please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, December 16, 2005

Birth of a Loudmouth

"That's a pretty tough coat," Smiley said.
"Thanks. My girlfriend got it for my birthday, yesterday."
It's a Pendleton. Brown and lined with sheep's wool. Keeps out the winds of the high plains. Smiley seemed to really enjoy it, and asked me several questions about Pendleton Woolen Mills products. I pointed out to him that they stopped making coats and blankets in Pendleton long ago, and indeed none of their products are made in Oregon at all, anymore.
"Now it's just Prison Blues, huh?", he asked.
Yup. I remember when they turned the funny farm into a prison in my hometown. My dad received a plaque with a strip of razor wire on it. Smiley found this amusing. I failed to ask him, yet again, where he went to prison, or why.
He's enormous, and a person I've never been unhappy to be on the good side of. A bouncer, as well as tobacco salesperson, he has plenty of professional tattooes, though several are clearly jail tats, and I'm familiar enough with the iconography to see that either he is Irish or was Aryan Brotherhood while inside (four leaf clover), and either killed two people, or is mourning two of them (two tears).
And yes, that particular prison is where Prison Blues brand blue jeans are made.
(Ahem.) At 2:58 P.M., Pacific Standard Time, December Fifteenth, 1970, I come into this here vale o' sorrow. It was in Astoria, in a hospital where my great aunt Impi later died, a decade or so after it became an old folk's home. Three hundred or so miles to the east, my grandpa claims that the thunder crashed, and a bolt of lightning split the sky, in Pendleton. My grandpa was a teller of tales, though rarely a bald-faced liar (okay: tall tale teller), unlike my mom's side of the family. He perhaps embroidered a little.
The newspaper where my father was editor put out a little special edition on that day, just for employees and family. It had a picture of me as a newborn, in my mother's arms, and a weird little poem that some long-forgotten sage wrote: it suggested that my name was to be "Michael Junior", which it is not. We've been averse to the Juniors in my family, going back to grampa, who always resented being one.
In the picture on that novelty newspaper, I have this little bemused grin going on that one rarely sees on the freshly born. I look eerily like my paternal grandmother. But I've seen the other photos that were not used, and my favorite is one where I am grasping the sides of my head with my tiny li'l paws and am staring confused-ly out of frame. The look is clear in its meaning: What the hell have I gotten myself into this time?
Shortly before I came outta my mama, I turned completely around ("like you were looking for luggage or something"-mom), though came out head first, though with the cord wrapped "gently" (mom again) around my neck. Needless to say, I lived.

A gentleman who calls Brooksville, Florida home asked recently, upon learning my age, How can anyone so young be so cynical? At least partially in jest. The answer, as always, is observation and experience.
Well? I mean...The world is in tatters, and we are to blame. Yeah! I know! Weird, huh? The power resides now, and always has, with maniacs who wish the general run of humanity harm, or do not care for them, at least. Uh-huh! Kinda interesting, right? It's all a giant lie, and the punchline to every joke is 'and then they died'. Yeah, but whatcha gonna do?
mmm, quite so, sir. yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. If it's worth the goin', it's worth the ride, to quote the nice Mr. Waits.
I wake up each and every morning feeling lucky, as I've said before. I'm surrounded by people I love, and who love me. The things I'm engaged in are good things. I live in a beautiful city, surrounded by a beautiful state. I've seen a lot of things, and all of them have taught me some, encouraged me to seek more. I'm a lover, a seeker, a thinker, and a ninja, baby: a killer of men.
Trying to turn away from the real possibility of this post becoming a t-shirt, let me tell you about a curious facet of my belief system, as a child. I had a belief in something called The Old World.
Nope, not Europe. The Old World was both a concept and a place (its capitol was Auckland, for some reason). It contained all the wisdom and things that have been accumulated throughout the years, by each and every one of us that's ever lived. Here's the thing; it was going away, and some of us needed to stand up and defend it, both by word and action.
I keep on noting with disgust how many people feel that history has no bearing on the present. Shit, how do you think we got to where we are, for good or ill? Fella the other day I'm talking to, since he grew up in America and was encouraged not to care about such things, finds it absurd when I point out the fact that the celebration that happens this time of year in western culture dates back to pagan times, and comemmorates the winter solstice. Without bothering to ask him whether or not he's aware that there was a lot of things that happened before Christianity, or that all (not some: all) of that faith's holidays are co-optations of pagan holidays, since they were so interested in the property-er, sorry, the eternal soul of all those nice people, and wanted them, after much grumbling, to be able to party and get drunk at the same time of year they always had-I wondered yet again at why we allow the Lie to get so big, and how if we are just backwards enough, we're proud of it. People is cabbage, like I always say, and you must always forgive them, since just being what they are doesn't make them immune to pain, one of the many proofs that they are Human.
(This went all sideways on me somewhere. I actually wrote this yesterday, first draft. Lost it; I was trying to upload this picture of me dressed up like a cowboy from a commercial I was in, last summer. didn't save the draft. I. Am. A. Fool. I had florid stories of what I did on my birthday last year, and five years ago. These are very funny stories, and very entertaining. But, at this point, I could talk about what I did last night...But I won't. It ended strangely. I invited all the people I wanted to see down to the Rest n' Relaxation, and quickly realized that I didn't want to be around people, or drink any more whiskey than I already had. This was not to be: anytime I stepped away from the table, my absence was noted with alarm, and even when I tried to have a casual conversation with the bartender, he'd hand me a shot and demand that I drink. This was my birthday where I get to call the fucking shots, not some goddamn bachelor party, you silly, floppy haired hipster bastard!)
This has gone rather beyond where I wanted to go. I'm happy to be alive. It's fucking awesome, in fact. Take care of yourselves and each other. If you do not, you will be subject to my august Displeasure, y'mortals....
Can't I be a little scattered? I'm thirty-five years old, fer fuck's sake.

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6 Comments:

Blogger George said...

Literally have to rush to catch a train to East Bridgewater, amamzingly enough the very center of the Bridgewater Triangle. Details at 11. LOVED this post my man. HAPPY celebration of you're existence. Truly we are lucky and grateful.

1:03 PM  
Blogger disco boy said...

have to agree with george here. i've wanted to say something that sounds like "happy birfday" since you published this post, but i wasn't quite yet ready to get it into english. words often fail me, whereas you have (for quite a while now) compiled and polished words into purring, powerful machines. yeah, i'm a bit jealous, but way more than that, i'm just proud to be yer pal.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Ju-ju bees said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY father of mine! Sorry i haven't written sooner been rather busy. I'll email you bout the happs' goin round this side of the world later. hope it was a good one.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Man, even yer ramblin' is good shit to read. Glas you made it out alive, dude.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Hope you had a good birthday, belated as my greeting is.

7:03 AM  
Blogger cats dig me said...

Birthday? Egads (the one and only divinely approved type of gads)As old of a soul as you obviously are, I believe this is the first lifetime we have actually crossed paths. Interesting trip, isn't it?

9:42 AM  

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