I don't know why I associated a crashing sound with my truck. Maybe it's the way my brain orders things according to luck. A basket full of chocolates, drugs, money, and strippers' phone numbers flies in through the window and I think, "That's not for you, sir. There's some mistake." A loud metallic bang? That's got my name written all over it. After the attacks in 2001 I got a television; first one I'd ever owned. I watched the news every night, waiting for the announcement that they'd caught Osama.
One night I was mangling the rabbit-ear antenna around and watching through the gray diagonal lines when I heard a crunch from the parking lot behind my apartment.
Outside I see the monstrous white Cadillac of my neighbor, Eric, pushing against the rear quarter panel of my pickup. Eric was a 92-year-old, WWII Purple Heart veteran, blind in one eye, with a stiff left leg. Thinking he'd had a stroke behind the wheel and was mashing into my vehicle, I rounded his Caddy and knocked on the window, "Eric!" I shouted. "Eric, are you okay?"
Eric thumbed the electric window controller and pointed his fedora out at me. A rolling brown fog that stunk like old man and rye whiskey -- mostly whiskey -- billowed from the interior.
I went back inside.
After the blonde lady on the TV said they were still looking for Osama, I grabbed my coat and a camping chair. Under yellow sodium light, I watched Eric roast off his tires, inching my truck over bit by bit until it was pushing against a dumpster.
Every few minutes he'd stop, fumble with the column shifter to find the right gear, and then he'd start pushing my truck some more and call out, "Why that no good...I'm gonna..." and I sat in my chair and watched.
"That's right, Eric. You get that son of a bitch," I called out to him as he crinkled the front of his luxury car into my old beat-up truck. "You ain't going to hurt that pickup, you go ahead."
I waited for Eric to work the booze and frustration out of his system and into the bent bumper of my old Ford. After he passed out, I shut his car off and sat there in my old camping chair to be sure he didn't wake up and go tear-assing around the neighborhood, drunk and in a gigantic car.
What I will and won't watch this week
Thursday, September 7 Cold Pizza
ESPN2 9:00 a.m. The original white meat.
WB 9:00 a.m. An open letter to all parents in San Diego: Shut your damn kid up. No, I don't care that little Timmy is gifted and creative and expressing himself. I'm trying to (a) shop for groceries, (b) enjoy my dinner, or (c) watch a movie. Drag him down off the card rack, candy display, or chair that he's mounted and is using as a podium for his great oration. No, you won't "stunt his development" if you take him the hell outside. Yes, I know he's going to be the greatest president this country has ever seen, but for now put your bony hand over his mouth or I've got an oily rag and roll of duct tape in my truck suitable for this purpose. Thank you.
Friday, September 8 NFL Yearbook
ESPN 10:00 a.m. What the hell is a Charger? Whatever it is I suppose it's better than a "Brown." Or for that matter, a "49er." Don't give me that tired, old "A 49er is a prospector who came out for the Gold Rush of 1849" because, first of all, cram it, and second, do you really want to associate yourself with grimy, toothless men who were most likely felons and avoiding the law in other states when they came to California? Oh, I get it. There's the connection to modern football players.
Saturday, September 9 You Got Served (2004)
USA 9:00 a.m. Stop. Don't argue. Stop. Stop watching movies about car racing, cheerleading, or dancing where in the end the characters all learn a little something about multicultural harmony, friendship, and love that ignores race and social strata. Just stop. Because if you don't stop watching, they'll keep on making them. I don't care that you're waiting to get in the shower and there's really nothing else on. Or you're cooking and it's on as background noise. If they find a way into your consciousness once using this formulaic wheelbarrow-load of expired dairy product, they'll keep doing it. Please. Huff gas or something that's not as detrimental to your brain.
The Mermaid Chair (2006)
LIFE 9:00 p.m. I'm being mean. I don't want to be mean. Give me something nice to write about. Give me water lilies and worn fence posts and sitting on a wooden bridge, watching leaves change to auburn in the fall air. No? You're going to give me something called The Mermaid Chair? Fine. I'll send the bill for my GODDAMN ULCERS to the GODDAMN LIFETIME NETWORK!
Sunday, September 10 Breakfast with the Arts
AETV 8:00 a.m. The Australian girl I was rooming with bought me strong coffee and a baguette with butter and jam. We crossed the river that bisects Paris and sat, bundled against the December air, until the Musée d'Orsay opened. We practiced what little French we knew, and when the museum opened she chased school kids from room to room until a guard stopped us with "Non! Absolutement non!" We knew what that meant.
Monday, September 11 Walker, Texas Ranger
USA 9:00 a.m. Here it is. 9/11. Take me back, Chuck. Take me back to "before." The way it was, please. Use your beard of justice to make it better, if you can, Mr. Norris. Thank you.
Tuesday, September 12 Tiffany-Inspired Lighting
QVC 8:00 a.m. All right. Dust yourself off. Don't live in the good feeling of feeling bad. It's September 12, a new day has come. Because as dark as it can get, you know there's always light, too. There's always light, too.