It’s 107 here. Forty degrees hotter than the last place we stayed. This is unfortunate, because an hour before we arrived, the air conditioner died at my in-laws house. It’s been all sweltery and hallucination-inducing, and the mosquitoes have settled in. There’s really nothing like your home town.
On Sunday the in-laws greeted us with enthusiasm as we rolled up travel-weary and dazed in the driveway, and my husband’s brother immediately talked the FBO (Formerly Bearded One) into taking a spin in his Razor (ATV). Shortly thereafter, the Razor ejected some crucial wheel bolt, did some kind of fancy cartoon Speed Racer maneuver, and then tipped over, throwing both occupants forcefully to the ground. After the Limp of Shame back up to the house, my mother-in-law clucked and shook her head, and applied copious amounts of Bag Balm* and blue ace bandages to the bulbous purple appendage that was my husband’s new right ear. Extra lengths of ace bandage were wound dramatically around the circumference of his head, creating a poignant war hero look he has since worn with pride. When he takes the bandage off to reapply the Bag Balm, the ear sticks straight out, shiny and purple. I want to flap it a little bit, but I don’t because I am a supportive wife who does not flap her husband’s injuries. When he’s awake
It really hasn’t been the best trip for the FBO, when you think about it. First there was the leg cramps, then the spittle incident, then Officer Melanoma, and now Prizefighter Ear. Wait, I was so tired last time I posted that I forgot to tell you about Officer Melanoma.
See, the FBO has an on-going adversarial relationship with Humboldt County, in Northern California. There has never, in my memory, been an occasion where my husband has been able to drive the entire length of Humboldt County without being issued a speeding ticket. Never ever. Just as that thought occurred to me, about three car lengths past the “Welcome to Humboldt County” sign, just as I was opening my mouth to say, “Hey remember how you get tickets here?” a police car appeared out of thin air going the opposite direction, performed a dramatic U-turn directly behind us, and turned its lights on.
“Damn,” said the FBO.
The policewoman swaggered to my side of the car and peered inside. She looked very much like a whippet that someone had stood upright and clothed, and the leathery quality of her face betrayed hours of productive ticket-writing in the hot California sun.
“Caught ya doin’ 80,” she said triumphantly.
My husband swears they just make up a random number. All I know is I’m pretty sure they could afford to buy Officer Melanoma some sun block judging from the contributions we’ve made to the county.
So anyway, here in Eugene we’ve been making the required visitation rounds. My mother has a new standard poodle (Mocha) at her house, which brings the total to two standard poodles, one mother, and a bunny. The poodles are, shall we say, large. Large and exuberant. I was greeted at the door by Mocha with a hearty french kiss that I frankly didn’t see coming.
“Mocha, NO!” my mother called from inside. Mocha responded with an excited aerial twist, legs flying in four different directions. I saw the tongue coming at me again, like a slow-motion replay, and sure enough, it found its way into my mouth. There was a quick swipe in and then out, and then a tongue-drag across the cheek before Mocha landed on the floor.
“He’s still really a puppy,” she said.
Mocha took a moment to fall out flat on the kitchen floor with a dramatic THWOMP. Pant, pant. So hot. Then, foolishly, I made eye contact, clearly an invitation for greater intimacy, and Mocha was up, flying furry pantlegs in all directions, and then suddenly, a molestation occurred.
“Mocha, NO,” my mother cried. Mocha looked up briefly, and resumed jabbing industriously between my buttocks with his long sharp nose. “Stop it!” Mocha did a circle around the room, and as soon as my guard was down, renewed his rear attack. I did a few pelvic thrust dance steps in an effort to get away, and then Mocha was bored and THWOMPed back down on the floor. I found a place up against the wall to stand, and kept a wary eye on the dog.
“Poodles are pokers,” she said with a shrug. “Everyone says that.”
I didn’t know everyone said that, clearly, but that’s why it’s good to be here, because I learn so much whenever I come back.
For instance, in the last two days I have learned that if you are a pasty woman the size and shape of a sumo wrestler and you are trying to beat the heat, you should put your hair in a tiny pony tail on top of your head, set up a big plastic pool in your yard in front of your trailer, and hunker down in the water with your cigarette. For fun, scowl at cars as they go by.
Or, if you are unfortunate enough to resemble a circus clown, complete with red fright wig and natural mouth grimace, you can beat the heat and throw people off your clown trail by removing all clothes except for a miniature pair of dolphin shorts, and riding around town on your bicycle.
In Eugene, if you find you need to go to the mall, be sure your ensemble is appropriate. You really need something breezy and functional, and something that also tells fellow shoppers a little bit about your interests.
For example, in Eugene, we have a lot of rivers. Probably you should wear a fishing hat to the mall to connect with your river heritage. Make sure you have a lot of lures dangling from all sides. Facial hair, the bushier the better, is a must. Use some gel to twist a point in the end of your beard.
Shoes should be comfortable. Probably Crocs. Dress socks are optional. Clothing this summer should be loose, allowing for ease of movement, and air flow. A light cotton robe, like a hospital gown, is an excellent choice. Be sure to cinch that belt down securely!
Finish your shopping ensemble with a murse (man purse) and a rolling backpack, for those heavy purchases.
Because I knew those of you who are not here might have trouble picturing the correct mall outfit, here is a picture of a man I chased with my camera at the mall today, a man who knows how to dress for successful Eugene shopping:
Remember, poodles are pokers.
*Bag Balm is used to soothe the cracked udders of milk cows, but is sold in drug stores for use by people even though doctors will act all shocked if you admit you’ve used it. It’s greasy and a little disgusting, but has magical healing properties.