Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Last Song

If you want to follow along then find "The Last Song" by Foo Fighters and blast it. Don't read the lyrics. Don't worry about what it means to you. Just blast it. And love the intro. Start it, and once you find the volume that you think might damage your ears but not your speakers, start it over because you want to hear the intro again that loud. Then turn it down a little because you feel bad because you're probably hurting your dog's ears.

It is important that you look at the cats during this process. Look at the cats so that you will know what it is to see an animal's face go from utter horror to complete indifference in a span of seconds and with no emotions in between. This is for your entertainment. Otherwise don't worry about the cats. Let them twitch their ears and look away. The cats don't matter.

This is the dog's time. You are doing this because you know something that no one else knows. You know that the dog loves to rock out. You know that she's a fiend on the dance floor. And this is her favorite song. You will feel self conscious. You will worry that the neighbors can see. But you will let the music take you anyway. For her.

This is the dog who used to growl at your solid teak rocking pig when she thought it was a threat to the family. This is the dog who forgave you for shooting her in the head with a rubber band on purpose more than once. Even after she asked you to stop. She who once ate exactly half of your $10 bill when you were 12 years old and the bank wouldn't replace it because otherwise everyone would cut all their money in half and double it at the bank, and $10 was a big deal back then and you were basically out $10, but dogs do that kind of stuff and you picked up her poop anyway because you loved her and because your parents made you, and you hoped to find the other half of the $10 bill while you were doing that but it didn't work out but that was okay. It wasn't ideal but it was okay. With a straight face she literally ate your homework one time like that wasn't the worst cliche, but it was kind of awesome because you actually got to use that excuse and stand behind it. It was okay because you would sit in the big recliner and put your feet up and she would jump up into your lap without asking even though she weighed 45 lbs. and didn't belong up there and neither of you would ever find a comfortable position, but you would both be comfortable anyway.

She can't work the CD player so it's on you to replay the song when it's over. And seriously go nuts or she can't get into it. Later on her hips won't be in such great shape and you'll have to make up a new definition for dancing because dogs can't be expected to dance on their hind legs forever (don't worry, your definition for dancing is pretty loose already). A while after that you'll think maybe it's better if you just keep the beat on her stomach rather than running her around, because she's still a good lookin' girl but she's also an old lady. However, and believe me I know this now, to get the full experience you are going to have to miss her more than you ever thought you would. You'll miss her when you least expect it, like when you get an innocent jonesing for Foo Fighters. Because she was a great dancer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dear Japan, Four Salinger

[If you are my friend and you go to jail, I might write you something like this. I'll hope you like it.]

I don’t know what to say to you or how to say it. Lesser men would respond to such a problem by saying nothing, or worse, by saying something they shouldn’t have said and in the wrong way. Greater men would respond by saying the correct thing in the correct way. A man of my exact caliber, however, and more specifically myself particularly, would respond to such a problem by breaking it down into smaller, more palatable problems and solving them individually, successfully, and thirdly.

The first part of the problem is, “I don’t know what to say,” which is a condensed way of saying “I know that I don’t know what to say,” and it implies that something should be said, otherwise I wouldn’t say that I don’t know what to say, I would just go ahead and not say anything. I don’t, for example, know what to say when a blade of grass sways gently in the breeze, but that’s not a problem, it’s simply a fact about myself that is very strange for me to be aware of consciously. “I don’t know what to say,” then, is actually quite assertive, in contrast to the phrase, “actually quite assertive,” which is the phrasal equivalent of, say, fixing yourself a light brunch at home and eating it alone.

Seen in this light, the first part of the problem is clearly the first part of the solution. The problem cannot be solved unless I say something. But not only that—it cannot be solved unless I say something that I do not know to say. That is, I have to say something that I do not have the knowledge within me to say. I have to say something that I did not know to say, either out loud or to myself, before, during, or after I said it. So basically I have to say something that I would never have thought of and that I did not, do not, and will not think applies up to the moment you receive this letter, at which point I am entitled to change my mind without consequence to the truthfulness of this letter within its intended context.

One obvious solution to part one of the problem then is to quote to you a letter I did not write, which was instead written for reasons unknown by a complete stranger to a dead author (of a book I don’t understand), the meaning of which appears to rely heavily on understanding references to a musician and a poet, both of which I am indifferent to, and none of which applies to you in any way known to me.

The second part of the problem is “…or how to say it,” which seemed simple enough to fix (translate the letter into another language so that I literally don’t know how to pronounce the words) until I realized that this letter might be read as a security measure and that it would probably violate some rule or another to end it with a solid paragraph of, say, Russian or Arabic. Another problem is that, for this to be something that needs to be said to you, you have to be able to understand it, so it has to be in English anyway. I hope you will accept the best solution to this problem I could come up with, which was to use Google Translate to thoroughly translate the letter into several different languages before re-translating it back into English, ensuring that it is indeed something I didn’t know to say, and that I didn’t know how to say it as much as possible while still making sure it reached you in an acceptable form.

So, without further introduction, the letter translated from English to Chinese to Japanese to Korean to Russian and back to English:

“Dear Japan, four Salinger

When I was younger, my friends lie to me, as the release now I bought a paper copy of the precipice. The jacket, he probably will take me after graduation, our friendship and our lives are touched by the changes you've written. Notes, he and David Bowie misquoted. My friend David Bowie once said, the date, time may change me, but you can not change. Bowie concert, in fact, time may change me, but you can not keep track of time. Apparently, he's on a misconception of Robert Burns Horton that emotional intimacy with the body of a misunderstanding really grabbed Rai said. I never tell their friends about their mistakes. I just go.”

Mission accomplished. So, you’re welcome. Or I’m sorry. One of those.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Dear Jesse

I am writing on behalf of myself to express my deep sorrow regarding your recent course of action. I was first made aware of my present concerns when you feebly beckoned Sam to get off at the next exit, though such a maneuver was inconsistent with our intended destination. As soon as the car came to a stop, as you may well recall, you left the passenger seat in favor of the foliage near the off ramp and proceeded to vomit presumably all of the iced coffee, tortilla chips and sunflower seeds you had consumed during our outing thus far. This was, I trust you can imagine, an extremely uncomfortable experience.

Had you instead remained in the car for the duration of the trip, and chosen to go to the supermarket with us instead of getting dropped off at the apartment, and chosen to help us fix dinner instead of locking us out and falling into a deep sleep, then perhaps things would have turned out differently. Perhaps you would have enjoyed several helpings of spaghetti with homemade sauce and garlic bread. Perhaps you would have had a beer and washed it down with another beer. Perhaps you would have taken some initiative with the salad, so it could have been something more than a bowl of chopped Romaine. However, your decision to continue slinking about the living room and to on occasion get down on the ground and roll under the coffee table and hold your head demonstrates your blatant disregard not only for dinner, but for the institution of vacation itself. It is disrespectful of our plans for tomorrow, and it is disrespectful of my plans to thoroughly digest my own dinner and my as yet uneaten breakfast.

So I beg you, if you find left in yourself any shred of decency, any kernel of concern for your fellow man, any piece of corn or chunk of carrot for our tickets to the Giants game tomorrow, I beg you, get well soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Oregon: The If Only I'd Been In The Golden State

I'm having trouble staying awake right now (pre-edit, a portion of the last post read "You're running it debit and not creditddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd," so I'm not just tellin' tales) but these stories need to be told (pre-edit, a portion of this post read "I'm not just tellin' tails).

This thing also happened:

I was driving. I was on a boring stretch of some highway where everything was brown. I don't know which highway because I wasn't paying attention. That is the first of two reasons for why what happened happened. The second is, I was in Oregon.

I noticed a police car coming up fast from behind so I pulled over a lane to let it pass. Instead it stayed in the lane beside me and slowed to match my speed. You'd think I was lying if I didn't tell you I was on the phone when this began to happen. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong because the fact that I was on the phone is no more relevant to the story than the fact that I was wearing Reebok brand work shoes.

Okay, I'm officially tired in that way where you feel like you're getting a fever. I'm sweaty tired. It's time to finish this story later, but nevertheless post it now. Yes. Good decision.

This Happened:

I was driving. I needed gas. I pulled off at the next gas station. I was in Oregon.

A burly-on-the-verge-of-husky man approached me. He had on a flannel shirt and sported an Oregonian beard, which means it was thick and proud and fair trade and recyclable. He was there to pump my gas. For me. Instead of me.

"How ya doin' boss?" he said.

I was annoyed by him—by his presence.

"Good," I said on my way out of the van. "How are you?"

"Can't complain."

I could, and am now.

"I wanna fill it, or get as close as I can on this." I said, pulling out my fleet card. "This acts like a debit, so I'll have to put in a pin."

I finished with all of those words before handing him the card, despite the fact that he'd been nodding his head knowingly and beckoning with his hands for me to give him the card and let him take it from there ever since the "ah" part of "I wa...."

Now came the moment for his expertise to kick in. This was what he trained for. If he was ever at a gas station in another state and came across an old lady having trouble pumping gas, and he helped her, and she thanked him, he could say "No problem at all, ma'am. It's what I do," and I was about to see why. In what would have been an out-of-body experience in any other state (save New Jersey, which you can always get out of on a half tank anyway), I watched him insert the card into the card reader slot, remove it quickly, and punch in a response to whatever question or option came up on the screen, presumably yes to "we're still getting away doing this here, right?"

"It says see attendant." He said.

I didn't have a mirror handy, so I opted instead to ask, "but did you run it as debit? Because it has to be debit, and I need to enter a pin."

"Hang on," he said. He swiped the card, hit a key, checked the screen, and checked the back of the card to see if it was there. Being a three-dimensional object, it was. He checked the screen again, then both sides of the card.

"I guess we don't take these here."

"Are you sure? I still haven't had a chance to enter my pin. Is it not even getting that far, to let me put in my pin number?"

"Well," he said, "I can try it in here." He walked to the attendants' booth and tried the card there. It didn't work. He looked at me. "You got cash or another way to pay?" His beard looked rushed, almost exasperated.

"Sure but I'm not ready to give up on that. I don't understand why you aren't having me enter the pin. You're running it debit and not credit?"

He looked away in a flash of inspiration. "Hey Mike, do we take a fleet card like this?"

Mike was passing by at full walking speed, no doubt on important gas station attendant business, but he was a small man and didn't take long to stop.

"What have we got," he said more than asked, and took the card to inspect both sides. They were there all right. He motioned to another car. "You get them and I'll try this." I followed Mike.

"It's a company card but you have to run it as debit, and I've got a pin for it." I said as we walked.

Mike tried the card with no success.

"Sorry boss. Have you got another card."

It's debit. Did you try debit, not credit?"

"Oh, it's debit?"