Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Musing on Vacation

I spent the last week on vacation at the beach of Nags Head, N.C., and my memory of the week is much like a series of images whose relationship bears a striking similarity to that of such a series of pieced together by a comedic surrealist who himself had in mind the repeated image of a dog's head followed after that of a dog's tail while traking along the ground the familiar shape in which a film reel goes round and round. The time frame in which this series of circles occured is itself marked by a certain divorce from the usual burdens of dailing life, giving it the appearance in the mind of a dream. As such, the week sort of constitutes a world of its own, and I must ask myself: is it a vacation from reality or a vacating of reality?

I was afraid that the week was doomed by the coming clash between myself and some family members who are themselves more supportive of that camel called the Iraq war being fought by their fellow comrades in armes. As a primer for the week, I sent out a long email to everyone who would be with me on my family vacation with lots of excerpts from this link, courtesy of Ktismatics. To give an idea of the contents of the email without having to read the entirety of that long link, here is how I ended it: "MAN I SURE AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! 'cause 'everybody else be dammed!'" Do sense the sarcasm latent in my sense of justice.

Then the week started with a funny flurry when I learned the true and novel taste of a swarm of gnats wtih a zeal for justice. Before I ever left my Mom's place back in Virginia for the beach in North Carolina, before I ever got home from the airport in my trip from California, my mom told me all about the - although at the time unfinished tale of Sylvia and the bricks - how she was "so over [said tale]." Sylvia is the unfortunately bored board member of my mom's condo association. The landscaping bricks used to line the edges of the pathway through and sidewalk abutting m Mom's rear flowerbed. My mom is the surprised and hapless subject to the power of Sylvia and her landscaping bricks, I mean, uummm, the swarm of gnats targeting her mouth that is gapingly opened to the size of a mountain pass for camels.

Until recently, said landscaping bricks were perched peacefully in said flowerbed for all the six years that my mom lived in that condo. Their peace, however, began to unravel one day a couple months ago when Sylvia, the justice seeking vigilante with Rambo as her guiding angel, politely informed her that, although they had been that way peacefully for six years, they could not remain by the pathway and sidewalk without having a small trench dug to hold them firmly in place. Of course my Mom's reaction was to inform Sylvia that, although the bricks did seem to exhibit some characteristics shared by other animated creatures by looking so darned peaceful, they did not have legs and thereby hadn't gone anywhere for six years and most likely would repeat the feat, if challenged, over the course of the next six years, through hail and hurricanes.

About a week later, after a long, stressful and tiring day at work as a paralegal, my Mom was turning into her condo complex when Sylvia, who had been working in the neighbor's rear flowerbed all day at the corner to the condo complex entrance, which is about five or six condos down from my mom's, stopped her by knocking on the window of my mom's new Jaguar. Said neighbor had been putting down landscaping bricks in her rear flowerbed, but ran out. Sylvia had been out in the hot sun all day digging said neighbor's trench and putting bricks down, had once already been to K-mart to buy some landscaping briks for said neighbor (using funds from the condo association's account), and so didn't feel like returning to the chaos of K-mart. Since my mom wasn't home for consultation, Sylvia figured siad mom wouldn't mind if Sylvia "borrowed" six of said mom's landscaping bricks. Since this wasn't my mom's ideal picture to the end of her stressful day, she looked the suddenly slightly excuse-filled and whimpering Rambo sternly in the eyes and said, "Sylvia, those were my bricks that you took."

So Sylvia, with an air of joy as if her coming response was supposed to bring praiseworthy redemption to an unfortunate sequence of hapenstance events forced upon us from outside, said, "But the bricks were cheap when I went this morning. You can go to K-mart and get six bricks to replace the ones that are missing. Oh and while you're at it, you can go dig a trench to hold all your bricks. But you might not want to dig a trench. Its hard work. It was hot out here today, and I ran into a lot of rocks, gravel and hard soil." Repeating the previous stern look but this time with a touch more surprise mixed in, my mom again looked the whimpering and tired Rambo in the face and this time said, "Sylvia, you took my bricks. I don't want to go to K-mart. I already went to K-mart six years ago. I had a hard day at work. I'm going home."

So about a week later, come Saturday afternoon, my mom is cooking dinner for some folks she plans to have over that evening. She aswers the front doorbell, as if in a gesture of giving Shalom back, Sylvia says, with generously extended arms, "Here are your bricks. Do you want me to hand them to you, or do you want them right here beside your front door?" My mom responded, "Nooo...I want them in my back flowerbed, right there where you took the ones that were there before."

Now picture the combination of a six year old girl's jumping up and down screaming for her ice cream and Happy Gilmore's pretending to hump said girl about twenty years later from the standing position. Using precisly that gesture, Sylvia stated, with all the desperation of a six year old girl in braided pony tails, "You can't have them! You have to have a trench!" So my mom said she would hire a young man to dig a trench that week, and Sylvia and the friendly condo association president who had just, with a look of stunned reluctance unloaded the other four bricks from the trunk of his car, went and placed all six bricks in my mom's rear flowerbed. That was about three weeks ago now.

Two weeks go by and my mom picks me up from the airport late Sat. night and tells me the whole story up to that point, saying that she hasn't had time to find someone to dig the trench. So then the next morning when my mom and I walk out the back gate onto the pathway through our flowerbed on our way to the church just down the street, there before us in a few very neat and organized piles sat all of my mom's landscaping bricks. To offset my om's stewing anger on our way home from lunch after church, I began to ponder the comedy of the situation. As what I thought to be a brilliantly representative emblem of the deep waters of justice as well as the comedic urges in man's humours, I offered up a solution to the problem. I said, "How 'bout if I go dig a trench in Sylvia's front yard and put all your bricks in it." The idea, unfortunately, didn't really take.

So then a little while later, while my mom and I were loading the car to head down to the beach for vacation, we spotted the previously mentioned newly elected condo association president in the front sidewalk by his condo. My mom hailed him down with her arms and called him over with her mouth and vocal chords. When he arrived, she simply said, "Come here. I need to show you something." So she escorted the big, quite pleasant black man through her condo, through the patio, through the gate, and almost kicked again the piles of bricks. After avoiding them narrowly, she just pointed and said, "Look. Now, I wonder who did that?" I must say, the look on the president's face was damn near priceless.

To start a long and arduous conversation now back out in the front yard regarding the infinite number of issues besetting the condo complex while I was waiting somewhat impatiently to go the beach, and yet being somewhat entertained by the turn of events unfoling before me, the president said, "I'm just gonna' tell her to leave you 'lone. 'Dis got 'ta stop. 'Dis got 'ta stop." About half way through the conversation, Jesus words about gnats and camels came to mind when he said, "We got bigger things to worry about...like the unavailable $70,000 dollars needed to get the pool up and running that's been closed for the last two sumers...and here we're stuck in this kind of crap." Eventually, the conversation ended when, this time himself representing Happy Gilmore's hip-swaying prowess, the president said, "I think Sylvia just needs to get laid." Right about then I began to ponder whether this little episode with the bricks involving gnats, camels and sexual tension might just be a microcosm of the windbag world of contemporary politics (see next post).

And speaking of windbags and sex, a few nights later, finally at the beach, I was at a bar listening to live music and drinking beer when I got to see a middle aged guy named "Lucky" wrap a condom around his head and nose and blow it up until it popped. As a celebratory encore to the previously completed climactic moment, he did a few foward hand springs in the middle of the bar to demonstrate the dexterity and flexibility that accompanies drunkenness. Unfortunately the cute, down to earth and seemingly neat bartender with the warm smile gave me about three too many free beers that night, which cannot be ethically refused, and the next day sucked.

And speaking of intoxication and cute girls, the next night I was hanging out at an old friend's house at the beach whom I've known since I was six. As the culmination to his sugar intoxication, my friend's eight year old son with long brown hair had his mom braid it into pig tails. Then he dressed up into his sister's tight fitting pink and gray camo jeans and his mom's nicest black and diamond glittering high heels and pranced around the kitchen, dining room and living room area with quite a lovely air of female gracefulness and a repeated irresistable smile. There was that awkward moment when the heels of "his" shoes turned sideways, his actual heels re-touched the hardwood flooring, and his little eight year old butt flew out and downward...until he athletically re-caught his balance and avoided an actual fall. The next moment, reserved for the grand exit, however, featured the face splash for which we had all been waiting. Now justice was served.

Speaking of waht we've all been waiting for...the end. Justice served again.

I'm glad you didn't volunteer to dig the trench.
Me too. Although I would have really enjoyed digging a grave-sized trench in her front yard...and perching my mom's bricks at the bottom of it in a really nice and neat rowe or circle or something. Oh the layers of meaning if I would have done that! Lol.
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