On my morning walk Cooper and I strolled by the gloomy shoreline and it reminded me of that time my mom and sister and I were driving in our humungous red station wagon (that we called Red Baby) over the Sepulveda Pass at night and the fog was so unbelievably thick that we couldn’t see more than a foot in front of us. I was absolutely convinced that we were going to go flying off into space and hurl into the side of the mountain—a fate even a tank like Red Baby could never withstand.
My strategy was to beg and plead with my mother to just stop in the middle of the freeway and my mother’s strategy was to keep the light beams on low, not bright “like all the other morons”— she said this in that way of hers that was the closest thing to a teachable moment. I remember my sister and me sobbing at one point as if we were headed for certain death. EVERY. TIME. I’m unfortunate enough to be driving in thick fog I think of that time with all of us in Red baby, screaming in holy terror for our lives.
I swear to god I don’t know how we made it.
Yours In Far Vision,
On my morning walk I past the house that looks like Boo Radley’s house and it reminded me of the rundown, overgrown, junkyard house that was down the street from where I grew up and as Cooper and I scurried past Boo’s house I thought about how we used to call the kid who lived in the dumpster house “Trashcan Travis” because of all the trashcans that lived, like squatters, in the front yard filled with what looked like a field of ten foot tall dead corn. This was terrifying when I was little—-all that mayhem right out there for all the world to see—and EVERY DAY I had to run like I’d been shot out of a cannon when I left my house to go to my best friend’s house who lived directly across the street from the house of Trashcan Travis.
My strategy had to do with starting my sprint from INSIDE my house, before I burst through the screen door and catapulted down my driveway. From there I would take a sharp left across our lawn figuring any time shed from my journey could only work in my favor and I would then have two entire houses to charge past until I was at Kathy Rizzi’s driveway. And Kathy Rizzi’s driveway was approximately two inches from Trashcan Travis and all his garbage—or at least that’s how it felt—and as I bolted up Kathy Rizzi’s driveway with Trashcan Travis’s house looming behind me I would yell “IM HERE!” and pray that I wouldn’t have to wait too long on the porch, panting and terrified that Trashcan Travis would emerge from his house and gobble me up.
I swear to Wilma Rudolph I don’t know how I survived.
Why Walk When You Can Run Like Hell,
The Human Rocket
On my morning walk I saw the rides on the Santa Monica Pier and it reminded me of the time when I was about 8 years old and my mother and sister and I went to Magic Mountain and we went on this torture chamber ride called THE ROTOR where you climb in this GIGANTOR drum type thing and when they flip the switch the ENTIRE cauldron starts spinning REALLY REALLY fast —- like Chuck Yeager breaking sound barrier fast, like so fast that the bottom DROPS out from under you and what’s supposed to happen is the entire whirring metal monstrosity and centrifugal force take over and you STICK to the sides of the barrel like chickens in a tornado.
To recap: You’re screaming and dizzy and terrified and disoriented and the bottom drops out and your body PLASTERS itself to the spinning gas chamber “ride”. But what happened to ME was back in those days I weighed about forty pounds so as everyone else stuck to the sides like smashed flies I started to drip down the side of the Rotor like honey oozing out of that little bottle that looks like a bear and my mom grabbed hold of my hand and I was SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER at the top of my lungs as I slipped farther down toward the bottom of this spinning guillotine and JUST as I was convinced that I was going to die and my feet were going to get lopped off —-as my mother got stuck to the sides more and went higher and my sister stayed stuck but was slipping just the same and I was losing touch of my mom’s sweaty hand they stopped the ride and the bottom came rising up and saved me from being pulled into the bowels of the Rotor forever.
I swear to all that’s holy I don’t know how I survived.
When In Doubt, Don’t,
Skinny Bones Jones
On my morning walk I saw an insane highway marauder squirrel who tried to dive-bomb me and Cooper and it reminded me of when I lived in Pasadena and had the misfortune of tangling with Eddie a bi-polar squirrel who had a Reign of Terror so intense that I contemplated building a panic room.
I first “met” Eddie The Killer when I was lounging in the side yard, enjoying the green plastic Adirondack chair I had purchased from Target for approximately nine cents when suddenly Eddie appeared, sitting like a rhino, at the VERY TOP of a rose bush. He swayed back and forth like he was on one of those circus poles, except he was more like a criminal than a clown and just as I was thinking “There is no way a squirrel would actually attack me” he catapulted like a rocket straight off the flimsy branch he had been on and CHARGED at me like a lion and I screamed at the top of my lungs and ran to my neighbor’s house seeking refuge and a shot of whiskey to calm my nerves.
Eddie’s specialty was surprise ambush attacks however he also adored tipping potted plants over and destroying anything made of rattan. He and I had a relationship not unlike Rooster Cogburn and Tom Chaney in True Grit and, looking back on the ruthless unrelenting danger games that Eddie played with me, I am not sure how I survived.
He Gon’ Git Ya,
Lucinda Locked Doors
On my morning walk I passed that bright pink house that looks like Disneyland and it reminded me of that time when I was ten and my mom and sister and I got stuck in the middle of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I remember it happened in the worst possible point it could have — in the middle of the water in between where the pirate ships are shooting cannons at each other—this is where our boat stalled and everyone started screaming and I remember feeling so scared that I thought I was going to die and as we escaped our lifeless boat and sloshed through the pirate water that I imagined was filled with pirate urine I had the fleeting thought that instead of calling Disneyland The Happiest Place on Earth they should call it The Biggest Fucking Nightmare You’ll Ever Endure.
I swear to Dumbo I don’t know how I made it through that without pooping my pants.