Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


True Tales From My Childhood - "The Girl With The Hat"

The summer after I turned 14 was not a good one. We were forced to flee the plantation when the Maoist omnisexual rebels in the mountains unionized our workers. The workers went nuts one night after a long meeting and several jugs of Jolt cola, and we were forced to flee. My dad and Uncle Mac set up shop in a back alley in Nairobi, where they sold knock-off Cabbage Patch Kids to unsuspecting street urchins. However, there was not enough room for me, so they used some of their remaining funds to send me to the General Lysander Cobb Pickham School for Wayward Boys in Dandy Shank, Arkansas. General Pickham, you'll recall, was known far and wide as the worst general in American history. In 1862 General Robert E. Lee recommended that he be dipped in buffalo dung and dropped into a deep pit filled with ravenous raccoons, but Jefferson Davis needed generals desperately, so Pickham kept his command. His men are notable for being the only group honored by both sides in the Civil War for their actions at the Battle of Mickichunga. Pickham led them into am ambush where half his troops were killed, and then he led them to an attack of another Confederate division that he mistook for Union soldiers. His troops, quite naturally, dipped him in buffalo dung and threw him into a deep pit filled with ravenous raccoons. They received medals from both Davis and Lincoln. However, Dandy Shank was General Pickham's home town, and they love him. My father read about their principal, Colonel Oscar von Gruppenstein, who liked to lick peanut butter off exposed wiring, and decided that the school was the place for me, at least until he and Uncle Mac could figure out how to break the union and return to our glorious plantation.

My two months at the General Lysander Cobb Pickham School for Wayward Boys were fraught with bad grades, strange welts on normally-hidden body parts, long sleepless nights listening for the soft footsteps of Colonel Gruppenstein's ballet slippers in the hallway, and an ever-increasing fear of kohlrabi. My tale of survival and escape are a story for another day, but suffice it say that I did escape and fled northeast to the verdant plains of Indiana and a small town where I spent a few blissful months and which shall remain nameless for the protection of all its inhabitants. I have enemies, you know.

I arrived in town on a balmy October morning, when the weather was still warm but the air held a hint of winter crispness. I knew I had to get a job, so I stopped in at the first place I found: a five-and-dime. The old lady behind the counter said I reminded her of her dead son, who had poked out his eye in Hue in 1970 and died insane in Saskatoon a few years later. She hired me on the spot. It was only part-time, but I thought it was wonderful. I had a job, I quickly found a cardboard box to sleep in, and all was right in the world.

Then I met my boss. Mr. McGee was not a pleasant man. In 1967 he had been walking home one night through Haight-Ashbury when some hippies asked him if he got high. He didn't understand the question and became fearful when they told him he was "trippy and square." Ever since then he had been mistrustful of anyone whose haircut didn't resemble Johnny Unitas's in 1958. He also told me repeatedly that he didn't like my kind because I was a bit too leisurely. However, he feared Mrs. Allbright, the woman who had hired me, so he kept me on. I never actually knew what my duties were, but apparently it was doing something close to nothing, but actually different than the day before. Mr. McGee used to look at me with his squinty eyes and mutter curses in Aramaic, but Mrs. Allbright would simply say, "Donal! Hush!" and he would slink back into his office. So the days passed.

Toward the end of the month, everything changed. I was behind the counter eating a corn dog and flipping through the latest issue of Tiger Beat. Some kids were in the back pounding back gallons of whole milk, but I let them because it made Mr. McGee quake with fear. I was starting to wonder if my father and uncle would ever find me when I heard the cheery tinkle of the bells at the entrance. I couldn't believe it. Some girl was coming in through the out door. I was in love with this rebel from that very instant.

I should describe her, but that year I spent in the opium wells of Tashkent has played tricks with my memory. I do remember her hat. It was a beret. I can't precisely describe the color, but it was somewhat reddish. Maybe ... magenta? Burgundy? Anyway, the beret was exactly the kind you would find in a second hand store. Anyway, it was quite distinctive, and from her sauntering gait, I got the feeling that if it had been the summer she would not have worn a whole lot more than that beret. She had that wonderful attitude of a girl who knows she is simply better than anyone. My heart skipped several beats. When the feeling returned in my left arm, I knew I had to make my move.

I had never been that good with women, despite my experience with Miss Stella. But this I could not pass up. I approached her and said something - I don't even know what - and I might have said my name, but before I knew it, she smiled a dazzling smile and said, "Let's go."

Now, I may not remember much about her face, but I do know she was built like a brick shithouse. She slung me over her shoulder, laughing all the way. Mr. McGee came out of his office and demanded to know what was going on. She told him he was "trippy and square," which sent him scuttling like a hermit crab back into his dark domain. As I dangled there on her shoulder, I reached out slowly to touch the beret, but she sensed my movement and slapped my hand away. "Boy no touch!" she ordered, and I whimpered softly. Then she cooed in my ear, "Do you plan to do me any harm?" I couldn't believe her nerve. She said it slyly, though, and unskilled as I was in the ways of women, she may have been joking.

She put me on the back of her bike and we rode. I asked whether I needed a helmet, and she pulled over, slowed to a stop, turned around, and punched me in the nose. Before I could think, she kissed me long and hard. It was the first time I had ever been kissed - well, by a girl - and the intense feelings flowing through me made the pain and humiliation I had felt a few seconds earlier even greater but somehow less shameful. She pulled away and smiled. "What was your question?" she asked. I couldn't even remember my name, much less any doubts I had about the ride.

We drove far and wide that day, and she told me tales of the haunted houses in the area - houses visited by vengeful succubi and wayward poltergeists and restless phantasms. We watched the kids get out of school in the afternoon and we promised them a shiny nickel and a coupon to the local video game parlor if they would only sell us their souls. Laden with metaphysical booty, we ranged down to the farmlands south of town as the weather turned darker and the rain clouds gathered. She said she didn't want to get her beret wet, so she suggested we hide out in a barn on a farm belonging, she said, to crazy Old Man Johnson, who had lost a leg in WWII and later grew it back. The barn was far enough away from the homestead that he would never know. In we went just as the storm broke.

The barn smelled of wet wool and warm clay and mosquitoes and burritos. I drank it in - it was real. The rain hitting the roof sounded so cool and all the horses stared at us, wondering who we were. She took my hand and led me up to the hayloft, where we could be closer to the elements but still protected. There she instructed me in all the finer arts of boy-girl relations: the "Taming of the Rhino," the "Circling of the Wagons," the "Two-Ply Pony," the "Top Hat," the "Insatiable Octopus," the "Kickback," the "Sting of the Jellyfish" - my more experienced readers will recognize them all! The thunder drowned out everything that the lightning saw, and for that one night, I felt like a movie star. Through it all the beret stayed on. That made it more beautiful.

Before we fell asleep, I begged her to tell me more about her. Her name, her age, her position on nuclear re-armament in the face of the mounting threat of terrorist regimes, her favorite flavor of iced cream. She giggled at all of my requests and said only that she thought I was gnarly. I finally fell asleep, only to be awoken, it seemed only minutes later, by a pitchfork pressed into my vitals. A man I assumed to be Old Man Johnson was standing over me growling like a marmoset and demanding to know what I was doing in his hayloft naked and covered with what appeared to be molasses (ah, the delights of the "Two-Ply Pony"!). I was always a quick thinker, so I pointed behind him, shouted, "Isn't that Carmen Miranda in a bee suit?", and when he turned, I grabbed my clothes, slid down the ladder, and ran like the wind. I checked my pockets - she had robbed me blind. But oh, she had given far more than she had taken!

A month later, as I was roaming the streets of Pierre, South Dakota, making money by passing off fake Mike Schmidt rookie cards to acne-ridden 30-year-old virgins, my father and Uncle Mac tracked me down and told me the union had finally caved when he and my uncle had offered them Devil Dogs with every meal. We were going home, but my adventure would remain tattooed on my mind for years afterward. If that girl is reading this, I forgive you your thievery and thank you for the experience.

If only I could remember exactly what color that beret was.


Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

There's peyote in your part of the country, isn't there?

14/7/05 5:52 PM  
Blogger layne said...

Have you considered participating in NANOWRIMO?
I hope you do, if not for my sake, then at least for the children.

One minor quibble though, EVERYONE in Saskatoon dies insane.

14/7/05 7:39 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Ah, peyote. Some day I'll tell everyone about our experience with He-Who-Stubs-His-Toe-On-The-Coffee-Table. He was an urbanized Indian and a reverend in the First Peyote Church of the Indigenous Peoples. The times we had!

Layne: he went to Saskatoon to die insane. He heard about its reputation. I'll have to check that site out. It looks interesting.

15/7/05 11:00 AM  

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