Sunday, May 22, 2005
Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls, You Nosy Asshole
Somewhere right now, even as you're reading this, there is someone else somewhere doing the exact same thing. He or she sits at a desk in a dark room except for the glow of the computer monitor. They read and read and read blogs until they go cross-eyed, reveling in the minutiae of lives--any life--other than their own as a kind of shelter from the bleak, loveless, friendless solitude of their pathetic existence. Their blogroll and their ablility to comment--when they might summon the nerve--is a thin electronic line, the only thing tethering them to any other people anywhere ever. It's completely false. They know it's false. But the fiction is necessary, a wispy aegis against reality and the despairing seduction of self-annihilation.

For these people, the lonely and the forsaken, I have but one question:

Where the fuck do I sign up?

That self-annihilation part sounds like it sucks, but being left alone--blissfully alone--sounds pretty sweet.

Here's what I've been doing since last we spoke.

Friday: bro-in-law's wife goes into labor, so I watch their eldest girl (she's 2 1/2) in addition to my existing 3. The baby is born (a little boy) at 9 pm Friday night. What did I learn--the father of 3 boys--from watching a little girl? One thing: little girls have no penises. Like, none. I was totally shocked at how totally shocked I was. Anyway, long night.

Saturday: T-ball in the morning. It's roughly 451° (F, naturally) by 8 am and the game's at 11. But first we have to go see the new baby. Then my wife does a store run for the birthday party on Sunday, signs the oldest two up for AYSO in the fall while I dad it up at the game. Wife works our mandatory Little League snack-bar shift that afternoon, trying to figure out how and why a woman with an engineering degree is stuck in food service of anykind.* Especially without air conditioning. The shift is 4 hours. By Hour 3, she may or may not be inviting patrons to go and fuck themselves. She gets home at 5:30, I book it out the door to make the 7 pm showing of Star Wars in Anaheim Hills with my cousin. It occurs to me that I may be a douchebag. I go to the grocery store afterward, but forgot to bring the list.

Sunday: Mrs. Pops works like a dog. My boy turns 6. In celebration, he vomits up a curious mixture of Sunny D and pineapple (while I'm still sleeping). Too much party momentum to call it off now, despite the Guest Of Honor's spontaneous contraction of what I assume is slightly attenuated Ebola. Says he's magically cured when the rented Spider-Man bouncey-house shows up. I drop the dog off at the Petco groomers, hit the Target, grocery store (as penance this time), Target again after a cell-phone beratement from the missus for being such a forgetful useless human turd. I return to Target and save a little girl's life AND find what I was sent to find, then hit the bakery for the cake. Guests arrive and frivolity ensues. I sweat. A lot. I rig up house fans connected to ladders with bungee cords (patent pending) to cool off jumping children... because everyone knows there's nothing more refreshing than furnace-hot semi-desert air that's circulating. It's the same principle ovens work on. I grill until my face blisters and everyone is happy. Guests eventually wander away in a state of stunned birthday party satisfaction. Maybe it was heat stroke, but I'm going to keep saying the first one until it is true.

Before I collapse, I'd like to return very briefly to one particular part of the story for a little more in-depth analysis. And no, it won't be my home-made fire-roasted salsa, sadly for you. It's the part where I save a little girl's life in the Target parking lot.

Pops tells lies. This is an accepted truth between us, reader and readee. For instance, I'm not really married and have no children. But every once in a while something so strange and interesting happens to me that I share it, clean and unvarnished, for your reading pleasure. Usually my readers will then mock me and tell me I'm full of shit, but hey fuck you, I really did get my hair cut by a midget once. Cynics.

This is one of those actually-happened-to-me incidents.

I had left Target for the grocery store. Mrs. Pops called me up and asked did I get the flavored syrup for the little (working!) home snow-cone machine my kids had gotten from a family friend. She knows they have it at Target, she knows I fucking forgot, would I maybe please drag my sorry ass back there and rectify the fuck-up so I don't completely ruin my attenuated-Ebola-afflicted son's birthday and subsequently the rest of his natural life, how ever long the virus deems that to be.

So I go back to Target, bags of ice melting away in the car, tunnel vision intact, walking as fast as the heat will let me through the parking lot. Coming toward me is a woman. She looks kind of surly and pissed, but it's hot, so we all look like that. Plus she just came out of a Target. She's pushing a cart. Dawdling behind her is a lovely little blond girl who rushes to keep up with her mom. About 30 feet behind both of them is another little girl, a brunette, maybe 4 at the most, wandering in that drug-free baked-out stoner haze that all 4-year-olds inhabit. Her mom isn't particularly interested in the gap between them. She's got her tunnel vision on and I've got mine and we sweep past each other in the parking lot. I swear you could hear the swoop!

Anyway, I get to half way between the mom and the second brunette child. A white BMW's reverse lights turn on in the parking aisle to my right. The 4-year-old dazes forward. The BMW backs out. Her head barely clears their bumper, so I know they don't see her. Her mom keeps charging off ahead, to invade Poland I assume. The BMW edges out into the girl's path. Using flawless 4-year-old logic, when something crosses your path, you stop. She stops. The car is still edging toward her. Still half-tunnel-visioned I take two half-leaping steps toward her, hands out for the BMW driver to see, if they're checking the rear-view. My other hand is reaching for the girl.

The car sees me and stops. I would have made it, but I'm glad I don't have to. The mom at some point had turned around and saw this transpire. She says something like "Oh no! Oh my God... thank you, sir."

The girl walked clear of the BMW, so I kept going. I didn't look back, didn't say anything to the mom. I finished my stupid Target mission. About half way home I freaked the fuck out. The rest of the day progressed as I said.

This is the part where, if I were a girl, I'd say how it was fate that I was too stupid to get everything I needed from Target the first time and that I was destined to go back and save that little girl's life. OK, the car was barely moving and most likely I saved her from a scraped elbow, but would anyone's life here be better off if they'd had an extra scraped elbow? I doubt it.

But if you're on board with fate, it can't just be for the good things like saving retarded fuckwitted people's children or falling in love or winning $12 from a lottery scratcher ticket. If it's all pre-destined, then you also have to work in cancer and mudslides and tsunamis and retarded fuckwitted people procreating when perfectly lovely and sensible people have 8 kinds of trouble conceiving.

What fucks me up is that I know--I know--that at that exact same moment, somewhere in America, a lovely brunette 4-year-old girl was backed over by a car because her mom was a retarded fuckwit and there was no Pops to save her. That's not fate or destiny or symmetry, that's just some fucked-up shit to keep me awake when I should be sleeping.

Despite what my mom says, sometimes bad shit just happens.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that girl I saved will go out and redefine the world in some way. Maybe she'll build a rocket in her backyard with a revolutionary propulsion system that will take her to Mars in 3 hours, forever expanding the horizons of human knowledge and the very scope of human existence, netting herself a big fat fortune and unprecedented multi-global fame, now and forever.

And all I'll be thinking is: shit, I forgot to tell her my name.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.9


*=Mrs. Pops wrote that joke herself.


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