Too Foofy To Fight.

So proud of Louie right now.  He finally went on the attack.  Saw the neighbor’s cat, Boris, strutting through our patio like he owned the place–and pounced.  Just bushwhacked him.  Got his fangs in first.  Really got into some fur.  They went around and around in one of those cartoon cat carnival wheels of clawing.  Screeching and yowling.  Going completely saber tooth savage trying to tear each other apart.  It was hard to call who was up.

But it was Boris who broke-off first.  And ran away.

So victory goes to Louie.

Let’s see, that makes 147 wins for Boris, and Louie with 1.

Hey.  It beats zero.  By a lot.

And every comeback has to start somewhere.

Louie came inside all puffed-up with electricity.  Tail all freaked-out and fat.  Eyes wide-eyed crazy.  Darting back and forth.  Totally amped with EPFP.

Euphoric Post-Fight Psychosis.

Diagnosed it right away.  He probably could use a shot of something hot.  And a bottle of something cold.  And a cocktail waitress leg to hold on to…while he catches his breath.

I went over to congratulate him.

“That was awesome, Lou.  Full-on beast ambush.”

He padded over to his bowl for some water.

“I’ve been telling you about the element of surprise, haven’t I?  Freak them first.  That’s the rule.”

I went and got a can of real tuna.  Tonight called for a celebration.  For the past year, Boris has been tormenting Louie.  We’d hear him crying outside.  You’d get out there and find Louis all cornered and cowering.  Boris swatting at him.  Pretty much at will.

Lori and I would have to chase him away so Louie could make a break for home.   He’d run inside and hide under the bed in a total puss-out panic.

Fancy and afraid.

Fancy and afraid.

I’d feel bad for him.  Could really empathize.  Unfortunately.

Still, I would think, “You’ve got claws, Louie.  Give something back.”

But I’d keep it to myself.  I didn’t want to lay any more shame on him.

Instead, I’d pet him and try to sooth his frightened fur.  Talk to him.  Like a father to his son.  Maybe tell him a heart-warming allegory.

“Dave told me about this time when he was in prison and got clobbered to the floor.  Some black cons who were watching, started shouting at him to get up.  To keep bringing it.  To dig down deep and rally.

‘Get up off that floor, boy!  Don’t you dare stay down!’  they yelled.  ‘Never stay down!’

It worked.  Dave got up.  And then managed to serve up a little something himself.  A little something for his antagonist to chew on.  Something to make a motherfucker think twice.

You see what I’m saying, Louie?  It’s okay to take a few shots.  It’s inevitable.  Just make sure you make a motherfucker think twice.”

He’d be licking at his privates, not paying attention to my heartwarming allegory.

If I didn’t love Louie so much, I could have been a little ashamed of him.  He’s just not as tough as our older cat, Bugsy.

Bugsy is all street.  Gone all day.  All night.  Comes home only to eat and crash.  Has an extensive network of people that feed him throughout the neighborhood.  So he’s got the resources to go a ramblin’.  Already at four months old, he’d be gone for days at a time.  Jesus, I can’t begin to tell you how stressed-out I’d be waiting for him to come home.  All the hand-wringing.  And pacing.

Makes perfect karmic sense.

Anyways, he’s grown up into quite a shiny beast.   Sleek and muscular.  Savvy smart.  Good cat chow charmer.  Knows how to run game on a sucker.  Good fighter, too.  Boris and him have an uneasy truce these days.  They’ve both hurt each other pretty good.  So now Boris doesn’t even mess with Louie if Bugsy is in earshot.

Because Bugsy is a badass.

Louie, on the other hand…

He likes to stay close to home.  Likes to play with his toys.  In the living room.  While the folks watch TV.

Sensitive.  Well-behaved.  Imagination Station crafts type of cat.  Into the fun-for-the-whole-family paradigm.  You know.

Wholesome Boy.

I’d look over at Lori quietly reading on the couch.  Blame her.

He’s just too foofy to be tough.  Too fancy.  His fur puffs around his neck, giving him one of those Sir Walter Raleigh collar deals.  His tail curls up like a fop’s feather.  He looks like he’s wearing a fur coat.  Which I guess he is.  But I mean like a Park Avenue parka.

Like what I used to have to wear to New York City Public School 178.  Oh man.  The rabbit fur coat my uncle brought back from his trip to Switzerland.  I can remember the dread after I opened the box.  I knew what awaited.  I would beg my mom not to make me wear it.

“But it looks like a girl’s coat!”

“It’s expensive!”

“They’re going to kill me.”

Took a lot punches, kicks, and snowballs because of that fucking thing.  Made me too foofy-poofy to fight back.  God, I hated that coat.

But I don’t anymore.  Turns out, that after getting enough humiliating ass-kickings, you stop being so afraid of them.  Then, well…something shifts.  You can detach a little.  Think a little clearer while getting one.  Which helps you come up with good ideas.  On the fly.  Like using common household items to destroy your opponent’s will.  And secure a glorious victory.

Indeed.  Getting your ass kicked, is the first part of learning how to kick some back.  Pretty essential, actually.

So yeah, I owe a lot to that coat.   Although it might have made me into somewhat of an introvert.  And a dreamer.

I’d watch Louie bat a twig across the living room floor in some pretend game he made up.  For hours.  Retreating into his imagination.  Becoming a Dungeons and Dragons type.  The kind that wears costumes at the comic convention.  Some swashbuckling character out of Final Fantasy.

Alright, I’d think, so he’s a dweeb.

Maybe even gay.

What are you gonna do?  Accept it.  Love him to death anyway.  He’s still your cat.  So let him play with his little balls and stuffed dolls.  Let him prance fancy.  As long as he’s having fun, right?  Live and let live.  Not everybody can be a badass.  Being cute is good too.  You and Bugsy will just have to look out for him.  Help protect his sissy ass.  Since that’s just the way he is.  And it’s okay.

To be the one that gets beat up by bullies.

Seething after defeat.

Seething after defeat.

Then out of nowhere…he’d go on these killing sprees.

Mice.  Birds.  Lizards.  A bat.

All left on the kitchen floor.  Headless.

What’s all this?  Maybe he has another side.  A darker, more dangerous one.

One night, while I was watering the planters on the side of the house. I watched him clap a fruit bat straight out the air.  He shot out from his crouch like a surface-to-air missile and smacked his paws together.  Dragged that flying sack of rabies right down.  Real Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom predator of the savannah shit.

Sure surprised me.  Well well.  All that chasing a little ball around didn’t hurt his skills.  That, and the fact that he’d finally been holding his own while sparring with Bugs meant he’s wasn’t a full-blown wanty-paste.  I just wished he’d channel some of that blood lust  to dealing with Boris.  Take on a more daunting opponent.

Then I’d remember that he’s just a kid.  Still learning the score.  Taking his lumps.  On his way up.  And Boris is helping him.

Helping him figure it out.

Figure out that just because he’s a little sensitive, doesn’t mean he has to be a victim.  That you’re never too foofy to fight back.

I think he took a big step tonight.  He finally took it to Boris.  Gave something to make him think twice.  I smiled.

“It would’ve been okay if you lost, Lou.  I’ll always love you.”

I put down the bowl of tuna and watched him eat.

.

Got my lunch and I'm off to my ass-kicking.

Got my lunch and I’m off to my ass-kicking.

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A Brush Fire, See-Through Yoga Pants, And A Wedding.

Rome wasn't burnt in a day.

It’s a nice day for a white wedding.

Apparently there was some big fire around these parts.  That explains the apocalyptic atmosphere.  I thought is was because my buddy was getting married.  If you knew what kind of guy Greg used to be, you’d think it was the end of the world, too.  The fact that somebody chose to have me in their wedding party was another sign.  Signs and wonders.  I’m telling you.

Anyway, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the fact we were surrounded by flames.  I was too concerned about this deal with the see-through yoga pants.  Have you heard about this?  Powerhouse yoga pant purveyor, Lululemon Athletica, had to recall what appeared to be perfectly puritanical…yoga pants…because they…showed too much.

Well hi-ho camel toe, this is treachery of the highest order!

Some young lady dons a pair of what she believes to be modest…yoga pants, let’s say, for church.  She can’t deduce anything from the fact that the material is as sheer as pantyhose.  She does not look at herself in the mirror before leaving–to notice she is wearing invisible pants.  Why should she?  Yoga pants are traditionally a conservative choice of apparel.

After the service, cruel fate has her clacking around in her high heels at the dairy department of her local market, where she bends over for the Greek yogurt.  Va-vow!  Mobile cameras start flashing.  Carts crash into stacked cans.  Teenage boys whimper.  She has no idea she’s performing a floor show to rival that of the dirtiest border-town whorehouse.

Absolutely no idea.

No warning label either.

That these yoga pants would be…so revealing.

What a betrayal of trust.

The manufacturers themselves have been betrayed– by physics.  It seems that as a woman bends over to squat thrust in tight yoga pants, the material can stretch thin enough to reveal a gauzy pattern of skin beneath.  This pattern can now be matrixed in the mind of some nearby deviant doing dumb-bell curls, into a holographic whole.  Basically, the same neuro-optical effect that makes TV possible, also gives men the power of x-ray vision through these pants.

Of course, the more sheer the material, the less strain on the brain to connect the dots.

And hence the firestorm of controversy.

And nobody saw this coming.

Well the executives over at Lululemon did.  They handed out bonuses to help parachute themselves to safety.  Right before leaving legions of pretending-to-be clueless women, walking around in see-through pants.

Dear God.  What a monstrous turn of events.  Where’s the justice?  The humanity?

There’s just so many terrible things going on in the world today.  It’s easy to lose hope.  Good thing we have attorneys to sort it all out for us.  Somehow, they’ll see us through.  Yes, even this.

Oh yeah.  The wedding.  Almost forgot.  I got to be a groomsman at my friend’s wedding.  My first time being one.  His first time getting married.  So we were both a little nervous, but mostly about one of our pals getting drunk for the 14th millionth time.  He recently went out after a year sober and has been having a hard time staying in the saddle ever since.

We had to make it clear to him that he was not to drink during the wedding or the reception.  No matter what.  Not so much to protect his sobriety, as to protect the safety of the other guests.  Dude is from my tribe of crap-shoot crazies.  In fact, I see a lot of my younger self in him.  Free-spirited mischief-maker.  Adventurous and bold.  A romantic dreamer with a roguish charm.  And sliding-scale standards.  An outside-of-any-box thinker.  An iconoclast, if you will.  Gets his best ideas after a few libations.

Yeah.  That’s no fucking good…at all.

So I brought along my old zapper from my bouncing days.  La Chicharra.

Before the wedding, as we were getting dressed at Greg’s house, I zapped a few sparks into the air.  A little demonstration for our prone-to-relapse friend.  To show how transgressions of The Law will be dealt with.

He’s really scared of electricity so he’s backing up in the bathroom, while I feint and stab at him with crackling blue fire.

“See that?  That’s for you, buddy!”

“Get that fucking thing away from me!”

“Greg has assigned me to oversee your well-being.  Now I’m not telling you not to drink, only that if you choose to, there will be consequences.  One of which will be me coming up behind you, placing this on your neck, and then delivering the wrath of Thor!”  I pushed the button to let a few lightning bolts arc between the terminals and waved it at him.

KZZZZZZRRRRK!  KRAKTAKAZZZZZZ!   ZZZZRRRRT!

“You like that?”

He jumped back, and was now standing up on the toilet, laugh-crying hysterically.

“Seriously, bro.  Cut that shit out!”

“After I electrify the piss in your bladder, I will carry off your limp body from the dance floor and drag it outside, where you will spend the rest of the wedding, handcuffed in my Suzuki Esteem…

…with NO FUCKING CIGARETTES, BITCH!”

He heard me.  Gave me a big yes.  Then a no.  Whichever one I wanted.

When common sense fails, La Chicharra.

When common sense fails, La Chicharra.

I concede my methods are not those generally recommended by most 12-step recovery programs.  I just figured if an electric shock can dissuade a lab rat from his Swiss cheese, the threat of one could dissuade our thirsty, but lovable, loose-cannon from his booze.  At least long enough for the wedding to go off–without any sudden eruptions of chaos–from one of the groomsmen.

Worked like a charm.

They got hitched without a hitch.  The shindig was at the historic Camarillo Ranch House.  It was a perfect day for it.  Brush fires burning the hills around us.  The filtered sun bathing everything in a muted orange light.  Sprinkles of white ash gently snowing.  The beautiful bride and her handsome groom uniting in matrimony, while towering clouds of smoke climbed into a baby pink, blood orange, lapis blue, charcoal black, off-white, and coalmine canary yellow sky.

One of the guests later told me that as the couple exchanged vows, the smoke clouds behind them had turned from black to white, surrounding them in a celestial cumulus cloud.  I took that as a very good omen.  That no matter what goes on around them, together, they will find sanctuary.

I hope so.  They’re great kids.  Genuinely good souls.  Fun-loving and funny.  But responsible too.  And both survivors.  Winners in the war.  Fine examples of the regenerative power of love.

So yeah, I really want to see them make it.  If they stay loving, no matter what, they’ll make it.  No matter what.

It turned out our parched friend didn’t make it.  Shortly after I left the reception, my trusty Tesla torture taser in tow, he started in on the beers, and who knows what else.  Whatever other booze he had stashed about his person.

You know how we do.

I used to have to walk like Frankenstein into concerts because my boots were so packed with plastic miniatures of tequila that I had to balance on my toes.  Seriously.  I figured out you could get an extra in each boot if you put one under your arch.  The only problem was that now you had to walk on your tip-toes.  And still look cool.

It was a small price to pay though.  For those extra two.  Those two–could be the last two.  And then won’t you be glad you had them.

So I understand the madness.  I’m not any better than my friend.  I don’t know exactly why I’ve been able to clock some years and he hasn’t.  I have my suspicions, but there’s a time to present them.  When somebody is really willing to listen.  If it ain’t that time, save the mouth gas.

I’ve given a lot of  futile sobriety pep talks over the years.  At least they seemed futile.  Especially when the person goes right out and gets shit-hammered legless.  You can’t help but wonder if all your eloquent oratory just got pissed out onto a gas station wall.  Who knows?   Maybe it only seems futile, and something does sink in, but later.  Like much.

In the meantime, you let them know you’re available, and that you love them, no matter what.  Then you just hope they encounter something that does sink in.  Like the hood of a cop car into the bridge of their nose.  Or two terminal prongs connected to a high-voltage stun gun.  Right where the cerebral cortex connects.

CHICHARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAH!

Sometimes it’s just the look in a loved one’s eyes.  Something that really hurts.

Hey.  We see the light, when we see the light.

Just make sure it’s not shining through your yoga pants.

That would just be the worst.

I hope your week was good.

Barnyard bouncer and sentinel of sobriety.

Barnyard bouncer and sentinel of sobriety.