Thursday, November 28, 2013

To Whit

In the words of Jack Torrance,

I'm baaack!

It Simply Has To Be Done

To hell with it.

I have a headache. I feel like I’ve had a headache for about, say, twenty years. Sure it goes away for a couple of days, even months. But if I ever stop and take a poll of my innards, the result is always the same - my brain hurts. Some (like my sisters), will tell me - oh, it's just your allergies. Or, "the ragweed/pollen/fairy dust is really terrible this time of year." Or, "Are you working too hard?" Only strangers ask me that one. Somebody had the gall to ask me one Saturday morning, "Do you think it could be those twenty beers you had last night?" That was some kind of crazy ignorant heathen who said that.

But these headaches have pained me for as long as I can remember. Once or twice they were so bad, I had to stay at work until 5:10 waiting for it to pass.

All of you, my fabulous readers, are aware of the trials and tribulations this observer has been through this past year - what with our failed world record attempt to ascend K2 wearing only a stetson and a pocket watch, the book tour for my latest self-help guide, “I’m All Right, But You’re A Co-Dependent Creep,” and the near-fatal aneurysm scare. Still, you may be worried about the health of this devilishly handsome wordsmith.

The mantle is heavy, dear friends. We bear it with stoic determination. Your faithful recorder of fate keeps a grim countenance and a determined grip on his resolve. We will complete our tasks.

To whit.

The headaches. They ache. They ache in the head.

After much reflection, and a considerable amount of research (I spent at least an hour googling “Brainbox pain” and another hour reading Wikipedia entries covering topics such as aneurysms, deadly mushrooms, and, for some reason, Stevie Ray Vaughan), I’ve come to the only supportable conclusion - my neurosurgeon is a quack.

It’s the only logical explanation. How else could you explain his obvious failure to find my aneurysm. We all know I must have one. What else could explain my odd behavior, my bad life-decisions, and my dreams. Yes, my dreams. You know - the crazy ones.

Such as.

I once had this dream. A strange dream. My readers might even consider it bizarre, the clear product of an unhinged cerebrum. But.


But this dream is typical. I can not stress that enough. I had dreams like this on a regular basis. Read this account of a typical dream of this reporter and then tell us that we are, and I quote, “normal.”

I defy you to do that. To save space, I provide you this handy-dandy hyper-webby link to the full account.

But I digress.

The point here is that there is clearly something not right with my brain.

And since we live in this barbaric state, by which I mean one without a nationalized health care system, I must resort to radical measures. DIY measures.

I've enlisted the help and support of my wonderful and talented friends. RS has graciously offered the use of his mega-organized and sterile garage for an operating theater. R will also be appearing in a cameo role as the anesthesiologist. CC will be assuming the role of surgeon. He was actually pre-med for a while back in his college days, so I have no worry about trusting him with my life. Also aiding in the operation - Mary Alice Kelly. She is an honest to god nurse, and will no doubt be happy to lend a hand. She will also be my designated voice of reason. I love C and R, but I'm a little worried they may be a bit too eager to proclaim me dead - I have a great comic book collection.

We haven't picked a date yet - and I still need to buy the slinky - but I want to hold off until 2014. 2013 has been full of enough excitement already.

Now I just need to convince my sister, SG, to give me access to the very expensive machine that goes, "beep!"

I know this may seem crazy, but that just proves my point, don't it?

The Dream

The dream.

I am riding in the passenger seat of a car. Not just any car, but a Lada, a soviet-era knock-off of a Fiat.

Who remembers Glasnost?

A guy with a jelly stain on his head is the main dude in charge of an evil empire called the Soviet Union, or USSR for short. That’s not part of the dream. That was just the real world back when I had this dream.

So. It’s Glasnost (look it up, moron). I’m in this beater of a car.

I’m sitting in the front passenger seat. A chauffeur is chauffeuring. My mom is sitting in the back seat. She is chatting amiably (look it up, moron) with Mrs. Jelly Stain On His Head. That would be Raisa Gorbachev (Раи́са Макси́мовна Горбачёва, according to Wikipedia). A big, important woman back then.

We’re driving around, looking at the countryside. Checking out the soviet communal farmsteads rolling by our windows. Having a good time. Hanging with Raisa. Getting the full VIP tour.

Eventually, we come to a crossroad. Prominently featured at this crossroad is a modest hotel. If you are interested, it is a hotel my family stopped at for tea somewhere between London and Glasgow when I was 10.

We decide, not surprisingly, to stop and have tea.

I have spent most of my time in the car staring out the window, chillin’, not really thinking about anything or even listening to the conversation between the two heads-of-state in the back seat - my mother and Raisa Gorbachev.

We are now sitting in the dining room of the hotel. They have had to open it up, since it is actually past tea-time (who knew the Russians took tea?). Despite this, there are at least 12-15 women idly passing the late afternoon gossiping about the price of pork bellies, how to turn onions into vodka, or whatever else they might otherwise gossip about.

Much to my surprise, my mom. The most unassuming, quiet, and laid back mom I have ever known, is hard-selling all these women, including the internationally savvy Raisa. What is she selling? Mary Kay product.

That would be cosmetics manufactured, packaged, and sold by the pyramid-scheme/self-motivational-cult, Mary Kay, Inc.

(By the way, I had this dream years and years before I worked for the cult of Mary Kay Ash.)

Rosemary (my mom) was surprised at the huge amount of push-back she got from these ugly Slavic women. These women looked like poorly dressed potatoes with drinking problems. Couldn’t they see how much they would benefit from a make-over. For goodness sake, most of these women dressed in fall colors, despite having winter complexions.

My mother was undeterred, and forged ahead. This, too, was very unlike my mother.

Finally, it was time to go. But there was a problem. Unlike a typical English tea, our driver had seen fit to partake in a more colloquial pastime. Instead of a tea, he had had a vodka. Several, in fact.

The guy was no longer sober. To be honest, he had probably last seen sober many hours earlier in his rear view mirror, given it a wave, and decided, “that’s not for me.”

The guy was barely solid, never mind sober.

Raisa took one arm, I took the other, and we shuffled him out to the car. We poured him into the passenger seat where he immediately began to snore. Mrs. Gorbachev removed his chauffer’s cap, placed it on my head and said, “Now. Jew drive.”

How could I refuse? I began to make my way to the driver’s side of the car, but before I took two steps, Raisa cleared her throat and glanced meaningfully at the back door of the car.

I realized that in addition to driving, I’d been bestowed with all the duties inherent in chauffeuring her and my mother through the communist countryside. I hoped we would not encounter any Cossacks on our journey.

Finally, I found myself in the driver’s seat.

And this is where the dream got weird. Yes. I did say that. Up to this point, despite the soviet location, the drunk chauffeur, the first lady of the final soviet regime, and my mom selling Mary Kay® cosmetics, this dream has so far been fairly mundane. Nothing has tried to bite my head off, I’m not stuck in an endless pattern of repeating actions, I’m not driving a car through the panama canal, and geometric patterns aren’t trying to trap me in a crazy geodesic patterned prison. So, yes, this is pretty mundane.

But now we get to the weird part. I get into the driver’s seat and begin fumbling around for the controls. Everything seems weirdly unfamiliar. Sure, there’s a steering wheel, but I can’t find where the key goes, or how to shift it out of park. Despite being on the right side of the car (the left), I feel like I’m on the wrong side of the car (the right).

Now I don’t remember what side of the road I am supposed to drive on. I nudge the drunk chauffeur hard, but he is so drunk, all he can say is, “Не массируйте арбуз,” which apparently means “Don’t massage the watermelon.”

I finally give up and decide I’m on my own here. I grab the wheel and put my feet on the pedals. At least I try to put my feet on the pedals. There are no pedals.

There isn’t even a floor.

I think about this for a second, and then I put my feet on the grassy turf and push off. The soviets have mastered Flintstone technology. The car is powered by the foot.

I slowly drive off into the sunset of my dream.

Later, I awake with a very real and unique memory of the feel of newly cut grass beneath the soles of my feet.

Now tell me I'm normal, quack!