Saturday, January 31, 2009

Golden Anniversary

Another brief break in the Bagman Butler brawl – but I’ve had several reminders recently about aging and mothers -- so I apologize for yet another delay in finding out if Bagman gets naked. Instead, today’s offering is a poem.

Golden Anniversary

Please, hand, before I forget again,

tell me of this gentleman

whose arm you rest upon,

with such familiarity.

I try to trust you, hand, despite the way

you've grown transparent, disrobing your blue

arrangement of floral veins

over this tortured bed of knuckles.

Your fingertips still send such delicate songs

of warmth and firmness in his wrist.

How did you know it would feel this way,

reaching out with palsied touch,

that it would not pull away like others in this home?

How well your often clumsy grip

fits his forearm like a well worn nightgown

in calm and constant support.

I think, dear hand, that whoever

had this man for a husband

must have been a very lucky woman.

Cowell, 2005

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On collecting, recollecting, and getting naked

Hearing Butler’s footsteps close on his heels, the soulful Bagman yanks open the front door and runs into the street. His long tattered leather coat, like an old Western sheriff, billows behind him. The air is fresh and wonderful although it smells a bit like bus exhaust. All around him, people are walking compulsively. A few are hurrying to their jobs; the majority are running from unemployment.

“Bagman! Stop!” screams Butler from the landing to the cavernous, skull-like abode. “Why do you want to go out?”

“Why do you want to stay in?” answers Bagman.

“It’s more orderly in here.”

“Exactly,” says Bagman, reaching down and untying one shoelace.

“Come on, brother,” pleads Butler. “We can start a new collection of things. Maybe of all the books we’ve read. Or music. Or we can work on updating our coin collection, or sort our photographs of all the different animals we’ve seen in the back yard. Remember the alligator! You like collecting. All the places we’ve lived, quotes we like, famous people we’ve met…”

“Yeah, retorts Bagman. That was a long list. “Jim Morrison, Jimmy Stewart, Donovan, and Haystack Calhoun…”

“Remember the time you were kissed on the cheek by Sophia Loren?”

That memory actually does get Bagman’s attention and smiles to himself and adjusts his pants. “Well, I did kind of like the time we started to make a list of all the women we…er…were friends with.” Then Bagman’s eyes grow dark. “If I remember, my manicured friend, you threw that list away when I wasn’t looking.”

“On the best of legal advice,” Butler responds. “You don’t want a list like that circulating around and besides the whole idea behind it is immoral and repugnant.”

“Exactly!” grins Bagman. “The only reason I agreed to do it as a compromise. Collecting, organizing, logging, documenting…blah blah…all that stuff you do is musty, dead, boring, and sucks you back into time. We’re alive now! 62 freaking years old, but still alive! You’re never going to organize our entire life into some neat set of index cards. Come out with me, instead, and let’s eat, drink, and make Mary!”

“It’s merry, you moron! And besides even you don’t drink anymore since it almost killed you!”

Bagman had to stop and think about that for a minute. When they had first started going to A.A. together back in the 70’s, Bagman had thought his life was over. But there was passion after booze. He had to acknowledge that change could be good.

While Bagman was momentarily lost in thought, Butler screamed like a soprano Ninja and made his move. He lunged off the porch and grabbed Bagman by the tail of his long, soiled leather coat. “Aha! Gotcha! Now you’re coming back inside with me!”

Bagman roars like a furnace, struggles for a moment, then turns his head to face his fuddy duddy foe, forehead florid and flushed. He grins madly and quickly unbuttons the front of his coat. People hurrying by notice the struggle but not with any real interest. “Let go of my coat or I’ll just slip out of it. And I’m sure you know what that means…”

“That you’re not wearing anything under your coat. I should have expected that of you.”

“Let go of my coat or else.”

Butler thinks about it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This message brought to you by verbs and nouns

Will the anal retentive Butler catch Bagman and nitpick him into submission. Or will Bagman reach the world beyond, sing Irish songs, and seduce women? Stay tuned. But first a message from their sponsor.

For the third time since I had come home from work, yesterday, Sally wanted to go outside for a walk. Sally is sweet cocker spaniel, over 90 years old in human years, deaf and rheumy eyed. Our neighborhood is quiet but there is a street and cars drive on it and the little manmade pond in back is natural looking enough to fool alligators into living in it from time to time. So Sally now walks, sniffs, and poops at the end of a leash.

She has learned to milk it for all its worth. Whether she is in an emergency “take me out immediately or I dump on the rug” mode or simply conning me, her routine is the same. She will come over to the couch where I am lying and stare at me. Then she will turn around once in a circle and stare at me again. If that doesn’t work she will go over to where Karen is lying and do the same thing, at which point, Karen will say, “Mark. I think Sally wants to go out.”

And one of my internal voices will start up: “I worked all day too and I walked her the last time and she doesn’t really have to go and she’s just doing this because I finally got to open my book and why am I always the one and blah blah blah.” Thankfully this is always a silent voice - Butler’s I think, although it has the energy of Bagman. Outwardly my larynx only comes up with, “Hrumpf.” I am resigned to the case law established over 17 years that walking Sally is my responsibility.

Here is where a wonderful new understanding of verbs and nouns has made the difference. In The Shack (two thumbs up) the idea was mentioned that God is a verb and not a noun. When I was reading it last week, in between walking Sally, I realized that verbs were warmer and nicer than nouns.

The aha moment came when I thought about responsibility. I hate responsibility. But I love to respond. I’m angry when I think of my responsibility to walk the stupid, old, manipulative dog! But I love responding to my old four-legged friend. When I realize this, my internal voice – this time Bagman’s, I think – my internal monologue and mouth say the same thing, “Come on, Sally, let’s go see what smells are out there.”

The couch will always be there and I don’t know how much longer Sally will be around. Although the way she spins around in little circles and wags her stump of a tail when I go for the leash, I think she still has plenty of excited energy to last for a long time. It makes me smile and be grateful for verbs.