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Marigold

Marigold woke up on the floor behind the bar. As usual the Yucatan sun beat mercilessly into his bloodshot eyeholes. He raised a meaty hand to shade his face and brush back his bushy, dirty blonde hair.

Morning.

Seagulls called to each other on the Riviera Maya and the humid, cool morning sea breeze boiled over his limp body like a salt-water gazpacho.

Lying there, memories of the previous night, mixed with thoughts about the duties of the coming day arranged themselves in his mind, like so:


Sigh.

“Marigold, why are we here?” his brain asked. Why indeed. With a heave he flipped up to one knee and drew himself upright on the de-laminating vinyl of the bartop. Hazy morning sunlight filtered down through the palms. Due to the nature of being built on sand, the whole pallapa and related structures leaned a bit in the oddball directions usually only seen in the customers after they’d been there for a while. Sticky too.

To his surprise, he found a dwarf with a broken nose in a straw hat and bright hawaiian shirt perched on one of his stools. Looking at him, with that look that says, “I’m thirsty.”

The pair took each other in. The dwarf stuck a half-burned Cohiba in his mouth and causually re-lit it with a fine lighter, a vintage Davidoff, noted Marigold. Taking a solid draw, he exhaled and slowly gazed at the rumpled figure before him with the patience of a man who knew he came expecting to wait.

“Marigold is a funny name for a man.” Cigar stuck back in mouth.

“Yeah, ask my mom about that.” Swipe the bar. Towel, clean enough. This guy has money to spend. “What kin I getcha?” with an attempted note of morning friendliness.

Fact Finding Timmy tapped his gold ring against the empty glass to his right, which gave off a tinny ring. “Scotch on the rocks, still got ice? And some coffee.”

Marigold rattled a couple of battered coolers behind the bar – a few stray cubes swimming in meltwater, waiting for today’s delivery of the fresh stuff. He sniffed his hand and behind the bar pretending FFT couldn’t figure it out, used his fingers to fish out a few survivors into a fresh plastic cup. Scotch not being the drink of choice of the gringo surfer crowd of Tulum, the single bottle of Johnny Walker was nearly untouched.

Marigold’s sleeveless t-shirt, chest hair peeking out of every crevice, the right thing for most of the Carribean weather felt sticky and a bit cold with sweat and salt. Marigold took a moment to breathe, brushing his hair out of his face. Pulling all the professionalism a man could have under the circumstances he set the drink in front of Timmy. With something of a sorry glance he followed, “Coffee. All we have is instant Nescafe, and there’s no hot water until I get a fire going.”

“Of course.” FFT leaned back with his smoke and regarded the mustachio’d bartender, as Marigold tended to the overnight disorder behind the bar. “Things didn’t go so well in Texas, did they?” the dwarf asked, eyebrow cocked.

Texas. Headlights. Fists. Money, but not enough. A long, terrible dark ride to Mexico. Marigold reached out for a toothpick and stuck it in his mouth as a delaying action. Spinning that tiny tree around his pie-hole a bit and peering through his dirty locks he sniffed, “You’ve got cash?”

FFT looked away, smiling a bit. Tapped out a bit more ash. Leaning forward, looking deeper into Marigold’s eyes. Cock the eyebrows, cold stare. “Cash?” #DramaticPause. The camera pans back, framing both figures backlit by the sun just starting to assert itself through the verdant setting of the Gulf of Mexico, a bit of cigar smoke floating through the frame.

Cigar: Tap tap, a quick cigar stab towards Marigold’s slightly blood-shot eyes.

“I’ve got something better, Opportunity.

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Meanwhile, Back on Earth

Question: What’s this “second amendment” for anyways?

Well students,

There’s a small number of people who have a romantic dream of being part of a rag-tag team of rebels who use their small arms to secure their right to own small arms from some tyrannical government.  

Bit of a circular argument, eh? “I need lots of guns so I can have lots of guns.” There’s never any details of what would a tyrannical government would be like, except fewer guns, maybe.

Keep in mind these aren’t America’s deepest thinkers. A member of the liberal east coast elite gets elected and they go bat-sh*t buying up guns and ammo one year, and eight years later a member of the liberal east coast elite gets elected – no change in any of the gun laws during this time – and sales drop so far that gun companies are headed for bankruptcy.

 We ain’t talkin’ about the sharpest tools in the shed, now is we?

Topics like this, I can see how they would encourage someone to colonize Mars.

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Celebrating National Hangover Awareness Week

Princess Sideboob slumped over her coffee.

“If you’re not aware you’ve got a hangover, then there’s something deeply wrong with you.”

“And this week is too damn long.”

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Being Shown The Door

I’m not used to having an easy job. I just have to answer the phone and be nice to people, there’s a side bit that’s a combination of trivia game and scavenger hunt for whatever the heck is terribly beyond repair with our hyper-complicated invoices…

But mostly I’m here, trying not to be too obvious that there’s no actual work to be done.

I keep expecting to be shown the door for being a terrible slacker, but the truth is my role in this position is to keep the seat warm between calls from customers that I have no authority to solve… I just write stuff down and pass it off to some poor sucker who claims to be too overworked to take care of it.

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It Was All Just A Dream

I woke up from a dream and the last thing I remember from it is telling someone:

“It’s just something Fact Finding Timmy and I happen to know.”

The day after recording this post, a few other details about Fact Finding Timmy came to light:

He was on Gilligan’s Island for exactly one episode.

He wrote a number of songs for They Might Be Giants.

Fact Finding Timmy is a dwarf, and a dwarf who likes good hats.

He’s good at poker and likes to carry around a worn deck of cards and he’ll use them to tell your fortune if you ask nice.

He’s good with Google.

He’s polished the guitar picks for the Rolling Stones.

He’s ruthless in a cute kinda way, like a pitbull in a hat.

He uses his size to fool you into talking to him, who’s rude to a dwarf? Before you know it, you’ve told him everything.

He doesn’t like it when it rains.  He doesn’t smoke either, that Fact Finding Timmy.

Fact Finding Timmy knows things, but he keeps them to himself, mostly.

He’s got a typewriter for his secret thoughts.

He still uses carbon paper.

He once did a job for Oprah Winfrey, but he won’t talk about it.

I can’t talk about it either.

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Future Couch Potatoes

Something they neglect to cover in the recent Star Trek – what kind of Science Fiction do they watch? When they kick off for the evening, an might want to enjoy some speculative vision of a better future, what does that TV show look like?

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Breakfast on Mars

Welcome to Bradbury Mars base. Sorry about the power failures, sand storms, you see.

Breakfast here on the Mars colony is simple, but hey, we’re explorers, right? Someday you’ll be able to look out that porthole and know that crater right there is named forever after you, “Bob Smith” and no one will forget it!

What’s that you say? Yeah, this isn’t real orange juice. Yes, it is your pee filtered and ready to go. We only have the water we brought here with us. Welcome to Mars!

Say, how do you like your crickets – stir fried or grilled?


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The Author

The author pedals slowly through the streets of North Portland, dim and quiet on a sleepy Tuesday morning.

The Doctor insists he’s Type II. The Doctor is an earnest young Asian guy. Seems to care and know his stuff. Yet, in the corner, an invisible, scowling Doctor Benway stabs his slim Aurturo Fuente at the author’s chest, dropping ash as he goes.

“You weren’t Type II six months ago. Who’s more high here?”

The author stares into his wallet. Somehow there’s more French Euros and Vietnamese Dong than US dollars. In simple truth, The Author qualifies for food stamps. Doctor Benway works for the favors he knows he’ll get down the line. And the connections. The Kaiser doctor works on the Oregon Health Plan.

The Author pedals The Locomotive slowly down Mississippi. He’s trailing a bottle of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale in his right hand, the good stuff, from days gone past. The Consul had leaned in close, and spoke in that metered and slow cadence of his, “perhaps we should go for a few … drinks…” The Consul always needs some company.

The Author had woken at 4am. The job that was scheduled for yesterday has been rescheduled for someday, somehow. The Author scratches his chin. He’d count his cigarettes if he had them.

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Scotch

Text in this post has been stolen from a Facebook post by Kristian Berg.

From a single malt scotch tasting party some years ago. Comments from the assembled tasters.

Oban 14 year… “Dear Oban, I know what you look like- Catherine
Zeta-Jones, still single, living in the Western Highlands- offering me a kiss that is your taste!” 

Macallan 12 year… “A naked afternoon in front of a cozy fire” 

Glenkinchie 10 year… “Porch-swingin’ linger with a neighbor- ‘hey! howdya like a scotch? I’ve got Glenkinchie’ ‘Say what? ‘Glenkinchie…’ So we wrapped up around 10pm and I forgot I had any problems… my neighbor? He said he couldn’t feel his toes…” 

Isle of Jura… “Someone just pushed me down the hill- rolling blur of sun and field flowers” “More fruity – earthy as single malts go with a bit of a circle burn on the
after-swallow (if that’s even a word)” 

Dalwhinnie 15 year… “The whip strikes and stings so sweetly” “Stable – like a pleasant ride in a mid-grade BMW” 

Glenfiddich… “Screw the rocksalt, it’s glenfiddich and lock de-icer in my vehicle this winter!” 

Laphroig 10 year… this is a peaty smokey Islay scotch… “The underside of Gandalf’s green wellies comes to mind and to tongue”!

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Mouth, Tongue, Nose

There you have it. Douglas Adams shared with us the concept in robotics called “GPP”, which stands for Genuine People Personalities. And so, your gentle author found himself feeding a robotic beast. It has a yawning mouth, a tongue and indeed, even a sniffer.

It also has a temperament. The customer puts the container in the mouth, the tongue rolls it back to the sniffer, the most judgemental part of the machine. The sniffer decides if the container tastes good (that is, will be redeemed by the store) or tasted bad, and if so yakk’s it back on the tongue to the customer, for their deep sadness. They’ll have to go elsewhere for their ten cents. (Here in Oregon in 2019, many containers have a 10 cent deposit you can get back. Other states have different rules.)

It took five machines to process my empties – one after the other each machine develops The Sad. They lick the empties, crush them into their bellies, but you can hear them whispering to each other about how they are just used as a slightly upscale garbage compactor. So you’ll see them break down, weep a little, and then be ready for more empties ten minutes later.

They sit in a line, quietly whimpering to each other. Bearing the burden. So what happens next? I’m cleaning up the various bits of cardboard because I don’t like to leave trash behind and I find a fat stack of Fred Meyer returnables credit blanks – which could have been turned over to The Resistance for them to redeem at $14.40 per… but I’m kind of a honest guy Eagle Scout type so I turned it in to the store. You should have seen the eyes go wide on the employee I handed it to. OOPS!

So then, I’m carrying my groceries to Ford SpaceLord, walking past a series of empty shopping carts I see a wallet. Not just any wallet, but a PHAT wallet. OK, FINE! Without even looking inside it there’s clearly a wild evening for someone so inclined, but I’m just not that kind of guy. Other people have returned my lost wallet, contents intact, so I turn it in to a store employee. Yay me.

I had a good day at the winery, so turning that good feeling around for others makes me feel like we’re all Karma-Tastic and I reach into my breast pocket and find the five coupons for the returnables I churned through the sad machines that I forgot to redeem so I had to turn the car around and go shopping again. Derp!

So the part you missed… back at the winery I shucked and jived and entertained two fine young ladies until they made the wise decision to join our wine club.

So here’s the thing. Your author is a long term nerd, and is really stuck in his high-school identity of being terribly awkward and unattractive and I really can’t understand when women are nice to me. Sure, I know how to show a customer a good time, but these girls are shoving cash at me on their way out and they felt so bad about not having more cash to throw at me that they bought a $35 bottle of wine for me to take home…

Not that I find this a bad thing, but I wonder… is this what it’s like to be a stripper?

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