Friday, May 30, 2008

Chest Hair, Beanie Weenies and Attila the Possum

So I'm trying to finish a play and two things keep tripping me up.

1.) My macros keep erasing themselves. What I'm doing is creating macros for each character, action, etc. and then making buttons for them on my toolbar. Every time I close out document or leave it open too long, it "restores" itself and I lose my frickin' buttons. Last night I had reached the point where I got my cute little tea cannister with Ganesh on it (made in Kenner, Louisiana, the most obvious provenance for black tea with Hindu gods on the label) and threatened my CPU. No dice. And please, please, as well intentioned as you might be in suggesting Word or Open Office, please know that both programs do this. I've also tried hitting save every few minutes to no avail. Argh. Just effin' argh.

2.) Three friends have lost their flippin' minds.

It all started with the best of intentions. Stanley is a sweet old guy some of us either know from art school (he was a teacher) or simply by osmosis from having friends who went to art school. He's retired, is living very simply and kinda hanging out at his house and making beautiful art. We all love him. Anyway, some neighbor got upset about the shed/workshop thingy in his back yard and sicced metro codes on him and he was given x amount of days to tear it down. Let's face it, some people suck. So Handsome Jeffrey drew up some plans for a newer, better, prettier workshop, got them approved and then enlisted Kevin, Keefer and Stuart to help with demolition and rebuilding and me and Alice to be support, whatever that means. So far, so good.

Then, Jeff started referring to the thing "Project Phoenix". Um, okay. Then he mentioned that The Men would bivouac in Stanley's backyard for the duration of the project. At that point, Keefer bowed out, pleading being low man on the totem pole at his newish sous chef position. Stanley, who would be visiting family in Monteagle, offered to let them stay in his house. Jeff wouldn't hear of it. This was a chance for the men of the tribe to pay homage to a respected elder. He then instructed The Men to meet him at Stanley's that weekend to get the job done.

I called Kevin.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Sorry Boo, I've already tried to get out of it. Looks like I'm off for a few days of Robert Bly fun."

"Just tell him no. I love Jeff, but that's crazy."

"I tried no. I also told him that you had agreed to give me a baby and this week was bad for camping out because you were ovulating."

"Kevin! This is how rumors get started."

"You know, that would make a great Mother's Day present for next year..."


"Well, I guess I'm stuck camping out because you won't give me a baster baby."

"I can live with that. Do you want me to come check on y'all?"

"As often as possible!"

Here is my journal of what followed...


I offered to pick up Alice so she could check on her husband. She stated that she was fine with seeing him when he got back and got it all out of his system. I dodn't ask her what that meant. I really didn't want to know.

Jeff reported via email that Stanley, being the sweet guy that he is, had already cleared out all of his art supplies and the little bit of furniture that was in the work shed. This put the guys a day ahead of schedule. according to Jeff, there was much jubilation and "a sense of our own precious Man-ness as we picked up our tools and prepared to work".

Having read that email, it was no small relief when I arrived at the compound just shy of six o'clock that evening to see that everyone was a bit bristly from having avoided shaving, but they all seemed be clothed and, well, not feral.

There was a small pile of lumber left over from what had evidently been carted off earlier. I offered to help them load it up so they could have the yard completely clean for tomorrow. Jeff shook his head.

Kevin put an arm around my shoulder and ushered me away from the wood. "We're going to burn some of that to scare away animals in the night."

"What animals?" I asked, "You're in a suburb that is surrounded by other suburbs."

There was no response. They all got very eerie poker faces. I took a step towards the kindling pile and they all lined up to block my way.

"You're scared I'm going to get girl cooties on your wood, aren't you?"

"No!" barked Stuart.

I took one more step towards the pile and they tensed up. I sighed and plopped a bag of Beanie Weenies, Pringles and Mountain Dew at their feet and walked back to my car.

My cell rang just as I got to the main drag.

"How are they?" asked Alice.

"Don't ask," I replied. "At least they aren't naked and chanting."

"That's probably on the agenda for Wednesday. You do know he has an agenda drawn out in his dayrunner for this week..."

The whole thing made my head hurt.


I stopped by that morning to see the three of them huddled around a campfire. Kevin looked like the front of his hair had been singed and all of them had swirls and paw prints drawn on their chests with ash. No one had shaved. Thank goodness they were still wearing pants.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw something flutter and realized that the tent looked like something had clawed at it.

"Cat?" I asked?

"Possum," said Stuart.

"His name is Atilla," added Kevin.

"We have him contained," Jeffery cleared his throat and stirred the fire. "He got trapped in our tent and clawed his way out."

"He couldn't have run out the front?" I asked

"Well, we weren't really sure what to do, so we zipped him in."

"You zipped him in?"

"He was attracted by the campfire. He's clearly insane."

I bit my tongue, called a friend who works in state wildlife management and loaded the bumping, snarling trashcan full of mad possum into my trunk and arranged to meet my ranger buddy at the nearest Shoney's to get poor Atilla released somewhere away from the crazy people.

While I was waiting in the parking lot, the phone rang. It was Alice.

"How are they?" she asked.

"I'm waiting to give a bungeed-closed trashcan full of mad possum to a state wildlife ranger."

There was a pause and then a sigh. "The sitcom just writes itself, doesn't it?"


This morning Stuart met me at the end of the driveway looking very perturbed.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I hope you brought food. This morning I woke up and heard Jeffery and Kevin discussing who they would eat first if civilization broke down."

"And you're the first to go."

"I really don't want to talk about it." He sighed and played with a pocket snap on his cargo shorts.

I pulled on into the driveway and saw Kevin and Jeffrey hunkered over the fire. They had gone from looking like middle-aged Nashville suburbanites to cro-magnons in the space of 72 hours. Their hair seemed to shoot from their scalps in clumps and no one had shaved. However, there was hope: they were still wearing pants.

Stewart and I joined them at the fire. They looked up and grunted.

"Were y'all talking about eating Stuart?" I asked. (Yes, my brain was absolutely screaming about he absurdity of the conversation.)


"Of course not!"

"We love Stuart. We wouldn't eat him!" Jeffrey kicked at a dirt clod and grimaced. "At least not as long as we avoid living in a post-petroleum economy."

My temples were starting to throb. "You know, you could eat crickets. They're the best bet for protein if things ever get...that way."

Kevin gagged. "Crickets! That's disgusting!"

"Wait a minute!" I snapped. "You would eat Stuart, but crickets make you gag? What is wro- What are you thinking? Why am I even arguing this? Stuart, they're not going to eat you. Even if it came down to eating someone, Jeffery has much denser musculature."

"Oh, I brought that up," said Stuart. "They said I would be better because of the marbling."


Kevin shook his head. "You are so judgmental. How did you ever get through anthropology school?"

Jeffrey tut-tutted. "No wonder you're still single."

"Okay, I said, I've heard enough. Here's a care package. I'm leaving."

I strode out to the car and went away, all the while torn between being ticked off about the old maid crack and scared that they might think I was nicely marbled and eat me.


The smell is now overpowering. If they don't bathe soon, as in today, I'm going to taser them and hose them down. When I got there, they were all lying on their backs, heads together, humming. I stepped over them and looked at the house they were building for Stanley. It was beautiful. It was finished. I strode back out.

"That's IT!" I shouted. "Game over. The shed is finished. It's time to clean up all the caveman stuff and go home!" Jeffery started to say something. "I'll tell Alice," I said. Do not push your luck with me. This local production of "Quest for Fire" is closing. I have three Egg McMuffins in my car. Now scoot!"

Stewart yelped happily, stripped naked and climbed into the back seat of my car. I'm afraid re-entry into the twenty-first century may be problematic.

copyright 2008 Jas Faulkner

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