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06.19.02 2:25 p.m.

One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greek-Americans the vrykolakas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons are not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and sai,d "They're scared to pass the ocean, it's too far," pointing out that Christ and the apostles never came to America.

 -Richard Dorson, "A Theory for American Folklore"  

Previously in Xenology: Dave was a generally cool guy to be around who shared his occasional girl problems with us. Emily and I resurrected a lightning bug. Dawn showed Emily and me a bridge.

Time to empty out the ol' Soon in the Journal bin again. With help from Emily, no less! (Edited and formatted, because I am anal).
M's belief in fairies: As Emily spent a year in Scotland, I asked her one day where she stood in her belief of the fae. She stopped a moment and gave the issue careful thought before pronouncing that she did not currently believe in fairies. However, had I asked her during the three days that she and her friends were lost on the Isle of Arran, she would have insisted total faith of and utter fear in their existence. In Scotland, fairies were real and there wasn't a doubt to that, but reality was different in the States. Emily says: This is mostly due to the fact that it is hard to find places with such history and incredible scenes in this country. This is not to say that there is nothing to be said for our history, merely that when you are on the same island where Robert the Bruce fled to and was killed there is a certain type of ambience that I have never experienced here. Plus Arran has no artificial light at all and only one road so it is easy to pretend or feel like you are in a truly otherworldly place. In addition to all these reasons, I had my initiation there and have never felt quite so spiritually connected to a place in my life. Legend has it that Arran is the actual Island of Avalon and where king Arthur is buried.
Trying to hang out with Venessa:
Venessa is not inside  
Emily in front on a hearse. It was empty. Or was it?!
Several weeks ago, Emily and I called Venessa and asked if she would like to hang out. Nessa stated that she very much would and that we should meet her at her home. About an hour later, we pulled up to her rather large home and were greeted by a hearse in front. For a moment, remembering the struggles she has gone through with her eating disorder, I thought the worst. That thought was immediately followed by the logic that hearses are for coffin and ambulances are for people on the cusp of death. I justified that her boyfriend Rob makes a career out of doing horror movie make-up and a hearse fit well within the boundaries of this profession. Just to be safe, though, I had Emily scope the car out for tell-tale signs of Rob (such as the notebook with his full name on it) and the lack of a passenger.
We knocked on Venessa's door and were greeted, much like in a Poe poem, with nothing. We waited. Knocked louder. Rang the bell to the tune of Heartbreak Hotel [Emily says: Dude! I so didn't notice this, it's possible that Xen added this statement purely for dramatic effect though I was sore and tired from training so I could just be oblivious. This is actually likely.] No one answered.
We walked the hearse again and made sure Venessa wasn't in it. Nope.
Epilogue: several days later, a tiny girl with facial piercings and short, dyed hair identifying herself as Venessa approached Emily. Emily just stared at this strange Venessa creature and was too stunned to ask why she stood us up. A couple of days ago, I IMed Venessa, intending to ask her why she didn't hang out. Before I could, she informed me that she was in a serious accident and broke her collar bone.
This is what will happen to you if you don't hang out with me. You will become a punk with a broken collarbone. The sad truth is revealed.
Being on a diet: So, yeah, I am on a diet. I am not particularly flubbery, I merely feel that I could be in a lot better shape and eat a lot of food that isn't fit for animals. Plus, dating a personal trainer kind of puts ideas in your head about the consumption of vegetables and the strain of exercising. [Emily says: One should note here that, despite my being a personal trainer, Xen managed to lose more weight in like a week than I would lose in a month, it must be nice to be a boy.]
When I began on my diet, it seemed a lot harder and I was trying to make it much more difficult than it had to be. I was eating food that tasted like slightly fishy cardboard and drinking nothing but water. Since then, I became relatively sensible. My standard is I don't eat anything that is going to make my throat feel sticky, my stomach feel heavy, or my innards slimy. This is a simple plan. Emily informed me that I would lose weight if I simply stopped drinking Pepsi (a ringing endorsement for the beverage if I ever heard one) so I have severely limited my intake. [Emily says: Clearly I was right.] Evidently, I am not caffeine addicted, which was a shock to me since my family drinks more Pepsi than any other liquid.
Hatred of BSDO reaching epidemic proportions: Not surprisingly, Emily discovered that just about every person that is free to tell her so absolutely loathes and despises Beauty School Drop-Out. As well they should. She has been decidedly bitchy and overly mothering to some of the students, far extending her boundaries as an instructor. She tries to mimic the interests, fashion, and style of the other instructors, to their great annoyance, while still maintaining a holier-than-thou air. Hey, Single White Female (damn, I wish I can called her this instead of BSDO), if you are try to be someone else, it kind of suggest you think that they are better than you. And they are.
My being the Zen Messiah: The same night that Emily discovered, to her pleasure, that no one likes BSDO, her friend Gina, she and I were having a general conversation about where we were conceived. Emily shared how she was fathered during make-up sex between her parents in France and she was thus convinced for a very long time that she was French. Somehow she looks French to me, it must be the golden ringlets. Gina asked how I was conceived. I stated that I wasn't, I merely happened. According to popular legend, my parents were fighting a great deal around the months that I should have been conceived. They certainly were not sleeping with one another (or anyone else, for that matter). Nonetheless, I came into this world. I'm a little miracle. Gina laughed, as was appropriate, and Emily took the liberty to inform Gina that, during an ultrasound, the doctor stated that I was dead. They could find no heartbeat and I was not moving. I suppose I must have been formed enough that movement would have been noted. The story continues that, when the doctor told my parents as much and stated that, for health reason, I might need to be aborted, I popped right back to life.
This talk led to Emily jokingly stating that I was the Messiah. I scoffed, as I tend to when imposed with a messianic title, and stated that it seemed unlikely that the Messiah was born of an atheist and took no small joy in the occult. Plus, aside from a lightning bug, I am still on the low side with my miracles.
M informed me that Conor thinks I am a zen sort of Messiah. My jaw dropped and I explained that I think he is. M smiled demurely [Emily says: Xen lies, I was never and will never be demure. I kick things for a living.] and said, "Yes, that's what's so funny about it."

Dave and the Graves
Recently, Emily and I met Dave for dinner. Our ulterior motive, of which we had well-informed Dave, was to introduce him to one of Emily's friends from work who seemed rather like what we had decided was Dave's type. However, as tends to happen when plans are made too far in advance and with a false air of secrecy, this did not occur. Emily's friend took ill and was not at work to be invited on this little meeting.
As such, we met Dave alone at the Gilded Otter in New Paltz. It is one of the nicer, though not overly nice, restaurants given that it resides in a college town. It would have been ideal for the meeting between Dave and this lass. Alas!
Emily and I walked the mile from her apartment to the restaurant because she is a very active young lady and I am compliant. I enjoy walking with Emily; it tends to stimulate our conversations beyond their sedentary beginnings. Before arriving at the restaurant, we noticed live music drifting into the streets from an area of town that we had always presumed was nothing of interest. It just looked like one long building, but it turns out that it contains many shops selling handmade goods and a restaurant of its own. We are clearly very oblivious for having not noticed this before. Perhaps we are only here when everything is closed for the night?
There was a small wait for a table during which - at Emily's suggestion, of course - we tried to disassemble the pager the Gilded Otter gave us to let us know when a table opened up. [Emily says: This was accomplished with the help of Dave's leatherman tool, which clearly labels him as an enabler of my need for destruction. It was actually more of the amusing fantasy of handing the pager back in pieces to the maitre de while explaining that I simply didn't know how this could have happened that drove the entire experience of chaos.] However, the Gilded Otter had clearly dealt with our kind before and, save for a few screws, it was impossible to open. I looked to the parking lot for a moment and the many passing cars, but Emily nixed that idea.
While we were ordering food, Dave informed me of the following purported fact of the cola product (that shall remain nameless as they sponsor everything else on earth, except this site) that I was about to drink:

  1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of this ubersweet beverage in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident. You have to ask yourself, if it is good enough for agents of the government to use to destroy the gore, isn't it good enough to serve your family?
  2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of the bubbly beverage and it will be gone in two days. If the same steak were left in a PETA meeting, it would be given a proper burial in two minutes. If PETA members are left in this liquid, they will drown in less than three minutes. Three minutes!
  3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of the beverage into the toilet bowl and let the beverage sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in the drink removes stains from vitreous china. Or you could just use a toilet cleaner and a brush. But, hey, if you'd rather pour soda in the toilet, have fun.
  4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in the beverage. It is possible this will work with just the foil, however.
  5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of the beverage over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion. Afterward, you will notice a lot more bugs around your car.
  6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in the beverage to the rusted bolt for several minutes. It is not advised that you drink the beverage the will drip off the bolt.
  7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of the beverage into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the soda for sumptuous brown gravy. (Sumptuous, I tell you. Succulent, even. Here at Xenology, we provide not only information about life and space mutants, but also cooking tips.)
  8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of said ebullient liquid into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The dark amber fluid will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield, should you be so inclined.
  9. The active ingredient in this non-solid is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. Sweet delicious nails. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones (and nails, I bet!) and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.
  10. To carry viscous syrup of this popular drink, the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.
  11. The distributors of this beverage have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years. Unfortunately, after having used this highly acidic fluid on their iron-based engines for so long, the engines have melted away. So sad.
See, now you are better informed. And none of this made me less inclined to drink it, my stomach is full of hydrochloric acid. It probably likes having help digesting those whole T-bone steaks I am so disinclined to eat. Dave confirmed that his mother, a nurse, had a similar opinion.
We also discussed R. Kelly having boinked and peed on a fourteen year old... or so I have heard people say., Xenology, and myself cannot be sued. Dave shared with us how he had heard someone call into a radio station and request "I Believe She Was Five." Emily's jaw dropped, because she and I had been jokingly brainstorming that flik. We got as far as "I believe she was five / I believe I can touch her thighs / think about it every night and day / Unlike Mike Jackson, I'm not gay." I commented that it must be a common joke, but M still was irked that other people were as clever/screwed-up as we are. I had heard someone say (again, not necessarily the truth, merely hearsay) that R., if I may call him R., had videotaped the sex act so that she later could not sue him for rape. Evidently he is unclear on the idea (if this is true, not that it is. He could be a perfectly composed and pleasant gentleman who doesn't believe in premarital sex. He could also be a Korean woman in Portugal) that sex with a fourteen year old is still considered rape in... well, America. Then again, he did marry Aaliyah when she was fifteen.
After our meal, we went to the ice cream place. As is sacrament after going to the ice cream shop, we ended up walking around the old houses. Earlier in the night, I worried that the conversation would be stilted or that M and I would be less interesting to Dave. The addition of sugar, walking, and pleasant scenery caused us all to talk, at length. It was very pleasant. We told him that the area was supposedly haunted, as is our penchant. He remarked that he didn't know that this area existed, though he had gone to New Paltz. I don't think many New Paltz students step off campus. I certainly didn't know about it before Emily shared it with me.
We stopped at the bridge Dawn had shown Emily and me. I commented that the abundant algae looked like the tar creature from Creep Show and had to explain it to Emily, who is not keen on the horror movies. Nonetheless, we ended up discussing horror movies and pondered who would be the first to die. Emily thought it would be her, however she has ninja skills. I might be the first to go, because I would poke the monster. Though Dave teaches psychology, so he might be killed because he is intelligent enough to know better than to be in a horror movie.
This set an air of the supernatural for the rest of the night. It was nothing overt, just a feeling. We ended up walking behind an elderly could that would not stop hugging. We figured they must be ghosts, because living people don't walk like that. While we were speculating if they were specters, Dave, without the help of glasses, spotted a cemetery a few hundred feel into a totally dark field. We decided to investigate it.
Okay, maybe Dave doesn't know better than to be in a horror movie.
Emily was a little creeped out, more so by the fact that I was standing and sitting on these historic gravestones. It wasn't as though their owners minded terribly, having left the mortal coil decades to centuries before we happened into it. I then stated to the occupants of the graves as well as the living that I meant no disrespect to the corpses and that no zombies should rise nor should any portals to hell open. I mentioned that New Paltz doesn't have a portal to the other side. However, according to the History Channel, there is a church in England that has a sealed portal to the world of the dead. It was on television, it has to be true.
Dave seemed to find the cemetery more than a little eerie, with good reason. Aside from the graves of every resident of the old houses, there were several of those gnarled, twisted trees that seem to only exist in creepy graveyards. You know, the ones with branches like hands that seem to reach out for curious parties.
We decided that we should likely be getting back. However, as we had never gone this way before, we were at a loss. We expected there to be another side street we could take that would bring us back to the main road. No such luck, of course. We tried to cut through an open field, only to discover that it was a bog. Emily began sinking among the weeds as tall as she was, so we decided to turn back. Note that bogs seem to be a repetitive theme suddenly.
We ended up discussing sexual fetishes on the walk back to the side road. I assumed that Dave would have a strong grounding in them and their reasons. Then I recalled that this is decidedly abnormal psych. Why do people find women popping balloons erotic (this is a real fetish)? Or stuffed animals (plushies)? Or people in costumes (furries)? I suppose golden shower and the like are about denigration as a sexual stimulant, but what the hell is with people who get turned on by bugs crawling over them? That can't be the same thing, right? Even infantilism makes sense as a loss of control fantasy, but there should be limits. Whatever happened to the sheer joy that is normal sex with someone you love? Has the whole world forgotten the simple pleasures of vanilla? Must we have barbecue sauce and motor oil ripple with cricket chips?
Dave seemed highly amused by Emily and my banter about fetishes. So I suppose we are entertaining to more than each other.

Soon in Xenology: French porn. Feelings on Summer Scholars. Kate and Vassar. Squirrels. Trivvectians. Emily's new job.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: Psychic Warrior, Myths to Live by, American Gods
listening: Rent
wanting: Not to have to be so alone at Summer Scholars.
interesting thought: I like destroying!
moment of zen: spending time with Dave.
someday I must: destroy Internet Explorer and its EVIL.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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