Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Peru: We're Not ALL Like This, I Swear ...


I’m not a huge fan of Christmas – it seems to be fairly stress-inducing, what with all the shopping insanity starting Thanksgiving evening, the crazy drivers in their race to the malls, those damn Whos down in Whoville with their incessant singing – it just seems like it’s more headache than it’s worth.  Every once in a while, however, something happens that really makes me appreciate the season:  an unsigned gift left at my door (thank you, dear anonymous gift giving friend, for the delightful copy of “The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology Of Humor From Mark Twain To The Onion”!), selfless acts of kindness that I suspect may happen less frequently during other times of the year, the kidnapping of young Peruvian adults immediately upon their arrival in the United States … you know, that sort of thing.

The Live Acorn and I drove down to Salt Lake City on the 23rd to spend the weekend with my brother and his family.  Trips such as this are always fun, as pretty much everyone involved can legitimately be described as “on occasion, somewhat goofward-leaning.”  We were lounging about chatting that first evening, when my sister-in-law (I’ll call her Cindy because that’s her name) received a phone call.  After a brief conversation, she hung up and announced “Well, that’s good news!  My Peruvians are coming!”  My immediate thought was that she might be having a stroke or some other type of medical emergency that has “spouting gibberish” as a symptom, but The Live Acorn and I were quickly filled in on the details behind the pronouncement.

Apparently, Cindy had left her parents’ home the previous day, and had seen a foreign-looking couple walking down the street pulling luggage and looking quite lost.  Being the meddler good soul that she is, of course, she stopped and asked if she could provide any assistance.  Faster than you can say “didn’t the embassy say something about not getting into cars with crazy Americans?”, she had determined their destination, loaded them and their belongings into the vehicle, and proceeded to deliver them forthwith.

Had this happened to me in a foreign country, especially one as filled with oddballs and weirdoes as ours seems to be, you can bet your sweet bippy that I’d be homeward bound on the next flight out.  Perhaps still in a state of shock from being shanghaied, the couple did not hightail it home, but instead, had actually agreed to join us for Christmas Eve dinner!  I have never heard that Peruvians in general have a lack of common sense, so I must assume that this particular pair of travelers were simply more na├»ve than most.

Well, The Live Acorn and I were heading down to a friend’s house for a few hours on the 24th, so we didn’t get to meet them upon their arrival at my brother’s house.  That’s probably for the best, as the stark difference between leaving a relatively normal environment and returning that evening to what was happening made for extremely high comedy.

When we returned, the Peruvian guests were in the living room, Skyping with their relatives back home.  Meanwhile, my brother, who may or may not have familiarized himself with a glass of wine or three, was explaining his method of remembering their names (oddly, he had seemed to conflate being out-of-sight with being out-of-earshot, as he was quite enthusiastic and somewhat voluminous in describing his mnemonic devices, even though Paola (pronounced pa-WAH-la) and Moises (pronounced moy-SAYCE), both of whom's English was quite good, were just around the corner).

“You see there?” he said, gesturing wildly to a pie tin with a few slices left.  “Pie!  PIE!”  One of my nephews, who could see both the guests and his father, at this point placed his head in his hand and began massaging his temples.  “And we said ‘hello’ when they walked in, and Spanish for that is “Ola!  OLA!  You see?  PIE-OLA!  PIE-OLA!”  My nephew was, by that time, moaning audibly, and I had started to giggle uncontrollably.  That moment is now burned into my memory just as strongly as that night with Mary-Margret Schoonamanzer behind the Piggly-Wiggly so many years ago.

Other highlights from the weekend (they joined us Christmas afternoon as well, and even brought a few more of their country-mates … I believe they had come over to work at the ski resorts, who commonly hire internationally, for the season) include such questions as “Do you like to start fires, Moses?” and “Do people respect their mothers in Peru?”*  Granted, those may sound a bit odd, but taken in context, they … they … ok, they were just plain bizarre.

I haven’t seen any news about changes in the relationship status of our two nations, so I assume that the Peruvian Consulate is still in the “What the fuck?  He said what now?  Ok, ok … go through it one more time …” phase of figuring out what to do.

Now that I think about it, a few traffic jams aren't really all that much to endure, if it means getting to experience things like this.  Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

* I swear by the ghost of Bob Feller that I am not making those questions up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Practicing Safe IPYPIASM


Oh dear.

As I realize that my contribution to the tally of the United States in IPYPIASM 2011 (International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month) has been woefully pathetic at best, I’ve attempted to enlist the aid of others in restoring our nation’s stature in the international community.  Sure, it won’t exactly offset the fact that our government is currently passing legislation that will allow our President to indefinitely detain American citizens without charges if they’re simply suspected of terrorist activities, but a good showing in the final IPYPIASM count wouldn’t just be chump change, either. 

Not that it’s a competition, mind you …

The usual reaction to my explanation of IPYPIASM to friends is something along the lines of “You do what now?  In a shop?  Have you been into the wood alcohol again, Dead Acorn?”  Fortunately, there are exceptions, and I’m pleased as punch to be able to present the brilliant work of one such person:

Above:  One does not cautiously dip a toe into the pool of IPYPIASM; one cannonballs off the high platform, screaming "COWABUNGA!".

A close-up of the text, which is far more helpful and realistic advice for the youth of the world than “just say no!”:


Above:  How can this not be in next year’s high school health textbooks?

It’s knowing people like her that makes life really scary interesting.  She is, as they say, “special.” (In that best of ways, course.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just A Stranger Passing Through The Night

I was lounging around Casa de Acorn last night, cowering in fear of the Hell Hound enjoying a nice evening with my canine housemate, when she ran to the window, and then to the door, barking all the while, clearly indicating that there was someone outside.  “Indy,” I said.  “It’s 10:00 pm.  It's highly unlikely that we have a visitor at this late hour.  Besides (I stifled a sniffle at this point), no one ever visits me anyway.”  (It may have been more along the lines of screaming “SHUT UP!  SHUT THE FUCK UP!  THERE’S NO ONE THERE!  YOU’RE AN IDIOT!” but that’s neither here nor there.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard a knock on the screen door!  “Why, that’s odd!” I said to her.  “You were correct!  I certainly hope it’s a cherished friend stopping by for a lager and some nice conversation, and not a Federal Agent investigating international Beanie-Baby-smuggling activities!”  I walked over and opened the door, all a-twitter with anticipation, and greeted …

A dog.  A goofy-looking block-headed pit bull/Labrador mix, I would guess.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, as he appeared to be alone, so I let him in.  He and Indy introduced themselves (I don’t believe they’d met before, and I hadn’t seen him around the ’03), and she showed him around the house while I stepped outside to see if anyone was around looking for him.

Nothing.

They played for a bit, and after about 20 minutes, I let him back outside, assuming he knew where to go.  (He did have license tags, but nothing with a name or phone number.  Maybe he’s got those memorized and doesn’t see the need to have them written down.)  Fifteen minutes later, however, he knocked once more, and there I was again, sitting befuddled, not only at why there was a goofy-ass strange dog in my house, but also at the fact that Indy has more friends that come to visit than I do.  (Actually, that doesn’t really surprise me at all.)

It was, I decided, time to repair to the bedroom for the evening, and I asked them to turn off the TV when they were done and to try not to be too loud (it was extremely cold last night; fit for neither man nor beast, so I certainly couldn’t send him on his way at that point).  Doofus (his new Casa de Acorn name) apparently lives with very lenient people, as he felt quite comfortable hopping up on the bed and commandeering approximately 75% of it.  He’s a bit of a restless sleeper, as well, and not at all careful about where he steps.

So that’s it.  Our odd little evening.  I let Doofus out when I left for work this morning, and he meandered off after realizing he wasn’t getting to go for a car ride.  I saw nothing on the community lost & found listings, so maybe he’s already found his way home.  But Doofus, if you happen to stumble across this humble blog, please know that you’re welcome any time.

And yeah, humans, too (but a little heads-up call or text in advance is always appreciated ... you know, just to have time to clear the ole browser history and whatnot).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Under Where? (IPYPIASM Is HERE!)

Well, it’s that time of year again!  The time when both poets and non-poets alike venture forth from their studies and drawing rooms and take to the shops of the world to surreptitiously foist upon unsuspecting consumers their literary stylings:

IPYPIASM.

International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month is the brainchild of an Irish poet who also blogs here, and you can find more detail about IPYPIASM here.  (It’s been rumored that the practice actually goes back to the days of Joyce, whose meandering five-hundred-stanza poems would so confuse Dublin shop-goers in the early 1900s that many shopkeepers would simply close down for the whole of December.)

All that’s required is that you write a poem, put it clandestinely in a shop for others to read, snap a picture of it (Joyce would do wood carvings, I’m told), and post it out on the googlytubez to share.  It’s loads of fun, a little heart-quickening, and ultimately the most life-enriching thing you’ll do that day.  Such is the emotional peak that the moment at which you take the photo is often referred to as IPYPIGASM.

As always, I’m late to the party, but here’s my initial effort:


Above:  No, I don’t normally spend time in the boy’s underwear section.

The text of the “poem” is as follows:
A child awake all through the night,
awaiting Christmas morn’s delight.
A choo-choo train?  A pogo stick?
An all-day sucker for him to lick?
There’s so much joy in Christmas toys,
such happiness for little boys!
But please, please THINK! Avoid a rift …
And don’t give undies as a gift.
So give it a try!  If you don’t, you'll be denying a stranger a good giggle or a warm moment, and that would make you some sort of holiday monster.  Nobody wants that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Of All The Nerve!

I went to the neurologist the other day to have her check out my gams take a look at my left thigh, which has been numb for well nigh over a year now.  The worst part is that I used to be able to offer some semblance of a refutation upon being called an insensitive, unfeeling bastard, but now I just hang my head and say “Yeah, I know.”  Anyway, I haven’t really been able to feel anything there for quite a while, and while it causes no pain*, I want to make sure that it’s not symptomatic of something else.  People tell me that my uncontrollable shakes and night sweats are the delirium tremens, but fuck you, Occam ... it could be a horrible degenerative neurological disorder.

So she did her little testy stuff, hitting me with hammers and running a serrated pizza cutter all over my legs (she didn’t seem amused when I asked if we shouldn’t establish a safeword first), and then started explaining what she thinks is going on:
The condition is known as Meralgia Paresthetica, or Bernhardt-Roth syndrome, and is a mononeuropathy of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, caused by compression as it passes the inguinal ligament blah blah blah …
And that’s fine, you know - doctors go to school for like, an extra couple of years (and not the way that I was a sophomore for 3 years), so I’m glad they’re very knowledgeable and can use big words.  But then I got this:
You see, nerves are like electrical cords.  Some nerves are like the big orange extension cords, and some nerves are like little lamp cords.
The fuck? Did she take a semester off or something?  Do they have correspondence courses in medical school?

At the end of our little discussion of neurology/electricity, she informed me of the next steps:  firstly, I was to go to my regular physician, and have them fax over the results of the lab tests I had gone through during the summer (just a regular checkup – I hadn’t done anything stupid).  So I was chatting with the lovely receptionist, explaining what we needed to do, and she looked up my history.  “Well,” she said, “you didn’t have all the tests that are required, so go ahead and have a seat, and a nurse will be with you shortly.”  After picking myself up off the floor, I stammered “you … you mean … you’re going to take blood?  TODAY?  NOW?  But … but I’m not ready!”  “Yes.  Yes we are …” she replied, through a sadistic smile.  Her pupils briefly closed into slits, like those of a cat, and I swear the temperature dropped 10 degrees.

Secondly, I’m scheduled for an MRI, which means lying inside a tube that’s actually smaller than the width of my body for 17 hours while a giant donut shoots magnetic rays through my core.  I’m sure I’ll get stuck to my refrigerator for days after.

Thirdly, I have to have a nerve conduction test, in which the doctor duct tapes the two bared ends of an electrical cord (it’s like a nerve!) to my skin and plugs it in to the wall outlet.  I’ve had to go through this before, and it’s almost as bad as stepping on a Lego, or waking up in Nampa.  I mean, it hurts.

It all seems like a lot of trouble, but if it can perhaps help me to one day be just a little more sensitive and feeling, then by all that's sacred, it’ll have been worth it.

* I can still feel pain … like if I were to, oh, say, hypothetically jab a pin into my thigh to see if I could still feel pain, then yes, I would most assuredly feel pain.  Not that I did that, of course.  Why, that would be just plain stupid!