Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween

This Halloween I will be married nine years. Or is it ten? [does the math] Nope, just nine. Jackson and I got married on the last Halloween of the 20th century. Sounds pretty ponderous, doesn't it? I know I've mentioned that before and even posted a picture or two, so that's old news.

What I've never told you was how we ended up getting married. I have no idea why I never talk about it - it's a good story. But I don't think I've ever told anyone the whole thing. Dunno why...

I met Jackson in sex class.


He had been to my office once a few months before this. He was working as a probation officer in Big Flat City. Scarlett, one of our officers, had worked with him there before she came to work with us. Jackson had to testify in court in Cool City so stopped to say hi to Scarlett on his way back home. She introduced us. We said 'hi, how are ya, nice to meet ya' and shook hands. That was that. He went back home and I went back to work. Didn't think anything more about it.

In April of 1999, Jackson ended up at the same three day alcohol and drug symposium that Rose and I were attending. We had to go to an HIV/AIDS seminar and Jackson sat at the same table Rose and I did.

I don't know if you work in a profession that requires annual HIV/AIDS training, but if you do, you know how boring and repetitious that becomes. The information doesn't really change much from year to year. So, the trainers try to spice things up in order to keep you awake and hopefully paying attention. Its a sexually transmitted disease class, so you can imagine how 'spicy' it might get.

It was during this class that Jackson and I learned we shared the same thoroughly juvenile sense of humor when it comes to buckets of free condoms and the various uses for which they were never intended.

We laughed, we snarked, we passed the test at the end of the program. And as we left the class Rose looked at him appraisingly. "I think he can hang with us," she said. High praise, coming from Rose.

At the end of the three day program, Jackson had my phone number. That Friday he came to Fake Cow and we went out to dinner. We had a great time. I learned some things about him that I didn't know. Such as the fact that he wasn't quite divorced.

He called me the next day and wanted to know when we could go out again. I assured him that I'd had a fabulous time and I would love to go out again - as soon as his divorce was final.

Being the good boy that he was/is, he didn't whine or make excuses, but said he completely understood. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and hung up. I was hoping to hear from him in a few months time. That was on Saturday.

He called me on Tuesday.

"Guess what I did today?" were the first words out of his mouth.


"I got divorced."

Turns out his divorce lawyer was one of his buddies. He traipsed down to the guy's office on Monday morning and wanted to know what had to be done to finalize his de-nuptualization. His buddy-lawyer told him there were papers his ex had to sign and then a court appearance to have the judge approve the settlement, followed by having things filed with the clerk of the court. The lawyer said he wasn't too terribly busy and he could probably have it done within a couple of weeks - a month at the very latest.

Jackson said, "Give me the papers."

He took them to his ex-wife's house and insisted that she sign. She agreed. Then he took them to the judge's office. Since he was a probation officer for that county, the judge knew him and agreed to give him a few minutes time on the docket. Jackson explained to the court that all he needed for his divorce to be final was the judge's signature and the papers to be filed. Everything else had already been handled. The judge looked over the decree, agreed that it was all in order and signed the papers. Jackson walked them over to the clerk's office, filed them and gave me a call.

Who was I to say no?

Six months later, on Halloween, we got married.

The End.

(Maybe next year I'll tell you about the Prairie Dog proposal and the Make-Out Church)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

...or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Recession.

Saturday morning I drove into Quitaque.

(It's pronounced "kitty-quay". There's a sign on the edge of town that verifies this for the uninitiated. It's supposed to be an Indian word meaning "end of the trail".)

We were camping again, and the state park is just four miles north of town. My brother and I were hungry, so we decided to cook. I opened up the brand new box of pancake mix proceeded to stir it up. The more I stirred, the more I thought something wasn't right.

"Eew! This stuff is full of weevils!"

Jonboy peered into the bowl. "Either that or this is a rice flour mix."

Ick. So I hopped in the truck and headed for town.

Quitaque has one itty bitty grocery store, which appeared to be deserted. To my surprise, the door was open. It's a grimy little store, not unlike the one I worked in all through high school. The elderly linoleum is peeling away from the floor in huge asbestos-y chunks. The lone freezer case chugs loudly and a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign marks - permanently - the puddle of its lifeblood that they have stopped trying to squeegee away.

I heard some scrumbling at the back and by the time I pushed the creaky basket down the second aisle, I was approached by what I wasn't sure was an employee. He smiled and asked, "How's it going?"

"So far, so good," I lied, not sure if he was someone I could inquire of as to the whereabouts of rice-free pancake mix. However, given the limited number of aisles - four - and my temerity in mercantile exploration - 'It's gotta be around here somewhere' - I knew I could find it one my own.

And I did. Aisle three. I headed towards the meat case in search of more bacon. You always need more bacon. It was there I was assured of my little friend's employment status while I pretended not to notice him leaning into the case and waving away any flies that might have congregated there.

He was a small wiry man, a little shorter than me, and probably in his late 50's. He wore a red bandanna wrapped tightly around his head and a mostly grey handlebar moustache. Pale blue eyes crinkled behind his little square Ben Franklin specs.

Scraggly blond ringlets hung out of the back of the doo-rag, reaching to just below his shoulders. I'd almost guarantee you that he was bald under the doo-rag. He also wore the ubiquitous Harley Davidson t-shirt.

When I got to the front, we both paused while he chose which of the two checker stands to use. I asked him if they sold firewood. He grinned and said "I'll give you the same spiel my boss does." He proceeded to tell me to drive south and find a two-story brick house. Turn east and look for the barn. When I find the barn, I have to go around behind it and find a big pile of junk wood. There is all kinds of wood there - logs, boards, junk of all kinds. After taking whatever I want, I was to return to the store and pay him what I thought it was worth. "My boss has some P.T. Barnum in him," he confessed.

"And I won't get shot?" I asked.

"No," he laughed. "That's just small town living for you."

"I know about small towns. That's why I asked."

He laughed again. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I was a bit culture shocked when I first came out here."

"Where are you from, originally?"

"Big Sur, California."

I put down my grocery bag, knowing I had to ask. "How the hell did you end up out here?"

He dropped his gaze and said sheepishly, "I was a minister. My wife and I came out here with another couple to work with the congregation here." With very little prompting, he told me his story.

Upon arriving in town he was ready to do some hard work to get the local congregation back on track. What he didn't know was that this group had problems that were more deep seated than he'd been led to believe. He said the assembly had been a dynasty.

"Ah," I said knowingly. "A one family show?"

"Yeah, same family had been running it since the congregation was founded in the 1930's." Despite their best efforts, they couldn't help the group and things fell apart. "I traveled 650,000 miles in a three county area over a 10-year period," he said. "I went down every dirt road, every driveway and knocked on every door in these three counties. Needless to say, everybody knows me." His sheepishness returned. "I was a Jehovah's Witness."

I took an involuntary step towards the door.

"But I'm not a minister any more!" he was quick to assure me. "Not after I got divorced."

His wife got fed up and left him. After that, he picked up the guitar that had sat unplayed for the past 18 years. He started playing with bands and making the rounds of the bars and clubs. He did that for three years until he'd worked out all his anger and frustration. The music "probably saved me from killing some people," he said. He grinned again. "The sheriff knew me real well at that time."

After his stint as a honky-tonk maestro, he settled down on his piece of property near Flomont. "I have two acres of land that I paid for by selling the land all around it. I live in an 85 year old wood frame and stucco house with almost non-existent plumbing and a wood stove for heat. I have about 30 cats and there are probably 85 rabbits living around the house. A few years ago I bought a Harley. I still have my guitar and everything I need and now I'm perfectly happy."

"And I bet you couldn't care less about what's happening on Wall Street," I said.

"I pay $11.00 a year in taxes." He smiled even wider, if possible. "A lot of people tell you there's nothing to do in a place like this, but those people could live at Disneyland and still be bored."

Sometimes weevils are not a bad thing. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gator's Meme

I am: in charge here. Muaaaahahahahaaaa! (Probably the only thing I have in common with Alexander Haig.)

I want: world peace. (Wait! This isn't a beauty contest. Hell, I don't even LIKE beauty contests. I want a cheeseburger and some really crispy tator tots.)

I wish: I could find some cool hair sticks. The dog chewed up the last pair I had and now I can't find any that aren't cute. In fact, I totally wish for non-cute hair accessories of any kind!!! Bah! The cuteness - so irritating!

I hate: cute.

I miss: Trailer Park Boys on BBC America. I think I've made this lament before. I love that show. They claim it was fiction, but I know better. Those are the people who darken the door of my office day in and day out.

I fear: other kid's mothers. They scare me a lot. Take Joan Cusack, for instance. I love her! But, dang, her characters really freak me out sometimes. Have you seen Raising Helen? Nine Months? Gah! I have never changed a diaper. Not one. Not in my 37 years of earthly existence. I never even WORE diapers, having been housebroken at birth. (This is a fact which my own mother disputes, but I'm pretty sure she's just talkin' trash.) Katie is cool. I don't mind her. But I should be banned from all inter-parental interactions.

I hear: Tito and Tarantula in my truck on the way to work.

I wonder: whether rawhide causes any sort of intestinal blockage or anything. You can't imagine how much of it my dog ingests on a weekly basis. Rawhide is her puppy-crack.

I regret: that I shall not be buying the black and white Chuck Taylor All Stars with the 4 1/2 inch spike heels. They were too damn cool, but why tempt orthopedic fate? If I wore them, I'd be sure to break my ankle a la some horror movie blonde bimbo.

I am not: terribly graceful.

I dance: like someone who grew up in the movie Footloose and who never dated a guy who liked to dance. Dammit.

I sing: even worse than I dance.

I cry: when something is really, really funny.

I am not always: kind.

I make with my hands: currently - with Mindy's help - I'm making Dead Baby Jars. This particular lunchtime craft project has resulted in a higher than average rate of eye rolling amongst our co-workers. Rose even refuses to sit on the same side of the table as us. She keeps muttering about lightening strikes.

I write: more than you know.

I confuse: Katie

I need: more motivation

I should: start working on my master's degree. Especially since I've decided on what degree to get - English. But I don't feel like taking the time to do it. I've been gnawing on the leg that is stuck in this trap of indecision for months now. I think I've finally decided not to fight my natural slacker tendencies and to be ok with that. I shall remain woefully under-educated for the foreseeable future. Unless...

I start: way too early in the mornings. And therefore want to finish way too early in the afternoon.

I finish: stuff. Eventually. If I had more motivation, I'd finish more stuff sooner.

I tag: any of you who want to give it a try! (I actually like reading people's memes. It's fun to see the different takes that different people have with the same prompts.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

This is another of those photos I like but for no good reason. No bad reason either. I just don't have a reason.

How has your week been? I survived another night of drunk class and now I'm parked in front of the TV watching Stephen King's Rose Red for the umpteenth time. The poor old guy from Emergency is fixin' to bite the big one.

Geeze, I loved Emergency when I was a kid.

Tonight was family night in drunk class. The one thing I was looking forward too was finally meeting Magdalena's husband. Magdalena is the only woman in the class. She's been on my caseload for several years now and she is nuts. Shoebox-full-of-antipsychotics-nuts. You just can't help but love her. She's absolutely kooky.

Ever watched any of the novellas - the soap operas on the Spanish channels? Or am I the only one who watches soaps in languages they don't really understand? Well, if you've seen them, you've seen Magdalena. There's always at least one matriarchal type who wears her hair up, overdoes the rouge and dresses out-outrageously. That's her. You know the over-wrought emotions and the over the top facial expressions? That's Magdalena, too. She's highly entertaining.

For years, her one constant, her only support has been her paramour, Cortez. She always calls him by his last name and she pronounces it with this fabulous novella-esque accent. Cortez. I wish you could hear it.

Last week she came to me in tears. Which is not at all unusual. She was sobbing over the fact that she had no one to bring with her to family night and she knew that meant she would be dumped from drunk class. Her family are all worthless; her kids are drunken freeloaders and troublemakers. Her only hope - her only light - is Cortez.


But he doesn't speak English. Whatever would she do? Much weeping ensued. I knew she'd been looking for over a month for someone to bring with her. Sadly - pathetically, even - she hadn't been able to find anyone. Not anyone, except Cortez.


I finally asked her if Cortez understood English. Her face brightened and the tears quit falling. Of course he understands English. He understands everything she tells him. He just can't speak it.

Ok, I said. If he understands, bring him along. He doesn't have to talk.

Magdalena and Cortez were among the last to arrive. Tonight she was dressed to the nines in black leather and a white cotton blouse. She normally wears her long, curly black hair piled on the top of her head with a couple of long ringlets framing her face that would make any hasidic rabbi deeply jealous. Tonight her hair was pulled up in the front with the rest flowing down over her shoulders and back.

Magdalena is a tall woman. She can pull off an imposing posture when her body is not wracked with gut-wrenching sobs. Tonight she strode purposely into the room, knowing full well that all eyes were on her. She smiled broadly and just a little shyly, then stepped to one side so we could see who she was pulling along behind her.

The fabulous Cortez.

Turns out he's skinny little old man and his first name is Wilbur.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging


I got home from drunk school just in time to catch the last half of the VP debate. I sat on the floor all through that so Jackson could massage my shoulders and those pesky little sinus pockets on the base of your skull that make you horribly dizzy when you stand up. (He's a nice person. Most of the time. )

So, then I managed to regain my feet long enough to make it to my chair.

It was at that point that I realized the external drive with all the pictures is in my bedroom. And that's waaaaay over there. And I'm waaaaaay over here. And my dog doesn't fetch. And Jackson already rubbed my neck for like half an hour without complaint, so I'd feel guilty about asking him to go get it for me.

Is this not the most pathetic post ever?

Its been a busy week and a weird, weird day. First, my desk ripped a big hole in the knee of my pants this afternoon. It ticked me off, but not as much as it would have had I not had a pair of jeans in the truck that I'd planned to change into to teach tonight. Jeans for the afternoon! Yay!

Then Joe Damien, a new wife-beater on my caseload showed up for his appointment. He has long flowing hair and a compact, muscular little body and a Romanesque nose and he thinks he is so very hot. He's doing everything he is supposed to, except for attending the Batterers Intervention program. The little jerk and I had a Come-to-Jeezus meeting last month about this. His first breath this month was spent informing me of his appointment time for the group meetings.

We concluded our business as quickly as possible because the little skeezoid makes my skin crawl. I handed him his next appointment card and motioned him towards the door, even as I turned toward my keyboard, intending to hurry him along.

He stood just inside my door while he stuffed the card into his wallet. As he did so, he said, "Can I ask you a favor?" I didn't even bother to look at him. "What is it?" I growled.

He cocked at finger at me like he was pointing a gun, clucked his tongue and said, "Will you promise me to have a really great day?"

I just stared at him. It was like an encounter with Disco Stu. I still cannot believe he actually did the finger-gun thing. Gah!

The next appointment on my calendar?

Bondage Roger.

Roger's first words on entering my office? I kid you not - he gave me a big goofy grin and said "They're not working you too hard, now, are they?" Geeze. Was the whole disco inferno vibe related to the fluorescent tubes in my ceiling doing a strobe light impression? Maybe so. Maybe no.

I'm goin' to bed.