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Sunday, September 25, 2016

340. Music and Awe

 C. W. was waiting for me when I arose this morning. At least let’s say Arnold Awesome was waiting for me. In this shape, C.W. is an eighteen years old boy that’s full of wonder and admiration for all things earthly. He can be inspiring at times, but tedious at others. Somehow he had found an old tie-dyed slipover and some bell-bottom pants in the attic. Of course I have no idea from where they came.

“Awesome,’’ he said. “Did you see the sunrise this morning?”

“I’ve asked you not to use that word,” I said, “it’s the most overused word in our country these days and has totally lost its meaning.”

“Like, it was really cool,” he said.

“And don’t insert the word ‘like’ in a sentence when it isn’t necessary to convey an image or idea.”

“Like,” he said, “when you say ‘far out’ for no apparent reason?”

“That’s different,” I said.

“How?”

I thought. “It just is.”

“Awesome.”

“Why are you up so early? Just to catch the sunrise?”

“How do you ‘catch’ a sunrise? Wouldn’t that burn your hands?”

“Just a figure of speech,” I said.

“How can speech have a figure? Women have figures and accountants figure and you are always figuring to do something for Mrs. Big Dope and then you don’t. I can’t figure your language out at times.”

I ignored him. “So what else have you been doing?”

“Remember when we went to that rock concert? The awesome one,” he said. It was obvious he was being evasive.

“Have you been on my wife’s computer again?”

“You changed the password on yours.”

“Answer me.”

“Just a little bit,” he said, “I was waiting for the sun to rise and, like, got bored.”

“You weren’t back on those …”

“Oh no,” he said, rubbing the side of his head in an unconscious gesture. “She explained about that. I was just watching, uh, the news, that’s it,” he said. “The news.”

“And what was on the news?”

He thought. “Football scores?”

“Is that a question for me?”

“There is this guy who may be elected as your president who has no qualifications whatsoever. They had posts of these news reporters talking about what a great job he would do because he would, like, bring a fresh face to politics through his ineptitude and ignorance.”

“Those weren’t news reporters,” I said.

“They claimed to be. They even called it a news channel where they report and we decide.”

“Whatever.”

He cocked his head. “Whatever what?”

“Just whatever,” I said. “It’s a figure of speech.”

“There you, like, go again,” he said. He shifted gears. “Hey,” he said, “have you ever listened to those old songs that were popular when you were a child? You know, Bessie Smith and such?”

“I wasn’t a child when Bessie Smith was alive,” I said. “But yes, I have heard her music.”

Gimme me a pig foot and a bottle of beer,” he said. “That’s awesome.”

I groaned.

“Wait,” he said. “There’s a better one … my sportin’ man … his barrel’s hot … he rams his ramrod in …”

“Hush,” I said, “you’re going to wake my wife.”

“I think I heard her,” he said. “She’s already up.” He stopped and turned white. “Uh oh,” he said.
What can I say? - C.W.

“You didn’t,” I said.

“Maybe,” he said. “I was listening to one when the sun started to come up.”

“And what were you listening to?”

“It was a song about your capitalistic system of finance.”

“Oh,” I said. I relaxed. “What was the name of that song?”

“I think,” he said, “it was called ‘You Can’t Git That StuffNo More.’”

“Oh no,” I said. I started to get up

Too late. A voice erupted from the next room. “Get in here right now.”

“I think she means you,” C.W. said and nodded in the direction of the voice. “Better see what she wants.”

“I’ll be back,” I said and started toward the door.

“Awesome,” he said.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

339. Advice

It’s hard not to like C.W. when he shows up in the shape of the late Edward R. Murrow. I always liked him, and, boy, to we miss him now. Only problem occurs when he lights up a cigarette. Not allowed in this house. But anyway …

I was feeling a bit blue for some reason. It has been a rough summer and the news hasn’t helped. So when C.W. showed up as the former newsman, I knew he had come to offer kindness and solace.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” he said, loud enough to wake the entire house.

“I’m okay,” I said. “Just feeling a little nostalgic today.”

“Well snap the hell out of it,” he said, lighting a fag. “We’ve got some important stuff to talk about.”

“You won’t talk about anything if my wife smells that smoke.”

“Mrs. Big Dope and I are getting along better now,” he said. “We’ve found common ground to belittle.”

I raised my head. “What common ground?”

“You,” he said. “Now what’s on your mind?”

“Just thinking about very old friends,” I said, “Friends I knew before the Navy. From college. My old liberal friends … comrades of many peace marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations. I haven’t heard from any of them in years.”

“To hell with them,” he said. “Now snap out of it.”

“I think it may link back to my ‘Yossarian Period.’ You know, the character from Catch-22, the Joseph Heller novel. What do you think?”

He knotted his brow. “I think,” he said, “that a BJ would help.”

That snapped me to attention. “A what?”

“A BJ. You know … the new app for my Galactic Universal Translator. Officially it provides a ‘Bibliographical Juxtaposition,’ for when I need to find a literary allusion. The Elders sent it with a note that said a BJ would make my GUT work better.” He stopped and stared at me. “What?”

“I think you might find another name for it,” I said. “Maybe a ‘citation reference app.’”

“You mean you want me tell folks that I need to take a …”

“No, no, no,” I said. “Let’s talk about it later.”

He concentrated. “Okay,” he said. “So this Yossarian was a bomber pilot in one of your world wars and he did what?”

“Contacted his friends.”

He concentrated again. “I’m finding something,” he said. How’s this?” He began to recite verbatim from the book.

“To everyone he knew he wrote that he was going on a very dangerous mission. They asked for volunteers. It's very dangerous, but someone has to do it. I'll write you the instant I get back. And he had not written anyone since.”

He stopped there. “Ah,” he said. “So what did you do while in your so-called ‘Yossarian Period?’ that makes you so somber?”

“It was the third day of the Tet Offensive,” I said. All hell was breaking loose and it was kind of scary where I was.”

“And?”

“I was a little pissed because I felt my old friends had deserted me when I went off to war.”

“And?

“I wrote them all letters.”

“And?”

“I told them that things looked pretty bad, but I would write and let them know if I made it through safely.”

“And?”

“I forgot.”

“And?” He blew a big cloud of smoke my way.

“I’ve never heard from any of them.” I stopped. “Except one. I ran into her at a book festival a couple of years after my discharge.”
I don't care what Big Dope says. I
think more POKES and BJs would make
a big difference in your politics. - C.W.

“And?”

“I think it frightened her to see me.”

“And?”

“She mentioned something about a memorial service and ran away.”

“Mrs. Big Dope is right,” he said.

“About what?”

“You are an idiot. Now,” he said, “if you will excuse me, I going out to interview some young women and ask them for a POKE.”

“A what?”

“A ‘practice on kindness evaluation.’ Why?”

“Uh,” I said. “I think maybe you …” I stopped. “Never mind. I’ll see you later. I feel much better now.”

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

338. Shopping

People ask me how I manage an unearthly creature with a strange sense of humor. I tell them it isn’t easy. For example, I made the mistake of taking him to Big Mart yesterday. Never again.

He had assumed the form, usually one of his least troublesome, of Sanford the Senior Citizen. He wore shorts that stopped just above his knobby knees and a bright shirt with “Been There. Done That” printed across the top. A sporty hat of straw completed the look.

He usually converses in a plain and honest fashion when shaped up as Sanford. Honesty works at home, but not so well byond I found out to my dismay.

We did fine until we reached the vegetable section. Actually, it was the first place we reached as we began going counter-clockwise around the store. He stopped me there and demanded that we go clockwise. I patiently explained to him that one did not go clockwise through Big Mart, and he began to yell that he was much more knowledgeable about how to go through stores than I. A man behind us asked politely if we might take our argument elsewhere. We moved over and allowed him to pass. I heard C.W., Sanford, whoever, say, “Up yours sonny,” to him as he passed. I pretended to examine the cabbage.

We moved a few feet and were, ourselves, stopped by a woman talking on a cell phone. She spoke loud enough to be heard a block away, but C.W. eased up directly behind her, leaned in, and cupped a hand to his ear. I picked up a package of carrots and studied them.

The lady seemed to be talking to a friend about her husband, or boyfriend, one or the other, for she listened a moment and announced, “I told him he ain’t getting’ that stuff no more ‘til he straightens out. No sir.”

C.W. turned to me and pointed at her with a lewd grin. She listened to the phone, then spoke again. “I told him I didn’t know where that thang had been, so he could just keep it to hisself.”

At that point, C.W. took a large cucumber from a stack and offered it to her. “Tell him you done found a replacement for him anyway,” he said to her.

A large crowd and an assistant manager later, we moved over to the meat section. Another woman blocked our way, Words fail me in describing her. C.W. called her “the circle woman,” pointing out that her height and width radii were equal. She was wearing a short pullover and, evidently, nothing else. Did I mention that it was short?

A voice rang through the store. “Look at them hams,” I reversed direction and pretended I had never seen the speaker. I managed to avoid him until I turned into an aisle in the health goods section. There he was, maybe thirty feet away. He formed his hands into a megaphone and yelled at the top of his voice, “Hey, Big Dope. Here’s them Tampons you wanted.” Every head within hearing distance turned toward me.

I rushed over and pulled him aside. “This is not the place for jokes,” I said.

“That’s what Mrs. Big Dope said when I came with her,” he said. Then he grew serious, pointed toward the main aisle, and said, “If this is not the pace for jokes, explain that.”
I don't understand it. Big Dope doesn't cook, but
always heads for the cookware section. - C.W.

He pointed toward the sporting goods section at a man with a three-day growth of beard, and who had a Jim Beam hat perched back on his head. A dirty shirt with the sleeves cut out revealed half his midsection behind meaty arms. He wore cutoff jeans and high-top tennis shows that hung loose and untied. An enormous stomach protruded a good foot beyond the waistband of his jeans. The arm nearest us sported a tattoo of an unrecognizable creature of some sort with, barely readable below it, the words “Kiss me. I’m Irish.” He must have gotten the work done when he was a much thinner man.

“You’ve got a point,” I said to C.W. “Now let’s get out of here.”

“Wait one,” he said. “I’ve a marketing idea I want to pass on to this guy.” The same assistant manager we had met before walked over when C.W. beckoned.

“This is a college town, right?” C.W. asked.

“Why yes sir, it is,” the man said.

“Have you considered,” C.W. said, “the potential increase in sales if you were to stock the Raman Noodles and condoms side by side?”

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

337. Terms

“I’m working on common terms and phrases that I don’t understand. Can you help me?”

“Maybe, but turn that light off. I don’t like for it to be on while I work.”

C.W. had just interrupted me in his “learning” form. He thinks it resembles a Ph.D., tall, short hair, a southern accent from somewhere like the Atlantic coast. I don’t know. He uses it when the Falloonian elders get on his case for not working hard enough. Somehow they had heard about his new love affair with the Pokemon Go game. Anyway, “What terms?” I asked. I tapped the base of my laptop three times, rotated it 5.0 degrees clockwise and waited.

“I think they are medical terms,” he said. “Specifically a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately; an initialism.”

“You mean an acronym.”

“No, I mean a set of initials …”

“It’s called an acronym,” I said, “and please don’t sit there. It hides my view of the front yard from that window.”

“You are typing,” he said, moving a space on the couch, “not watching the yard.”

“I check it every five minutes,” I said. “Now what terms are troubling you.” I remembered something and stopped. “Did you move the TV remote from its location this morning?”

“What TV remote?”

“The only one we have.”

“I think I carried into the kitchen with me. Why?”

“We mustn’t do that. It has its place on the TV stand and it stays there.”

He ignored me. “My first term is ‘RA,’ but I think I know what it means,” he said, consulting his notes.

“Oh?”

“Yes. When Mrs. Big Dope says you have the RA about something, it means you have the red …”

“No,” I said. “That’s not it at all. It means, when used in ads, ‘rheumatoid arthritis.’”

“Why don’t they call it that?”

“I don’t know,” I explained. “I guess it sounds catchier to say RA. Oh, and don’t set your notebook there. That spot is where I keep my dictionary.”

“Jeesh.” He said. “What a grouch.”

“Do you have another term? This is the period of time in the morning when I watch Photoshop tutorials.”

He consulted his notes. “How about ‘COPD?’ I hear that one a lot.”

I thought. “I think it means ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,’ or something like that.” Pleased with myself, I stood and pivoted three times and sat. “What’s next?”

“Something called ‘PTSD,’ and Mrs. Big Dope says you have it. She says that’s what makes you act funny.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Did she also tell you that she moves the toothpaste from its proper place just to upset me?” I took three deep breaths. “Anyway,” I said, “it stands for ‘post-traumatic stress disorder,’ and there are those who think all military veterans suffer from it, particularly those who served in Vietnam. And have you seen the veteran’s baseball cap I wear on Sundays?”

“No,” he said, rather too quickly, I thought. He continued before I could respond. “You might ask your wife. Besides,” he said, “she didn’t say you developed that disorder during your wartime service.”
Mrs. Big Dope uses it all the time.
She says ask Big Dope what it means,
but he won't tell me.

“Oh,” I said. “Then when?”

“She says it was during your honeymoon.”

“Do you have another term?” I took my ‘winter-scene’ paperweight from my desk, turned it over and watched the ‘snowflakes’ fall. It relaxed me.

“Here’s one,” he said. “It’s called ‘OCPD.’ I think the first two words are ‘obsessive’ and ‘compulsive,’ but I don’t know the rest.”

“I never heard of it,” I said. “Besides, it’s almost a minute past the time I shave each morning.”



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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ask the Alien

Dear Ask the Alien:
My children have started, lately, to introduce me to their friends as, "my mother's current husband." When I order them to stop, they just laugh. My daughter is 12 and my son is 14, and they somehow think this is "hip" behavior I suspect they have also been hiding my tools, and the other day they dropped my car keys behind a couch and it took me half a day to find them. My son wants me to sign for him to get a tattoo of his girlfriend's name across his chest and my daughter keeps asking about the possibility of birth-control pills, and asking why a high-school diploma is so important. My wife isn't helping. She is gone most of the day, sometimes well into the evening, and the other night, during sex, she called me "Harrison.," (not my name). On top of it all, our faithful dog, Arson, has started to growl at me when I come home.

My question is this: should I upgrade to Windows Ten?

Sincerely,
Perplexed

Dear Perplexed:
Since you failed to provide the type of work you are involved in, it's hard to form a recommendation. I would simply say that, in the shortage of usable data, I would recommend that, whatever operating system you use, you get one that allows you to play solitary games.

Yours,
The Alien C.W.