The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

Eccentric Art

Two friends met in a pub and over beers exchanged stories about their college years as art students.

Michael was British, 30’s, balding hair, with glasses that slipped down his nose.  Jeremy was American, 30’s, with a pony tail, and a beard. They became friends while at a gallery opening in Chelsea, New York.

“I lived in a house owned by a woman who married all the divorced men in town. By the time I got there she was hostile to everybody,” Michael said sipping his beer.

“Our RA played the blues on his harmonica every night. Midway through the year we plotted his murder,” Jeremy said wiping the foam from his upper lip with his fingers.

“Were you caught?”

“We stole his harmonica,” Jeremy said with a smirk. He knew we did it, but could never find it.

“Another guy is the house was a transvestite. He was tall and walked with a golden cane with an eagle handle,” Michael said pushing up his glasses.

“No wait. He lived in my dorm,” Jeremy said.

“Must have leased himself out. It’s how he paid his tuition,” Michael said. “There was another guy, weasel-like, lived in his left brain. Wasn’t friendly.

“I hated by those types. They talked in lists and appointments. Why they were art majors baffled me,” Jeremy said.

“It salved their little brittle brains. A third guy grew weed in his room in his mother’s tea cups under goose-neck lamps,” Michael said.

“Like the guy in my dorm. He grew it in the bathroom, under fluorescent lights, in Styrofoam containers from the local fast food joint. No pun intended,” Jeremy said chuckling.

“Sounds like we went to the same school.”

“Did you learn to make good art?” Michael said.

“No. Just how to dodge the bullets until graduation. That’s why I have a PhD in Oceanography.”

“Mine’s in Culinary Arts. I make a mean brioche,” Michael said.

Calvin says, “My career was defined the instant I smelled rabbit on the puppy farm.”

How To Talk To a Spoiled Dog

Dear Calvin,

Did you get any responses for a new owner?

They’d be crazy to take you on.

You’re spoiled. Pampered. Set in your ways.

Opinionated. (That’s an understatement.) Stubborn. (Another understatement.)

You don’t listen. Obey is a foreign word to you.

You hate baths.

You eat too much.

Your breath smells.

Those are the things I love best about you.

You’re a full blown personality in fur and floppy ears.

Life would be dull without you.

Walks would be a bore without you tugging at your leash. I could let you off-leash, but that’s where the obey thing comes into play. I’ve given you plenty of lessons on how to come back to me when I call, but you usually have other plans, and scare the hell out of me while you disappear under fences, through neighbors’ backyards, and across streets in search of that wild thing your nose tells you is in the neighborhood. (It’s a child in a dirty diaper.)

You think somebody else will put up with your antics? Ha!

So you stick to your opinions and I’ll stick to mine.

We’ll continue to get along just fine.

Calvin says, “Touché. How’s that for a foreign word, eh? All right. I’ll cancel my ad in the classifieds.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Oh. Calvin Sounds Off.

I wasn’t my perky self today.

Maybe I’m not perky, but that’s my vision of myself. I strive to live up to it.

Today I was feeling blue.

A lot of drama going on with my relatives including health problems, relationship break-ups, worries about the future. I was thinking about all these when a colleague of mine popped in the door in my office.

“What’s new with you?” Agnes said.

“Oh, you know, the usual drama – health, romance, money,” I said.

“That’s nothing,” she said with a laugh. “In my family, I have people in prison, people that should be in prison, a daughter who’s running a muck, my dog is costing me a fortune in meds every month –  I look at him and think, I should put wheels on him, he’s more expensive than a new car. Then there’s my husband with the implants in his mouth, except they can’t put them in until his mouth heals from the infection he has. I squeeze his cheeks and say, ‘That’s my new car in there.'”

Then she gave me a hug.

“Feel better now?” she said and walked out.

Hmm…I was feeling better after hearing what she has to live with.

Then the thought hit me. I made her feel better, too by giving her an opportunity to download her life for a moment.

Glad I could listen.

Calvin says, “Her attitude toward her dog stinks. We work our tails off being good companions. We devote ourselves to listening, to loving, to obeying you. Well, maybe not to obeying – hey, nobody’s perfect – and this is the thanks we get? Where’s the devotion back? I thought this was a lifetime commitment. From breeder to the grave, that sort of thing. I’m hurt. Truly hurt. This revelation is shocking. I expected better. And don’t try buttering me up by tossing me a bone or taking me for a walk to my favorite place where all the trash cans are. I’m offended. Does anybody out there want an opinionated beagle?”

Conversations on the Run8

When I’m out of focus, that’s when I’m most creative.

I saw another brother Grimm. There’s a lot of them.

Do you understand why this song won’t work on American Idol? Oh yea, it’s very dark. It’s a good Swan song. A good way to go out.

Not everyone can sing and dance. That’s why we have sports.

Have you called your mother lately? Me too.

Calvin says, “Funny, I have no desire to call my birth mother. I’m happy in my adopted family. New scents to chase everyday. Especially those diapers.”

 

A Vicious Review

My friend, Sabrina and I were nibbling on a canoli. We had finished a pasta lunch at a new Italian restaurant that opened up along the pier. It prided itself on authentic Italian fare. I always judge the authenticity of an Italian restaurant by its canolis. This one wasn’t getting past me. It was soggy.

I put my fork down and took a sip of my espresso.

“Not a four star by any means,” I said.

Sabrina had smeared her side of the plate with the cream cheese filling. She wasn’t a dessert gal.

“Paul and I are communicating better these days,” she said. “I suggested yesterday that he should pursue me more.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Do you know what he said?”

“No, tell me.”

He said, “‘Why?'”

“Oh dear,” I said.

“So I said I thought it would be good for our marriage.”

“How did he respond?” I said.

“‘You don’t like my ideas,'” he said.

“Oh dear,” I said. I had learned not to be wordy when Sabrina was telling one of her stories.

“Then I said to him, ‘What does pursuing me have to do with ideas?'”

“‘Everything,'” he said. “‘I don’t plan. You want to know where we’re going. I like to try new restaurants, you need to know what the food will be like. I like new things, you stick to what you know.'”

“I hate to admit it, but I had to agree with him. I am an idea-buster,” she said to me.

“That’s not true. We’re here, aren’t we, trying out a new restaurant,” I said.

“That’s different,” she said.

“How?” I asked finishing my espresso.

“It was my idea, not yours, so I didn’t bust it,” she said.

“So it’s really a control issue,” I said. As soon I said it, I regretted it.

“What are you saying, that I like to be in charge?”

“Er…yes?” I said.

“Well some friend you are.” She threw her napkin on the table, stood up and stormed out.

I was left paying for lunch and the soggy canoli.

I went home and wrote a review on Yelp. I gave the restaurant minus zero stars. For busting up a friendship.

Calvin says, “What a mess. Never try a new restaurant with an old date.”