• what you can’t learn in the rain from a guy who deals exclusively in cotton candy • ~or~ • non sequiturs •
The telephone rings. It’s the boy. Can I bring him his swim trunks at school. Huh. I didn’t even know that was on the curriculum.
Not drowning. I could very definitely have used a semester in that, in my surfing days. Especially at Boca de Pasquales, on the Pacific coast, ‘down Mexico way’. Three rows, at fourteen feet. All close outs. We called it, “The Washing Machine.” At death’s rinse cycle, I was, down there. Yeppers. Several times a day.
Drowning sucks, but at a guess, I’d say it’s better than being eaten by a tiger, anyway.
Speaking of drowning:
Did I mention it’s raining? It’s been raining for days. Day, after soggy, boggy day. Drizzling. Deluging. Bucketing down, it’s been.
I don’t think I can take much more of this.
Little mole-rats keep turning up dead, with little suicide notes saying, “It rains all the time…and, when it’s not raining, I still can’t see shit!!” Poor babies. Poor blind little mole rats. They deserve better than this.
Anyway, it’s rubber boots on, Spring shorts, and a bit of a rubberized ‘hoodie’, for me.
After all, it’s not Mars.
If it were, I’d be wearing a hat.
I trudge to school, for the forgetful boy. Grandiloquently. Trudging is so much more appropriate, in the rain, don’t you find, wouldn’t you say? I’ve noticed that, myself, begrudgingly. Splish, splash, my rubber boots sing.
The ‘mother’s curses’, from my youth, accompany me:
“You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your shoulders.”
“Cut that out. Your face is gonna stick like that.”
“You’re gonna be late at your own funeral.”
I should hope so.
The very, very happy lady monitor has me signing in, at the school’s entrance. ‘Pachelbel’s Canon in ‘D’ is playing on her little iPod thingy.
I mention that it is ‘one of my all-time favorites’. She says she and her husband (of eighteen years) ‘got married to it’. That she could listen to it twenty-four hours a day. Holy shit.
“I can’t say as I like anything that much,” I say, as I sign in. It’s obligatory, this bit. It comes with a sticker that says, “Hi, I’m -”
I write in “Frowzy”.
I mention to the lady that I once had a fascination with the soundtrack from ‘Somewhere In Time’. She nods, and blows a pink bubble with her lips. Her bubble pops. She drags it in, with her teeth, which have lipstick, showing. Her grin looks like a barber pole. ‘Pop goes the weasel,’ says the voice in my head.
She buzzes me in.
Two minutes later, I arrive at the ‘office’.
Six kids are sitting in a row, at the side of the office where I spent most of my ‘formative years’. They are having some sort of discussion. Probably, getting their story straight, from the sound of things. I don’t blame them, honestly. In my day, the Principal’s principle job was to mete out punishment. In the form of ‘licks’, with a fraternity paddle. Not at all pleasant. Shall we say, one did not want this man to find you, in the least bit, funny. In the day, funny equalled pain. Lots and lots of it.
I don’t share this information with the kids. They would probably be wondering if my generation had had electricity, next, had I done, so I didn’t.
I do tell them how I spent my formative years, sitting precisely where they are, figuratively speaking. “They made us do spelling, and grammar,” I say. “Lotta good it did.” Still.
“On a good day, I can tell whether to use ‘who’, or ‘whom’, in a sentence.”
“Once I’ve figured out what a predicate nominative is, I shall have had it down pat.” I allow.
Then, for clarification’s sake, I gift them some trippy examples.
“There’s a knock at the door,” I say. ‘Who the fuck is it?’ I inquire. It’s the pizza guy. “To whom is this fucking pizza going?” He retorts. He still gets a two dollar tip. They all do. I’m nice that way.” I think I am fucking hilarious.
Blank stares. (Frankly, I’m very nearly getting used to this. Fucking kids these days. Fuck ’em.)
Undaunted, I elucidate, I elaborate, I embroider.
“No? How ’bout this, then? A clown arrives at a birthday party, who is drunk, and he’s all made up to look like Heath Ledger as The Riddler in Batman. He says, “Who is the birthday boy? For whom is the death nell tolling? Aghh! Your IT!! Happy Death Day, Johnny!! And then, he kills him. He’s a frustrated comedian. He ‘kills’, get it?”
How these kids now wish they had behaved better in class. Clearly, I’ve made an impression. All in a day’s un-work, for me. Just doing my part for humanity. No problemo.* (God love ’em.) Did I mention?
I love talking to people.
It only took me twenty minutes to get home, after that.
It turns out, Farm to Market Road Twenty-Seven was ‘taken out’ by a flooded beaver pond, on the ‘high side’, this time, says a man, trundling machines, up a ramp, to his truck.
“As it happens, the last time it happened, the southbound lane was demolished, entirely. Nobody died, but a trucker, on the scene, is said to have dutifully graced it with a number of colorful superlatives, which doesn’t bear repeating,” but was, apparently, worth reporting.
What you can’t learn, in the rain, from a guy who deals exclusively in ‘cotton candy’ machines, probably isn’t worth knowing.
* (From the Global Council for a Grammatically Correct Society.)
~ Tim Burchfield