Here's What I Wonder About...

  • When a dog barks, is it just barking the same word over and over and over again? Because I hear no real inflection or variance in a dog bark (all right, maybe a little). So in terms of dogspeak, is it possible that a canine is programmed with one word and one word only? Like: one dog can only bark, "Apple! Apple! Apple!" while another can only bark back, "Sunsets! Sunsets! Sunsets!" If this is even close to being the case, how do dogs communicate with each other? (Disclaimer: I live near a dog park.)
  • Why don't crazier things happen in public more often, such as people melting down, sobbing, throwing tantrums or simply making loud noises? Why is man generally behaved?
  • Given the abundance of distractions in our world, coupled with a person's capacity to act like a downright idiot sometimes, why don't car accidents happen more frequently, right in front of our eyes? Talking about witnessing them on a daily basis here. Same goes for people tripping, falling down, bumping into each other, dropping things, etcetera, etcetera.
  • Why were General Mills cereals like Franken Berry not more popular?
  • Why were General Mills cereals like Wheaties ever popular?
  • Do bugs have feelings and personalities like we do? Think: spiders.
  • Why are mom and dad so behind the curve with technology? They treat typing on a computer like keying on a typewriter; they don't go back to edit mistakes; they only forge ahead, their index fingers poking letters and numbers haphazardly, their noses inches from the keyboard; their attempted e-mails are always laden with typos and at times completely indecipherable. They have cell phones, but use them like tin cans and string; they only turn them on to make calls, then they shut them off; they're practically unreachable, but when I'm unreachable I return to my phone to see 16 missed calls, zero voicemails; I call them back and their phones are off; they also don't program people's numbers into their phones, but rather dial them from memory each time they want to call someone; at one point dad had a small paper list of phone numbers that he'd carry with him and fish out of his pocket whenever he needed to place a call. And then there's the time mom called me to ask if their home computer "has Google."

For the Nth Time: Pigeons

I've already written too much about pigeons, but I must write about them some more. I've simply learned that much over the past month. Things you should know:
  1. Studies (my studies) show that pigeons have a short-term memory of, on average, six seconds. While this does not sound like a long time, it, yeah, turns out it's really not that long of a time at all. To show this one pigeon just how stubborn I can be, I scared him (going to assume they're all male here) from my windowsill approximately 20 times in a two-minute span. Each time he acted all, "What?", like he had never seen me before. It went something like this: Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
  2. I have refined my scare-off tactics based on pigeon response. Today, I lock eyes with the offending pigeon, crouch and slowly spread out my arms like an attacking predator might, or like I might if I had wings. If the windows are open and I feel like throwing in a little somethin' extra, I will also hiss, like my pet cat might if she were a puma. Nine times out of 10 this works. But then they come back. (See No. 1)
  3. If I remain at the window after I've scared them off, I can clearly see the pigeons poking their heads out from the rooftop, craning their fat, little necks to see if I am still there. It takes them a really long time to notice I am standing in the same place, right in front of the window, but when they realize it they pull away like lightning - almost as if those past 10 seconds of us making eye contact never even happened.
  4. Within this particular flock of pigeons that nests in/on/around my apartment, I know which are the smartest, and which are the dumbest. I recognize them on an individual basis, and could pick one out of a lineup if I needed to (and I might, have to). I could even recommend which ones need a bath the most. God, some of them are so dirty it's ridiculous. When they're not partying at my place they've got to be hanging out at Jiffy Lube or something.
  5. Outside of Clarence, I have not given any of the pigeons names.
  6. I have stared deep into a pigeon's eyes, and I can tell you there is nothing there. This is officially the world's dumbest animal, folks.
  7. In a fit of rage, I once burned through an entire tray of ice cubes on a pair of pigeons that wouldn't scram.
  8. My landlord actually recommended I fill a spray bottle with bleach to, "See how they like that? Not so much, eh?"
  9. I have not tried No. 8, yet.
  10. I have interacted with pigeons for a long, long time now, and I still cannot list a single benefit they bring to this earth. Is there one? Because if there is it's lost on me. Unless it's screwing with people and getting them to spend time writing about pigeons. They're pretty good at that.

Oh, Whoops. More Things

And now for some things that have happened:
  • I was on a train and there was a fly trapped inside our crowded car. The thing really took to this one particular guy and it made his entire ride a living hell. It showed no interest for any other person, and all of our eyes followed the fly as it buzzed around this guy's bald head. So he's harumphing and shooing his poor arm off and finally he just snaps and starts rolling up the newspaper he's been trying to read. He sets down his bag and goes, "I'm gonna hit 'im!" You know, giving people fair warning to get the hell out of the way. So he's got his tube of newspaper and sees the fly land on the window. He winds up baseball style, his elbows near people's chins, pretty good form actually, and explodes this juicy bug all over the door. He was sweating and concluded with a big, "Thanks!" The rest of us went back to thinking about other things.
  • One night I turned on my bedroom lamp to see the biggest centipede I've ever seen. The thing was the size of a goddamn kielbasa, not including its legs. Pretty gross. Had it not been so close to my bed I might've let it live. Might've. So I quietly got out the vacuum and connected the hose attachment. I wondered if the centipede could see what I was doing, or if it even had eyes for that matter. I got the hose right next to what I believed to be its head and hit the switch. The hose started sucking in air loudly, but not quickly enough to unglue the centipede from the wall. The ugly thing really had that much mass. So I had to guide him in, sort of using the hose to slurp him up. It was a pathetic death. He didn't even try to fight me or at the very least run away. I went to bed feeling superior.
  • While my neighbors were moving out of our apartment building I heard them talking about me in the hallway. I got to wondering: Is this eavesdropping, or talking behind someone's back?
  • I asked my landlord to fix my leaky bathroom sink, and came home to find my kitchen covered in a film of sawdust. The floors, the counters, the sink, my cat's food - all of it dressed in wood shavings. I opened the back door and saw part of the staircase had been rebuilt, and concluded he used my kitchen as his personal wood shop for the day. Guy didn't even try to clean up. Obliviousness, or DGAF-ness? Not sure. He did fix the sink though.
  • I didn't ask my landlord to fix anything, and came home to find a huge black streak running across my bedroom wall. It ran waist level around my bed, which is strange because there is less than a foot of space between my bed and the wall - and nothing on the other side of my bed. So what someone was doing shimmying around my mattress, to get closer to nothing, is both lost on me and concerning. Not to sound vain, but my logic was soon in the gutter and I started checking crevices for video cameras and audio equipment. It made me paranoid for a few days, but mostly I just reverted back to living my life as I did before. If they really, really want to, let 'em watch, y'know?
  • This pair of pigeons moved into my apartment, into the small spaces on either side of my AC unit. I found sticks, feathers, pigeon crap and other bird belongings on the inside of my window sill, and my cat playing with it all. So I kicked them out. Sure enough the next day they were back, building and pooping in their new home simultaneously. I evicted them again! By the end of the week they would hear me come home and pretend to not be there. Right. Because that works. That's when I started going out onto my porch and throwing ice cubes at them, every night, for the subsequent week. At first you could tell they had no idea what an ice cube was, but then one of them got hit in the face. Now they don't come around anymore, and I can once again drink my drinks cold.
  • This summer I went to my family's cottage in northern Michigan for eight days. There is a dining hall there, filled with families clad in Polo sweaters and whatever argyle accessories their country clubs had left in stock. They eat there three times a day, and by the end of my stay a young girl was openly flirting with my cousin and me in front of her parents - using milk as her calling card. Yes, she flirted with us via milk, taking multiple unnecessary trips to the dairy bar and consuming close to five glasses of milk per meal as she eyed us up from behind her tilted container. That's 15 glasses of milk a day. We thought of asking her if she had a calcium deficiency but agreed the odds of that actually being true were rather good, and plus we didn't want the flirting to stop. Ever. So we kept on watching her watch us as she worked on her bones.

My Crooked Digit

Recently I broke my left index finger during a company softball game. I caught a pop-fly to left field very, very sloppily, and God I wish this story was cooler. Anyhow, the thing swelled up over night and by morning it looked like I had a big, purple grape on the tip of my finger in terms of size, shape and color - my pointer-turned-fruity-finger-berry.

So I went to urgent care for X-rays and a splint, and was then referred to a hand specialist. The hand specialist took even more X-rays and made me a custom splint, one molded to fit and snugly encase my finger. Then they moved me to their physical-therapy ward. Physical therapy. For a finger! I went on my way and over the next few weeks diligently practiced the circuit of finger exercises the four women had taught me as they braced various parts of my hand and forearm and repeated statements of encouragement like, "You can do it, Dave!" and "One more. One more! Come on, push it."

Now, apparently I was supposed to take off the splint daily to clean and air out my finger. Either they forgot to tell me that part or I was not paying any attention when they explained it, because by the time my next appointment rolled around some 20 days later I hadn't removed the thing since they strapped it to my busted phalange. The implications of this didn't fully dawn on me until an (alarmingly) attractive hand specialist who was definitely not there the previous time was asking me to ditch the splint so she could check and see how my skin was healing, all in a tone one might use to get a madman to surrender a loaded weapon.

As I started unraveling the tape I got a small whiff of something big, something awful, and knew things were about to get pretty embarrassing for me. With each strand I removed the smell permeated higher and deeper into the small room we were sitting in, both of us staring at my crooked digit with expressions of profound curiosity. "How could this have gotten so disgustingly bad?" we asked ourselves. We both knew the answer. The odor had soul, breathing and growing like a healthy, living organism or ecosystem of sorts. It was a stench entity - its presence staggering, its weight a heavy one - and for some reason she kept getting closer to my finger and scrunching her nose, with the kind of fascination and caution paleontologists probably use while unearthing fossils. This made me even more nervous.

By the time the splint was off the entire room stunk like old tacos, or like I had unwrapped leftover Indian food I'd forgotten about in the back of my refrigerator for months. Woof freaking woof. My skin was warm and pigmentless and steaming, and at one point I thought I heard it hiss. All I could say was, "Jesus," and then started apologizing to her. I half asked, half asserted that surely she'd seen and smelled worse from patients, and she half asked herself the same question, half lied to me that she probably (probably!) had, with an unsettling question-mark-type-tone at the end. Not good. My finger didn't even look like it belonged to a living thing. It looked more like that of a zombie, or like I'd been hanging out in a graveyard and dug up a freshly buried body to de-finger out of spite. It was gray and sort of transparent-ish, and there was still plenty of purple in there, my good ol' grapes gettin' nice and ripe.

My next appointment is in two days. This time around I've cleaned my finger every single day, but over the weekend a bartender told me I was cute and "have good hair" and said he'd like to do a shot with me free of charge if I let him sign my splint. So it has the name Perry on it now.

Here are Some Things

January? I really haven't posted anything since January? Boy am I ever disappointed in myself. If anyone still reads this old thing I apologize. I started some other writing projects that've grown into something larger and nastier than I originally anticipated. Plus I work during the day, but that one never seemed to get in the way before... Whatever.

Anyhow, here are some things:
  • My car was recently towed because the new neighbors couldn't fit their couch between it and the vehicle parked in front of me when they were moving in. How this is legal I do not know (couch could've been really nice or something). But what I do know: I paid $15 for a cab ride to the impound on the outskirts of the city, $170 for the release of my "hazardously parked" car and $2.50 for a dozen eggs on my way home.
  • If it's late at night or dark enough, nine times out of 10 I will go to the bathroom sitting down. Simply takes too much effort to aim or do otherwise. And I must say: you ladies are really on to something.
  • I have met (several) people from the Internet. Some are cooler than others, but all are very real (people). I've played air instruments with just about every one of them, using props like tennis rackets, yardsticks, kitchen utensils, other people's limbs or sometimes no prop at all - perhaps the truest air instrument there ever was. We talk about it on the Internet afterward.
  • Last year I received a huge, heavy package addressed to an old tenant, and after six months of unreturned phone calls from the kid I caved and opened it. It was a wooden media cabinet that required assembly. I felt the same disappointment as I did when as a youth on Christmas morning I unwrapped the last present in the corner and saw it was not a caged ferret.
  • The couple behind me who owns that dog Margot or "Jenkins" or whoever fought this morning over a list of chores. Dude doesn't work, so when his girl stormed to the bus stop he ranted to ol' INSERT DOG'S NICKNAME OF THE DAY HERE about how she's a royal pain in the ass (he really used that word), is generally unappreciative of his contributions to the household (used that one, too), always makes him clean the goddamn (used it) toilet, etc. (did not use "etc."). I listened to all of this while clipping my fingernails.
  • My cat's personality is even weaker and less interesting than my own, so we make for quite the pathetic pair. However, there is this: once while she was eating I made a sudden movement in the kitchen and scared the crap out of her. Literally. I wanted to yell at her but thought that might make her go again. I was forced to clean it up in silence. Do you see? Weaksauce. Zero to negative "wow."
  • Most times I continue to consume milk way, way past its expiration date, so long as it passes a preliminary smell test. And when it does, I'll tell ya what: it's fiiine.
  • In my cupboard I found a bag of unopened sugar that I purchased exactly one year ago this month. That thing passed a smell test and a taste test with flying colors, which is less impressive because Google tells me sugar has an "indefinite shelf life" or something. More noteworthy is the fact that in 365 days I had not one use for sugar.
  • In addition to sheer laziness, a small oversight on my part prevented a pair of slacks from being included in one or two (approx./max.) trips to the laundromat. They fell off their hanger the other day but kept that neat, folded shape all on their own. They could've danced right across the floor. I added it up on my fingers and found that soap's felt the poor things but once in the six months I've owned them.
  • To date, the biggest come-on I've ever received came from a transvestite prostitute (pre-op, clearly) while I was walking down the street in broad daylight. Yes I stopped to ask her/him what that even meant anyway; yes I turned down the proposition upon interpreting her/his motions; and yes it's so dirty I won't be drawing any diagrams or explaining it any further. Doesn't mean it didn't make me feel a little bit cool, just sayin'.


So I've been working on some other personal writing projects and my friend Chris had to remind me that I still have a blog (thanks, Chris!).

Remember this post about Margot, the mutt next door whose owners coddle her like a newborn Homo sapien? Well it's been a little more than seven months since I wrote that and much of their silly, gag-me-with-a-spoon behavior has remained the same. That is, until yesterday.

Somehow, over night, all vocalized fanfare for Margot ceased and the next morning they cheered on the rising sun with much of the same verbal diarrhea - but for some dog called "Jenkins." No doubt this confused the hell out of me, and I actually became somewhat concerned about where oh where did our dear Margot go?

I think there are a couple possibilities here. First off, it's important you understand just how much I know about my neighbors without having ever interacted with them. In my worst moments when I am cold and alone and haven't eaten in days or whatever, the walls and floors that separate our two apartments become so thin that I feel like I'm actually living with this couple. Sounds and smells permeate our divide and it's as if we're one happy party of three (five if we include their dog and my cat). I can tell you that last night they made pasta with meatballs, Parmesan cheese and a dash of what smelled like Tabasco sauce. Ben must have wanted to try something new, which is odd since Beth doesn't really like spicy dishes all that much. "This has some kick!?" she borderline complained. Had I been able to see them, I'm sure Ben grinned at that very moment and shoved a huge forkful of volcanic pasta into his gourd. Maybe it was his way at getting back at her for when she told him to turn down that My Morning Jacket record he was blasting the other day. Poor guy had to turn it off right in the middle of my favorite song.

What I'm getting at here is that if I know all of the above, I'm confident I would know if Margot had died. Growing up, my family and I euthanized the equivalent of an entire zoo of animals, and I can assure you there's a period, however brief, where owners grieve a little bit after putting down their pets. So where does this leave us? I honestly think they just started calling Margot "Jenkins," which is so cruel and backward it almost doesn't make sense, for one because it connotes a doggie sex-change and for two because these two dolts practically worshiped every turd Margot laid. Something like that would be so grossly out of character for the pea-brains.

Then this happened: as I awoke today to more incessant cheering for "Jenkins," I got to the window just in time to see Ben and the beast walking to the nearby dog park. They were about 50 yards away, but even from that distance I could tell by the shadow, shape and gait of "Jenkins" that he is almost certainly
a different dog. He is still very ugly, much like Margot was ugly, but he embodies the essence of ugliness in different, almost uglier ways - like where Margot's folds and crevices and snout resembled that of a prized pig, the stocky, teetering trot of "Jenkins" mimics that of a wild boar combing the forest floor for grubs. Boy, Beth and Ben sure know how to pick 'em.

Margot, where art thou?