Friday, August 27, 2004

Clockwork Plaid

I work with an exotic collection of abnormals operating under an opaque veneer of sanity. That doesn't include the criminals. Sometimes there are cracks in the veneer and sometimes they lift it off entirely for a rush of fresh air.

It was quiet and I was in my office, working diligently. Its the end of the month, so we are all confined to desks, cleaning up paperwork spew. I heard a voice. It was't God, it was Mindy. She has the office next door.

"Can you stab someone with one of our letter openers?" she asked the thin air.

I waited a moment for the air to answer and decided she must be talking to me.

"Can I or would I?" I asked.

"Can you?"

"Sure, no problem. Why?"

"No reason. Its just a comfort."

Conversation ceased and we went back to work. Later I realized that no one in the vicinity had raised an eyebrow, much less come to question this exchange. They didn't find it particularly odd.

I think I fit in well here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Powers far beyond those of mortal men...

Bob is my truck. We have been together for 8 years. Longer than any other relationship I've had. Everyone in town knows Bob. And everyone calls him by name - Bob T. Truck. Last week, Bob took a break.

I stopped at Sonic on the way home. Jackson was teaching that night, so he wouldn't be home with supper waiting on me. Far be it from me to eat anything I might possibly cook, so it was Sonic night. All was well until I started to leave. Bob would not start. No amount of cajolling, name-calling or sweet-talking would get him to budge. He's been pissy like this once or twice before and in the past all it took was a kind word and a five minute break and he was ready to go. Not this time. Not even sitting there long enough to read two articles in the two year old fishing and hunting regulation guide I found under the seat helped.

At last I gave in and called for help. My sister-in-law and niece came to pick me up, along with my bag-o-burger-heaven, which was much less heavenly than originally planned. My niece was ecstatic to be coming to my rescue and explained how she and her mother were Power Puff girls who had come to save Wonder Woman (Me, of course. I have trained her well.) from the evil Sonic/MoJo-JoJo.

When Jackson got home, we went back to Sonic to rescue Bob. Bob still would not start. Jackson pushed him out of the stall. When we got him into the open, Jackson told me to pop the hood. I couldn't think what good that would do at this point, but I did it anyway. He stuck his head under there and yelled for me to try to start the engine.

Started right up.

Jackson slammed the hood and came around to my window with a big smile on his face. "Wow! What did you do?" I was unabashedly impressed.

"I didn't do anything, I just looked at it." he grinned. He pointed back to the big Sonic windows crammed with car hops watching the scene. "But all those people in there think I am one hell of a mechanic!"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Milk Break

Do you remember afternoon milk break? I do. It was one of those myriad elementary school honors to be chosen as the milk bearer for the week. After a hard day of work and play – both of which were equally important – things slowed down in the hot afternoon. Milk break effused into the afternoon ebb.

Each grade took break at a slightly different time, so as milk-bearer you sauntered out into the big, empty hallway alone – courageous in your freedom to roam the hallway unsupervised - powerful yet trepidatious, still, lest you make too much noise passing Mrs. Floyd’s classroom. The cafeteria was at the end of the hallway. By this time in the afternoon, the workers had washed and stacked the trays, turned out the lights, and gone home.

As you open one of those big double doors just wide enough to slip through, you sense the quiet, venerated atmosphere of a cathedral at rest. The light is dim, cool, calming. The overhead fluorescents have been silenced and only the muted light from the frosted windows stretches across the linoleum. You try to walk confidently to the big reach-in cooler at the back – after all, you are a Milk-Bearer. You have position and the authority to be here. But an over-riding sense of quiet pervades your very soul. Each step seems to echo and compete with the hum of refrigeration. The hum is always there, yet at this time of day it is all-powerful, all-knowing, the personification of a lunchroom deity.

The milk cart is parked inside the kitchen door. It clatters irreverently as you move it in front of the cooler. You carefully count the milk. The teacher has given you the list. 17 chocolate. 2 white. The two white don’t make a lot of sense. Who really drinks white, anyway, when there is chocolate to be had? One goes to the blonde whose older sister just entered junior high, the other to her best friend. The blonde’s older sister has blamed the insults of pubescent complexion on chocolate. So younger sister and her best friend are on a chocolate fast in preparation of impending adulthood. Or fourth grade. Whichever comes first.

Carefully, respectfully, you wheel the cart back to the cafeteria doors and maneuver it through. You feel the need to somehow apologize to the hum for the disturbance. The sun-streaks on the linoleum seem undisturbed. You scoot through the doors as quickly and quietly as possible.

Now you are on the way back. Mission almost completed. The lanky cart makes rhythmic squeaks all down the hall, but you don’t care. You are a Milk-Bearer. Mrs. Floyd’s room be damned – you have a job to do! Outside the door to your classroom you glance back down the long hall. Look back to the darkened lunchroom that lies behind the big double doors. A cathedral at rest, the room seems to grant you some of its respect. If not for you, at least for the job you have done. And you’ll be back. Its only Wednesday.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Samuel Puzo

Have you read the Godfather lately? Or seen the movie? I watched the movie again just before Brando died and followed that up with a trip to church Sunday morning. We studied II Samuel. Lack of sleep began to kick in. The two stories started to merge.

David, of course, is Don Corellone. A man of humble beginnings who uses his talent and abilities to rise to the top and lead the “family” of Israel. A king. A killer. A very respected man who loves his children very much. But he devotes his time and efforts to the success of the "family" rather than rasing his children. Solomon is Michael. Not the first born son, but the wisest by far. He is thoughtful and contemplative and married more than once. Solomon/Michael is destined to lead in place of his older brother. Absolom – the oldest son. A hotheaded, passionate, beast of a man. He lives for action – not contemplation. When Absolom sets out to avenge the honor of Tamar, his sister. He dies a violent death. Sonny, naturally. Tamar is Connie – a one dimensional character at best. She does not contribute much to the family other than to incite her brother to violence. Amnon is Freddy. Freddy is just a little iffy in a lot of ways. Amnon definitely has some of the same kinds of problems. Joab is the fierce and loyal general. The Cappo Clemenza. Nathan the prophet is a friend and confidant to David. Yet he is able to speak freely to the king. To give counsel, wanted or not. Tom Hagen, the consigliore.

Solomon leaves his father’s house behind and shifts the focus of the “family” to build a huge palace and more importantly the temple. Times are changing. David was the monarch of a small, isolated familial society. Solomon finds himself faced with a changing, more business-like “family”. Solomon’s people are more interact and cooperate with the other “families” surrounding them. Solomon built the temple - where the people spent their weekends, praying and making sacrifices. Michael went to Las Vegas. The "family" changed. Instead of heading a small, isolated familial society, he must connect with other “families” for expansion and profit. The “family” became more business-like. Michael built casinos - where people spend their weekends, praying and making sacrifices.

Friday, August 13, 2004