Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm A Dad!

Right now, in my back yard, six tiny rabbits are nursing under their mom, who is spread out long as a baguette. Their nest is hidden under leaves in my garden, which is only appropriate since they'll all end up in my garden anyway.

Their ears are translucent as a fingernail, small as a mouse's. Today they are no bigger than my thumb, shivering even in the sun. Actually, I took that photo last year. I suppose that's like having a baby and then showing everyone a baby photo of your baby's older brother because you happen to have that handy and they look alike anyway. But bunnies do all look alike. So do human babies, for that matter—they all look like each other. They all look like tadpoles.

Last week in India a woman gave birth to a baby with two faces. The baby was immediately hailed as a god, which was a stroke of luck, because here we'd just sign her/them straight up for the circus. They named the two-faced baby Clinton, which is a Hindu word for "I already think I'm a god."

My neighbor poisons her rabbits. She has a great garden. I know a guy (not a friend) who shoots them with a pistol he carries around with him while he mows his yard. If bunnies were infesting my house I might feel differently about it, but the yard is their house, and they've been there longer than I have. So I leave them alone.

Silly, simple, sentimental, sure I am. In this morning's paper I couldn't stop myself from reading the court details about a little girl found decomposed in the woods, strangled, her skrunchie still around her ponytail. Another story of a man who drugging his 28-year-old sister for incest. More of Barack and Hillary as they hope to destroy each other's reputation. So yeah—a little time with bunnies for me, please.

It's a perfectly beautiful day outside. Maybe only people who endure winters can be so agog at such a spring day. Sometimes beautiful days feel surreal to me, like today. Or like the perfect, sixty degree, clear blue sky day when I watched the Twin Towers knocked down. A few days ago it was Earth Day, and I enjoyed the most lovely weather imaginable. When the full moon rose—I didn't even know it was a full moon day—I felt guilty with indulgence for being so lucky.

Maybe I'll go pet a lucky rabbit's foot—while it's still on the rabbit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Brain Oil

I have Ironic Memory. I remember I don't have my keys at the exact moment I pull the locked door shut behind me. I remember I was supposed to bring wine to the party the minute I arrive. This morning I remembered, at about the time I knew my coffee would be finished brewing, that I hadn't yet put a cup under the spout.

My coffee maker wrenches one cup of espresso out of about two tablespoons of beans. The result is black and intense, the consistency of Pennzoil. Coffee is supposed to sharpen your focus, and the snag to making it right is that you haven't had it yet. A week ago I spent a half hour cleaning up an inky mess because I had forgotten to put the mug in the maker. Now I faced repeating the same agony: sopping up and dumping out what I was dying to be drinking.

I shuffled grimly to inspect the damage. I had indeed forgotten the mug again, but as it turned out I had also forgotten to load the coffee maker with water.

Once, I forgot that big thimble thing that holds the grounds and has tiny holes in the bottom through which the coffee strains. Somehow I managed not to notice as I firmly patted the grounds down into the spout, causing a nice firm clog that made an impressive effort to hold back the building steam until it burst through like chewing tobacco from a shotgun. It wasn't pretty, but I still was. I was in another room at the time. It took me a minute to figure out what exactly was different about my decorating.

All this coffee talk made me want some. I made it right on the first try! But then, of course, it was my second cup.

Obama Outing

I attended a state Democratic caucus a while back, to help choose my next president. It was Nebraska's first caucus, and my first as an ex-Republican. The faces were different—younger, bright-eyed, hipper. Maybe not the people I'd want managing my IRA, but definitely people I'd rather drink with.

It was fun to feel the group's buzz , to sense the camaraderie of 1200 people in one room, on the cusp of something big. As the alignment was growing lopsidedly pro-Obama, a commotion erupted behind me. About fifty people began shouting in unison at a little old lady: "Not here! Not here!" and "Go away! Go away!" I'm told she had started the ruckus by yelling out, "Don't you know he's a Muslim?" They swarmed her faster than if she had waived a weapon, and eventually the human tidal wave washed her unceremoniously out a back exit, and the lock clicked cleanly as the steel door shut her out. There was applause. They dusted off their hands and turned back to the lovefest.

It was not a great moment for free speech. I learned that, when push comes to literal shove, Democrats are about as tolerant as Republicans.

I was a little disappointed to learn Obama wasn't Muslim. How wacked would al-Qaida be if suddenly their mortal enemy elected one of them? It would sure take the gas out of recruiting suicide bombers. Maybe we should just elect Osama bin Laden's mom. Are you going to call your own mother The Great Satan? Not if you don't want to be grounded, buster.

All that Muslim hatred—I suppose it was those darned Crusades that set them off in the first place. It was definitely before we waved the "freedom of religion" flag. Should they just get over it? Just like Jews have gotten over the Holocaust? Just like blacks have gotten over slavery? Yeah, Muslims—just get over it.

As a four-day-old, I made the decision to be baptized a Methodist. Since then, I've hung out with the Baptists (they rejected me because I couldn't swim), the Presbyterians, fundamentalists, and a church full of people whose motto was "Can't we all just hug?" As you can see, my religious commitment is of the Play-Doh variety.

Still, nobody chooses my religion for me. Not here. We have our forefathers to thank for that. If you think electing a Muslim president would somehow make us all Muslim, you've managed to forget the basis of just about every U.S. war but the "civil" one.

Freedom of religion isn't a freedom to paste the Ten Commandments on everything. (Though it wouldn't hurt.) And it isn't a freedom from being exposed to someone else's beliefs. The First Amendment is simply the freedom to work it out for yourself, without punishment or coercion, and it is based on the faith that we don't all have to be the same to co-exist. Indeed, the First Amendment is designed to help us learn a thing or two from each other.

The little old lady picked a questionable time to speak up. But instead of shoving her into the cold, I wish we had patted her hand, offered her some tea, and told her in a soft voice that she was loopy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

About Face

I'm vindictive on the inside maybe, but usually not on the outside. I blow stuff off if I can. Lash, someone I considered a friend, just sent out an email accusing me of landing him in jail. Some of his friends are my friends too, and they're asking me, "How could you do that to poor Lashie?" Well, I didn't do anything. He did it all just fine to himself.

Here's the e-mail he sent that has people mad at me:
"Everybody's been bitchin' about no blog/email for a while. Well, enjoy this one 'cause it's gonna be another while 'til the next. As part of my plea bargain in the lawsuit and charges from killing Mick's grass with the rancid bottle of Stinko, (apparently the E.P.A. had to come in and do a whole big cleanup thing with the space suits and everything) I got a 30 day stint to serve."

So now it's just about saving face. On one thing we agree: my yard is a brown mess from that foul bottle of cologne. And there is no question it was Lash who did it. Anyone who has ever smelled that essence-of-ass his girlfriend smeared on him would have recognized the hoo-hah emanating from my yard. And I didn't call the police. My neighbors called the police on me, thanks to the eau-du-Lash and my tell-tale fried grass. The cops followed the scent to Lash, which didn't require any sniffing dogs.

And for the record, he didn't just toss the bottle of Stinko in my yard. He very artfully poured it on my grass so it would burn a brown, malodorous message that I get to admire all summer. See for yourself.

The fact is, I still consider Lash a friend, stink and all. I even went to visit him in the clink. (You won't believe who he's sharing a cell with. Click here.)

The EPA says Lash will be out of jail long before my yard grows back, and if you really want to feel sorry for someone, pity those guys who had to actually pick up that nasty bottle of Stinko and ride with it in the truck, then explain to their wives and dogs what they got into. One EPA guy passed out right in my yard, and guess who had to give him mouth-to-mouth?