Brunch At The Constellation Hotel

 

by Solomon Tate

The old man loved the brunch at The Constellation Hotel although I really don’t know why. It was over priced and only moderately edible, but every Sunday morning, for almost a year, he could be found in the dining room eating waffles. I had recently returned from another year of Bohemian adventures in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Paris, wasted on mind altering drugs, while hanging out in cafes drinking incredibly strong coffee, smoking French cigarettes, and talking philosophy and literature, while waiting for night fall to dive balls deep into divas and debutantes. I had returned with my hair longer than it had ever been, and a full beard. It was a far cry from sitting at a table in The Constellation Hotel dining room high as fuck, waiting for waffles with my family. My mother upon seeing me for the first time in twelve months proclaimed “Oh, look. Jesus has come back from the dead.” My brother had a very different perception.

“You just can’t spend all of your time getting high and getting laid.”,  he informed me.

“Ah, Hell”, I replied. “I’m pretty sure I can.”

“What about the future?”, he pressed.

“Well”, I said, “there will probably be different drugs and different women”, but I suppose it will pretty much deliver the same result.”

The young, blonde server with a wonderful pair of tits arrived at the table and was busily pouring coffee as she looked over and smiled at me. I smiled back, She left the table and returned a few moments later and placed a large glass of orange juice and placing it in front of me, brushed her boobs across my upper arm. “I thought you might like some juice. Its on the house.”, she informed me as she smiled. “If there’s anything else you want, just let me know,”, she said.

“How about your phone number.”, I replied.

“I was hoping you’d ask.”, she said as she wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it, and after handing it to me walked off.

“What the hell was that?”, my sister-in-law asked. “That girl is all over him.”

The conversation at the table, as it always did, turned to politics. The old man believed he was a liberal but there was a significant conservative bent. He supported social services, but only for those who didn’t really seem to need them. We argued about this regularly, and it drove him close to madness that I was a such a social democrat. He had, in the past, referred to me as a Socialist, a Communist and a Marxist. I did not however prescribe to any political ideology. My beliefs were simply that people, regardless of their beliefs, should take care of each other. I had toyed with the idea of having a tattoo of Harpo Marx etched into my left butt cheek and as I sat silently listening to the banter around the table, with all of them spewing out obtuse factoids that they believed would illustrate their points of view which, not surprisingly, were identical to the old man’s, I decided to go through with it. Just because.  It was a wonderfully bizarre and surreal trip down the road to insanity as they affirmed an uncanny fascist belief system coupled with the need for socialized health care, and I suppose being so messed up on peyote made it seemed like I was watching one of those  propaganda films made by the government that were so poular in the public school system in the 1950s and 1960s.

The note the young blonde server with the wonderful tits had given me contained her phone number and an invitation to join her in the coat room on the mezzanine level.  “Well”, I thought, “The coat room it is.” There was a door that led into the room, which she advised was never used in the summer. She took my hand and led me in and, as we sat down on some folding chairs, she put her tongue down my throat. I caressed her cheek and her hair, while she took off her shirt and fell in front of me on her knees.

The old man was furious when I returned to the table. “Where’s that waitress?”, he asked. “Is she working here or not?” She reappeared just as he finished talking with waffles for everyone, incessantly smiling at me. “There’s something wrong with that girl.”, the old man stated. “What the hell is she always smiling about?”

“She’s smiling at your son.”, my sister-in-law informed him. “She’s got the hots for our Jesus.”

“Well perhaps he should give her the tip.”, the old man said.

“I’m sure he’s already given her more than just the tip”, my brother answered.

“Indeed.”, I replied. “And judging by the smile on her face, I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving it to her again.”

“You’re such a pig.”, my sister-in-law declared.

“I know.”, I told her.

When they were ready to leave, I said my goodbyes to the family, and set off to play another round of carnal coat room with the young, blonde waitress with the wonderful tits. I saw her a few more times after that day, but once she wanted to meet me outside of the coat room at The Constellation Hotel, I lost interest. I continued to see my family off and on for the next 40 years or so and I occasionally cut my hair and shaved, if only to appease my mother. Once my parents had passed, everything sort of went to shit. I don’t really know who’s to blame, but I don’t think it makes any difference anyway. Shit just happens. The Constellation Hotel which saw its heyday come and go, was closed and demolished in 2012 and on the site sits an empty lot. In a way its really quite sad, I mean, the old man loved the brunches there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What About The Kids?

 

“What about the kids?”, my wife asked.

“What kids?”, I replied.

“Your kids.”, she told me. “Our kids. Remember them?”

“Uh huh.”, I answered. “What about them?”

“I’m not sure we can go away and leave them here alone?”

“Well, there’s no way I’m taking them with.”, I informed her.

“What if they burn the house down?”, she asked. And there it was, her obsessive fear of the house burning down. It was almost impossible to overcome. It was her belief that a fire would start in the kitchen as a result of the misuse of the kitchen appliances. Therefore, it stood to reason that if we were home, or if at least one of us was at home, the house would be saved from destruction. She had established very strict rules regarding the use of the kitchen appliances, which she routinely enforced by patrolling the kitchen like a a game warden, keeping a watchful eye for perpetrators and those she suspected were about to violate her rules.

She regularly ventures into the kitchen just to check what temperature the oven is set on, and if it is higher than three hundred and fifty degrees, she turns it down. It means nothing to her that the directions clearly stated to cook at four hundred and twenty five. It is not permitted. The choices are to cook it thirty to forty minutes longer, or eat it under cooked. And every fifteen minutes, like clockwork, she makes the obligatory trip back to the kitchen, opens the oven door and checks on the status of the food inside, lest it be burning, and in the process aggravates and agitates anyone who is cooking at the time.

The broiler is completely off limits. It has been deemed too dangerous for us to use as she fears the five hundred degree temperature it cooks at the most. Stove top cooking is only permissible if the burner is set at no more than a number six. Frying is permitted depending on her level of paranoia, and had been very close to being outlawed altogether. There was an incident. Nothing significant, but for my wife it was confirmation of the impending doom that can result from unauthorized cooking.

“Is somebody cooking something?”, she asked late one evening.

“I don’t know.”, I answered.

“Well”, she continued, “I smell something burning.”

“You always smell something’s burning.” It was uncanny really. She could smell something burning before it actually started burning. It was one of her many gifts, a sort of ‘something’s burning’ savant. “Nothing’s burning.”, I told her. “No one’s home except the two of us.”

“I have to go check.”, she stated as she got up out of bed.

“Well?”, I asked as she returned from her trip to the kitchen.

“You have to check that you turn the burner off!”, she exclaimed. “You dropped something in the bottom and left it on. At number eight! Its never to go above six. We’ve been over this. Five would be better, but I’m trying to be reasonable. The entire kitchen is filled with smoke. Next time you might just burn the whole place down.”

“I hope not.”, I replied. “I don’t think I’ll live long enough to hear all of the lectures.”

“This is why we can’t go away.”, she continued. “None of you pay attention to what you’re doing. The kids are too lazy to check and you, well, you just can’t remember what you’re doing anymore.”

“Well then”, I suggested. “We’ll just have to order in.” I went into the kitchen to check the extensive smoke damaged created by a crumb sitting under a hot burner. It was not filled with smoke. I was hard pressed to find any smoke at all. There was however, to my wife’s credit, the faint odor of something having been burnt, and in the bottom of the burner, there was, oh hell no, a solitary penne noodle. It was burnt. It was badly burnt. I gave it last rites, the best funeral I could, with full military honors and a burial at sea.

We can still fry, despite her misgivings, however she did implement a buddy system. There must be two people in the kitchen at all times, with one of them assigned to ensuring the temperature settings are within limits, and that everything is turned off when completed.

“I think she needs help.”, one of my daughters disclosed as she stood there as my cooking buddy while I made chicken parmigiana.

“She’ll be alright.”, I told her. “She just worries about safety.”

“She’s out of her mind.”, she explained. “Its an electric oven. There’s no flame or fire. Does she think that the food is going to spontaneously combust?” It was hard to argue with that, and I agreed to speak with my wife.

“I need to talk to you about something.”, I said as I entered the bedroom.

“Are you done in the kitchen?”, she asked anxiously.

“It will take thirty minutes to cook, and the oven is set at three hundred.”, I said. “Its under control. Are you alright with that?”

“For the time being.”, she replied.

“Good. I think you need to relax the cooking rules a little.”, I advised. “Its making everyone a nervous wreck.”

“I can’t help it.”, she said.

“I know.”, I reminded her. “But we really are pretty careful. I just don’t think we can ever meet the expectations you’v e set for us. We’re going to make mistakes, but in all of the years we’ve been cooking, there has never been a fire.”

“That’s because I’m always running into the kitchen and checking on everything.”, she informed me.

“No.”, I replied. “Its because we really do know what we’re doing. I just think you can let up a little.”

“How?”, she asked.

“Well, for one, stop running into the kitchen to check on everything all of the time. You can go in the kitchen to make a tea or something and check on stuff, you know, make it less obvious. And stop telling the kids what to do and how to do it. They’re not little kids. They’re all grown up.”

“So, the kids are complaining?”, she inquired.

“Ya, they are.”, I answered.

“And what about you?”, she questioned.

“Well you can check on me as often as you need to, and you can give me shit whenever you feel like it. Just like its been since the day we got married. Can you live with that?”

“I suppose.”, she said. “But the broiler is still off limits.”

“Agreed.”, I replied.

“Don’t you think you should go and check the chicken you left in the oven?”, she asked.

“On my way.”, I told her. She was surprisingly calm, and I hoped that she would be okay. Over dinner I brought up the weekend trip again.

“Alright.”, she said. “We’ll go to Niagara On The Lake for the weekend.” I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised.

“I’m glad.”, I told her. “And I think it will be good for you.”

“Well”, she continued, “It took some work and some planning but, my mother will come and stay with the kids until we get back.”

“Okay.”, I replied. “That’s sounds like a plan.”

“Ya, and they will be ordering in all weekend.”, she advised me.

“Really?”, I inquired.

“Ya.”, she went on to explain. “We will be removing the circuit for the oven when we leave. They won’t be able to cook with it all weekend.”

“Well its nice to see that you have overcome your fear of the house burning down.”, I told her as sarcastically as I could.

“Ya”, she stated, “It wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.”

 

Mr. Lewis & The Garden Gnomes

by Fielding Goodfellow

Mr. Lewis stood on his front lawn looking at the weird gnomes spread out across the front garden . I never really paid much attention to them as a kid, but visiting the neighborhood years later, messed up on peyote, mushrooms, or some other hallucinogenic, I noticed the little bastards standing there, glaring at me with insidious grins, trying to hide behind the plants and flowers. There was something about those little shits that I didn’t like and I suppose they scared the hell out of me. They all had those weird little eyes that seemed to follow me wherever I went.

Mr. Lewis had been the neighborhood Homeland Security expert for years. He had fought off Nazis, fire ants, raccoons and had orchestrated the successful campaign to repel the field mouse invasion of ’65. I was pretty sure that he knew what he was talking about, despite his breakdown in ’68 in which he put his mind aside for just a minute and when he went to retrieve it, it was gone.

“I hate those little shits.”, he said. Since his breakdown Mr. Lewis had become a little histrionic in his paranoia, and as we stood there on his lawn, he shared his theory that the gnomes that had sprouted up in gardens up and down the street were involved in some sort of diabolical plot to takeover the neighborhood for reasons still unknown, with the ultimate goal of conquering the planet. Or alternately, they were used by the government to spy on all of us, a sort of Big Brother is watching scenario. Either way,  Mr. Lewis was deeply concerned. “We have to do something about it now?”, he stated.

“Like what?”, I asked.

“We have to take these fuckers out.”, he explained. “Every single one of them. We must rid ourselves of the disease.”  He was certain that they would soon be everywhere, watching our every move from gardens up and down the painfully dull suburban street, replacing all of the pink flamingos and lawn jockeys that had graced the lawns so proudly when I was growing up. And though I was still under the influence of the drugs I had taken, Mr. Lewis clearly had still not found his missing mind. But he did come up with a plan. “I’m gonna set the little bastards on fire and incinerate them into nothingness.

“Stop filling his head with your crazy ideas.”, the over sexed and under satisfied Becky Lewis shouted at him as she stepped out of the garden wearing nothing but a flimsy nightgown. It had been a while since I had visited her suburban paradise and I had almost forgotten just how hot she really was.

“Go put some clothes on.”, Mr. Lewis shouted back. “Can’t you see there’s someone here?”

“I’m sure there’s nothing I have that he hasn’t seen before.”, she replied. It was true. Over the years I had spent many days and the occasional night parked between those milky white thighs. She was the first of the neighbor mothers I had ventured into. It had always been a simple and amicable arrangement, I mean there was no bullshit, no drama, and no uneasiness. Everything had always been pretty straight forward. I brought the drugs and the wood, and she provided everything else. Despite the years that had passed, she still had the same coy smile and ‘fuck me’ eyes.

The early morning calm was shattered by an explosion so loud that it echoed through the usually amiable neighborhood driving the locals out of their homes and into the street. Becky Lewis was standing on her driveway with her hands covering her mouth. “Look.”, she shouted. “Look.” A cloud of smoke billowed up from the ground at the end of the street, as the sound of the sirens in the distance grew louder. And every single gnome had been removed from the lawns and gardens.

“The crazy bastard did it.”, I thought.  “Where’s Mr. Lewis?”, I asked Becky.

“I don’t know.”, she replied. “He went out last night, and I don’t think he came home.”

“Well this is getting way too weird to handle straight.”, I said.

“Ya, I wouldn’t mind getting wasted.”, she agreed.

I have no idea just how much peyote we did, but the evolving nightmare of the garden gnomes no longer seemed to be as interesting as Mrs. Edberg’s cat who, although I had never noticed before, had a head on each end of his body or the coyote who seemed to be suffering from ADHD and bore a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, that was busy trying to paint a false tunnel on the Malkin’s garage door.

The Police had roped off the street making it impossible for any of us to wander down to the fire scene and were now on the street talking to everyone in an attempt to uncover what the hell went on here. I was a little concerned that I may be hauled away based on what I was holding, but thanks to Becky’s semi covered tits and ass, they didn’t even know I was there. “My husband is missing.”, Becky informed the police. “And so is his car. Did they find anything at the fire?” The police were unable to answer any of her questions, and merely reported that the fire department had the fire under control and an investigation was under way.

I was sitting on the sidewalk in front of Becky’s house when the police returned to speak with her. Mr. Lewis’ car had indeed been found at the scene, and was most likely the source of the explosion we had heard earlier in the day. It was destroyed. There were human remains found inside the car, which they would be unable to identify without an autopsy and forensics. “This is all that survived the fire.”, an officer stated as he pulled a partially singed gnome out of a bag. “Have you seen this before?”, he asked us.

“It looks just like Richard!”, she exclaimed. “My husband.” It really did resemble Mr. Lewis, albeit without a left arm and one partially melted foot.

The investigation revealed that fire was intentionally set. Gasoline was used to ignite the fire inside the vehicle, which set off the ensuing explosion. The body found inside was identified as Richard Lewis through dental records. His death was ruled a suicide, although they were unable to explain all of the melted gnomes in the car.

Becky was allowed to keep the sole remaining gnome, that looked so much like her husband, and shortly after the funeral she put the house up for sale. When she moved, she left the gnome in the front garden, buried up to its knees, hiding behind the plants and flowers, in an attempt to ward off any other extraterrestrial garden decorations. It was probably a good idea to leave Richard there, I mean, all he ever wanted to do was to do was to protect the neighborhood. I never saw Becky Lewis again, but several years later when I returned to the neighborhood to settle my parents’ estate, I found the garden gnome that looked like Mr. Lewis still standing at attention, watching over the street that he loved. I still have no idea if he was right or not, but he was willing to give his life for a cause he believed in. Crazy or not, a man just can’t be any better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blow For Democracy

by Fielding Goodfellow

In an arena filled with corruption and deceit, cum soaked cigars and semen stained dresses, Arthur C. Pollard, famed producer of the classic low budget sci-fi porn films ‘Belinda’s Big Bang’, ‘Plutonian Poontang’ and ‘Nubian Nymphos Of Nimbus 9’, was in way over his head. With his mind submerged in a sea of nicotine, caffeine and a handful of Benzedrine, the political theatre of the absurd danced around him so quickly that he was lost in the shadows. This was nothing new for Artie, although this sensation usually found him after taking some shitty acid he scored from a sketchy street hustler in Parkdale, leaving him so dazed and confused that he often couldn’t find his clothes when it was time to go home. And now, as he found himself standing naked at a Taco Bell Drive Thru attempting to order two double stuffed tacos and entice several young women to join him in the colonization of other worlds on behalf of the purely fictional Ministry Of Intergalactic Propogation, realizing that he had no idea how he got there from the yacht party he had been attending for the past five days, he understood that he needed help.

There were many times Artie questioned his stability, if not his sanity, but he had chalked those up to drug induced mind splintering, a term he used to soften the blow of what was really drug induced schizophrenia like psychosis. He didn’t mind it really, but it scared the hell out of him when it was over and he just couldn’t put the fucking pieces back together again. Its one thing to lose your mind, but its an entirely different problem to know it happened and to be helpless to do anything to stop it from happening again.

Artimus C. Pollard had promise, hell we all did at one time or another, but those days were long gone. Politics seemed like a game he had a chance to win. As far as he was concerned, politicians were all out of their fucking minds. Artie had announced his candidacy by stating “There are so many self serving, delusional deviants currently in public office, it seems unlikely that proctologists will ever find the time to remove their  pointy, little heads from their asses. I will have to run for office.” No one who knew him, not one of us believed for a minute that he could win. But the allure of the drugged out maker of pornography was just too tempting for the depraved housewives who had, for years, secretly been rubbing their buttons to his alien sex scenes to resist. Artimus C. Pollard won by a landslide.

“I don’t think I should stay in politics.”, he told me during my visit to the Institution. “I think its all just too much right now. I’m going to resign.”

“Well, there’s a blow for democracy.”, I remarked.

“That’s good.”, Artie said as he laughed out loud. “I’m gonna have to steal that one.”

“Its all yours.”, I told him.

“We need to go to that coffee shop we used to hang out in years ago.”, he said. “What was it called?”

“Espress O”Reily’s.”, I informed him. “As soon as they let you out of here.”

“Espress O’Reily’s.”, he repeated and laughed. “Right. The Irish Coffee House. That’s good.” Artie spent five weeks inside the bleak, grey, concrete walls of what he called The Home For The Ambiguous And The Absurd, with nothing to do but talk. That’s all they wanted him to do, all day long. Talk. Talk about how he was feeling now and how he felt then. Talk about his fears and his hopes and his dreams. Talk about everything. And Artie loved to talk. I suspect that they discharged him early when they realized that he just wouldn’t shut the fuck up.

Artie never felt comfortable inside The Home. The nights were the hardest, with everything quiet and still. Everything except his mind. It was hard to sleep, even with the Lorazepam. He just couldn’t stop reliving every moment of every day over and over again, until he passed out from sheer exhaustion. I went to see him twice a week, and he always looked worn out, but I suppose the drugs they were pumping into him had something to do with it. “They’re gonna let me out by the end of the week.”, he told me one day during his final week inside. “I have to tell you, I’m scared to go back out there.”

“I know you are.”, I said as we walked down the hallways.

“I’m working on a new script.”, he told me as we arrived at his room. There was an attractive, young woman inside waiting for him. “This is Gina.”, he introduced me as he climbed up onto his bed. “She’s one of the therapy assistants here. And now”, he continued, “if you’ll excuse me, this young lady is about to deliver another blow for democracy.”

After Artie was released we returned to Espress O’Reily’s, one last time. All of us were there, Farberman, Tate, Hill, Artie and me. I tried to keep in touch with him for a while, but he moved  to the coast. Every now and then I get a call letting me know that he’s okay, even though he continues to splinter. His made his final film shortly after his release from The Home and began teaching a film course at a local Community College. He seems better, or at least happier, and I suppose that’s all that really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Ain’t No Musical

Life should be more like a musical, a joyous romp in a well scripted song and dance routine with a happy ending instead of this completely improvisational sketch comedy set in summers so hot that it feels like I’d spontaneously burst into flames, and winters so damned cold that I’m sure that if I go outside, my nuts would freeze and then simply fall off.

It should be more like River City, with Harold Hill warning of the trouble brewing and falling feet first into a parade led by 76 trombones that allows him to capture the heart of Marian The Librarian who, years later, would leave her position at the book depository and set off with five kids in a painted school bus sharing their ‘C’mon, Get Happy’ song with anyone who dared to listen. Or maybe a week or two in the small, sleepy town of Sweet Apple, Ohio, shaken awake by the swiveling hips of Conrad Birdie bumping and grinding his way into the sexual fantasy of Kim McAfee, as he prepares to ride off in his gold lame fatigues to serve his country, leaving the hapless failed songwriter, Albert Peterson, with his dreams of chemistry and having his way with the ravishing Rose Alvarez who, by the way, survived an unprovoked attack in her room at The Bates Motel.

Or maybe a trip through space and time as Erronius wanders around the seven hills of Ancient Rome, and Pseudolus, dodges gladiators and Centurions on his way to the Forum as he set out to obtain his freedom from servitude in exchange for the lovely Philia, a winsome virgin who lives next door in the house of Marcus Lycus, the flesh peddler who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sergeant Ernie Bilko who lived two thousand years in the future! Now that would be something peculiar, if not familiar. Life could be a turf war in New York’s west side between the Jets and the Sharks, all set in 6/8 time, or a mob war with The Rat Pack in 1920s Chicago, the battleground between Robbo and Guy Gisborne, who decades later emerged as a cigar smoking Los Angeles Police Lieutenant.

Life should take me through the world of my imagination, down the river of chocolate with a golden ticket and an everlasting gobstopper in hand, as Oompa Loompas sing and dance for Willy Wonka, who I am sure was one of the former Broadway producers incarcerated for fraud in the ‘Springtime For Hitler’ debacle. I may find myself in a Russian village at the height of the Bolshevik Revolution, with Tevye dancing down a dirt road, wondering what life would be like if he were a rich man while a violinist from the St. Petersburg Philharmonic plays the classics while precariously perched on the roof.

Life should be an eternal party on a stormy night, when madness takes its toll, and a jump to the left and then a step to the right would transform the world and drop me among the transsexual Transylvanians led by a sweet transvestite who, after his fall from grace, settles in Derry, Maine dragging unsuspecting passersby into the sewers where everything seems to float. Or at best, the dugout of the heartless Washington Senators, the worst team in baseball, spring to life with the arrival of Joe Hardy, who is talked into a deal that would change both the team’s fortunes, and his life, as arranged by the devil in the guise of Mr. Applegate, who interestingly enough arrives on Earth a second time as Tim O’Hara’s Martian uncle, Martin

It’s a far cry from sitting in the dark after the power goes out in the middle of another ice storm shoveling handfuls of dry Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch in your face knowing the neon lights are bright ‘On Broadway’. In any event, you always have a choice. You can either stand on the stage and belt out a verse or two of ‘Lullaby Of Broadway’, or any other ‘Broadway Melody’, or you can give your regards to Broadway and blame it on those ‘Nights On Broadway’. As for me, well, I don’t think life was meant to be lived as a carnival, a short stop in a field outside of a small town in rural America before it moves on to another locale. Life should be a musical, it was destined to be a musical, filled with chorus lines of women in short skirts and fish net stockings, bright lights, memorable melodies, and dance steps that are  perfectly choreographed, not to mention the perverse diversions that go on in the understudy dressing rooms following each night’s performance.

 

 

 

453 Grams Of Flesh

I have tried, believe me. I have spent hours upon hours trying to think metrically, and laid awake at nights with formulas and equations dancing around my head. But it has made no difference.  While I have a grasp of the basic components, I just can’t seem to get the hang of the damn metric system. To be honest, I have given up trying.

In the early to mid 1970s, we went metric. After I spent years and years learning inches and miles, and ounces and gallons, they went and changed the whole damned system. A yard became a meter, even though a meter is slightly longer than a yard, and  a mile became a kilometer which is, to be clear, one thousand meters. It takes about 2 1/2 centimeters to make an inch so the reported 5 centimeters of snow is, in actuality, only about 2 inches. There are about 25 millimeters in 1 inch, so the rain forecast of 30mm isn’t nearly as ominous as it sounds.  A mile is now a kilometer, although they are vastly different, with a mile being equivalent to 1.6 kilometers, which means that, if written today, The Byrds would appear to be significantly higher at almost 13 kilometers high.

Temperature has changed as well. Water no longer freezes at 32 degrees but  at 0 and boils at 100 degrees. I don’t know what happened to water to lower the temperatures required to freeze and boil, but despite the switch to Celsius  it still takes the same amount of time.

What about volume? There was a time when it was all ounces, pints, quarts and gallons. We now measure in milliliters and liters. Instead of one cup of water, I now add 284 milliliters of it to an equal amount of rice. Hell, that seems like an awful lot of rice. Well, not surprisingly, a gallon has been replaced with a liter, which means that  the guy in Texas, the one with the ten gallon hat, now proudly wears a 38 liter hat. Its okay though, I mean everything is bigger in Texas. And under the golden arches, well, the 1/4 pounder has become the 113 gramer. Hell, that’s just not right.

I don’t think metrically. I suppose I never will. Its too late for me. I spend most of my time converting speed, distance, and temperature in my head to get an approximation of how fast, or how far, I am going and what kind of a jacket I need to put on. Proverbs and adages no longer have any real value either,, I mean does anyone want to have 28 grams of courage, or care that a miss is as good as a kilometer, or that they are penny wise and 453 grams foolish?

But its not all piss and vinegar. On a positive note, it seems that my diet has paid off. I suspect however, that I may be quite malnourished as I now weigh 80 kilograms, which seems significantly less that the 177 pounds the non metric scale at home reports. My doctor reassured me that my weight is fine so I suppose I can continue to go on quite happily amid the confusion swirling around this metrically impaired mind.

Interview With The Umpire

 

Sitting in Grossman’s Tavern one Saturday afternoon in 2010 amid a two day peyote pleasure cruise, Fielding Goodfellow, sat down for an interview with himself.

How would you feel if I recorded this interview. It would be far more accurate than just taking notes.

I don’t know about that. Can it be used as evidence against me?

Do you plan on saying something incriminating?

I usually do. My entire life is incriminating.

In that case, I’ll keep everything incriminating out of the article.

Okay then. Go ahead.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer.

I never wanted to be a writer.

But you are a writer.

Really? Well that’s surprising. Am I any good at it?

Some people think so. So if you didn’t plan on writing, what did you want to do?

Bang the Glasser triplets.

I meant for a living.

Bang the Glasser triplets.

You seem preoccupied with sex. Even in your work you seem to dwell on sexual activity.

I think its more of a vocation that a preoccupation.

Is it the same with drugs?

Oh no. I’m quite preoccupied with hallucinogenics.

In ‘The Misadventures of Mister E’ you state that reality is merely a byproduct of the elite imposing their will on a society that is totally unaware that there can be a different reality.

I said that? Well, that’s fucking brilliant.

You did. Were you referring to the alternate realities created by drug use?

That and the Rocky & Bullwinkle show. Both are equally effective.

Rocky & Bullwinkle?

Its beyond mind bending.

I read that in your college years you were quite a political activist, attending numerous protests. What specifically were you protesting against?

I was never a political activist. And I  never really protested against anything. I have no time for isms. They’re built on a tenuous web of deceit, and encourage cognitive masturbation. The proliferation of isms in the last two generations has rendered society helpless to the depravity of well tanned, casually dressed hipsters. Except of course Ikeaism.

Ikeaism?

Yes. The distorted belief that buying furniture in pieces that you fucking assemble yourself at home is a good idea.

In an interview in ‘Literary Life’ you said that you have an addictive personality. What did you mean by that?

What I actually said was that I have an addicted personality.

Is there a difference?

There is always a difference. Addictive is the susceptibility to become addicted, while addicted is merely an enthusiastic devotion. I have gone way beyond susceptibility, and am currently an enthusiastic devotee.

I see. So you’re an addict?

Not even close. I use hallucinogenics in an attempt to find the flying lizard I lost in 1970. And as for sex, I can take it or leave it, although I prefer to take it. There are things that keep us happy and things that keep us sane and then there’s sex, which does both.

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

That makes two of us.

So, if you weren’t writing, what would you be doing with your life?

I think I’d be an umpire in the women’s nude volleyball league.

I don’t think there is one.

Are you sure? Then who decides if the point is good?

No, I mean I don’t think there’s a women’s nude volleyball league.

Well that’s a let down.

Typically Fielding Goodfellow.

Really? I thought I surprised myself.

We should do this again sometime.

Definitely. I may even be sober next time.

I hope not.

Ya. We’d just wind up sitting in silence, staring at the barmaid’s tits.

You’ve been staring at her tits all afternoon.

I know. But we’ve been talking.

Well, thanks for your time.

My pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I see myself as more of a pilot. Flying people to the places they need to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

if you couldnt have been a writer, what would you have done with your lfie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tripper Jack and The Magic Buttons

 

 

With the end of the school year approaching, my parents made the decision to get me out of the city for the summer. That year they shipped me off to summer camp for two months, far away from the friends they disliked and the opportunities to continue to get myself into trouble. I didn’t mind the camp really, I mean there were a multitude of opportunities to break the rules and wreak havoc on the masses, but I dreaded the camp’s annual canoe trip. Four days in the wilderness of Northern Ontario, paddling and portaging through the yet to be civilized Algonquin Park. And that’s when I met Tripper Jack.

We sat in the dining hall the night before the dreaded canoe trip, listening to the trippers and expedition leaders explain exactly what the hell we were about to set out to do. I really wasn’t paying attention, I mean I would have rather not be going. It was made clear however, that this was not an optional outing. “Are there any questions?”, the head tripper, Jack asked.

“Why aren’t there any girls here?”, I asked.

“Because they’re not coming.”, he replied.

“Why not?”, I added.

“I have my reasons.”, was his response. I really couldn’t think of a single reason not to bring the girls, but several very good ones to bring them along immediately sprang to mind.

“Well, this is gonna suck.”, I said in protest.

“We head out at 5 am.”, he continued, ignoring my objection. “So get your asses into bed. We eat and start loading up at 4.”

I sat up most of the night hoping for some kind of apocalypse, any kind really, that would stop this nightmare before it began, but none came. At 4 o’clock or so, long before any of the other living things were stirring, we all gathered in the mess hall, dining on eggs, toast and some kind of meat product most of us wouldn’t touch, and then, piled into the back of a panel van sitting atop milk crates, boxes and our camping gear. The roads were winding and filled with hills and valleys and, as the van swayed with every turn, Eric Soloway puked his guts out all over the milk crates beside him. “We have a winner.”,  Tripper Jack  chanted. “Anyone else eat the mystery meat?” No one had. No one else dared to. When we pulled up to our launch site the sun was up, and the water was clear and calm. We loaded the canoes with our gear and supplies, and headed straight across Canoe Lake.

As luck would have it, I shared the lead canoe with Tripper Jack. We paddled and paddled for what seemed like forever, making little progress as we tried to cross this never ending lake. ‘Mississippi Queen’ was playing on the transistor radio he had brought along, and using the paddle as a guitar, Tripper Jack nailed the solos.

There were hundreds of canoes on the lake. Hundreds of people setting out on a journey to nowhere, that inevitably led them right back to where they started. “You wanna get totally wasted?” Tripper Jack asked as he passed me some peyote. “This will totally mess with your head.” I didn’t even answer as I took the magic button, and waited for it to take effect.  I was a little surprised that we were now travelling through a Equatorial rain forest although I’m pretty sure that the surprise had little to do with the forest itself, and was more likely due to the effects of the peyote. Looking at the river’s edge, lined with tangerine trees that reached up to marmalade skies, I saw rocking horse people jumping in and out of newspaper taxis in a desperate attempt to elude the evil Blue Meanies. “What the fuck is this?”, I heard myself ask..

“Yellow Submarine meets Sergeant Pepper.”, I heard someone answer. “Weird, isn’t it?”

“Who the hell are you?”, I asked.

“I am the walrus.”, he replied.

“I think you’re mistaken.”, I said with some certainty. “The walrus was Paul.”

“Paul’s dead”, he replied.

“That’s just a rumor.”, I informed him.

“But not an impossibility.”, came his reply. “Remember there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.”

This certainly wasn’t my first sojourn into Pepperland, but this time I seemed to be watching it as if I was in the audience of a Fellini film. “Well this is one weird fucking trip.”, I told Tripper Jack.

“I told you it would fuck with your head.”, he said.  “Prepare yourself. A lot of really weird shit goes on up here.”

‘Ride Captain, Ride’ seeped out of the radio as we passed a garden of cellophane flowers that towered over our heads, finally arriving at the site of the first portage. It took two trips to transport all of our gear 1/2 mile across rock and muck to reach the shore of another lake that seemed very much like the one we had just left. We set off again looking for an island to spend the night. Tripper Jack spotted one that had a gentle sloped beach for the canoes, and a higher grade for our tents. A group of female canoeists who had already set up camp there agreed to share their site with us in exchange for protection from the wild animals they heard were known to live on these islands. “I come up here twice a year.”, Tripper Jack told me. “And every time, there’s a group of female campers on this island.” We set camp and made a fire. Some of the guys went skinny dipping in the lake, and a few of the girls joined them. Tripper Jack handed me a joint, and went off with a big boobed, blonde teen sensation that he hoped would soon be bobbing up and down on his lap. I stayed on shore, preferring to sit and talk with Naomi, the leader of the girls expedition. Despite being older than I was, I couldn’t help thinking about  jumping down her shorts. Naomi and I disappeared into the woods and proceeded to get high.

“Why aren’t you in the water with the others?”, she asked as I passed her the joint.

“I’ve been waiting to go with you.”, I told her. She sat with her insanely long legs slightly apart afforded me an unobstructed view of her wondrous camel toe. “What do you say?”, I asked. “Should we go for a swim?”

“You just want to get me naked, don’t you?”, she asked. “I can see how you look at me.”

“I certainly do.”, I told her.

“Well”, she continued, “we don’t have to go in the water for me to take my clothes off.” She stood up and began undressing. “Come on.”, she said. “You have to take yours off too or its no deal.” I was already hard, and she noticed. “Well, someone likes tits.”, she said as she removed her top. Indeed someone did. We spent the night together in a sleeping bag in the woods, and when the sun came up, we parted ways.

“So that wasn’t so bad.”, Tripper Jack said as we paddled away from the island.  “And now you know why I don’t bring the girls along.”

We did another button listening to ‘Draggin’ The Line’ on the radio, as the walrus swam beside our canoe. He followed us for what seemed like forever, but really it was only as long as the peyote lasted, “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”, he told me just before he left.

“Its hard to do when I’m listening to the colors of my dreams.”, I replied.

“It is knowing.”, the walrus said as he swam away into the river of marshmallow pies.

On our return to camp, Tripper Jack and I remained quite close. I had developed a fondness for peyote, and outdoor sex which I attempted to share with several of the female counselors. One night in early August, I got caught on the girls side of the camp knocking on heaven’s door with Ellen Rose behind the girl’s shower. And while she was a willing participant and an eager recipient of my manhood, I was held responsible and sent home for violating camp rules and performing lewd acts with the unsuspecting and innocent female staff at the camp. I didn’t protest, despite the fact that Ellen Rose, who I was sure held a graduate degree in blow jobs, was far from innocent. My parents were notified and informed that I had been expelled from the camp for life, and they were expected to remove me from the property the following day. With nothing to lose, I spent that last night on a mission of sexual depravity that would have made de Sade blush.

My parents arrived first thing in the morning, and the old man wasted no time in expressing his disgust and disappointment in my behavior. As we loaded the car, a group of friends arrived to say their goodbyes. Tripper Jack and Eric Soloway were there. Ellen Rose and a handful of the other female counselors I had moon danced with the night before appeared as well. Tripper Jack slipped me a small packet as we shook hands, and Ellen Rose, handed me a piece of paper with her phone number on it. I suppose it wasn’t a totally wasted summer. I stayed in touch with Tripper Jack for many, many years until he moved overseas. I met up with Ellen Rose a few times over the years, tripping the light fantastic until she married.  My parents never really got over the horror of my tarnishing the family name with my, and these are their words,  perverted and unprincipled behaviors. Three years later, I returned to the very same camp as a staff member and, following the example set by Tripper Jack,  helped a couple of intelligent, insightful young women find their own way to Pepperland.

 

 

The Son Of The Mouse In My House

 

There’s no way you’re ever going to believe it. Hell, I have a hard time believing I myself. But ts true. Over a year since I last heard about it, my wife spotted another mouse in the house. Not just in the house, but actually in our bedroom. She saw it run in and dash behind a dresser.

“That’s it.”, She said. “We’re moving.”

“We’re not moving.”, I told her.

“Well I’m not sleeping in here.*, She continued. “Not with that thing in here.”

“Just relax.”, I reassured her, “We’ll catch it.” As I began to move the furniture in our room away from the walls, my wife put on her calf high rain boots and stepped up on the bed. “Seriously?”, I asked. “I could use some help.”

“I’m not moving until its out of here.”, she informed me. I pulled out the dresser, and nothing. I moved the wall unit, the end tables, and the stationary bike which had sat not only stationary but solitary for the past eighteen months. “There it goes.”, she shouted, pointing to a far corner of the room. Its in my closet.Get my shoes off the floor. I don’t want it in my shoes.”

“Relax.”, I pleaded as I slowly opened the closet door, adding to the suspense. I began moving her shoes off of the floor as she announced the movements of the rodent.

“It went to the left side of the closet.”, she reported, so I focused my search on the identified area. “It went back to the right side.”, she continued. The mouse shot out of the closet like a rocket amid her screams and squeals. “It went behind the book case.”, she told me frantically.

“You know”, I said as I headed back to the bookcase, “I wouldn’t mind hearing that kind of stuff when we’re having sex.”

“If you don’t find that mouse”, she advised me, “we probably won’t be having sex again. And besides, I make a lot of noise.”

“Yes you do.”, I agreed. “But ‘hang on the remote is digging into my ass’ is not the kind of noise I’m talking about.”

“There it goes.”, she shouted pointing at the path of the mouse along the southern wall of our bedroom. “It’s behind the bed.”

One of my daughters entered our room, and seeing my wife standing on the bed in her red and black flannel pajama pants tucked into a pair of knee high rubber rain boots that were at least a size too big, and a khaki colored rain slicker with the hood up, holding a tennis racket was too much for her to bear. She burst into uproarious laughter. “What the hell are you dressed for?”, she asked my wife.

“Safety.”, my wife replied. “There’s a mouse roaming around somewhere in here.”

“Are you trying to catch it or kill it with laughter?”, my daughter asked.

“You’re going to have to get off of the bed if you want me to move it.”, I said.

“Are you crazy?”, my wife remarked. “I’m not getting off the bed until the mouse is gone.”

“I don’t know what you’re worrying about.”, I said. “You’re in your hazmat suit. You have to get off the bed.” I had never seen her move so quickly, jumping directly from the bed to the floor with one bounce, sticking the landing close to the door in one precise move which, had I been judging would have scored her a 9 out of 10, and then running out of the room, closing the door behind her. After a careful search, there was no mouse under the bed. There was no mouse anywhere. I opened the bedroom door and informed my wife that the mouse had left the scene of the crime.

“Are you sure?”, she asked.

“Well its not in here.”, I answered. “I don’t know what else I can do.” My wife climbed back on the bed, still dressed in her mousing attire. “I have to go to sleep.”, I added.

She leaned forward and began scouring the room with her eyes darting back and forth, looking for any movement, any trace of a mouse still lingering in the room. “I don’t think I can sleep.”, she informed me. “Not in here.”

I sat down on the edge of the bed. “What do you want me to do?”, I asked her.

“Just stay here and watch for it.”, she said. “Maybe if its still in here, it will leave while I’m asleep.”

“You want me to sit up all night and  be on the lookout for a  mouse that may or may not be in here?”, I inquired.

“Yes.”, she said. “You’re the man.”

“What does that have to do with anything.”, I asked.

“It just does.”, she reminded me, “Now, I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

“Dressed like that?”, I asked.

“Well I’m not taking it off.”, she stated. “What if it jumps up on the bed?”

And so, I spent that night on the edge of the bed, dozing off for a bit every now and again, but never for very long. The night seemed to go on forever, and I kept myself awake with nicotine, caffeine and Benzedrine. I did not see the mouse in our room again that night. In the morning my wife contacted a pest control company, who attended our home later in the day and placed bait traps in a few select places. I hiked over to the hardware store and picked up more sticky traps, snap traps and some kind of electronic gadget that claimed to emit a sound that would keep the mice at bay.

I have no idea what happened to the mouse that had invaded our bedroom that night, but I assume it eventually left, sitting around a camp fire with its colony sharing a hunk of usurped cheese,  laughing hysterically at the story of a strange woman who spent the night dressed as if she were planning to survive nuclear fallout.  I check the traps several times a day, and so far, I have caught nothing. I can’t be sure if I even saw the mouse in our room that night. Maybe it was never there. Maybe my wife had merely imagined that she had seen a mouse. Either way, I thought it best to cancel the surprise anniversary trip to Disney World. I just don’t think that she would have been able to handle the giant mouse that roams the Magic Kingdom at will, without all of her mousing gear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Of The Living Pez

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Tate and I had just begun day three of our proposed week long journey into psychedelic surrealism, wandering around a psilocybin paradise, carousing with alcoholic, fire breathing dragons, and the flying lizard mariachi band that performed in my living room three or four nights a week. We watched in wonder as the walls melted and dissolved into Irish Middle Earth, where drunken, angry leprechauns cascaded across the hills and dales singing  ‘Danny Boy’ in three part harmony, as they searched for their missing gold.  We drifted in and out of ‘The Completion Backwards Principle’, tackling deep philosophical dilemmas such as how do mermaids open their legs, and do vegans willingly participate in oral sex.

As the hallucinogenics kicked in big time something weirdly Rod Serling unfolded before our eyes. The Pez dispensers that had sat silently on a series of shelves in the spare room for years, began singing the soundtrack from ‘Bye Bye Birdie’. Sad, but true, the DC superheroes couldn’t carry a tune in a Three Stooges lunch box.  Those privileged, pretty boys in their colorful tights and flowing capes were thankfully saved by the Disney Princesses who seemed to be eyeing the apartment with the intent to redecorate it in that neo art deco shit that they seemed to like so much. Snow White nailed her solo in the title theme song and, after leaving her seven diminutive friends with hopes of jumping on that bulge in Superman’s tights, wandered off to see first hand if he really was the man of steel. Pez pandemonium broke out as Grumpy and Sneezy, in the name of retributive justice, attempted to set fire to the hero’s indestructible cape with the assistance of Iron Man, who was desperate for some friction on his own metal. The ensuing dispute ended only when the Chinese Food that neither Tate nor I remembered ordering arrived, “And that”, as Tate succinctly put it, “is the cause of the Dc vs Marvel rivalry.”

As we dug in to Moo Shu pork, Kung Po Chicken and Shanghai Noodles, the leprechauns were standing on the edge of the meadow, peering into the living room. “I suspect Scrooge McDuck is behind the great leprechaun gold heist.”, Tate blurted out. Several of the dwarfs concurred, professing that they had seen the miserly mallard up to his beak in gold coins. The Kung Po was not nearly spicy enough, and the Pezcapades had begun to wind down, with the entire cast preparing for the reprise of the opening theme song. Snow White returned to her place, front and centre, exuberant and energized, seemingly satisfied by what Superman had to offer her. When the music rolled in, there was a rousing cheer from the Hanna-Barbera group, as Snow White stepped up to the microphone. Once the song ended and the final note dissipated, leaving the room in silence, the Pez dispensers returned to their rightful places. “Well, that was weird.”, Tate stated.

“Not really.”, I replied. “You should be here last Wednesday night when they did ‘The Music Man. Now that was weird.”

“You mean this has happened before?”, Tate asked.

“Uh huh.”, I informed him. “Although the performance tonight was a little flat, much like the Kung Po, but it was nice to finally see Snow White smile.” As the drugs began to wear off and the dragons and lizards disappeared, as the leprechauns gathered up their gold and settled in for a good night’s sleep, Tate passed out on the couch, and I allowed my mind to wander back and consider just how a mermaid opens her legs, and whether or not vegans are willing participants in oral sex while I cleaned up the mess from the night’s edition of Pezcapades, and prepared for what I hoped would be a stellar performance of ‘West Side Story’, with the Universal classic monsters as the Jets, and the Hanna-Barbera gang as the Sharks. I had invited Tate back for this must see extravaganza, and me, well I’m rooting for the monsters because “When you’re a Jet, you’re a jet all the way.”