A red-eye flight, six miles above the black icy Atlantic, winging toward Greenland is the quintessential setting to make a pillow fort and work on creative projects, I've found. Think of it. You have free food...well, a warmish goo masquerading as food, which tastes like each of the dishes were cooked in the same coffee pot, but it's still better than anything I've ever made. On international flights they keep the booze coming, and no project can be completed without it. And, since there are nearly no passengers, especially on the flying rattrap that is Yugoslavian Air, you can take up two rows of seats spanning the width of the craft, gather all the pillows onboard, and wall yourself in. "WINE!" I yelled out the hole I had left for provisions and the ordering thereof. The rest of the plane was dark, but in my pillow fort of seat rows I had all the TVs and reading spotlights on and trained in the same direction; enough light to see my pad and paper. "WINE!" I bellowed.
As a precautionary measure, I illuminated all of the stewardess beacons in my two rows. Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! I scurried on the floor between the seat rows, in the narrow "leg and carry-on luggage" area, touching all the buttons to beckon all the stewies.
You'd think the stews would not tolerate such misbehavior, but flight attendants, especially the male of the species, are a terrified, panicky breed, like stalk-legged gazelles. Chilled Pinot Grigio and a cold plate of apples and cheese slices arrived at my pillow-fort door.
"Anything else, sir?" the shivering fawn of a man in smart blue blazer and red apron asked. To emphasize my dominance in the situation, I launched from the pillow-fort door, snapping my teeth like a breached great white shark after a baby seal. Snap! Snap! Snap! The stew squealed and bounded on thin haunches to the rear stew pen and huddled and kicked in fear with the others.
This wasn't a transatlantic midnight ride, it was Marlin Perkins's Wild Kingdom . And the stews knew on which side of the prey/predator line they stood.
When I finally had some peace from the frightened staff, I settled in, tapped my pen to my teeth, and mulled over my obscene revision of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! which I entitled, I'll Be Damned, Charlie Brown, You Filthy SOB, Bukowski Was Right!
Thursday, November 15
Telemundo 7:00 p.m. My next project is to save all the paper delivered to me as supermarket junk mail and to papier-mâché my truck with it. I want Spanish-language sales on London Broil ($4.99 per pound) wet-glued and stuck flat against the exterior of my entire pickup. Then I'll fix steer horns to the hood and chase the matador around the Tijuana bullring. Olé! Get those funny pants moving. Olé!
The Fashion Team
TVGN 8:00 p.m.Last week, a man in a pair of pleated and pocketless jeans crossed in front of my truck. I spun to the right, with little control of the vehicle, and nearly slammed into a thrift-shop collection bin. I'll repeat that because it bears repeating: Pleated. Pocketless. Jeans. Pulled up over his paunch in front, as though I wanted a view of his smooth, middle-aged rump without the obstruction of pockets. What on earth, man!?
Friday, November 16
Grounded for Life
Family 7:30 p.m. When my neighbors let their kids scream and play in the courtyard, I walk out and strap little dunce caps on them. Next week it will be Ku Klux Klan outfits, and the week after that, I'm escalating the wardrobe selection to the nuclear option: Village People leather, with mustache. Your lease clearly states kids are not to play in the courtyard, but I'm the jerk now, huh?
Saturday, November 17
College Game Day
ESPN 7:00 p.m. Now that I'm newly singled, I need to jog off this love chub I picked up on the ex's couch. To make jogging more fun, I picked up a Zorro mask and a pair of Larry Bird green-and-white short shorts. It's the vision of my creamy upper thigh -- and a little higher up in the crotch area -- that makes my fitness regimen fun, but it's the mask that keeps me safe from prosecution. Tremble, North Park. Tremble at what lies beneath that thin layer of fabric.
Iron Chef America
Food 7:00 p.m. Not only pumpkins in October, but also we should drunkenly carve other foodstuffs for the other months of the year. This month I've designated for cutting tomatoes into fish shapes. February is one of my favorites: cheeseburgers into famous opera halls. And who can forget April, when we cut salmon to look like boom boxes. Just like mom used to make.
Sunday November 18
E.T. the ExtraTerrestrial
Family 9:30 p.m. In 1988, my cousin had a baton with silver glitter in it that I mistook for a Pixie Stick. You know those paper tubes of shiny, multicolored sugar? You can see how I got confused; also, keep in mind much of my childhood was spent in natural confusion. Anyway, I coughed sparkles for a week, but no serious health problems occurred. I'm thinking of doing it again. You know, for parties.
Monday, November 19
Fox 7:30 p.m. I wish The Simpsons were funny like they used to be. I also wish I could breathe underwater, and I wish I'd found a pair of magic underpants that gave me super strength and that gold doubloons shot from my ears when I sneezed. Alas. Alas.
Breaking the Magician's Code 4: Unmasking the Magician
XDTV 8:00 p.m. Luckily, I carry a white dove in my armpit for just such an occasion. Sure, he poops on my ribs, but it's a lot of fun at picnics and on long bus trips. People wonder why I put sunflower seeds in my sleeve, and then they wonder how I pulled a bird from my underarm. They never put it together. Dummies.