotels, where dying souls held on to what was left of their lives, are gone or have been renovated to accommodate another renewal and another face-lift for the increasing attraction of international tourism. The student population of Isla Vista, UCSB’s day-care center for the more affluent class than the bank burners of the sixties, could afford taxi fare by the late nineties to ride all the way downtown to trendy Lower State Street.

My City, my home, is like an older but glamourous screen siren to me. I see through her several face-lifts like the Spanish Revival movement of the twenties, and whose streets echoed the fiesta hoof-beats of horse-drawn carriages proudly towing through the town signs of her decaying past that never was but an image. I love her as a fan loves an aging movie star that has survived disasters like the earthquake of ’25 and the oil spill of ‘68, and neighboring Montecito’s recent debris flow tragedy. Now only a trace of Santa Barbara remains of what she was by the closing years of the nineteen eighties. But she’s still here and is sure to survive another decay and revival. I can only provide a scant slice what is under the make-up what was once the Santa Barbara I fell in love with years ago and hope my readers will respect, if not love, her too.

[1] Ofice isn’t a misspelling of office. I’m told it’s a Greek word meaning Snake Pit. It was more of a Snake Pit than any office I’ve ever been in but a double meaning can be useful when calling home and needing an excuse, “Honey, I’ll be home late tonight, I’m tied-up at the office.”

A One-Way Train Ticket with Jack London

The train drew slowly into Jack London Square. We had arrived at the Oakland stop. A couple about my age (I was 55 at the time) were in the seats across the aisle from mine in coach so I couldn't help but to overhear every word of their conversation. He was one of those men that felt compelled to explain to the little woman every detail of everything that passed his window whether he knew what he was talking about or not, and not was the bulk of his understanding. The couple had boarded in Martinez and he had talked non-stop. At first, I was distracted, but after a while, along with crying babies, his voice became background noise as I read.
An announcement over the intercom blared loud enough to wake the sleepers that we were stopping for a half-hour break and warned passengers not to stray too far as the train couldn't wait for stragglers. The man asked his wife, “Who's this Jack London anyway, his name’s everywhere we go? He some kind of big shot around here? Everything in that town we was in had his name too."
She paused before answering, then as though being wrong would be a great crime, she glanced towards me and offered nervously, “Johnny. I think he might be an artist. I'm not sure."
The train hadn't come to a complete stop before he arose and took for the lower level stairs. Looking back at the woman, he shouted, “His name's kinda like ours, huh? Linden - London. C’mon, let's look around! You wanna look around? We got thirty minutes. Lots of shops and stuff, maybe someone here knows who he is.”
She obediently followed. I say obediently because she had the look of resignation so many women adopt in similar relationships. It is as though they have accepted that the prince, they vowed to live happily ever after with, had turned into a loud and farting frog, and after breeding her allotted 2.5 to the population, decided it was too late to change plans. Her life was effectively over, and sadly, heaven would have to be a better place for her.
I stayed aboard welcoming a half-hour of peace.
She came back to her seat laden with a bag full of Jack Londony things within twenty-five minutes and without him. I hadn't noticed before how attractive she was; well dressed and wearing loosely tapered dark slacks that were complimented by a silky cadmium red blouse covering a slim and bra-less torso. She had what appeared to be dyed light-brown to blond hair, cropped short enough to be easily maintained but long enough to frame a delicate face, and bright deep brown eyes that sparkled with intelligence. I missed all that before because he sat in the aisle seat and his rotund and red-faced bulk overshadowed everything about her by the configuration of a man that she had given up dressing, even in public. But he wasn't there, and the minutes were ticking towards departure. I sincerely hoped he would miss boarding time.
I leaned towards her as she took a book out of the bag and held it under her small and perfectly formed breasts. I strained to see its title. She saw me looking and, with no reservations said, "I thought I'd at least read one of his books: This Jack London."
To let her wonder whether my eyes weren't soley fixated on her perky nipples under the blouse, I mentioned the title, "Ah, Sea Wolf. Good choice."
"I must’ve read him in college, but it was so long ago, and I didn't want my husband to feel... you know."
I had a feeling she had been playing dumb, and I liked the game, having no designs other than to pass time before Bozo showed up, so I asked, "How long have you been married?"
"Two weeks. Yes, don't look so shocked... two weeks. We tied the knot in Glen Ellen."
"I look shocked?"
"Yes, you do."
The train started moving. She didn't seem at all concerned. The steward passed by and I questioned her, "Aren't you going to ask about your husband?"
"Oh, sure. I would but he's probably in the club car."
"I have to be honest, you two don't seem like newlyweds."
Before I could say anything more, one way or another, she laughed, "Bingo! Say, no one's sitting with you, do you mind if I?" she put a hand on my shoulder and gently pushed enough so that I voluntarily slid to the window seat and she sat in the aisle seat next to me.
The steward came back, looked at the tags above her and her husband’s seats, then at her, and asked, “Are you Mrs. Linden?”
"I am."
"Your husband missed the boarding call when we left Oakland, but don't worry, he'll be on the bus to San Jose and he can join us on the train there."
After he left she smiled, "That's okay with me, He always does things like this. Besides, I'm having a chat with this nice young man."
"Married two weeks and already having problems?"
"It’s a second honeymoon. Johnnie and I stayed in Glen Ellen... that’s another place that's Jack London everywhere, huh? We didn’t bother to ask about him… or leave the room."
“I had a nephew that got married there in a little church that Jack London would’ve had nothing to do with.”
“Really? We renewed our vows in a little old white church and stayed next to a Jack London... or something like a Saloon. I’ve never been to a saloon. We didn’t go there either. But I wanted to…  Ha! Jack London!”
She opened what looked to me like a snake skin purse and took out a silver flask from it. My ex had tastes like hers and I knew the label inside the flap: BVGARI. That fucking purse had to be worth more than a month of Santa Barbara taxi cabbing. Taking a sip from the flask and passing it to me, she looked around to see if anyone was paying attention before toasting, "Here's to Johnny London and Jack Linden."
I too sipped, “That’s the one alright.”
"He's a man's man I remember that much... sort of, I think. Are you a man's man or a lady's man?"
My curiosity needed sating more than my thirst by then. She was flirting with me and just a little more curious about what’s around her than the dolt she's married to. Hmm… unless of course, maybe her lunk is a real stud…  a regular Circus SolĂ© in bed… or what, maybe they’re junkies? How else does one stay in a room in a small town like Glen Ellen and not ask anyone anything about the name that is smeared over it like grape jelly? I’d try a suggestive compliment and see what she'd say, “Some romance, eh? Your renewal of vows must have fired it up pretty good to keep you in the room like that.”
“I wish it did. Johnnie had to pass a kidney stone, we called nine-one-one and they took us to, what… Something Soma?”
“Maybe Sonoma?”
“Yes, Soma… that’s what I said, isn’t it?”
“Close enough, so that’s good, I hear they’re painful. Kidney stones, yea know.”
“I made him take me to Martinez to catch a train after he was released. He'd promised me a train ride back to our hotel in Santa Barbara while he was smashed on morphine... oh, shit, do you mind, really, I’m so sick of talking about that kind of crap.”
As if by magic the Reservation Hostess from the dining car was taking reservations for dinner. I never order dinner on the train but for reasons hard to admit, I didn’t want this sorta sophisticated woman to know the dining car was too expensive for my taste, so I asked, “Will dinner be before the train gets to San Jose?”
It was hard to tell whether the Hostess disliked me or the question. She answered as surly as any annoyed server can get, “No sir, dinner comes at dinner time. We’re taking reservations for every 15 minutes from five to nine. Would you like to reserve a table, Ma'am?”
Excited like a school girl, she lit up, “Oh, please, let’s have dinner together like a date. What time would you like, six-thirty? A table for two please.”
I was still not convinced it was a good idea so I tried to wiggle out of it, “No, not really a date, won’t that be a table for three, your husband will be with us by then.”
 "Oh, screw him, if you don’t mind my French. He missed the train and can go without. A table for Linden, please, and your name?”
The woman scowled without writing any of it down. 
“I said enough already, what do you want, I.D.? A table for two, please." she gave the surly reservation queen a look that put her tail between her legs. The Mrs. turned to me after the hostess left, mocking the tone, "And your name, Mr. McGee?"
"Mickey. And your name, Mrs. Linden?”
"Really, Linda Linden?"
"Yes, really, Mickey McGee."
Johnny Linden's kidneys became infected and started to give out before the Amtrak bus got as far as Fremont. Mrs. Linden, or by the time of this writing, I should say Linda didn’t care one bit that her Johnnie couldn’t make our dinner date.
“So much for dinner; you ought to let them know.”
“Oh no. Johnnie will have to get to Santa Barbara on his own. I looked forward to this train ride more than anything. You’re not gonna dump me for dinner, Mickey.”
I didn’t dump her and conversation at dinner was pleasant but unremarkable. Like a date it was somewhat stunted as I hadn’t been on anything that resembled a date since I don’t know when… and it’s not at all the same to me as chatting it up with an attractive woman on a train. I learned that they were on a grande tour pass from Davenport Iowa. He wanted a sleeper car but she insisted they ride coach. She told me that coach is where the adventure is. It just so happened that Johnnie ended up at ICU at Washington Hospital in Fremont for a week of observation and dialyses while I enjoyed Linda’s bed that week in her cottage at the Santa Ysidro Ranch in Montecito.
I know that there are some prigs that might try to say that it was especially immoral for Mrs Linden to cheat on her husband while he was in the ICU than it was for me to take the bait. Dammit, if there’s any shame to be had, it would have been the shame of denying ourselves in mid-life a week of unrestrained pleasure. I’m not a saint but I believe it would’ve been a sin against nature for me to deny one last chance at such a go-around because I know that there is an unexplainable animal magnetism between a man and a woman left to themselves in such close proximity for a couple of hours that can turn otherwise responsible adults into horny teenagers. The fact that it lasted a week before she boarded a flight to San Jose to be with her Johnnie was something remarkable. I knew she would eventually go, and I knew we might never see each other again, but I have to thank Jack London and his Wolf at sea for the best train ride that  I, in my wildest fantasies, could've hoped for.
P.S. Jack London is said to have died of kidney failure and morphine overdose. Johnny Linden fared better because (I was later to learn and that's fodder for another story) that he was met by Linda Linden shortly after, and as far as I know, they did live happily ever after.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Mystery of Barbara Allen

I’ve been looking at all the versions of Barbara Allen. The story line has some major gaps in that as all that is told is that Barbara Allen, the Hot Chick in Scarlet Town, where the narrator was born, that every young man from there and far away wants to have her. A well-off young man named William Green, who lived out of town was dying. He sent his servant into town to find Barbara Allen. He must have had an intense fling with her in the past because something happened in a tavern where he toasted all the other women and somehow slighted Barbara. It must have been a pretty bad dis because she was pissed. Whatever he was dying of had consequences concerning her affection for him, for when she came to his death bed she refused to kiss him. Not only that but when he told her he was dying and asked her to kiss him for, in one version, a kiss from her would revive him. But, in any case, she simply refused to kiss him and rubbed it in by saying, “Yep, you’re dying,” and walked away.
Consistent in all the versions is that a red rose grows from William’s grave and a brier from hers. The brier and the rose intertwine to make a lovers’ knot where their love is forever bound.

If we were to write the story of medieval times today it would go somewhere else and would surely put the onus of blame for Barbara's attitude on Sir William instead of comely Barbara Allen. I would tell it this way. Graham is a Scottish surname so I'm making it an Ulster story Protestant nobility vs Catholic peasantry.

Well now, this was the state of the investigation by the cousin of William into William’s and Barbara’s deaths. After a revolt was put down, in which most of the insurrectionists were killed in battle, and one lowly tradesman was hanged at the crossroads. The tradesman's body dangled from the gibbet until it was cut down and spirited away in the night by compatriots.  We uncovered the truth to the popular ballad touted by troubadours to please their masters that the official investigation would not report. 

The Investigation into the Death of Sir William Green that was never revealed.

William was the lord of the manor for what became know as Scarlet Graham town. His cousin, Lord John Graham, found two graves side by side in a corner by the church tower; one older and one fresh. The few months older one lay his cousin, marked Sir William of Graham, and the fresher one for Barbara Allen. He probed around town about the rebellion and what and how his cousin dyed? The towns folk were reticent to say because the consequences could be severe as the revolt was fresh and conspiracies were still afloat from the town tavern owned by Barbara Allen’s father.
He gleaned from the townsfolk that Barbara Allen was the most beautiful woman all around and every bachelor had hoped for her hand. Lord William saw her serving at the tavern while investigating rumors that there was more than ale brewing there and that an insurrection was sure to arise.

 William lusted for Barbara at first sight, and she fell for him also. And after a brief meeting behind the tavern, they kissed passionately, and he forced himself upon her saying he would marry. Being young and naive she believed his promise that he too loved her.
Barbara came to her senses the next time he came to town and refused to bed William again unless they married.
A young tradesman, Jaimmie Mason, that had grown-up with Barbara, loved her dearly, and had been her #1 suitor. The young tradesman, a leader in the insurrection, watched on each occasion as William rode into town and saw that Barbara fawned on him. This sorely upset the young Jaimmie Mason, as his petitions for her hand had been promised by her father once he had acquired enough gold for her dowry.
William’s title made the promised marriage impossible, but he demanded she surrender to him one evening as she served in her father’s tavern. She slapped his face and walked away. He “slighted” Barbara boasting about his past tryst to all in the tavern and toasted to every wench that took to his lap, saying they were of a higher class than Barbara and called her a slut and a whore while she was present. Though many laughed from the pints he bought but Jaimmie Mason, and the rest of the town, were outraged by his behavior.

It was believed the young rebel tradesman, Jaimmie Mason, challenged William in the forest as he rode through on his way to his manor. Lord William could have been pierced by any one of dozens from all around, not just in Scarlet Graham town. But because wounded William had an epiphany and, for shame and the love of Barbara, he wouldn’t say. All who knew wouldn't speak of the crime, sayin' "it could've been a brother or father that done the stabbin'." No one would say nor would William ever. 
It appeared at first that William would survive his wound as it didn’t kill him right away. He came home to the manor and lay a few days before he realized he lay dying. William sent his servant into town to fetch Barbara Allen. She refused to go until after much pleading. When she arrived, he entreated her forgiveness and pledged his love, promising they would marry as soon as he recovered. She believed he wasn’t dying and that this was just a ruse and standing over him she swore, “I hope that you're dying, but I'll never agree to marry.”

The word came to Barbara that William had suffered long and died after she left his bed. She was glad he was dying, but while serving at the tavern a few months later, all could see her belly was swelling. She appeared at William's grave site with a dagger in her hand. Young Jaimmie saw that she was mourning more than he thought she ought and followed her there. She confessed to him, "I'm with William's child, and I can never marry you. This damned child belongs to William. I've come to to give it back to him." 
With that the Jaimmie Mason cried for her and promised, "I would be the father of your child!" 
But Barbara drew the dagger and pierced her heart for the sake of her Tradesman's love and the crime of William Graham.

Jaimnie Mason, evoked the mob to revenge because William had raped poor Barbara. He later confessed that he had stabbed Barbara Allen. The priest would never allow a suicide to be buried in the churchyard's hallowed grounds next to William. 
Young Jaimmie was hung at the cross-roads for leading the rebellion and further charged with killing both William and Barbara Allen. The truth of that will never be known except for in this tellin’ because, if it was known, the true love of Barbara Allen would be that her grave holds the bodies of two, where the townsfolk placed her Jaimmie Mason with Barbara Allen.
So that was where the Lord John Graham's investigation took him, and it was he who concocted the silly version we sing today of the plight of Barbara Allen. 

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Graeme in the west country
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

O Hooly, hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by,
'Young man, I think you're dying.'
O it's I'm sick, and very, very sick,
And 't is a' Barbara Allan:'

'O the better for me ye's never be,
Tho your heart's blood were a spilling.
O dinna ye mind, young man,' said she,
'When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?'

He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing:
'Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan.'

And slowly, slowly raise she up,
And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said, she coud not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but two
When she heartd the death-bell ringing,
And every jow that the death-bell geid,
It cry'd, Woe to Barbara Allan!

'O mother, mother make my bed!
O make it saft and narrow!
Since my love died for me to-day,
I'll die for him to-morrow.'

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Luckiest Man in the World's Last Lottery

Leah was at her desk when Jacob left the house that morning for the liquor store where he would buy a one-dollar quick-pic lottery ticket and a six pack of beer as he'd done every Saturday since the lottery began in the eighties. The odds were the same, but it annoyed him when the lottery got big, because lottery fever always made the lines longer. Besides that, though he played to win, he never won anything, not ever.
Leah was but a year younger than Jacob though she had all the moving parts of a woman twenty years younger. Her blood pressure was a steady 115/70 and her vitals were all good. She hadn’t been admitted to a hospital since the birth of their third child.
Jacob’s health was another story. He was afflicted with all the age-related health problems of a man that didn’t take very good care of himself.
Forty years ago, a less fortunate GI tripped the wire to a claymore mine in Vietnam, and, though shrapnel took out half a butt-cheek, Jacob thought of himself as the luckiest man in the world because he met Leah. Tripler Army Hospital wards were full. The odds were a hundred to one against him.  A hundred young men to one or two young female nurses on the ward. It’s not like the movies: the hero catches the eye of the nurse, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. He thought, “Wars aren’t anything like the movies.”
And, neither is life.
She’d been changing his dressing, like she had been doing all morning for dozens of others in the ward. She commented, “it’s going to take a while to heal from this.”
He didn’t know why he said what he did, but he did say, “Well, you gotta play to win.”
She said, “That’s how it goes.”
Leah was married when she met Jacob. Her husband was a handsome US Navy jet jockey. There was nothing wrong with the man. He never abused, neglected, nor disrespected her in any way. But, when she met Jacob, she loved him enough to leave a perfectly good marriage.
Jacob wasn’t a lady’s man either. He was short, thin, and freckled. He never understood why a woman of Leah’s beauty would feign to look his way, but look his way she did and, when she looked his way, she knew she’d met her man. As simple as that.
Jacob returned home that afternoon to spend an average Saturday with Leah and said what he always said, “Dear, I bought us a lottery ticket.”
Leah was at her desk where she’d been paying bills. She didn’t answer.
He laid the ticket next to a note under her hand and pecked her cheek.
Her cheek was cold on his lips. The note said, “That’s how it goes.”
A man on the TV was saying, “You have to play to win.”
The numbers on their ticket blurred.

Monday, August 7, 2017


There was Communism, Capitalism, and Schism-ism

Why am I trying to sound so fucking academic when I’m clearly not one of them birds and am out of my league when I try to pretend? 
What I’m thinking about is mere observation. I’ve witnessed much of it throughout the years of my generation. 

Youth will always take a stance opposing structures that won’t let them in. And that goes for almost any kind of orthodoxy. I look at the leadership of the Democratic party as a great example of this. And it is true to only a slightly lesser degree among the Republicans.They had four or five candidates under 60. But, sadly, both Parties ended up choosing candidates over seventy years old. The Democrats offered us a leader from the sixties that protested septuagenarians running the show when she was a young radical. Youth today are frustrated by their exclusion and rightly so. However, they have been led by their noses & nipple rings by a paradigm that would have them all believe they inherited a radical heritage that isn’t entirely theirs. That they allowed this to happen is proof that they ceded authority to our generation that apparently brainwashed them into submission. We would have had more than one or two choices of candidates in their forties and fifties... even sixties if this were not so.

It’s a sad commentary that they had no new refreshing ideas to offer other than empty protests like that overly vaunted vacuous media extravaganza called the Wall Street Occupy Movement. I.e. the chants might as well have been: 
"What do we want?" 
"We don’t know, we just don't like you!" 
"When do we want it?" 
The subtext is that it is a form of micro-aggression to even suggest this or ask what that means.

Nobody wanted to step in to pick up that banner. Who would? The core sensibility was a valid one whose original aim was to focus on the Wall Street Casinos but the resulting outcome was that workers were blocked on the bridges from getting to the source of our paychecks… you know, JOBS… (not Steve Jobs)... we saw it as nothing more than a bunch of spoiled brats pooping on themselves and causing us to be late to work. Late to work is okay if you're paid the same (as in a salary or have tenure) but the rest of us get paid by the hour. If only the members in the Democratic Party’s politburo would have given more attention to us... the bread and butter real issues instead of pandering to the fringes, we might not be looking at Donald Trump’s mug every evening on the Rocky Horror Reality Show.

One would have thought we would have organized into a movement more virulent than proposing an octogenarian candidate as an alternative to represent us by 2016 (feeling the Burn yet?). We came up empty because we had all the sound a fury of a legitimate movement but less to offer than the Black Lives Matter Movement and that one only offered an impotent reenactment of the sixties radical Civil Rights protests with a propensity to sack and pillage each other in the inner-cities.

I am of the generation that stepped outside the paradigm of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War (and they were young men compared to Hilary and Donald). We had a good run and accomplished a lot. Now, it's way past the time to step aside but let's not merely pretend to do so by encouraging a younger version of ourselves. I’m not saying we all should head off to Florida yet but rather we ought to loosen up the grips on the reins. 
Young people came out for Barack Obama because he was something new and fresh. Like it or not, he was able to shoot hoops and still make it back to the office the same day. If you are over 50, and can still do that, my hat’s off to you. Try it if you don’t believe me. The younger generation didn't show up for Hilary Clinton and the Russians had little or nothing to do with that. She was old. Doesn't anyone in our generation remember when we couldn't trust anyone over thirty? Or do we want to repeat 2016 in 2020?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

In Six Days

The anniversary of Bonnie's passing is coming up. It was on Friday, May 27th, 2016. Her meditation book is book marked to that day so I'm pretty sure... if I can be sure about anything... that Bonnie hadn't planned on departing us the day before she marked the page. 
   She wasn't feeling well when we came home from our Tuesday evening meditation meeting. It was one of the nights we often spent together, made dinner, and watched a movie or TV. We had been doing that throughout our entire relationship. She was my lover and best friend for nine years but we lived separate by choice. We'd spend a few nights at each other's place a couple days a week and take a day or two off from each other at least once a week. 
   That evening she said, "I'm not up to doing anything tonight. Do you want to go home? I won't be good company. All I want to do is sleep."
   When Bonnie felt that way, I was happy to oblige her because we've always wanted what's the best for each of us. It happened now and then, since her mitro-valve replacement, three years before. I have no reason to doubt that she felt the same for me. And, besides, I had a project going at my place and didn't mind at all.
   I feel I should make this point. There was a reason we lived separately. Mind you,I felt at home in her apartment and she was at home in mine. I kept night clothes, robe, extra clothes, and slippers at hers, and she had a night gown and the same at mine. However; we knew, early on, that we would drive each other bananas if we lived together. For both of us, our living space was also our work place.  If we ever lived together we would need to have a house big enough to accommodate the fact that she worked in a beautiful, Zen:clear/clean/ordered environment, and I work in the midst of chaos and clutter. Because of her influence, I'm better at it now but, though I appreciate and admire neatness, will never achieve her spartan aesthetic.
   Bonnie and I had an arrangement, She liked to sleep late in the mornings... sometimes 10:00 or all the way to 11:00 or 12:00. She knew I was most creative in the morning and liked to work until noon. We usually made sure our doctor appointments were between twelve and five.
   She called the next day around two or three, asking, "I don't feel well enough to go to the meeting with you (the Wednesday Sundowners). Can you call and cancel my Thursday's appointments?" 
   I wasn't alarmed, even after she added, "I woke up feeling fine. I went to the place around the block to get my nails done. But then I felt weak on the way home, I almost fell (or she did fall... I don't remember). George, I never get a flu or anything but I must've caught a bug. I'm going back to bed."
   "Yes, you never get the flu... all the time we've been together. Are you sure you don't need anything?" 
   This had happened before with here sciatica and so on but I still kick myself for not connecting the dots... that her heart valve replacement might be giving out. Though I don't know it would make a difference. What could be done about it? The torture of another heart surgery?... damned near killed her the last time. She insisted,"No, I'll be okay. Don't call me. I want to sleep. It has to be a flu." 
   "Okay, Pookie. (yes, we had embarrassing cute names for each other) Have I told you today that I love you?"
   "I love you too, Pooker." 

   She didn't answer her phone the next day and it still was no big deal to me. 
   Her friend Vicki asked, "Should I check on her?"
   I said, "I don't think she wants to be disturbed... at least before noon. But we'll check on her Friday if she doesn't return our calls." 
   I assured Vicki, "Bonnie puts her phone under a pillow when she wants to be left alone. I'll check on her if I don't get a call by eleven. I'll call you before noon and let you know unless you can anytime earlier." 
   I was busy with a final edit on a manuscript and was, frankly speaking, grateful she was giving me the time. 
   Vicki insisted, "Do you think she'd mind if I check on her tonight?"
   "No," I said, "but she would have called if she needed anything. She probably has the phone under a pillow anyway."
   We agreed to see if she needed anything the next morning.

   Bonnie could do that with phones, unhook her landline and put her cell phone under a pillow. It always bothered me that she did that but I also admired her for being emotionally, as well as physically, unhooked from our digital umbilical chord. If she wanted to talk with you, she called or met you in person somewhere. I showed her how to text but she never once sent one that I know of.
   Friday morning, May 27th, around nine-thirty or ten am, Vicki called. She was crying. I knew what she was going to say. I'm honest with myself about it, I was relieved. My first thought and feeling. It's over. Bonnie's suffering is done. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks... You just wish you could have one last second with her.
   "I love you Pookie," would be the last thing she heard from me. 
   I hear her say it now and then, "I love you too, Pooker."

   If I have it in me I will post about that day.