Drunken trail man

The other day I was biking on one of the dirt trails near town, minding my own business, when I saw a man walking down the middle of the trail coming toward me. It was a beautiful afternoon — a great day to wander down the middle of a trail — and I thought nothing of him until he started waving me down. That’s when my mind did its little dance. Do I wave in return and keep going? Does he need help? Is he dangerous? What’s in the brown paper bag in his hand? I should stop, in case he needs help.

During the roughly 40 milliseconds it took for these thoughts to race through my head, my hands were already on the brakes, and thanks to those traitorous appendages, I found myself stopping alongside a stranger who I realized about 39 milliseconds later was a drunken monkey.

As soon as I pulled my headphones off my ears (silently saying good bye to Lacuna Coil), the guy said, “Hey man, can you stop a sec and help, or just talk?”

As I started formulating a response, he continued, “I’m just out here, doing my thing, man. I mean, is there anything FUCKIN’ wrong with that?”

I shifted gears and let go of his first question and began formulating a response to his second question, but then he said, “I’m just out here, wandering through life, and these people,” waving around at the trees and the trail, which was devoid of people at that point, “they FUCKIN’ don’t get it. Where do they get off, man?”

Shit, another question. As I considered a response to that one, I looked my inquisitor over. The man was dressed a little grubbily, but not obviously homeless-grubby. Partly covered by a paper bag was a huge can of what I figured to be a Mickey’s. He gestured a lot in the large and unsteady way of someone who’s very buzzed. His voice alternated between being confidential and boisterous. He made me a little nervous, but I just kept one eye on his hands and figured I’d be able to deflect him if he tried to vent some of his anger at me.

“I stopped and tried to talk to this old woman,” he continued on, apparently untroubled by the fact that I had not said one word to him, “and, hey, I’m just out here, trying to do my thing, you know? And, who the FUCK is she to judge me?”

Meanwhile, a few other bikers rode by and I could practically see them holding their hands up to shield their faces from the spectacle of the drunk guy and the poor fool who stopped to listen to him. I watched, a little envious, as they passed on their way.

My new drunken friend waved after them, “See what I mean? FUCK them! Man, I don’t know how they think they can judge me. I mean, I’m just being myself, wandering through life. Is there anything FUCKIN’ wrong with that?”

Finally I spoke, bypassing the formulation process, and said, “No, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I mean, that’s what I’m doing.”

And this guy looks at me, smiles and holds up his hand for a high five. “Right on, man,” he said as we clasped hands briefly, and he began walking down the trail.

“Have a good day,” I said after him and watched for a second as he wandered his way down the middle of the trail, apparently happy to have had someone just listen to him. Such a little thing. Huh.

Bike trail

Bike trail, sans drunken people


Toilet flushing 201

I’ve recently been told that I should hold the lever down longer when I flush the toilet. I like to think I am open to learning new things, but I have to say, this has shaken me. After all, I’ve been flushing toilets for many years, and I thought my technique was perfectly fine. Apparently not.

Toilet handle

Hold down for at least a second or two

I’m a little confused. I mean, I get that the toilet flushing system is mechanical, and it could be that holding the lever down longer affects the operation, but still, I’ve seen the inner workings and I could swear that the flappy cover/gasket thingy (I’m pretty sure that’s the correct technical term.) is lifted up by the action of the lever, and then it takes its time naturally on the way back down.

But it occurs to me that maybe it’s not a mechanical thing at all. Maybe holding the lever down longer is a way of communicating with the toilet, as if to say, “I’m serious here. This isn’t a joke. It’s important that you really flush the contents of the bowl.”

It seems odd that I’d have to emphasize that, though. I mean, if the toilet is aware of how long I do (or do not) hold down the lever, wouldn’t it also be aware of what’s in its bowl? It almost seems like it would flush itself. Has it no sense of decency? No sense of smell?

I don’t know. I guess it could be that those times in my life when I’ve flushed and had the water in the bowl keep rising up instead of swirling down was because of my flawed flushing technique. Maybe the toilet didn’t fully understand my intention.

I think I’m starting to understand why people at crosswalks hit the button several times and really smack it good. I thought it was impatience, but now I see that they’re letting the “Walk” light system know that it isn’t a false alarm. “I’m not messin’ with you. I really want to cross this intersection. Can you help me out?”

Still, I like to think I have a better relationship with my toilet than that. Shouldn’t it (he? she?) just *know* me well enough by now? Maybe I just need to have a little chat next time I’m in there. I’ll say, “When I flush, I mean it, even if I only hold the lever for a short time. It doesn’t mean I don’t, you know, respect you or anything.”

I guess communication is important, even in the bathroom.

Seven Swords

Tarot of the Sweet Twilight VII of Swords

Tarot of the Sweet Twilight

Dragon fly wings and her eyes
orange lips licking the butterfly
strange man streaming from her hair
flying things

Angry fierce flowers transform red lines
into swords piercing
the head
the green fields
faces out of the mind
pink and blue like flames
wavy in the sea of air

Thoughts flutter through the fabric
bursting the largest
flying striving thing
below ringed like a worm

They fly everywhere up down right
but none go left where the back of the head is
the flying falling one’s left hand is lopped off
reaching up the same as her face

Weird story start #2

Jessica said, “Mom, I have to tell you something.”

“Yes, honey?” her mom replied.

“I’ve been accepted into a government program. I can’t tell you much, but I can say that you may never see me again.”

“Oh? But Jesse, you can’t leave me alone. After your father died, you’re all I have left!” her mother said, her voice wavering.

“I know that, Mom. That’s why I’ve arranged for someone to come take my place. Her name is Lisa. I think you’ll like her.”

Weird story start

John approached the box and looked at it. It was closed tight, so he had no idea what might be inside, but something about the appearance of the box attracted him and he found himself irresistibly drawn to it. He felt the sides of the box, looking for a way to open it.

“Careful, John,” Karen said. “It could be dangerous.” Even as she said it, she knelt down and looked closely, apparently helping him look for a way to open it.

John felt a small crack and tried to use his fingernails to open the box. Once he got a little bit of a hold, the lid opened smoothly and easily, as if the box wanted to be opened. He gazed inside and at first thought it was empty, but then he realized he could see clouds floating within. If he looked at it one way, they looked like they were impossibly far away, but in another way, they were little puffs of smoke, somehow frozen in the small space.

Karen reached in and took one of the clouds, pulling it out of the box. Small flashes of lightning trailed in its wake as she placed it in the palm of one hand. Tiny rumblings of what might have been thunder followed. John reached in and took one of his own and held it to his eye. Just then, an airplane the size of a fly emerged from the cloud and flew into John’s eye. He screamed and dropped the cloud, which simply floated there in front of his face. The airplane, however, fell, bouncing off his chest and nose-diving into the floor. A tiny explosion lit the room before subsiding into a small fire that Karen quickly stamped out with one foot.

Starbucks I

Where are you from
man with an accent?
hot places
of palm trees and sand
while here I sit
inside the familiar coffee shop
with army-colored walls
and blood on the ceiling
from all those
wondering about a stranger’s accent