Mixed Feelings

I have never been one for watching fights, least of all the all-in, go-for-the-jugular kind — cage fights or mixed martial arts, which lack even the elephants’-ballet grace of boxing. Only now I have a crush. Yike.

I looked up from the bike at the gym and they were recapping this event. Women’s Ultimate Fighting. Half of me says it’s about time and the other half says, oh great, so now women get to incur Parkinson’s from chronic concussion and have their faces rearranged just like men, ain’t that progress.

But oh my god, the arms and shoulders on this woman. Who lost; don’t care. She had pared down for the match — the little bit of fleshiness that you see on her torso in parts of the  video was gone, not that it was much to begin with, so that she looked like one of those faux-muscled robot destroyers that are popular in video games. It brought out the triceps. The lower lateral triceps. I wish to Bog that before I die, I can have the opportunity and gumption to train myself into triceps like that.

No ambition to hit anyone. Or rather, too much. One reason those fight sports put me off, I suspect, is the amount of  self-restraint I’ve had to impose on myself in the years since I decided that being routinely rusticated for brawling in school was not a life plan. But it’s goddamned hard, because there are so many stupid, nasty people out there… and so little time.

I’ll just imagine being her.

Side Effects

The odd utterances interrupted my last massage appointment of the day — a longtime client and, fortunately, cat person, the epitome of the chunky IT guy in sandals and geek tee shirt. Which he was not wearing, being on the table at the time.

“That sounds weird,” he said; “you want to go and check?”

I went and checked. Mr. Ferguson, still on meds for his curious bladder condition, had cornered his long suffering wife, Mrs. Nickel Catmium-Ferguson, in my business office and was addressing business, astride her hindquarters, nipping her scruff.

I have not seen this in a while. Darby and Joan as they are, their salad days seemed to be past them. Only at the moment Fergie is full of assorted meds for his, well, condition.

The vet ended by giving him something called Prazosin, which is apparently appropriate for anxious humans with urinary issues.

“One very rare side effect of prazosin is priapism,” says Wikipedia.


He seems okay now, having been competently ju-jitsued by Nickel, who as a Bengal does not fuck around.

You can get a massage at Massage Envy or the like, or you can come by my pop stand and get the full entertainment value.

A Kiss From A Drunken Muslim

I hate it when panhandlers try to shake me down by offering me help with things that I can do fine by myself, so at first I said “I’m good, thanks.” (I hate that locution too, but I catch myself using it. Good at what? To whom?)

He kept standing there at the periphery of my fun-house vision. “Can I ask you something?”

I looked straight at him. “Yes?” His eyeballs were marbled like a moderately fatty slab of bacon and his skin was the velvety supple black that comes straight from Africa. His maroon shirt, neither especially old nor especially new, read FIRE AND RESCUE, with the words MOSUL, IRAQ around a sort of Maltese cross design and Arabic writing below. Something about his body language said not wrapped real tight.

“Can I have two dollars?”

It was intimately, pricklingly hot in the middle of the hectare of tarmac where I was parked. You know something, if you need two dollars enough to stand out in a frying pan like that and ask me for it — especially if you look like you have been on an epical bender — I will give it to you. I keep a few dollar bills in my key wallet. I had three today.

“Can I have all three?”

I paused a moment. “Hell, yeah. Life is a bitch.” There was a jar of pickles in my grocery bag that cost more. I squeezed his hand as I put the bills into the other. Soap is cheap.

“You see what my shirt says here? I work this job. See in Arabic? Same words. I am African, you see?” If I hadn’t seen, I’d have heard; African speakers make of the English language a music second only, I think, to the delicious lilt that is called Bombay Welsh. “I am Muslim. But I am not the extreme kind who do the bad things. I am Muslim but I try to go live in Nigeria, I am afraid they kill me so angry people. I am trying to be American me.” He put the bills in his pocket. “Can I kiss you?” I reflected that we were in the middle of a fairly busy parking lot; he was hardly a a rape artist in the shadows of a strip mall at midnight, and he was leaning to the side, not straight at me. He placed, not exactly a kiss, a buff of sorts at my temple. Oh well, soap is cheap.

“You are kind! You give me three dollars!” he called out as he sloped off across the parking lot with an uncertain gait.

I don’t care if everything was bullshit but his accent, which no one could fake. The world breaks people sometimes. I can’t do much about that standing on one foot, but I can spare a few bills. Maybe he laughed all the way to his car. I doubt it though. Anyway, I’ve spent three bucks more foolishly.

In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.



A Cat And His Salad

What happened was, I was cleaning the electric drinking fountain that I keep upstairs for Mr. Ferguson and his wife (Mrs. Nickel Catmium-Ferguson), and I realized That’s the third time I’ve heard Fergie get in the litter box and go diggety-diggety-dig.

Fergie is world famous for his love of the litter box — or at least his prim manners about using it — so when he exited the box, then squatted down and tried to do something on the rug (nothing happened) I knew I was in for it.

The first thing you think of in these circumstances is blocked cat, at least if you have seen it in a cat. Boy cats sometimes stop up. Apricat Beezler was a scarred veteran of the condition. Magnesium crystals precipitate in their pee, distilling a horrid sludge that gets impacted exactly where you would least want to be impacted, so that, like an old guy with flaring prostate trouble, they can’t force out a drop, and you hear a ghastly yowl and it is an all-hands-on-deck emergency. But Fergie didn’t yowl. He just seemed puzzled.

I stuffed him in a carrier and shot out of the house anyway.

The vet concurred. He wasn’t blocked. In fact his bladder was empty. Maybe an infection, maybe something idiopathic. Fergie already takes medicine for an irritable gut so it made dismal sense. They wanted, ahem, samples, so it was a day of telephone check-ins about whether the kitty had peed yet. About six p.m. they moved to plan  “B” and did something with a hollow needle that I don’t like to think about, sort of like in vitro fertilization. Until the labs come back, he is on a nasty antibiotic that smells of fake strawberry flavoring (why?) and a long acting pain injection that was supposed to sedate him (not).

Fergie seemed unfazed when I picked him up, but he dearly, dearly wanted to get home, and he was ravenous. This morning he was still ravenous. This afternoon, he leapt on the table as soon as I set down my lunch and went to work on…

… the salad.

I have truly never seen this. Does bladder irritation in cats produce a craving for arugula? He seemed to be preferentially picking out the arugula.

Az, see you and raise you on the asparagus.


Does anyone else hate those plaques (and bracelets and tee shirts and door mats) that say “LIVE  * LOVE * LAUGH”?? I mean, is it just me?

You know how the latest feminist outrage (and I was calling myself a feminist before it was a thing, but I do get tired of the Outrage Of The Week) is men telling women to smile? Well I guess I get it because I hate that motto, which has ambushed me repeatedly of late. Don’t tell me to love when I’ve just encountered six things I hate. (Say a loose dog, a rude driver, a toddler, Latino music played too loud on someone’s car radio, a “pro-life” bumper sticker, a door to door salesman.) Don’t tell me to laugh when I am less amused than Queen Victoria.  Don’t even tell me to live. I might hold my breath just to spite you.

Admonitions to cheer and wholesomeness are like being bludgeoned about the head and shoulders by someone explaining that the beatings will continue until morale improves.

It makes me feel like this guy.

click for explanation

click for explanation


Consumer Dissatisfaction, or, I Can’t See This

I paid the credit card bill for these eyeglasses about ten days ago.



I swear it gets worse with time. First, back in 1997, I had to wrestle an optician to the mat, because she couldn’t believe that my haywire vision involved anything but “unfamiliarity with polycarbonate.” (For those who are lucky enough to have good vision, polycarbonate lenses allow you to have bottle-bottom correction without bottle-bottom glasses. Myopes like me know all about it.) No, it was the corneal dystrophy, a quaint affliction that gives you a fly-eye multiplex panorama of, say,  three stop lights or freeway signs overlaid on one another.

So I think I have the optometrist trained to leave out my astigmatism prescription (because on a given day it can make the corneal dystrophy twice as bad), and I buy a pair of giant sunglass frames that the optician swears are pure titanium (“why again do you need such durable frames?”, she said, petite and sedentary, unacquainted with hurtles off of glute-ham benches or Batwoman dangles from Smith machines).

And I take these fucking glasses home and treat them like newborn guppies since, aha!, I can actually read through the bottoms of them even though now the computer screen looks like a dog’s dinner, you can’t win them all, and then what do you know, I get out of the shower, open out the left bow, open out the right bow, it bends upward in my hand like an overboiled piece of capellini, I bend it down thinking WTF is it hinged like that?, and off it comes in my hand, not unscrewed at the hinge but parted in the metal, like a paper clip that’s been at the mercy of someone with bad OCD.

There ensued a characteristic farce in which Your Narrator, destitute of attire, groped her way wet and dripping to the dresser drawer containing about seven past pairs of glasses, dating all the way back to the real-glass days (a half-inch thick at the edges, with yellowing nosepads), and rummaged through them trying to find one that sort of worked, so that she could grab the phone and leave a semi-hysterical message on the after-hours machine at the optical practice. It brought back memories. Once, long before the days of cell phones that would have solved the problem lickety-split, I got out of the shower to find that another member of the household I lived in at that time had taken my glasses by mistake and left behind a completely useless pair of weak-tea reading glasses. Blind is bad enough; blind and naked makes you feel like a mole rat. Blind, naked and wondering where your glasses are in the metropolitan area… well, I think the phrase is done for the day.

So today they called me to say they couldn’t replace the broken frame, discontinued by manufacturer (wonder why?), and could I come out to look at some options? The optician measured the refraction in the old lenses that are better than my new ones (except for reading), exhibited some nifty frames that could be special-ordered in my size and preferred colors, and said she’d call when they came in so I could try them on and choose. That will be trip number four, and they’ll still have the lenses to grind. This is the part I hate most about being half-blind: not the expense, only occasionally the paralyzing panic (“my god, without modern technology I would have to tap my way around with a red cane”); it’s the unending fuckery.

If I am very very good in this life maybe in the next I will not be necessarily rich or blessed, just 20/20.