Pages

Friday, July 30, 2010

3. Salaries

We had agreed to meet as usual in our city’s downtown park. C.W. was sitting on a bench wearing an old-time physician’s white outfit, complete with a stethoscope slung around his neck. Somewhere he had obtained one of those large, cylindrical light reflectors held by a headband. He looked like a goddam idiot and I started to keep walking.

“Sit down. The Doctor will be right with you,” he said. He was reading a newspaper and didn’t say any thing else to me until he had turned another page and finished reading it.

“This is a strange piece of information, Jimbo.” He had heard this name somewhere and knew it pissed me off. I had asked him not to use it which made him seem to enjoy using it that much more.

I sighed. “What is it?”

“It’s about something called a salary.”

“Yes. And?”

“What the supreme spirit of evil is a salary?”

“What the "devil" a salary is, is what people are paid for the work they do.”

“Ah yes. Work—that unpleasant little pastime of yours.”

“Don’t you work on your planet?”

“We contemplate, imagine, and visualize on my planet. It’s different.”

I didn’t say anything. I still hadn’t taken a seat. I really didn’t want to be seen with him.

He straightened his headlight then folded the newspaper and handed it to me.

“Have you seen this?”

I glanced at it. It was an annual weekend piece our statewide newspaper runs that summarizes the top salaries for state employees. “Yeah,” I said. I handed it back to him. “I read it a while back.”

“These listings are all for individuals who perform some sort of public service, considered important by your people, right?” When C.W. used “your people” he was generally referring to a local, statewide, or national population as opposed to the more inclusive “species.” It wasn't complimentary.

“Would you consider the act of teaching others to repair the malfunctioning heart of an unfortunate individual a worthy endeavor?”

“Absolutely.”

“Almost a righteous act?”

“If there ever was one.”

“According to some of your religions, one of the most gracious acts a person might accomplish?”

“True that. You are correct in realizing that some of them don’t go in for one person healing another person. Their god is soley responsible for that. Most of us go for human healing, though. The one who don't, well they seem to keep dying off.”

“We’ll go into that another day. Right now, I would like for you to compare, for me, the ability to teach young people how to repair hearts with the ability to teach young people how to play a children’s game. The latter pays a salary 12 times higher than the former in your state.” I was sitting now and he was staring ahead. As soon as he asked the question, he turned to me and, I’ll swear, turned that goddam headlight on me while he waited for the answer.

“If you are talking about what we pay our football coach compared to the salaries at the medical school, I can’t explain it and neither can anyone else. Just be glad you didn’t land in Alabama.”

“Your know your species is performing berilincha, don’t you?” referring to a Fallovian phrase indicating, literally: the chewing off of one’s genitals, slang for an act that does not portend long-range good fortune.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2. Marriage

“Tell me about this act of bonding into couples,” C.W. said this morning when we met. I could tell he was feeling mischievous for he had assumed the appearance of a rural farmer/preacher from the 1930s, complete with a tall brown hat with a rounded top. He evidently thought it was cute but it embarrassed the hell out of me.

“What’s to tell; it’s what people do.” I was feeling a little peeved over his appearance, being as how we were walking along one of the main streets in the city. “Two people get married and live with one another. What was it Zorba the Greek called it? Oh yeah, ‘The full catastrophe.’”

“Catastrophe?”

“According to some. Others like it fine.”

“So any two people can do it? This marriage?”

“No, in our state, as in many others, the couple must consist of a man and woman.”

“Why is the state concerned with it?”

“You’d be surprised what the state chooses to concern itself with.”

“I already am. And we are just getting started.” He remained silent for a good five minutes as we walked. He insisted on tipping his hat to everyone we met and I was looking for a place to hide.

“Origin?”

“From what I can tell, marriage was first conceived as a method by which a man could legally document and protect his multiple concubines from raids by other men. As polygamy shifted into monogamy, the concept centered on the relationship between a couple.

“Why is it considered so important?”

“In some cultures, it’s not. In ours, religion took it over.”

He frowned. Or at least his shape frowned. “This religion. We must talk about it. It seems to, as you people say, ‘screw that above us a lot of things’”

“I think you are trying to say ‘screw up a lot of things.”

“Whatever. Now let’s get back to marriage. Do your female units still regard this as a cataloging and legalizing ownership matter?”

“Please don’t call them ‘female units.’” We had talked about this before. “And, in our culture, only women of certain religious followings still adhere to the ownership paradigm.” Many of the educated and those unaffiliated with a religious sect do not accept it.”

“Other than satisfying this mysterious religious longing, are there any other benefits to marriage?”

“Oh yes,” I said. “There are many legal privileges available only to those with marriages recognized by the state.”

“Isn’t your so-called ‘state’ too busy to attend such trivialities?” he asked. “I mean I have noticed the critical condition of your life-support system.”

“Some say so,” I said as I turned my head to avoid the eyes of a policeman to whom C.W. had just tipped his hat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1. We Meet Up



Dear Friends and Followers: Big Dope is taking care of family business today and left me in charge. So many people have asked how we met that I repeat the very first posting in which he provided his version. I don't quite remember it that way, but I'll let it pass. Following is his version. Enjoy.

His name, phonetically expressed, is Chawawaclickclick. I use the phonetic expression for the simple reason that stating it his language in print requires imagery that looks like a lot like bird spatter on a new Cadillac. The clicks resemble those used by African Bushmen but it is easier to spell them than to develop symbols. So, Chawawclickclick it is. Or at least it was until he went into a redneck bar across the river. Now he insists on the simpler C.W.

How he arrived here from his native planet, and how I became his American escort are interesting, but unessential matters. Let’s just say that he is from deep space, a place he calls, again phonetically, Falloonia. Sometimes with a click at the end and sometimes not. I think he jacks me around some. Falloonians seem to have a sense of humor and aren’t a bit reluctant to torture you with their intergalactic wit.

Anyhow. His original destination was Hannibal Missouri, the reason being that earlier expeditions had determined that Mark Twain was the most interesting American who ever lived. Due to some changes in the atmospheric conditions, he descended early and chanced upon me while I was walking around the City of Little Rock, Arkansas.

I can’t describe his appearance since he is what is commonly known as a “shape shifter.” This particular day, he took the shape of a middle-aged tourist, complete with straw hat, knee britches and a camera swinging from around his neck. He wanted to know if I was interesting.

“Not particularly,” I admitted.

“Are you curious, then?”

“About what?” I checked out the width of his stance and looked around to who might be watching.

“The world, you know…things.”

I reckoned I was as much as the next guy and hastened to tell him that my wife always said I was. I put some emphasis on the word “wife.”

The answer must have sufficed, for then he interviewed me and said that I had been selected to be the Falloonians’ North American contact.

I had no idea what the hell he was talking about then, but I had just signed up for a quite a ride.

Before providing me with any additional information, he asked why we had changed the chemical makeup of our atmosphere, causing his premature descent into our country.

“Uh, we didn’t intend it. It just happened over time,” I managed to explain.

“Could you summarize the efforts your species (I would learn that he used the term species when he intended the question to be global in nature) is taking to restore its condition?” he asked.

“Nothing really,” I said.

“Nothing?” He paused. “Really?”

“Well we cut back on our use of Freon.”

“Your method of dealing with your planet sounds like a contacuraclickclick to me.”

I found out later that a contacuraclickclick was an Faloonian expression indicating the act of sitting on a baby’s face, i.e. a foolish course of action.

Anyway, that's how we met and now I seem to be stuck with him.