Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Your delight is mine

Kyle, I was glad to see you when I picked you up from work today, I was amused when you described the classic Volkswagen Beetle you saw on your bus ride this morning and I was giddy when you spotted the car waiting for you outside the dealership in Rockaway.

"It's still there!" you shouted.

You surprised me when you asked me to pull our van into the dealership's narrow parking lot so we could look at your dream car. You know, of course, that acts of spontaneity contrast the common opinion of you and your personality. The people who know you will repeat, 'Make sure you call Kyle before you visit him -- he needs warning.' or 'Kyle likes everything planned out and everyone to stick to the schedule.'

We construct these images of others and then it's sorry, this is who you are; this is your role. i do not expect you to ever deviate from my already-conceived, now-immutable notions about you. therefore, i will not let you.

So my own surprise at your request bothered me. Even more so when I remembered the twenty-five model Beetles you grouped in twos and threes atop your television and book shelf and end table and the dresser next to your front door and in other tucked-away locations around your living room like a page of an Eye-Spy book. Sometimes when I visit, I try to count them, but I always lose track or forget if I have counted that one already.

Kyle, I am sorry for underestimating your adventurousness.

When we stopped, you popped out of the car quicker than you did a few months ago after we parked at a McDonald's on Route 10 and you saw a pay phone, one of many formerly vital relics that remain in parking lots around New Jersey like the aqueducts across Europe. I knew pay phones fascinate you, but you confused me when you disappeared behind the van. I didn't realize where you had gone until you ran back and informed me that there was no dial tone.

This time I made sure to witness your enchantment. Here is the car you adored since you were six-years-old!

I listened to you emit that rumbling buzz you make when you are excited and I heard you chant 'Volkswagen, volkswagen, volkswagen' in a low whisper as you approached the obsidian automobile and gazed at its spotless mirrored parts.

"Look at those hubcaps!"

They're beautiful, I said. And the small chrome domes were beautiful, especially when I saw you hold your hands behind your back, tip forward and smile in the reflection of the rear, passenger-side wheel.

I suggested we find a dealer in the building and I asked him to talk about the car with you. Although he opened up the rear engine hatch and told you about its history, you mostly wanted to know about the taillights. 'Are these the original taillights?' 'How old are these taillights?' 'The taillights on a 1961 are different than on a 1968, right?'

The dealer enjoyed your questions and he let you sit in the driver's seat of your favorite car for the first time in forty-five years. I noticed you stroked the leather seat while you watched yourself in the rearview mirror.

"This is the highlight of my week!" you exclaimed. Mine too, Kyle.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A dead stuffed animal

Early this morning, I drove by a baby fox fixed to the freshly painted white stripe of a road that splits a forest. His little limbs lay limp like a Beanie Baby's. A plum, triangle tongue used to mother's milk poked out of his bobble head and his once exploring eyes had X's over them. I wonder if the guy who hit him had a shitty day today.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Whole Fruit and Nothing but the Fruit

'There is a reward inside the stegosaurus egg with the serrated hat,' an imaginative Guarani native told his friend. 'I share this information with you because I think my discovery will improve our lives.'

The friend dismissed him as a foolish dreamer, warned him to get back to work on his Hieroglyphics 101 term paper and ate a tomato -- the fruit that dresses like Britney Spears in the 'Oops! . . . I Did It Again' video so lazy people recognize it's a big, juicy ovary.

Fortunately, the treasure-finder had gumption. He resisted naysayers and worked hard to spread his discovery throughout the community.

Weeks later, when pineapples were to the tribe what Macintoshes were to 1980s techies, the tomato-lover of little faith lay awake until dawn reflecting on his lack of foresight and wondering what life would be like as a goofy Steve Wozniak slinging pineapples with his farsighted Steve Jobs-buddy. He felt left out. He felt like an idiot. Worse, he felt like Pete Best.

Meanwhile, the 'foolish dreamer' lay awake counting his seashell currency below the chief's daughter's pulsing, pineapple-splattered body. The tribe regarded him as their boy genius.

* * *

The pineapple proves that god is a spider or a coyote or one of the other mischievous Tricksters that West Africans and Plains Indians used to tell their kids about. The pineapple was the greatest food gag humans have yet encountered -- you will not believe what's inside -- until conquistadores, butcher knives and Dole ruined the fun.

Regardless of the corruption that has befallen it, the pineapple remains the most difficult fruit to eat whole. In fact, I consider the pineapple to be the Fruit's heavy, rugged and spiky answer to Animal's rhinoceros. During the next few months, my brother and I intend to eat every available fruit in its entirety -- core, stem, pit, etc. -- to test our hypothesis that the pineapple is the world's greatest organic treasure chest. We will document our test results and rank fruit-toughness here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The world expands

The world expands before you from a rooftop on the Hipster-Fringe of Williamsburg and this could be the start of everything for you; this is where you must settle and soon, I think. It is May 1 and I have traveled around Manhattan and Brooklyn demonstrating for immigrants' rights and against Arizona public policy, searching in vain for an OTB to blow money on a Kentucky Derby trifecta that will not happen, playing soccer after drinking Tall Boys and gin-n-Sobe in Central Park and singing 'Hey Ya' in a karaoke bar. What made this day? I reveled in the greatest city, but it was the friends with whom I shared it.

The world expands before you from a tent in Indio and the mountains and desert and Southern California are limitless and everyone else in the world has dreamed this already, I think. Yesterday, I stared at the mountains from the airplane and thought they looked like the skin on top of my forearm when I pinch a wave of its blonde hair and pull up. Today, I wonder how the snow survives on those mountains when the sun turns that same arm hair into transparent wisps on my pink skin. It is April 16 and I have traveled from Los Angeles through windmilled desert to a giant oasis of art and music. What made this day? I listened to my favorite musicians in an exotic land, but it was the friends with whom I shared it.

The world expands before you from another rooftop, this time overlooking the Massachusetts State House, sailboats on the Charles River and, scattered in the distance, the places that gave you your best friends; yes, of course, this is where you belong and with whom you belong, I think. It is March 20 and I left six months ago. Now I am back planning a long series of events and goals to pursue, though I will feel content if I only achieve a handful. What made this day? I leaned over a vista fit for film, but it was the friends with whom I shared it.

The world expands before you from a stoplight on Main Street in Hackettstown where Hispanic immigrants stand outside the Columbian bakery and hope for work; you can help them somehow, you can rehabilitate this place, I think. It is February 8 and I am traveling from my family's home to my job working with people with developmental disabilities - a job I enjoy. Later, when I return to this area after hiking with a client, I notice a sign outside the nearby florist's shop that advertises a free rose for anyone named Jason. Jason, my client, smiles, picks out a rose and decides to give it to his aunt for her Birthday. What made this day? I saw life in my hometown, but it was the friends with whom I shared it.

The world expands before you from the base of Brandenburg Gate where one million pairs of feet melt the falling snow; this is the continent where you ought to stay, where you will learn about the world, I think. It is Silvester in Berlin and my friend and I have smuggled fireworks and champagne juiceboxes into 2010. Melted snow saturates my socks and wrinkles my purple toes and I hope the hot wine I drank will warm my non-vital organs and extremities. Later, I climb a chain link fence and almost cry when I spot my friend after the crowd had separated us. What made this day? I sang for good fortune with hundreds of thousands of strangers, but it was the friends with whom I shared it.

I finished college one year ago and I wonder where I will settle and what I will do. I know I will enjoy both, however.