Summer is over, but yesterday I went swimming in a pool at an old age retirement community where I overheard a white-mustached old man in a cowboy hat yelling from the hot tub, “Obama is like Stalin! His entire presidency will be like Stalin’s! They will have to erase it all from history! You’ll never hear a single Russian talk about Stalin!” I’m not sure who he was yelling at. It was just me and my wife in the swimming pool, and we hadn’t been talking to him up till this point, or after that point, too. We were in NJ and it was odd to see a man in a cowboy hat, yelling in a Jersey accent about Russia, but that’s what happens when summer is over. People get desperate. People go crazy. My wife and I had just wrapped up a different conversation, amongst ourselves where, my wife had proclaimed, “It’d be hilarious if the thing that actually starts the zombie apocalypse is Pumpkin Spice.” I’d agreed with her that it would be cool. And now I want that thing to happen. I want humanity to die from Pumpkin Spice. I don’t care if it involves zombies. Let Pumpkin Spice be the spark that eradicates all human life on Earth, just ya know, not for a while.
My parents are 59 and they are in Disney world for the 12th year in a row. They go every year. They don’t go with children, unless you count my 33 year-old brother who goes every year with them too.
They were going to board their dogs, a pug and a maltese, but I always feel bad sending dogs to prison if they haven’t committed an actual crime. I mean, yeah, dogs that murder, dogs that commit arson, sure, send those dogs to dog prison, but these are just innocent dogs … innocent dogs can always come to my apartment in the city and eat dust bunnies and hunt their natural prey: cockroaches.
My parent’s dogs are here for the week and I haven’t eaten a grape since I was probably four years old but they have sent me many text messages that say things like “NO GRAPES!”; “GRAPES ARE POISONOUS TO DOGS!”; “NO GREEN GRAPES! NO RED GRAPES! NO PURPLE GRAPES!” The dogs are just a little bigger than cats, so when I walk them around Jersey City, I have to watch out they aren’t gobbled up by a different dog just a little bit up the food chain. (Big fish eats the little fish works for dogs too, right?). I am lucky I don’t live in the county, though. If I lived in the country I would have to worry about the dogs getting grabbed by red-tailed hawks, carried off into the clouds. I’d have to worry about my parent’s coming back from Disney World and when I break the news about the dogs being way up in the clouds and possibly deceased, I would say it in the tone of voice of a man praying they had magic beanstalk seeds on them, so I could at least climb up into the clouds and look for the dogs. When Mickey Mouse went up and fought the Giant in Cloud City, the only reason he was able to defeat the Giant was because he shot grapes into the motherfucker’s mouth. I remember.
Besides watching the dogs, and talking shit about Disney World, I’ve been reading the novel Lonesome Dove.
Lonesome Dove is 843 pages and I don’t know how I got tricked into reading an 843 page book, but I am. I imagine I was trashed and trying to order Dove Hand Soap on Amazon and next thing I knew, I’d clicked the wrong button and was on an epic adventure with a couple of Texas Rangers, a prostitute named Lorrie, it’s 1876, the Comanches are almost wiped out, and salt water taffy, ball point pens or popcorn machines don’t exist yet. Lonesome Dove is mostly a western about a cattle drive. They made a mini-series based on the novel, and I plan on watching the mini-series with these two dogs when I finish reading the book at the end of the week. I keep telling the dogs they either remind me of Captain Augustus McCrae or Captain Woodrow F. Call. I am varying my opinion on who they remind me of based on the actors in the mini-series, Robert Duval or Tommy Lee Jones. Sometimes the pug reminds me of Duval. Sometimes the Maltese does. They are both reminiscent of Tommy Lee Jones when I am ignoring them while I eat people food. They get salty as hell. Down right mean, followed by deep dark contemplation. A pained look. No one has more pain in their eyes than either tommy Lee Jones, or a dog that doesn’t get any of your Pringles.
I carried my hard cover copy of Lonesome Dove into work the other day, and my coworker freaked out. “You’re reading the bible!?” He was happy as hell, he’s very religious and thought I’d joined his party. I said, “You’d have as much a chance of getting me to read the Bible as you would of getting me to Disney World.”
“You’re a hipster, and a writer. That makes you double miserable. What’s wrong with Disney World?”
“I just don’t like it,” I said.
“When I was four.”
“You liked it when you were four?”
“But not now?”
“I still like the things I did when I was four and I’ve only added to the list. What’s your book about?”
“Cowboys and cows and Native Americans, and literal whores. Cattle driving was hard work!”
He made a sour face and I explained a scene I’d just read, “So this dude is chasing after this woman who was abducted and he’s on the open plain and he’s being chased by these bandits, so you know what he does?”
“Prays to God?”
“No, he jumps off his own horse, slitting his horse’s throat on purpose, big ‘ol Bowie knife, because other horses are afraid of horse blood and so the bandits horses are freaked out by the smell of it and when the bandits’ horses get close, they rear back, and this dude is able to hide behind his own horse’s corpse and blast like 12 of these bandits with his Colt Walker 1847. Blam. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blam. Blam. Blam. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blam. Twelve desperadoes dead and he saves the girl.”
“Won the Pulitzer Prize.”
When I get home from work the dogs are freaking out. They have to piss like nobody’s business. One dog is pure white. The other dog is black as ink. Good and Evil. Yin and Yang. Darkness and Light. Whatever. I grab their leashes and take them walking through the neighborhood. They are so filled with lunatic happiness. Tongues wagging and stomping up and down the sidewalk and leashes getting tangled together and stopping to piss at every fire hydrant (not just something from a cartoon). Their happiness is contagious. I soak it in. I want to be dumber and happier. I want everyone to be in a hot tub at the end of the best summer, yelling incoherent nonsense. I want people to stay four years old forever about at least one or two things. I want to not take my art any more seriously than I absolutely have to. I want to create something that is full of error and just as strange and unpredictable as the pinball lives of the average American weirdo (good luck). I want to put the Pumpkin Spice under my tongue and be taken on a rollercoaster ride into downfall autumn, terrible sweater weather, the end of the cattle drive, the undoing of every apple tree, the end of the election, the red-tailed hawks swooping down out of the clouds and grabbing the back of my shirt, taking me up into the wild blue yonder before the first snow flakes fall.
Right before bed, I text my parent’s in Disney World, “Dogs are doing wonderful. They hate their dog food, but we all have our own personal tests. uva uvam vivendo varia fit.”