Watering the Horse

“…pain…lots…sometime in the next ten days…without warning…”

The doctor might as well have warned my penis will fall off sometime in the next ten days.  So how does one wait for something that’s possibly more painful—and less productive—than childbirth?  With practice slides down a giant sword into a vat of iodine?  Or nude skydiving through a Saharan sandstorm?  Maybe body surfacing at a dry ice plant in Juneau?  All three?  But in the meanwhile, I have to pee.  I have to pee now and I’ll have to pee again in fifteen minutes.  Except, I really won’t have to pee at all.  My brain says, “Warning, sir!  Your urine reservoir is nearing critical capacity.”  I reply that I peed just fifteen minutes ago, during the last ad.  Then—

“Negative, sir.  It is time to relieve your bladder.”

“Are you kidding?  You can’t say that while the leaders are on the eighteenth green.”

“I am sorry, sir.  If you prefer, it is time to drain the dragon.”

“Dragon?  I appreciate the compliment, but I really can wait.”

“Would you consider leaking the lizard, sir?”

“That’s the same thing.  Leave me alone.”

“I know you are a reasonable man.  How about paying the water bill, sir?”

“Clever, but I’m staying put.”

(Five, four, three, two, one…)

“Damn it!  I’ll be right back.”

“Very good, sir.”

(Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven…)

“Nothing!  There was nothing!”

“Did you not make the bladder gladder, sir?”

“NO!”

“I am sorry, sir.  My sensors are normally quite reliable.  But do you not think there is still some steam to release from the radiator, sir?”

“There’s some steam, but it’s not in my radiator.”

“I am regretful of your present circumstance, sir.  Perhaps, after the next television ad, you will be able to shake some dew off the lily.”

“What?  Where are you getting this stuff?”

I am sorry, sir.  You left your tablet open.  Shall we change the subject to last night’s French lesson?”

“Lesson?  Uh, sure.”

“Tres bien Monsieur.  Oui oui maintenant?”

“That’s not real French.  Damn it, now I have to go again.”

“To splash the pirate, sir, or to fight the fire?”

“No, to visit the wizard, smart ass.  I know a few of those, too.”

“I am impressed, sir.  I took you as a piddly man.”

“What!?”

“I am sorry, sir.  I was going to say you could point piddly Percy at the porcelain.”

“Screw you.”

“Sir, I am your brain.  You have been screwing with me for a period of decades.  Is this a self-indictment?”

“Screw you twi…  Damn it!  I’ll be right back.”

“Leave no stone unturned, sir.”

 

 

Gavin W Sisk

July, 2016

 

 

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All’s Fair in Love and Golf

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At the driving range–
I’m swinging pretty well lately.  Really, better than I ever have.  Most of the improvement has come from recognizing my age and not swinging out of my shoes.  I may even be earning smug rights.  Catholicism be damned–why do I always need to feel bad about what I love and for coming out on top.
Anyway, the guy two stalls down is struggling to recognize his own age.  He’s also struggling with every club in his bag.  And he’s pissed.  Somewhere in his thinning hairline is the pin to a head grenade, and it’s coming loose.
“God damn it, Mike!
“You chump!  You freak!
“Just hit the fucking ball, idiot!
“You suck!  You suck!  You suck!  (He did.)
“Stupid fucking practice balls!
“What the Hell is wrong with me!
“No, dick head; not like that!  That’s bullshit!  Bullshit!
“Michael!!!”
I used to sound like him too, sometimes.  When I did, others avoided me like potato salad left in the sun all day.  And though I’m generally helpful to strangers, I avoided this one.  I was almost out of practice balls and, with an empty wallet, wanted to concentrate on making the most of the ones I had left. But I couldn’t avoid him for long.  After a while he walked over to watch me.
“Jesus, you have a great swing.  You gotta have a single-digit handicap.”
“Actually, I don’t play golf.  I just come to the range once in a while to try and remember what it’s like.  I played years ago but wasn’t very good.  I certainly couldn’t hit very far.”
This wasn’t entirely true but I knew what was coming next.  I raked another ball from the tray with my eight iron and made an easy three-quarter swing, sending it on a high flight that ended a yard left of the 156 yard flag (my best swing all month).
“There, you see?  I pulled that one.  I’m getting old and I’m really not that good.”
“Fuck…”
That was that.  He walked back to his stall, picked up his clubs, and left.  That worked great for me.  He left about a hundred balls behind, and I got them all.  I probably could have followed him to the parking lot and bought his clubs cheap.  Senior discount!
Life isn’t fair, but golf always is.


Gavin W Sisk



Appealing a Banana

So, I went to my doctor because something needed looking at, and he poked around and looked at it very closely, and he referred me to a specialist who’ll look more closely still–who’ll use a camera on a ten-foot pole (a bendie ten-foot pole) to look really, really close. And at the same time, my doctor noticed my blood pressure is up, about which I thought: no duh, we both knew that ten years ago. So he ordered the phlebotomist to stick me in the inside-ouchy part of my elbow to suck out precious bodily fluids for testing because everybody (the nurses!) knows I don’t eat well most of the time (because I’m always in a hurry or late or whatever excuse is handy for shoving more carbs and fat and salt down my throat). Maybe I should change my ways–eat bananas at lunch, leave the alfredo sauce off my pasta.
It took just three days to get the lab results, which is, like, three weeks before I was really ready because I know I’m going to have to answer to somebody (oh God, the nurses!) for all my gastro-illogical sins. And then I read through the pages and pages of details of acronymical chemistry and all the ranges of values and the not-so-valuable values we all should value staying far, far away from. I read it all, digested it all, and timidly put my values up against their ranges to see how close so far to a heart attack or stroke I’ve come. And finally I found my doctor’s disappointingly breviloquent note at the bottom of the last page: “Everything normal.” And all I can think is, shit! After stuffing all that junk into my body, shouldn’t I have something more to show for it than two words and a prescription for water pills?




Dec. 2014



Tidal Fugue

Hana and I were meandering through Herring House Park on the Duwamish River Tuesday afternoon.  She started making fun of how easily I get disoriented on trails (and streets and sidewalks, public buildings, our neighborhood, our home, the bathroom).  She said it was my topical agnosia.  I told her my condition had nothing to do with the Caribbean, which made her laugh.  She said, “Dad, I said topical, not tropical.”  That was funny and it lead me on a couple of tangents before I figured out the real mistake.  I explained it’s neither topical nor tropical agnosia; it’s topographical agnosia (likely from a head injury on the farm when I was young.  But I digress).  I’m not even sure topical agnosia is a real term.  And if it were real, it would probably only denote some dysfunction related to following conversations. 

I don’t have a big problem following conversations, but squirrels can distract me–distract anyone, really.  We eat chocolate bunnies but feed squirrels.  That’s nuts, isn’t it?  So anyway, I told Hana about laws in many states making it illegal to capriciously shoot distracting wildlife that are indigenous to an area, and that some of the gray squirrels in the park may be quite shootable–presuming I was recalling correctly that brown squirrels, not gray, were indigenous to Washington.  I might be wrong.  But of course, we weren’t there to shoot squirrels.  There weren’t any squirrels anyway.

We wouldn’t be shooting bunnies either, which were what we actually came to the park to find, to watch.  We’ve seen them on other visits and wondered if they were wild (indiginous?) or just discarded or escaped pets.  It’s hard to know.  We didn’t see any today–maybe because we wandered the north half of the park.  We usually walk the south half, closer to the nature preserve on nearby Kellogg Island.  If the bunnies are associated with the island–if they’re indigenous–if the bunnies swim from their marshy island hidey-holes each morning to nibble the lush park grass, if they’re too tired to hop an extra few hundred feet north, then that would explain why we didn’t see them today.

Anyway, instead of bunnies (squirrels too), we found an old barge tied up near the shore at the far north end of the park.  Maybe it was a salvage barge–hard to tell.  What was really interesting was its rotting wooden hull.  About one-hundred-fifty feet long with a rusty steel deck: it must have been a hundred years old.  Yet it was still afloat.  Well, actually, it might not have been afloat.  The tide was unusually low and the barge was steady and very close to shore.  It could be it’s been hard-aground for decades and at high tide looks like an old dock.  And maybe it’s really just sixty years old and a hundred feet long.  It’s still cool. 

If the bush we avoided really were poison ivy, that too would have been cool.  That would have finished the story nicely.





April 16, 2014



Of Motes

 

My mother was a tough nut, but I made peace with her before she died.  “I love you,” was the last human sentence she heard.  I spoke it.  I also whispered it at the funeral home as I watched her body slide into the crematory oven.  The technician shut the door, lit the burner, folded his gloved hands, and smiled kindly.  I watched for a while before retiring to a stroll in the surrounding cemetery.  I was given more than a year to prepare for my mother’s death.  What I had forgotten was that the process of death, unlike birth, has an industry, but no product.
Outside, ashes were falling from near the crematory chimney.  As I reached out to catch a large gray flake drifting through the air, it suddenly blew away.  I understood how crematories operate and that flying ash could only come from a hearth-fire in a nearby residence, but I hoped it was my mother.  A few minutes later, as I sat on a shaded bench, a small gray squirrel scrambled up to my feet.  It stood on its hind legs and looked straight into my eyes.  Squirrels have always been good to me, so I bent to give its head a friendly scratch.  I wondered if my mother had sent it.  The little emissary hurried away before I touched it, before I mistook I could touch my mother.
Memories of the dead often dart like unexpected swallows in the evening sky.  Sparked from our cloudy minds, they wheel on sharp wings before dissolving in a mist.  A friend calls them grief motes, though they sometimes make us smile.  My mother was a bigger bird, swan sized, with wings to crack a man’s head.  She should therefore spark a bigger mote with a trumpet call to scare the Hell out of me.  Instead, she’s mostly soft and mute.  Neither a hurried squirrel nor darting bird, she hums softly in the garden, leaving my other grief motes alone.
Life is the product of birth.  Memory, imagination, and death, are processes of life.

 

 

May 27, 2013

 

 

The Big Send Off

Funerary urn for Gwendolyn A. Sisk

My mother is on her way to Spokane.  She went as Express Mail via USPS.  I tried to FedEx her but discovered that FedEx won’t ship cremated remains.  Same for UPS.  So off to the local post office to face the madding crowd.
Not a good day for the madding crowd.  Or rather, a good day to be far from the madding crowd.  And either way, it was a maddening crowd.  The line was out the door and down the side of the building.  Folks at the front of the line had pigeon shit on their heads and shoulders, so I figured Postal Service was even more oxymoronic than usual.
Instead of toughing it out as a stationary target drone for dive-bombing feathered rats, I drove home and took care of the postage from my computer.  It took about ten minutes to open a personal account, input package and service information, and print out a self-stick Express Mail label with paid postage.  All that was left was to drive back to the post office and put the package into the self-serve package drop-off.  Piece of cake!
As I walked up to the self-serve kiosk and positioned my left hand to pat myself on the back, I discovered my package was one inch too large for the self-serve option.  Pigeon shit!
I ended up waiting in line for half an hour so I could simply place the package in front of a live postal person and say, “Here.”  If I had been in a better mood, I would have said, “Here. Take my mother. Please!”  I’m sure my mother would have laughed loudly enough to be heard.


April 15, 2013

What’s in a Name

Call me Gavin.  Some years ago—never mind how long precisely— I was born as the entity William Gavin John Sisk, which is not the same as the entity Gavin William John Sisk.  The later exists physically, but not legally; the former legally, but not physically.  According to the Social Security Department, the former owns a social security number, while the latter does not.  Nonetheless, the latter, who doesn’t exist legally and who doesn’t own a social security number, is free to ask that a replacement social security card in the name of the former—who doesn’t actually exist—be mailed to the personal address of the latter upon presentation and acceptance of a driver license which positively identifies the requestor to the issuer as somebody other than the owner of said social security number.  The issuer of said social security card expresses full awareness of this discrepancy and freely acknowledges that said card will serve absolutely no useful purpose to either or both the former and/or latter, and advises the latter to change his name to the latter to avoid confusion with the former and to ensure one or the other receives his social security checks when he turns sixty-five, or sixty-seven, or seventy, or whenever the eligibility has been reset to by the time the former or latter (likely both simultaneously) decides to retire from one life or the other—neither of which may the former or latter pursue legally while either languishes in this legal limbo.

Make sense?  You’re reading this on the internet, so it must be true.

The root of this forked-up identity crisis?  Nuns.  The nuns in my elementary school refused to call me by my given name, Gavin, because it isn’t in the bible.  (The names Ron and Larry are in the bible, apparently, but not Gavin.)  I had two first names, William and Gavin; so the nuns elected to call me Bill.  Nuns could do that.  I’m surprised they didn’t call me Zelda.

Anyway, my mother got wind of the nuns usurping her power of maternal attorney and she took swift action.  She sailed right into the Mother Superior’s office at school and explained loudly how all this worked.  She proclaimed in her Ahab manner, “I name my children; you teach them!”  My mother was an ex-nun; she could say that.  The previous year, after discovering the nuns were getting physical with her kids, she proclaimed to the Mother Superior (the Great Whale), “I’ll hit my children; you teach them!”  Believe me; my mother could hit us a lot harder than any nun could.

It turned out my mother only scored one-for-two against the nuns.  They still called me Bill, relying on the order my names appeared on my birth certificate for their authority.  On top of that, they called my brother, Toney, by another name, John.  Apparently, the name Toney isn’t in the bible either.  That made my mother one-for-three.  I suppose all this was my mother’s version of my present dealings with the Social Security Department.

For my mother, one-for-three with a harpoon wasn’t an acceptable score.  So one day she hauled my brother and me down to the county courthouse to have our names changed.  From William Gavin John Sisk, my name changed to Gavin William John Sisk.  Somehow, my brother’s name was also made nun-proof.  My mother had the last word and the nuns’ hands were forced.  My mother’s score: three-for-four.

Like my mother, the school’s Mother Superior is now long dead.  Could it be that mixed with the Great Whale’s last Hail Mary was a little hex against the son of her old adversary?  “Hail Social Security, be filled with grace. Blessed is the fruit of thy wrong vision…”

The final score: a dead heat.

 

March 5, 2013
__________________________________________

Edit, March 13, 2013–

I received my new social security card in the mail a couple of days ago.  Printed on it is the name, William John Sisk–a version of my name I have never before used.  Social Security utterly ignored my given name, Gavin.  From the grave, the nuns prevail.

Call me Zelda.

–Gavin W Sisk