Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time, the Avenger (or The Curious Case of the Chrome Codpiece)

All righty this here will be the last limbo blast of this godforsaken year; the final flapper when the fat lady lets her bottom sing an aria like no other, giving OhThirteen a final and definitive "whoosh" into eternity. 
As far as New Year evolutions go, I've been instructed to shut up about my aches, pains, existential nightmares, apocalyptic visions, hemorrhoids etc. if I expect to have any friends at all, and I suspect this is good advice. But, as Alice so wisely observed before she popped that LSD-laced biscuit between her rosy lips, "I often give myself good advice, but I very seldom follow it." Anyway I thought I would give it a try. The LSD-laced biscuit, I mean.
That said, as I was tripping my brains out the other day (oh not really I mean jeez an acid trip at this late stage of the game would prolly be a one way ticket to Napa) I met the most enigmatic, twisted, reptilian motherfucker I've ever seen. I was stretched out in my beach barcalounger down in front of the castle at Stinson, and even though it must have been 70 degrees as it has been the entire second half of December I had on my old navy blue down parka, Pivettas, a flannel and 501s, my filthy hair pasted back under a Giants cap, my Vuarnets held together with Scotch tape, a fifth of Skye in my one of my jacket pockets and a carton of Marlboro reds and a foil of crack in the other. I guess you could say I’ve been having a high school flashback for the past couple of months, but strangely enough it’s not MY high school flashback. Instead I’m pretty sure it’s the late Scott Colburn’s, Mark Menzell's or one of the Barich brothers. I suspect my charade as a seventies stoner playing hooky from auto shop class is what caused this odd fellow to plop down on the sand beside me, pull the vodka bottle out of my left parka pocket and a pack of Reds out of the other - I could only watch, not only completely drunk but now equally dumbfounded. He took a long pull on the sapphire blue Skye bottle - the most tempting bottle of booze I have ever seen with it’s promise of crystal blue persuasion spilling over my inflamed and throbbing cerebral cortex - then shook a stick out of the fresh pack and lit up. I couldn’t help but smile.
“Happy New Year to you too,” I said with a slur that I couldn’t control.
He just continued staring out on the high noon diamond studded Pacific, smoke billowing out of his furry nostrils. After another long pull he said "I don't go much for numerical measurements that mark the passage of time. New Year's being a prime example, right up there with birthdays, anniversaries, memorials, and just dates in general."
I took a long look at him: not your typical beach bum by any stretch in his rhinestone lederhosen, propeller beanie, knee high moccasins and chrome codpiece. Being accosted by such an outfit might normally send me scuttling over to the Sand Dollar for a cup of coffee and a shot of crank, but when this odd little fellow passed the bottle back to me, I froze. 

"You see," he continued, picking tobacco from his tongue, "numbers, measurements, calculations...all pure inscrutable abstraction in my book. What real difference do these measurements make in a life? Do we subscribe to them so we know how to feel, how to act, what to wear, what to say, what music to play, what songs to sing, what colors to don? Of course we do, for without them life would be chaos, wouldn't it?"
He suddenly gripped my leg with his rubber gloved hand. "WOULDN'T IT?"
But I was already far beyond complete catatonia. While he caterwauled against the existence of time, I couldn't help but watch his eyeballs roll around in his sockets like marbles swirling down a funnel and his tongue dart in and out, in and out as if to snare a passing insect. And he couldn't have been more than four feet tall!
As far as I could tell, all was chaos with or without numerical markers. But sitting there as I was in the exact same clothes Scott Colburn or Mark Menzell might have worn to the beach on this absurdly globally warmed New Years Eve day, I felt an upwelling of joyous agreement, a profound yearning to be a member of this enlightened club of humans unfettered by the whims of the calendar and answering only to the movement of the non-numerical sun around the globe; to the turning of the leaves and the great migrations of the fowl; the flow of the tides under the spell of their lunar master; the rhythms of their lungs and beating of their hearts. Who were these enlightened, arithmetic souls that roamed the planet in rhinestone lederhosen and chrome codpieces? Where could I get such a cool outfit? Did they make them for full grown humans?
And then, as if to remind my new friend and I that the rest of the world in their stinking ignorance were
still slaves to time as measured out in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years...a earsplittlxngly loud horn atop a fifty foot tower, loud enough to blow a million walls of Jericho to dust, blanketed the beach, the lagoon, the multi-million dollar homes in Seadrift and the little shotgun shacks in the village, the soft-serv snack bar, Ed's Superette; all of it, buried in sound for an entire 30 seconds.
"Ah, well, so much for your escape from the big fat motherfucking clock, eh dude?" I said, chucking him on the...but wait, there was no shoulder to chuck, for my new best buddy had fled, high speed waddling through the sand like the famous TV midget Dr. Loveless at the blowing of the five o' clock whistle. I jumped up in hot pursuit, my Pivettas flying over the sand, shouting "hey, what the fuck, man!" just like James West might have, and it wasn't long before I caught up to the mind-bending midget.
"Hey, what's the big deal?" I said once I had the little monkey pinned. "I thought you had liberated yourself of numbers, your pure abstraction, your enslavement to the clock!"
His eyes were rolling furiously, tongue darting in and out like a lizard.
"Of course!" he hissed. "But there's only three hours and 58 minutes until I have to ring in the New Year, so let me go!" he cried.
"Wait," I said, trying to get a fix on his spinning face, "you're telling me that you...a midget in rhinestone lederhosen, knee high moccasins and a chrome codpiece...you are Father Time?"
"Yes, you idiot! But I won't be for long if you don't let me go! I can't be a nano second late, or the entire universe will be...OFF SCHEDULE!"
And with that the little turd squirmed out of my grasp, just as a Blackhawk helicopter appeared overhead, stirring up clouds of sand, seagulls, snowy plovers, harbor seals, Dungeness crabs, great white sharks, migrating gray whales and oil tankers. Then a rope was cast from the copter, Father Time grabbed on and was swept up in a clouded instant and before I could clear my eyes of sand and grit he was gone, headed no doubt for Times Square where, behind the scenes, he would direct Angela Sotomayer, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, on the delicate task of pressing  the button that would signal a new marker, another measurement by which the existence of the human race will be tracked, judged, categorized, labeled and rated.
This is all okay by me, as I have slipped into the dubious existence of days long gone by, perhaps even 1972, when Scott Colburn, Mark Menzell and the Barich brothers wore puffy down parkas, Pivetta hiking boots over the ankle, threadbare Levi's, stolen Vuarnets and were never, ever on time for anything.
Another number, this one denoting the 366th consecutive day and thereby triggering a change in the measurement known as a "year", is advancing forward. A meaningless demarcation, perhaps. Another checkmark in the box. A chance to reflect, let bygones be bygones, and screw up various official documents for the next few months.
Let's be nice to each other, make sweet of it, and maybe even pretend that this will be the best year yet.
(...and you thought I would say something puerile and sophomoric like "Happy Nude Queer". Well, I'm giving up poor taste in OhFourteen, which is also the year manatees will learn to fly.)

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