Crazy Cat People

September 1, 2008 at 12:40 pm (That's not funny..., The Easy Chair)

It’s like two Sundays in a row. It’s early, the streets are quiet. The beehive hum of the freeway is missing. Kids yelping in the yards, an occasional dog barking.

Gotta love the holidays.

My weekend wasn’t lonely so much as alone. Most of my friends and acquaintances had previous plans, or had gone away for that one last fling of summer. Left to my own devices, what sort of mischief could I come up with?

After making the usual phone calls and e-mails and not finding anyone into my type of adventure, I spent Saturday running around. Met up with a co-worker downtown and had a cup of quadruple-strength mocha latte, which was inspiration enough to get some shopping done. But first, some telephone business to attend to.

I got a new phone recently. (New to me. The kid at the Sprint store *tsk*ed, rolled his eyes and asked if I had plans to retire this old, decrepit thing?) Since it has the function, I wanted my own ringtones. Theme to Halloween, theme to The Exorcist. Simple, right? I joke about being an old fuddy-duddy, but this should be easy, like a 1 or 2 on a scale of 10. I hear all the annoying ones on the bus, so I know it can be done.

Why can’t I do it?

My phone is on a shared plan. I’m helping a friend fill her contractual obligations while saving some deposit money. I e-mailed and told her what I wanted. After half a day, I got an e-mail back with the passwords to the account. “Here, you do it.” I figured she didn’t want to mess with it; come to find out she’d spent quite a bit of time trying to accomplish this simple procedure. When ‘Linus’ in India couldn’t figure things out, she’d left it to me? Fine. I called tech support.

One little hair in the butter. I needed to know her first elementary school. Simple security question, I understand why. So I called and got that information. (It’ll be easy to remember. Her first elementary school and my 7th grade English teacher share the same name.) I got back to Dustin at Sprint, Dustin who might be 19 and has a love of tinny hip-hop. He dialed star 2 on my phone. “Here’s tech support.” I told him I could do that from home, and preferred to. He bobbed his head as he played with my phone, handed it back and said, “This is an old clamshell phone. If you get a new one with connections to the internet, I can help you with that ringtone. Have you thought of upgrading?”

“If you can’t provide me with a simple ringtone, why in the hell would I want to sign a long-term contract for more complicated services?” I left him pondering and head-bobbing, and went to the fruit stand across the street.

I scored lunch for the week: apples, oranges and a $2 pineapple! I’ve always had a thing for pineapple, and this sounded like a good summer snack. I bought groceries and called my brother-in-law for a ride. As I loaded groceries into the car, I heard lots of honking. An SUV pulled up next to us, and the car opened quickly. Did BIL piss someone off on the drive here, and are we gonna fight?

It was my old bus-buddy Amy! She took maternity leave a while back, and we hadn’t seen each other since. She ran over to the car, high-fived me and gave me the news. She’d had a boy! She was one of two women that didn’t know what she was having, and the last of a small group of friends of mine that all got knocked up about the same time. We caught up quickly; her children were peering out the car window, wondering who that strange man was that mommy was talking to. We wished each other well, and it was off to home, where my short-term hibernation began.

After early naps, I found myself up in the wee hours. Not uncommon, for sure, but I rarely stay up past dawn. I did it two days in a row, enjoying the quiet calm. I flashed back a little. (Not literally, but close.) I had an old DVD of Tom Snyder shows featuring The Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary. I watched, and it took me back in time.

The shows were filmed in the 1979-1981 years, formative ones for me. I’d been married, was getting divorced, had a steady job and was living in what is now trendy Northwest Portland. While I wasn’t a Deadhead, I did imbibe liberally in psychedelics at the time. Hell, I imbibed in everything back then.

It took me back to a time when it was the “straights” versus the “cool” people. Straights were anti-dope smoking, hated fags, wanted you to get a haircut. The cool people owned a bong, didn’t stress if their car wasn’t this year’s model, or rode a bicycle instead. I walked and took the bus. I wasn’t cool, so much as broke.

I laughed as I watched Tom Snyder take the ‘straight’ approach, yelling at Timothy Leary about how he wanted to go into head-shops in Times Square and “smash all that junk that gets kids hooked on dope!” That’s right Tom, do it for the children! Later, when Mr. Leary asked him to wait a second while he sipped a drink, Tom said, “It’s only a second, but it seemed like an hour…”

I think Tom might have inhaled.

Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir gave a more lucid interview than Ken kesey, but Ken was sipping wine in his coffee cup. When Tom asked if the drugs had hurt his mental capacity, Ken just shrugged and said, “It’s a trade-off.”

Before I discovered full-time alcohol abuse, I didn’t believe in ‘trading off’. The drugs I did were for mind-expansion, not ‘getting wasted’. The whole concept of ruining your brain on purpose seemed stupid. I liked how LSD was like a $5 trip to the psychiatrist, and pot removed the ADD-like ways of my brain. It was like I had control of the remote again.

Then I got into self-destructive drinking, and have been stockpiling spare brain cells ever since. I never know when I’m going to need more.

So, this morning, as I listened to the nothingness of the neighborhood, I went to the kitchen and pulled out my $2 pineapple. Not having a clue as to how to carve, I went to the internet and found this ten-page tutorial on how to carve a pineapple. (I’m including the link, in case you have a similar situation.) I busted out my serial-killer knife, a present from the gal who gave me the phone. I thought of Sprint and head-bopping Dustin, hearing the Halloween ringtone in my head as I scalped the pineapple, then chopped off its bottom side. My nephew was wide-eyed as I walked down the hallway, brandishing the knife like Michael Myers. It wasn’t fear. He wanted my pineapple.

I shared, and he went back to his room, where all the new cats are currently living. It’s a good thing school starts in a couple of days. He’s been locked up in his room, playing video games and training a small army of cats to take over the world. It’ll be good for him to get back out into the world, sans cats.

Me too. It’s time to start the work week, and I have to hike half a mile to the bus stop, since it’s a holiday. I can use the fresh air. The nephew and I are both much too young to be Crazy Cat People.

“Let meee-out!”

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