The Unemployment Diary Part 3: Insanity Takes Hold
Day, me say day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day…Daylight come and me wan’ go home.
Had big plans yesterday. Go to the gym, some chores around the house, then several productive office hours mining unemployment sites, writing and looking for ways/places to submit my material.
But I just wanted to spend a moment researching our subscription to Netflix, and adding some interesting indie foreign movies with subtitles (translation: soft-core porn) to our queue.
Well, that minute turned into a day on the island–Rochelle’s and my term for our queen-sized bed–where we watch our high def. monitor and hold what we call picnics (translation: eating hastily-prepared dinners on the bed ‘cause we’re too lazy to sit at a table and have a meal together), smoke weed and caucus on the events of the day.
I’ve also been struggling with ideas to write about.
I realize now that my life, while intensely fascinating to me, might seem mundane to other people. Especially if they have to pay to read about it, which is my evil plan. Working at home, wearing flowing robes embroidered with a shower of pretzel crumbs and avoiding all human contact sounds like heaven to me.
The Rube Goldberg plumbing patch I put on a hot water pipe in my cellar, using hose clamps and a child’s party balloon, has inexplicably exploded onto the cellar floor leaving a large puddle and a stream of water. The cellar (basement is too good a term) is strewn with my plumbing tools. This is something that I should probably attend to today. Before Rocky gets home.
Willie spoke to me this morning for the first time. Willie Raylan Montana is the 11-year-old hound that wore out two owners in the course of his life, and after a stay at the Berkshire Humane Society came to live with us. He was left there by two separate owners who named him Montana and then Ripley and at this point in his life we didn’t think he would care what we called him, as long as dinner and a place to sleep was a part of the deal. He’s a middle weight black/brown/white beagle-whatever mix with a distinguished gray muzzle, a mild-mannered, affectionate animal with the ability to smell a pan of lasagna 400 yards away, but seemingly no ability to hear what the hell we are saying to him from five feet away. I was sitting at my work station this morning, in the words of Bernie Taupin, trying to instigate the structure of another line or two, and Willie was pacing around behind me, to the point of irritation.
“Willie, you are a pain in the ass! Pick a spot and lay down,” I said, in an authoritative tone.
“You don’t have to shout, Rod. I’m standing right here.”
I was admittedly taken aback what with my dog talking and all (and not a cartoon, deputy dawg southern-hound-drawl that you’d think. He sounded like a cross between comedian Todd Barry and a Midwestern insurance salesman. Very pleasing to the ear, really). I also felt a little hurt that he hadn’t let me in on this ability earlier, but in the interest of keeping a semblance of control as a parental figure, I kept my poker face.
“I beg your pardon Willie, but the consensus around the campfire is that you’re pretty damn deaf.”
“That’s a load of crap Rod and you know it. I’m 11, getting up into my golden years I’ll admit, but just because my ears lap over and I have a touch of presbycusis doesn’t mean I’m deaf. I just choose not to respond to every trivial thing that you and Rochelle direct my way.”
“I gotta say you have an interesting point. Rochelle’s always giving me that going deaf shit, and my ears are fine. Just a little tough when there’s a whole roomful of people speaking. That’s the price you pay for a life of rock and roll.”
“And by the way, while we’re talking here, all friendly-like, you ought to know that the accepted term among my race is Canine. Calling a canine a dog is like calling a gay man a homo, or calling somebody a retard or a midget.”
“Willie, stop being a retard. Your mom and I love you and respect you as the handsome hound that you are. You know that we mean well and consider ourselves liberal, progressive pet people. And I spend hours a week picking up your doody, and worrying about your health and devoting myself to trying to give you a happy life. So, guilty your honor. Guilty of not being correct in my speech to my boy that I love.”
Willie cocked his head and looked at me with one eye, which seemed to be the animal version of rolling one’s eyes, made three tight turns next to my chair and settled in for a nap, obviously he was done speaking to me. I plan for us to continue this conversation and come to some kind of resolution. It might take some time to get around to it. Willie is a big-time napper, and even when he’s awake he spends half of his time pretending (I think) not to hear me. But there are serious ramifications to a pet holding a conversation with their human and unless I am suffering some kind of post-traumatic-I-lost-my-job seizure, or the CIA was spiking my coffee with LSD, then by God I will get to the bottom of this. There might be big money, like at the circus. Or the betterment of mankind or something.
“I’m responsible for those flurries this morning,” I announced to Rochelle as I entered the kitchen. She was drinking coffee and reading her Sunday paper. “I looked out of the window just now and thought that winter was losing its grip and we had nothing to worry about anymore. So of course it started to snow.”
“Don’t fuck with Mother Nature,” advised Rochelle. “Hey it says here that there’s a part time job at Williams College security. It could be good. I hear there’s a big drug problem on campus. You could be like, ‘Just hand that weed over son, and this doesn’t have to go any further.’”
Sunday mornings have a certain tone with us. Rochelle enjoys a leisurely dissection of each of the paper’s sections, particularly life/health/letters to the editor type of stuff. I’m perched at my keyboard in my small door-less office, right around the corner where she’s strategically spread out the pages like battle maps.
“I know you’re doing something else, but just listen to this,” she say and then reads me some snippet from an “Ask the Doctor” column about a practical cure for incontinence for older men. “Isn’t that fascinating?” she asks. I make some derogatory comment but secretly enjoy when she reads me items of interest from the paper. Maybe it’s something about her unfailing enthusiasm, or maybe it’s rooted back in our college days in the mid 70s, when my roommate and I would lay in our beds in our dorm room late at night, with Rochelle- perched in a cast-off upholstered chair that passed for student chic- reading to the both of us like a fraternity house mom while we pulled our covers up under our chin and had a bath-towel jammed under the crack between door and tile floor on a cold upstate New York winter’s night.
Sweet! Collegial! Downright wholesome, save the fact that the three of us are stoned to the bejeebers, and Rochelle is reading us letters from Penthouse Forum, reporting fetishes and lewd sexual acts in her best June Cleaver voice. Pan to a worn telephone company cable spool in the center of the room that serves as a table and view the eviscerated remains of a bag of Oreos and an open jar of peanut butter with black crumbs where we double and triple-dipped the cookies. Some idiot had made me a resident adviser, responsible for the dorm policy enforcement of the state University College of New York at Oneonta, so the towel crammed under the door was a necessity to prevent the pungent, skunky smell of weed from escaping the room and permeating the hallway and other dorm rooms where students under my supervision were doubtless smoking weed and laughing, too.
We were stuffed. We were beyond high, laughing until our stomachs ached. And we both loved Rochelle, our friend and den-mother who enjoyed the same depraved, collegiate lifestyle as we did, only sensibly, and in reasonable portions. Nights like that cemented our friendship and my love for her. I suppose that is why I like to hear her read from me to the paper to this day. Or maybe it just reminds me of Oreos.