These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"i like your tie"

we were watching an episode of "homicide: life on the street" this afternoon when there was a line in the show that reminded me of something someone told me a few years ago.

two guys on the show were investigating the murder of a man who was severely beaten and left near a dumpster. the cops talked to the owner of a nearby restaurant.

as the cops were leaving, the owner tells one of the cops "i like your tie."

immediately that took me back about four years when a something similar was said to me back in texas while reporting down there.

i was working on some inane story about bail bondsmen and tried to find some through the phone book. i encountered one. he said i could go over to his house. a time was set and my friend laura gave me a ride over there. she stuck around (which was great in the end).

she parked the truck, we wound our way until we found the door. he opened the door. this short, squat man greeted us. he took us inside. the house was dark, but we went in anyway. we ended up in a room that had me wondering if it was such a good idea. he closed the door and noticed there were bolts on it, bolts that could be slid in place, leaving us locked inside. he had handcuffs lying around. the windows were barred or had something that would have prevented exiting through them if we'd tried. the room was dim, so light from the windows was minimal.

laura and i looked at each other nervously, but i went on with my interview. after it was done, we made our way out of the room, thankfully. i was afraid he was not going to let us out, i don't know why. still, it was both of us there, so it made me feel better. if she'd left and then came back to pick me up, i would have been a nervous wreck.

i don't know if this guy was a little off, but he scared the crap out of me for reasons mentioned above. he was a creepy guy, gay or not.

we walk out into the garage area, laura in front and heading toward the driver's side. i was walking slightly behind her and heading to the passenger side, when words esccaped the man's lips. he was behind me. they were words that later, and to this day, still make me and those i tell laugh.

he says in a creepy voice, "i like your shoes." there was a slight lift in his voice in the word "like." i paused in midstep but didn't turn around. i just lamely said thanks and kept walking until i made it in the truck.

now, how could he just simply notice my shoes? i was walking away from him. he could only see the backs of them. granted, they were nice shoes. that's why i bought them. but they were only tennis shoes. the only part of them he could see is the area below the cuff of my jeans, maybe three inches. it was such an odd thing to say.

so i get back to the office and the story is related to others. soon the jokes begin. every once in awhile i still get them. in fact, dawn said that when she heard the guy in the show say it, it reminded her of the incident, too.

to this day i wonder many things about that. was he looking at my ass as i walked away and made a lame comment about my tennis shoes? or did he really like the backs of my tennis shoes? i guess i'll never know. i guess i have good taste in shoes, though.

hope this one cheers you up birdman.

Monday, January 16, 2006

a phone call

it's pretty early for me right now. i normally dont' get up this early and certainly not to write. but the furnace went out. it was shooting out cold air. and now it's in themid-50s in here. so, needless to say, it's damned cold in the house. and ironically, the furnace is being inspected this morning.

anyway, my mom called last night. she'd already called earlier in the evening. she called, i guess, for several reasons. my dad wasn't doing too good emotionally yesterday. he kept thinking of his brothers -- the one who died in october and the one's who's suffering from a stroke. he didn't attend funeral services for my uncle and i guess he's had delayed moourning over that, since my dad's had to deal with his own stuff. and he's not been able to visit my other uncle for months, and it seems he's deteriorated.

my mom wanted to see if i could talk with him. i guess listenor just ramble on and try to get his mind off of things. but when she tried passing him the phone, he declined. he didn't want to talk. i guess i don't blame him. if he needed to mourn, he needed to m ourn.

so my mom said he'd been crying. that really gets to me. you see, growing up, my dad expressed little emotion, certainly not sadness (or tears). so i could see my mom crying and it doesn't have the effect it does when my dad cries.

he doesnt' feel much like going out, which i don't like. i know he's tired with the chemo, but i wish he'd make an effort to go out for a little while to nearby places. he's also lost interest in watching tv (and they've got the dish). he just doesn't have the interaction that he needs. plus, i think the chemo depresses him. my aunt, who went through it early last year, said that wht it does to you. makes you really emotional.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

death by water

phlebas the phoenician, a fortnight dead,
forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
and the profit and loss.
a current under sea
picked his bones in whispers. as he rose and fell
he passed the stages of his age and youth
entering the whirlpool.
"Death by Water"
from "The Waste Land" T.S. Eliot (1922)

complete silliness, i know, but
i got to thinking last night after i finished watching "captains courageous" that lately i've been either reading books or watching old movies having to do with water, ships, sailing and death in the water.

last night i watched "captains courageous," as i mentioned. it was enjoyable, good acting and great sea scenes. the boat, during these times, kept rushing up over the waves, back down, rush forward, then follow the same pattern again. it's very dizzying. sometimes you see the ocean in the background meandering up and down. it makes you feel like you're on the boat. then there was death. manual (spencer tracy) climbs up the mast to work on the sail during the squall and ends up coming down with hte mast. he is cut lose and gently slides beneath the waves.

earlier this week, i saw "the mutiny on the bounty." it was an extraordinary film, also brilliantly acted by charles laughton and clark gable. once again, the waves crash up and down against the ship. in the background, the sea moves rhythmicaly as the men talk. also in this movie, a storm hits the vessel, waves crash over the ship, splashing men and boat alike. once, even, a sailor, while dangling from a rope, falls in the water.

but the water scenes are not relagated to the tv screen only. i've been reading "ahab's wife; or, the star gazer." while a vast majority of the book takes place on land, there are scenes where una goes to sea. once more lots of waves, storms and ice floating on the water. of course we all know what eventually happens to old ahab when the white whale catches up with him.

stil, it's been an interesting pattern for me lately. i think, other than finishing up the book, i'm done with water voyages and seas for now.

i've found the scenes fascinating to watch and enjoy looking at the vast sea as men look out on the ocean. at the same time, it scares me. i have such a fear of big, wide open expanses of water. i don't know if i so much mind being on a boat while on a lake or ocean, but rather in the water. i have a fear of the unknown beneath the waterline.

after living here a little over two years, i still have yet to enter lake michigan. i did go up to my knees on laketown beach, but that's it. one of the wacky thoughts is i'd finally decide to go out to holland state park and founder around, feel something on my ankle or leg, and discover it's one of the missing bodies of a person who fell off a pier or something. freaky.

or...even more ominous, is the lure of the lake. thinking of that scares me. it's sucha beautiful expanse of water, sun setting on it, blue surface, that it begins to call you. before you know it, splash. you're in. and you never come out again.

i think maybe i'll read moby dick soon.