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09.22.02 11:48 p.m.

The greatest question of out generation has become: breakfast or suicide?


 -Stupid New Paltz Graffiti  




Previously in Xenology: Many a good time was had with Dave and Leah. I met Lauren. I encountered weird duck-geese.

How Much Wood Could A Woodstock Stock?
Last weekend, Emily (also called "Bruce," as of last night), Leah and I met Dave in Woodstock. Emily and I had hung out with him the weekend before, but we mainly stayed in Emily's apartment and watched Still Crazy, because Emily was having an impoverished month. She may be having more of those until she gets financially settled. As such, she made us ravioli and very flat cupcakes (BSDO had refused to buy cupcake tins) because it was cheap. Not a great deal is of note here, save that I, alluding to a commercial I had seen for a cleaning product, announced that the sink was so clean that it was as though Mr. Clean had enslaved the Scrubbing Bubbles. Emily informed me that the commercial to which I was alluding involved neither of these trademarked characters. I feigned sadness and sobbed, "They weren't there? Oh..." Dave found this hilarious, I think. In addition, while sitting in Emily room, Dave asked the meaning of the large pentacle tapestry on the wall. I looked to M, as it was her tapestry and thus her explanation (also, I am a coward), as she matter-of-factly explained, "we're witches." This seemed to suffice as answers went.
As he evidently enjoyed our company that time, despite our being misquoting witches and needed respite from his juvenile students, we met him. Emily was feeling less than healthy from what she believed to be celiac disease, but she put on a brave face. She also tearfully insisted, after I joked about an obsessive old friend of hers, that I was being mean to her and I needed to stop. I hugged her and asked if she meant because I teased her about having been kissed by Kevin "I Can Too Make a Good Superhero" Smith at a New Years Eve party many years ago. Her tears dried up as she said, "Umm... yeah?" I soothed her to the effect that she was kissed by Kevin Smith and I touch Jill Sobule's butt and it was a circle of life. I also promised to try not to tease her, despite how fun it is.
We will skip most of the pointless commerce, save that I brought a $115 shirt for $9 because it was very slightly faded from sun damage. The saleswoman behaved as though I was a saint for buying this useless piece of fabric from their withering designer clothing store. I rewarded her with the exact smile the crazy people in the library receive and paid. Only upon leaving the store did it occur to me that I had only made this purchase because it was "such a great deal." I really had no use for a $115 shirt that looks like a $20 shirt one could buy from Wal-Mart nor would I have brought it if I had known it to be originally $9. This is what sociologist called the door-in-face technique. I am a sucker for being its victim.
Magic fingers  
Leah enjoying the finger puppets
When Emily went into a store to buy conditioner (Woodstock has special conditioner that evidently exists no where else on earth), Leah confessed to me that she was deeply worried that Emily was not eating and that some of her sickness was psychological. Well, Leah mainly pointed to her head and looked sad, but the message was very clear. Given that Emily battled against an eating disorder in her adolescence, I could certainly understand Leah's concern. I stated that I didn't think Emily was making up the illness, necessarily, but that I would try to speak to her about it when I saw an opportunity.
Unfortunately, Leah narrated for unspoken concerns and worries I did have within me and I became decidedly laconic for fear that what Leah was saying was germane. Usually I am communicative. Really.
Dave was quiet through all of this and quiet in general. I think he prefers more intimate settings, more conducive to conversation than commerce. Given the wonderful personalities present, I cannot even slightly fault him that. Or, possibly, he could have been concerned about M as well. I do not know, he did not say.
We decided, rather pointedly, to get lunch. Emily was ambivalent and said she was not very hungry, mostly because the pain of eating the wrong thing was so much greater than the pain of not eating. Nonetheless, we found a little deli that served food that would please the wheat-free, sugar-free, taste-free sector of humanity. It wasn't the ideal foodstuff for the rest of us, but at least M was eating. Okay, she was eating mixed fruit. But she was eating. That's what's important here.
Leah and Dave  
Leah (left, for the blind among you) and Dave (left, for those lacking deductive reasoning)
While eating, I discovered that the lid of my beverage contained wisdom. In fact, it said, "porcupines always float." I had the best image of a man in a lab coat experimentally flinging porcupines into a river one by one and their calmly floating down the river belly up, though M tried to disabuse me of the notion by stating that it made sense as their quills are full of air.
As we walked off our light lunch, Leah and M revealed their plan to begin belly dancing. May I simply take this opportunity to thank whatever god or gods up there like me. I get a girlfriend who wants to learn one of the most seductive (and, you know, self-affirming, body-positive) dances known to man. The dance that Salome did to get head from an older man (specifically John the Baptist's). Next to musicians, actresses, and writers, dancers are my secret fetish. (Not so secret evidently.) Not merely "those who dance," but those who become so a part of the music that it almost seems to emanate from them. Of course, the music has to cooperate...
Leah and Dave  
A rickshaw?
When we were standing outside, more or less trying to conclude what we should do next before shuffling on, we passed by a rather large rickshaw piloted by a rather skittish rickshaw driver. At least I am led to believe it was a rickshaw. For the sheer amount of detritus piled and tied to it, it may have been a wicker mock-up of a bedroom that this disheveled man opted to carry with him. He began to speak to us, as is required by some cosmic law. He simpered that the cops don't like when he pulls his cart up the sidewalk, because people step out into the road to get around him. He further, but no less self-consciously, explained that those who had planned the town had totally forgotten about the pedestrians. I was going to point out that people could walk relatively comfortably on the sidewalk unless they were hauling a ten-foot cart behind them, but I don't think he could take this blow to his ego. He interrupted his explanation to apologize to some young, heavily made-up women for having forced them into the street. Again, I held my tongue in order to not suggest that no one forced them into the street and they seemed quite adept at walking streets. I was having a bad day for behaving.
After this man had left our company, Leah suggested that we go to the large art store or she would knock us unconscious and drag us there. We opted for moving of our own volition. Art store are always fun, even for own that doesn't do much art. As such, I looked at the naughty flip books, the 1970's starlet paper dolls, and tried to paint Emily with dry brushes. Good times. While I was standing, focuslessly staring at a Chinese stamp set and thinking of M, I saw a bare shoulder in front of me where there should have been M. There was Leah, but I had come to my senses before giving her an affectionate nip. Of course, when I told M of my near gaffe she decided to loudly repeat what I had told her in the company of Leah. Leah, to her great credit, was immensely cool about having almost been bitten by her flatmate's boyfriend.
We wandered a bit more. The proprietress of a toy store became immensely condescending to me when I began it fiddle with an iron puzzle saying that I had to fix it if I took it apart. I smiled confidently and told her this was not a problem. In under a minute, I had it apart. She sat at the register glaring daggers and moments from asking me to pay for it because I wouldn't get it back together. I smiled, twisted it for a few tens of seconds, and waved the puzzle at her, now whole once more. She seemed genuinely disappointed and irritated that I had succeeded so well (it was a very simple puzzle). Leah left the store, loudly proclaiming that she didn't want to buy from a toy store run by someone so bitchy.
I think, perhaps, that Leah is a keeper. She cares so much for Emily that one would think they were friends since birth. She is witty, sweet, warm, fun, and funny. I know that she would put herself at risk to help Emily and I am grateful to Emily is now living with someone who loves her so much. At least until she moves in with me.

Is There a Duck in Here?
Several days ago, calmly frenzied with the weight and length of my studying for tests, a chromatic green fly landed in front of me. Knowing that, for their prismatic eyes, they have an immensely good awareness of creatures around them, I swatted at it. Flies always zip away, as they see your hand above them and know what's coming. This did not happen. I crippled it, but it was still clearly alive and wriggling. I felt absolutely terrible for having swatted this poor fly and imagined that it was complaining to me that it was hurt. This is likely not a normal reaction to swatting a fly, but it was mine. I swept it onto a subscription card to Mad Magazine and deposited it face down in my trashcan, figuring that this was the fly equivalent to Heaven. I felt so bad that I had a vegetarian day the following day to karmically make up for swatting the fly. Which isn't to say I didn't have many a turkey burger since.
Dennis  
Dennis, chowing down
I frankly am led to blame my mutant duck-geese. A few days after the last entry, I was walking by them again. The white duck-goose walked over to me, nudged me with its orange beak. When I looked down, I was greeted with its ice blue eye importuning me. I sighed, "You want food, don't you?" It made very clear that this was what it wanted. Dennis, for this is what I named it, was more than willing to let me pet it and would eat from my hand. Even after it was empty, I would lower my hand and he would pretend to eat from it. I had no idea duck-geese were affectionate.
I walked over to feed the Canadian geese, because Dennis and Paul (his gray friend) were bathing and I felt they needed their privacy. The Canadian geese were friendly but distant, like the Canadians themselves. Dennis, I was surprised to discover, walked around the pond and over a bridge to stand next to me and look at the Canadian geese. I knelt down and he nuzzled my hand. Strange bird.
The normal geese also have begun to flock toward me, outside the presence of food. These are not friendly ducks. They are actually known as the Geestapo for their proclivity toward surrounding and attacking students. And yet they seem to like me. I must have a pro-duck pheromone.
So, now I am evidently empathic toward lower species. This does not bode well for my continued omnivorous diet.

Lauren
I get the feeling that, perhaps, Lauren is gone. Which is unfortunate, because she definitely had potential to make a strong impact on this story. Nonetheless, I will give you a picture and story, as is my wont.
Lauren  
Here's to you Miss Lauren, Jesus loves you more than you will know
I encountered her last outside while I was taking pictures of the New Paltzian equivalent to free expression, lame graffiti. As a clicked a photo of a flow chart that said work, classes, study, and sleep were cyclic (later someone would write "LOVE" in the center), I spotted the lass. She seemed suitably happy to see me, I suppose. However, nowhere could I imagine that I wouldn't be someone that she wasn't happy to see.
I sat her down and snapped the accompanying photo. We spoke a bit. She brought up the letter I had written her wherein I mentioned M. I explained that I was with her and the ex-girlfriend about whom I spoke was Kate, who was in New Zealand. She began to explain something to the effect that she always gets herself in these situations, but stopped short and would not be nudged to continue. Of course, I made the obvious assumptions as to what she was saying, but I wasn't going to be a jerk. I very, very much enjoyed her company given the few times she and I had spoken and certainly would make every effort for there to be comfort.
We spoke in a way I would call pleasant until I realized that my obligation with a dentist was beginning to overweigh my urge to engage this sylph in conversation. I warmly bid her adieu and have seen and heard nothing from her since. Obviously, I worry that she has discontinued our budding association. Sadness.


Soon in Xenology: A party with bikers and Pagans. Stealing Zack away from his family to fight against the eighth dimension. Girlfriends and family. M's impending party.

last watched: Legend
reading: Lysistrata
listening: Orff: Carmina Burana
wanting: Emily to be able to eat normal food without pain.
interesting thought: Kate assumes I am ignorant and hateful toward philosophy. What does this say about the truth she sees?
moment of zen: Felling (yes, felling) part of a community.
someday I must: have a pet of my own.

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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