This is Olsen My Homophobic Friend

“Go the back way; through Langston.” Olsen requested. I nearly always do. “So. You know how I refuse to wear a condom?” he goes on to ask.

I dump the Chevy off 35 and float through the stop sign onto 33 headed east. “I know you claim to refuse. Never heard if you do or don’t. For sure, you never refused me.”

“I’d never refuse you, sweetie.” he says.

“Really?  Your wife left you and you wanna do the fake gay thing?  [With me?] You know what they say about homophobes.”

“Man, fags’ll say anything to get you to think that you’re repressed or some such shit.”  Olsen pulls off his OSU ball cap and dips it into the airstream.

I wrote the above a ways back but never posted it.  I am not sure why not.  I’ve posted plenty shorter.  I need to tweek this to make it more clear that the driver is gay.

On the way home yesterday I came up with a handful of exchanges between the driver and his buddy Olsen.  It flet like good dialogue, but I couldn’t really make a full conversation stream out of the pieces.  It reminds me of the piece I did with the actress discussing things with her assistant a ways back.

I should make it clear that I’m not gay.  And I don’t have any close friends that are that could provide me guidance in the accuracy or authenticity of the following conversations.  Were I to significantly expand this piece I’d do more research.  For now I’ve just used my imagination.  The driver shouldn’t be offensive; Olsen probably should.

These aren’t in order…

“So you wouldn’t fuck a girl at all?  Even a hot one?  Do you even think hot girls are hot?”  Olsen asked.

“No. No. Yes.”

“OK, good. Wait, what?  Would you fuck one or not?”

I’ve always tried not to go into detail with Olsen.  He’s not ready for this conversation–neither am I.

“No, I wouldn’t fuck a girl not even a hot one.  Yes, I do know the difference between hot and just regular pretty.”

“My wife’s smokin’.  You’ve know that.  You wouldn’t fuck her?” Olsen pauses.  I know what’s coming. “Not even in the ass?”

“Nope.  Not even in the ass.”  I’ve tried to keep things short.  Tried to keep things factual and basic.  I can feel it’s not going to work better than I can feel the Oklahoma evening air rushing int he open window.

“You know I’m not gay because I like ‘fucking people in the ass’, right?”

“But you do?”

“Have sex or like it?”

His look tells me to stop playing word games.

“Yes on both.”

“You can’t be gay.  You drive this truck.”

Admittedly, the truck isn’t very gay.  A 1978 Chevy Fleetside red with a white stripe down the side.  It’s a classic Oklahoma farm truck.  Beat up bed.  Dented and rusting back bumper.  Even has a gun rack–empty except for my rope and calf string.  I point to the plastic Bugs Bunny I superglued to to the dash.

“OK.  Gluing that there was gay.”

“I don’t mean gluing gluing it.  I mean Bugs.  Bugs is gay.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?  Bugs Bunny isn’t gay.”

I give him a wink about as flamboyantly as I ever can be.

“Jeezus.  Ugh.  Please don’t ever do that again.”  Olsen shivers like I’ve shown him a dead body.  “I’m just saying that fags don’t drive trucks.  Hell women don’t even drive trucks.”

“Now, what the fuck are you talking about?  Jamie drove a truck.  Christy drove a truck.  Joan drives a truck.  Hello!  Your soon to be ex wife drives a truck.”

“Yeah, but once you’re fucking them they want you to drive them around.  It’s like they have the truck just so they can get driven around in it.”

I have more of this stuck in my head.  Hopefully I’ll get to it later today, but for now I’ve got to get the work week started.

Day 254

Flight Lessons?

When I was much younger, still a boy in Scouts, our Scoutmaster took us out to a local airfield to get our Flying merit badge. This kind of thing was his thing. He brought rattlesnakes to our church basement meeting room and set them free on the floor among us boys. He invited a cop to come speak about his role on the local force. He located and wrangled a cowboy that had ridden or was still riding from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. For him if you do it, you’ve done it. Near as I can tell he insisted on getting us as done as possible.

It was cold and a bit grey that day. I recall waiting in a smoked out room filled with dated flying magazines and one hastily cleaned ashtray. The plaid sandbag for a bottom kind. If a set dresser for a movie about a quaint little redneck airstrip were looking for the perfect set they would need to look no further.

Kids exaggerate waiting. I recall as a young child sitting in a doctor’s office for half a day or more just to get my throat swabbed. But at the airport I was in my teens so certainly my temporal judgment increased by then? As far as I know we never taxied the runway. My memory skips from the waiting room, to walking up to the plane, to being in the back seat—passenger’s side—of the smallest plane I’d ever boarded now in flight. I wore a hooded Ocean Pacific long sleeve shirt and I could feel sweat running down my side from my armpits. It was not hot.

The Scoutmaster, two other boys and myself. My head raced to keep up with the fear and the amazing experience. Roads and trees and houses and other structures that can only be seen from above ran under us like we were a canoe passing over stones in clear swift water. The plane regularly rocked or rolled in a number of directions. The words yaw and pitch come to mind now, but as much as I might have known what they meant on the ground back then in the sky, that day, they might as well have been made-up.

He must have been instructing us in his own inscrutable way. He had to have been talking to each of us in turn because at some point I switched places with the kid in front of me. I’m certain I would not have done this without being asked. Imagine climbing over the dinner table to swap places with another diner; you can’t touch the ground or spill your drinks it’s OK if you step in your food—or your partner’s.

I now have the secondary yoke in my clutching clutches and my feet tentatively on the peddles ready to break free at the slightest whisper of an inferred command. I’m feeling the flight path he’s flying through my arms and through my feet. The seat is sturdy and soft. The floor of the plane is solid and sure. The windows are clean and safely shielding me from the wind. The engine is running and will never stop turning the prop. In the whole world I’m the only thing likely to fail. He let’s go of the instructor’s yoke.

Holy mother of shit! The North Pole just flipped to the South.

Nothing is there anymore. The plane, once a car on a road unable to go up or down without regard for the terrain or left and right without regard for the curve, goes where I send it. Directions were at my finger tips and I could call them each up at will or whim or whatever.

Writing feels this way to me. Like a book is just on the other side of the threshold there is no way to ease through. That you simply jump off the cliff, pen and paper in hand, and write yourself out of a bad ending before you hit bottom.

You might see why I sometimes avoid tarrying near the edge.

Day 253

Disconnectivity is Probably Not a Word

Ahead of any of the rest of this I should thank those of you that read 1000 Days.  I appreciate the lot of you silent as you are about your participation.  Also, a big shoutout to you robots combing the Internet for RSS feeds: thanks for stopping by.

The theme of concern resolving from those that do provide me feedback is that I don’t present a cohesive thread of any kind.  Each day is new.  Each day is disconnected from most of the days before it.  Each day is a start with no middle or end.

I agree.  And I dislike the disconnectivity as much as you.  For anyone previously tentative about coming forward with criticisms of 1000 Days, let that admission alay any fears of authorial retaliation.  I’m OK with external criticism of my work in part or whole.  LEt’s not let that be the crack that breaks the dam and looses relentless volumes of bashing though—I’m no masochist.  Alone in a vaccum with just pen and paper erodes my creativity and quality.

Starting next week I’ll be organizing each week by a theme.  All seven—usually just five—will pivot on a core idea.  I may announce that idea ahead of time; I may not.  That pivot may come in the form of a straight forward story of sorts or it may simply be a bunch of stories about socks, or knives, or the wind, or greed.  In any case a theme.

In the spirit of collaboration—but not too much (maybe 99:1)—I’ll solicit themes in the comments below.

Word count: 260
Day 241

Shut Up With Your Fluffy Bunnies and Sunshine

Some areas of the Internet—the blogosphere at least—brim with cheer. Like formerly downward Christians back from a fresh revival they wipe inspired sweat from their brows and proselytize their message. Drunk on their own success they upliftingly decry a seemingly simple message of hope: do what you love. Or sometimes: follow your dream. There is just no way to be happy unless you do things that fill you with joy.

Well, no shit.

These people are grandparents that have forgotten the trials of parenthood. Trust funders raft-hopping in Thailand to get back to basics. Headlining pentagenarian rockers singing burnt-out-from-the-road lyrics—as if.

Listen up Internet cool-aid drinkers: I have a mortgage. I have a family. I have dogs and cats and a car loan. The bank, the grocery store, the vet, and the other bank don’t take bliss checks. They don’t even feign interest in my need for personal satisfaction and inner peace. They send me big envelopes with little envelopes inside. They don’t bother to pay for the return postage.

Yes, I got here on my own. I will get out on my own. I’ll get out by keeping my less than soul satisfying job and paying them off a little while longer. I’ve got practical debts and concrete needs. Those require satisfaction before I do.

I’ll defer my dreams, my passions, and my loves for later—maybe even for ever—so shut up with your fluffy bunnies and sunshine.

Word count: 245
Day 240

We Also Saw Kung Fu Panda

8:37 – 23 mins to write.

8:38 – Crap, that went fast.

Friday evening the world sped up a bit.

Around 4:30 Grandma arrived to pick up Hope for a sleep-over. I showered during the event, but I’m told she grabbed her stuff, trundled over to the car, and climbed into her seat. We thought she’d balk or cry. Excellent.

Near 5—before or after I don’t know—the rest of us bunched into the mini-van en route to the other babysitter’s house. Two miles up from here one stop sign per mile. Dump Joy off like a newborn at the doorstep of a church then headed west. Again, one stop sign per mile. His time six miles. That happens to be one mile more than necessary—fast is slow; slow is fast.

We get very well parked for both the frontside and the backside of the movie. Scoot through the mall to the food court near the theater.

“No we can’t rent one of those little cars. What do you want to eat, pizza or hot dogs?”.

“I need to go potty.”

“Do you too?”

“No.”

“Good. Do you want a hot dog or pizza?”

We dine at the ‘little tables’ near the powder blue ’57 Chevy table. It’s like parent-teacher night at grade school with our knees bumble the table top. Faith savors a pizza slice like she’s got all the time in the world. Grace devours a hot dog sans bun like she’s got none at all. Mom and I share the bun and crust and some chicken nuggets that she got when my attention drifted.

Kung Fu Panda was ok. I didn’t laugh at any of the parts the rest of the audience laughed but I could usually see why they did. Some scenes moved fast like a frenetic car chase and I wondered if the girls followed the action. Dreamworks rolls a little different then Pixar.

I couldn’t get over the unanswered question of why the panda’s father was a duck. Nor exactly what animal Sifu was.

Word count: 342
Day 239

By Tearless God

Fired up Adobe Buzzword from Acrobat.com this morning. I needed to port my login over to the new site. Plus a recent article on the Writer’s Technology Companion had me feeling guilty I’ve not given this platform much of a shake.

Of course I’ve been away awhile. I’ve been working on some hefty documentation at work. I needed a break from composing sentences–we all know how painful that is for me.

His body lay face up on the tile floor; his head jammed sturdily in the corner of the kitchen cabinets. Each of his arms spread an even distance from his torso with the hands hooked under the toe-kick. This is the way he would look to a groundling if he were flying overhead. The only asymmetry: his turned head and his scratching fingers.

This man, Travis probably, scrapes gently at the wooden edge running from his left eye to near infinity. He’s been making this one single simple movement all his life. The surface is mostly smooth but for a bit of a burr that catches his nail as he extends the tip fully. His fingerprints catch it, turning the knuckles slightly, as he contracts. Some part of his mind must be counting the strokes, must be calculating when the burr will erode completely while his finger grows fresh skin cells to replace the ones rubbed off in the process. It’s possible that there is, in fact, a number in there somewhere. This man, Travis, has no plans to retrieve it.

He enjoys the solid elevated sensation the tile provides. Travis is sure he can feel the concrete below the tile, the sand below the concrete, the clay beneath the sand, and the whole of Earth below that. He doesn’t have to imagine he’s atop a pedestal of obdurate granite. He is atop such a thing. He’s been place here personally by tearless God or fate or fucking circumstance.

The mundane cabinets balance the centrifugal exertion of everything that’s happened since it happened. Without his arms and hands under these, he’s sure he’d be pressed through the ceiling and attic and roof and into the sky. Travis is not moving his arms from their secure place just yet. He does turn his head to look upward along his anticipated trajectory. If he grows bored of the scratching–or the burr comes loose–and he has nothing better to do but be flung further into space he’d like to be able to roll to the side to align his body with the rafters so he can be passed through the softer parts. A Dole banana sticker on the underside of the counter flares in his attention.

###

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. Let me. Let me. Let me!” Connie begs.

“Constance, you can’t reach the cupboards,” says Travis.

“I can reach here.” Constance dabs the sticker to the underside of the counter top and runs into the living room.

“Get back in the kitchen to eat…” Travis gives up this time.

###

His body lay face up on the tile floor, but now he’s curled and sobbing. The floor does not move nearer the ceiling.

Word count: 508
Day 238

The Thing Is Also

I toyed with returning to “The Thing Is“. Tonight I’m giving it a shot.

Olsen got started quick tonight. I planned on a conversation that started with “I can’t believe the fucking Cowboys lost again.” or “What the fuck is up with T. Boone Pickins anyways?” or “I still can’t believe they tore down the Dairy Bar.” Instead I got this.

“We’re not driving all the way to Tulsa tonight, just Stillwater. Do you want to start with ‘the fucking thing’ and never get to ‘the thing’ or dive right in?” I asked.

Olsen scanned the roadway for cops. Seeing it all clear he lifted the beer from between his legs straight up to his lips like it was on a wire, took a swig, then ran it back down the wire to it’s hiding place. Somewhere outside a loud cricket Dopplered by the open pickup window like a siren. Olsen oh-shitted.

“You have got to be frickin’ kidding me.” I dropped off the gas pedal and drifted to the shoulder a little to really set the hook. Olsen whipped around full sideways to face me with one elbow on the dash and one on the back of the seat. His head flipping up and down the road he’d just cleared like a windshield wiper.

“Ah fuck. I’m sorry, dude. I don’t even see any lights. Where the hell is he?” I smile, hit the gas, and pull back into the slow lane. “You fucker! For that I just might talk about farts the whole way.”

I turn KXY the rest of the way down–it’s not like you could hear who they were playing anyway with this 2-70 air conditioning going. “Tell me why Karen left you.”

“Not why, dude. Where.”

Word count: 281
Day 222