Friday, March 28, 2008

Eavesdropping on an Airport Encounter

I returned home a few days ago, after spending a longer stint than normal away from home. My flight from L.A. to Sacramento was delayed, so I paced around the terminal a lot.

I was in one of the shops looking at paperbacks when I heard the woman's voice, coated in vinegar: "What are you looking at?" I glanced down the row of books. The woman was glaring at a man perhaps three feet away. They both looked to be in their mid-thirties. He looked flustered for a moment. Then he replied, "I was looking at your breasts." I don't think the woman was expecting that reply. "What did you say?" "I was looking at your breasts," the man answered again, matter-of-factly.

"Do you make a habit of staring at breasts?" The man seemed to think for a moment. "Well, I try not to be obnoxious about it. Do you make a habit of wearing low-cut tops with the word 'yummy' across your chest?" The woman looked surprised, as if she'd just realized that the word "yummy" was plastered across her bosom. The man continued, "Maybe instead of 'yummy,' you should wear a top with 'Don't look here unless you drive a luxury car, own a big house, and look like Brad Pitt' printed on it."

For a moment, I thought the woman might slap the man. Then she laughed. She caught herself, then laughed again, harder. The man turned to leave. She caught him by the sleeve. "Could I interest you in a cup of coffee?" The man seemed to ponder the question for a moment. Then he answered, "No thanks," and walked out of the store.

I didn't find any books I wanted. I bought a bottle of water, and walked back out into the concourse. I felt sad for the man and the woman. Do you ever see a man and woman in the same place, strangers to each other, and think, "They look like they should be a couple"? That's how I felt about the two of them. I had a sense, for some reason, that they were both unattached, and the encounter had already been labeled in my mind as "Another Lost Connection."

Twenty minutes or so passed by as I sat in the gate area for my departing flight. Then the agent announced that my flight would be delayed for another half-hour. I got up to join the Terminal Undead pacing through the concourse. Then, as I neared the restrooms, I saw the woman from the shop. Yep, the Yummy Woman. She was looking into the entrance of the men's restroom.

Being both a sneaky and a nosy bastard, I bent to the floor, and pretended to tie my shoe.

The man from the shop, he who had dared stare at her breasts, exited. He looked surprised to see her. She was waiting for him. She looked nervous. He looked nervous. He stopped. She walked up to him. "I'm sorry I bit your head off. I'd just finished getting off the phone with my ex-husband. It wasn't a pleasant conversation. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" The man seemed to think for a moment. He pointed to her coat. "Will you wear that so I can look at your face?" She laughed. "It's a deal."

They walked off together, looking a little like a couple of shy kids on a first date.

They looked like they belonged together. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. I'm glad they got one more chance to find out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Going to Hell Because of My Cats

Once upon a time, we had three dogs and one cat. Two of our dogs have since left this earth, and we now live with one dog and two cats. I recently learned that because we live with cats, we may be going to hell.

Back in 2001, before I'd even read or heard the word blog, I joined a website called PearlSoup. It's a site where people post accounts of happenings in their lives. For me, it was sort of a prequel to blogging. One long-time member there, a guy named Ware Cornell, posted a discussion and a link to a web page written by a writer who appears to take the fundamentalist Christian view of the Bible, the world, and life. Here's an excerpt from the web page, which is titled, "Are Cats for True Christians?"
The demeanor of a cat is seen by many honest-hearted observers as reflecting some supernatural, unnatural proclivity towards malice or evil. And, it is a well-known fact that cats are impossible to tame, teach or raise in the truth. The cat has a rebellious, independent spirit. While the animal itself may be unaware of this tragic condition, it serves only its true master - Satan, the Devil.

Now, our two cats seem pretty sweet, really. But then, they do have some irritating habits, like pulling the screen door in and out so it'll bang loud enough to wake one of us up, or tapping one of us on the forehead with a paw so we'll get up and feed them at three in the dang morning.

Sheesh, if I'm gonna go to hell, I'd rather it be for doing wickedly fun things. Instead, I'm told that I've paved my road to hell by living with two cats who get me out of bed at three in the morning.

Life just ain't fair.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Stroll Around the Heliport

It was a slow day at work today, so I decided to take a walk around the perimeter of my employer's Morgan City, Louisiana heliport. These first two shots are taken from the advisory tower.

The heliport is built on a broad peninsula, bounded by Lake Palourde on one side, and Bayou Boeuf on two others. Here, looking northeast, you can see Bayou Boeuf beyond the heliport boundary.

Here's a view of Lake Palourde.

It's a half-mile walk around the heliport. It's a good idea to watch for helicopters. Not a good time to listen to your iPod with those Bose noise canceling headphones.

A young Cypress tree on the shore of Lake Palourde.

Hey, what's that?

It's our heliport mascot. I've been told that this gator is a female, but I didn't think lifting her tail to check was such a hot idea. She's easily eight feet long. Alligators come bigger, but she looks big to me.

Smile for the camera, Sweetie! No I'm not that close; I was zooming in with the camera.

Alligators tend to be afraid of humans. That's good. Here, she's slipped into the water and is waiting for me to go away.

One of our pilots regularly goes swimming in this bayou at the end of his work day. Sheesh, no thank you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Playing Uncle E's "iPod Roulette"

If you're into music, and old enough to remember vinyl albums, check out Uncle E's Musical Nightmares and The Song in My Head Today. Uncle E is a fellow northern California resident, while Holly's thoughts come out of New York.

Uncle E has a fun blog exercise now and then. He calls it "iPod Roulette," and it involves selecting the shuffle function on his iPod and writing down the first fifteen songs that pop up.

Since I've been having trouble thinking of much to write about in the last few days, I decided to do my own "iPod Roulette" session. I'll leave out any audiobook selections that might pop up.

It'll be really tempting to omit anything embarrassing that might surface, especially with Uncle E and Holly in the audience, but here goes.

#1. "Steve Earle," by Ice Mac Sea.
I discovered Ice Mac Sea at four in the morning while driving to Sacramento Airport in a rental car. The car had a satellite radio in it, and Ice Mac Sea played on the "Progressive Country" channel. Vocalist and songwriter Michael McCrickard describes his music as "weird country techno-pop." Dylan loved Ice Mac Sea while in kindergarten, but as a second-grader,he now groans when I play it. I still like it though. "Steve Earle" happens to be my favorite tune on the CD, which might indicate that today would be a good time to buy a lottery ticket.

#2. "Too High to Fly," by Dokken.
I only have one Dokken CD, and this ain't among my favorites on the album. Maybe I won't buy that lottery ticket.

#3. "The Long Black Veil," by Mick Jagger and the Chieftains.
I was sitting at Sue's Java Cafe in Redding one morning when this song came over their sound system. My thought was, "wow, that guy sure sounds like Mick Jagger." What caused me to think it was someone other than Jagger was the sincerity ol' Mick showed on this cover. He sounded like he was trying to be a singer instead of, well, Mick Jagger.

#4. "Daydream Believer," by the Monkees.
Oh shut up.

#5. "The Wind," by Billy Bob Thorton.
I really like the CD Enjoy Every Sandwich, a tribute album to the late Warren Zevon. But sheesh, Billy Bob's cover here convinces me that he should stick to acting.

#6. "Life Without Elvis," by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
There are times in my life when nothing sounds good but Bela Fleck. This song ain't my favorite on the album, but what the heck.

#7. "It's Showtime!", by David Lee Roth.
Oh shut up.

#8. "It's Been Such a Long Time," by Boston.
Dang, two embarrassing selections in a row. Did I really say that I was considering buying a lottery ticket today? Buying a lottery ticket is a stupid waste of money. This is the only Boston song on my iPod. Really.

#9. "Prison Movie," by Eric Taylor.
Eric Taylor is a Texas singer-songwriter who was once married to Nanci Griffith. He's not widely known outside of the Lone Star State.

#10. "Silent Night," by The Carpenters.
Oh shut up.

#11. "Let You Down," by Dave Matthews Band.
Not my favorite off of the Crash CD.

#12. "What's My Age Again?" by Blink 182.
Hey, Dylan likes it, so it must be good.

#13. "Tokyo," by Bob Schneider.
Austin-based singer-songwriter Schneider got a boost to his following after dating actress Sandra Bullock. This is my favorite cut on the CD. Hm. Lottery ticket, anyone?

#14. "Clay Pigeons," by John Prine.
I downloaded this album a few months ago, but I've scarcely listened to it. I'll have to remedy that.

#15. "Day Tripper," by the Beatles.
Yee haw, my iPod Roulette session closed with a Beatles song! I'm heading out to get a lottery ticket. What the heck, the car needs gas anyway.

I might do this again, but I believe I'll have a couple of beers first.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tom Waits to the Rescue

I'm normally not a moody guy. In fact, if folks are telling me the truth, I'm known as an easy-going, pleasant sort of person to be around.

I try to be that way with my family, too. But this morning, I woke up in a foul, foul mood. I have no idea why. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

I hate one part of human nature I fall prey to at times: When I'm in a bad mood, I can mitigate sour expressions of my mood around coworkers and friends, out of basic politeness, I suppose. But sometimes, I have I harder time doing that around my wife and son. So, the two people I love the most bear the brunt of my foul moods. Damn it.

This morning, I woke up in an ugly mood, and I was late getting out of bed. I detest rushing around in the morning. And, as hard as I tried to conceal it, Dylan picked up on my grumpy state. I didn't yell at him, but I was kind of curt and not very engaging.

We walked out to the car, and as Dylan strapped in, I looked at him, and apologized for being so grumpy. His eyes teared up for a moment. He took a couple of breaths. Then he simply said, "Thanks for apologizing, Dad. (For the last month, I've been "Dad" instead of "Daddy." Sigh.) We all get grumpy sometimes."

A couple of miles down the road, I thought about how my mood had affected Dylan. I also thought about how grown up he'd been about it when he thanked me for apologizing. I wanted to stop the car, pick him up, and just kiss the begeezous out of him. But there was no good place to pull over.

He said, "Dad, put on the Tom Waits CD." Tom Waits? I hadn't had any Tom Waits recordings since losing a couple of old vinyl albums, The Heart of Saturday Night and Nighthawks at the Diner.

"Dylan, where did the Tom Waits CD come from?" "Mama and I found it on Claus's driveway." Claus is Dylan's godfather. He has a house about a half mile from ours. He must have lost it out of his luggage while loading his car to go to the airport. Claus has only two speeds: hurry, and asleep.

I ejected the CD to look at it. "Mule Variations." I'd never heard of it. No surprise there, since the last two Tom Waits albums I'd owned were recorded in '74 and '75. I shoved it back into the player, and Dylan began singing along to the first song, "Big in Japan."

Wow, it sure brought back a flood of memories and feelings hearing that voice again. One critic described it as "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."

Once again, I marveled at Dylan's musical tastes, at the mere age of seven. I mean, heck, I couldn't imagine enjoying Tom Waits at the age of seven. But then, as a baby, Dylan's favorite CD was Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club. (Yes, I'm bragging on my kid. If you're a dad, and you fail to brag on your kid, you will go to hell.)

We heard several songs of the CD by the time we arrived at Dylan's school. Dylan sprung out of the car, grabbed his backpack, and we ran together up the stairs from the parking lot to the school campus. We were a little early, so Dylan had time to play with his friends before class.

"That was fun, Daddy." I took note of the "Daddy" instead of "Dad." "Yes it was, Punkin'. Hug only, or hug and kiss?" He took a quick look around. "You can kiss me." Not too many of his buddies around, I guessed. I hugged him and kissed his head, then watched him run off to play with his friends. He looked so tall, so much on the way to being grown.

My eyes misted over for a minute. Then I made my way back to to the car. I smiled. "That was fun, Daddy." I drove away, and cranked the Tom Waits CD way up. I smiled again.