Archive for July, 2012

What’s a guy gotta do, huh?

I don’t always find slapstick humor to be terribly funny. Some of it is great. the Marx Brothers for example, early Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Other stuff like shit coms such as Three’s Company have a very short shelf life, and were predictable even when I was 8 or 9 years old. Maybe you have to be Jewish to pull off slapstick properly.

My afternoon was straight out of a Marx Brother’s film. I just went to do a huge load of laundry. Simple, right? Well . . .

I have become a tremendous slob in the past 10-12 years. My old room used to be neat as a pin, and unlike other slobs I am actually quite good at cleaning when I eventually engage in it. My former roommate Brian was a huge slob. He just never learned to clean. He tried a few times, but he was hopeless. He once called me “anal retentive” when I tried to explain to him that after sweeping the floor, usually people pick up the sweepings and deposit them in a trash receptacle, and don’t just leave them in the middle of the floor next to the broom before returning to play Madden 2002.

Having transformed into Slobzilla I now have a tendency to do more laundry than usual. I wash it, I put some of it away, but the rest ends up on my floor. Then when my mess reaches critical mass, I get disgusted and pick up all the clothes strewn on my bed and floor and bop on down to the laundromat. I guess it could be said that I am a “Clean Slob”.

Maybe I should invest in a sleigh.

Today I hauled a laundry bag so full it resembled The Grinch Who Stole Christmas‘ bag after he pulled an en masse B&E of Whoville. I greeted the nice attendant there in Spanish. “Buenas Dias.”, I said, even though it was oppressively hot and humid thus pretty far from a Dia Buena. I shoved the laundry into one of the triple loaders which are big enough for me to crawl inside of and take a ride. I poured in some TIDE with bleach alternative (Consumer Reports detergent of the year for over a decade) pumped in some quarters and back home to bask in the comfort of my AC and watch The Walton’s before work. I have a penchant for maudlin, happy crappy American TV. Little House on the Prairie is my personal favorite with The Walton’s and The Brady Bunch coming up on the outside. After half an hour I bopped back over to the laundromat to toss my clean clothes into the dryer. I grabbed an umbrella in addition to dryer sheets as it had begun to rain calicos and chihuahuas outside with a side of thunder and lightning. It was a serious summer cloudburst. I threw my clothes into two dryers and again pumped quarters into them. I had just enough time to dry my clothes, watch another episode of The Walton’s, grab a shower, shave and head off to work. Hopefully the monsoon would be over by then so I could ride my bike to work. I was about to cross the street and reaching into my pocket I realized I had left my keys upstairs in my apartment. I was locked out. I checked and rechecked my pockets…no dice, and no keys either. Shit…shitshitshitshitshit….

I went back to my building where the buzzers don’t work because my landlord is… well, to put it politely; more useless than tits on a bull. I have asked him at least five times to fix our buzzer/intercom system, and every time he says in his patented and maddening Lenny from Of Mice and Men voice “Duh, what’s wrong with it?” In the 11 years I have lived here, my guess would be he has spent less than 5 hours in repairs and improvements. We have an interesting relationship. I pay my rent late, and he doesn’t raise the rent very often or maintain the building. I report and re-report necessary repairs, he asks me what the problem is (Regardless of how many times I have informed him in the past) he schedules an appointment to fix the issue and then he doesn’t show up. On the rare occasion he does show up, he wont have the right tools. On the even more rare occasion, he shows up with the right tools makes the repairs in a manner that breaks something else, or what he “repaired” falls apart again 2 days later.

 

He’s useless, but at least he doesn’t make me ballroom dance with him up on the roof.

The ironic thing is, despite his total lack of proficiency as a landlord, the door to my building is quite secure. Someone else must have installed it. Despite having an umbrella I was getting soaked. It was that kind of torrential downpour. I banged on the outer door praying my downstairs neighbors were home and would let me in. No dice. Then I noticed my roommates window was just above a narrow landing over the front door. If I could get a ladder I might be able to break in through her window. I trudged back to the laundromat to see if they had a ladder I could borrow for a moment. It never dawned on me that a one story laundromat wouldn’t really have any need for a ladder, except if they hired a very small attendant who needed a ladder to reach the lint filters, I buenas dias’ed the nice attendant again and asked if she had a ladder I could borrow. She smiled and said “Jes”. Now we’re getting somewhere. She kept smiling but made no “It’s over there.” or “I’ll get it for you.” gesture. I knew that smile. It was the same smile the cook at work uses when he doesn’t understand what I am saying, but doesn’t want to share that information with me. Maybe it’s an Hispanic cultural thing designed to annoy me. Since age 14 I have held a firm belief of a widespread international and cosmic conspiracy to piss me off. I once asked my mother about it and she said “Damn, you’ve caught on to us at last!”
I leaned forward and said “LAAAH-DERRR” because patronizing condescension is an integral part of bilingual communication. Then she tilted her head in a confused gesture (also exactly like the cook at work or a dog after the 10th time you fake him out pretending to throw something,) I searched through the limited Spanish files in my mind and lo and behold I knew the word for ladder. Don’t ask me how. It’s the way my special little snowflake of a brain works. I remember useless, semi-useless and trivial things forever and forget important things regardless of how often I am reminded. “La Scaleta?” I asked sounding like Ricardo Montalban. I pride myself in my accents. “Oh, Sca-LET-ah!” she replied, understanding. “No, no I sorry.” She said. I thanked her and went back out into the monsoon which had redoubled in it’s intensity.

The actual storm. My luck.

This was bad. I was soaked, I was missing The Walton’s, and had no way to get into my apartment. I banged on the outer door again, then I tried to break in using an old credit card that I had in my wallet. All I succeeded in doing was mangling the old credit card. I looked back up at the narrow landing just above the door and below my roommate’s window. There was a metal gate that I might be able to climb up onto and make it to the landing. I carefully climbed the gate and upon reaching the top I realized three things and remembered one more. The realizations were that I lacked the leverage to get onto the narrow landing, that the landing was too narrow to get onto comfortably and that my roommate had installed bars on her window that weren’t visible from below. The memory I had was more disturbing…as I stood shakily on the gate I remembered my friend Armando’s graphic story about a friend who was climbing over a similar gate topped with blunt spikes, slipped and one of the gate’s spikes made a most unfortunate rectal hole in one. The treatment for the injury was long, painful and humiliating. I slowly and carefully climbed down. Given the surreal and slapstick momentum of the day I had no doubt in my mind that if I were to fall and impale my no-no bits or posterior upon the gates that someone would happen along as I was screaming like a banshee with a stubbed toe, whip out their cell phone and record it and I’d be the Youtube sensation of the decade. The gate rocked back and forth as I carefully climbed down. I was totally soaked now.

It was getting late and I needed to get in and ready myself for work. I broke down and walked next door to my neighbor’s building. I’m not crazy about my next door neighbors despite our friendly exchange of greetings when we see each other. They routinely throw loud parties until 4 or 5 am in their backyard which is right below my window. I routinely call the police to complain about the noise, who in turn, respond with the same zeal as my landlord in regards to repairs. They also own a yappy chihuahua and a growly pit bull that menace me every time I walk by their house. My neighbor was in and I asked “Can I get up on your roof and use my fire escape? I’m locked out.” She said she didn’t have roof access but I could go through her back yard, hop the fence into my back yard and climb up my fire escape. I gratefully accepted her offer. My building is enclosed on all sides by fences and other buildings that I do not have access to. I went through my neighbors house dripping all over her floor and went into her backyard. To my surprise there was no sound stage for salsa and meringue bands that perform during their late night parties. There was a short fence that separated our back yards. I climbed over her fence. I haven’t climbed fences since I was a child and I am out of practice. I landed in my backyard and the vegetable garden that my landlords elderly father keeps there. I landed with a splat and sank 8 inches into mud. Luckily my shoes stayed on. As I pulled myself from the muck and mud my neighbor commented “Why dontcha step on the boards between the rows there?” There are few things more irritating than bystanders pointing out painfully obvious mistakes after the fact when you’re stressed out or having difficulties. I turned back to her and said “Ya think?” I was trying to be nice. She was doing me a solid here after all. I trudged through the slop that was my back yard trying to avoid the mud and step on various boards and things between the rows of vegetables. I found my fire escape and jumped up to pull the sliding ladder down and…no dice. It was hooked on the second floor. I could reach it, but only by standing on my tip toes and extending my arms as far as possible. Pulling myself up was not an option as I have never been good at pull ups. I remembered seeing a ladder in my neighbor’s house so I trudged back and asked her if I could use it. She went and got it for me, muttering about how lucky I was that she loved her neighbors True enough. I resisted making a comment about extending that love to not entertaining in the back yard until dawn. Lately unwanted commentary hasn’t been doing me any favors in life. She handed the ladder over and I set it up under my fire escape. I told her I’d return the ladder via her front door once I got in. I climbed up the ladder and onto my fire escape landing. Then I opened my kitchen window and poured myself through. My cats were there looking at me innocently with a “Whatcha doing Scott? Is it raining outside. It’s almost dinner time you know.” look. “Fuck off” I snapped at them and they did indeed fuck off to my bedroom to watch the ending of the Waltons which I was missing.

It is a mad, mad, mad, mad world, indeed.

I was inside, had my keys and now had to get my neighbors ladder back to them. I took my shoes off and threw them away. They were totaled. Mud on the outside and in. I went back onto the fire escape landing and quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to reach the ladder. I went back inside, looked around the kitchen for a moment and found an old metal cane that had belonged to my mother. Then I went back out, climbed down the fire escape, reached down with the cane and hooked the ladder and started to climb back up. It was at this moment that I realized that climbing a metal fire escape with one arm, toting a metal ladder with a metal cane in a violent thunder storm was kind of tempting God to toss a lightning bolt my way. Maybe he’d wait until I slipped and fell off of the fire escape. Then I could lay in the mud of my landlord’s garden with a fried metal cane welded to my hand and a neighbor’s ladder on top of me moaning “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Eventually my neighbor would come asking “Hey, can I get my ladder back?” and I’d ask her to please call an ambulance and my job explaining that I might be running a little late. New Yorkers don’t respond quickly to cries of distress. I’d have to think of something to yell other than “Help”. Maybe if I screamed in a high pitched, woman’s voice “Hey, free sex and money over here!” then someone might respond within 4-6 weeks. Until then I’d have to live on the tomatoes and zucchini in my landlord’s garden. He’d probably bill me for them. Needless to say I scrambled up the fire escape as fast as my one climbing arm would allow. Then I pulled the ladder up, praying it wouldn’t slip from the cane and tried to shove it through the kitchen window. Of course it didn’t go easily and I began to speak in potty mouthed tongues. “Goddamn-cock-smoking-cunt-nugget-shitbag-thing! GET IN THERE.!!!” My cats had come back into the kitchen to ask if I could please keep it down as John Boy was about to buy a Model T and Grandma Walton was passing along her fritter recipe to Mary Ellen on her death bed and by the way…it’s still dinner time. Eventually I got the ladder through the open window and crawled in after it. I carried the ladder downstairs to return it to my neighbor. Before I reached the front door to my apartment I checked my pocket and yes, I had almost forgotten my keys again. If I had managed to lock myself out again, I would have lept in front of a passing UPS truck (after returning the ladder of course) My neighbor didn’t answer the door, because I obviously wasn’t wet and exhausted enough. Finally, her cousin, husband or brother answered, I’m not sure which (she has a rather large and lively household with approximately 30 extended family members staying there at any given time.) and I explained that I was returning the ladder.

I went back to my apartment and called work to tell them that I was running a little late.

“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

There has been a James Bond movie marathon on TV the past few nights. I like Bond, but I think, as my late mother pointed out to me once, that James Bond movies are really a guy thing. The thing I really like about the Bond films (well, besides the sex, the cool gadgets,the cars, the Bond women, the violence and the theme songs) are the uber cheesy movie cliches. I wont get into the whole “who was the best Bond” conversation. I’m an odd duck. My favorite Beatles were Ringo and George and my favorite Bonds were Roger Moore and George Lazenby, Deal with it.

There are so many cliche statements in the Bond movies that I have simply been dying to say at some point in my life. Sadly, unless I win the lottery and become a professor/PhD, I wont have much chance to say these things. When I took my career aptitude tests in college, I missed International Super Villain and rated “Salesman” instead. Oh, I can say these great cliched lines…but they will be sadly lacking in conviction and validity. I would fail miserably at being an international criminal mastermind. I have no technical proficiency whatsoever. Toasters frustrate me. It would just be sad if I tried to record my demands to the UN Security Counsel, and the first 5 minutes would consist of footage of my looking into the camera, shaking it and saying “Is this thing on? Maybe I should send them a card with my demands, or a pick-me-up bouquet and a photo of me smiling a toothy grin pointing at the nuclear missile I just stole.

Here are a few of the cliches that I practice in my mirror, though I must admit it looked better when my white Persian cat Benny was alive and I could hold him. He was a good sport about indulging my little fantasies. It’s funny that Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s cat never started coughing up a hairball while he was explaining his master plan to Bond. “One moment Mr Bond…my kitty’s sick….Mr. Wint, do we have any paper towels?” There are just certain things that always seem to end up on the editing room floor in regards to the Bond films. Another one would be Bond suffering from occasional erectile dysfunction. “I swear this never happened before!” “It’s OK James, we can just cuddle.”

“I’ve been expecting you.” I never expect anyone. My M.O. is to forget people I’m actually supposed to be expecting, like pizza delivery boys. Bond villains don’t rush around last minute yelling at their henchmen and bombshell girlfriends. “Oh shit, It’s Bond! He’s early, dammit, Odd Job, empty the ashtray, Pussy Galore, are you really going to wear that? Oh come on, don’t cry now, it’s not bad, it’s just a little….. slutty. Straighten out the magazines and tell the Japanese chick I hired to make his martini and bring it in after I explain my plan in great detail…what’s her name? Miko? Mariko? Huh? Oh, forget it. Just tell her to bring the martini and to look…Japanese. Shit! He’s almost at the trap door. OK, change the big screen behind my desk from Weekend at Bernies to the SPECTRE emblem. No, NOT TV Land! Odd Job, there is a lint brush in my desk, clean your hat please. MOVE! I need to sit down. Do I look casual? Where’s my cat? Do I look like I’ve been expecting him? OK….shhhhhh here he comes.”

People always find me unshaven, in my boxer shorts and changing the kitty litter or watching The Golden Girls. Just try saying “I’ve been expecting you.” during such circumstances. Unconvincing.

“Seize him!” I don’t think a Bond villain has ever said this, but it’s certainly been said a few dozen times on TV and in movies. In order to yell this, one needs lackeys, minions or henchmen. I don’t have any henchmen. It was one of the things many of us had to cut down on when the economy tanked. This is one of the first things to go in a shaky economy. Dining out, entertaining, and henchmen. I’ve tried to get henchmen before, but it’s not easy on a waiter and students wages. I even put an ad on craigslist for henchmen, although I worded it carefully to sound like an internship. To date, it hasn’t panned out. In addition to finding henchmen and paying them, you need to provide them with uniforms. You can’t skimp here. I’ll be damned if my henchmen are going to be running around in old and altered Arby’s or Long John Silvers uniforms from the 70s and then hoping Bond doesn’t notice and goof on me.

“Take him away.” This usually followed “Seize Him!” My problem with this is the size of NYC living spaces. There isn’t anywhere for my non-existent henchmen to take my captives away to. Where are they going to go, my living room? My roommate would be less than thrilled. Bond villains don’t usually have roommate issues. “Um Goldfinger, do you have your share of the electric bill? Yeah well, the Con Ed people don’t care about your Fort Knox plan. Also,can you pick up some toilet paper? I bought the last pack. Oh, you have company. I’m sorry Bond? James Bond? Nice to meet you. Um, if you plan to torture him, can you please keep it down and clean up the blood? I have to work tomorrow. Anyone need to use the shower?”

I wonder if hiring a top notch, gay decorator could help with this. “OK, I’m thinking we move the laser cannon into the breakfast nook and cover it up with the throw I got at Barneys. Are you totally married to the idea of this emblem? I don’t know, it’s just so…1980s. I know you said you didn’t want any flowers, but really some iris’s would do wonders for your interrogation area in the living room. Trust me, they’re still butch.”

“You’ve fallen into my trap.” I’m not smart enough to set traps for people. I’ve babysat before and been outwitted by infants. Actually, I fell into their traps. “Drat…the disgusting diaper….foiled again!” Also, traps cost money. I’ve been to Home Depot and a good trap is going to run you a pretty penny these days. Skimping on a trap can be disastrous. Bargain rate throw rug trap doors don’t go with the Spartan minimalist motif of a hollowed out dormant volcano hideout. This one can also include….

“Everything is going according to my plan.” Nothing ever goes according to my plan. First of all, I lack the attention span for planning. I sit down and try to make plans, schemes and capers. I try, but after 10 or 15 minutes I will start flipping through channels or get distracted by something shiny or my cats antics. I dream of being a borderline anal retentive like my dear old mother, with lists of things I can cross off. I’ve tried the list thing, and it is satisfying to cross things off as you do them. Being an under achiever, I have to write down the most ridiculous everyday minutia so I can cross things off and look like I actually got something done. Wake up. Check. Pee. Check. Make coffee. Check. Drink coffee Check..This is when I slow down and start skipping things on my list until “Go to Bed”
Maybe if I could afford some henchmen, then they could make plans for me. It has become a true chicken-egg situation. Perhaps if I kidnapped some professor’s beautiful virginal daughter I could force him to make plans for me. I do live close to Columbia and NYU. Something to think about.

“…. Not to worry…I have prepared for this (contingency.)” This is a continuation of my lack of prowess in the planning department. In order to have contingency plans, one has to have original plans. I will say I am very fond of the word contingency and the term contingency plan, which may actually be redundant…like “True Fact”. Who knows? I also like the word redundant, so I wanted to slip that one in there. My version of a contingency plan when things go awry is to scream “Oh, crap!” followed by crying or temper tantrums of varying degrees. It must be satisfying to have contingency plans.

“According to my calculations” Hahahaha Have you been reading a single thing I’ve written? Movie villains have super sleek power point presentations. Professionally made scale models. Things like that. Me? I can barely manage stick figures.

“I should have killed you when I had the chance.” That half-assed, overly elaborate death trap seemed like a good idea at the time, and just shooting you seemed, oh I don’t know…boring. I have to admit Bond was a good sport about this. It’s tough to refrain from saying “Yeah, kinda sucks to be you huh?” (In an English accent of course.) I know that Roger Moore and Sean Connery could cock one eyebrow for emphasis. I’m frankly amazed the varying Bond villains never lost their cool and shrieked “And knock off that eyebrow crap!!!” I know I have always been jealous of the one eyebrow trick. It seemed a shoe in for meeting women.

Bond’s double entendre laden banter with the esteemed Miss Moneypenny is possibly the best known case of cinematic sexual harassment. Just once I’d have loved for her to knee him in the groin and deadpan “Do bite me Double Oh Seven, you interminable pubescent tease. M is ready for you.” Miss Moneypenny deserved better than MI 5’s biggest Himbo.

During the editing process of this piece I realized that my comedic license has fallen short in terms of Bond continuity and accuracy. I have no doubt I will be taken to task by my dear friend Ruprecht, who is Bond Villain in his own right in the musical journalism set.

The Gow

Posted: July 3, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in About, Me & Mine
Tags: , , ,

When I first started writing seriously (“seriously” being a highly relative term) I used to write about the mentally retarded, the slightly less stupid average people (who don’t have an excuse), things, places and people that annoyed me, etc. I’m not a mean spirited person, so the context in which I wrote about the retarded was observational, and not harsh or mean. One example was that when I would visit my mother in western Massachusetts I’d have her take me to the super market with her. First, because she would spoil me. I could toss anything into our shopping cart and she’d protest ever so slightly, not accept any money I tried to give her and then buy it all for me. I also loved the super markets in New England which were like a paradise compared to the ones here in NYC. Pristine cleanliness, friendly staff, great selection etc. One thing I noticed was that the people who bagged the groceries were generally retirees and the mentally retarded. What blew my mind was that the level of service from the retarded supermarket employees was leaps and bounds better than that in NYC and the “normal” people they hired. Their attitude was a thing to marvel at. They were so friendly and so pleasant with a rarely seen level of professionalism. The basic rules of bagging groceries had been taught to them and they had them down to a T, didn’t cut corners and were thrilled to be working. Honestly, how many “normal” people in America take such pride in their work?

Another thing I wrote of was when I used to stay up all night or wake up early, make some coffee and go downstairs to wave to the bus of mentally retarded people going to school every morning around 7am. They were so psyched and would wave back frantically and try to talk to me as the buses driver would just scowl. That’s a positive way for a person to start their day.

I also claimed that a person could make a wish every time they spotted a retarded person. This was not the only circumstance that I deemed wish worthy. There are many others. If you find a bay leaf in your food. You get to make a wish. If you get the last shot from a liquor bottle at a bar…make a wish. Once while visiting my friend Gina in DC we spotted a retarded adult walking down the street with stiff denim pants pulled up to his arm pits and belted there. I pointed him out and told Gina to “make a wish”. She did so and also snapped a photo of him as he walked away. A woman observed us doing this and said with great disgust “You have got to be kidding me!” It became a line with Gina and I in regards to laughing at insensitive subject matter.

So I wrote about things like that.

Some people took issue with it. Others laughed against their will. Things we aren’t supposed to laugh at can be the funniest sometimes. I always tried to include that I was not ridiculing these people…well not more than I ridicule everyone and everything else, including myself. Hell, in some ways they had my life beat by a mile. They were happy. They weren’t jaded. They were leaps and bounds more stoic than I am. They took time to smell the roses.

It was around this time that I met my best friend and editor; Gow. Her real name is Jama (Jay-Muh) We met online and she had read some of my stuff and had liked it. Like many people with a unique name she was sensitive about it. I once made some reference to her being a “Bad Mama Jamma”, and she deadpanned “Yeah, never heard that before.” I could relate. I never liked my name; Scott. It was too easy to rhyme when others felt like picking on me as a kid. It rhymes with “Snot” “Pot”, “Twat” and lots of other things. Kids are musical creatures and they’d make up poems and songs about me. My step sister once sang “Scotty on the potty kissing with Dottie” and I practically cried.

I dubbed Jama “Gow” after a story I wrote about a group of mentally retarded adults I encountered at the eye doctors. She liked the story and started cracking up. I thought on the one year anniversary of my blog, I’d rewrite the story and dedicate it to Gow. I am so lucky to have such a friend and editor. Plus a great deal of my early writing vanished. I had posted it on MySpace, but never printed it out. After a certain amount of time Myspace deleted the entries and the originals are now gone forever. Gow makes sure all of my writing is stored on thumb drives now. Of course it is often human nature to romanticize the past and things that are lost. I think lots of my lost writing was probably pretty good and would have been even better after I had rewritten and Gow had edited it. A person once told me that they saw an improvement in my writing over time.

So, here is the story…rewritten from memory, hopefully better than the original piece.

The Origin of Gow

I was at the eye doctors on Broadway here in Astoria. While waiting for my name to be called I was flipping through magazines. The magazines were so-so. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I become very larcenous at doctors offices. I steal magazines, samples, rip off recipes, and when I make it to the doctors actual office I will pocket any and everything I can. It’s my petty little revenge for having to wait and for doctors and their staff never apologizing for keeping me waiting well beyond my scheduled appointment. It’s just a common courtesy to apologize for keeping people waiting. The fact that I never get an apology from the medical field just says to me that they feel their time is more valuable than mine. “Sorry to keep you waiting, it’s crazy here today” isn’t too much to ask.

Across from me in the waiting room were 4 or 5 mentally retarded adults. I believe the politically correct term is “developmentally disabled” but PC language is bullshit. It doesn’t slip an ace into the cards they’ve been dealt. Plus, it is a highly inaccurate term in my opinion. I think everyone has some developmental disability. There are branches of mathematics being taught to 3rd graders today that I couldn’t understand after taking 5 classes as an adult and failing or withdrawing from all of them. Other people are brilliant in terms of IQ and intellect, but are simply clueless socially. These are, by definition, developmental disabilities.”Retarded” is what I grew up hearing, and it’s pretty simple language. Nothing wrong with it. “Slow” is another term I am fond of. These people weren’t slow. They had a physiological condition in regards to their brains/bodies. With them were three or four what I used to call “Tard Sheppards”. Adults who kept an eye on them, helped them with assited living, got them to the eye doctor etc. I enjoy bestowing nicknames on to friends and strangers alike. The first retarded guy I dubbed “The Burger King” because he kept talking about going to Burger King, and one of the sheppards was actually arguing with him about it.

“I wanna go to Burger King, and you said we could go.”
“I did NOT say dat!”
“Yes you did an’ I wanna go to Burger King.”
“You aint got no money fo’ Burger King.”
“Yes I do…”
“I took you to Burger King on Monday.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did!”

Really, who argues about these things? Children maybe. It made me wish there was a BK nearby so I could step out, grab him a whopper, fries or whatever and totally make his day.

The person next to His Majesty, The Burger King and The Royal Fool was the most severely disabled of the group and he kept rocking back and forth, biting his hand and arm and then, embarrassed, he would “hide” his hand by sitting on it. There is nothing funny about this, and it’s kind of sad, except I will say that occasionally when I am very upset or shocked that I bite my arm and rock back and forth. The people around me find it highly amusing.

After Rocket Man was a little old woman who seemed catatonic, and batting clean up was a young woman in her twenties who kept saying “Gow” over and over. What was interesting was that the sheppard next to Gow was having a very matter of fact conversation with her. It was as if she understood the subtle nuance and tone of the various gows.

“Gow.”
“Ummm, I think we’re having meatloaf tonight at the house.”
“Gow Gow Gow.”
“Mashed potatoes, string beans and apple brown betty.”
“Gow Gow Gooowwwww!”
“I know you don’t like string beans…you have to eat some kind of vegetable.”
“Gow?”
“OK. corn it is”
“Gow G-g-g Gow?”
“I think we’re next”
“Gow?”
“For new glasses.”

Finally, my name was called and I went in for my appointment.

Jama, as I said, liked the story and started saying “Gow” in lieu of “Hello” when she called. I started calling her “Gow” or “Little Gow”, which I think she liked, given her sensitivity to her name. It became an integral part of our friendship. “Sad Gow” became her expression when she was disappointed with me. We speak every day and when one of us doesn’t have the chance to call.

“Hi Gow…what’s up?”
“Sad Gow”
“Why Sad Gow?”
“Cause you didn’t call me”

It was a visit to adolescence. “Sad Gow” became synonymous with a disappointment. Gow once even said it out loud at work when her lunch room didn’t have the fish she dines on every day.

I ask her often if she likes being called “Gow” and she answers in the affirmative. It seems I need regular assurances. Gow does too sometimes, and that might be part of why we are so close. She never had a nickname. I have had some, but never cared for them. They were always a means to get under my skin and the only thing that made them marginally tolerable was that they were used by close friends.

This piece may not be my funniest, or most clever…if ‘clever’ is a word I may use to describe my self and what I write. But it’s important to me because I wanted to write something for my best friend and editor..something that would make her smile, something that would make her Happy Gow.