He awoke from a dreamless sleep, but instead of moving, instead of stretching and yawning, there was only the light sensation of floating.
As he floated higher, slowly higher, he saw himself below, still sleeping without a sound. This was one hell of a dream, he thought, but in that very same moment, a calm, lucid sense of reality spread through his being and he knew that somehow, he was indeed floating above his body, watching himself sleep breathlessly below.
He thought of the latest contortion he’d managed to twist his life into, but where there had been months mixed with desire and aching, days on end with his stomach in knots, his heart soaring and then sinking, now all of this was replaced with a strange sense of detached perspective over his reflections. Memories flowed through of the woman who had made a pass at his wife, the wife who had sweetly rebuffed this woman’s repeated attempts to kiss her mouth, the way the woman had then resorted to begging to watch while he and his wife had sex.
He thought of her burning intensity as she sat and watched him abide in her request and how that was the moment he began to swoon so deliriously for her.
A mild sense of amusement rippled through as he thought of how things had got only got more complicated from there. The weekend had continued with him and the woman, two fellow alcoholics and partners in crime, boozing it up while his Muslim wife remained sober as always. What a bizarre trio they made, a random collection of strange fruits, the result of a life lived chasing chaos and spurning structure.
For years, his wife and he had invoked the story of Abraham and his barren wife Sarah and reflected on how both the Bible and the Quran had seemingly given license for a man in such circumstances to plant his seed in a woman other than his wife. He thought of how beautiful, strong and selfless his wife had been to give him the okay to take his new found friend into the bedroom that very next night.
He thought of how he knew even as they headed for the bedroom, it would only be a matter of time until his wife began having second thoughts. It had turned out to be only a matter of three hours to be exact.
In the days that followed, he began thinking of this Heaven-sent Hagar most hours of the day. He had been under no illusions and was well aware that this woman’s desire for his wife had been far stronger than her’s for him and her acquiescence to his lust hadn’t served to change that.
The more she seemed distant and unreachable, the more his heart yearned to draw her closer. He knew in a situation like this, the only way you had a chance to turn things around was to try to put things on an equal level by wearing a mask of ambivalence to equal her own, but where once he had been quite adept at playing that game, now he was controlled by the gnawing pit of desire that seemed to grow by the day, sometimes with every hour.
Thus began a roller coaster of days, when she was drunk, she’d ask him to take her in the bathroom and fuck her, on the mornings when she was sober, she was ashamed of her behavior, wishing only to reunite with her estranged husband.
What a wicked web we’d woven, he thought.
He remembered how he had relished the sweet agony of yearning for a woman who felt that desire just as deeply as he did, only to be repulsed by her behavior when she sobered. He cursed himself for wanting the drunk version of her when he knew how the drink was slowly killing her.
He thought of how shallow a life he had lived, like a Roman who only wanted to drink himself from one orgy to the next, somehow born into the wrong time and place. Then the realization swept over him that even if he had managed to find himself toga-clad in that world of drunken debauchery, he still would have felt the void, the emptiness that could never be filled.
He thought of how meaningless it had all been, a life lived in a never ending pursuit of pleasure and he imagined how his life might have been had he applied himself completely to building a family or accomplishing great things. As if in reply, he thought of how transitory those other lives were too, how even a great family man was only a few generations from being forgotten or just a name on the family tree and how even those men who were titans of their times would inevitably be obscured with the passage of time, senators and governors whose lives had loomed so large, only remembered by a handful of students of history. He thought of how so many great heads of churches and businesses were doomed to become little more than a face in a succession of framed faces of bygone leaders on the wall.
He thought of how, should the human race still exist in two or three centuries, even someone as great as Abraham Lincoln would end up known to most students as nothing more than the answer to a test question on who freed the slaves in the former United States of America.
He thought again of the woman, the troubled mother of two in whom he saw so much of himself, the woman who, at least for the short time he’d known her, had chosen her wine over life itself. He wished he could watch over her and guide her away from that miserable life of isolation and self-imposed slavery.
It was then that his thoughts began to fade, the out-of-body experience began to slip quietly away from him and he realized that there would be no watching over anyone.
His last wisps of consciousness slowly expanded like a cloud of smoke into nothingness.
To all my friends that I was texting last night saying, “Turn on the freakin’ game, I’m on TV!” I should say, well . . . it felt like we were close enough to be on TV! In the third inning though, I went up to get some pizza for my wife and in the concession line I saw the actual broadcast of the game and that’s when I realized we were just a few rows above where the camera was framing the batter at the plate. Doh! Oh well, you might have seen us on a couple of the pop-ups behind home plate.
I just like going to the game – I’ve been next to broke for most my life, so my attitude has always been, the cheaper the seats, the more times I can afford to go to the game. This time, I wanted to see what it was like to see the game from the VIP seats. (That’s what the section is actually called.) We were in Section 1. Section one, baby! That’s the spot right behind home plate where all the numbering for the rest of the sections begins. What a view! It was the closest to home plate I’ve ever been at a baseball game.
I’m used to a bit of a rowdier crowd out in the bleachers, but here in the VIP seats, we were surrounded by nice families and well-behaved fans. I was proud of myself the way I adapted to my surroundings and kept myself in check and didn’t drop a swear word the entire night.
You know how you could tell we were in the nicer part of the neighborhood at the ballpark? Because it wasn’t until Brandon League gave up the game-winning home run in the top of the ninth that I heard the first f-bombs being hurled by some drunken fans (probably sneaking down from the cheaper seats.) That’s pretty standard language out in the bleachers, but down in the VIP seats, I actually cringed thinking of the innocent ears of the kids around me.
This one Hispanic family in front of us was particularly charming. In the fifth inning, Josh Beckett gave up a single that put the Diamondbacks on top, 3 – 2 and as the hitter smacked the ball and it landed out in the outfield, all of a sudden, the eight-year-old girl in front of us shouted out, “YOU SUCK!” to Beckett for serving up that big meatball of a pitch.
My wife and I were cracking up, but I’m watching the mom, and this woman was so embarrassed by her daughter’s outburst that it seemed like she was horrified and just wanted to disappear. The girl’s dad, though not overly stern, made it clear that was not the way their family behaved at a baseball game. I was so impressed by the mom’s embarrassment and the dad’s gentle reprimand that I felt like I had just been time warped to the 1950s, like this was how Ward and June Cleaver would have reacted to The Beaver breaking out with something slightly vulgar.
Maybe I was a bit overly impressed by this family’s decorum and maybe that kind of politeness is not all that uncommon, but then again, I’ve seen way too many families in action at Walmart not to imagine that this family wasn’t a little bit special.
As far as my Dodgers go?
As great as the view from the VIP seats was, next time I go to see my Dodgers doing their best to extend a five-game losing streak to six, let it be from the cheap seats.
I just woke from the strangest dream.
I know there was quite a bit leading up to it, but my recollection starts mid-dream, and my wife and step-daughter are there at a school, Megan’s in her wheelchair and Rayna’s there cheering and we’re in the infield of a track stadium, coaches mulling around, athletes running the track, and I decide to kind of fade away into the crowd and try to discreetly exit the scene.
I remember jogging around handball courts at the school.
My plan is to head to the liquor store. It doesn’t take Freud to interpret this part of the dream, but yes, my wife is a Muslim and I occassionally (perhaps more than occassionally) rebel against her wishes and look to get away from it all and have myself a little rendezvous with John Barleycorn.
My plan was to grab a 40 oz. beer, but I suddenly realize that all my money’s back at home, so I have to turn around and double back around the school and make my way back to our house. The dream is lucid right here, because we do indeed live behind a school.
I’m in the house and I’m running up a flight of stairs and now the dream is turning surreal as I’m in a house that’s no longer the single-level, two-bedroom home we live in and there are five, maybe more bedrooms here.
I’m opening doors, and I’m curious why they have so many bedrooms in this house when half of them are empty. I remember how clean the empty bedrooms look, devoid of furniture, the carpets freshly vacuumed and the vacuum tracks are nice and straight without a single footprint to mar them.
Then I hear a knock at the door. As I scramble back down to the bottom of the stairs, the door is already slightly ajar and I see a big hand coming around and grasping hold of the side of the door. I try feebly to push the door back closed, but I’m not willing to slam the door on this intruder’s hand and I get the sense there’s no point in even trying to overpower the intruder and shut the door.
Through the door step two giant figures, each of which practically fills the door frame on their own. They’re wearing police uniforms, but I barely take notice of the uniforms, I’m transfixed by the angelic face of the one giant police officer in the lead. For all his size, he has the face of an angel and his hair is the slightly curly, cherubic, bushy-type hair you see in the paintings by Rafael.
In the manner of the trained police officer, the two cops are equally soothing and stern as they make it clear it’s in my best interest to just do as they say and lie down peacefully. As much as every fiber of my being wants to resist, no way do I want to fight them and rack up some charges for assaulting a police officer, so they manhandle me (gently) and now I’m on the ground.
In walk the doctors wearing the white lab coats straight from central casting. They tell me everything’s going to be fine, and out comes the needle and I know they want to sedate me so they can take me away. “NO! I don’t want to go!” I try to squirm but the cops have my arms pinned firmly to the floor.
The needle goes in and I can feel the cool fluid entering my veins. I’m determined though, I’m so sane I’ll just keep pleading with them even as the drug kicks in. “This is a mistake, I’m totally fine, just let me be, I’m not harming anyone and I’m not breaking any laws.” And I go on and on. I’m impassioned in my pleas, but I make sure not to come anywhere near to sounding hysterical as I see the doctors are taking notes on my every comment.
Now the drug starts kicking in and I’m trying hard not to slur my speech, telling them that’s not fair, it’s the sedative that’s making me lose control of my lips . . .
This is all a big mistake I tell them. I’m asking them to reconsider, I’m begging them, beseeching them, and then I woke to the sound of my own voice pleading with them not to take me away.
Ah, what a difference a day makes.
I always enjoy looking at before and after pictures, so last Saturday, I decided to ditch the long hair. I took a few photos, of the “before” and couldn’t help but laugh at this one in particular. It reminded me of the famous Charles Manson picture which ended up as a popular t-shirt here in So. Cal. in the late 80s. (The back of the shirt said, “Charlie Don’t Surf”, a cross-reference between the lunatic Manson himself, the movie Apocalypse Now and the general surfer vibe of the local beach cities where we lived.)
I wasn’t trying to strike that pose, but I figured if I can look that much like Charles Manson without even trying, it’s definitely time to get cleaned up a bit.
Given another six months or so I might have had my hair halfway down my back, which is where I feel like I’m really, truly myself, but it’s that inbetween stage that sucks, I was tired of still being in that sloppy-looking inbetween stage, so I headed out the door and braced myself for the shedding of the locks.
Although I normally feel more comfortable in a gay man’s hands – er, wait, that didn’t come out exactly how I meant it – although I normally feel more comfortable putting my hair in the hands of a gay hairstylist (and yes, this preference could be cast by some as a slight bit of prejudice, but all the best haircuts I’ve ever had were from gay hairstylists and plus, I have plenty of interaction with straight women on a daily basis, so I get a kick out of striking up a conversation with a gay stylist whenever I get a chance) but the woman who cut my hair felt my apprehension of losing all that hair and she was calming and soothing as she went to work.
So what do you think, from Manson to handsome, or from headbanger to lamer?
I scoop the dog up, have a look at him, and find he’s got no collar, no identification. I bring him in and my wife instantly falls in love. They’re playing, they’re frolicking, they’re rolling around and it’s truly love at first sight. He’s a lovable little dog and the two dogs we already have seem to be having fun with him as well.
Immediately, I can tell my wife is already in mode of the little child asking “can we keep him?”, but I’ve got this little feeling gnawing at me and I’m thinking what if this is some little eight-year-old girl’s favorite little dog, and what if she’s totally heartbroken wondering where her little dog is?
The dog looks like he’s been recently groomed, so he’s not a street mutt, but he also looks like he’s been out for days, he’s pretty filthy, we check his paws, and they look raw and he yelps at the slightest touch of his paws, so he was probably sitting out in the middle of the street out of exhaustion and it looks like he might have come from many miles away.
Still, I keep thinking of that sad little girl with the lost dog and so while the wife is bathing him, I go out for a stroll with our own two dogs, I talk to a healthy sample of the neighbors walking their own dogs and a few of the neighbors in their cars as they pull up to their homes, and I describe this dog to them and while he’s not the most remarkable looking dog, no one knows of any of our neighbors who owns a dog that fits the description.
So we let him stay for a night, and I figure, tomorrow, against my wife’s wishes, I need to take him to the vet, see if he has one of those chips implanted in him that has his info and if not, maybe then I can have a clear conscience in leaving it up to the owners to see if they’re posting signs because I’m already getting a little attached to this dog and I’m thinking if the owners really want him, that should be up to them to put up the “lost dog” signs instead of it being left up to me to put up the “found dog” signs.
The next day rolls around and my wife, who runs a day care for special children, has her first client shows up to the door, and he can only walk with the help of a walker and while usually it’s her answering the door for her clients, for some reason I was the only one home at the time and like I normally do, I open the door with just one foot extended to keep our two dogs at bay and let them know they’re supposed to stay inside, but as I did this, our new found dog took the first opportunity and bolted straight out that door.
And I could already hear my wife accusing me of doing it on purpose because I knew how much she loved that dog! (I know that makes me sound like a jerk that I already knew those would be her first words, which they were, but chalk it up to every marriage having it’s share of whacky dynamics, but nothing could have been further from the truth.)
You know what, though? The way that dog bolted at the first crack of daylight, I was kind of over it. Your loss, pal.
So today, a month and a half later, guess who comes knocking at our door? That’s right, with his paws literally scratching at the front door, there he was, little Georgie (as we had named him that first time we met.) He had come straight to our freakin’ door.
Now that this is the second time Georgie has been loose to run the streets and possibly get hit by a car and his owners still haven’t gotten him a collar or a tag, so at this point, I’m of a mindset to say to hell with it, we’re claiming him as our own and we’re going to give him a better home, but I’d like to ask of you this poll question and offer it up as a question in a more general sense: