Archive for November, 2007

The Infamous Sibling Water Fight (To which no truce applied.)

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

     Back in the days of the early 1960’s my family was living in Bedford, Massachusets in the Base’s housing at Hanscomb Field Air Fore Base.  The housing area was planned in a rather blunt but real as was implied manner, set out in a most stratified and obvious way, having 3 main streets named (by topological truth and by status of rank)very neatly and graphically laid out ,with the existence of an actual “Low Street”, a “Middle Street”, and a “High Street” to which each family was assigned quarters (housing) according to the father’s level of rank in the service.  We first lived in a temporary apartment, then were given a quite lovely two story house, very ‘New England’ in it’s style, and quite nice in it’s placement among rank and file, at the top of a hill surrounded by beautifully wooded natural land.   The beautiful natural Forrest enclosure made our base housing seem more like an up-scale neighborhood surrounded by an impressive greenbelt around it’s perimeters. My father was working for the Department of Defense in an important area of  National Security at that time.  I was a clueless 15 year old, not wanting to be up North, and doing everything I could to express that, as I remember it. This was a number of years ago… (Wow, it was actually about 45 years ago.) nnnnooooooooooway.

     We moved to Massachusetts from the coast of central Florida the summer before I was to attend 10th grade, the first year of  High School in those days (the big time.)  However, the culture and climate were ever so completely different, to the point that I remember thinking the Principal of “Bedford High” was doing a “Kennedy” impression when giving the morning announcements over the school’s intercom.  This I found to be quite amusing, something not shared by my peers. Wonder why that was?  Also, after we drove from Florida to Massachusetts in August of that year, I discovered the horrendous climate difference right away.  It got colder at night in the Summer there, than it ever got in the Winter in our previous station, where we had spent a most unusually long assignment (5 years). That was when my Dad was stationed at Cape Canaveral off the coast of Cocoa Beach Florida, back in the days when it was not so overwhelmingly populous as to seem to be an extension of Disney World, the Space Travel theme section or something of that nature, as it is today.

     The public schools were ever so much better, though, there in New England -and that was a remarkable thing. As a High School Sophomore, I and two other weird souls wanted to take “music theory” which, with allot of trouble and schedule shuffling, Bedford High provided.  My 10th grade honors English class was more like a college level lecture, the teacher being phenomenally dedicated to spreading his love of words and their power, along with the importance and insistance on following the preferred structured and correctly doccumented written work, which he assigned regularly.  He would edit these papers untill we learned this skill and neccesity on our own.  He was a remarkable speaker and the Drama coach as well,  so I participated in the Drama program there under his guidence as well.   There was even a genuine visual art teacher who knew his chops.  I had no idea this sort of thing existed in the world, but soaked it in like a sponge- however tempory it was.   But for that year, it did exist for me, even if my nose froze and I very regularly slipped on the ice and could barely spell Massachusetts.

     Most of the local culture was so firmly evident, having been long ago established with a reverence for academia not found in Florida (for obvious reasons-I mean, who needed that there?…) and the area surrounding Boston was oozing with such superlative displays of all kinds in the arts there, and the ever present excitement that came with living near a big city with such a particularly historical significance-that brought a whole new unexpected bonus with this odd year of transition.  That part of our stay made this area sacred to me, even if I was alienated by my status of Military Brat, a tempory, new kid, and obvious suspect. I went to the Club 47 with older friends and was introduced to the budding folk music scene. I remember attending a performance of the Royal Ballet when Margot Fonteyn still danced with the Royal Ballet Company.  Although I do not remember a single “Lift Off” of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile the whole time were stationed there.  How odd that seemed at the time.  Oh, sure they played around with some “Nike rockets” upon occasion (?) but that hardly compares to intensity of the other experience, as to be so different, so civilized and so strangely smooth ,and so damn cold in the winter as to freeze your eyelids open if you walked into the wind.  It was the actual  living experience likened to the existence of when” Hell actually done froze over” to me, as it were, and hopefully, we were just visiting, even with all the added excellence in it’s local color.  Frankly the local color became blue like the tip of my nose upon occassion.

          Although this move and that year spent in the Boston area was one that broadened the perspective of my very naive life experiences, and probably froze away some overly-fashioned conscious brain cells, as the approaching reality of  Winter there did not ruin my here-to-fore optimistic idea that my long brown hair was the all occasion head cover for any occasion.  It was nearing Christmas before I realized that by covering my head with a very warm scarf or hat, this addition really would make quite a difference, and that there are those times when survival becomes ever so much more important than one’s fashion image at below freezing temperatures, especially when the wind chill is factored with in the equation.

       However, when Spring sprung ,up there, it was so overwhelmingly relieving ,and wonderfully, shockingly different, as to make even one as young as I was, truly realize the renewal of the earth’s cycle of life, a concept brought with wisdom not personally realized before that year.  I remember one afternoon in late Spring, when my mother was at some Officers’ Wives’ Club function, and not expected to return until dusk, when my big brother and I had one of the most over the topwater fights”I have ever heard about. It was quite comfortably warm and we had the screen door and some windows open to let in the Spring’s warm breeze. This was so altogether inspiring as we were seemingly freed from an icy prison, and yet again given back our childhood’s playful attitude, so impulsive and invigorating as to reintroduce our former stupid and purposeless battle for family supremacy. This, particular noteworthy exchange was undoubtedly started by the simple reality of my having to do some chores (NOT THAT!) that day -when I was putting some used and rinsed dishes and glasses in our new dishwasher (a first for our family).  This kitchen also came with a very handy tool, the removable and easily directed and defused spray nozzle at the kitchen sink-not the usual simple fixed faucet that we were used to having.  Of course, this marvelous new invention became the ultimate efficient and evil spray gun that never ran out of water unless you gave up and ran.  So, my brother proceeded to walk by on his way toward the door of the kitchen, providing the perfect and most excellent target for said convenient kitchen utensil.  I Sprayed him with maximum water pressure, and with out mercy and rather thoroughly (I thought). Where as he had only the glass of water he carried to return fire until he escaped.  Given my brothers proclivity for ingenious revenge, he found the garden hose and spray nozzle in the garage, which he then attached to the closest outside water faucet (all without my noticing him doing that).  I was almost finished my task of loading the dishwasher, when he returned with that far greater fire power, a fully pressurized garden hose, locked and loaded for battle.  My puny kitchen sprayer was no match for that garden hose at full blast, but we preceded to battle this out until noticing we had both of our persons and the entire kitchen sopping wet.  To the point where there was (mas or menos) almost an inch of water contained with in the kitchen floor. At this significant moment of inevitable retreat, for both, and the realization of the much needed reconaissance that we faced; we shifted our formerly advisarial roles, becoming allies (however temorary) in order undo the horor of our water war, which would not be viewed in the spirit intended by our parents.   We knew the battle was over but not the war.

     I think it took us over an hour to re-establish normality to that lovely, clean kitchen …err… with the very recently rinsed (quite thoroughly) light yellow tiled floor, and wiped down cabinets. The effort put forth took every broom, mop, and  dry towel in the house, which we thoughtfully put in the washer to clean, and the dryer to dry, sneaking down and retrieving them, folding them, and returning them to their former locations, later- on the sly.  Fortunately, the kitchen curtains were “wash and wear”, though I don’t think this was what they had in mind.  We had barely finished doing this, when we heard our mother come home, driving the car into the garage.  Though the hose and nozzle had not been returned to it’s assigned place in the garage, it was not a noticed factor, so we proceeded to behave quite normally, having changed out of our soaked clothes, and evil expressions.

     As I remember things, by the time my mother returned to change out of her very formal attire, I was sitting in the den pretending to read the newspaper and my brother was in his room ingrossed in his home work.  Just another afternoon, in the tales of the Air Force Brats, that we really were.  Too bad that time goes away as easily as the water disappeared that afternoon of memorable though dubious intent.

Humour where' you at? whereforth art thou, etc.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

  Ever noticed how some times when trying to make it through the day with co-workers, or family members, some comment that was meant merely to be amusing, or lighthearted, or ever so slightly discordant, in order to change the focus into a pleasant pathway to a different subject or attitude, goes terribly wrong:  And this particular statement will invariably become the  explosive phrase, that (allthough intended to entertain or raise the spirit of the establishment) starts a vicious verbal battle; simply because what is “funny“, is objectively so.  Though meant to be playful, what was said is easily taken in some context from where it did not originate or belong.  Then with out any warning or rationally intended interlude, the baffled speaker, who finds his or her own benign group of words to  have been taken as surprisingly venomous and insulting, perceived and mistakenly twisted into the official passwords that open some heretofore blocked behavioral vent from which comes ( from the listener ) a preposterous yet clearly vile spewing of internalized rage. 

      I don’t think this is all that uncommon.  All though, I am beginning to wonder about that, as it is rather bizarre, given the circumstances experienced. However, it is damnfunny” that “funnycan turn out to be anything but that. Now, this is something  universally understood, as words and emotions and reactions become so different and as delicate as hand blown glass when thoroughly mixed by any one culture or person’s own attitude.

      Perhaps a sore spot, never having been touched, the discovery of  it’s presence quite recent, never even suspected to be present or ever so sensitive was brushed by some inflammatory (though unintentionally meant) phrase or word which brought this all on.  Though there is no doubt in my mind that these sore verbal toes had been stubbed before, as never have I been quite as taken aback by the vindictive reaction of this” listener”to my having spoken in jest upon this strange occasion; I find this particularly curious when said audience is a family member you have known  for more than 30 years.  But maybe that’s the problem: with in those many years spent, coupled with the unfortunate truth that familiarity breeds contempt, it lay dormant, however deeply hidden.  But way too often- some wack reaction will throw you off normal, and not just in this example of the results brought forth from one misunderstood phrase used, which to one’s own mind was meant to be be taken lightly, in an effort to lift the load off a much too dreary, tedious or serious extended mode. Ever noticed that?  Perhaps there was the wild hope that this comment would be taken in as it was meant to be taken, merely as an entertaining interjection that would be the catalyst to encourage further pleasant conversation?   But for some inexplicable reason ,what has been said then becomes the very cathartic and caustic statement taken by one’s partner (or whom ever) as nothing less than a very personal slam. 

     Perhaps it is because with in any group there are always overly sensitive and non-comically-centered people among us, who expect or really prefer to be the administrators of a reality based existence, and in these days and times that is understandable, though lacking in fun for it’s own sake. Many people have never learned to enjoy a lighthearted exchange, or to “play”, as it were, (as we’ve neither the time or desire to engage in so silly an endeavor) when the morbid truth is that most all current family and international situations really do tend to pile up here and suck.  All these everyday problems and interactions can be so incredibly complex, so never ending, so constant, so often lacking any possible solution, as to become way too hard to sustain with out an occasional blowing of one’s” stack.” But it seems to me that the introduction of an obvious silly comment at times might contribute to a more pleasant dialogue, one with some comic relief, when it is so badly needed.  Although this just goes as an example of the existence of those who would deem a splatter of laughter here and there, to be an inconsistent or disconcerting way for adults to behave, much less converse.  Which of course, makes here-in the so-called “dialogue” not possible to exist as a dialogue, which would indicate the verbal exchange of two equal and willing people trading ideas or attitudes, or even an actual debate where words some time clash in disagreement, as this communicative style (like talking normal) tends to be a two way street, even if there is a one way mind in the mix.

       Perhaps this suddenly angry and inadvertently insulted person, who is able to display quite an impressive incredible proclivity for sustained spewing, is far too used to typing on this overly receptive computer, and quite prefers to have no other-wise thoughts directed to the contrary of those expressed or believed by said person, which would complicate the ‘peace and continuity’ or his or her writing, or reading, or very existence. Especially when an obtrusive idea comes from such a long known relation for whom the worst possible translation seems habitual.  

        The introduction of some imbecilic comment, however ludicrous, incongruous, or comical, has broken many a trance in an nefarious unacceptable manner in this household,and as no facts are exchanged -who needs that?  However, the overwhelming pent-up repressed anger hidden inside such a highly disciplined person, must be quite a personal problem to carry around; so maybe I’m looking at this situation with the wrong attitude. (Certainly that has occurred many times, and I have been corrected with great detail for this fault). But that is beside the point.   Quite obviously the preferred  manner of communication  should be literal, serious and add to one’s knowledge.  Pardon me if this is sounding a tad critical of those among us who spend far too much personal time typing away (a one way exchange that, I might add), and/or reading what some (believe it or not) other human person  has written here in this handy instrument of endless information.  However this process which dominates many a life, certainly does not include or encourage an opposing view point, or disconcerting subject, and any unwanted interruption can not possibly occur, ‘less the power is loss or the ISP has been seemingly overtaken by Satan.

     He who is not comfortable with a verbal addition (much less an interruption) or is reluctantly receptive to one, probably just wants a companion who is silent, yet pleasant (hmmm, like this damn machine.) A person with these traits would be very unlikely to want to be interrupted, even in the event of Christ having reappeared as promised.  Ah, Too bad about that, let the old boy wait, as now we are deeply involving  into some serious coding problem ,etc..

     One thing in which all cases ARE NOT acceptable as a humorous subject is, as you may have noted: Christ. Or Biblical passages, in any form, are usually most unacceptable in a humorous context.  The only person who I have ever known to get away with this, and in fine form I might add, was my dad, the always entertaining (with a very complex hereditary British dry humour, to the point of never knowing if he’s serious or not, that is entirely his own (well, I can tell, but that’s genetic.)) Col. Charles W. Abbitt, formerly of Appomattox, Virginia. (i.e.) He and my mother once received a phone call asking my father to be the “judge” (or acting official) at the Salado, Texas election on voting day…That town is (or was, in those days)  too small to divvy up into Republicans and Democrats, but they needed a respectable, responsible person to take over the voting process there and report the results in the appropriate bureaucratic manner.   Well, what was said to my Dad was more or less, “Col. Abbitt, would you be willing to be the “Judge“on next Tuesday’s election day, as we really need a responsible  person for this job.  To which my dad answered,”Judge Not that you be not Judged.”  and an awkward silence ensued.  He was in jest, of course, as he had acted as “Judge” at these polls several times before, and was just giving that person “the business.”  Although said person on the receiving end of the phone , either was a little slow that afternoon, or simply did not get the connection.  It happens.  I on the other hand thought this exchange to be hilarious.  Which just goes to show, maybe you have to know someone your entire life, not just a mere 30 years, to “get it” or understand a particular person’s sense of humour (if there is one)and really recognize every lightly meant moment, as simply that.  Now, this could be because there are not many of those light moments these days, here at our house, now that we’ve an empty nest. (If you don’t count the 15 computers.)

      However, when someone asks me what”I do” I usually say, ‘I am a strange cross breed of a professional critic and comedian, or a ‘retired Mouseketeer’, or some equally silly occupation.  Well,it could happen.  But  if I were to say, “I am an Artist”, that sounds so overly pedantic, and is not really the complete truth.  For I spend allot more time around the Sauerosa being the recipient of an extended spew, or cleaning toilets and the like, rather than artistically playing the piano, or drawing or painting. Sad that, but true. This is no one’s fault but my own, for my closest friends know of my problematic need for a completely clean bathroom fetishism.  You know you’ve got a problem, if and when you neatly place strips of toilet paper over the seat of your own bathroom’s toilet.

           Maybe I should start answering the question of what I do as, “I am a cowboy”.  That one I like. It has nothing to do with reality, but it’s a great aspiration.   And it’s not meant to be funny, because most decent cowboys (be they male or female) would probably take such insult in the loss, or disregard for any attempt at cowboy humor not acknowledged at least by a smile, as a totally unacceptable reaction and a great offense;  As to be chastised for one’s attempt to lighten the conversation at any time by a cowboy, by some character who’d rather be right than cordial, would require a truly revengeful tactic for sure..  This sort of thing could lead to a ‘whoop-side the head,’ (certainly not here ! we are non violent as hell around here!, even when we’re cowboys,) But such an insulting misconstrued reception, does deserves at least a colorful and obscenely insulting comeback-for sure.  Yeah, and that I can manage with no problemo, actually I can manage many a comeback likely to be funny as all get out, as to whom, or for what purpose I have no idea anymore.  But you see, as a Native Texan, it is my birthright to seek out the silly, to say nothing of hogtying some overly sanctimonious computer jerk (with less than a halfassed respect for my wit and wisdom) with some entertaining phrase like the ever popular, disconcerting: “What’s a matter you, boy? Got a Turd in Your Pocket?”

     I don’t know ’bout you all, but I need every semi-humorous thing in my life just to continue to survive these days; and actively resent when my feeble attempts to bring some mistaken humanity, or humor (how ever simplistic) isn’t noticed to be the good thing that it is, in this ever complex, and overly serious, and intricately troubled world we share.  ‘Know what I’m sayin’?’ Or could be-you gots a Turd in your Pocket as well.

As Ever Kay Buena, from deep in the heart of Texas

The Author of this work wants all readers to know that this is strictly fiction.  And Names, Characters, inferred places or incidents are the product of the author’s rather sticky imagination, and are used fictitiously..  Any resemblance to actual evens, locales, persons, living or dead,  is so coincidental as to be funnier than the fact that I spent hours  re-writing this crap. (Like my policy is to be non biased in offending everyone regardless of his or her race creed color or code. (What I don’t do to promote family harmony, and I’m still the one who gets run over by the mean train, also I get more hits than anyone else in this house…think there’s a connection?)