BETTER OFF WITHOUT A WIFE / ON THIS HARVEST MOON

AUGUST 21, 2011

 

So anyway, it's been a coolish and overcast week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The high fog has held on well past noon most days, resulting in chilly mornings and sunny afternoons for those returning from the few jobs that remain out there in the land of 12% unemployment. At least we are not in Amador, Eldorado or Butte counties where the going rate is a full 40% of jobless.

Last morning, Jose awoke to the sound of Canadian geese flocking in chevrons overhead, signifying even if the Back to School Sales did not, that this summer of 2011 is already passing into that other world. Up in the Great White North, things must be happening at a pace to make this happen, for the Island is supposed to be just a pit stop along the way for fowl from St. Paul and similar regions.

It does seem that the kids are going back to school a bit earlier than usual, almost like everybody is afraid some kind of labor strike will hit the Unified School District, putting the start of classed back in a way that really aggravates parents who dearly love their kids -- really they do -- but just cannot stand to have them hanging about the house a minute longer or everything will fly asunder in a rage of tossed pie tins and ruined strudel and Aunt Maude will start to tear her hair out by the roots again and isn't that yet another problem. . . .

The Editor has been trying to get in touch with the Mayor of that town up in northern Minnesotta by Bear Lake, however it seems that the fellow has gone on some kind of hippy "Summer of Love" tour thing and may even be swinging by locally, which is just the crabapple pits for getting a word in edgewise with the man and the Editor has gotten concerned the fellow is going dotty or something with imagining that he can retire, which is certainly not allowed in any book the Editor has read and he has read quite a few.

He put together a missive and tucked that into a roll and tucked that into a pouch and hung that about the neck of a passenger pigeon -- a few are kept around the Offices for special purposes on a grant from the NEA -- and he sent that off posthaste and the message read, "Let's have no more talk about retiring for that sort of thing is simply not done. You are far too important and necessary in this time of adversity and so we shall not have it and the Show Must Go On. So we will expect you back in the Fall full of fine mettle and walleye. No more shilly shally nonsense."

He thought briefly about adding something concerning that last singer songwriter who had been on the radio, whom he thought he would like to meet more intimately someday, but decided against that. He, after all did possess some principles and using a famous person to act as a sort of go-between went against his better nature. He did begin to reconsider when he remembered a certain winsome Irish lass, but the messenger had by then departed, so he went over to the stereo and put on a music CD. Which happened to be a Tom Waits. That gal had twisted his knickers completely around; she certainly had been quite a number . . . .

O god! It's that time of year again!

"All my friends are married
every Tom and Dick and Harry
you must be strong
to go it alone . . ."

Spring has been well documented as a problematic period that induces all sorts of erotic misadventures, however that time which can only be called "pre-Fall" or Indian Summer in the cruder districts sneaks up on folks with all sorts of pornographic whisperings in the hot, hot breeze which creates an urgent sense that one had better hurry up and get something done for all shall fade enow. Soon the boney hand of Old Man Winter will grasp the world with fingers of frost.

Why so many Taurians and Rams and Geminis? Count back the days -- it's the dog days of summer, laddies. When Ma and Pa got urgent amid the swirling leaves, feeling a great change was a-coming.

Latterly Chad, infected with enthusiasm and his own happiness in having found his Soul Mate, had been going around trying to hook up every Tom, Dick and Harry with every Susan, Carol and Alice upon whom he had glommed, largely via the Internet and chatting up strangers in bars. He'd come bounding in with his glasses askew and his hair twisted in knots to slap some guy on the back, declaiming, "My man are you not married? By god you should be! I have just the person you outta meet . . . "

" Here's to the bachelors
and the bowery bums
and those who feel that they're the ones
who are better off without a wife"

As Jacqueline closed up the shop for the evening she found the usual weekly bouquet of flowers leaning up against the door. And the Note of course. She sighed and picked up the bouquet of what turned out to be an assortment of roses, pink ladies, pink mini carnations and white daisy pompons swimming in a galaxy of, naturally, forget-me-nots.

"O that man!" she said. But she smiled as she went to her car. Maeve, also noticed the bouquet, and she commented in that accent which had not left her now for some thirty years. "Well would you look at that, he's certainly persistent and still a proper gentleman for all that!"

"It's Luther again," Jacqueline said.

"Ah, and 'e's a little devil for sure!" Maeve said.

"O now!"

"Never been no Valentino
had a girl who lived in Reno
left me for a trumpet player
didn't get me down
he was wanted for assault
though he said it weren't his fault
well the coppers rode him right
out of town"

In their cottage off Santa Clara, Mr. Sanchez and his wife of about a year now, the former Ms. Morales, were settling in for the night. The little house, once such a spare bastion of bachelorhood, now had acquired the trappings of domesticity over the past year. A St. Brigid's cross over the passageway, lace whatnots on the tables. Bowls of things he thought entirely useless, put there for looks only and of course, requiring dusting. O and the pictures and the vases, don't forget those.

I like to sleep until the crack of noon
midnight howlin' at the moon
goin' out when I want to, comin' home when I please
I don't have to ask permission
if I want to go out fishing
and I never have to ask for the keys

He remembered the first time they had fought with each other. O what a time that had been! Storms and weeping and throwing things. Who would have known such a tiny woman had so much wrapped up inside her! The beginning of marriage is much like the beginning of any violent conflict possessing a chance to last a lifetime; there's a sort of negotiation over territory and the rules of battle.

And there she was, sitting as usual in front of the mirror with the outrageously garish frame which no doubt would kill somebody when it fell during the next earthquake. There she was, combing her hair the way she did in her gown, even though it was bedtime and it made more sense to comb it in the morning, now didn't it. Women were such creatures.

Mr. Sanchez stood behind her. For what and for whom was she combing her hair . . . . He bent down and without thinking breathed in deep, taking in the scent of her hair. She paused with the brush, and he inhaled deeply again without straightening up. Her soft, dark hair . . . . She put her hand on his which had somehow found its way to her shoulder. She leaned against his arm.

But now it's gettin' late
And the moon is climbin' high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin' in your eye.
And I'm still in love with you
On this Harvest Moon

Who would have known such a woman had so much wrapped up inside her!

In the Old Same Place, Denby sat up in the snug with his guitar and the place lively with chatter and the clatter of glasses. Grant sat with his wife at a table with his burly blacksmith's arms folded across his chest. Mark and Jaime sat there with him. When Chad came loping in Denby shooed him away from the Snug and Grant gave him a look that sent the old hippy straight to the brass rail and a Fat Tire ale. Suzie, knowing the way Chad was, served him quickly and escaped.

He looked around the bar and noticed two women sitting at a table, one a blonde with spiky hair and the other a brunette with streaks of vermilion. He ambled over taking off the cap to his camera lens along the way.

"Good evening ladies! I am taking pictures for the City to showcase our Island Nightlife here. Mind if I take your picture . . .?"

Pretty soon the old rogue was sitting with the two women and collecting information. He faced the blonde woman. "Y'know, there is someone I'd like you to meet . . .".

I like to sleep until the crack of noon
midnight howlin' at the moon
goin' out when I want to, comin' home when I please
I don't have to ask permission
if I want to go out fishing
and I never have to ask for the keys

selfish about my privacy
as long as I can be with me
we get along so well I can't believe
I love to chew the fat with folks
and listen to all your dirty jokes
I'm so thankful for these friends
I do receive

Wouldn't you know but that's when the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the moonlit wildflowers blooming among the harvest grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its romantic journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

 

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