Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Baby Poop

I'm standing in a big box grocery store - maybe Target, maybe Safeway… Andronico's? - I'm not sure but it's got a dark black and white checkered floor polished to a high gloss. I can even make out myself in it.

Holding a lemon in my hand and standing by the produce aisle, I realize I'd absent-mindedly been gripping the lemon, squeezing it and running my fingers over its bumpy, oily skin. I'd been imagining a scenario where, as an elementary school student, my teacher had promised to get Maya Angelou in the classroom to speak to us. On the day the poet laureate was to arrive, a portly black gentlemen had entered the classroom, taken my teacher aside, and informed her that she wasn't going to make it. It was just an idea I was toying with - maybe the black gentleman would end up being Angelou herself in disguise, teaching us children our first lesson in the power of preconceived notions? It had occupied me for some time because when I finally looked up from my rumination I could see that I was blocking the herbs in front of me from other shoppers, and the cilantro, parsley, and thyme were being sprayed down with a cool mist.

I set the lemon down and headed toward the back door of the store. I knew my brother would be waiting in his car there - a 1990 Isuzu Trooper - with his wife. Today was a sort of play date for us. Since they'd had their first kid a couple years back, I'd seen less of them than before. And this was a shame, we all agreed. So, the second weekend of every month we'd agreed to meet up and do something together. Usually this was nothing more than me getting over to their house for a weekend. We'd make a couple drinks, stand around their kitchen island, and try to catch up as much as we could in our sarcastic way. Then somebody - usually my brother, sometimes me - would come up with an idea for what to cook for dinner and we'd spend the rest of the evening doing that. Cooking, drinking, and eating. These were all activities that lent themselves well to the kind of conversation we liked to have: about nothing in particular, but aways funny. It had to be funny.

When I approach the car I can see my brother, Andre. He looks tired but happy. I feel a sudden intense but fleeting sadness, but I can't pin down its origin before it leaves me. I know that it shows on my face and that the first thing Andre will ask me, in his goading way, will be, "Are you MAD?" and that I'll say "No! I'm sad." And that would be the end of it.

I hop in the front seat of the car because Anna - the wife - is in the back with their youngest, Caleb. After cheerful, familiar hellos we set off through the parking lot. Anna's busy with the baby in back, trying to change Caleb's diaper. Andre and I look at Anna and then each other dubiously; she's always trying to do things like this, or more accurately, to do things in this way. We can't just find a bathroom somewhere, we have to watch as Anna insists she can do this thing in the car. I usually find Anna's idiosyncratic approach to life funny: something in me likes to watch her struggle with a problem like few other people would. But Andre's getting visually flustered, asking Anna, "Do you really need to do that right now? I mean, like right this second?" "Andre," Anna replies, "I'll be done in a second." Which clearly doesn't sit well with Andre, who replies, "You're killing me Anna. You. Are. KILLING. Me."

The baby isn't making things any easier for her, squirming around on his back and smiling at me. Suddenly, Caleb's diaper half off, Andre makes a sharp turn and Anna dumps it and its entire contents on the car's back seat. She screams, Andre screams, I'm holding back laughter until the smell hits me and I need to roll down my window. And then we're all laughing. "Is everything alright?" I ask. "It's ok," says Anna, "It's just baby poop." "Yeah, baby poop," Andre explains, "It's alright to be ok with it. It doesn't mean it's a like a fetish or anything if you're ok with it."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Am on a Roll Today

Freya: olivia and i are going to go to the farmers market
any requests?

me: cheese?

Freya: cheese?
from the farmers market?

me: cheese?
i like cheese

Freya: oh i get it. you're being funny!
i don't think they have cheese

me: cheese please
oh you're going to crocker, not ferry building?

Freya: yeah

me: get more of those dates

Freya: ok!

me: to go with the cheese

Freya: uhuh
and any other fruit requests?

me: cheesefruit?
does that exist?

Freya: nope

me: there's breadfruit
and kiwifruit
and applefruit
no cheesefruit?

Freya: someone should really start working on that

me: seriously

Freya: ok but seriously
any real requests besides the dates?

me: i think we need another kabocha to keep the old one company
it looks lonely

Freya: we are gonna cook that thing this weekend

me: ok then we'd need two more
so the new one doesn't get lonely when we eat the old one

i guess we could just forget about getting the old one some company in general, since we're going to eat it so soon

but really? that's no way to die... alone and almost forgotten

of course, if we got two more new kabochas they'd probably be young and irreverent, sticking to each other in their own little clique and making the old one feel that much worse for being, well, old

ok so what you need to do is just get one more kabocha this week. he'll keep the old one company and the old one can also pass on any kabocha wisdom to him

then next week we'll get another new one. the new old (old new?) one will then pass on that wisdom he got from the old old one

and we can keep the kabocha wisdom alive

Freya: you can stop now

me: and in that way, the old kabocha lives on
the end

Freya: my god that is quite a process

me: agreed
but jesus, what else can we do?
Snoozing Jesus, I need you now more than ever!

Freya: you are on a fucking roll!
anyway i just want to say that i have never forgotten the kobucha
and have spoken of it many times since we got it

me: you are a good kabocha guardian, it's true

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Finer Things (9/1/08)

Lord Richard Gladly has been exploring the finer things in life for nearly two and a half decades. Generally regarded as the nation’s foremost authority on all things fine, he has consulted sultans, advised the trend-wise, and instructed the Hollywood-inducted.

In his serialized column, The Finer Things, Mr. Gladly rates and reviews everything from marmalade to wainscoting to haberdasheries, keeping an eye out for what’s finest for you, the Reader.

September 1st, 2008: Lord Richard in the Orient

Let me begin with an apology for my long absence, dear Reader. Mother's vertigo was acting up again and the Highland-Scotts from Blandy-on-the-Shore insisted that we spend some time at the compound with their herd of retarded ponies. When I was errant as a child, Father would force me to drink mediocre champagne and ride these same ponies. I'd hiccup and gasp, the ponies would buck and seek their imaginary foes, and Father would laugh and laugh.

Mother Gladly's take on alcohol was the same as her position on the Irish: as long as it made her feel superior and cared for her children, she was willing to tolerate the odor. I'd usually wake up to find a shandy accompanying my usual breakfast of quail eggs on toast with gold-dusted peppercorns. There's nothing quite like light, bubbly alcohol in the morning to clarify one's position in the world. It's how little Lord Richard learned to swagger.

But I digress. For those of you who do not already know, your dear Lord Richard is currently exploring the Orient. Torrential downpours have kept me inside of doors these last few days, and not even my brolly is enough to keep the rain off when I go out for the occasional cucumber sandwich. Cucumber sandwiches, by the way, are exceedingly difficult to come by here in the Orient.

As luck may have it, I found a little urchin who was willing to help with the more menial tasks (carrying my trunks, shucking my oysters, chewing my food, etc.) for a pittance. As his name was embarrassingly foreign, I have dubbed him Crispin. He is quiet and stores neatly in the wardrobe.

Lord Richard Gladly

Friday, April 4, 2008

Out of Time (Part I)

“Wouldn’t it be just like the Devil to make us feel down and dirty and rotten about our own selfs, while at the verysame time convincing us that we’re the only ones who feels that way? When we see sitcoms and celebrities on the T, aren’t they always just having the grandest old time -- or at least an acceptably challenging and ultimately rewarding time? We look to the T to tell us how to be. But the T done tole us we should be something we can’t. Life is dirty; humans are filthy, but there’s something inside us sayin’ we shouldn’t be, every minute of the day. We’re livin’ in Hell, and the Devil tellin’ us we should look like angels. We eatin’ shoeshine and shitballs all day, and the Devil tellin’ us there ain’t no commode.”

-Reverend Buzz Killborn, at the Super Dome, December 27th 2384.

Jazz awoke to the monotonous click and whir of his auto-bed as it slowly lowered him down from the cavity in the ceiling where he had spent so many nights. The room was 6’ x 6’, and as soon as he hopped down from the bed suspended about 2’ off the ground, he hit an illuminated panel in the wall to raise it. He had to do so in order to get around to the circular portal that led to the bathroom.

All the surfaces of the bathroom were made of black obsidian stone that was left unpolished, absorbing the bluish rays that came from an artificial skylight pressed into the center of the ceiling. The skylight had anticipated his arrival, and glowed as if the day had never ended. It was cracked down the middle, and often betrayed its image by letting in the elements.

Just as he stepped into the faded yellow ring painted on the ground, triggering the steam shower, a large butterfly fluttered past his face; he could feel the beat of its wings on his eardrum. Snagging it out of the air and crushing it between his fingers, he watched the powdery coloration from the insect’s wings smear and coalesce in the humidity, the inky drops accumulating and falling at his feet.

Fucking puta exterminators, he thought to himself, Can’t even get rid of a few butterflies. The butterflies had become something of a nuisance. They got everywhere. They were especially inclined to gather in the bathroom, where the humidity from the steam shower and the artificial sunlight had allowed some types of fungus to flourish in the pungent filth accumulating in the long neglected corners of the place.

The kitchen was no larger than the bedroom, and its surfaces shone in a light green hue. The brightness of the room was intensified by the fact that it contained no true corners. Everything was rounded and made fluid. No place to hide from the light, he thought behind bloodshot eyes. Drinking his powdered eggs with orangelo juice, he glanced at the spherical clock hanging from a wire in the ceiling. He was already late. No time for coffee-drink, I’ll have to use the suppository. By the time the caffeinated waxy substance dissolved, he was out the door, already thinking of his next trip to the bathroom and thanking God cigarettes came only in smoke-able form.

The rain, which continued in its steady, muted downpour as it had for the past three months, told nothing of the importance of this day. It was mild outside and the raindrops were big and warm. Suddenly he felt a vibration in his groin. It was his Textotech© patented pleather codpiece, reminding him of his meeting today. “Buenos dias Sr. Boil. Your itinerary for the day is as follows...” As the eerily pleasant simulated woman’s voice rattled off times and names, Jazz’s mind was elsewhere. He had been waiting a long time for what he finally could say was happening today. Not everybody was so lucky, his mother was fond of reminding him, and he should thank la Virgen María for being chosen so early.

The MASTRAK station being only a few hundred yards away from his home, Jazz usually walked. Standing on the slidewalk, he passed a muddy lot. Through the plexiglass walls he could see the daycare. It consisted of many clear plexiglass walls and he enjoyed watching the kids for the brief moment he could as he sped by. He was always interested in how sensitive the children were to the environment, and how they had to be kept in those lush, muddy eco-zones, separate from everybody else. Adjacent and connected to the rectangular day care building were a series of pods, each built to keep out the pollution and keep in customized environments, which the daycare specialists claimed mimicked ideal conditions for a growing child.

Inside each pod was a small child, naked and dirty, rooting around in his or her little patch of ground. It was fertile and moist inside those pods; he could see the condensation on the walls. Inside the main building was an army of childcare specialists who zipped from pod to pod, interacting with the children through gloves that punctured the pod walls. They looked like elephant trunks when they weren’t in use, and grimy bellows when they were. The children largely ignored the specialists, the little pink faces transfixed on something they seemed to find fascinating in the mud or in the toys around them. Like little piggies Jazz mused. This little piggy ate roast beef, this little piggy had none...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lord Richard Gladly's Etiquette Tips #1

For those with a taste for the finer things, the world can be a much more difficult place, especially if one finds oneself in less than equal company. Recently, I faced a difficult question: How does a man of the world decline an invitation from one's less worldly friends? Surprising as it may sound, I do cultivate friendly relationships with people from the classes beneath me. I consider it a charity akin to Angelina Jolie's baby adopting/breaking/re-forming in her own image.

The other day, I had to decline a cute but absurd invitation to a local sushi hut, the kind where customers drink like the animal they're eating. My good friend Eugene and I already had plans to visit one of our favorite sushi restaurants: a place authentic enough to serve decent sashimi, yet sensible enough to let us keep our shoes on (Eugene has tender feet). My letter declining the invitation addressed the issue tastefully and tactfully:

My good sirs,

Thank you ever so much for demonstrating your desire for me to "hang out" with you on Thursday; I'm sure it will be a transcendentally fishy experience. However, I must forego the usual pleasantries and ask that you please cease and desist! Your pitiful pleas fall on deaf - albeit exquisitely shaped - ears.

You see, Eugene and I have a taste for the finer things. As such, we seek what's finest at every turn. Long ago, we decided that we would dine at Yume Sushi. It is an obscure little spot, tucked away in the back alleys of Alameda, offering one of the most authentic sushi experiences in the Bay Area. It is so small (and exclusive) they can only seat parties of two at a time. Will we have to wait an hour before being seated? Quite possibly. Will we be at the beck and call of Hideki, master su-chef? Certainly. Will it all be worth it in order to hob nob with tunatics, rub shoulders with blue-finatics, and schmooze with the roe-ing team? Most definitely.

I cannot help but smirk at the thought that, as Danny chokes down yet another stale California roll, I will be nibbling on munkfish liver and delicate toro. Now, I must get back to my roadster; my knuckles yearn for the supple touch of kid leather gloves. Also, I wouldn't want the blonde in the passenger seat to go without having her hair blown about.

Cheerio boys,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 10

I've already decided what I'm going to name my kids:

1) Jazz (boy or girl)

2) Stormy (girl)

3) Ace (boy)

4) Rockwell (boy or girl)

5) Ginger (girl... or redheaded boy)

6) Sierra Nevada (girl)

7) Pockets (boy or girl)

8) Alex 2 (boy or girl)

9) Alex 3 (boy or girl)

10) Dynamo (boy)

After that, I'll just start numbering them.

Monday, January 7, 2008


So it was my birthday yesterday, and at my office when it's somebody's birthday the whole team gets together and "surprises" them in a bogus meeting that's been scheduled. Then, the birthday person has to sit there while everybody half-heartedly sings Happy Birthday and embarrasses them while eating mediocre baked goods. God, I'm dreading that meeting so much.

My birthday was on Sunday, and last Friday was kinda hectic so I wasn't surprised that it didn't happen then. Today's Monday, and I just know it's gonna happen soon. It's the end of the day though and nobody's wished me a happy birthday or anything. Hmm, is it possible that they all forgot? That would be so great! Oh man, I'm scot-free!

But what if they really did forget? Whoa that would be really weird. I mean, a few months ago, my boss sent out an email asking everybody what their birthday was, and I made sure to respond really quickly with January 6, all in big letters and everything, so they couldn't have forgotten...

Oh my god, they forgot my fucking birthday! How could they? I was there, singing Happy Birthday for all of them on their special days! We'd bust in on their fake meeting with their manager, big smiles on our face, belting out Happy Birthday at the top of our lungs to show them how much we cared. Then, we'd all sit around and just kinda shoot the shit over cake that's always absolutely superb. Or maybe cupcakes; those are totally awesome too. But, no, not for me!

That figures. That just figures, doesn't it? The guy who's always the most enthusiastic about everybody else's birthday doesn't get squat for himself. Well, fine then! We'll see who sings next time it's somebody's birthday around here. That is, if I'm not already long gone by that time...

Oh, god, here they come. This is fucking horrible.