Monday, January 15, 2001

The Mishima in Me

The drippy percolator strides decisively into the room even though he knows not where he will end up. Surely enough he begins to walk more and more gingerly as if the ground is either hotter than the floor of Hades or too cold to comprehend.

On the TV screen is the seventh hour of the all day "Iron Chef" marathon on the Food Network. The challenger is trying to be more creative with his slab of Mishima beef than the Iron Chef. The drippy percolator parks himself on the sighing man's chest as the sighing man begins to drift off. Little did he know that just a few days later he would be watching the People's Choice Awards and was outraged by the nominees in a new category- "Best Reality Based TV Show." The nominees were "Survivor," "The Real World," and "Cops." He wondered how they could possibly snub the "Iron Chef"?

He fell into a dream. His childhood next door neighbor, Danny Foley, the little boy with a squeaky red tricycle had now become a robot. Danny had an iron hammer that he hammered the sighing man's left hand with. "Ouch," the man said knowing the whole thing was being filmed. Of course because Danny was a robot and he had committed such a hideous crime, the sighing man now had the option to elect to have Danny's on/off switch turned to the off position and he had the film to prove it. Despite Danny's protests he chose to shut him down.

His hand didn't hurt that badly so you might want to know why he was being so severe on young Danny who after all merely wanted to be a friend to the sighing man and his brother. And that I'm afraid he could not answer. He just wanted to show young Danny that he shouldn't have done what he did.

The sighing man then arrived at his new job as a lifeguard and took a nervous look around. Soon his new coworker arrived, former Chief Justice Warren Burger, who proclaimed, "This is an important job even at $4.00 an hour." The sighing man thought it was a rather obnoxious thing to say on their first day on the job.

Burger opened the door to the pool itself, as steam engulfed the sighing man's face. As the former chief justice watched he assuredly dove into the water and with the speed of a dolphin swam the length of the pool underwater on his back without surfacing for air. Burger didn't seem too impressed.

The sighing man heard a voice that said, "Even when I'm gone you can always talk to me." Then he woke up with a jolt. The drippy percolator jumped down from his chest. He tried his best to get his bearings back even though an important part of him seemed about 2,270 miles away.

It had been five years since the sighing man had taken the plunge and had ended years of rent obligated existence by purchasing his very own house. HIS VERY OWN HOUSE. It was somehow more than a status symbol- it was a marker at his remarkable recovery from a long hard fall. He remembered the week before the closing process he was allowed by the seller to work on the house floors that had staples in them remaining from the old carpet that had been pulled up. The hardwood floors needed a sanding. With a single pair of needle nose pliers he went about pulling up hundreds of pointed staples. And he dreamed. This house was HIS and he could do with it as he pleased.

One of the last things he packed from his last apartment was the cappuccino maker his parents had given to him. He had come to not only love his homemade coffee drinks but he loved the process of making them. The careful timing of steaming the milk, the elaborate process of getting all the ingredients together- he could have been a happy Starbucks lifer. Yet his house was located directly across the street from a coffee house and he found it much easier just going there rather than making his own brew. Now for some reason he had dusted off the cappuccino maker and had rediscovered his love for something long since left behind.

Soon the sighing man was driving to work in the dark cold air. His sister had made him a tape in an admirable attempt to broaden his musical horizons- including songs from Wyclef Jean, Bob Marley, and Outkast. His head was boppin' back and forth when he approached a railroad track being used by a long, long train. His sister-made compilation came to the end of a side. He reached into his glove compartment and pulled out an unlabeled tape. Soon the strains from Quiet Riot's "Cum on Feel the Noise" blared from his car's speakers. The obligatory heavy metal guitar solo after the bridge reminded him of his freshman year of college when the song first came out. He remembered sitting in his dorm room with his drunken roommate's friends all air guitaring and singing along with the song. Dave Drake played the air drums. Without reform life ends.

Next on the tape was the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight" which moved him a few years forward on the memory spectrum. The one that he never was able to quite forget loved the song. It became their anthem. "Thinking of you's working up an appetite looking forward to a little afternoon delight..." The sighing man was never quite sure what any of it meant but he did know one thing: no one he knew would understand either.

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