The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm no businessman

A man approached me on the street this evening. He was young, goateed, brownish, like I like my women.

"Sir," he called, waving something dark in his right hand.

It was not a gun as far as I could tell. It was a wallet. He opened it, showing me his driver's license, his student ID, and his social security card. "My name is Gavin. My car broke down, and I'm eleven bucks short for the tow truck. "

I laughed, and then I laughed at the idea of my laughing at that. I looked down at his driver's license, then up at his face. They seemed to match.

"You can take my information. I'll send you the money."

"Where's your car?" I asked.

"It's way down that way." He pointed east.

"Then why are you standing here?"

"I needed an intersection to tell the tow truck. Please. Five dollars. Two dollars. Whatever you have."

"Let's go down and look at your car. Then I'll give you the money."

"I have to wait here for the truck."

"Okay," I said. "Can you change a twenty?"

He changed the twenty. I gave him eleven.

"Do you have a business card?" he asked.

I laughed. "I'm no businessman. Don't worry about it."

And there. Wow, did I feel good about myself (at his, well, my expense). And I got eleven bucks worth of karma. It's too bad I don't believe in karma. It's a fun idea, like self-help books or life after death, but (oh my Science!) it's bullshit.

"Thanks, man," he said, and off he walked in the opposite direction of where he was supposed to meet the truck. I let him walk. There's no use calling a guy on a scam and getting stabbed over eleven bucks. But he could have done me the courtesy of hanging around on the corner for a few minutes.

And eleven bucks is not too much to pay for something to write about.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Exercising My Demons

There are beautiful, iridescent winged reptiles who live in my right brain. When I was a child, they often told me to chase rabbits in the park and to catch insects with my tongue. And I did these things, that is, until I caught a wasp, which was like eating an angry, knife-wielding peanut (picture the guy on the Planters can + methamphetamines + Benihana). Of course, back then I thought my imagination was a literal place.

However, since I learned the word "figurative," these reptiles want other sorts of exercise. They want to fly through words on paper, and flying is treacherous business (if I could think of a funny plane crash, it would go here). When the demons don't fly, they become fat and bitter, slithering about my brain and suggesting things to do, like hissing and biting, which don't go over well in the public library -- although the result there was slightly better than in the biker bar. Reference books hurt less then knives and chains.

So I've consulted their doctor, and we've started an exercise program.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Waiting for Inspiration

The willow's long rope branches swayed in the wind and caressed my head and neck. I sat on the bench under the tree, staring at the ground, waiting for inspiration, keeping my head down lest the branches whip my face. Perhaps it was a mistake to expect inspiration to pop out of the ground, it being the kind of thing that only sneaks up on you. I turned my face up, and the willow whipped it.

I walked down the winding path to the serpentine bridge across the river. The late afternoon sun glowed orange on the current's ripples. On the far shore, near the Japanese garden, a short bearded man in flowing white robes seemed to hover upon the water, but this was only a trick of distance, light, and karate.

Behind me, I heard a whir like a blender and felt a sharp blow to the back of my legs. I fell, and something bit me and tore a chunk out of my leg. Then it leaped on my chest, twenty pounds of brown fur, muscle, and teeth, stinking of rotten meat. I tried to grab it or poke its eyes.

"Taz hungry," it said and dove for my neck.

"Jesus," I called out, but the far shore was empty.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mr. Scruff and the new mushroom

Mr. Scruff, the chipmunk, popped out of his hole. The late morning sun shone hot on his black back stripes. A breeze ruffled the prairie grasses and the fur on his tail. The deafening din of the cicadas' song reverberated through the air, a strange white noise.

From the pit of his stomach, Mr. Scruff felt a deep craving for the smoky, earthy button mushrooms that grew at the base of the Great Oak, so off he dashed into the forest. He plowed through the soft carpet of dead leaves, occasionally stopping to eat a fallen cicada, carefully unwrapping the wings to reveal a nutty treat with a juicy center.

Mr. Scruff pummeled the Great Oak's trunk with his paws, his black and beady eyes reflecting the sun falling through the leaves. Some jerk had eaten the caps off all the button mushrooms, completely ignoring the stems' perfect complementary flavor.

"Squirrels did this," he muttered. "Fucking sexy-tailed rats."

Mr. Scruff looked around for another suitable snack. About a quarter of the way up the Great Oak's trunk grew a new mushroom. Mr. Scruff recalled the childhood rhyme:

John found a mushroom on the Oak.
He took a bite and rose alight
Into the sun, John had his fun
And fried his mind, a brainless joke.

"Bullshit," thought Mr. Scruff and climbed the tree towards the labia-shaped delicacy.

Some time later, Mr. Scruff found himself under the shady bush, nauseous, paranoid, and euphoric. The cicadas' song seemed to be foaming, no, forming, no, foaming words.

"MUSHROOM, WE LOVE, MUSHROOM, WE LOVE," they sang. A drop of water fell from one of the shady bush's leaves, slowly, so slowly, glitter in the afternoon sun, a million colors and no color, a million shapes and no shape...splash.

"Eee!" Mr. Scruff squeaked.

"YOU DIE, TODAY, YOU DIE, TODAY," the cicadas sang. Mr. Scruff felt like he had eaten pine needles. He pulled one of the great, broad leaves down with his tiny paws and hid under it. He squeezed his eyes shut. Dark crimson spirals twirled against a black sea, forming hideous rodent faces. He opened his eyes. Dark green worms crawled all over his leaf blanket.

"Eee!" Mr. Scruff squeaked.

He scampered towards his hole: a long, long, intolerably long scamper. He dove through the entrance.

"I am the one," he thought. Then, "It's filthy in here."

He lay down on his leaf-bed and tried for several hours to sleep.

Up next: Mr. Scruff and the lady in heat

Check out Mr. Scruff in image form at: Pat Guy

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Dew Point

My body clock no longer tracks days, although it seldom did. I am sure of this because I never know what today is, though I do know what today feels like: a Thursday. (Why?) Because there are six Old Styles in the refrigerator, and I must work tomorrow. I work as an independent contractor -- tomorrow I will be independently contracting syphilis. Ha! No, not really. I do accounting tomorrow.

Accounting is like sorting into an infinite number of piles. I've always liked to sort. I sort my coins. I put my quarters in a small margarine container. My nickels and dimes go together into a big 1980's Tupperware with no lid. The pennies go into a peanut butter jar. Since I put the nickels and dimes together, the television calls me a socialist, sometimes just as I am about to fall asleep. I'm no socialist. I just appreciate a bigger middle class container.

To its credit, last night the television showed me Tom Skilling, the greatest local weatherman on Earth, discussing dew point's relation to discomfort in the "Ask Tom Why?" part of the weather report (the best one was "Why does it rain when I cut myself?" -- transcript available from the WGN archives). So I've been trying to understand dew point. It's boring, but I also enjoy reading about rectal exams, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sexual discussions with family, and myself.

I like myself, but I enjoy making myself uncomfortable, as if there were something to be learned through discomfort. Comfort, I've found, lends itself to the same thoughts, over and over, like "This is okay" or "Scooby Doo, where are you?" For me, these thoughts would not be a problem, but I've always aspired to think one of the thoughts that no one else has thought before. And it doesn't matter if someone thinks it tomorrow if I thought it yesterday. Of course, according to my body clock, yesterday and tomorrow are the same thing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lickable versus Likable

Is someone lickable necessarily likable? The answer is no, if by lickable we mean "physically appealing." That is, if you think to yourself when you see that lickable person, "Mmmm. I'd like to lick you in several sexual ways. I'd like to taste your salty and sweet, your sour, and maybe your bitter if you'll let me -- or if you fall asleep in public. No, not if you fall asleep in public because that would be wrong, and I might face prison time, when I would taste other salties and sweets and sours and bitters in exchange for cigarettes." Then, if you're done thinking that and you approach the lickable person to say, "Hello. What's your name?" and he or she spits in your face, then that lickable person would be not likable.

However, if by lickable we mean "willing to be licked anywhere by anyone regardless of [the licker's] age, race, creed, color, or sexual orientation in exchange for the sheer pleasure of the lick," I think we have found a likable person: tolerant, sensual, charmingly odd, and probably comfortable with his or her place in life. Unless, of course that lickable person was covered in a carpet of fire ants and the momentary lack of pain on any tongue-swath of skin could be construed as sheer pleasure. People being bit to death by fire ants are rarely likable.


I am hungry.
You are hungry.
We are hungry.
Hunger is not ironic.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Selections from the box

I keep an old Marshall Fields box next to my computer. In this box I toss scraps of paper that I don't want to throw away, but for which I don't have any immediate use. I will dig through that box and tell you what I find.

A leaf of lined paper from a mini legal pad. The wrinkling suggests that I used it as a coaster for a rocks glass. My rocks glasses usually contain gin and ice (I have learned, through bruising and/or waking up on the floor, not to use a tumbler). The paper reads "Schnuckiputzi was sexy b/c her angle matched his deformed penis." Google reveals that schnuckiputzi means "sweetie pie" or "cutie pie" in German. I'm a big fan of angle.

My income tax forms. Bobby Gates won't get a nickel from me. I kid. I paid my taxes. It cost me a shit-load to overnight all those pennies to Washington. In a box. With a sedated chimpanzee.

An index card reading "To me, a good end table and a fax machine have about the same value." How true. I'm still using the box with the fax machine in it as an end table. I do have an end table, but I use it to kill the neighbors.

The page that I sliced off the inside left of a Mother's Day card. It reads, "I've always loved you Mom! Thought I should tell you that, because there were times when you really must have wondered. I know I wasn't the easiest kid to bring up, but you were always there for me -- and deep down inside I was grateful..." I just couldn't picture myself yelling the first sentence. And deep down inside me, there's only blood and tar.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kitchen Persuasion

The side of my toaster reads, in black block lettering, "Bread stuck? Try a fork." So far it hasn't convinced me.

My roll of paper towels, which I initially thought had a pattern of flowers or herbs, in fact has little pink hearts inscribed, "Try me instead of toilet paper." So far it hasn't convinced me. Oh, and the hearts are upside down.

On the miniature box fan in my window, the knob on top is not labeled "Fan Speed," but rather, "Degrees of Sexual Pleasure." That convinced me once.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Mr. Scruff smells a predator

Mr. Scruff, the chipmunk, popped out of his hole. The sun had already disappeared behind the tallest of the trees, and the sky glowed lavender. Mr. Scruff had not eaten all day because yesterday he found a rotten cherry that some lousy kid dropped at the Picnic Site. He ate it alone in his hole, and he squeaked song after song, even the Christmas one.

"Al-VIN!" Mr. Scruff had yelled over and over, falling on his leaf-bed laughing.

And today he had a big, big ache in his tiny head, and he turned over and over in his leaf-bed, clutching at his face with his paws, crying and trying to squeeze out the throbbing. He slept away the afternoon.

Now there was scant time to find a meal before the night animals (a bunch of creeps) emerged, so he scurried out. Usually in this situation he would go to Lars Mouse's burrow to borrow some seeds, but Lars was still angry about the rotten-grape-induced ear-bite the other day. Fucking rotten grape. Fucking Lars. It was a love bite. All mice are homophobes.

Mr. Scruff spotted a snail between two blades of crab grass.

"Ugh," he thought. "This will have to do."

He grabbed the snail and bit off its head. He held his breath, pulled the slimy mess from its shell, and choked it down.

"Much better baked," he thought.

Musk filled the air. Mr. Scruff stood up on his hind legs and looked upwind.

A weasel skulked not ten feet away. It turned towards him. He ran.

Back in his hole, Mr. Scruff was sick with adrenaline. The snail had not stayed down, and he was not about to eat it twice. His stomach rumbled as he lay on his leaf-bed, counting the roots on the ceiling. So many roots, so many wasted days.

Up next: Mr. Scruff and the new mushroom