Lord of the Crumbs

Betty slid two frozen Eggos into the toaster oven. I didn’t ask why she didn’t use the toaster. True, there is a “toast” setting on the toaster oven, but did she use it? Nope. She turned the temp dial all the way to max and burnt the hell out of those poor waffles. We’re talking burnt enough to trigger a freaking smoke detector. For real. Did she apologize? Nope. Instead, she pointed at the crumbs scattered over the bottom of the toaster oven. She blamed those crumbs for triggering the smoke detector. In other words, she blamed me. True, there are many scattered crumbs and, yes, I should probably clean them out. But I use the toaster oven several times a week, and I’ve never caught its crumbs smoldering. What’s more, I’ve used the toaster oven several times since Betty charred the Eggos, and the smoke detector hasn’t once peeped. Ergo, the crumbs are not to blame. Such being the case, I’ve left the crumbs alone and I’ve banned Betty from using the toaster oven.  29 April 2005    

Desperately Seeking a Straight Answer

It’s a simple YES/NO question: “Is it hot outside?” Pose it to Ma, pose it to Grandpa, and their answer? Always, always, always something like: “All I do is sweat.” Restate the question: “So it’s hot outside?” Respectively, their reply’ll go something like: “You don’t believe me, do you? I’m a liar, that’s what you’re thinking. How dare you call me a liar.” And so you’re lambasted when all you’ve done is ask a simple question. In sooth, nobody in my family—save for me, unless the remark I make is facetious (which, if it is, it’s typically as plain as Wonder Bread)—will limit themselves to a simple Yes/No response. In fairness, it isn’t as if they enjoy bloviating at the drop of the hat. You will receive many “I don’t know” answers—especially from Grandpa. Exempli gratia, he never knows what he wants for lunch or dinner. Ask him, point-blank, what he wants for any meal and he’ll say, “Not much.”  19 July 2006

S T R E A M # 2 7

Rufus ate potato chips all of his life. He ate all kinds of potato chips, but only potato chips. He did not eat hotdogs or hamburgers or French Fries. He ate BBQ flavored potato chips, cheddar cheese flavored potato chips, sour cream & onion flavored potato chips, you name it. He ate all brands and all varieties. He ate potato chips. And milk. Chocolate milk. Made with chocolate syrup . And so he’d munch all varieties of potato chips and he’d wash them down with chocolate milk made from chocolate syrup. And the milk was always 2% milk from the fast food place down the street. The fast food place down the street only sold milk in the half-pint size. Rufus only drank milk and bought potato chips from that fast food place, so he gave it a lot of business. He gave them so much business they started stocking bags of potato chips just for Rufus. (Or so he believed.) They weren’t the big bags, they were the little bags. But Rufus didn’t care. Rufus went on like that for many years. His


Pop’s hearing gets worse when Betty’s around. That means every weekend he hears less of me. I’ll say something and he’ll turn to her and ask, “What did he say?” But when Betty’s back at Presby. Homes for the week, Pop, in general, hears me just fine.  I’m tugged between relief and resentment at everything Betty does for Pop. Her presence makes me feel like a leech for living here. Betty’ll say, “I have to earn my keep.” And I’ll say back, “No, you don’t.” Because she doesn’t, and I do. But she likes to cater to Pop; and he prefers her care to mine. In sooth, she was a nurse for two years some sixty years ago. But, now? Betty can’t entirely care for herself . That’s why her brother moved her out of her condo and into a Presby. Homes assisted living apartment. What this means is, on the weekends, I’m playing caregiver to two old-timers—when I really only signed up for one. Last weekend I caught Pop tweezing whiskers from Betty’s chin. She hadn’t asked him to do it, but he didn’t like

Praying for It

Yeah, sure, I pray for poontang. So what? I should feel guilty? God, after all, did say,  “Be fruitful … [mumble] and multiply.”  [ ALT : God, after all, did say, “Be fruitful …” and that other thing.]  Hey, lookit, I’m only trying to fulfill the Lord’s wishes here. Why should I feel guilty about that? And you might say,  “Why not pray for world peace? Or an end to famine and poverty and AIDS?”  Come on. Like my one little prayer could put an end to all of that. Like the Almighty is waiting on little ole me to fall in line with all the other World Peace and Prosperity Pray Mongers. It’s not like I spawned the scourges of the world. Aw, but what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl:  “Yo, Yahweh, I didn’t come up with the fan or the shit that’s hitting it. You did. And even if You didn’t, You let it happen. But never mind that. Never mind I had nothing to do with it. Never mind how powerless I am to do anything about it. I’m still begging You to fix it. ‘Cause that’s kinda how it works,

My Near Misses With Phissy

Today is Phissy’s birthday. No, I’m not going to call her. She’s blown me off the last three times I’ve tried to make plans with her. I think she’s shelved me like an old toy. What sucks is that she lives in my building. I can tell if she’s home (or if she’s left her lights on) by poking my head out the window and looking up. She’s found a new toy (boy) to play with. Or to play her. Every woman secretly considers herself a Stradivarius; and every Stradivarius longs to be played by a Julliard-trained violinist. Or maybe just Phissy does. I think I saw her with her new chew toy at the Sav-Yeh down the street. No, Phissy isn’t a dog. Not in the least. She’s perfect, actually. Very nearly perfect. But as she’ll often remind you (or anyone who’ll listen), she’s a descendant of King Naa Gbewaa. I’m completely serious. And, frankly, I’d love to believe that I’ve sampled royal bosoms.  So silly: I affectionately called her, “baby.” She hated that. She also hates to be tickled. She’ll claim tha

S T R E A M # 2 6

That was better than sex . Okay, okay, it’s been so long, perhaps I’ve forgotten just how good sex is. But this will do. Yeah, sure, what the hey, I’d go celibate the rest of my life if you could guarantee me a place behind a microphone for the next fifty-odd years. Oh, and, I’ll also need a real good pair of hearing aids. Yes, and I’ll probably need them inside of the next five years. My body breaks out when I sweat as much as I’ve been sweating. Currently, I’ve got a painful zit over my sternum. I think that’s my sternum. We’re talking the lower part of the sternum—if that’s what it is. The sweating, it’s not from sex (unfortunately), it’s from running the treadmill. And, tonight—of course tonight—I’m supposed to go to this singles thing. And you never know. Drunk, single, dancing women? You never know. Anything’s possible. Right? Right. But I wouldn’t want to get into a position where I’d have to take off my shirt. That said, I’m fairly pleased with the way my torso looks right now—

Non Compos Mentis

Proof that I have problems: Whenever I leave my apartment I press on the door three times, after having locked it, so to confirm it secure. I may even be out of the building and half way down the block when I’ll stop and turn and go back to check the door once more. (In my defense, I succumb to this last compulsion infrequently.) I have multiple copies on various media of everything I’ve ever typed into the computer. I take a floppy disk copy of said writings—secured within two Ziploc baggies—wherever I go. * Of the writings that are not recorded into the computer (id est, upon/within various notepads and notebooks), I keep most of them, along with an autographed copy of Mamet’s The Old Religion , in the freezer. (Said freezer is of the non-ice accumulating variety.) The rationale: fire protection. All of my valuables (which carry little value beyond the bounds of mine own heart) are hidden in odd places. I shall not detail such “odd places” upon these pages, dear reader, lest you be

Cock and Bull

The restoration of the giant shack next door was NOT  proceeding according to plan. This much was clear given the view from my window. * The fools they hired botched the job and the shack toppled into my building. Either the shack was stronger than it looked, or my building was a great deal less stable than it seemed. Whichever the case, I had but minutes to gather all of my valuables and escape certain death. I loaded my backpack with rare books. I took an autographed first edition copy of Mamet’s The Old Religion (in which he scribbled ((to me)), “Thank you for your most kind words”), along with a first edition copy of his first novel, The Cabin (which I have yet to read † ); I also packed my Harry Potter books (British editions all, and a bulky lot, to be sure); and somehow I managed to cram in my thick, hardcover volume of Richard Matheson’s The Twilight Zone Scripts . And then, just as the walls of my wee studio efficiency apartment gave way, I fled.  Over the next few weeks, a

It's Ok, Though

For the second time this week a girl—a beautiful girl—looked my way with desire in her eyes. I’m serious . It was desire! I tell you: DESIRE! And I did nothing— nothing! —but smile back. * This inaction, albeit chivalric , left me in a sour mood. Sour . SOUR! I left work a short while later hungry and ticked off. The weather outside: raining—no: sleeting! The fierce , unrelenting wind very nearly murdered an umbrella I’d owned for a decade. (Well, perhaps I owned it for only a half -decade, but still closer to a full decade than an actual half-decade. So, like, seven years? Six and a half? The point is that I’ve never owned an umbrella for this long in my entire life.) Whilst battling the elements, I stepped into a frigid puddle of dirty water— filthy, oily curbside water. It seeped through my left shoe, soaked the sock, and all but froze my foot to death. Amputation seemed a likely possibility. All this, only to find: no new issue of PerformInk . Meaning: I’d walked blocks