I Love My Home Town

From the hyperlocal news blog:

FELONY HIT & RUN / INDECENT EXPOSURE, 140815062, 1600 block of S. Barton Street. At 9:23 pm on August 15, an intoxicated and nude subject struck two vehicles while driving a motorcycle. The subject fled on foot into a wooded area after wrecking the motorcycle. Police located the man a short distance away and he was transported to INOVA Fairfax hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Note, not just intoxicated, but destitute of attire. On a motorcycle. What’s not to love?

We get something like this around here about twice a month.

The Grinner

This sort of shit always happens right before I go on vacation.

“Hey! Did you get my call earlier? Oh, okay, no problem. I just want to know if it’s OK with you that my work buddy takes my appointment. I know I’m in again in two weeks, I’m fine. He’s a mess. We’ve been working on the Ebola outbreak and how to protect our volunteers in West Africa and he’s been here late every night and his neck has locked up.”

Sure. Whatever.

They arrived together about an hour later, my client of twenty-plus years and Scott, his co-worker, the latter broadcasting a creepily grinning Joker-like risus sardonicus which I suspect he fondly thought of as an attempt to smile through the pain. It made every individual hair on my body twitch and flutter like prairie grass in the wind.

“What have you been doing for it so far?” I asked.

“Well I saw a couple other people for massage.”

“But I know you can do a better job,” chimed in my regular client.

Oh, no pressure, then.

He couldn’t lie flat on his back. He couldn’t lie on a slant cushion. I had to put him over on his face. Thank God; it took away the spectacle of that spastic rictus.

I talked while I worked. I talked about the nonsurgical therapies that had worked for one client and another with a neck disc problem. I talked about the unlikeliness of dorsal angina (I’ve seen it once and it didn’t go away when she changed position). I talked about the muscles I was working on and why they could create awful pain just by seizing up. I pressed here and asked him to breathe, then pressed there and asked him to breathe again. Deep. Now blow.

In some ways I think the most relaxing thing I did was answer his remarks about all my body books; yes, I’ve had some of them since I was four years old; yeah, I had that Visible Woman model with the transparent exterior and all the lungs and kidneys and things that you painted and snapped into place. It was quaint and reminiscent and had nothing to do with Ebola. Here’s your diaphragm. Here’s your stuck rib. Inhale and blow out as I compress it.

I didn’t think he’d be able to take an hour’s work, but when I looked up at the clock I had overshot by five minutes.

That awful grin was off his face. “It feels better than it has in a week,” he said.

I hope it stayed that way.

It’s flattering when my long-time clients think I can square the circle, but, well, scary.

Canned Tuna Flambe, or, Every Young Man’s Dream (or, There’s An App For That)

Corporal Man-Child of the IDF was explaining to us about the canned tuna when his cell phone made an alarming noise.

This is because it was an alarm. Home on leave, he was still receiving alerts from Israel about things like incoming rockets, an app especially designed for Israeli citizens. It uses some sort of coordination between the phone’s GPS and missile alerts to shriek and tell you to head for the bomb shelter. Not knowingly under fire, he was perplexed for a moment until he flicked his screen and said “It looks like we’ve got a peace agreement. YESSS!

Six foot gangly three of 25-year-old military muscle doing a fist pump in your dining room is dangerous to the chandelier. After a moment I exhaled.

It has been a long road for the Man-Child since he put me in mind of Yeats, since I foisted bestowed my senile car upon him to make sure nothing stood between him and a job, since he texted from under the Iron Dome. It has taken him from suburban basements to a kibbutz to a hostel in Tel Aviv to the Israeli Defence Force, this young man who once read about the Holocaust as a schoolboy and said “I don’t want to be a Jew any more if it makes people want to do that to you.” In the end, in the aftermath of the Wall Street Recession, there weren’t any jobs and the US Army wouldn’t take his spinal curvature and the kibbutz wasn’t working for him and the IDF wasn’t so picky. Nothing more idealistic than that.

“What it is about the tuna fish,” he explained as we settled back down, “is you have to go on some long fucking maneuvers in training and you eat when you can in a hurry and the tuna fish is standard rations. But it’s cold tuna fish and it’s clammy and it sucks, and what you do, is you take a twist of toilet paper and soak it in the oil from the fish and put it on top of the can, okay? Then you set it on fire and you have crispy blackened tuna fish, which actually tastes like something and you have to fight people off if you have it.”

Off duty, the fare is better, I gather. There is the Arab guy who presses his own olive oil (and sells it in reused water bottles), the Russian meat guy, the four vegetable vendors on the same street with Man-Child’s off-base apartment, the fishmonger who beheads and fillets the salmon before your very eyes. “The food’s been a problem since I got back,” he said. “Many trips to the bathroom.” In other nations, but Israel particularly, they do not let you sell food laden with all sorts of chemical shit. It might almost make up for the rockets.

Well maybe. “This app is pretty good, it seems to catch everything,” he said. “Except the time I slept through it. I was in barracks and I slept through the phone and then the air raid siren went off, and the drill is you go out in the hall, because the sleeping quarters have windows that could smash in, only the hall was already full of a bunch of 18 year old women recruits that hadn’t slept through the app and I couldn’t get far enough out of my room to shut the door. And then the rocket hit. About as far away as that Stop sign way down the block?” We had wandered out front by then, to enjoy the balmy breezy Tidewater night and let the Man-Child smoke a cigarette, downwind. “And the door fucking blew shut behind me from the blast and shot me out right into a body heap of these 18 year old chicks, all of us in our pajamas.”

Every young man’s dream, except for the bomb part, I guess.

We went back inside to drink to peace. I had accumulated a stockpile of single malts, and the Engineer had a set of shot glasses, and we lined up the Glenmorangie the Amrut the Clynelish the Laphroiag in a row. “L’chaim,” said the Man-Child, who had probably been speaking more Hebrew than he realized all evening. “Well, that’s ‘to Life.’ You need Peace for Life, though.”

We drank.

“L’Shalom,” went the second toast: “Peace,” plain and simple: the desire of most of the people in uniform who do the job they’re paid to do and hope nothing ever hits the fan too hard, even if they enjoy the relative immunity of the unit that makes films and public relations announcements, like the Man-Child.

“Is your friend Ben still driving that old car of mine?” I asked, on a random thought. “Nah, it finally died,” he admitted, “the transmission went. Damn, that car took me so many places.”

“Melissa,” I invoked, raising my shot glass and enjoying the nostalgic sound of her name, which I gave to her six months before the Man-Child was born. “Melissa,” chorused the guys.

He wants to go to college, but not here. The IDF will give him a leg up, and he has a homeland now. No idealism, no zealotry: just a place he’d rather be.

He flies back a week from Sunday, no longer the Man-Child, simply a man, as good as he can manage. We get to cross our fingers while old animosities light the sky seven time zones away, because, oh yeah, that peace accord didn’t happen.

A  journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.

She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

“Pardon me, sir, I’m a journalist. What’s your name?

“Morris Feinberg,” he replied.

“Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?”

“For about 60 years.”

“60 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?”

“I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop. I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man.”

“How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?”

“Like I’m talking to a wall.”

Pray for us now and in the hour of our birth.

Hello Kitty (Again), or, Manliness

Readers who have been with me for long enough remember my quirky fondness for Hello Kitty, the mouthless Japanese cat who is now rapidly approaching menopause.

What happened was, I was in Gold’s this morning with the Cute Engineer, and he does find the culture of the gym entertaining at times but the giggles overtaking him seemed extreme even so, and I asked him: what? And he indicated a Mini Cooper car — a make of auto that he quite fancies, as it happens — parked outside the floor-to-ceiling front windows.


Zooming in:



You will notice that a magnetic sign on the door advertises the services of a US real estate firm by the name of Coldwell Banker. Which means nothing, really, other than it was the firm I initially employed in my search for my first and present and please God only house I am never going through that again, and it was not good, but maybe it was just that agent, fine, but anyway we continued back to the free weight room to do single leg supported squats and there was a Dire, Bulky, Unsmiling, Rugged Bastard heaving away between two cable stacks, attired in a T-shirt with the same logo, Coldwell Banker.


Wife’s car, maybe?

I didn’t say Hello Kitty to him. Out loud.

Follow The Bouncing Ball

First of all, rumors of my disappearance or abduction are greatly exaggerated. Considerable drama has occurred. Some of this occurred in last night’s evening at the movies.

1. Fashion Victims

For reasons known only to himself, my Cute Engineer cannot go to a film without buying an overpriced box of the confection known as Milk Duds at the concession stand. This entailed an asphyxiating wait in line before a counter from which festered and festooned the rank scent of faux butter being sprayed onto quantities of popcorn. Seriously, this was an olfactory assault at the level of Lewisite or tear gas. Turning round in hopes of a gulp of less contaminated air, I beheld the line of fellow customers, the females among whom were uniformly attired in Spandex so tight as to outline their buttcracks or, for variation’s sake, jeans rent and savaged until they resembled the mesh barriers strung between armatures that one sees at construction sites. One woman in an ill-fitting bra wore a strange split tunic depending over such a denim garment, made of a transparent fabric such that, well, I mentioned that her bra was ill-fitting.

2. Product Placement

You cannot just go and see a movie nowadays. When I was a pup, you had newsreels and cartoons. Now you have relentless advertisements for television series, Coke, smartphone apps involving the movie theater franchise, Coke, public-service announcements telling you to turn off your smartphone, animations telling you that the feature is on its way and you should buy a Coke, helpful reminders about walking not running to the nearest exit in case of emergency featuring Langolier-like bodiless heads sucking on Cokes, and Coke. Did I mention Coke?

After about three announcements featuring this movie chain’s bouncing bodiless heads I was ready to annihilate any soccer ball I met for the next few years.

3, But I Did Like The Dragons

If only because the animator was obviously a cat person. Look at the first minute here and tell me I’m wrong if you dare.

Ignore everything after about 1:04. I can’t be arsed to figure it out; I’m too busy not being abducted.

I want a dragon.

4. But I Didn’t Buy A Coke

I had no reason to because I closed my eyes after one too many installments of the bouncing animated whatchmajigs.

I had already learned ten and more years ago that the crap “announcements” before today’s film features were a certain precipitator of sick and nauseating headaches. The last time I had the tiniest sip of Coke was after the premiere of “Red Dragon” in 2002, when  was unwise enough to watch the visual effects welcoming me to that particular theater — full of looping, swooping and sideswiping. In the words of someone or other, “I suddenly, and violently, vomited.”

Cola syrup is quite the nostrum for this problem.

This may or may not explain the pre-feature features. Their own antidote, more or less.

There’s a reason I stay home and watch it on disc.

First GM, Now This

I have only ever been involved in one product recall before, and it was for a mechanism called the igniter on Melissa, my old and wonderful Civic Wagon, which by the time the recall was issued had already crapped out expensively on the apron of the swimming-pool parking lot.

This one was different.

Bubble Knob

Yes, as the .pdf at the link will explain, this glass drawer pull has the potential to shear off and take with it a bit of your fingertip, god forbid, considering my occupation, I have two of them in service and another spare in the drawer, or anyway had until I got the notice and restored the drab old wooden pulls that came with the desk . I like things that reflect and refract. My windows are full of crystals and my sun porch is spangled with colored glass vases and candleholders, and my drawers (no jokes please) were similarly ornamented until this evening.

I guess I’m glad one commercial chain is looking out for its customers.