Saturday, July 31, 2004

Nancy Drew and the Missing Poo

My fiance works in a hospital's emergency room.
The night shift.
There is never a dull moment.

Like the time a girlfriend ran her boyfriend through with a samurai sword, then benevolently drove him to the hospital.
Or the time she was nearly done registering a quiet, intense man, before noticing that he was being admitted for "Homicidal thoughts".

I like to pick her up from work whenever I'm not too busying partying or having a good time, because one never knows the type of person lurking about outside the hospital, considering that all the responsible crazies and invalids are safely registered inside.

On a recent visit I overheard, 'eavesdropped on' more like, two homecare workers that had brought their elderly homecare patient in due to "concern". It seems she was pale, cold to the touch, and wouldn't poo.
But more importantly, as younger of the two pointed out:

A- "If she dies, I'd rather these doctors have to explain it."

Yes. Nothing kills the good times quicker than having to explain a body. Especially a body full of poo.

The older homecare worker comforted the younger with a sexy little tale from 'back in the day'.

C- "I was working at a nursing home, and some of those men were absolutely wicked. If they offered me a chocolate I never took it, because one time I did and the old bugger grabbed me by my uniform and tore it right off of me!"

A- "NO!"

C- "Yes! He was a sex maniac! He was sex crazy! I tried not to go too close to any of those men again."

I can't imagine there are many bed-ridden septuagenarian sex maniacs out there; if she didn't exaggerate, and really turned his head as she said, she must be an extraordinary woman! A virtual Viagra on heels!

I stole a peek.

She was not.

Then I began to wonder how effectively one can care for another over a six foot void. If you threw too many air balls, a patient could go without medication for a week.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Walrus and the Dock

My corpulent Texan friend, the Walrus, had never, ever captained a kayak before; however, "degree of experience" wasn't a consideration for him when deciding to make his maiden voyage a solo one.

If you read no further, know that one should never go out in a kayak, for the first time, alone. Especially if one's tummy is liable to get stuck inside the portal of the kayak.

While driving a party boat full of pre-teen girls over to a lakeside bar for pizza (I know how that sounds, but it was for pizza, and pizza alone) we toddled past the Walrus in his kayak. He looked more like he was wrestling with, rather than operating, the paddle. Having never seen a Texan paddle before, this was my amateur opinion.
The zipper on his life jacket was showing signs of fatigue.

I am not strong in problems dealing with Physics, but if a fully-loaded party boat can best a kayak in the momentum department, something is amiss. Instead of "The tortoise and the Hare", it was "The tortoise and the Turtle".

When I asked if he needed any help, my voice straining to be heard over the indiscreet whispers and giggles of my pre-teen passengers, the Walrus took a page from the screenplay of "Falling Down" and answered only with a steely glare fixed on the horizon. He was either: 1) deep in contemplation, for at the time the WWF(sic) RAW storyline concerning Stone Cold Steve Austin was particularly complex; 2) deep in psychosis, caused by acute stupidity.

We chugged on to the bar for pizza, leaving behind the Walrus, the paddle, the kayak, and the life jacket locked in a dead heat for which one would give up first.

Two pizzas in, with some girls opting to pick off all the toppings on their slices and eat them, and some picking all the toppings off and eating only the crust, we were relaxed and having a good time. The bar was decorated liberally with animals (mostly baby black bears) that had been hit by cars and then stuffed and twisted into idyllic pastoral scenes as if to give them a new lease on life. The stuffed fish even had synthesised slime drooling out of their little gaping maws. It was Norman Bates' America as it would have appeared on the Saturday Evening Post.

I left for the john, and when I came back there was, what appeared to be, a series of dead jellyfishes lying on the floor. They were dirty, wet footprints. Big fat ones.

The bartender called to me:
A- "You're from the camp? Some fat guy broke the dock and sunk his boat. Got my floor all wet."
B- "Really?" I was trying not to laugh. "Sorry about the floor. . .and the dock."

So down I went, to the disabled dock, where my girls were gathered around the Walrus. He was wet from the tip of his toes to the top of his Arizona Diamondbacks cap. As I passed other boats moored along the part of the dock still standing I could hear men laughing and retelling the story of how "that fat guy. . .broke the dock"! I wanted to stop and ask for details. I could see the story of "The Walrus and the Dock" fast becoming a legend--an Aesopian tale of caution--and I wanted to get all the juicy facts.

It was a picture that I wish I had. The Walrus dripping wet, standing barefoot on a half-submerged dock, with a large yellow kayak, also half-submerged, gently knocking on the dock like the Tell-tale heart.
CLUNK. CLUNK. CLUNK. I know what you did. CLUNK. CLUNK. CLUNK.

B- "You know, this looks like a perfect example of an Incorrect Docking Procedure, girls."
W- Nothing.
Girls- (tittering)
B- "Need a hand? Where's your sandals?"
W- (pause) "The bottom of the lake."
B- "The bottom of the. . .how'd they get there?"
W- "The dock broke and I fell in."
B- "What happened to the kayak?"
W- "Help me get it out of the water."
B- "Don't you know how to un-swamp your own kayak? It's a one man job."
W- "Just help me pull it out."
B- "You shouldn't go kayaking across the lake alone if you don't know basic kayaking procedures."
W- "Just help me get it out of the water."
B- "Okay. Go back to the bar, girls, and wait for us there. These docks are unsafe--they collapse without warning."

Once we were alone, I showed the Walrus how dead easy it was to pull a swamped kayak onto a dock to empty it. He watched from a safe distance while I worked.
Through questioning I discovered that he had only made it halfway out of the kayak before the dock collapse, and thus all three (kayak, Walrus, and dock) had ended up in Sandy Lake.

B- "Now let's find your sandals. They're rubber, and should be floating around here somewhere."
W- "No. They sunk into the mud under the dock and came off my feet."
B- "So. . .? Let's get them!"
W- "Forget it; let's go back to camp."
B- "It'll only take a minute to get your sandals. Give me your paddle."

So I poked around in the muddy lake bottom until I felt some resistance that could have been sandals.

B- "There! Jump in and pull them out!"
W- "There's leaches!"
B- "There's no leaches! Kids are swimming in this lake every day! Go in and get them."

I'll never forget the sight, till the day I die, of the reluctant Walrus, his face barely above the water line, groping around the lake bottom looking for his sandals in locations I chose based on poking a kayak paddle into the muck. He made this "Gah! Gah! Gah!" noise while he worked that made each breath sound like it would be his last.
And as if he hadn't suffered enough indignity, I took an opportunity I could not pass up. Pointing at a piece of lake dirt that had stuck to his neck as it bobbed up and down I exclaimed, "What's THAT!"

Everything went just as my wicked little mind had planned; that is until, in his spastic rush to escape the leaches, he beached himself on the dry bit of dock I was standing on and broke it.
I joined my pal in the leach-infested Sandy Lake.

The party boat cruised into camp with more passengers than it left with, and two of them were soaked.
And the moral of the story? All good Aesop fables have a moral!

If a dock will not hold a Walrus; it certainly won't hold a Walrus and a Jackass.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Ass Mint

Acting, as a profession, isn't generally bad for your health. The late nights spent drinking, smoking, and carousing can occasionally have restorative powers. Auditions can wear on a fella. 
My most recent audition was especially draining. A popular gum company is creating an ad campaign for their new mint. During the course of my audition I ate several of these mints, the routine being: 

Shake mint into hand. 
Pop mint into mouth. 
Deep breath in (with sound). 
Look right and say, "Hmmmmmmmm!". 
Look left and say, "Refreshing!!" 

 About 12 mints or so into my "performance" the adjudicator stopped me to say: 
 A- "Oooh! The Brand X guys told us to tell the actors not to eat too many of the mints. . .they, uh, cause, uh, may cause diarrhea. So you likely shouldn't eat any more." 

 I can confirm, for the sake of posterity, that by the time he had voiced the concern of Brand X, it was already too late. One would think that an overdose of diarrhetic mints would have a pleasant, refreshing sensation on the posterior, coupled with a minty freshness in the bowl. One would be wrong. 
 My Toilet Duck resigned, and I think that the resident Mr. Clean will spawn children of diminished capacity. 
 This is my Agent Orange fiasco.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Ranchero, we give our thanks and praise.

We all have something in our life that takes us back to a time when things seemed simpler. The smell of a fresh baked apple pie. The feel of sunlight on skin. The sound of kids at play in the park. For some of us, those memories are the only things in our lives that bring us joy, make us feel happy, young, and invincible again.

The Ranchero is this to many many men.
And one of them works at the Executive Car Wash.

While I waited behind the glass of the car wash lobby for The Darkness to set upon the industrial dryer, I watched the art of Chamois Man. His lythe ponytail seemed light as air, flitting from one shoulder to the next like a big hairy butterfly. It did not betray the sadness of the Chamois Man, whose skin was much thinner, I would find out, than the delicate, though durable hyde of his chamois.
I turned my back but for a moment, and missed something--a spark! My imagination has set to work on conjuring the moment up in my mind's eye, but I don't think even the greatest Irish poets working 'round the clock with the most skilled French painters, could capture the moment my Chamois Man met my Ranchero. I don't think that they would know how to paint "Boo-yah!"; I don't think they would be able to rhyme "Boo-yah!". But if they could, they'd be millionaires.

A- "Boo-yah! Boo-yah! Boo-yah! Boo-yah!"

A bellowed each exclamation louder and louder, hopping on one foot, the other cocked up close to his body--he looked like a grungy Arsenio Hall, if Arsenio had been a flamingo.

And with each exclaim he pumped his fist into the air.
He stopped.
But it was only to swish his ponytail from side to side--HE WAS--NO!--It appeared that he was whinnying like a stallion!
SWISH! went his mane! SWISH! it went again!
This was no Flamingo Arsenio! This was Andalusian Arsenio!

The older Chamois Guy asked me, calmly, was The Darkness a '68.
No. A '69.
Was it pretty fuckin sweet?
Yes. It was.

A came up to me, eyes twinkling.

A- "That car is fucking awesome! I never owned one, but I drove a lot of them!" (and a knowing wink)

I wasn't sure what the knowing wink was for; had he stolen a lot of Rancheros as a kid, or did his father own a dealership, or did perhaps in dreams he was cowboy that rode wild Rancheros at the rodeo--I don't know.

Then things got serious.

A- "You know, that car--it takes me back. You know, to a time when I was young and a somebody. I was having a pretty fuckin' bad life since then--until you drove in here--and now, I feel awesome! Thanks man!"

. . .and so Ranchero of Arimathea placed her sun visor on the leg of the cripple, and he walked; on the eyes of the blindman, and he saw; on the head of the Chamois Man, and he remembered. And God looked down, and saw what good the Ranchero had done, and said that She may sit at His right hand forever and an eternity. His Son could sit in the back seat."

Heterosexual, Homosexual, Metrosexual, Ranchosexual

My brother lives in New Toronto across the street from a man who proudly wears the moniker of "Neighbourhood Drunk". People new in the neighbourhood of New Toronto receive a visit, my brother told me, from this man, so that he can state for the record, and in no uncertain terms that he is beyond a shadow of a doubt the "Neighbourhood Drunk".
Then, later in the evening, he'll come back and say, in confidence, that he isn't that much of a drunk--it's the bastards across the street that tell everyone he is.

And so it is into this neighbourhood I mixed the Ranchero, my Heart of Darkness.

The "Neighbourhood Drunk", Drunk A, used what was left of his legs to get over to my open window. They may have been crooked like a dog's hind legs, but he could get around on them pretty well, so long as he had a target to work towards and lean on when he arrived.

A- "That is. . .I'm not a homosexual. Okay? But your car has given me the biggest boner I have ever had. Seriously. It's given me a huge fuckin' erection. What a fuckin' car!"
B- "Thank you. It is pretty sweet."

More drunk talk followed, of which I listen to very little. The Heart of Darkness receives so much admiration from guys down on their luck, on a daily basis, who ask all the same questions and tell me what a fine fuckin' machine she is, that I've started to go on auto-pilot.
I'm guessing Steve Gutenberg has begun to do the same thing when people start asking him about what projects he's been working on lately--so I'm in good company.

I go in to my brother's house, which is surrounded by a white picket fence (literally) and dig in to my delicious meal. My sister-in-law is pretty handy around the kitchen. About twelve bites in, we hear the white picket fence latch open, and across the yard a shadow looms. The shadow's legs are crooked like a carpenter's square.
It's Drunk A.
I'm wondering if he's representing the role of "Neighbourhood Drunk" or "Not Nearly the Neighbourhood Drunk" right now. When he opens the door, the trail of urine staining his jogging pants shorts tells me that clearly, he is either quite drunk, or has a prostate problem.
Seeing as his opening line was NOT:

A- "Hey guys, can I come in. I just got some bad news from my urologist...I have a lazy prostate!"

But was instead:

A- "Guys, I'm sorry, but that car--if it was a chick I'd fuck it! I've got a big--sorry ladies--guys, you know what I mean. It's fucking hot!!"

Then he started doing something that I do fairly often. He made an "OK" sign with his hand, pressing his thumb and index finger together, and splaying the rest of his fingers like a peacock's tail, and started smacking his lips to make a kiss-kiss sound. And he did it, and did it, and did it, until everyone in the room was uncomfortable. Except me. I was trying to figure out if this display meant that I could no longer do the "OK" kiss-kiss action myself. Did this spectacle ruin it?

A left, kiss-kissing all the way to the curb.
I decided that it was still a useful act to resort to when words describing the fine quality of something failed me.

When I left, call it Monica Lewinski-like foresight, but I gave the exhaust pipe a real good looking over. I'm going to put it in the back of my closet and bide my time.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Ranchero Tractor Beam

Any "Star Wars" nerd will tell you that a tractor beam is "an invisible force beam that drags objects from place to place", but only I will tell you that those nerds are wrong.
Wrong wrong wrong.

A tractor beam does not necessarily have to be "invisible". In fact, a tractor beam can be quite visible. It can also have a black metallic finish with red decal racing stripes, and a pair of dangly black fuzzy dice.

The scene: 6am-Parkdale
The players: myself (B); early morning traffic; one guy having his morning coffee.

'Morning coffee' might not be totally true; someone as drunk as he was likely hadn't gone to sleep yet, making his coffee more of an apretif.

I pull up to a red light on Queen and begin waiting my turn. To my left I hear an un-Godly exclaimation, and turn to see this man eject himself from the greasy spoon he was sobering up in, still holding his cup of java, and begin across the street towards me.
The Ranchero had him locked in a tractor beam. I've seen it happen before.
Drunk A stumbled infront of a moving car, which honked, to which he saluted with an upturned middle finger, in turn spilling coffee on his own arm. He stumbled to an eerie stillness outside my passenger window, a watery thousand-yard stare fixed in my direction ("watery" because the cigarette in his mouth was issuing smoke into his eyes, imparing his admiring gaze).

A pursed his lips and plucked the cigarette from its resting place. Then, with the hand holding the cigarette, he placed it gently on the chrome moulding around the window and slowly began to trace its elegant curve. The expression on his faced matched one I'd seen in a movie from the Forties, where this guy watched the mirrored reflection of a woman in her bedroom putting on silk stockings. Forbidden sensual delight.

His caress went from the window moulding, to the chrome running the length of the cruck's box. The expression on his face made me thankful that the cruck stood just high enough to mask the erection surely straining his britches.

The light turned green, and like a stern father who's heart is hardened by the loss of a wife and now stands mute in the face of Aphrodites' work, I stepped on the pedal and demanded The Ranchero leave her lover behind.

The chrome sped out from under A's hand, and there was a second where he stood in the middle of the street as if the cruck was still there, purring underhand--then he looked up to the silhouette of his ever-fading love, staining his eyes to cut through the early morning smog of the city, wishing that life were different. Wishin' that things hadn't turned out like this--drunk in the morning, a daughter that doesn't speak to him, no hope of realising his full potential, AND A CAR HONKING ITS HORN.

My rear view-finder painted a picture of loss: A was fighting with the horn-blower, the spell of the Ranchero broken.

The bumper sticker on the car ahead? "You can have my Ranchero when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!" There's a little picture of a skelton with a Rebel flag waving in a wind of flames.

Ranchero Dragnet

Most days I get from A to B in a Fairlane Ranchero. To the people of Riverdale's Ass, who's wake-up call is the opening chords of Mr. Jon Bon Jovi's cover of 'Keep on Rockin' in the Free World' tuned well above legal limits (my opinion), this is not news.
The Ranchero's devil-may-care attitude towards convention--it's striking refusal to be labeled neither car nor truck--has drawn me a lot of attention. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad.

Yesterday morning, it was somewhere between good and bad. It was "The Man".

Roaring down the Queensway, The Ranchero (henceforth referred to as 'The Heart of Darkness', or any part thereof) was urging me to press its accelerator harder. The 'burbs is no place for a 302 small V8 engine. I would have obeyed, save the appearance of a copper pulling out of Licks Burger.

B- "I smell chicken. I smell pork. Run piggy, run piggy! I've got a fork. . .in the shape of Bruce Springsteen's Live album."

I nodded my head in time to the music, rolling past the cop not too fast, but also not too slow--just right.

He pulled in behind me and stayed close on my rear. I looked casually in my rear view-finder.
He was typing on his computer.
He was looking at me.
He was typing on his computer.
He was turning his lights on.
He was blasting his siren.
I, in my naivete, made eye contact with the cop, pointing at myself, then pointed at him, as if to say, "Me? Mais non! Me! Shit."

We pull over. The Darkness was frustrated; told me to run. Told me, "What about 'the stuff' you got behind the seat!!"
I told The Darkness adjustable vise-grips and two sleeves of Steam Whistle coasters were not enough to get me thrown in jail.

He was calling for backup.
I was trying to turn down my Springsteen, but the radio was locked in my glovebox. I was afraid that Officer A would suppose my awkward fumbling for the glovebox as an attempt to attempt to murder a cop. 'American Skin' was blaring--an eerie warning from the Boss to let the music stand.

The cop approached.

A- "license, insurance, and ownership."
B- "Certainly."

I gave him my license, insurance, and the original bill of sale dated August 12th, 1969.

A- "What's this?" (referring to the bill of sale)
B- "It's the original bill of sale."
A- "I don't want that; I want the ownership."
B- "I figured that the bill of sale would prove that since it was bought, it was owned."


A- "Is this your name. 'Bradley David Goddard'?"
B- "Yes. Is there something wrong, officer?"

He hadn't told me why we were meeting yet.

A- "Yes. I ran this plate, and it is licensed to Mr. C (not his real name). Mr. C is a prohibited driver. If I find that you are Mr. C, I'm takin' you in."
B- "Mr. C owns the car. I am Mr. B, the driver. Mr. C is a prohibited driver because he's in a wheelchair and can't feel his feet."
A- "The computer doesn't mention that information."
B- "Well, take it from me then. I'm not surprised he's a prohibited driver; I wouldn't take a ride from him if he offered it."
A- "Stay here."

He left for his car, to run my license through his computer. Even if he hadn't suggested it, I would have likely stayed put anyway.

Officer A came back after a few minutes and told me that I could go. I thanked him for keeping our streets safe, slid my aviator glasses back on, and shoved The Heart of Darkness in Drive just in time to hear the Boss advise "Baby, we were born to run!"

I must just look guilty.
Like in "American Graffiti", where the cops hassle the kids with the hot cars just for kicks.

This exchange was reminiscent of a time not too long ago when two officers of the law stopped me on the street, at gunpoint, because my duck-like gait smacked a little too much like Al Qaida. But that's another story. . .