GRADUATION DAY - WITH A ROSE FOR SUZIE
JUNE 12, 2009
It's been a quiet week on the Island, our Hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The uncertain weather has been up and down with clouds and occasional rains all week, but the weekend turned out fairly fine with spangled clouds and bursts of sunshine. All along the strand you could see the kite-flyers with their machines and out on the full tide the wind surfers scooted along with their bright colorful parasails.
Heard that Garrison brought his road show to the Golden State down their in LA, which is a place very similar to California. In fact many people actually believe Los Angeles is all of California, but don't you believe it. Those people are loose cannons in the Church of Our Lord and none of us decent Catholics and Lutherans up here will have anything to do with them.
For the longest time we had two governors, one for NorCal and one based in LA for the SoCal set and that was fine by us until the gringos came and confused everybody with the United States, a concept nobody can agree upon to this day.
By now all of the graduations have taken place, the athletic fields littered with streamers and program notes all cleaned up, the joyful grads all gone off to find jobs or travel. Hard by the Island-Life Offices proud parents stood by as the kindergardners advanced to the next levels at the Island Pre-School.
Over at Mount Diablo College, Island-Lifer and musician, Kenneth, celebrated his own victory after some ten years or so on the long range plan for his Bachelor's. Hard times, divorce, poverty and the usual Life Troubles couldn't hold back excellence, so we congratulate him.
The Editor sat back muttering to himself with a stiff one over ice, complaining about "that execrable Elgar." The Editor, of Irish extraction, cannot abide the sounds of Elgar, whom he vilifies with hot language virtually every year around this time.
"Why not Mozart? Why not Beethoven? Think of the marvelous Mendelsohn! But instead they chose that pompous windbag, Elgar!"
All the new grads from Washington Middle School trouped by, sheparded more or less by Tipitina and Sarah at the House on Otis, while Jose lay there groaning with his leg in a cast after last week's unfortunate incident abord Mr. Cribbage's boat, "The Indomitable." Far from being heartily thanked by Mr. Cribbage for averting a catastrophic nautical disaster that surely would have entailed significant loss of life, Jose was fired from his position and dumped upon the docks -- after the Coast Guard came along to tug the stranded ship from the Angel Island shoals.
They were only trying to help Jose feel better, but Jose called out for more Vicodin.
Each year the "middies" hurl their caps into the air at Annapolis and the infectious enthusiasm rolls like a wave westward in countless highschool venues draped with bunting in the school colors in a tidal surge of young exhuberance of change and excitement with that wave splashing up against the Pacific Coast in a multicolored spray of caps and ribbons and shouts of freedom for here in the Golden State, everything seems possible.
But for some the years pass, the spirit gets heavier as the ernestness of aquiring wealth takes over and one day, there you are, wacking the errant dandylions with a weedwacker and a heart problem complicated by recalcitrant kidneys in front of your big house stuffed with geegaws, the mansion of a California King, and even though you own the largest yacht in the marina, like Mr. Cribbage, and you are convinced you have made the right choices, all the children see with gaping mouths is a sad, unhappy, bitter man weighed down with cares and nostril hair, something they never want to grow up to be at all.
But as the kids troup by at Marlene and Andre's household, Jose rouses out of his stupor and makes a kind of Peruvian flute out of straws from the fastfood Booger Thing and plays a little tune that makes them laugh. Then they go off to help with Andre's band, No Future in Real Estate, rehearse songs from other bands with names like Rancid and Garbage. And all of this was far more pleasurable than Go to Work Day when they all had observed the wretched of the earth laboring in the cubicles of the firm run by Mr. Cribbage.
Because it had got to that time of year again, Javier had been confronted with the immanent possibility of Birthday Celebration. As he had no desire to risk his life, destroy property, or endure another catastrophe in any way similar to last year, he managed to secure himself safely this time well away from trouble and People Who Earnestly Wish to Do You Well.
Mark Twain commented on these sorts of folks, which perhaps may be found in other places other than California and Mill Valley in particular, but that is all beside the point. MT stated quite emphatically, "If ever you observe someone approaching you with the obvious intention of 'doing you good", you should run as hard and as fast as you can in the opposite direction."
Javier's expedient was simple. He located Eugene Gallipagus's Poodle Blind that still sat out there in the marsh and hauled down into that pit a case of very good, well aged Glen Morangie with several boxes of sterno and MRE's, which have improved significantly since his memories dated circa 1974. Not all that much, but decent scotch was never part of the original Grunt food program.
There he embedded himself while the leggy Joanne headed north to Modoc with her Poet, the lovely Leona headed south to San Leandro with its wild fandangos, and the rest of humankind did whatever it did during the early weeks of June, for Javier hunkered down there with his scotch, the MRE's, a battery-driven TV, and a small parlor guitar with a t-shirt stuffed into the soundhole.
Javier's aversion to contact needs, perhaps, some explaination. For Javier, love was always a life-threatening enterprise. Dianne, or her friends, had run him down with her car, Amy had assaulted him with heavy concrete objects dropped from the roof, Roberta had tried to set him on fire, more or less successfully, and Marina had shoved him down a long flight of stairs with his arms full of iron fantods. As a consequence, this falling in love business had resulted in a brisk commerce for the emergency room and Highland's Trauma unit, where they all had got to know Javier quite well.
Spring was a time especially hazardous for Javier, for Spring in California is notorious for wanton couplings.
One of the interns there wanted to know just why Javier could not pick women who were, perhaps a bit less incendiary than, say, Sharona, who had destroyed his car, his record collection, and his apartment.
"Well, Dianne had seemed at first like a plain gal from the Midwest prairie, as simple and as pretty as a cornflower, but we did not find out until later her relationships with coke dealers was so intimate . . .".
That explains one, but that fails to account for the others, such as Vicki with the knives . . . .
Ah well, exciting women are always so interesting, Javier said, not letting go of his Latin heritage . . . .
It was a weekend of Full Moon and High Tide, with streaks of magenta glowing through the sunset clouds like banked embers longing for release, all of which means Trouble when the weather gets that perfect temperature of sun balanced by breeze stirring the ardent magenta bougainvillea. Javier got wind of a plan by Sharona to throw him into some kind of oubliette or wind tunnel, so thats when he decided to just check out this year into the hunting blind. Works for ducks and poodles. Maybe might work for other species as well. Certainly for Interesting Women. Almost certainly.
At the end of the Dangerous Period, Javier climbed, or staggered, out of there and checked in to work at the Island-Life Offices, smelling of marsh, sterno and booze. The Editor wisely sent him home, where he crawled into his sleeping bag on the floor at Marlene and Andre's and slept the sleep of the blissfully damned.
Meanwhile, the Writer, who does not love or who will never be loved, sits over the white oval drawn by the desklamp upon the even plain of the desktop while all around the darkness extends beyond to the limits of infinity. In the far distance, the Editor sits in his glass cubicle lit within an oasis of light. It is nighttime in the Island-Life Offices and all of the copywriters and subsidiary personnel have left for the evening. In a dungeon, down below, Chad is laboring over some new marvel of code that will delight the kiddies, his own lamp pooling an island of light around him. All through the darkness that surrounds the Island, here and there sit souls hunched over their endeavors, each a miniature monestary during this dark time. Each hoping beyond hope that somewhere out beyond the darkness resides a like mind.
Suzie, working in the Old Same Place Bar, turned with barcloth wiping the sweat from her face to suddenly encounter on the bartop, in lieu of a tip from some unknown patron, a perfect, dewy, long-stemmed rose, an apparition out of nowhere. A line of sour men ranged down the bar into the dimness and the hazy jar of pickles, each looking into the shallow lilypad pool of himself. A few people sat in a cluster at one table, immersed into themselves, and others strewn at various points of the compass seemed likewise occupied, whether alone or together. There was no sign of the donor. She lifted the rose and inhaled its scent.
There are few things more beautiful than a lovely woman with jet black hair holding a perfect red, red rose. Somewhere, some place, a stranger was imagining this very moment, a perfect setup for the eye of the mind.
Right then, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the choppy water of the estuary from the Port of Oakland and the Jack London Waterfront, as the train headed south to places unknown.
Its a dark night in a City that knows how to keep its secrets. But deep within the Old Same Place bar stands one bartender still puzzling over Life's Persistent Questions.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
BACK TO STORY INDEX